February 6, 2023

Today's Topics

Good morning. Tragically, thousands of people have reportedly lost their lives in Turkey and Syria after two of the most devastating earthquakes of the last decade hit in the early hours of this morning. Today we're exploring:

  • Facebook: Meta's flagship platform is still growing.
  • Gold diggers: American mining giant Newmont is looking to strike a deal.
  • Crooked: Plotting the latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
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Maximum efficiency

Meta’s share price soared nearly 20% on Friday, after an earnings report in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg heralded 2023 as the “year of efficiency” for the company that turned 19 on Saturday.

Admittedly, when Zuck founded the company it looked a lot different. Meta, or Facebook, or The Facebook, started life as a simple online student directory, rather than the tech behemoth that is currently preoccupied with building a — very expensive — virtual world for work and play.

Not dead yet

Even though the founder’s focus has obviously shifted in the intervening years, the social heart of the tech giant is still beating as strongly as ever as Facebook prepares to enter its third decade.

Indeed, the number of active Facebookers hasn’t really stopped growing. At the end of 2022, Meta revealed that a staggering 2 billion people log in every single day to like, post and poke on Facebook. That means that nearly 40% of all global internet users are on Facebook daily. The figures become even more mind-boggling when you take into account Meta's full "family of apps" (WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram), which reported 2.96 billion daily active users, meaning not far off 60% of all internet users log into a Meta product everyday.


Newmont, the world’s largest gold producer, has made an all-share offer of $16.9bn for its Australian rival Newcrest. If successful, the deal would be the largest mining takeover ever and the third-largest corporate buyout in Australian history.

Gold diggers

These days, Australia is one of the largest gold-producing nations on Earth, thanks in part to some extremely low-cost mines, including those owned by Newcrest. Indeed, in the last few decades the gold-mining industry has changed dramatically, with deposits increasingly hard to find — of the 341 major deposits discovered since 1990, only 8% were found in the past decade.

As recently as 1970, South Africa represented in excess of 70% of the world's gold production, with Johannesburg’s lucrative economy borne out of the Witwatersrand Gold Rush, after some of the largest natural gold deposits in history were discovered there. Today, South Africa is no longer the gold mine that it was, losing its place as the world's top producer in 2007 to China.

As we’ve discussed before, the last few years have been pretty good for everyone in the business of selling stuff-that-comes-out-of-the-ground — and gold miners have been no exception. Prices for the rare metal have risen ~20% in the last 3 years and gold maintains its place as the safe-haven asset of choice for many global investors.

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Transparency International recently released its Corruptions Perception Index (CPI), a measure for assessing just how corrupt your country’s national government and public sector is perceived to be.

The index is based on a range of qualitative sources, all collated by Transparency International to eventually rank 180 countries, scoring them on a scale of 0 (crooked as they come) to 100 (clean as a whistle), based on how the nations fare in the public’s perception.

Overall, a vast majority (95%) of countries have made very little progress on tackling corruption in the last 5 years, with some major nations actually sliding down substantially. The UK is one of the most notable. In 2017 the country notched 82 on the index, a score which dropped to 73 in 2022, a year which saw Britain go through 3 prime ministers, all with their own political scandals. World Cup hosts Qatar also scored poorly, ranking 40th with a score of 58 — the lowest in the country’s history.

At the other end of the spectrum, the US did actually improve modestly, scoring 69 points up from a 10-year low of 67 in the last two years, placing it 24th on the CPI. Elsewhere, the Nordic countries performed well — as they so often do on global demographic rankings — with Denmark coming top, Finland second and Norway fourth.

At a regional level, the lowest scores came in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many countries like Somalia and South Sudan are struggling with violence and civil unrest, compounding the issue of corruption and eroding trust in the country’s institutions.

Go Deeper: Explore the full dataset.

More Data

• A 30-year-old Portuguese purebred livestock guardian has just unseated a 23-year-old chihuahua who was erroneously crowned as the world’s oldest dog just 2 weeks ago.

• No January blues for the US economy: the jobs market, added some 517,000 roles, taking the unemployment rate down to 3.4%, the lowest since 1969.

• Deep dive on why orange juice is likely costing you more than ever.

• Beyoncé just bagged her 32nd Grammy, making her the most decorated artist in the history of the awards.


• The intro’s outro: charting how pop songs are much quicker to get to the vocals now.

• Visualizing the hardest hit companies in big tech’s big layoff round.

Off the charts: What were we charting about below, which saw sales rise for the first time in 20 years in 2020? Hint: A majority of US adults now support a full ban of its key ingredient. [Answer below].

Answer here.

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