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At the most recent U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, chairman Jerome Powell announced that the Fed would be experimenting with the implementation of a “digital dollar.”  This news comes as an astounding 80% of central banks across the globe have already begun on the research, experimentation, and implementation of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). 

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One staple of entertainment for over a century has been attending movie theaters.  However, the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic stagnated movie theater operations, not to mention the entire film industry as a whole. Major release films such as No Time to Die and Wonder Woman 1984 were delayed until the end of 2020, and there are still questions regarding how they will be distributed.  

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As the spring semester begins to wind down at universities across the country, albeit via remote online-learning, colleges are already bracing for the worst this upcoming fall.  While it is the expectation that students should be able to return for in-person classes, it is difficult to make that confirmation given the nature of the coronavirus, as many in the public have speculated that it will be difficult to start-up in-person classes on-time given future waves of the virus.  A select number of schools, including Boston University, have already discussed suspending in-person classes through the end of 2020.  In the event that online learning is continued, there will be a long list of academic and economical ramifications that come, which could not only indefinitely change the way higher education is operated, but also impact the communities surrounding them.

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As many across the globe become confined to their homes amidst the coronavirus pandemic, one outlet people have turned to as a form of entertainment and social interaction has been video games.  In a campaign titled #PlayApartTogether, the World Health Organization has collaborated with 18 major video game companies including Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, and Twitch, in order to promote the message of physical distancing from one another while remaining connected with friends.  This campaign has included special events and activities being added to games to encourage their play. With poor mental and psychological effects of isolation and loneliness being well-documented among studies, video games can be a good outlet for staying connected with others and relieving stress by taking one's mind off the negative things going on in the world. 

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This past November, I published a blog post regarding the looming threat of rising global debt, which reached $255 trillion by year’s end.  The blog discussed the issue of corporate debt default rates being susceptible to sky-rocketing in the event of a recession, which was supported by a report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  As we stand today, two months into the coronavirus outbreak, this belief is becoming actualized.  With factories being halted, stores shut down, and consumer spending down significantly, many countries are expected to face major economical ramifications.  In the U.S., Goldman Sachs analysts already project that second-quarter 2020 GDP will decrease by about 25%, which if true, would mean the largest drop ever recorded in U.S. history by a 15% margin.

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Oil, often considered to be a prime example of an inelastic good—always in demand regardless of price—may not hold true now due to the coronavirus epidemic.  With recent news of major air carriers and other transportation companies reducing domestic and international service, it has created a ripple effect in the travel industry as a whole (cruise ships, hotels, resorts).  With many would-be travelers canceling their plans, it is fair to say that the foreseeable future for the travel industry is bleak.  Not to mention, shutdowns in China have played a significant impact on oil when considering they are the world’s greatest importer of oil.  For these reasons, the short-term demand for oil has decreased dramatically, resulting in an eye-opening response from major oil producers across the globe.

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If you haven’t paid any attention to growing internet trends recently, you may be unfamiliar with the social media platform, TikTok.  TikTok is a popular destination for short-form video creation through lip-syncing, dancing, and memes.  Similar to the now-extinct Vine, TikTok features the same looping video function however adds a new layer of customization through the form of effects, filters, and sound overlays.  Many of the application’s 800 million active users are teenagers, with the younger demographic being largely represented among TikTok’s top content creators. 

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The biggest international storyline of 2020 thus far has been the mysterious coronavirus.  The illness that is believed to have started in Wuhan, China has led to over 6,000 reported cases—and 360 deaths—in China.  Individuals have also been reported to have contracted the illness in 13 other countries, including the U.S., Australia, and Germany.  This past Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global public health emergency.  With fears intensifying by the day, China and the WHO are working on solutions to protect both foreigners and Chinese people from the illness.  Many of the efforts have been centered around tightening travel security to and from China, halting business operations in China, and quarantining any potentially infected patients.

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South Sudan, the world’s youngest country since it declared independence back in 2011, has lost the financial support of its primary backer, the United States. While this comes as no surprise considering U.S. officials gave South Sudan’s ruling elite a mid-November deadline to form a unified government, it is compelling considering the United States has spent $11 billion in financial aid, far eclipsing other donors. 

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According to a report released by the Institute of International Finance on November 14th, global debt reached a staggering high of $250 trillion, rising $7.5 trillion in the first half of 2019.  The expectation is that global debt will reach $255 trillion by the end of 2019. The primary contributors to this statistic are the U.S. and China, who account for 60% of the increase.

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Cable television was the staple of entertainment for over 50 years until the arrival of streaming services was introduced at the start of the 21st century.  The introduction of this concept revolutionized our accessibility to television, making ‘on-demand’ video readily available from any electronic device (phone, laptop, or T.V.).  While cable television continues to diminish, with 19% of households already having "cut the cord," streaming methods continue to evolve with new companies emerging into the market trying to get a stake in the game.

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On October 1st, the United States was authorized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on EU goods, primarily aircraft and agricultural items.  The Trump administration’s justification for this measure is due to claims that countries within the EU were illegally subsidizing the European owned aircraft producer, Airbus. Since the aircraft industry is dominated by two companies—Boeing, a U.S. company, and Airbus—the move to impose tariffs was to protect the interests of Boeing.  This decision comes behind numerous complaints filed through the WTO on behalf of the U.S., dating back to 2004.  It is widely considered the world’s largest-ever corporate trade dispute.  Despite reports from Airbus affirming they are now compliant with WTO rules regarding subsidies from the EU, the U.S. proceeded forward with the implementation of tariffs.

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As mentioned in “Hong Kong Protests and their Potential Consequences” last month, the divide between Hong Kong and China over civil liberties remains fierce, with no resolution achieved as protests continue.  Daryl Morey, one of the NBA’s most respected general managers as apart of the Houston Rockets, has come under fire for a recent tweet he made in support of the democratic protests in Hong Kong, in which he shared: “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” 

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On September 13th, Saudi Arabia fell victim to a drone attack on their state-owned oil processing facility, a resource they proudly consider to be their kingdom’s “crown jewel,” as oil accounts for 50% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP and 70% of their export earnings.  The attack sent crude oil prices up 15% to about $69 a barrel, marking the highest price increase in over three decades. With such a heavy reliance placed on Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves, it is important for world leaders to keep in mind the damaging repercussions of escalating conflict in the Middle East, an issue that presents another big problem to the world economy, in addition to the U.S. and China trade dispute.  

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A CNBC report in late August reported the looming challenges that currently face the fast-food industry: high turnover rates.  At Panera Bread, the employee turnover rate has reached 100%, a figure that is surprisingly low in comparison to industry estimates, which top 150%.  A 2013 study by Cornell’s Rosemary Batt, a Professor in Human Resource Studies and International and Comparative Labor, estimated that businesses incur losses of approximately $1,600 per employee due to turnover. The rising minimum wage is also significantly impacting the fast-food industry, and forcing organizations to reconsider how they do business.