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A new labor report shows the gap between developed and developing worlds narrows not just because of their growth, but our decline

PARIS - The International Labor Organization (ILO) has released a new and very detailed survey on wages in 115 countries. As always the study's results are highly anticipated, as a global snapshot of trends in wages, economic growth, productivity and living standards.

This year's conclusions can be divided into two key areas: wage progress in many (but not all) emerging economies, and the general economic standstill in developed countries.

During the worst two years of the global financial crisis, 2008 and 2009, wages in rich countries did not decline as feared—but they didn't rise either. In the rest of the world, on the other hand, wages continued to climb, and in some cases, even skyrocketed. In Asia, in particular, the average worker saw a 7% increase in his wages in real terms, taking inflation into account.

In fact, the ILO report issued Wednesday found that this trend has persisted over a much longer period. Over the last ten years, average real wages have increased 25% globally. They doubled in Asia, and even tripled in some Eastern European countries. In advanced economies, however, they only increased by 5%.

Because these are averages, of course, there are some country-specific variations. In Germany, for example, wages stagnated, while in France, they grew. The ultimate takeaway, though, is the same: emerging economies are catching up, and the gap between developed and developing worlds is only narrowing. Engineers in Shanghai or Bangalore can now earn salaries not that different from what they could earn in Paris.

For years, economists have thought that emerging countries would overtake the developed world without the West slowing down. Then, they predicted that developing countries would catch up and we would slow down—a trend that many considered "normal." Today, however, many experts are saying that the developing world is catching up precisely because we are slowing down.

There is, of course, an obvious causal relationship. After all, products like electronic chips and t-shits are simply cheaper to produce in emerging economies. But this does not explain everything. In France, for example, wage stagnation can be largely attributed to a decline in our own productivity.

So, is this necessarily good news? In principle, yes. The West welcomed worker strikes in China's Foxconn factory, where a worker earns just $300 a year. And, with rising salaries, outsourcing will become less profitable for many Western economies, meaning Europe and America will have to develop their own domestic labor force.

But many Western companies are still moving to countries like Cambodia or Indonesia, where labor is still cheaper than in China. Prices for t-shirts and televisions, meanwhile, will continue to rise for European consumers.

Though this trend could be reversed, all the factors now are pointing in this direction. Even worse is the fact that the West must now rejoice: for the rest of the world.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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