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Consumer Confidence Varies Drastically Across the Globe

Source: Morning Consult

Consumer confidence — or spending — is higher in Australia now than before the pandemic. In general, consumers in the Asia-Pacific region show the highest level of confidence among the 12 countries included in an analysis by the Morning Consult. “This data provides a leading indicator of the strength of global consumer spending,” it says “and sheds light on the future trajectories of the global economy.” 

China, somewhat of an outlier, experienced relative stability over the last year after taking “drastic measures to limit the spread of the virus,” the report says. Though consumer confidence is slowly rising in other regions, some countries — such as in Europe and the U.S. — have yet to see a notable or consistent difference in consumer confidence. Germany, especially, is lagging behind its neighboring countries due to stricter lockdowns and a low vaccination rate. 

Experts predict a rebound later this year in the U.S., assuming vaccines remain constant and another stimulus package is disbursed by the federal government. 

Transportation Accounts for 17% of Global Greenhouse Emissions

The U.S. leads the world in green house gas emissions from transportation.

Transportation produced 8.26 gigatons of greenhouse gasses in 2018, accounting for 17.4% of global emissions, according to data from World Resources Institute. The United States led the world, emitting 1.7 gigatons of greenhouse gasses, followed by China and the European Union.

According to the report, “72% of global transport emissions come from road vehicles, which accounted for 80% of the rise in emissions from 1970-2010.”

This paints a need for autonomous vehicles, as autonomous cars and trucks are set to take the stage. According to new research from Marsh McLennan Advantage’s Ben Hoster and Toshin Sequeira, autonomous vehicles (AVs) will benefit the environment by lowering congestion. It’s estimated that AVs might reduce traffic congestion by 35% by calculating optimal routes and avoiding start-and-stop scenarios through wireless communication. In doing so, AVs will decrease transportation emissions by lowering the amount of time vehicles spend on the road.

More People and Assets Are Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise 

Climate change has already caused sea levels to rise by 0.2 meters since 1900, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report. Temperatures will likely increase between 1.8 and 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100 — not including higher levels of warming, according to an analysis of the outcomes of COP26

Sea levels may further rise by up to 1 meter by the end of the century, depending on future emissions. Sea level rise is leading to coastal erosion and flooding, contamination of agricultural land and aquifers with saltwater and damage to ecosystems

As the concentration of population and assets along coastlines continues to increase, sea level rise will disrupt economic activities and cause extensive damage to infrastructure. Without significant investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation, by the end of the century, the global population and assets threatened by coastal flooding will increase by 52% and 48%, respectively.

Are Pandemic-Driven Salary Freezes Beginning to Thaw?

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, many companies instituted cost-cutting measures like salary freezes to curb potential negative financial impacts. But according to new data from Mercer, the general trend indicates that the percentage of freezes will decline in 2021.

This year, the total percentage of Western European companies freezing salaries has declined by 6%, with large salary freeze decreases in high tech (18% less in 2021) and manufacturing (15% less in 2021). In the life sciences sector — which includes pharmaceuticals, one of the key industries leading “return to normalcy” efforts throughout the pandemic — the proportion of companies instituting or continuing salary freezes is projected to dip even below 2020’s already-low rate. 

Of course, companies worldwide are still adjusting as new variants, labor trends and market evolutions continue to foster an environment of uncertainty. For example, industries like consumer goods and energy — which are dealing with the dual challenge of the pandemic and climate change or inflation — are still instituting freezes at higher levels.

U.S. Household Consumption Sees Dip in 2020, Still Outpaces Europe

The United States leads the world in consumption per capita, according to a recent article by Bloomberg opinion columnist Allison Schrager. An average household consumed $43,500 in goods in 2020, accounting for 67% of the GDP. The number has grown 43% since 1990.

Countries in Europe pale in comparison. Germany, for instance, had an average household consumption of $21,500 in 2020, accounting for 50% of its GDP. For Europe as a whole, household consumption per capita grew just 35% since 1990.

The rising trend in U.S. consumption, per the author, reflects the changing lifestyle that revolves around spending. Forty-three percent of American households own three T.V.’s, for instance, while clothing purchases have increased 500% since 1980. It also is a result of having more space to put things — the average U.S. home was 2,000 sq. ft. in 2015, compared to 1,700 sq. ft. in 1980.

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