Crypto crackdown, Doge mania, space tourism and a big divorce

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

SpaceX successfully landed its first Starship prototype this week, proving in its most important test yet that Elon Musk's firm has what it takes to fulfil an ambitious NASA contract to land humans on the moon by 2024 [File: Gene Blevins/Reuters]
SpaceX successfully landed its first Starship prototype this week, proving in its most important test yet that Elon Musk's firm has what it takes to fulfil an ambitious NASA contract to land humans on the moon by 2024 [File: Gene Blevins/Reuters]

There has been no shortage of headline-grabbing business and economic stories this week.

Once again, the pandemic topped the global news agenda with India’s devastating second wave of COVID-19 infections. But there was also good news: United States President Joe Biden’s administration joined dozens of other nations in backing a plan to waive patent protections on COVID vaccines and boost the global supply of jabs, particularly for less-developed countries.

We’ve rounded up the numbers to know this week, including a sobering read on the labour market recovery in the US; an uplifting (literally) milestone from private space company SpaceX; a high-profile divorce announcement from two of the biggest names in philanthropy; and plenty of crypto-mania, including a regulatory crackdown that came too late for some Turks.

So before you unplug for the weekend, pour yourself another cup of coffee and give these in-depth reads a scroll.

61

The number of countries to have thrown their support behind a proposal at the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

In a move described by World Health Organization as “monumental,” the Biden administration announced this week that it too would back the plan.

Al Jazeera’s Virginia Pietromarchi breaks down what you need to know about the battle over COVID vaccine IP protections – and what’s at stake in the global fight against the virus – right here.

389,000

The number of new COVID-19 infections India has averaged each day for the past seven days, bringing the total number of reported cases to 21.4 million.

“The spiralling numbers have overwhelmed the country’s creaking healthcare system, leaving millions scrambling for medicines, oxygen cylinders and beds,” writes Al Jazeera’s Megha Bahree.

Into that void have stepped volunteers, including an all-women network of 50 people who have “divided themselves into subgroups to tackle various requests – such as those for beds, home intensive-care setups and oxygen – and to scour for locations for COVID-19 tests,” often for complete strangers. Read the inspiring stories of Indians who are stepping in to help here.

10 percent

The plunge in value (a little more than 10 percent, actually) of the Turkish lira against the dollar since the start of 2021, prompting some in Turkey to bet instead on red-hot cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

But hundreds of Turkish investors ended up losing their shirts instead after two cryptocurrency exchanges in the country collapsed within days of each other, prompting regulators there to tighten the noose on the sector.

But for those who lost their savings, the crackdown comes too late, as Al Jazeera’s Andrew Wilks reports here.

One

The number of seats available on Blue Origin’s first commercial flight into suborbital space, slated for July 20.

Jeff Bezos’s space firm announced on Wednesday it was ready to take paying passengers — and opened up online bidding for the final seat on its inaugural flight.

Not to be outdone, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the fifth test flight of its Starship on the same day.

The two space-obsessed billionaires have made no secret they’re far from BFFs. They are even in the middle of a Moon feud. Al Jazeera’s Amy Thompson has that story here.

Massive windows on the Blue Origin’s crew capsule are designed to treat passengers to stunning views as they spend roughly 10 minutes floating in zero gravity before returning to Earth [Credit: Blue Origin]

 

266,000

The number of jobs the US economy added in April, and a massive disappointment, given that many Wall Street analysts were expecting roughly one million jobs to have been created last month.

And the sluggish labour market recovery isn’t hitting everyone equally. In April, the share of women over the age of 20 in the US who were either gainfully employed or actively looking for a job fell to 56.2 percent from 56.6 percent the months before.

Women have quit their jobs in droves during the pandemic as they’ve been forced to shoulder the brunt of a larger childcare burden resulting from remote schooling and daycare centre closures.

That means women, especially working mothers, could lose years of progress in the workplace, which is also bad for companies and the economy because diversity and inclusion boost the bottom line.

So will the pandemic’s disruptions result in woker workplaces for mothers? Al Jazeera’s Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath explores the debate here.

69 cents

The high price Dogecoin hit this week, part of the Shiba Inu-themed cryptocurrency’s meteoric rise since the start of the year.

A mix of daytrader FOMO and high-profile shoutouts from the likes of Elon Musk, who is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend, have helped fuel a spectacular rally.

But critics say the joke coin could end in tears for less savvy investors. Woof. Al Jazeera’s Ben Piven breaks down what you need to know about Doge mania here.

$43.3bn

The net assets of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2019, making it the largest private philanthropic foundation in the US and one of the largest in the world.

News that Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage sent shockwaves through the world of philanthropy this week. The Gates are among the world’s wealthiest people, and their divorce is likely to entail a complicated division of their substantial assets.

That process seems to have already begun: following the announcement, Bill Gates’s company transferred $1.8bn in equities to Melinda.

Source: Al Jazeera

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