Marsh & McLennan Advantage Insights logo
Conversations and insights from the edge of global business
Menu Search

Quick Takes

Financial Flows to Developing Economies Are Shrinking

Financial flows to low- and middle-income countries decreased by an average of 29% in 2018, according to the newly released World Bank International Debt Statistics 2020 report.

This is indicative of “general concerns about a slowdown” in the growth of the world economy along with the political risks and trade pressures that have had ripple effects globally. Another contributing factor may be the high levels of debt that have accumulated in some countries due to unsustainable borrowing from international markets. 

“Sustainable borrowing is an important tool for economic growth and poverty eradication. It boosts countries’ capacity for long-term financing to invest in infrastructure, education, employment, and health,” according to the report’s authors. 

But the levels of debt carried by some of these countries warrant concern: “For both borrowers and creditors to safeguard debt sustainability, and for governments to design effective macroeconomic policies, debt transparency is critical.”

Metal Prices Soar As Economies Recover

Source: International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Global industrial metal prices reached a nine-year high in May, with a 72% increase compared to pre-pandemic levels. Of the metals reviewed, the price of copper is up 89% year-over-year, iron ore is up 116% and nickel is up by 41%, according to the IMF.

Four factors contributed to metals’ soaring prices: manufacturing activity, supply chain disruptions, storability and a push for a greener economic recovery. Many mining operations temporarily paused due to COVID restrictions, and freight rates for transportation of bulk materials reached a 10-year high — both attributing to the cost of metals. 

Market predictions indicate that industrial metal prices will rise a further 50% YoY; however, prices are then expected to decrease by 4% in 2022. As the U.S. and EU introduce high-scale infrastructure projects, demand for copper, iron ore and other industrial metals could spike to accommodate a quicker energy transition. 

Pandemic Policies Leave Societies Divided

Source: Pew Research Center

Over sixty percent of the publics surveyed feel their countries are more divided now than prior to the pandemic. Among 17 advanced economies, more people in the U.S. (88%) felt increased division compared to any other country, followed by the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Only 34% of countries surveyed feel more united this year, according to Pew Research Center.

Those with negative views of the economy are more likely to report societal division. Attitudes about COVID-related restrictions also affect the public’s sense of division: Those who believe there should have been fewer restrictions are more likely to agree that society has grown more divided. 

As economies recover this summer and vaccine distributions continue, 75% of respondents have confidence that their health care system can handle future global health emergencies, but a median of 65% continue to feel the day-to-day impact of COVID-19 a great deal.

Which Countries Have Mandatory Childhood Vaccine Policies?

Source: Our World in Data

Various vaccinations for children are mandatory in 89 countries, recommended in 32 countries and required for school entry in 20 countries. Vaccines have helped reduce the likelihood of child mortality, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis B and tuberculosis, to name a few. 

Our World in Data found that disease outbreaks are a major driver of enforcing mandatory vaccination, followed by a lack of other policy alternatives. About half of the countries in Europe do not have mandatory vaccinations, whereas 29 out of 35 in the Americas do. Many low- and lower-middle-income countries have mandatory policies but miss their target vaccination rates due to vaccine supply, delivery and access limitations — similar to what they are encountering with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Although no country has made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for its population, some are considering the idea. Many countries are also offering the vaccine for children aged 12 and above, with the U.S. vaccinating more than 600,000 children in less than a week.

Business Leaders Are Out of Touch With Burnt Out Workforce

Source: Microsoft Work Trends

Over 40% of the global workforce is considering quitting their jobs. More than half of 18- to 25-year-olds in the workforce are also considering submitting their notice, according to a report by Microsoft. A U.K. and Ireland survey found that 38% of employees intend to leave their jobs by the end of 2021.

Many employees felt burnout during the pandemic — those who just joined the workforce reported feeling this the most. To overcome employee exhaustion, the report says that employers need to embrace flexible hybrid options immediately. Forty-two percent of employees, for example, are planning to quit if there are no long-term remote working options offered. 

The report also found that many business leaders are out of touch with workplace burnout. Over 60% of leaders say that they were “thriving” last year — a 23 percentage point difference to those without decision-making authority. Microsoft states that business leaders need to be flexible when readjusting their operating model in order to retain their employees and succeed in a post-COVID workforce.

Get ahead in a rapidly changing world. Sign up for our daily newsletter. Subscribe