United States

May 2, 2021

Political and Economic Updates:

Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump for the White House; Americans waiting for Republicans in Congress to acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-elect may have to keep waiting until January as GOP leaders stick with President Donald Trump’s litany of legal challenges and unproven claims of fraud; GOP lawmakers like to ignore Electoral College official confirmation of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States saying the January 6 vote in Congress to accept the Electoral College outcome may be when the presidential winner becomes official. GOP Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, finally accepted Joe Biden’s victory after he was confirmed by the Electoral College on December 14, warning Senate Republicans not to reject president-elect’s victory, when Congress meets to ratify the election result on January 6, although President Donald Trump keeps protesting, no matter that he has no chance of recovering his loss to Biden. Congress agreed on a $900 Billion corona-virus aid package, including direct payments of $600,- to most adults and $600,- per child, and $284 Billion into the Paycheck Protection Program small business loans, as well as another $20 Billion to small business grants and $5 Billion to live event venues. President Trump threatens to veto the covid-19 relief bill, he wants $600 stimulus checks to be increased to $2.000 for individuals and to $4.000 for couples; the fate of the stimulus deal remains in limbo after House Republicans rejected Democratic effort to meet President Trump’s demand for $2.000 checks. Trump finally signed Pandemic Relief bill after unemployment aid lapsed, extending expanded unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium keeping the Government open. Murdoch’s New York Post, long one of President Trump’s strongest allies, demanded him to stop spreading false claims of voting fraud and to accept President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The House voted to override Trump’s veto of Military Bill, Republicans joined with Democrats to hand President Trump a rare legislative rebuke in the final days of his presidency. The bill will next be taken up by the Senate, where it is expected to pass. The House approved to raise stimulus checks to $2.000 from $600, that President Trump demanded, the bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain. The Senate voted to override Trump’s veto of the $740,5 Billion annual defense funding bill, handing him the first such legislative rebuke of his presidency. A last-ditch effort by President Trump and his allies to overturn the election thrust Washington into chaos as a growing coalition of Republican Senators announced plans to rebel against Senate leaders by seeking to block the formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory; a group of 11 Republican Senators and Senators-elect led by Ted Cruz of Texas vowed to join Senator Josh Hawley (R.-Mo.) in challenging votes from some contested states, calling for an ’emergency 10-day-audit’ to investigate Trump’s unfounded claims; Trump wrote on Twitter that there would be ‘plenty more to come’. The move amounts to an open rebellion against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.), who last month pleaded with GOP Senators to avoid a public debate over the legitimacy of November’s election result; McConnell has personally congratulated Biden on his victory. Protesters incited by Trump stormed the Capitol, as lawmakers gather to count electoral votes, officers drawn guns in the House, lawmakers evacuated; National Guard activated, person shot dies; Biden condemns assault on liberty, calls chaos on Capitol an ‘insurrection’; defying Trump VP Pence, who will preside over the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral college votes, said he won’t overturn the 2020 election; Rep. Omar, Pressley said the president should be ‘immediately be impeached’, calling his behavior ‘dangerous and unacceptable’; U.K. Prime Minister describes scene on Capitol Hill as ‘disgraceful’; speaker Pelosi says leaders of Congress have decided to resume the joint session tonight to affirm Biden’s win. Democrats gain control of the Senate with victories in Georgia runoffs, taking control of Congress for the first time in ten years. Congress reconvened to certify electoral college vote and Biden’s election as president, hours after the mob stormed the Capitol. House speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer call for the immediate removal of President Trump, demanding Vice President Pence immediately invoke the 25th Amendment, for what they call inciting sedition by encouraging the rioters, threatening to start impeachment proceedings if Pence doesn’t agree. Lawmakers are vowing an investigation into how the police handled the violent breach at the Capitol. As the effort to involve the 25th amendment is viewed as unlikely to proceed, Democrats march toward another impeachment against President Trump following a deadly riot at the Capitol. President Trump promised an orderly transition, saying he will not assist the inauguration ceremony of President Biden on January 20, 2020. House Democrats will introduce an Article of impeachment during the House’s pro forma session on Monday January 11, 2020, after 180 cosponsors signed on. With Trump considering pardoning himself, it’s time for a closer look at his pardon powers. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, VP Pence rejected the effort to invoke the 25th Amendment. The House of Representatives than voted 232-197 on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, to impeach President Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time for his role in January 6 riot and siege of Capitol; 10 House Republicans voted for impeachment and denounced the president’s action; the Senate trial could come after Trump leaves office; Senate Republican Leader Mich McConnell said he won’t bring back the Senate from recess before January 19, which could push a trial into the beginning of the Biden administration; McConnell is said to be pleased about impeachment, believing it will be easier to purge Trump from the G.O.P.. