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Crypto Investment Surges by Nearly 400%

$15 billion. That’s how much funding has gone into blockchain/crypto startups in 2021, according to a new report by CB Insights. Over 800 deals were made, with U.S.-based CoinBase Ventures leading the pack with 24. Of the top 10 investors, just two are based outside the U.S. — Hong Kong-based Kinetic Capital and Japan-based SoftBank Group.

Two billion dollars were invested in NFT (non-fungible token) companies, a 6,427% increase from 2020, while almost $4 billion was invested in custody and wallet companies, which provide user-friendly crypto storage solutions. Crypto exchange companies such as FTX received $3.7 million in funding as well. This increase in investment shows a significant appetite for solutions offered by decentralized systems, such as opportunities in cybersecurity, privacy, control of confidential data and supply chain management, as well as new business models created by decentralized finance.

The U.S. leads the world in total funding with $2.96 billion in funding, followed by $1.43 billion funded by Asia-based companies and $1.14 billion from European-based companies.

The Global Cities Most At Risk of a Housing Bubble

Frankfurt, Toronto and Hong Kong are the cities most at risk of a housing bubble, according to new research by Switzerland-based UBS. Its latest Global Real Estate Bubble Index found nine cities around the world that have a high index score. Meanwhile, Madrid, Milan and Warsaw are deemed to be cities with “fairly valued” housing, and Dubai has a negative index score, indicating that its housing is undervalued.

Overall, bubble risk has increased, along with the potential severity of a price correction, as a result of rising house prices across the world. UBS has found that growth in home prices increased 6% from mid-year 2020 to mid-year 2021 — the highest rate of growth since 2014.

To determine a city’s index score, UBS tracks whether a city shows symptoms of previous real estate bubbles, such as a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents, and imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive lending and construction activity. In Frankfurt, for example, housing prices have increased steadily every year since 2016, in part due to a focus on building luxury housing, but the average price-to-income ratio has doubled in the last decade, leaving housing unaffordable for many. These trends point to a possible correction if the housing bubble were to burst.

Supporting US Airlines Could Recover 10% of GDP

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The U.S. aviation industry is seeing a moderate recovery from the pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. August saw a total of 592,760 flights, 84.1% of the number from August 2019, continuing its strong performance from July.

Despite the recovery in total flights operated, pandemic concerns and international travel restrictions have kept capacity down. Analysis by Oliver Wyman shows that seat totals are still down from pre-pandemic levels. Capacity for the top 15 airlines is 12.8% below 2019 levels, meaning the industry expects significant losses in 2021 — $38.7 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Airlines have survived on government support, according to IATA, and only have enough funds to stay afloat for around 8.5 months. Supporting airlines’ recovery “is one of the most important investments that governments can make. It will save jobs and kick-start the recovery in the travel and tourism sector which accounts for 10% of global GDP,” says IATA’s CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

EU Nears Employment Recovery While US Lags Behind

Impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, neither the United States nor the European Union is at pre-pandemic employment levels. The E.U., however, is closer to a full recovery than the U.S., according to BRINK analysis of OECD and U.S. Bureau Labor and Statistics data.

OECD data show that the European Union’s employment rate dropped less than 1% during the pandemic and has already recovered to nearly pre-pandemic levels. According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the limited impact was mainly “because governments were quick to expand their national job-retention schemes.”

The United States, on the other hand, suffered a substantial dip in the employment rate and — while its increase from 2020 is more dramatic than the E.U. — increased retirements among the great resignation and a mass refusal to work under “poor conditions” have contributed to a slow recovery in 2021, leaving 7.4 million Americans unemployed.

TCFD Support Multiplies Across Countries and Institutions

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has grown from having just 29 supporters in 2016 to more than 2,600 in 2021, amounting to $194 trillion in assets and including over 120 regulatory and governmental entities. It has garnered substantial support from private and public institutions alike. 

Seven jurisdictions are currently working to align their official reporting requirements with TCFD, including the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan. New Zealand recently became the first country to mandate climate-related financial disclosures in October.

The TCFD was established by the Financial Stability Board in December 2015 to develop a framework for companies and financial institutions to disclose their climate-related risks and opportunities. 

TCFD brings forth opportunities for its supporters to better understand the financial implications of climate change, helping them pivot their business models and allowing their stakeholders to make more accurate decisions on investment, lending and insurance underwriting.

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