Bye Trump, and welcome Biden
After 4 years, Donald Trump’s term as president ended, and the US voted for a new one: President Joe Biden.
The last president got banned
Before then, on Jan 6th, armed protesters stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC, trying to overturn the US election results.
- Chaos at the Capitol 😥 Unfortunately, five people died shortly before, during, and right after the siege. More than 100 police officers were injured as well.
- Social media bans Trump 🚫 Afterwards, Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook said “no more”, banning him from their platforms indefinitely. Even months later, Twitter continued its permanent ban against him.
Biden’s busy quarter
Despite the siege, Joe Biden started his four-year term on Jan 20th, becoming the 46th President of the United States. It didn’t take him long to start making changes as well…
- Welcome back 🤝 Just a few hours after Joe Biden became president, he started work immediately, moving to reinstate the US to the Paris climate agreement – with an official return in February.
- Biden also signed the USD 1.9 tln American Rescue Plan in March, providing aid to low + middle-income families
How about a chat? 💬 The US also conducted high-level talks with China in Alaska, a frozen meeting where both ended up bickering. Since then, Biden and Xi met virtually on Zoom in November – hopefully, to work together.
Clearly, Biden had a very busy first quarter… just like our first day at work, or the first day at school 😅.
A bad year for most
As 2021 began, many countries began to report their economic growth for 2020, which was the year Covid turned the world upside-down. Only one major economy recorded growth in 2020. Can you guess who it is?
Here’s your answer – China 🇨🇳 The only major economy that grew in 2020 was China, as it reported a 2.3% GDP growth for the year. The other major countries did not do as well…
- The US 🇺🇸 was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 as its economy contracted 3.5% – that’s the worst in 74 years.
- The EU 🇪🇺 wasn’t spared either, as its GDP fell 6.1%, worse than the financial crisis in 2008.
How about others? 🧐 Singapore’s 🇸🇬 GDP contracted 5.8%, although that was slightly better than expected. Hong Kong’s 🇭🇰 GDP fell 6.1% – a record fall + the first time since 1962 that HK’s economy contracted two years in a row.
The good news is… vaccine can help
Though the world economy slowed down, Covid vaccines started to pick up speed worldwide. Countries like the US began to roll out vaccines to the elderly + those working at high-risk jobs, with hospitalizations and deaths rapidly declining as a result.
- Let’s roll it out 💉 By mid-March, the US administered over 100 mln vaccinations, reaching 1/4th of all adults in the country.
- The UK also announced nearly 50% of its adult population received one dose of a Covid vaccine.
But the fight wasn’t over 🙁 Despite a rapid vaccine rollout… by March, worldwide deaths rose to over 2.7 mln. That’s truly sad to hear.
In February, deaths in the US rose to over 500,000. Joe Biden led citizens in a moment of silence, urging people not to view the deaths as just a number.
Ships stuck, and memes are up
In the business world, life was just as chaotic 🤯 Not only did we see a giant ship get stuck for a few days, but also the beginning of the meme stock frenzy.
#1 The GameStop short squeeze
In January, we saw the beginning of “meme stocks” – stocks that are extremely popular because of social media.
- GameStop was the first popular meme stock, as users on the online Reddit community “r/wallstreetbets” flooded into the stock, sending its share price…to the moon 🚀.
- Even after the frenzy ended, as of December, Gamestop’s share price is still up over 1,000% compared to the beginning of the year 😲
#2 The ship got stuck
It’s probably the highest-profile traffic jam in history. On March 23rd, the Ever Given Ship got stuck in the Suez Canal for 6 days 🚢 Winds + a dust storm made it impossible for the ship to turn.
- Around 12% of all international trade passes through this canal – Some estimated that Ever Given was holding up around USD 9.6 bln of trade per day.
- Where is it now? Well, it has gone back to work! When it was docked in the Netherlands in July, it even became a tourist attraction 📸
#3 The Archegos scandal
Most banks would like to forget this… In March, many of them lost billions of dollars after the company Archegos Capital imploded.
- Wait, what happened? 🧐 Bill Hwang’s family office Archegos borrowed billions from banks to make big bets on the stock market… and unfortunately he lost his bet and didn’t have money to pay back.
- Credit Suisse lost over USD 5 billion from this… and the total losses went beyond USD 10 billion.
#4 Facebook “unfriends” Australia 😲
Can a country get “unfriended”? In February, Facebook made that possible – blocking news from all Australian publishers, including official Covid warnings + information.
- Em…why? Australia proposed a law that would force Facebook to pay for Australia-based news/links posted on their websites.
- Within a week, Facebook reached a compromise with the government, and Australians were back to sharing and accessing news on Facebook – I guess we can call them “friends” again 🤝