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, promising to seek unity in a moment of national crisis, honoring the over 400.000 Americans lost to Covid-19, asking Americans to wear face masks in public for 100 days and imposing there use on federal property, making the corona-virus pandemic his top priority. He announced a broad plan to reverse some of Trump’s most controversial immigration policies, ordering a ‘pause’ on border wall construction. He also recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement, an international accord designed to avert catastrophic global warming. President Biden signed order of federal mask mandate in planes, trains and buses; travelers to the U.S. will be required a negative Covid-19 test before flying to the U.S. and to quarantine on arrival. Senator Mitch McConnell asks Democrats to delay the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment until early February 2021, saying former President needs time to prepare and stand up his legal team, ensuring due process. Senate leaders struck a deal to delay Donald Trump’s impeachment for two weeks, aiming to begin week February 8, 2021; the House still plans to deliver its impeachment of insurrection at 7:00 pm, Monday, January 25, 2021. The GOP looming impeachment strategy; Focus on the constitution and not Trump, Republicans reportedly plan to argue Trump can’t be convicted now that he is out of office. The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen, former chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, as first female Treasury Secretary. The Senate has passed a $ 1,9 Trillion budget for Covid-19 relief, with Vice President Kamala Harris carting the crucial 50-50 tie-breaking vote. The Senate agrees trial is constitutional as Trump consolidated votes for an acquittal; lawmakers on both sides are said to favor a quick trial, amid ongoing effort to have President Biden’s corona virus relief package approved. According to new polls, Biden’s job approval remains steady at around 60%. The United States Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial, but seven Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats to convict, the most bipartisan margin in favor of conviction in history.Senate passes $1,9 Trillion corona-virus relief package, that includes $1.400 checks, $300/wk jobless benefit through summer, a child allowance of up to $3.600 for one year, $350 Billion for state aid, $34 Billion to expand ACA subsidies, $14 Billion for vaccine distribution; not a single Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan, 50 Yea 49 Nay; the measure, the American Rescue Plan Act, now heads back to the House, where Majority Leader Stany Hoyer said a vote will be held Tuesday, March 9, 2021; Democrats aiming for Biden to sign measure by March 14, 2021. President Biden signed the $1,9 Trillion Aid Bill into law. President Biden announced withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/FDA and the U.S. begins vaccine roll-out as high-risk health care workers go first. FDA find that U.S. Moderna vaccine is highly protective against covid-19 and will likely grant emergency authorization to a second corona-virus vaccine this week. The FDA authorized also Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use. The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is the first to receive the emergency use authorization from the World Health Organization/WHO. Johnson & Johnson said its single-shot corona-virus vaccine was 66% effective overall in protecting against Covid-19 and it was 85% effective in preventing severe decease four weeks after vaccination in all adults; the vaccine however appears to be less potent against variants. Novavax Inc, an American biotech firm, announced that its protein based Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-COV 2373 met the primary endpoint with a vaccine efficacy of 89,3%, in its Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the United Kingdom/U.K.. Johnson & Johnson asked FDA for an emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine, taking forward the possibility of a third corona virus vaccine for the U.S. market. F.D.A. endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, a critical step in bringing a third shot to the U.S. marketplace; the F.D.A. confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19 and about 85% effective against the most serious illness, saying also Johnson & Johnson’s shot – one that could help speed up vaccinations by requiring just one doses instead of two – is safe for use. Johnson & Johnson’s single shot Covid-19 vaccine gets emergency use authorization from F.D.A.. Pharmaceutical giant Merck will help manufacture doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, dedicating two U.S. facilities to produce at least 100 Million shots by this summer. WHO authorized the Johnson & Johnson Coviod-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca will seek will seek U.S. authorization for its Civid-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca will seek emergency use authorization from the FDA for its corona-virus vaccine after a U.S. clinical trial found it was 79% effective at preventing symptoms and 100% effective at preventing serious disease and hospitalization. AstraZeneca may have included outdated information in Covid-19 vaccine trial, U.S. health agency says, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data; the vaccine has been dogged with doubts about possible side effects. The FDA recommends to pause the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine after reports of rare blood clotting. Denmark the first country in the world suspending definitively the use of AstraZenecas’s Covid-19 vaccine over blood clots concerns. The medical chief officer of BioNTech, Dr. Özlem Türeci, says that a third Covid-19 vaccine shot would be needed as immunity wanes, agreeing with previous comments made by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Johnson & Johnson vaccine use should resume with a warning about risk of rare blood clots, CDC advisory panel recommended.

