Higher Rock Education - Economics Blog

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Economics in the News – Sept. 4-11, 2022

Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.

o   Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 years old on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. Her reign lasted 70 years, the longest of any British monarch. The moment that Queen Elizabeth II died, Charles became King Charles III. With British coins, flags, boxes and more stamped with Queen Elizabeth II’s face on it, a years-long rebrand to replace her image with King Charles III is underway.

That rebrand will include 29 billion coins and 4.7 billion bank notes. As is tradition when a new monarch takes over in the UK, the face of the successive monarch is stamped in the opposite direction as their predecessor. King Charles III will face left on British coins; the queen faces right. Among other changes, a change in wording to the national anthem to “God Save the King” from “God Save the Queen.” In Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre in West London will revert to His Majesty’s Theatre. [The Wall Street Journal]

o   Americans faced expensive heating bills last winter, and experts warn that the upcoming winter will increase the heating cost even faster. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put a strain on global energy supplies, increasing global fuel costs. At the same time, Americans are dealing with the fastest inflation in 40 years.

Experts anticipate heating costs to rise 12.3 percent this year and more than a 20 percent increase for homes heated by natural gas – the most common heating source. Bills are expected to rise to an average of $856 for the heating season from $709 a year ago. This year, many families in need will be without the aid of government assistance programs that were part of the COVID-19 relief spending. Last year, families in Maine received an average of $758 through local nonprofit groups as a credit on their energy bills. [The New York Times]

o   Schools are seeing the impacts of the pandemic-era setbacks that caused many students to fall behind. They are struggling to measure just how deep the problem is, but the evidence is becoming clearer. Average reading scores for 9-year-olds, who were learning to read at the beginning of the pandemic, saw the sharpest decline since 1990, recent data from the Department of Education shows. Math scores saw an even greater decline, with the first significant decline since the long-term trend assessments began in the 1970s.

Researchers suggest that it could take five or more years for today’s fourth graders to learn to read proficiently. Learning loss is worse in areas where classes remained remote for the longest periods of time, including in high-poverty areas. Even in districts that returned to the classroom earlier, COVID-19 outbreaks that led to additional quarantining and disturbing class routines declined. Studies show that reading ability by the end of third grade can predict educational success, career earnings and the probability of going to jail. [The Wall Street Journal]

o   Europe saw a massive heat wave during the summer of 2022, breaking record temperatures and suffering significant droughts. Temperatures throughout Europe were 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit higher from June to August than last year when they set the previous record. August alone with 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous hottest August, in 2018.

But the continent set a new record for solar power this summer, reducing the need for natural gas imports. The European Union generated 12 percent of its electricity from solar power from May to August, marking a three percent increase from last year. The Netherlands and Germany had the highest solar electricity share, followed by Spain. [Associated Press]

o   The impact of rising seas threatens the future of American coastal towns and cities. The lost revenue from property taxes and income generated by those seaside structures could impact school districts and municipal services. According to a report from the organization Climate Central, individual properties along the US coast are projected to be fully or partly submerged in 30 years. Nearly 650,000 tax parcels totaling 4.4 million acres could be impacted.

The study shows that the East and Gulf Coasts will be more impacted by rising sea levels than others. The people who live in these coastal areas will have to shoulder the burden in several ways. First, dealing with the loss of property taxes, a major source of revenue for municipal services, as people migrate away from eroding property. [TIME]

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