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Photo: Jeff Spicer / FilmImage

Two Brookings Institution analysts say the acclaimed smash movie "Black Panther" offers lessons for how African countries can transform energy and mineral deposits into lasting public benefits.

Why it matters: The movie is putting fresh attention on how to mitigate or avoid the "resource curse"— the poverty, conflict, and corruption in many resource-rich nations in Africa and elsewhere.

  • Brookings' Mariama Sow and Amadou Sy look at management of the amazing metal vibranium in Wakanda, Black Panther's fictional African setting.
  • "[T]he country has wisely made use of the metal to enhance technology and economic development for its people," they write, noting governance features including use of revenues for a social safety net.
  • But they also suggest trading practices that could provide benefits beyond the isolationist Wakanda's borders.

Two real places to watch: Exxon has found massive oil fields off Guyana's coast in South America, while automakers need increasing supplies of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo for batteries for electric vehicle expansion.

Yes, but: This Bloomberg Gadfly column, which also uses Black Panther as a hook, explores why Congo faces high hurdles to translating its cobalt bounty into a broader public good.

  • Those hurdles are population size; longstanding civil conflict; the prospect that changes in battery tech will erode demand; and endemic corruption.

Listen deeper: The latest International Monetary Fund podcast looks at a more recently recognized problem: the "presource curse" that can hinder economic growth in countries after petroleum discoveries but before any production occurs.

  • The expectation of development can lead to poor spending and borrowing decisions that leave a country exposed if energy companies don't ultimately make big investment decisions.

Go deeper

S.C. governor orders end to federal COVID-related unemployment benefits

Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday ordered the termination of the state's participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.

Driving the news: McMaster cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining the pace at which people are returning to work.

Dave Lawler, author of World
7 mins ago - World

Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue.

What they're saying: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

  1. Health: CDC expects new COVID surge starting this month — Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low
  2. Politics: Federal judge overturns CDC's eviction moratorium — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants — U.S. will support waiving vaccine patents — Education secretary: All schools expected to be fully in-person this fall
  4. Economy: U.S. may have added more than 2 million jobs in April — A surge in youth unemployment.
  5. World: True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds — Countries testing J&J vaccine doses after contamination at Baltimore plant — Germany opposes Biden's support for waiving vaccine patents
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.