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The Number of Active Oil Rigs Is Growing

Source: Baker Hughes; World Bank

The active oil and gas rig count has doubled from its lowest point of 172 in August 2020 to 344, according to the World Bank. Both the demand for oil and OPEC+ production are gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. The World Bank predicts that crude oil prices will average $56 per barrel in 2021 and $60 per barrel in 2022. 

The industry’s upward trajectory experienced a speed bump in early May when a major U.S. fuel pipeline operator halted operations following a cyberattack, resulting in supply shortages. The pipeline resumed operations less than a week later, but higher gas prices remain. While the industry has weathered numerous fluctuations in the market over the past decade, the World Bank states that “the U.S. shale industry has repeatedly proved more innovative and resilient to price collapses than expected.” It adds that the growth of oil prices will ultimately be determined by how successfully COVID-19 is contained, therefore rebooting travel and tourism.

CEO Confidence at Highest Level Since 1976

Source: Conference Board

The level of CEO confidence rose to 82 points in Q2 of 2021 — a 9-point increase from Q1. This is the highest level recorded since 1976, when The Conference Board started measuring CEO confidence. 

In the second quarter, 88% of CEOs believed that economic conditions would improve over the next six months, while 94% of CEOs said that conditions are better compared to six months ago. CEOs are also more hopeful about the state of their own industries, with a 21% increase in optimism in Q2. Over half of CEOs expect to grow their workforce over the next year — up from 47% in Q1. 

The demand to hire has led to difficulty in finding qualified workers. “For CEOs, the challenge is no longer staying afloat, but keeping pace — in particular, with a likely resurgence of the labor shortages experienced before the pandemic,” said vice chairman Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. of The Conference Board. Vaccine distribution is pushing the U.S. economy to pre-pandemic levels, but for businesses to succeed, they will need to consider new workforce demands

COVID-19 Challenges Consumer Trust in the Financial Sector

Source: Morning Consult

The majority of U.S. adults surveyed are less likely to trust financial services companies now compared to a year ago, while 13% say they trust finance more. Finance ranked second among the industries for which consumers say trust is crucial, after health care companies, according to the Morning Consult. 

Within finance, investment and wealth management companies saw the largest decline, with a 7-point drop in net trust. In contrast, banks are trusted the most by consumers at 61%. Almost 90% of respondents say data privacy and security are tied to earning their trust, and 66% would stop using a bank if it experienced a data breach.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial institutions provided protection and stability by “waiving account fees, refunding insurance premiums or investing in underserved communities.” However, as this industry focuses more on a digital-first approach, the Morning Consult states that trust will be determined predominantly through “data stewardship, security and reliability” as opposed to personal relationships. 

7 US States At Risk of All Five Climate-Related Threats

Source: Safety.com survey of 1,220 American adults

Over 60% of U.S. adults believe that climate change is a threat, while 11.5% do not. Recent news coverage and documentaries are the two leading factors changing the way people respond to climate change. Americans are recycling (64.3%), picking up trash (48.7%) and reducing their use of plastic (38.9%), according to Safety.com. 

The survey looks at five factors resulting from climate change: extreme heat, droughts, wildfires, inland flooding and coastal flooding. Every state in the U.S. is at least at risk of extreme heat, which is the cause of death for hundreds of Americans each year. The other four factors vary depending on the region. California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Washington are at risk for all five threats.

To address these five climate-related threats, the report notes that states and nations need to take action. Last year marked a record-breaking year for climate disasters, costing around $95 billion in damages. Moving forward, states need to adapt plans to address this climate risk—only 26 states have already done so.

Fragile States Expect a Rise in Extreme Poverty

Source: World Data Lab projections

By 2030, 359 million people are expected to live in extreme poverty in fragile states, representing 63% of the world’s poor. The World Bank classifies fragile states as “countries with high levels of institutional and social fragility” and those “affected by violent conflict.” There are currently 39 such identified countries home to almost one billion people. 

Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are expected to have the largest population living in extreme poverty in 2030, making up one-third of those living in extreme poverty. Children born in these fragile states have a 50% chance of growing up in poverty. For instance, half of Nigeria’s 90 million people in extreme poverty are children under age 15. 

Countries with rising poverty also see a parallel increase in longer-term risks, such as conflict relapse. Although researchers expect poverty to decline in other parts of the world, Brookings Institution states that the “success in ending poverty globally will largely depend on African fragile states.” To end extreme poverty, “social and economic exclusion” needs to be addressed, along with expanding access to basic services and securing investment from other countries.

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