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Demand for Precious Metals Is Expected to Drop As Economy Recovers

Source: World Bank, World Gold Council

The value of gold reached an all-time high of $2,067 per ounce in August 2020. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, gold “benefited from its status as a safe-haven asset and was buoyed by continued monetary easing by major central banks,” according to the World Bank. However, due to some initial signs of economic recovery, the demand for gold has started to decline, with its value seeing a corresponding drop. 

Other precious metals have seen price fluctuations since the start of the pandemic: The cost of silver reached a seven-year high of $29 per ounce in August 2020, but has since declined. In contrast, the cost of platinum dropped in April 2020, but has recovered slightly due to the rise of global auto sales and its use in that sector. 

Although the costs of precious metals dropped at the end of 2020, they have remained higher compared to 2019. Experts anticipate demand for precious metals continuing to decline in 2021 as the economy pursues its recovery. 

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.

Black American Unemployment Rate Is Double That of White Americans

For over 40 years, Black Americans have had an unemployment rate twice as high as white Americans, reports the Economic Policy Institute. As of May 2022, the unemployment gap remains unchanged: Black Americans had an unemployment rate of 6.2%, compared to white Americans at 3.2%.

The usual factors cited to explain this gap—differences in education, experience, or skills—fall short of explaining the racial inequality in the labor market without factoring in discrimination. The 2:1 ratio between Black and white workers remains the same, despite gains in educational and skill attainment by Black Americans over the past four decades.

This disparity also extends to wages. In 2019, the average Black worker earned 24% less per hour than the average white worker. Controlling for differences in education, experience, and geography still left Black workers earning 14% less than white workers. This racial wage gap has grown larger over time; in 1979, Black workers earned 8% less than white colleagues. 

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