The jobless rate fell to 6% in March 2021, down from 6,2% in February 2021, rebounding U.S. jobs, adding the U.S. economy 916.000 jobs, up from 416.000 in February 2021, signaling the labor market is showing signs of recovery. U.S. weekly first time jobless at 553.000 for the week ending April 24, 2021, while continuing claims dropped to 3,66 Million for the week ending April 17, 2021, and the total of those receiving benefits under all programs declined to 16,5 Million.

The March 2021 Manufacturing PMI registered 64,7% up 3,9% from 60,8% in February 2021, new orders index at 68,0% up 3,2% from 64,8% in February 2021, production index at 68,1% up 4,9% from 63,2% in February 2021, employment index at 59,6% up 5,2% from 54,4% in February 2021. The March 2021 ISM services PMI at an all time high of 63,7%, up 8,4% from 55,3% in February 2021, business activity index at 69,4%, up 13,9% from 55,5% in February 2021, new orders index at 67,2%, up 15,3% from 51,9% in February 2021, employment index at 57,2%, up 4,5% from 52,7% in February 2021. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index surged in March 2021 to its highest reading in a year, after a modest increase in February 2021, standing now at 109.7 up from 90.4 in February 2021, the present situation index climbed from 89.6 in February 2021 to 110.0 in March 2021, and the expectations index also improved from 90.9 in February 2021 to 109.6 in March 2021. The Conference Board leading economic index for the U.S. increased 0,2% in February 2021 to 110.5, following a 0,5% increase in January 2021 and a 0,4% increase in December 2020. The U.S. CPI-U index rose 0,6% in March 2021, the highest year-over-year gain since August 2018, after increasing 0,4% in February 2021, surging the all items index 2,6% over the last 12 months through March 2021, up from 1,7% in February 2021; the core-CPI, less food and energy, edged up 0,3% in March 2021, after rising 0,1% in February 2021, increasing 1,6% year-over-year in March 2021, up from 1,3% in February 2021. The PCE price index, excluding food and energy, rose 0,1% in February 2021, after increasing 0,2% in January 2021, surging the so-called core PCE 1,4% over the last 12 months through February 2021, down from 1,5% in January 2021. The U.S. disposable personal income declined 8% in February 2021, after gaining 11,4% in January 2021, the personal savings rate at 13,6% in February 2021, down from 20,5% in January 2021 (personal savings as a percentage of disposable income). The U.S. consumer spending dropped 1% in February 2021, after increasing 3,4% in January 2021. U.S. retail sales fell more than expected moderately in February 2021, dropping by seasonally adjusted 3%, while data for January 2021 was revised up to show sales rebounding 7,6% instead of 5,3% previously reported. The U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services increased in January 2021 from $67,0 Billion in December 2020 to $68,2 Billion; the the goods deficit rose $1,3 Billion in January 2021 to $85,4 Billion, the service surplus surged $0,1 Billion in January 2021 to $17,2 Billion; exports of goods and services increased $1,8 Billion, or 1%, in January 2021 to $191,9 Billion, imports of goods and services increased $3,1 Billion, or 1,2%, in January 2021 to $260,2 Billion; the annual deficit was $678,7 Billion in 2020, the U.S. imported $2,8 Trillion of goods and services, which is down $294,5 Billion from 2019, exports were at $2,1 Trillion, which is $396,4 Billion less than in 2019. The U.S. economy grew at a revised 33,4% rate in the third quarter of 2020, following a 31,4% rate of contraction in the second quarter of 2020, and at a revised 4,1% rate in the 4th quarter of 2020, shrinking by 3,5% for all of 2020, the largest decline since 1946, expecting to rebound by up to 4,1% in 2021; Fed officials see a GOP growth around 6,5% this year, which would be the fastest increase since 1984. The U.S. economy grew by 1,6% in the first quarter of 2021, or at a 6,4% annualized rate. U.S. light vehicle sales were down in 2020 to levels not seen since 2012, but they’re in a recovering mode now that leaves the industry hopeful for 2021; sales