First female US Treasury secretary, Dow at 30,000 and bad toys

We round up the numbers to know from the week’s biggest economic and business news stories so you can impress yourself and your friends.

Janet Yellen is in line to become the first female US Treasury secretary after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden chose her for the role [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]
Janet Yellen is in line to become the first female US Treasury secretary after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden chose her for the role [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

It has been a record-breaking week for the United States stock market and for American calorie consumption after the country celebrated its first socially-distant Thanksgiving Day.

So if you’re on your own heating up leftover turkey and stuffing in your microwave, take two minutes to catch up on six major business and economic stories you might have missed before you hear the beep.

First

Janet Yellen is in line to become the first female US Treasury secretary after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden chose her for the role.

Yellen previously shattered the glass ceiling as the first female chair of the Federal Reserve. If confirmed by the Senate, she will inherit a deeply unequal economy struggling to recover amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Yellen would take over from Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been at loggerheads with Congress over the next round of coronavirus stimulus relief for struggling US families and businesses for months.

40 percent

Despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, some 50 million people travelled for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Travel.

Experts are worried people are not taking the pandemic seriously as they head into the holiday season. In fact, nearly 40 percent of Americans report they “will likely attend a risky gathering”, according to a nationwide survey by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Those gatherings will include either more than 10 people or people from outside their immediate household, respondents said, and a third admitted they will not ask their guests to wear masks.

30,000

The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 30,000 for the first time ever this week, rising 454.97 points to close at 30,046.24 on Tuesday. The index was buoyed by ongoing progress on multiple coronavirus vaccines and Trump’s move to formally begin the transition to the Biden administration.

There are a lot of factors behind the Dow’s rise, but the Fed’s move to cut short-term interest rates to almost zero and the US government’s provision of trillions in stimulus aid at the start of the pandemic definitely played a role.

410.5

That was the record-high concentration of carbon dioxide – measured in parts per million – in the Earth’s atmosphere last year, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

And if you thought all those lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus have lowered that level this year, think again.

The WMO says levels of carbon dioxide are likely to keep growing in 2020 despite restrictions on industrial output and travel.

“COVID-19 hasn’t put climate change on hold,” Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s climate change executive secretary, warned.

“It’s getting worse and our window of opportunities is closing,” she added.

$7.2bn

The amount Tesla CEO Elon Musk added to his net worth in a single day this week. The bump helped Musk soar past Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

Musk, 49, added $100.3bn to his net worth in 2020 alone when shares of his electric car company surged, leaving his total net worth at a whopping $127.9bn.

10

As shoppers around the world fill their virtual and physical carts at Black Friday sales, a children’s safety watchdog group wants to remind parents that not all toys are created equally.

World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), a nonprofit, released its “10 Worst Toys” list for the year. Among the toys in the naughty corner: Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime, which has the potential to cause chemical-related injuries, the group found.

Even babies should beware: Gloria Owl, a cuddly plush toy for children as young as 1, made the list due to long, fibre-like hair that WATCH says could be “prone to shredding”. Check out the full list here.

Source: Al Jazeera

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