Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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A fourth wave of viral infections threatens to undermine Europe’s fragile economic recovery as governments reimpose increasingly stringent health restrictions that could reduce foot traffic in shopping malls, discourage travel and reduce crowds in restaurants, bars and ski resorts.

“We are expecting an eventful winter season,” said Stefan Kooths, research director at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany. “The pandemic now appears to be affecting the economy more negatively than we originally thought.”

The severe lockdowns that swept across Europe in the first months of the pandemic last year ended up slashing economic output by nearly 15%. Vaccines and falling infection rates have helped countries recoup some of these losses, but uneven immunization coverage across the continent could put those gains at risk.

Case study: Before their closure, Austrian stores were already experiencing a 25% loss in revenue for November compared to the same period in 2019, the country’s retail association said.

A global campaign to attract foreigners with skills, especially those between physical labor and a doctorate in physics, is underway as the pandemic enters its third year. Many wealthy countries hope to attract these young workers with expedited visas and promises of permanent residence.

The Covid disruptions have exposed demographic imbalances – rapidly aging rich countries produce too few new workers, while countries with a surplus of young people often do not have enough work for all. New approaches to this mismatch could influence the global debate on immigration, especially as European governments differ on how to deal with new waves of asylum seekers.

“We hear the same thing everywhere,” said Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of research on international migration at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. “If you want to attract new workers, you have to offer them attractive conditions.

Details: In Germany, a new immigration law offers accelerated work visa to qualified professionals and six months to visit and find employment. Canada plans to grant residency to 1.2 million new immigrants by 2023. And Israel recently finalized a deal to bring healthcare workers from Nepal.

The context: The pandemic has brought about several major changes in global mobility. This slowed down labor migration. This has created more competition for “digital nomads” as more than 30 countries have created programs to attract mobile technology workers. And this has led to a general relaxation of the rules on work for foreigners already in the country.


The United States, Britain, China, India, Japan and Korea will release tens of millions of barrels of crude oil from their stocks to fight soaring world prices.

Oil traders appeared disappointed with the move. The United States will draw on 50 million barrels of its emergency supply of 620 million barrels, which is lower than traders’ expectations of around 100 barrels. Oil prices rose after the announcement, although administration officials said prices could drop in the coming weeks.

The announcement comes after OPEC rejected President Biden’s call to increase production. OPEC Plus countries may reconsider their decision at their meeting next week after such a coordinated release.

The context: Oil-producing countries cut production as demand plummeted at the start of the pandemic. In the United States, the number of oil rigs declined by almost 70% in the summer of 2020.

Celebrity memorabilia, leaky toilet, 15-minute call to his girlfriend: Newly released documents show disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein lived a mundane existence in prison in the days leading up to his suicide, while spinning disappointments until the very end.

The 64th edition of the Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles in January, and the list of nominees already offers surprises, snubs and scores. Read the takes from our music reviews.

Jon Batiste, a songwriter who is also the musical director of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”, got the most nominations – 11. Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and HER followed with eight each, while pop stars Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo won Sept. “It’s a reminder that both the alleged and actual audiences for the awards show and the network are skewed,” writes music critic Jon Caramanica. “Maybe in that echo chamber, Batiste calls himself a pop star.”

Another twist: Abba landed her first Grammy nomination for the group’s comeback single “I Still Have Faith in You”. “This is obviously one of the best Grammy nominations ever,” writes music critic Jon Pareles.

The ceremony also revamped her nomination process – for years many artists, including Jay-Z and The Weeknd, have regularly criticized the Grammys for passing on black artists in the best categories. “The effect seems less dramatic than many had expected,” writes Ben Sisario. “This year’s Grammy Nods have followed a familiar pattern of mixing pop superstars with old guard heroes.”

The full list of nominees is here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Until tomorrow. – Natasha

PS German López joins the team of The Morning, our sister newsletter, of Vox.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the United States seeking to repair highway projects that have damaged black neighborhoods.

You can reach Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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