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This year marks a major milestone in terms of the cash flowing to low- and middle-income countries: Remittances are now significantly larger than any other source of funds.

Expand chart
Adapted from KNOMAD's "Migration and Remittances Recent Development and Outlook," April 2019; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Remittances generally arrive in small chunks, maybe a couple of hundred dollars at a time, but there are a lot of them, and they add up. Today, they're bigger than foreign direct investment, they're much bigger than flows from bond and stock markets, and they're about three times bigger than flows from official sources like the World Bank.

  • The development impact of remittances is enormous, for two main reasons. First, remittances disintermediate most government bureaucracy and go straight to poor individuals. Second, and more importantly, they are the only major foreign-currency flows that do not need to be repaid.
  • In Venezuela, remittances are a literal lifeline — many Venezuelans would die without them, according to World Bank remittances expert Dilip Ratha. And those flows aren't even measured in the chart above, since they take place in the grey market, out of sight of the authorities.

Why it matters: Remittances are a form of decentralized, distributed power — and they amount to more than $700 billion per year, most of which goes to poor people in poor countries. By comparison, total World Bank disbursements in 2018 were $46 billion.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.