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Dining Out Is More Appealing Than Going to a Concert — What Consumers Are Thinking About Opening Up

Source: Morning Consult

A majority of U.S. adults still aren’t comfortable engaging in leisure or social activities, despite an increasing number of “nonessential” businesses reopening across all 50 states. Morning Consult has been tracking public opinion on this topic since late May and conducted its latest poll in early June. 

Only about 25% of respondents, on average, say they feel safe participating in activities like going out to eat or going on vacation. However, the general trend is inching toward increased comfort in all categories, and respondents who would feel at ease dining out increased by 31% since late-May. In the poll, 22% of respondents say they could see themselves dining out within three months. 

Respondents are most uncertain about attending concerts and traveling abroad. Notably, 44% say they won’t feel safe traveling internationally until at least the end of the year. 

A new analysis found that after reopening nonessential businesses, 21 states saw a spike in coronavirus cases. This has prompted both Oregon and Utah to hit pause on lifting their states’ lockdown restrictions.

Over Half of US Medicine Ingredients Are From India and China

Despite discussions over the onshoring of medicines manufacturing, the U.S. remains heavily dependent on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) supplied from overseas, with over 60% sourced from just two countries — India and China.  A recent analysis by USP highlights how 48% of APIs imported into the U.S. are from India, and 13% from China. Just 10% of APIs are made domestically.

Different stages of the pharmaceutical supply chain have different geographical concentrations. The U.S. leads in R&D — although China is trying to catch up. China and India are the world’s main players in API production, due to cheaper manufacturing and labor costs, and favorable regulations. Europe dominates the production of finished pharmaceutical products with Germany and Switzerland as top exporters. India, meanwhile, is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs — although it, in turn, relies on China for some 70% of its APIs and raw materials.

With geopolitical tensions adding to anxieties, policymakers in the U.K., U.S., and EU have discussed boosting manufacturing independence. Other efforts have focused on supplier diversification. However, supply chain resilience isn’t cheap: keeping more inventory – or increasing domestic R&D and manufacturing – increases costs for healthcare systems just as funding pressures mount.

The Metaverse: Regulating an Uncharted Territory

The metaverse is an immersive digital universe that will transform the way societies interact, work, and live. Presently, this decentralized platform is highly unregulated; while some existing regulations may apply, they often lack specificity to protect users from unique harms. 

Some of the biggest legal issues in the metaverse include data privacy and cybersecurity (almost one in two users are concerned about identity privacy), fraud, and intellectual property (IP) loss. While some existing laws may apply to the metaverse (personal data protections, IP, and contract law), they often fall short in the virtual realm due to anonymity and jurisdictional complications. Some governments have expanded the scope of existing regulations (U.S.’s Bank Secrecy Act), and others have enacted new regulations (UAE’s Virtual Asset Law) to specifically address metaverse concerns. 

The metaverse is expected to grow at a CAGR of 50.7% from 2022-2030. As regulators play catch-up, they must strike a balance between enabling innovation and protecting users from harm. All stakeholders — lawmakers, regulators, architects of virtual spaces, and businesses — will need to work together to appropriately regulate this rapidly evolving landscape. 

One Year After Taliban Take Power, Afghanistan’s GDP Plummets

Source: Financial Times

One year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops, Afghanistan’s gross domestic product has sharply declined and food insecurity has risen. The UN Development Program estimated that Afghanistan’s GDP fell 20% in 2021 and will shrink another 5% this year. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund estimate that the country’s GDP could fall by up to 30%.

Afghanistan’s economic decline has been exacerbated by mismanagement under the government, rising inflation, and the collapse of the country’s banks. Even before the Taliban took over, 75% of Afghanistan’s economy was dependent on foreign aid — much of this aid has now been cut off by Western sanctions that have also frozen billions in foreign reserves. 

As a result, 37% of Afghan households say that they don’t have enough money for food. More than four out of five households say they have significantly lost income since the change in regime. However, the World Bank reports that employment has increased at the national level, driven largely by an expansion of employment in rural areas.

Taiwan and China’s Economies Are Inextricably Linked

Tensions between the U.S. and China remain high following last week’s visit by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the first in 25 years by a top U.S. official. Despite Taiwan’s fraught diplomatic relationship with China, the two countries’ economies are  inextricably linked, reports Investment Monitor.

China is Taiwan’s biggest export partner, with a value of more than $515 billion of goods between 2017-2022, more than double that of the United States. Taiwan’s main export to China is semiconductors — in 2020, China spent more on chips than on oil. 

Taiwan’s electronic exports dwarf any other industry and were valued at more than $844 billion between 2017-2022. Electronics also attract the most foreign direct investment, bringing in more than 16% of all greenfield FDI projects between 2019-2020. While strained trade relations between the U.S. and China have prompted some U.S. companies to relocate from mainland China to Taiwan, the recent rise in tensions may make Taiwan a riskier prospect for foreign investors.

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