The typical American family spends half its income on housing and transportation. The typical Egyptian family spends half its income on food.
This week, we looked at how health care, education, and cell phone bills have eaten into American budgets since the recession. But let's take the global view. What do family budgets look like in Egypt? Or Indonesia? Or China? The Credit Suisse Emerging Consumer Survey asks thousands of respondents across eight developing countries -- the three above plus India, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- to say how they spend money on categories like cars, food, and phones. Those eight graphs, with key stats from the report, are below. Some light analysis for the road comes at the bottom.
GDP per capita: $1,382
Key stat from the Credit Suisse report: "70% of Indians say they have no computers in the home. Only 19% of respondents register having access to the internet."
Egypt GDP per capita: $2,892
Key stat: "There is [an] ongoing red flag raised by exposure to food with its near 50% claim on the household income of Egyptian consumers. Ironically, plans to cut government spending on food subsidies to strengthen state finances, could in itself increase inflation and undermine consumer sentiment."
Indonesia GDP per capita: $3,456
Key stat: "The risk that always exists for the Indonesian consumer is the sensitivity of food prices. Food consumes a large proportion of the household budget. Upward pressure on prices would threaten to crowd out other discretionary spending."
China GDP per capita: $4,833
Key stat: "The two categories that stand out are healthcare and education. The only country with comparable momentum in healthcare spending is Saudi Arabia. Only Saudi and India had stronger readings on extra educational spending ... At nearly 30% of monthly income, [China's savings] is the highest in the survey."
Turkey GDP per capita: $11,054
Key stat: "Expenditure in [housing] (at an estimated 24%) is the highest of any country in the survey. This looks to be more out of necessity than desire. The proportion of people registered as renting their property is among the highest in the survey. Turkish economic growth over the past decade, and the ensuing urbanization, has led to high inflation in the housing sector."
Brazil GDP per capita: $12,423
Key stat: "The Brazilian consumer continues to stand out as the most optimistic across our survey. Barely 7% of household income is registered as saved and over a half of respondents suggest they have no extra cash for savings. Given the strength of projected real income growth, this is extraordinary. It is more typical of the countries where the consumer is being seriously squeezed than one where finances seem robust."
Russia GDP per capita: $13,543
Key stat: "Despite the structural support there has been for the Russian economy in recent years from commodity prices, there has not been a notable trickle down to the average consumer. Optimism remains the lowest of the BRICs. The inequality of income suggests that growth opportunities are played mainly at the high-income end in Russia."
Saudi Arabia GDP per capita: $21,685
Key stat: "While inflation has been a negative factor in our emerging economies sur- veyed, including Saudi Arabia, there is a stabilizing effect from government pol- icy. Robust oil revenues (a driver of infla- tion for others) have provided govern- ment spending with the firepower to support public sector incomes and boost spending more generally. We have seen a government pledge to spend USD 130 billion on housing and job creation this year."
Two big ideas for the road: Houses and food. Everybody
needs somewhere to live and something to eat. But you can learn a lot
about a country by looking at housing and food spending. Here's how the
U.S., where middle-class families spend about a third of their income on
housing, compare to the developing economies in this survey.
And here's the story with food.
don't want to push this point too far, because these sort of surveys
have obvious limitations. Tremendous income inequality in developing
countries with hundreds of millions of people makes it impossible to
tell the story of the frothy middle class *in one graph.* But the bigger
picture is clear and uncontroversial. When families earn more income,
they can afford to eat more and buy more clothes, but the real shift is
from those essentials to bigger better houses, education, and health
Some researchers believe that the microbiome may play a role in regulating how people think and feel.
By now, the idea that gut bacteria affects a person’s health is not revolutionary. Many people know that these microbes influence digestion, allergies, and metabolism. The trend has become almost commonplace: New books appear regularly detailing precisely which diet will lead to optimum bacterial health.
But these microbes’ reach may extend much further, into the human brains. A growing group of researchers around the world are investigating how the microbiome, as this bacterial ecosystem is known, regulates how people think and feel. Scientists have found evidence that this assemblage—about a thousand different species of bacteria, trillions of cells that together weigh between one and three pounds—could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system.
It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”
Tom Hanks’s Doug has a lot in common with “Black Jeopardy” contestants—except, of course, for politics.
SNL’s ongoing “Black Jeopardy” series has been, in part, about divisions. In each edition, black American contestants answer Kenan Thompson’s clues with in-jokes, slang, and their shared opinions while an outsider—say, Elizabeth Banks as the living incarnation of Becky, Louis C.K. as a BYU African American Studies professor, or Drake as a black Canadian—just show their cluelessness.
When Tom Hanks showed up in a “Make America Great Again” hat and bald-eagle shirt to play the contestant “Doug” this weekend, it seemed like the set-up for the ugliest culture clash yet. The 2016 election has been a reminder of the country’s profound racial fault lines, and SNL hasn’t exactly been forgiving toward the Republican nominee on that front: Its version of Trump hasn’t been able to tell black people apart, and it aired a mock ad painting his supporters as white supremacists—which, inarguably, some of them really are.
Just why was Tom Hanks dancing in a black-and-orange suit on Saturday Night Live so funny?
This weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live offered a mini masterpiece: a gloriously silly Halloween-themed piece revolving around a “Haunted Elevator” ride and its unusual star attraction. Beck Bennett and Kate McKinnon played a couple looking for spooky thrills who instead found something far more bewildering: a pumpkin-suited man who would randomly appear alongside two cheerful skeletons and perform a dance routine. “Who are you?” asked a frustrated Bennett after the man (played by Tom Hanks) appeared for the second time. “I’m David Pumpkins!” came the reply.
McKinnon followed up: “Yeah, and David Pumpkins is … ?”
Why cultures that value interdependence, like Japan, win at being deep
Think of the last piece of big news you got. How did you feel about it? Happy? Sad? Angry? Worried? Excited? Grateful? A little bit of all of the above? Experiencing multiple emotions at once may make it seem like you don’t actually know just how you feel about something—that you’re ambivalent, or indecisive, or wishy-washy. Psychologists would say it just means you’re emotionally complex. And according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, emotional complexity varies a lot between countries.
There are two definitions of emotional complexity that researchers tend to use. One is called “emotional dialecticism,” which just means feeling positive and negative emotions at the same time. The other is “emotional differentiation,” which is when someone is able to separate out and describe the discrete emotions they’re feeling.
Tristan Harris believes Silicon Valley is addicting us to our phones. He’s determined to make it stop.
On a recent evening in San Francisco, Tristan Harris, a former product philosopher at Google, took a name tag from a man in pajamas called “Honey Bear” and wrote down his pseudonym for the night: “Presence.”
Harris had just arrived at Unplug SF, a “digital detox experiment” held in honor of the National Day of Unplugging, and the organizers had banned real names. Also outlawed: clocks, “w-talk” (work talk), and “WMDs” (the planners’ loaded shorthand for wireless mobile devices). Harris, a slight 32-year-old with copper hair and a tidy beard, surrendered his iPhone, a device he considers so addictive that he’s called it “a slot machine in my pocket.” He keeps the background set to an image of Scrabble tiles spelling out the words face down, a reminder of the device’s optimal position.
Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.
In 1995, if you had told Toby Spribille that he’d eventually overthrow a scientific idea that’s been the stuff of textbooks for 150 years, he would have laughed at you. Back then, his life seemed constrained to a very different path. He was raised in a Montana trailer park, and home-schooled by what he now describes as a “fundamentalist cult.” At a young age, he fell in love with science, but had no way of feeding that love. He longed to break away from his roots and get a proper education.
At 19, he got a job at a local forestry service. Within a few years, he had earned enough to leave home. His meager savings and non-existent grades meant that no American university would take him, so Spribille looked to Europe.
Trump supporters are convinced Democrats are using “oversampling” to stuff the polls in Hillary Clinton’s favor. But they’re just wrong about statistics.
Late last night, pro-Trump Twitter lit up with excited chatter. Donald Trump is falling fast in the polls, sliding through a month-long decline most statisticians would say is a result of him being, you know, unpopular. (And maybe this. Or this. Or this.) But one blogger had another theory: Polling organizations are deliberately interviewing more Democrats to skew the surveys toward Hillary Clinton.
This afternoon, Trump threw his support behind the idea. “When the polls are even, when they leave them alone and do them properly, I’m leading,” he said at a rally in Florida. “But you see these polls where they’re polling Democrats. How’s Trump doing? Oh, he’s down. They’re polling Democrats. The system is corrupt and it’s rigged and it’s broken.”
What use is there today for one of the oldest virtues?
As many Americans go about their days, I imagine they have two little angels perched on their shoulders, whispering conflicting messages about happiness and material wealth. One angel is embodied by James Altucher, a minimalist self-help guru recently profiled by The New York Times. Altucher claims to have only 15 possessions, after having unburdened himself a few months ago of 40 garbage bags’ worth of stuff and never looking back. As I read about Altucher, I rolled the numbers 15 and 40 over in my mind, thinking about the belongings in my bedroom and the garbage bags under my kitchen sink.
The other angel is Tyler Brûlé, the editor in chief of the fantastically high-end lifestyle magazine Monocle and a columnist for the Financial Times. He is the sort of writer who tosses off such lines as “I zipped along the autostrada through the Val d’Aosta with the ever-trusty Mario (my Italian driver for the past 20 years) at the wheel” with little regard for how privileged and pretentious he sounds (especially in his superfluous parentheticals). Still, there is something, I’m a little ashamed to say, that I envy about Brûlé’s effortless cosmopolitanism—which, it’s hard to miss, is only made possible by unusual wealth.
Washington's zeal for humanitarian action ebbs and flows. And many are dying as a result.
To revisit the U.N.’s anointing of Aleppo as a World Heritage Site is a haunting exercise. The U.N. celebrated the city’s “13th-century citadel, 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-century madrasas, palaces, caravanserais and hammams,” all of which constituted “the city’s cohesive, unique urban fabric.” This Aleppo, after five years of brutal war, is a place now dead and buried.
The war has turned ordinary Syrians into flotsam and jetsam, lost amid national forces beyond their control, including the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad, extremist groups such as the Islamic State, and regional actors like Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. But if the civilians were hoping for Western action to stop the bleeding, they have fallen prey to another set of dynamics they can’t govern or even necessarily understand. Historically, Washington’s zeal for intervention in humanitarian crises follows a cycle. And the Syrians, unfortunately, are dying during the wrong phase.