What We’re Watching: Mexico boosts the minimum wage again

Maximizing Mexico's Minimum Wage – Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office as Mexico's president last year on promises to reduce income inequality in his country. To accomplish this, he raised Mexico's unusually low minimum wage last year by 16 percent. On January 1, the wage will rise another 20 percent, roughly seven times the current rate of inflation. Supporters say the move will boost purchasing power and alleviate poverty. Critics warn that it will stoke inflation and discourage companies from hiring new workers. For perspective, even after these two hikes, the Mexican minimum wage will still be barely US $6.50… per day.


North Koreans Outside North Korea – There are almost 100,000 North Koreans working outside their home country, mainly in China and Russia. The NK government wants them to stay put, because the money they send home to their families helps keep North Korea's economy afloat. But a United Nations resolution, introduced two years ago in response to North Korean missile tests, says all these workers have to go home by December 22. Think they'll go?

Vito the Bionic Cat – If you've read reviews of the new film adaptation of "Cats," the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, you know there's a solid chance it's the worst movie ever made. Like your Friday author, you probably had no intention of seeing it anyway. Fortunately, there has been good news this week in the world of real cats. For the first time in history (we think), veterinary surgeons have successfully attached prosthetic legs on an Italian cat. Vituzzo—his friends call him Vito—lost both hind legs in a car accident. Today, his new bionic legs have made him an Internet superstar. Somebody should make a movie about that.

What We're Ignoring

Impeachment Games – Reportedly, some Democrats want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to refuse to send the freshly-passed Articles of Impeachment to the Senate until Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican Senate Majority, agrees to allow more witnesses and evidence into the proceedings. We can ignore this proposal, because the Democrats have zero leverage here. Republicans are happy to delay the trial because the uncertainty would create turmoil for the presidential campaigns of Democratic Senators Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, and Booker—and because it will appear to some voters that Democrats are playing games with a process they've thus far tried to treat with solemnity.

As Europe inches past the peak of COVID-19 deaths and the US slowly approaches it, many poorer countries are now staring into an abyss. As bad as the coronavirus crisis is likely to be in the world's wealthiest nations, the public health and economic blow to less affluent ones, often referred to as "developing countries," could be drastically worse. Here's why:

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25: A divorce lawyer in Shanghai told Bloomberg News that his business has surged 25% since the city began easing its lockdown in mid-March, as being cooped up on lockdown evidently exposed irreconcilable differences in people's marriages.

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Japan mulls state of emergency: Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe is poised to declare a "state of emergency" because of the coronavirus pandemic, giving local governments the authority to order people to stay in their homes and shutter businesses and schools. Japan has so far managed the crisis without the kinds of sweeping lockdowns seen elsewhere, but a surge of new cases in recent days – particularly in Tokyo – has put pressure on the government to do more. Japan has one of the world's oldest populations – a third of its people are older than 65, the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19. The emergency decision comes at a tough time. Japan's economy has been hurting for several months now, as China's massive lockdowns in January and February cratered demand for Japanese exports. In order to deal with the fallout that comes with putting his economy on life-support, PM Abe said the government would push through a $1 trillion stimulus package.

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As reports swirl from sources in the U.S. Intelligence Community that China vastly underreported the number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, China's top diplomat in the U.S., Ambassador Cui Tiankai, joined Ian Bremmer for an exclusive conversation in which he responds to the claim.

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