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Finland’s Support for NATO Soars

An overwhelming majority of Finns (76%) support joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, whereas previously, a majority of Finns opposed joining the intergovernmental military alliance, a recent Yle poll reports.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues into a third month, the number of Finnish adults in favor of NATO membership has grown from 53% in February to 62% in March, and 76% in May. Support was strong across political parties, with the strongest support among backers of the Swedish People’s Party and the Centre.

Finland and Sweden, traditionally neutral countries, announced their bids to join NATO this week (though Turkey has blocked the start of the talks for both countries). Finland’s membership would double the alliance’s land border, adding the more than 800 miles of border that Finland shares with Russia and additional support in the Baltic Sea.

Chinese Travelers Are Ready to Venture Outside of the Mainland in 2023

The day after China announced it was lifting its travel ban, outbound flight bookings increased 254% overnight, according to the Chinese travel company Trip.com. After nearly three years of COVID restrictions and lockdowns, eager Chinese tourists are ready to dust off their travel documents again.

A new survey of would-be travelers in Mainland China reveals that nearly 60% want to travel outbound in 2023, while 40% would either stay home or travel domestically, according to the research firm Dragon Trail International.

The top seven destinations outside of Mainland China that tourists plan to visit are in Asia, with Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand leading the top three spots. At No. 7, France was the top destination in Europe, with Australia and Russia rounding out the top 10.

Although some experts note that rising inflation and interest rates may curb demand for travel in 2023, hospitality operators should prepare for an uptick in these new travelers later this year. Survey respondents said they are planning a return to tourism in late summer (42%) and mid-autumn, around China’s national Golden Week holiday (32%).

Analysis: COVID Cost Employers $213 Billion in Lost Hours in the US

Roughly 6.6 billion hours were lost over two years due to the pandemic, according to a new report from the Integrated Benefits Institute. Researchers estimate the cost associated with those hours to be $213.1 billion ($167.4 billion in the first year and $45.7 billion in the second).

According to its analysis, the industries that suffered the most economically were educational services, health care, and social assistance ($30.8 billion); public administration ($27.1 billion); construction ($23.9 billion); waste management services ($22.4 billion); and manufacturing ($21.5 billion).

The top reason for lost hours include economic issues, accounting for 44% of the reasons in year one and 36% in year two. Examples of economic issues include slack (or slow) work, business conditions, or workers could only find part-time work. The report cites an example of slack work or business conditions as a “temporary closure due to the pandemic.” 

Data from two years prior to the pandemic shows that economic reasons accounted for 36.3% of lost hours, indicating that the sharp increase in year one of the pandemic had almost completely receded in year two, when the researchers note a spike in personal leave instead.

Survey: Indians See China and U.S. as Top Military Threats

A new survey sheds light on how Indians view their diplomatic relationships with two global superpowers.

According to research conducted by Morning Consult, Indians view China (43% of respondents) as their country’s biggest threat, followed by the U.S. (22%). Pakistan and Russia follow each with 13% of citizens saying these countries are India’s biggest threat.    

While India’s mistrust of the U.S. may be surprising, given that it is seen as an even bigger threat than its longtime rival Pakistan, the authors point to India’s pragmatic approach to dealing with competing superpowers.  

“As tensions between Washington and Beijing increase, the Indian public may be worried about getting caught in the middle of a U.S.-China conflict that destabilizes regional security, putting India at risk,” the authors said.

Complicating the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies even further is the conflict in Ukraine. The study finds that a significant share of Indians believe that that the U.S. (26%) and NATO (18%) are responsible for instigating that conflict. Together those results are higher than the share who believe that Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, is responsible (38%) the conflict.

Survey: Most CEOs Expect Economic Turnaround by 2024

The Conference Board 2023 C-Suite Outlook survey

Business leaders across the globe are girding for a year that’s been preceded by compounding global risks, from record prices to geopolitical instability. Yet many CEOs believe that growth in their regions will accelerate within the year. 

The Conference Board’s annual survey of C-suite executives reveals that most CEOs believe their region is in a recession, but 48% predict an economic turnaround by the end of 2023. Nearly as many (46%) believe a recession will last at least until mid-2024. 

Nearly half of CEOs in the U.S. (51%) and Europe (49%) believe that growth will resume by mid- to late 2023, while in China, executives have a more optimistic outlook (59%). CEOs in Latin America, who alone cited declining trust in government as a top-tier concern, were most pessimistic, with 64% saying a recession will last until 2024 or beyond. 

Although the global economy is on a downward trend, the report’s authors do not forecast a global recession. Rather, they see weakened GDP growth of 2.1%: “A pace that does not formally constitute a global recession but, if achieved, would be the weakest growth rate since 2001 (outside of global recession years 2009 and 2020).” They also forecast regional recessions, most likely in the U.S., Europe and some of the largest Latin American economies, while Russia and Ukraine would remain in recession longer. 

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