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9/6/2019. By John Ellis.
1. China’s central bank said it will cut the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves to the lowest level since 2007, injecting liquidity into an economy facing both a domestic slowdown and trade-war headwinds. The required reserve ratio for all banks will be lowered by 0.5 percentage points, taking effect on Sept. 16, the People’s Bank of China said on its website Friday. The PBOC also cut the reserve ratios by one percentage point for some city commercial banks, to take effect in two steps on Oct. 15 and Nov. 15. The cuts will release 900 billion yuan ($126 billion) of liquidity, the PBOC said, helping to offset the tightening impact of upcoming tax payments.
2.Provincial auditors across China are sounding the alarm on a wave of fast-approaching local government debt maturities that analysts think could amount to at least Rmb3.8trillion ($560billion) within the next two and half years, presenting a risk to China’s financial system. The auditing office of Shaanxi province in northwestern China is the latest authority to release a worrying report on the level of debt repayments facing the local government.
3. Iran said Thursday it would abandon constraints on nuclear research set out in the 2015 nuclear deal, in another violation of the accord that raises the risk of its collapse as Europe pursues efforts to salvage it with sanctions relief for Tehran. Iran’s move comes after the Trump administration appeared to dismiss efforts led by France to throw Tehran a possible $15 billion economic lifeline in return for its full compliance with the nuclear accord.
4. Kim Jong-un has acquired ten more nuclear warheads in the 18 months that de-nuclearization talks with the United States have been dragging on, giving it 40 in total, according to the former head of America’s nuclear laboratory. Siegfried Hecker warns in an essay written with other experts on North Korea that President Trump’s diplomatic engagement with Mr Kim is at a crucial stage, and that delay is allowing the rogue state to increase its nuclear stockpile.
5. President Putin claimed yesterday that he had offered to sell Russia’s most advanced weapons, including hypersonic missiles, to the United States but was rebuffed by President Trump. He made the startling announcement at an economic forum in Vladivostok, apparently to underscore his commitment to arms control. “I told Donald, ‘If you want, we’ll sell them to you and that’s how we keep everything balanced right away’,” Mr Putin said.
6. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has refused to sign a peace deal with the Taliban amid growing unease over the draft accord aimed at ending America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, according to officials. As a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up near the US embassy in Kabul yesterday, it emerged that senior figures within the Trump administration harbor deep misgivings about striking a deal with the insurgents that US troops have fought since 2001.
7. Brexit! Boris Johnson’s prospects of securing an election were fading last night after Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP agreed to block any poll until the prime minister has secured an extension to the Brexit deadline. On a torrid day for Mr Johnson, in which he was hit by the resignation of his brother from the government, he insisted that he would rather “be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU to delay Brexit — even though he will, from today, be legally compelled to do so after a vote by MPs.
8. Matteo Salvini is still at the forefront of Italian and European politics; he is the center of gravity, the man whom rivals fear most. The rise of this charismatic former talk-radio host, political chameleon, and turbocharged techno-populist is instructive, and marks a new and notable chapter of democracy in the age of social media. Salvini has swiftly and dramatically changed the culture in Italy, humanizing far-right rhetoric and making public discourse and the mood on the street rougher and more aggressive. He is not simply a Donald Trump facsimile in Europe, nor merely the archetype of an angry anti-immigrant nationalist in the Viktor Orbán mold. Salvini has been writing an entirely new playbook for 21st-century populism.
9. Robert Mugabe, a schoolteacher-turned-guerrilla fighter who helped topple white colonial rule in Zimbabwe only to lead the country to the brink of economic ruin, has died. He was 95 years old. Mr. Mugabe died following years of declining health that saw him make frequent trips for medical treatment in Asia and less than two years after a bloodless coup ended his 37-year rule over the southern African country.
10. Climate change will be a top issue in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, former Vice President Al Gore told Nikkei in an interview. "All of the candidates for the Democratic nomination are saying that it is either the top issue or one of the two top issues along with health care," the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. "This is a big change from previous election cycles."
11. More than 120 million workers globally will need retraining in the next three years due to artificial intelligence’s impact on jobs, according to an IBM survey. That’s a top concern for many employers who say talent shortage is one of the greatest threats to their organizations today. And the training required these days is longer than it used to be -- workers need 36 days of training to close a skills gap versus three days in 2014, IBM notes in the survey.
12. The US jobs report, to be released this morning at 8:30am ET, will provide the latest view of the economy’s health during a month of global economic turbulence and heightened Wall Street jitters.
13. State attorneys general are formally launching separate antitrust probes into Facebook and Alphabet’s Google unit starting next week, according to people familiar with the matter, putting added pressure on tech giants already under federal scrutiny. The Google probe is expected to be announced at a news conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, with a bipartisan group of about three dozen state attorneys general joining the effort, the people said.
14. China is exploring ambitious new plans for the future of its car industry, weighing a target for 60% of all automobiles sold in the country to run on electric motors by 2035, according to people familiar with the matter.
16. Farm loan delinquencies rose to a record high in June at Wisconsin’s community banks, data showed on Thursday, a sign President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts with China and other countries are hitting farmers hard in a state that could be crucial for his chances of re-election in 2020. The share of farm loans that are long past-due rose to 2.9% at community banks in Wisconsin as of June 30, the highest rate in comparable records that go back to 2001, according to a Reuters analysis of loan delinquency data published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
17. Best for last: A small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age. For one year, nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications — and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analysing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation. The results were a surprise even to the trial organizers — but researchers caution that the findings are preliminary because the trial was small and did not include a control arm.
Quick Links: A mini revolution in brain science. Gillian Tett: Does capitalism need saving from itself? The work of the future. Markets fret that recession fears will bring recession itself. A recession is already here in US corporate profits. Trump administration aims to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. WeWork's valuation plunges by more than half to $20 billion. Alibaba acquires Kaola for $2 billion. Facebook has launched its in-app dating feature for the United States. Pakistan moves to ban plastic bags. Citigroup doubles down on credit cards even as U.S. economy softens. The most hated office jargon.
Political Links: Fitch downgrades Hong Kong. Israel's September 17th election is a referendum on Bibi Netanyahu. William Shawcross: "There are risks in proceeding with Brexit. There are far greater risks in abandoning it." Joe Biden’s stumbles open path for Democratic rivals.
Programming Note: News Items will be distributed on Sunday morning this weekend, not Saturday.