Data points

Published June 10, 2024
Tins with farmed oysters are seen at an oyster farm on Isla Chira in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Aquaculture production exceeded fisheries production for the first time in 2022, accounting for 51pc of the world total, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency published last week, 2024 in Costa Rica at a conference on ocean conservation.—AFP
Tins with farmed oysters are seen at an oyster farm on Isla Chira in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Aquaculture production exceeded fisheries production for the first time in 2022, accounting for 51pc of the world total, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency published last week, 2024 in Costa Rica at a conference on ocean conservation.—AFP

US consumer crunch?

Nothing has been able to stop American consumers. At first they splashed Covid-19 savings on home-exercise bicycles; now, they are more likely to plump for beachside holidays. Predictions made by bank bosses last summer that households would be squeezed by inflation have been confounded. Instead, their outlays have powered American GDP ever higher, at a pace beyond the country’s G7 peers. But are the predictions at last coming true? Monthly consumer-spending growth fell from 0.7pc in March to just 0.2pc in April. Overall spending shrank in real terms. Retail sales have weakened, with brands from McDonald’s, a burger purveyor, to 3M, a maker of sticky tape, warning that customers are closing their wallets. The recent spending data, released on May 31, helped wipe almost a percentage point off the prediction of annual GDP growth from the Atlanta branch of the Federal Reserve, cutting its “nowcast” for the second quarter of the year to 1.8pc.

(Adapted from “Is America’s Economy Heading For A Consumer Crunch?” by The Economist, published on June 4, 2024)

Improving meetings

If you find most meetings ineffective, inefficient, or unproductive, you’re in good company. But unless you work in an environment where feedback and honesty are encouraged, you’re probably not going to raise your hand and speak up about it. This is especially true if you’re not the person running the meeting. Luckily, there are some things you can do during a meeting itself to get things back on track. Try one of the following prompts: 1) When people seem confused about the direction of the meeting: “Can anyone help me navigate where we are on the agenda of today’s meeting? That will help me focus better and contribute.” 2) When people keep getting off topic: “[Name], I think the topic you’re talking about is not on today’s agenda. But I think we can all benefit from having an in-depth conversation about it. So, it got me thinking: Could we add this topic and the reason we’ll be discussing it to the agenda for our next meeting?”

(Adapted from ”How To Improve A Meeting (When You’re Not In Charge),” by Tijs Besieux and Amy C. Edmondson, published by HBR Early Career)

Unemployment in Gaza

Unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached nearly 80pc since the war with Israel erupted last October, the United Nations labour agency has said, bringing the average unemployment rate across Palestinian territories to more than 50pc. Unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached 79.1pc, while the West Bank has seen joblessness hit nearly 32pc, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in its fourth assessment of the impact of the war on employment. The figures give a combined unemployment rate of 50.8pc. “This excludes Palestinians who have given up on finding a job,” said Ruba Jaradat, ILO Regional Director for Arab States. The Israeli offensive has killed more than 36,500 people, according to health authorities in the Gaza Strip, where around half of its 2.3m people lived below the poverty line even before the war.

(Adapted from “Unemployment Nears 80pc In Gaza, UN Agency Says,” by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, published on June 7, 2024, by Reuters)

The balloon wars

North Korean defectors, part of an activist group in Seoul, are fighting back — not with balloons filled with trash and excrement, but with K-pop and dollar bills instead. Earlier, North Korea sent balloons filled with trash, fertiliser and other waste across the border in what it said was a tit-for-tat against South Korean activists employing similar means to spread anti-North Korean messaging. Activist group Free North Korea Movement said it had sent 10 giant balloons carrying 5,000 USB sticks containing K-pop videos and dramas, 200,000 leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and 2,000 $1 bills, into North Korea. For years, groups like the Free North Korea Movement have been deploying balloons carrying items like medicine, propaganda leaflets and South Korean news and media into the North.

(Adapted from “Cash For Trash: How Activists Are Responding To Pyongyang’s Rubbish-Filled Balloons Into South Korea,” by Lee Ying Shan, published on June 7, 2024, by CNBC)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, June 10th, 2024

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