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Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

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Suez canal map

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Suez canal map

The Briefing

  • The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways, connecting Asia and Europe
  • On March 23, 2021, the Ever Given container ship ran aground, blocking transit in both directions

The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

On March 23, 2021, a massive ship named Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, completely blocking traffic in both directions. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the 1,312 foot long (400 m) container ship ran aground during a sandstorm that caused low visibility, impacting the ship’s navigation. The vessel is owned by Taiwanese shipping firm, Evergreen Marine.

With over 200 vessels halted on either side of the canal, authorities are scrambling to dislodge the container ship and resume normal operations. This has proven to be a difficult task so far, and experts are warning that the process could take weeks.

What is the Suez Canal?

Constructed in 1869, the Suez Canal is an Egyptian sea-level waterway that provides a vital shipping route between Europe and Asia. Without this route, ships would need to sail around Africa, adding an entire week to their trips.

The connecting link between two important regional economies, the canal facilitates a significant amount of trade. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) reported that 19,000 vessels—averaging to 52 a day—had sailed through its waters in 2020.

YearNumber of VesselsAmount of Cargo (Tons)
201117,800692M
201217,224740M
201316,596754M
201417,148822M
201517,483823M
201616,833819M
201717,550909M
201818,174983M
201918,8801,031M
202018,8291,170M

The total volume of cargo being transported through the canal has increased steadily in recent years. This includes consumer goods, dry-bulk cargo such as grain and minerals, and oil products.

Implications of the Blockage

The blockage of such an important shipping route is bound to have consequences. According to Lloyd’s List, each day the Suez Canal is closed disrupts over $9 billion worth of goods trade.

European officials have also voiced concern about longer-term impacts, particularly after the blockage is cleared. A sudden influx of ships could cause massive congestion at European ports and further disrupt supply chains.

»Want to learn more? Check out this infographic on global shipping container traffic.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Suez Canal Authority, Vesselfinder.com, BBC, CNN, Lloyds List

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Datastream

How Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invest Its Money?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funded by a trust that has a portfolio value of over $25 billion. Here’s how it invests its assets.

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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Briefing

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust has a total portfolio value of over $25 billion
  • Almost half of the money is invested in Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company run by chairman and CEO Warren Buffett
  • The trust favors industrial stocks, with a 34% weighting in the sector

How Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invest Its Money?

Bill and Melinda Gates have announced they are ending their marriage, but will continue to work together at their foundation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in 2000, is the largest private philanthropic organization in the United States. It has spent over $50 billion on global public health over the last two decades, including $1.75 billion on COVID-19 relief.

Of course, the foundation’s assets are managed by a trust until they are ready to be distributed to grantees. Here’s a look at how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust invests its assets.

The Portfolio Breakdown

The trust has invested 100% of its holdings in stocks. It holds almost half of its value in Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company run by Warren Buffett.

StockValue% of Portfolio
Berkshire Hathaway$11.8B45.5%
Waste Management$2.6B10.0%
Caterpillar$2.6B10.0%
Canadian National Railway$1.9B7.2%
Walmart$1.6B6.4%
Crown Castle$1.0B3.9%
Ecolab$991M3.8%
UPS$960M3.7%
FedEx$921M3.6%
Schrodinger$518M2.0%
Coca-Cola FEMSA$294M1.1%
Grupo Televisa$213M0.8%
Liberty Global$156M0.6%
Apple$133M0.5%
Amazon$102M0.4%
Alphabet (Google)$102M0.4%
Twitter$15M0.1%
Liberty Latin America$14M0.1%

However, the portfolio is more diversified than initially meets the eye—Berkshire Hathaway itself is invested in almost 50 stocks.

Shrodinger, a healthcare-focused software company that makes up 2% of the trust’s total portfolio, was one of the best performing stocks of 2020 by price returns. The portfolio has also been boosted by delivery companies UPS and FedEx, both of which saw their share prices more than double over the last year as online shopping took off.

While the trust is dominated by U.S.-domiciled companies, a few foreign names do make the list. For example, Canadian National Railway makes up over 7% of the portfolio, while the Latin American bottler Coca-Cola FEMSA makes up just over 1%.

The Future of the Foundation

The trust continues to be managed by a team of outside investment managers, whose decisions have a critical impact on the amount of money the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has to fund its initiatives. For example, if Berkshire Hathaway were to dip 10%, this would drop the portfolio value by more than $1 billion.

In addition, the foundation is funded in part by the Gates’ personal donations—more than $36 billion from 1994 to 2018. Should Bill and Melinda go on to create their own separate philanthropic efforts post-divorce, the foundation may have a smaller portfolio to pull from going forward.

» Like this? Then you might also like The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart

Where does this data come from?

Source: SEC filings and MarketWatch
Notes: Portfolio holdings are as of December 31, 2020. Stock values are as of market close on May 3, 2021.

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Datastream

How Media Consumption Has Changed Over the Last Decade (2011-2021)

The media consumption landscape in 2021 is shifting. Time spent on media continues to spike, with mobile challenging for the top spot

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changing media consumption

The Briefing

  • Since 2011, media consumption for U.S. adults is up 20% across all categories
  • An average of 4 hours and 12 minutes is spent on mobile devices

Media Consumption in 2021

There are a wide array of apps and life hacks out there designed to help regulate personal internet use and media consumption, but the data suggests they haven’t been working. Today, we consume more media than at any point in time in the last decade.

This data from Recode looks at how many minutes U.S. adults spend on various forms of media, comparing mobile, desktop, radio, television, and magazines.

How Many Minutes are Spent on Media?

In 2021, collective media consumption continues its upward trajectory, and is set to be at the highest it’s ever been. In 2021, overall media consumption among U.S. adults is estimated to be around 666 minutes per day, or 11.1 hours—a 20.2% increase from 2011.

YearMobileDesktopRadioTelevisionMagazinesTotal
2021252509925312666
20202315010025813652
20192085110026414637
20181905210227015629
20171645310228217618
20161365310528718599
20151245610928919597
2014886711129820584
2013746711630621584
2012606812031423585
2011454013131424554

Although media consumption has grown overall, this is predominantly driven by mobile usage. In fact, every category with the exception of mobile has shrunk from their respective peaks. Mobile on the other hand, has grown a whopping 460% in 10 years, from an average daily use of 45 minutes to a staggering 252 minutes.

Consumption by Generation

Disparities in media consumption have a generational aspect that’s worth noting, as well. For instance, older Americans like Baby Boomers still consume media routinely through television. On the other hand, younger cohorts like Millennials and Gen Z tend to consume more through mobile.

Increasing internet use has come with criticism, and is said to be partially responsible for our waning attention spans. With only 1,440 minutes in a day, it remains unknown exactly how many minutes we will continue to direct towards mobile use. But with figures growing 9% last year, we may not have yet reached the peak.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Recode
Notes: 2021 figures are projections by Zenith Media

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