Monopoly fans dressed as the boardgame's avatar in London
Image: © Jeff Moore / Jeff Moore/PA Images

London costs the earth, mobile money on the up. 5 to 11 March: What just happened?

London is fast earning its reputation for having streets 'paved with gold'. Mobile money is on the rise. And a bunch of kids are taking Obama to court. Here’s our regular bitesize review of all the big news over the last seven days

How much?!!

Chart showing the world's most expensive cities
Source: Statista

This fascinating chart from Statista shows the relative cost of living and working in cities around the world. Hong Kong is the third most expensive. New York is at number two. But first place goes to London.

The World Economic Forum reported that "London has been ranked the most expensive city to live and work in, with accommodation in the UK’s capital costing more than twice as much as in Los Angeles and Sydney."

This news (perhaps unsurprising to anyone that lives there!) was followed by a BBC report citing a new survey by the National Union of Teachers that suggests young people in the profession are increasingly likely to move out of the capital because they can’t afford to live there anymore. With an average monthly take-home pay for newly qualified teachers of £1,655, but average rent on a one-bedroom flat now £1,155, leaving only £500 to live on, it's no wonder many are thinking about packing their bags. We're talking about a city where stepping out the front door costs you at least £20!

An economy without cash is becoming more and more common, and Somalia is embracing the digital payment future…

Three Somalis in prepare food in Mogadishu
Image: © AA / ABACA/PA Images

Could you live without cash? With the likes of Apple Pay, contactless payments, M-Pesa and other new ways to carry out transactions becoming more common, are we heading toward a world without Kenya has long been leading the way in this area, but this week Quartz reported that Somalia is following suit. After years of conflict and economic turmoil, the country’s banking system has been “supplemented, if not replaced by, mobile money.” According to data cited in the report, mobile phone subscriptions have more than doubled in the last three years and around 40% of adults use mobile money accounts. The popular EVC Plus (electronic virtual cash) system is transforming the way people transact with one another, and allowing them to avoid the dangers of carrying lots of paper money around. In the streets of Mogadishu “cash is disappearing, credit cards are unnecessary, and daily shopping is speedy and digital.”

21 children are suing President Obama over climate change

President Barack Obama
Image: © Chris Kleponis / DPA/PA Images

In what sounds a bit like an episode of Scooby Doo, a group of schoolchildren from across the US are suing President Obama for inaction over climate change. They argue that by failing to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, the American government is violating young people’s rights to due process and equal protection, as well as the doctrine whereby certain natural resources must be protected for public use. Young people, they say, will be impacted more severely by climate change than the current generation of politicians. The energy industry seems to be taking this pretty seriously if their response is anything to go by. They argue that a victory for the kids would require an and pose “a direct, substantial threat to [their] businesses.”

European economies favour older workers at the expense of the young

Demonstration against youth unemployment in Europe
Image: © Kay Nietfeld / DPA/PA Images

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, has described economies on the continent as “rigged to protect older workers at the cost of new employees”. This comes after the ECB lowered interest rates to zero yesterday in an attempt to pump some life back into the stagnant Eurozone. With low across the board meaning that savings (older people tend to have more savings) maintain their value, while debts (young people tend to have more debt) stick around, Draghi points to what he calls a ‘redistribution’ of wealth from young to old. Asked whether today’s youth would ever have as good a standard a living as their parents, he replied: “That’s our common choice. Our standard of living depends on the strength of our economy.”

Lots of men (and occasionally women) sit in a room wearing suits and talk loudly at one another. Welcome to the joy of British parliamentary select committees…

Treasury Select Committee
Image: © PA / PA Wire/Press Association Images

For those who’ve never seen one, a select committee is sort of like watching an episode of The Apprentice, but with actual real stuff at stake. Shut away in a drab looking room, a group of 12 or so people mercilessly antagonise one another. A few especially unlucky ones are subject to relentless questioning about why they did this or why they said that. The only difference is that the questions are less ‘why didn't you let her do the presentation?’ and more ‘why aren’t you running that quasi-governmental national institution better?’ Here politicians get to hold the non-elected to account, which can make for drama far more compelling than the average TV reality show.

On Tuesday the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, had to go through this trial by fire. He spoke about what might happen to Britain’s finances if it decided to leave the European Union. The whole thing was a bit odd. First he said he’d not be making any kind of recommendation to the British government about what to do, then he basically told them it would be a bad idea. This didn’t impress the pro-Brexit Conservative MP William Reece-Mogg, accused Carney of “coming out with the standard pro-European” lines, which he said were “beneath the dignity of the BOE”. The possibility of Brexit is big news in the UK. Whichever way it goes, it’s sure to have major financial implications, and the economic arguments are central to both sides.

Finally, you know that story about Facebook having to pay more tax? Turns out it’s not so simple as that…

Facebook poster with 'thumbs up' icon
Image: © Lensi Photography / Demotix / Demotix/Press Association Images

Last week we featured the story about Facebook agreeing to pay more tax in the UK. Well, it turns out it may not be as straightforward a story as it first seemed. The Sunday Times reported that UK staff look set to get massive stock bonuses (at an average of $1.1m per person), which the company can then offset against its new tax bill. This comes after new data shows that the UK tax office actually pays more to Facebook for advertising than it collects in revenue! Cheeky face (Facebook). Happy face (Facebook staff). Angry and embarrassed face (Taxman).

Related articles

Reader Comments