The Week in Numbers: Higher prices, fewer babies

From surging prices in the U.S., to a looming population crisis in China, this is the Week in Numbers. First up…

0.8% may not sound much. But the monthly figure is the highest rate of inflation in the U.S. in almost 12 years. A 10% surge in used-car prices was one factor. The news spooked stock markets around the world, but most economists still bet it's a passing blip, not a sign that prices are set to spiral upwards.

1.41 billion is the population of mainland China. That's a gain of over 5% since the last census ten years ago, but the slowest rate of increase since proper surveys began. With a fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman in 2020, China is on par with rapidly ageing societies like Japan, and faces a real worry over how to pay for its older folk.

4.99 trillion yen, or over $45 billion, was the annual net profit at Japanese investment giant SoftBank, driven by soaring values for its stakes in tech firms.

No wonder CEO Masayoshi Son sounded bullish.

"So far, we have been continuously finding wonderful AI firms. As long as we find such good companies which are worth investing, and as long our money lasts, we would like to continue investing."

Just last year the firm posted a record loss. Now the new numbers make it one of the world's most profitable companies, beating the mere $42.5 billion earned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

17% is how much one comment from Elon Musk can move bitcoin. That was the plunge after he said you wouldn't be able to use it to buy Tesla cars after all. Musk says he is now worried about the environmental impact of all the energy used to produce virtual money.

And $151 billion is how much Samsung Electronics will invest to help tackle the global chip shortage. It and other big names in South Korea are pouring money into new production. Around 153 firms plan to invest a total of about $450 billion. The government will lend a helping hand with tax breaks.

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