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How Does US Infrastructure Spending Compare Internationally?

Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The United States lags behind in infrastructure spending compared to its international competitors. The U.S.’s projected investment by 2040 is 1.5%, compared to 5.1% in China and 4.1% in Indonesia, which are the global leaders in infrastructure investment. 

The U.S.’s lower ranking in infrastructure investment is related to how the country’s infrastructure projects are funded, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. On average, European countries spend 5% of GDP on infrastructure, while China spends roughly 8% — the U.S., meanwhile, spends only 2.4% of its GDP on infrastructure. European countries also rely on infrastructure needs at a national level, while infrastructure in the U.S. is funded at state and local levels. Only 25% of U.S. public infrastructure funding comes from the federal government — down from a peak of 38% nearly 45 years ago.

The U.S. population has more than doubled since the 1960s, when most of the country’s infrastructure systems were created. Experts believe that making further investments in infrastructure could boost long-term U.S. competitiveness, better equip the economy to handle climate-related shocks and create jobs.

The Results of Germany’s Federal Election

The results of the German Federal Election

According to German media outlets, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by Olaf Scholz has won the largest share of votes in Sunday’s election, narrowly beating Armin Laschet, the new leader of the CDU, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its partner the CSU.

No party has won enough votes to form a government on its own, so there will need to be a coalition, which will be the subject of intense negotiations for several weeks. According to BRINK columnist Alex Privitera, the most likely outcome is “a coalition between the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the market-friendly Free Democrats (FPD) — without the Christian Democrats.”

But much will depend on “whether an understanding can be reached about the role of government in accelerating the transition toward a greener economy.”

Too Much Free Time May Be Almost As Bad As Too Little

Source: American Psychological Association

Having too much free time can be detrimental to a person’s well-being, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association. Much has been discussed regarding balancing work and free time, but the benefits apply only to a point.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey, conducted from 2012-2013, and found that the beneficial effects of free time on a person’s well-being began declining at around 5 hours. They also found that those who were asked to imagine a day with 7 hours of free time reported a lower satisfaction level than those imagining a day with 3 hours per day of free time.

The key to workers’ happiness is the feeling of being productive. Those who spent their time in a productive way (e.g., working out or doing hobbies,) reported a higher level of well-being than those who used it in an unproductive way (e.g., watching T.V.) Furthermore, the amount of free time spent socializing led to a higher well-being rate than free time spent alone.

Public Views of US Business Sectors Are Plummeting

Americans rated U.S. business industries at their lowest points since 2011 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The average record-low, according to Gallup, was during the 2008 Great Recession at 34% — just five percentage points lower than the current average of 39%.

Of the 25 industries ranked, the federal government, the most negatively rated industry since 2014, was again viewed the most negatively by the American public at 31%, followed by the oil and gas and pharmaceutical industries. This year, Americans rated a mere four industries positively — farming and agriculture at 59%, restaurants at 58%, the grocery industry at 54% and the computer industry at 51%. In the past three years, farming and agriculture and the restaurant industry were the top-ranked sectors.

Public sentiment toward certain sectors is related to how they responded to the pandemic, states Gallup. However, as a whole, the public has trusted businesses more than other institutions during the pandemic.

China Is Dominating E-Commerce Activity

Source: Statista Digital Market Outlook

Global e-commerce sales are expected to increase by nearly 50% by 2050. Most of this growth will come from Asia — the region expects a 51% increase in e-commerce activity — and predominantly from China, according to Statista

The Chinese e-commerce market rose notably faster compared to the rest of the world — even prior to COVID-19 — driven by high-speed internet and smartphones, high consumer confidence in online shopping and a larger variety in e-commerce and payment platforms. The pandemic did, however, speed the region’s adoption of e-commerce: It registered $1.3 trillion in sales last year. By 2025, sales will grow to nearly $2 trillion, indicating that “almost every second e-commerce dollar could be spent in China.” 

The pandemic has significantly impacted consumer trends across the world, especially related to online shopping. To keep up with this market trend, large retailers are accelerating their investments in e-commerce to ensure their survival both during and after the pandemic.

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