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Australia’s Fires May Cause Record-Setting Damage to Its Economy

Source: Fire Information for Resource Management System, NASA

A NASA project using satellite imagery shows “near real-time active fire data.” This image captures active fires between December 5, 2019, and January 5, 2020: Each pixel represents 1 kilometer, and contains at least one active fire. 

While some sources estimate the damage to be around $280 million, the Insurance Council of Australia estimates “damage claims from the fires to [be] more than AU$700 million [$480 million], with claims expected to jump when more fire-hit areas are accessible,” according to Reuters, which adds that “insurers have received 8,985 bushfire-related claims since November 8.” 

The economic damage on Australia’s eastern seaboard is “likely to exceed the record $4.4 billion set by 2009’s Black Saturday blazes,” according to economist Katrina Ell in The Guardian. Air pollution and “direct harm to industries such as farming and tourism,” will significantly damage the economy, the article cites, with “tourism bodies say[ing] it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild.”

COVID-19 Causes 100% Decline in Seated Diners in Restaurant Industry

Source: OpenTable

Last updated on Wed., March 25,10:09 a.m.

The restaurant industry is in freefall as the calamitous economic impact of the novel coronavirus continues to be felt. According to a new OpenTable report surveying seven countries, restaurants are seeing a 100% decline in seated diners, including online and phone reservations and walk-ins. 

The report includes results from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australia. Restaurants in all countries have seen a full decline in seated diners, save for Mexico, which is currently reporting a 96% decline. 

The sharp and sudden decline has already hit jobs in the hospitality sector, with thousands already lost. Restaurants are increasingly turning to their communities for support to stay afloat. OpenTable is providing multiple avenues to support struggling restaurants, like buying a gift card to use in the future or ordering take-out and delivery. Conversely, while dining restaurants suffer, grocery store app downloads, like Instacart and Walmart Grocery, have skyrocketed.

The Internet Is Least Accessible in These 10 Countries

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit

Key dots: white — overall ranking; green — availability; pink — affordability; purple — relevance; and yellow — readiness

Countries in Africa claim the bottom 10 spots in a ranking on internet availability. This is due to a mix of issues including cost and lack of infrastructure, as is seen in the Inclusive Internet Index, a project between Facebook and The Economist Intelligence Unit, which covers 91% of the world’s population.

For Liberia, where connection is most difficult, access to electricity is one of the root issues. It is also where internet service is the most expensive relative to per capita national income — and, the report says, where “mobile data prices are also among the highest.”

But there has been progress: Broadband connections across Africa passed 400 million in 2018, a twentyfold increase from eight years prior, a report from the World Bank notes. 

The report also highlights initiatives to double internet connectivity across the continent by 2021, compared to 2016, and “to achieve universal affordable and good quality broadband access in Africa by 2030.”

Air Pollution Is Still the World’s Biggest Killer

Source: European Society of Cardiology, March 2020

Air pollution remains the greatest killer of human beings on the planet, according to a new study by the European Society of Cardiology. Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by an average of 2.9 years — almost four times more than parasitic and vector-borne diseases. In fact, ambient air pollution kills more people on the planet than tobacco smoking and violence.

Poor air quality kills more people on average in East Asia (196 deaths/100,000 people per year), Europe (133 deaths/100,000 people per year) and South Asia (119 deaths/100,000 people per year) than anywhere else in the world.

The shortening of life expectancy can be reversed with a cut in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, removing fossil fuel emissions would result in an increased life expectancy of 1.1 years, according to the study. Nowhere would that improvement be more felt than in East Asia, which could see a three-year increase in life expectancy should action be pursued to reduce air pollution.

Nearly 1 Billion Workers Are in Jobs That Don’t Reflect Their Educational Level

Source: International Labour Organization

As many as 258 million workers in the world are currently overeducated for their jobs, according to new data released by the International Labour Organization.

The bulk of those overeducated workers are in higher-income countries, while undereducated workers are more prevalent in lower-income countries. As illustrated above, overeducated American workers represent 27% of their national workforce, whereas half of the Uruguayan workforce is undereducated.

In total, more than 935 million workers were found to be in jobs that don’t match their educational level, 72% of whom are undereducated. The latest ILO data covers 114 countries of varying regions and income levels, “which means the actual global figures are probably much higher.”

The discrepancy between low- and high-income countries was put down to their disparate economic composition. In low-income countries, “employment is concentrated in low-skilled occupations,” while the opposite is true in high-income countries.

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