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Brazil Falls Further Behind Other Countries in Recovery Efforts

Source: Morning Consult

Economic conditions in Brazil are worse now than during the first wave of the pandemic. Consumer confidence also continued declining in April 2021, according to Morning Consult. While other countries are reporting a rebound in their economies, Brazil is falling further behind. 

The global demand for Brazilian goods rose as two of Brazil’s largest importers — the U.S. and China — saw growth in their economic activity, resulting in increased costs for Brazilian goods. However, these price increases are making it more difficult for Brazilians to pay for basic necessities, such as food. In March, the country reported a surge in food shortages and insecurity. “If price pressures continue,” wrote Morning Consult, “the 9.8% of Brazilians who lacked adequate food to eat could rapidly suffer from frequent hunger.”

COVID-related deaths in Brazil reached an average of 3,000 a day, as of April 17, and hospitals are running out of critical medical supplies. Complicating the country’s response to COVID, vaccine distribution rollouts remain slow, and a more contagious strain has begun to circulate across the country.

Africa Tops All Continents in Retail-Sized Crypto Transfers

When it comes to cryptocurrency use, Africa leads the world in retail-sized transfers (those under $10,000), according to new data from crypto analysis firm Chainalysis. 

The 2020 Geography of Crypto report concludes that this is likely due to a large number of African expats using cryptocurrency to transfer money back home. Cryptocurrency provides a low-fee way for those living abroad to transfer money across country lines. Though many consider crypto a volatile investment, it can be more reliable in countries with a history of currency instability. 

This data also demonstrates the efficacy of cryptocurrency in providing a means for economic growth, and venture capitalists like Jack Dorsey have taken notice. Recently, African-focused cryptocurrency exchange Yellow Card announced it has raised $15 million in Series A funding by the likes of Valar Ventures, Third Prime and Castle Island Ventures, with Dorsey’s Square also participating. It is the largest crypto-focused venture investment on the continent.

10.5% of U.S. households faced food insecurity in 2020. Unchanged from 2019.

Source: BRINK

The Pandemic Didn’t Lead to an Increase of Food-Insecure Households In the U.S.

Despite a global pandemic, the amount of U.S. households facing food insecurity was stable throughout 2020. A recent report (pdf) by the USDA found that 89.5% of American households were food-secure last year, unchanged from 2019. 

Among the 10.5% of households that did face food insecurity, 5.1 million households (3.9% of the toal) faced very low food security — where members “experienced reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns at times during the year because of limited money and other resources for obtaining food.” Households with children faced a disproportionate amount of food insecurity when compared to 2019, however. About 7.5% of U.S. households with children faced food hardships in 2020 — up from 6.5% in 2019.

The fact that the food-insecure population held steady during a global pandemic shows the impact of U.S. social safety nets, which helped vulnerable populations weather the storm, as well as private relief efforts like charitable food donations.

 

The Results of Germany’s Federal Election

The results of the German Federal Election

According to German media outlets, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by Olaf Scholz has won the largest share of votes in Sunday’s election, narrowly beating Armin Laschet, the new leader of the CDU, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its partner the CSU.

No party has won enough votes to form a government on its own, so there will need to be a coalition, which will be the subject of intense negotiations for several weeks. According to BRINK columnist Alex Privitera, the most likely outcome is “a coalition between the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the market-friendly Free Democrats (FPD) — without the Christian Democrats.”

But much will depend on “whether an understanding can be reached about the role of government in accelerating the transition toward a greener economy.”

Too Much Free Time May Be Almost As Bad As Too Little

Source: American Psychological Association

Having too much free time can be detrimental to a person’s well-being, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association. Much has been discussed regarding balancing work and free time, but the benefits apply only to a point.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey, conducted from 2012-2013, and found that the beneficial effects of free time on a person’s well-being began declining at around 5 hours. They also found that those who were asked to imagine a day with 7 hours of free time reported a lower satisfaction level than those imagining a day with 3 hours per day of free time.

The key to workers’ happiness is the feeling of being productive. Those who spent their time in a productive way (e.g., working out or doing hobbies,) reported a higher level of well-being than those who used it in an unproductive way (e.g., watching T.V.) Furthermore, the amount of free time spent socializing led to a higher well-being rate than free time spent alone.

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