Bitcoin Beach, child labour, Oman’s youth and an $18.9M coin

We gather the numbers to know from the week’s biggest economic news stories so you can impress yourself and your friends.

Child labour is on the rise for the first time in nearly two decades, and the coronavirus crisis threatens to upend progress made to get kids into school, the United Nations warned this week [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]
Child labour is on the rise for the first time in nearly two decades, and the coronavirus crisis threatens to upend progress made to get kids into school, the United Nations warned this week [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]

Gather round, folks, it’s that time of the week again. Many of you may be meeting up with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while after the isolation of the pandemic, which means you need some fascinating facts to sprinkle into all those new conversations.

This week’s topics range from El Salvador’s Bitcoin revolution to mass youth unemployment in Oman to a spike in child labour around the world and a slowdown in China’s birth rates. And who could forget the gold coin that smashed records by selling for $18.9m? Not exactly chump change!

So here’s our roundup of the week’s biggest numbers critical to keeping your convos with friends and loved ones interesting, worldly and maybe even fun. Remember fun?

7,000

That’s how many users Bitcoin Beach, a pilot crypto project in the small El Salvadoran beach town of El Zonte, has. And those numbers will likely grow after the Central American nation’s president announced it would become the first to use Bitcoin as legal tender this week.

Bitcoin Beach has been educating the community about how to use the digital currency in daily transactions, as Al Jazeera’s Kaelyn Forde reports, but there could be more to the Salvadoran president’s decision than meets the eye.

49 percent

That’s the staggering level Oman’s youth unemployment rate reached in 2019,  according to figures from the World Bank.

Young people took to the streets last month to demand more economic opportunity just weeks after the country introduced austerity measures meant to offset Oman’s burgeoning debt. Al Jazeera’s Sean Mathews writes that what’s happening in Oman will likely spread to other petro-dependent Gulf economies battered by the collapse in oil prices that started in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

A man makes a purchase at a small store that accepts Bitcoin near the southern coast of El Salvador [File: Salvador Melendez/Reuters]

160 million

Strangely enough, as youth unemployment has skyrocketed in some regions, so has child labour – a rise unseen in nearly two decades. A new report from the United Nations this week found that about 160 million children around the world are working – up 8.4 million over the last four years. The numbers are “a wake-up call,” the chief of the International Labour Organization said.

The loss of work or income for a parent or guardian and school closures have pushed millions of kids into the workforce, and the problem could get worse if governments don’t act.

1.3 births

The level China’s fertility rate per woman slowed to in 2020, despite Beijing loosening its stringent one-child policy and allowing families to have up to three kids. But as Al Jazeera’s Michael Standaert reports this week, the birth rate is likely to hover around that level unless Chinese authorities make it easier for families to afford to have kids.

$11.2bn

That’s how much trade happens between Israel and China – a sizable spike from the $1bn trade level at the turn of the century.  China is now just behind the United States as Israel’s largest trading partner. But the blossoming economic ties have made things interesting, diplomatically speaking, Al Jazeera’s Sean Mathews reports.

Israel has looked past China’s vocal support for Palestine and Israeli leaders have not paid much attention to China’s response to last month’s Gaza war, which as one Israeli expert said is viewed as “lip service” in Tel Aviv. But there are also some dangers. Israel may be sacrificing its own security as well as Washington’s unwavering support by pursuing closer relations with Beijing, Mathews writes.

The 1933 Double Eagle coin is seen encased during a media preview before its auction at Sotheby’s in New York City, the United States [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

$18.9m

That’s how much a gold coin sold for at a Sotheby’s record-smashing auction in New York on Tuesday. Well, not just any old coin. The 1933 Double Eagle is the last US gold coin struck for circulation. With a face value of $20, it was designed at the request of then-US President Theodore Roosevelt.

But all 1933 Double Eagles were ordered destroyed when President Franklin Roosevelt, in an effort to lift America’s battered economy from the depths of the Great Depression, took the nation off the gold standard. Only two survived to be sent to the Smithsonian — and one remained in private hands. With Liberty striding forward on one side and an American eagle on the other, it sure is a beauty.

Source: Al Jazeera

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