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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. 

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.

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.

How the Pandemic Changed Urban Mobility Readiness

Stockholm, San Francisco and Singapore are the cities most ready to embrace mobile sustainability, says a new report by Oliver Wyman Forum and the UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies.

According to the newly released 2021 Urban Mobility Readiness Index, these cities have invested in new technologies, such as electric vehicles, and now benefit from the shift to remote work following the pandemic. This has reduced congestion and allowed for more physically active mobility options. Stockholm, which topped the list, has invested in electrification and micromobility infrastructures, as more of its residents embrace a walking or cycling lifestyle.

Not in the top 10 is New York City, whose index score dropped as more people continue to move out of the state compared to before the pandemic. Those who stayed bought private vehicles due to restrictions and lack of trust in public transportation during the pandemic.

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