are estimated to finish around 14,5 Million in 2020, down 14,9% to 15,5% bringing sales to the lowest levels since 2012; Fiat Chrysler saw a 17% decline through the year, Ford sales down 16% as compared to the prior year, GM finished the year down 12% compared to 2019, Toyota’s total sales shrank 11,3%, Volkswagen sales dropped 10% in 2020; Trucks and SUVs are set to make up 79% of new vehicle sales, up from 75% in 2019, strong Truck and SUV sales have underscored many of the results seen in 2020. The Fed raised its economic outlook for 2021 slightly to 4,2%. U.S. light vehicle sales rose by 2,5% month-on-month in January 2021to 16,6 Million units (seasonally adjusted annual rate); light trucks accounted for 77,8% of the January 2021 sales, up 3,5% from 2020. U.S. vehicle sales fell 5,7% month-on-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,7 Million units in February 2021; declines were spread across both passenger vehicles (-8,1% m/m) and light trucks (-5% m/m); light trucks accounted for 78,2% of February 2021 sales, up nearly 4% from 2020. U.S. light vehicle sales rose an impressive 12,6% month-on-month in March 2021, reaching 17,75 Million (SAAR) units; unadjusted sales volumes were 1,58 Million units. or 59,7% above March 2020 – levels, which were heavily influenced by Covid-19 lock-down restrictions; gains were spread evenly across passenger vehicles (+12,8% m/m) and light trucks (+12,4% m/m); light trucks accounted for over 77% of sales. According to the Congressional Budget Office the federal budget is projected to be $2,3 Trillion in fiscal 2021, not counting additional stimulus, which is smaller than the 2020 shortfall of $3,13 Trillion, but larger than anything the nation had seen prior to the covid-19 pandemic; current United States National Debt $27,91 Trillion, U.S. Debt to GDP ratio 130,91%. U.S. household debt rises to $14,6 Trillion due to a record-breaking increase in mortgage loans, rising 1,4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, totaling more than $10 Trillion. The budget report showed that the deficit for just March 2021 totaled $659,6 Billion, the third -highest monthly deficit; for the six-month period the $1,7 Trillion deficit total passed the previous record of $829 Billion deficit; last year’s deficit for the budget year ended September 30, 2020, totaled a record $3,1 Trillion; this year’s deficit was estimated to reach $2,3 Trillion, without including the cost of the $1,9 Trillion rescue plan or the impact of Biden’s infrastructure proposal that Congress is considering now.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased to 2,81% in February 2021, from previously 2,85%. U.S. pending home sales based on contract signings rose 1,9% in March 2021, after two months of declines, standing the sales index/NAR now at 111,3, jumping year-over-year contract signings 23,3%! Existing home sales fell again in March 2021, dropping by 3,7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6,01 Million from 6,22 Million in February 2021, but sales were still above the March 2020 pace of 5,35 Million, the median existing home price in March 2021 hit an all-time high of $329.100, up 17,2% from March 2020. U.S. privately owned housing starts in March 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.739.000, which is 19,4% above the revised February 2021 rate of 1.457.000 and is 37% above the March 2020 rate; privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in March 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.760.000, which is 2,7% above the revised February 2021 rate. Sales of new single-family houses in February 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 775.000, which is 18,2% below the revised January 2021 rate of 948.000, but is 8,2% above the February 2020 rate of 716.000; the median price for a newly built home sold in February 2021 was $349.400, the average sales price was $416.000. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Sentiment Index edged up 1 point to 83 in April 2021. The 20-city composite posted a 11,9% annual increase in U.S. home prices in February 2021. growing at the fastest pace in nearly seven years.

