US Expat resources

2021 Wrapped

By Todd Cowan | 21 Dec, 2021

2021 was a year marked by vaccines and variants, political and civil unrest, main street taking on Wall Street, a return to global sporting events, and a new kind of space race among other notable stories.
We have taken our lead from Spotify’s Wrapped playlists (an idea originally created by an Intern) and summarised some of the US / UK and London & Capital’s events from the year.

January – Vaccines, variants and the 46th President

We’re all suffering from Covid-19 news fatigue but we would be remiss not to include.
January brought renewed hope and optimism in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic through the mass manufacturing of vaccines. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca grabbed headlines throughout the first few months of 2021 with exciting news over the efficacy of their drugs in the fight against coronavirus.
However, as much as there was to celebrate around the effectiveness of vaccines, the ability to declare victory on the virus was soon subdued by the emergence of the Delta variant throughout the spring and summer months.
Days after the world rang in the new year, the United States was on the verge of inaugurating the 46th president. Any excitement or optimism that accompanies an inauguration was soon cut short as the tragic events of the January 6th riot at the US Capitol unfolded.
Thousands of people marched on Washington DC to protest the validity of the 2020 US presidential election. However, shortly after congress convened to begin the electoral certification the day turned violent when thousands of pro-Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt subvert the certification of the November 2020 election.

February – Main street takes on Wall Street

As January came to a close there was an entirely new type of market volatility never seen before. This was a movement that was brought on by a new form of investor, and the rise of what became known as ‘meme stocks’. What started off as an Internet chat group, grew into a movement where thousands of investors from all over the world started to take aim at some of the largest institutions and hedge funds on Wall Street.
GameStop, AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry and Nokia were some of the notable names that retail investors launched coordinated short-squeeze attacks against, in order to punish the Wall Street institutions that had bet against them.
Never in the history of the capital markets had so many ‘little guys’ been in a position to compete with the financial institutions. Through the use of social media, and online chat rooms; investors around the world were empowered to mobilize against the institutions many hold responsible for the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

March – Global supply chain crisis

By the middle of 2021 the global supply chain crisis was being felt around the world. The delayed effects of the Covid-19 pandemic saw ports around the US experience heavy delays and extended wait times for unloading shipping containers. Containers that were able to be unloaded were stuck in ports for weeks longer than normal. Despite the existence of enough shipping containers around the globe, the amount held in ports or in transit, rendered containers in short supply. The crisis was further exacerbated by the rail and trucking industry as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and labour shortages.

April – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, the longest serving consort in world history, sadly passed away at the age of 99 on the morning of 9 April 2021, two months before his 100th birthday.
Prince Philip founded the Duke of Edinburgh awards in 1956. In the 20/21 UK fiscal year, despite the Covid-19 restrictions, 330,000 young people actively participated in the award volunteering over 1.8 million hours to charitable causes.

May – Taliban attacks on Afghanistan

May marked the start of an intensification of Taliban attacks on the Afghani capital, Kabul. The series of attacks included a bomb attack outside a school, where 55 people were reported to have been killed. The following months saw the Taliban seize several territories across Afghanistan.
By late August, the US and Allied forces had completed a mass evacuation effort. Two days later, the Taliban claimed victory of Kabul following the collapse of the Afghan government.

June – The return of sport

2021 marked the return of international sport, as the world tuned in to witness three major competitions all of which were postponed in 2020: the Tokyo Olympic Games, the European Championships and Copa America finals.
In June, the European Championships kicked off and for the first time in history, the competition utilized a multi-country host format for the duration of the five-week tournament. The finals were held in London’s Wembley Stadium, and pitted host nation England against Italy. The tournament was ultimately decided on penalty kicks, the result is a distant memory for my English colleagues and I am told we will no longer discuss.

July – Billionaire space race

July marked a historic event in space exploration, as not one but two billionaires made their way into suborbital space. On July 11th, Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic crew successfully travelled to outer space. Just over a week later, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin followed suit by becoming the second privately funded space flight to achieve sub-orbital spaceflight.

Sixty years after Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, the world finds itself on the precipice of sustainable space tourism.

August – The Olympics

After a one-year delay due to Covid-19, the 2020 Summer Olympics kicked-off in July and concluded in August (so it get’s the August news event!)
Almost 12,000 athletes from around the world gathered to compete for Olympic glory. The spectator-less games provided many memorable moments including Japan’s 13-year-old gold medal winning skateboarder, Momiji Nishiya. But the biggest story to come out of the Tokyo games occurred when seven-time Olympic medallist, and US gymnast – Simone Biles withdrew from the competition citing the need to prioritise her mental health above sport. Her brave decision became a major talking point throughout the games and cast an important spotlight on all athletes’ health and well-being.

September – Return to office work and Squid Game

September brought around the return of the majority of London & Capital’s staff back to our headquarters in London.
The return to the office brought back our commute times, team lunches and a chance for us all to chat about the Netflix original series – Squid Game. Within the first month the Korean produced phenomenon had amassed 1.65 billion hours of view time making it the most streamed show ever.

October – The Facebook Files

In September, reports emerged a whistle-blower had stepped forward at Facebook with details of a corporate culture that was aware of the negative impact various Facebook owned apps had on teenage users. The whistle-blower also shared the results of an internal study Facebook conducted that confirmed the platform’s role in spreading false information and the profitability of promoting negatively emotive posts.
By October, the whistle-blower was identified as Frances Haugen a data engineer within the company. Within days of identification, Miss Haugen was brought before congress to testify on the information she acquired.

November – COP Climate Change Summit and the Earthshot Prize

COP26 marks the 26th Conference of the Parties, which was held in Glasgow with four key goals:
– Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5C within reach
– Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
– Mobilise finance
– Work together to deliver

The Royal family make a second appearance here with the Earthshot prize. Founded by Prince William with the aim of finding new ideas and technology to tackle the Earth’s climate change.

December – Omicron

As of December 2021, newfound concern around infection rates and the highly transmissible Omicron variant are emerging, and we are reminded once again that a return to pre-pandemic life may prove allusive for the immediate future.

So, as we close out another year, we want to take the opportunity to wish you and your families a safe and happy festive break.

And we look forward to seeing you in the new year!

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