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Are We in a Crypto Winter?

Digital currencies took a nosedive last month, with the price of Bitcoin dropping 20% across just five days in May. In the first five months of the year, its price dropped 60%, to $26K. Coinbase’s stock price was down 82% compared to April 2021. And Ether lost more than 30% of its value, according to The New York Times.

The combination of rising interest rates, inflation, and economic instability related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict contributed to this value plunge — but so did TerraUSD. TerraUSD is a “stablecoin” — supposedly backed by stable assets. In reality, it was linked algorithmically to another digital currency, Luna, which lost nearly all of its value and implicated TerraUSD’s value.  

Though slow, the market is showing signs of recovery. In a piece for Forbes, Alkesh Shah, head of digital assets strategy for Bank of America, says that although “the media is writing as if it’s the end of the sector,” as of early June, “the market has corrected about 40% to 45%.” Similarly, the NYT notes that “Any panic might be overblown” as “the average Bitcoin owner on Coinbase would not lose money until the digital currency’s price sank below $21,000.”

China Received the Most Investment in Tourism in 2020

China was the leading recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in tourism from 2019-2020, despite the start of the pandemic, an analysis from Investment Monitor shows.

In 2020, China became the top global (FDI) destination overall — overtaking the U.S. for the first time in decades — in part due to strict lockdowns enabling its economic recovery in the first year of COVID-19. China was also the leading destination for construction projects, which helped attract foreign investors including Starbucks, Tesla and Walt Disney.

Most of China’s investments came from the U.S. (64 projects), including U.S.-based hotel companies like Wyndham and Hilton, which opened new hotels in 2020. Singapore was the second-largest investor with 24 projects. The U.S. is the leading source of outbound tourism FDI overall and invested in more operations in the Asia-Pacific than any other region.

The pandemic greatly impacted tourism FDI, which declined by 17.4% between 2019 and 2020. But overall, global FDI flows bounced back in 2021 with an 88% surge, rising above pre-pandemic levels. Tourism FDI is also projected to have grown last year, given the availability of vaccines and lifting of lockdowns and travel bans, though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have impacted its growth.

Global Housing Shortages Push Prices Higher

Source: World Economic Forum

Housing prices are climbing worldwide as construction lags and inflation rises, reports the World Economic Forum. Global prices increased at their fastest pace in 40 years during the pandemic and by nearly 70% in the past two decades. 

Low interest rates, government support and remote work all contributed to the housing boom during the pandemic, according to the International Monetary Fund. Supply chain disruptions during the pandemic also raised the costs of construction.

The cost of housing has outpaced wages in most countries, leaving many families without the means to afford a home. Experts estimate that affordability for first-time buyers will worsen over the next two years. This has also caused upward pressure on rents: Renters are spending an increased percentage of their household income on housing, creating a growing affordability gap between renters and homeowners.

Macron Loses Majority in French Legislative Elections

President Emmanuel Macron lost his absolute majority in the French National Assembly after voters gave more seats to the far left and right in Sunday’s legislative elections. President Macron’s centrist coalition held onto 245 seats in the lower Parliamentary house, well short of the 289 seats needed to maintain a majority. The loss of dozens of seats will cause friction in the president’s second term as he negotiates with opposition parties.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon successfully brought together more mainstream left parties with the Communist and Greens into an alliance called NUPES (New Ecological and Social Popular Union). NUPES now has 131 seats in the Assembly, making it the largest opposition force in France.

Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Rally party also gained ground, turning eight seats into 89. Le Pen, who lost the presidential election to President Macron in April, helped win the record number of seats for the National Rally with her efforts to attract voters during her presidential campaign.

Employees Are Happiest Working From Home

The vast majority of workers prefer to work from home rather than return to the office, shows a new study from the Policy Institute and King’s College London. The survey of over 2,000 London-based workers reveals that 75% of workers believe that we’re never returning to the previous model of working full-time in an office. 

Eight out of 10 workers say working from home at least once a week has a positive impact on their lives. The top benefits of working from home include no commute, being able to manage home and social responsibilities, less stress, and less exposure to COVID-19.

Women (84%) are more likely than men (76%) to say that remote work has improved their quality of life, and their ability to manage responsibilities at home. Older workers are also more likely than younger workers to experience a positive impact. Contrary to popular assumption, there is no significant difference between introverts (82%) and extroverts (79%) who enjoy working from home.

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