3. China's big layoff
By the end of the year, some 1.8 million Chinese coal and steel workers will lose their jobs, victims of the government's shift to cleaner industries and the shutdown of small enterprises. To grasp that number, the two industries employ just 192,000 workers in the U.S., and 22,000 in the U.K.
The big picture: The layoffs reflect a shift in China's priorities toward two sectors: higher-value, branded items to be sold internationally; and AI-led and green-based products like electric and self-driving cars, advanced batteries, robotics and automation equipment.
To avoid any potential outbreaks of discontent, the government is offering many of those coal and steel workers generous long-term payoffs. In one example, per the FT's Emily Feng, workers in Ma'anshan received early retirement worth $600 a month for 35 years.
Our thought bubble: Bill Bishop, author of the Axios China newsletter (sign up here), tells me that the turn seemed to gain momentum after the 19th Communist Party Congress in October. He says the signal was a "very important change" to one of its key guiding concepts and also puts a greater emphasis on "the quality of how ordinary Chinese live."
"The Party has changed the 'principal contradiction' that the Marxists in China believe defines society. Since 1981, near the start of the reform and opening era, the principal contradiction had been 'the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people versus backward social production,' which effectively justified growth at all costs," Bill says. "For the Xi era, that contradiction is now 'between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life.'"