Happy Scribe

And NPR. Everyone stays in Cardiff, this is the indicator from Planet Money, the global tourism industry has been decimated by the covid pandemic for obvious reasons. It is just really hard to travel right now. So a lot of travel companies have adapted by offering virtual trips and tours that you can take on your computer. Now, the indicator is obviously not a travel company now, but we do miss travel. Yes. On today's show, Stacy and I are going to take you, our listeners, on a little economics themed audio trip around the whole world.


You could say right in your living room, just like technically we're staying in hours. You know, use your imagination.


We're going to drop into one city on each of the six continents, have a look around. And most importantly, we will share some surprising economic indicators from each place. So move your seats into the upright position still with your carry on luggage and fasten your seat belts.


It's going to be your ride.


Yep. The indicator private jet. And why not? It's our freaking audio tour. That's right. Private jet takes off right after the break. I'm going to need extra peanuts. This message comes from NPR sponsor, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, innovation, resilience, agility, it's how Michigan businesses continue to make a difference now and work to shape the future. Join them and make your mark where it matters. Visit Michigan Business Dogs Radio. Support for this podcast and the following message come from Capital One brought to you by the Capital One venture card, when you earn unlimited double miles on every purchase, your next trip is closer than you think.


What's in your wallet? OK, we have just touched down in the first continent of our trip, Africa, we are in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, a city way above sea level of up to five million people. And we're starting here because Africa has one of the strongest claims to having the best response to the coronavirus pandemic out of any continent. It's a story that maybe does not get enough attention. But just one example. Once you take into account the size of their populations, the United States has 22 times more covid cases each day than here in Ethiopia.


So how is Africa done it? Lots of testing. Early Lockdown's contact tracing here in Ethiopia, for example, there was a door to door survey of all of Addis Ababa. People were asked where they traveled and then they were tested for covid if they had any symptoms or had gone anywhere that might have exposed them to covid-19.


And at a time when the rest of the world has been embroiled in trade wars, the countries of Africa have collaborated to make it easier for their governments to trade the necessary equipment, things like masks and testing kits with each other. Still, covid has had an understandably damaging effect on African economies. Last year, Africa had four of the five fastest growing economies in the world, including Ethiopia. This year, those economies are struggling with slower growth. Some of them are struggling with high inflation and other obstacles.


OK, onto the next continent, Antarctica. OK, well, we are near the South Pole station, it's negative 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so we are not going to stay long. Yeah, we should just mention that Antarctica is still the only continent with zero covered cases because there are only a few thousand scientists and researchers here. And most are just conducting experiments about things like global warming, the ozone layer, meteorites. Yeah. And also tourism to Antarctica, which you can do on cruise ships from South America, has become more popular in recent years.


More than 50000 people visited the continent on these ships the last couple of years. Enough that there are concerns about accidents and the environmental effects of all these tourists. But, Stacey, you and I are not cold weather people, so let's get out of here. Next stop, Asia. And we have just landed in the gloriously sprawling Beijing, China, population 20 million. So we're taking a stroll down the street. And that sound you hear is a nearby cement truck, which makes sense because we recently came across some incredible statistics that China has so many people and it constructs so many buildings that the country uses more cement in three years than the United States used in the entire 20th century, which is shocking.


And it's happened largely because of urbanization, because such a big share of China's one point four billion people have moved from rural areas into big cities over the past few decades.


So it has been a really brief trip so far, but we are only three seconds in and time is a wastin. So let's keep going.


Next continent, Europe. And here we are in Berlin, the capital of Germany, whose economy collapsed by even more than the U.S. economy, collapsed in response to covid. But in Germany, there was this one big baffling difference. Germany's unemployment rate is only four point four percent. That is roughly half the U.S. unemployment rate. Germany has managed to keep its workers employed throughout the pandemic, even though its economy has been doing so badly and Germany has managed to keep workers in their jobs because of a system known as curtsied bite.


Basically, the way the system works is that instead of German companies laying off their employees, the companies can just reduce the hours that the employees have to work. So the companies obviously save money by not paying workers for those hours that were cut. And then the German government pays the employees itself for some of the wages that they lost because they are now working fewer hours. This way, German companies can save money and German workers keep their jobs and most of their salaries.


All right, let's keep moving.


Yeah, this trip is making me kind of peckish, so I am just going to pick up a brought Stacey real quick on the way to the airport.


That's cool. That sounds good. I'm in next cottoning Oceania. Now, some people, by the way, say that technically Oceania is a continental region that includes the continent of Australia and then adds on New Zealand in the Pacific islands in terms of categorizing these things. We don't want to get in a fight with the geographers or the geologists or whoever. So we're just telling you where we are and moving on. So specifically, we are in Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, and we are on a beach pouring one out for the end of a truly spectacular economic achievement.


Until the covid pandemic, Australia had not experienced a recession since September of 1991. Yeah, to put that another way, the last month Australia was in a recession was the same month that Nirvana released Smells like Teen Spirit as the lead single on its album. Nevermind, but the streak is over now. Sadly, the pandemic has ended it.


And this is how Australia was able to pull off this incredible streak. Economists put it down to two things. First, the government's aggressive economic stimulus whenever a recession looks like it was about to start. And second, a few lucky breaks through the decades.


Get two more flights to go next continent, South America. And here we are now in the famous boomtown infested beachside resort in the country of Uruguay. Uruguay is a total outlier within Latin America. It has managed to keep covid case is way down in a region that has been devastated by periods of surging covid cases. And a big reason for otherwise success is that it developed its own covid test produced inside the country. And so it has been able to test a much higher number of people who might be at risk of getting covid.


Yet Uruguay has done such a good job that more and more people in neighboring countries like Argentina want to move there and Uruguay wants them. It wants to grow. The country even offers a deal where you can become a resident of Uruguay if you buy property inside the country, that is worth a certain amount. Used to be one point seven million dollars, but the government just lowered the price to 380000 dollars. So probably still not me and you, Stacey, but hey, it's getting cheaper.


Maybe NPR can set up the indicator Foreign Bureau there. I don't know. Anyways, that's it. That's our trip around the world. Time to head back home to New York City. And here we are. God, we miss this place. We missed everyone sounding like that guy in the movie Midnight Cowboy. I'm walking here, walking here.


And if that's really how everybody sounds. But, you know. Anyways, thank you all so much for flying with us. And if you have a suggestion for where we should go on our next trip around the world, especially if it's a place with some funky economic indicators, send it to indicator at NPR, dawg. The captains and crew of this flight were producers Jamila Huxtable and Darian Woods, fact checker Sean Saldaña and editor Paddy Hirsch. Indicator is a production of NPR, so we are sending them the bill.


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