UBI in Brazil, Biden’s latest tax hike, and China’s space station

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

The United States economy grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021 on an annual basis, as consumers came out of hibernation with a ton of stimulus money to spend [File: Adrees Latif/Reuters]

Once again, it’s been a big week in numbers – from stellar earnings reports from the likes of Tesla, Apple, Facebook and Amazon to warnings from United States companies that the prices of everyday goods will skyrocket.

US President Joe Biden wants to raise the capital gains tax to fund his American Families Plan and start closing the yawning inequality gap, while in Brazil, a small seaside town’s efforts to bolster its social safety net are making it a standout success story during the coronavirus pandemic that is currently raging through the country.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing a widening gap between the economic rebounds of different nations. The US economic recovery is accelerating on the back of mass vaccinations and beaucoup stimulus, while Europe posted negative growth in the first quarter. And spare a thought for young people in Mexico, who are pleading for work.

We’ve got other stories you’ll want to know, so let’s dive into the numbers that mattered this week.

39.6 percent

That’s the top tax rate US President Joe Biden wants to slap on long-term capital gains for households that make more than $1m. That’s nearly double the current top base rate.

The difference between taxes on income, which is how most Americans make their money, and capital gains — how many wealthy people grow their personal fortunes — has long been lambasted by critics as a driver of inequality.

US President Joe Biden pitched his American Families Plan during a speech on Wednesday [File: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Reuters]

But will raising the capital gains tax narrow the divide between the nation’s haves and have-nots?

Al Jazeera’s Ben Piven has the short answer.


That’s the number of people in the Brazilian town of Marica receiving mumbucas – a virtual currency created by the oil-wealthy seaside town prior to the pandemic as a form of universal basic income (UBI).

Mumbacas and other measures designed to bolster Marica’s social safety net have made the socialist town a standout success story during the pandemic, as Al Jazeera’s Monica Yanakiew reports, while most of Brazil battles the virus, which has cost at least 400,000 lives and thrown more than 25 million into poverty.

6.4 percent

That’s how much the US economy grew in the first three months of this year on an annual basis, as accelerating coronavirus vaccinations and a ton of stimulus money lured long-dormant consumers out of hibernation.

From January through March of this year, Americans went on shopping sprees buying cars and trucks and eating out at restaurants and bars. But as businesses gear up to cater to reinvigorated consumers, it’s causing bottlenecks in supply chains and triggering price spikes. The US Federal Reserve is not the least bit bothered by inflation – for now.  Al Jazeera’s Managing Business Editor Patricia Sabga explains why here.


Saudi Arabia is in talks to sell one percent of its state oil firm Saudi Aramco to a leading global energy company, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) announced earlier this week.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [File: Bandar Algaloud via Reuters]


Aramco raised $25.6bn in its 2019 initial public offering (IPO) debut. The crown prince is increasingly relying on the world’s biggest oil company to help finance his economic diversification and development blueprint Vision 2030, which has faced hurdles in recent years.



That’s how many missions it will take to complete a space station for which China launched an unmanned module on Thursday from its Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan.

Tianhe, also known as “Harmony of the Heavens”, contains the main living quarters for three crew members in the Chinese permanent space station.

The plan is to complete the space station that will orbit Earth at an altitude of 340km to 450km (211-280 miles) by the end of 2022, China’s media reported this week.

People watch from a beach as the Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China’s space station Tianhe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, China [File: China Daily via Reuters]


1 in 6

One in every six young people aged 18 to 29 in Latin America and the Caribbean has left work since the pandemic began, a recent study by Canadian charity Cuso found.

“Young people were the first to lose their jobs,” Andrea Olmos, who lives in central Mexico City, told Al Jazeera’s Ann Deslandes.

According to the Mexican Institute of Social Security, over half of all job losses in Mexico in the 10 months ending December 2020 were suffered by young people under the age of 29. As Al Jazeera’s Ann Deslandes explains, pandemic job losses combined with other systemic hurdles have left many young people in Mexico desperately searching for work.

Source: Al Jazeera