Working moms, Kenya’s champion maker and a $69.3m Beeple pleaser

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

Everydays: the First 5000 Days” from digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, sold for an eye-popping $69.3m at auction last year
To prove its authenticity, 'Everydays – The First 5000 Days' features what is known as a non-fungible token that digitally attaches the artist’s signature to it and can’t be altered, Christie’s auction house said [Christie's Images Ltd via Reuters]

COVID-19 vaccines are going into arms, people around the world are starting to get outside again and digital art is selling for millions of dollars at auction.

If you’ve been gazing out out the window and dreaming of sunnier times ahead instead of gluing yourself to your smartphone screen, good for you. Get that Vitamin D.

But if you want to impress yourself and your friends with your incredible business and economic news knowledge, we’ve still got you covered. We’ve gathered up the numbers to know from this week’s headlines so you can say goodbye to that doomscrolling habit and get out into the sunshine. You’re welcome.

2,400 metres

The distance above sea level of Kenya’s High Altitude Training Centre (HATC), a premier place for runners to train led by legendary athlete Lornah Kiplagat. Located in Iten, a small highland town in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley region, it is aptly named the “Home of Champions” for the number of world-class runners who use its high altitude and proximity to the equator to train for the biggest races of their lives.

Lornah Kiplagat on the farm that provides produce for the High Altittude Training Centre where she trains athletes in Iten, Kenya [File: Cherry Ogolla Jr./Al Jazeera]

Kiplagat is herself a four-time world champion and former holder of multiple world records – as well as a business mogul. She’s also determined to help more girls and women in Kenya enter the world of sport, writes Al Jazeera’s Idah Waringa.

“People back home didn’t believe it when I first went abroad to compete and encouraged me to pave way for other girls,” Kiplagat told Al Jazeera. “HATC came about as a result of helping young women in the community develop into athletes.”

Although HATC has been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions lately, Kiplagat is determined to keep inspiring and training champions.

2 million

The number of American women who have dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic began as working mothers struggled to juggle careers, caregiving and homeschooling with virtually no support.

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Al Jazeera spoke to nine working mothers in the United States about the impact the crisis has had on their careers, finances, families and mental health.

The words they used to describe their experiences over the past included “collateral damage”, “added weight to the house of cards that is our daily life”, “no winning”, “stretched thin” and “impossible.”

Women shared their exhaustion with the “mental gymnastics for every decision,” their experience being “nine months pregnant and still on unemployment,” and the feeling that “we carry a lot, and sometimes in silence.”

Read their powerful stories in full here.

$1.9 trillion

The value of US President Joe Biden’s ambitious stimulus bill, which finally passed this week after weeks of partisan wrangling. One of the package’s signature elements is $1,400 stimulus cheques for struggling Americans. In order to gain enough support for the bill to pass in a closely divided Senate, Biden and Congressional Democrats agreed to tighten restrictions around who qualified for the payments.

The bigger question remains whether Americans will squirrel away those cheques in savings accounts or go out and spend, bolstering the consumer spending that already drives two-thirds of the US economy. Al Jazeera’s Cinnamon Janzer spoke to three economists about what they think Americans will do with their windfall — and whether it will make a difference.

0.1 percent

The amount US consumer prices – excluding food and energy – rose in February compared to the previous month, a relatively paltry amount that signals investors’ fears that Biden’s giant stimulus package will lead to inflation may be overblown.

The big fear is that rising inflation will prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, making it more expensive and less attractive to borrow money, cooling the recovery from the pandemic.

But Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has repeatedly sought to assure investors that the US central bank is priortizing nursing the nation’s jobs market back to health, even if it means letting inflation rise above its target two percent target rate for a short time.

$69.3 million

The amount “Everydays – The First 5000 Days”, a stunning digital collage by the American artist Beeple, fetched at a Christie’s auction Thursday.

“Everydays” is comprised of artwork that Beeple, whose name is Mike Winkelmann, created every day for the past 13 years. It is the first piece of purely digital art to be auctioned by Christie’s and features a non-fungible token that proves its authenticity by digitally attaching the artist’s signature to it.

The sale made Beeple, who lives in South Carolina, one of the top three most valuable living artists, Christie’s announced, calling it a “watershed moment in the development of digital art”.

Bidding started at $100 in the online auction, which ran from February 25 until Thursday, and ultimately the piece sold for $69,346,250.

Beeple’s work also brought a new class of collector to the centuries-old auction house: of the 33 active bidders, 91 percent were new to Christie’s and millennial and Generation X buyers made up the majority, Christie’s said in a press release. Most bidders were in the Americas, followed by Europe and Asia.

In another first, Christie’s said it would accept cryptocurrency Ether as payment for Beeple’s work. No word yet on whether the winning bidder paid in crypto, but whoever it is certainly has something spectacular to hang on their digital walls.

For his part, Beeple didn’t take the record-breaking moment too seriously. In a press release describing some of the milestones featured in the 13-year work, he wrote of his first “everyday” from May 1, 2007: “It’s a picture of my Uncle Jim, who I nicknamed Uber Jay. I probably would have spent more time on this, had I known it would eventually be part of a piece auctioned by Christie’s!”

Source: Al Jazeera