Taxing the rich, biometric IDs and remembering John Lennon

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.

Fans around the world paid tribute to music legend and peace activist John Lennon, who was shot and killed outside of his New York City apartment 40 years ago this week [File: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo]

It’s been a week, and if you feel like you’ve lived 14 days in the past seven, you’re not alone. The United Kingdom became the first country to start mass immunisation using Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, and it feels like the end of the pandemic may finally be in sight – even though there is a long way to go.

So pause your doom-scrolling to learn something new, because each week, we’re rounding up the biggest economic and business news stories to keep you up to date.

One billion

That’s the estimated number of people in the world who are unable to prove their identities – a major disadvantage when it comes to everyday tasks like getting a job or accessing government services, according to the World Bank.

Roughly half of those one billion people live in Africa, and that’s why nearly every African country with a stable government has active biometric ID programmes in place or underway, according to ID4Africa.

Nearly every African country with a stable government now has active biometric ID programmes in place or under way, according to ID4Africa [File: Feisal Omar/Reuters]

Biometric IDs are high-tech cards that hold vital information – fingerprints, contact details and occupational data – all in one place.

But while biometric IDs are super convenient, data protection experts and watchdogs worry that gaps in Africa’s legal and regulatory ecosystem leave citizens, including those in vulnerable LGBTQ communities, exposed to privacy abuses.

Activists also argue that Africa’s ID programmes could be harnessed to facilitate the deportation of migrants and refugees from Europe.

$3.3 trillion

The United States’ budget deficit for 2020. But even though the coronavirus pandemic has left the country in the red, more stimulus aid is needed to keep struggling families and businesses afloat for the time being.

Everyone in Washington seems to agree that more financial relief is needed, but just how much money – and for whom – is a matter of heated debate. Congressional Democrats, Senate Republicans and the administration of US President Donald Trump are running out of time to find a solution.

Many of the provisions from April’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act expired at the end of July, and others that protect renters, student loan borrowers and the unemployed will expire at the end of December. But lawmakers are still bickering over what a potential bill would include while millions of Americans’ economic futures hang in the balance.

30 to 40 million

The number of Americans who could lose their homes if the US government does nothing before its federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the month, according to a report by the non-profit Aspen Institute.

A new study by researchers at UCLA and Johns Hopkins University found that lifting eviction moratoriums leads to additional COVID-19 infections and deaths [File: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo]

Aside from the economic impact, the US’s looming housing crisis could worsen its ongoing public health crisis, too.

A new study by researchers at UCLA and Johns Hopkins University found that lifting eviction moratoriums has a real impact on the spread of COVID-19. Their study, which is under peer review, compared states with eviction moratoriums in place between March and September to those that lifted them, finding that lifting moratoriums led to an estimated 433,700 additional COVID-19 cases and an estimated additional 10,700 deaths.

260 billion British pounds ($346bn)

The amount a one-off, one percent tax charged for five years on individual wealth above 500,000 British pounds ($665,000) would generate in revenue for the struggling United Kingdom.

The windfall – equivalent to $346bn – is one proposal put forth by the independent Wealth Tax Commission, which argues that a one-off wealth tax is harder for the rich to dodge, given that it is based on individual wealth assessed at a particular date.

The UK is facing its largest peacetime budget deficit ever, so it needs to get creative when it comes to filling its coffers. And taxing the rich enjoys broad popular support – except from the rich themselves, of course.


The tally of number-one hits by the Beatles, still the most of any band, according to Billboard. Beatles fans and former bandmates paid tribute to the late John Lennon this week, 40 years after he was shot and killed outside of his apartment in New York City.

Lennon’s music and legacy of peace activism live on. His widow, Yoko Ono, recently released a remastered version of their song Happy Xmas (War is Over), which racked up more than half a million views on YouTube in a matter of weeks.

Lennon would have turned 80 this fall. Happy Christmas, John.

Source: Al Jazeera