November 14, 2022

Today's Topics

Hello! Tomorrow is the Day Of 8 Billion — that’s sadly not our subscriber count, but the UN’s official declaration of Earth’s latest population milestone. Today we’re exploring:

  • The carbon conundrum. Plotting emissions, as COP27 enters its final week.
  • Inflation vs. wages. Inflation is winning.
  • WeWork. The high-profile startup is still going.
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Hot air

Today, the heads of the world's largest economies, Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, met in Bali at the G20 summit. The meeting comes at a low point in Sino-American relations, and halfway through COP27 — the UN conference on climate change.

Although the environment likely only occupied a small part of the conversation, the US-China relationship is vital to the global climate effort. In a speech on Friday, Biden urged other nations to ‘step up’ their efforts, pointing to the $370bn the US is spending on clean energy.

Big footprints

One key discussion point at COP27 has been climate reparations. As the true cost of a warming planet becomes clear, developing countries are increasingly pushing for compensation from nations that developed earlier.

Whilst the UK’s carbon emissions have dropped substantially in recent years, now sitting at their lowest level since the mid-1800s, that’s only a recent snapshot of the bigger picture. Throughout the industrial revolution and into the 20th century, the UK produced more carbon per-capita than any other nation. The American path has been similar, with the US responsible for more carbon emissions than any other country in history — though levels are way down compared to the 1970s.

Reparations or no reparations, the policy that likely matters most is bending the emissions trajectory of China. On a simple per-country measure, China is the world’s largest carbon contributor and has been for ~15 years. Even on a per-person basis, China is one the world’s largest emitters — and shows few signs of slowing down.

Go further: Explore this dataset for yourself from Our World In Data.

Cool for the winter

Inflation finally showed some evidence of cooling last week, as the October inflation report showed consumer prices rising 7.7%, down modestly from the 8.2% figure seen in September, and the 9.1% print from early summer.

That’s good news for pretty much everyone. Markets showed their support with the best one-day showing for US stocks since 2020. The flagship S&P 500 Index rose more than 5% at the end of last week, as investors anticipate a slower pace of interest rate rises from the Federal Reserve.

Keeping up with the inflation

If you’d told someone 2 years ago that markets would celebrate annual inflation north of 7%, they almost certainly wouldn’t have believed you. Whilst this is good news, it’s easy to forget that prices are still rising, just more slowly — on a monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.4% in October from September.

Indeed, the question most people care about — "is my paycheck keeping up with inflation?" — has a slightly less-cheery answer. The latest hourly compensation data showed real hourly compensation declined 3.4% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2022, which was the largest decline since data collection began in 1948. Inflation might be cooling, but wages are still falling behind.

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We-still-workin’

After a spectacular failed attempt at an IPO 3 years ago, many expected high-profile co-working startup WeWork to crash and burn. But WeWork is still going, announcing recently that it would cut another 40 locations in the US, as the company continues to narrow its focus.

Since the company’s implosion in 2019 — which was wild enough to inspire a TV show starring Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway — WeWork has been restructuring under new management. After founder Adam Neumann stepped away from the company, with a few billion in his pockets, the company lurched from one crisis to another, as COVID shuttered offices and the occupancy in WeWork buildings fell below 50%. Because WeWork doesn’t own its buildings, instead taking out long-leases to sell short-leases, that meant major losses.

However, under CEO Sandeep Mathrani, WeWork’s losses are starting to narrow. Gone are the days of rampant growth, replaced with a renewed focus on fewer locations and more discipline throughout the organization. That has helped losses narrow from billions to "only" hundreds of millions. The WeWork model is working better... but it's not quite there yet.

More Data

• Overcompensating? Elon Musk is in court this week to defend his massive ~$52bn Tesla payout that helped make him the richest person in the world.

Paris just overtook London to become Europe’s biggest stock market.

• The most-regretted college majors.

Hi-Viz

• Edible burrito tape to swim-proof streaming devices: a look at the best inventions of 2022.

• Mapping the world’s electricity deficit.

• It turns out getting old isn’t so bad — charting life satisfaction as we age.

Off the charts: Which country, on course to become the third-most populous on Earth, have we redacted from our chart from April 2021? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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