21 August 2019. By John Ellis.
1. President Trump said he is considering measures to bolster the economy, including a possible reduction in capital-gains taxes, and continued to press the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates even as he played down warning signs of a possible slowdown. “We’re looking at various tax reductions,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House yesterday. “But I’m looking at that all the time anyway.” He added: “We’re very far from a recession.”
2. Mr. Trump also said he had to confront China over trade even if it caused short-term harm to the U.S. economy because Beijing had been cheating Washington for decades. “Somebody had to take China on,” Trump told reporters during a White House visit by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, when asked about wide-ranging tariffs he has imposed on imports from China. “This is something that had to be done. The only difference is I am doing it,” he said.
3. Japan’s government will reportedly state that North Korea is capable of miniaturizing nuclear warheads in a forthcoming defense report, it has emerged. Tokyo will upgrade its estimate of the regime’s nuclear capability, having said last year only that the technical feat was a possibility, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Wednesday, without citing sources. (Use Google Translate for newspaper report).
4. President Trump said on Tuesday that Russia should be readmitted to the Group of 7 industrialized nations, a call for ending Moscow’s pariah status on the world stage that is likely to earn a cool reception when the group’s annual summit opens this weekend. Speaking a few days before his planned departure for the summit, in Biarritz, France, Mr. Trump said that Moscow’s exclusion since 2014 from the group of leading economic powers should be reversed and, ignoring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, contended that the true reason for it was President Barack Obama’s wounded pride.
5. Giuseppe Conte has resigned as Italy’s prime minister, deepening the country’s political crisis after months of government squabbling. His resignation sparks a search for a new administration to avoid snap elections and deal with a faltering economy. Mr Conte said he would quit after accusing Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the anti-immigration League party, of weakening the country by calling for an election. The call came a little more than a year into a fractious coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
6. Italy now faces months of political uncertainty just when it needs to put together a 2020 budget that complies with EU rules and avoids a potentially crippling rise in VAT (this is due to start in January unless offsetting expenditure savings cannot be found).
7. The EU rejected Boris Johnson's latest call for a fundamental reworking of the terms for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc on Tuesday as the UK prime minister prepared to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time since he took office last month. The stand-off fueled rising expectations that the UK will leave the EU on October 31 without an exit deal, souring relations between the two sides and threatening severe economic disruption.
8. The White House on Tuesday canceled the president’s planned visit to Denmark after the prime minister said she wouldn’t entertain President Trump ’s proposal to purchase Greenland from the Scandinavian nation. “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
9. Poor water quality saps one-third of potential economic growth in the most heavily polluted areas, according to a new global analysis by the World Bank that underscores how crucial clean water is to productivity. “Deteriorating water quality is stalling economic growth, worsening health conditions, reducing food production, and exacerbating poverty in many countries,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement released with the report Tuesday.
10. British technology start-ups are enjoying an unprecedented investment boom, shrugging off concerns over a no-deal Brexit. High-tech companies have received a record $6.7 billion (£5.5 billion) in new funding this year, 50 per cent more than the same period last year.
11. Spending on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine by Americans reached nearly $150 billion in 2016, with a large proportion of spending coming from the small share of people who use drugs on a daily or near-daily basis, according to a new RAND Corporation report. Researchers estimate that from 2006 to 2016, the total amount of money spent by Americans on these four drugs fluctuated between $120 billion and $145 billion each year. By contrast, a different analysis finds that spending on alcohol in the U.S. was estimated to be $158 billion in 2017.
12. This year is shaping up to be the first year that women make up the majority of the college-educated labor force, a milestone that is already altering benefits packages offered by companies and one that could influence family sizes in the future. Since 2013, the female share of college-educated workers has been around the 49% mark, with 2019 being the year that women cross into a very slight majority.
Quick Links: Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works. A map of the brain can tell what you're reading about. Electrodes show a glimpse of memories emerging in a brain. The World Bank is still loving its blockchain-powered bonds. Ransomware hackers hit nearly two dozen Texas cities. Matt Levine on WeWork. Pre-fab homes are coming to a city backyard near you. Seattle-based startup Node wants to be the Ikea of the home industry. The generational feud that rocked Apollo Global Management. Rip-roaring bond rally revives talk of ‘widow-maker’ trade. Pimco looks to offload ultra-hot bonds after huge rally. Dina Powell to the rescue. Watch China’s balance of payments data for signs of capital flight. Alibaba postpones Hong Kong IPO. Apple’s former Siri boss joins Microsoft AI group.
Political Links: Trump tells NRA chief that universal background checks are off the table. Trump says Jewish people voting Democratic show ‘lack of knowledge’ or ‘great disloyalty.' US and Japan in race to finalize partial trade deal. Gulf states shrug as India seizes Kashmir. German political ban on AfD deals comes under strain. Bribery scandal threatens to ruin Justin Trudeau’s re-election hopes. Two communist lawmakers are suddenly setting the agenda in Chile. US and Venezuela hold ‘high level’ talks to resolve crisis. Venezuela's malnutrition time bomb. A journey through shattered Syria. Elizabeth Warren’s first campaign event in Minnesota drew a crowd.