European Union – EU

April 30, 2021

Political and Economic Updates:

ECB – reference rate – currencies quoted against the Euro: 30.04.2021

USD/US dollar – 1,2082, JPY/Japanese yen – 131,62, GPD/Pound Sterling – 0,86863, CHF/Swiss Franc – 1,0998, CNY/Chinese yuan renminbi – 7,8134.

30.04.2021 – Gold US$ OZ – $1.768,91, 29.04.2021 WTI Crude Oil – $65,01/Brent Crude Oil – $68,56 (Barrel)

The European Union expects the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use by the EMA by December 23, 2020, and the vaccine roll-out in Germany could start already December 27, 2020. Germany closed down from December 16, 2020 to January 10, 2021, imposing a strong lock-down, as covid-19 infections are still rising; France, Italy and Spain are taking similar drastic measures. The EU Commission granted a conditional market approval for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, expecting vaccine roll out to start on December 27, 2020. The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is the first to receive an emergency use authorization by the World Health Organization/WHO. U.K. approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. The U.S. developed Covid-19 vaccine of Moderna is the second vaccine authorized for use in the 27-nation bloc, after getting conditional approval from the E.U.’s medical watchdog. Vaccine shortage hit the E.U. in a set back for its immunization race; AstraZeneca feels not obliged to deliver because of a ‘best effort’ agreement, saying the E.U. it is ‘neither correct nor acceptable’, negotiations will continue; the European Medicines Agency will take a decision on whether to approve the vaccine for use in the 27-member bloc on Friday, January 29, 2021; EMA authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the E.U.. The E.U. introduced tighter rules on vaccine exports allowing countries to halt exports of corona-virus vaccines that the E.U. says belong to its citizens; the World Health Organization has criticized the move; the new mechanism allows to monitor and in some cases block corona-virus vaccine exports out of the bloc. As part of a recently penned collaboration, Bayer will help manufacture German compatriot CureVac’s mRNA based corona-virus vaccine, CVnCOV, in addition to contribute in R&D, regulatory affairs, supply chain management and potential market operations, Bayer said; to that end Bayer plans to make 160 Million CureVac doses in 2022, with the first commercial product expected to be made available at the end of this year; the vaccine entered phase 3 testing in December 2020. Europe’s health organization/EMA said it had started a real-time review of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s antibody therapy for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19, produced with the Swiss company Hoffmann-La Roche; preliminary results indicated that the REGN-COV2 antibody helped reduce the amount of virus in the blood of non-hospitalized patients with Covid-19. A Russian interim report from a phase 3 trial of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine was published by the British scientific magazine The Lancet, saying the vaccine appears to be secure and effective and that no serious adverse events considered related to the vaccine were recorded; the vaccine efficacy, based on the numbers of confirmed cases from 21 days after the first dose of vaccine, is reported to reach 91,6% and the suggested lessening of disease severity after one dose seems to be particularly encouraging for current dose-sparing strategies. Within a new exclusive co-development agreement CureVac and the British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline/GSK will develop next generation mRNA vaccines for Covid-19; companies aim to develop a multivalent candidate, vaccines to address emerging variants for pandemic and endemic use; development to begin immediately targeting vaccine availability in 2022, subject to regulatory approval; GSK will also support manufacture of up to 100 Million doses of CureVac’s first generation Covid-19 vaccine CVnCoV in 2021. Over concerns about a lack of data on the effectiveness of the vaccine for over 65s, Austria’s national vaccination board has joined France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland in recommending the AstraZeneca vaccination for people aged under 65, and Poland recommends it for those younger than 60; Italy goes one step further and only recommends it for those under 55; Spain’s health authorities have decided not to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 65 and may be even lower to the age threshold to those under 55. South African health officials said they’re pausing the country’s rollout of AstraZeneca’s corona virus vaccine after a study showed it offered reduced protection from the Covid-19 variant first identified there; the country will move forward with the deployment of vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. AstraZeneca has enlisted Germany’s IDT Biologika as a contract manufacturer of its covid-19 vaccine, as Germany and the European Union seek to boom a delayed immunization campaign; IDT Biologika is a contract development and manufacturing company that produces viral vaccines and other biological products for pharmaceutical companies across the world; Russian developers had reached out to IDT Biologika to discuss producing Sputnik Vat a facility in eastern Germany; German officials said if IDT Biologika wants to produce the Russian vaccine and it would be approved in the European Union, the state government would do anything to help the company. WHO vaccine experts said the AstraZeneca-Oxford covid-19 vaccine could be used for people over the age of 65 and also in settings where variants of the virus are circulating. EMA’s human medicines committee has started a rolling review of CVnCoV, a covid-19 vaccine being developed by CureVac AG. WHO authorized AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The European Medicines Agency has to date (10.02.2021) not received an application for a rolling review or a market authorization for the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia, the Sputnik V vaccine (Gam-COVID-Vac), despite reports stating the opposite; the developers have received scientific advice from EMA providing them with the latest regulatory and scientific guidance for the development of their vaccine; in line with the Agency’s transparency policy the vaccine is included in the list of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines that have received scientific advice from the Agency. Johnson & Johnson requests EU approval for its covid-19 vaccine, which has been under rolling review since December 1, 2020; the other three vaccines currently authorized for use across the EU are those developed by AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna; EMA’s committee could issue an opinion by the middle of March 2021, providing the company’s data on the vaccine’s efficacy, safety and quality are sufficiently comprehensive and robust. Johnson & Johnson has also asked U.S. regulators for emergency use authorization in the United States. The FDA approved Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States. the European drug regulator started a rolling review of Russia’s Sputnik V corona-virus vaccine; the application of Sputnik V, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology was submitted by its E.U. partner R-Pharm Germany GmbH; so far three Covid-19 vaccines developed by BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna y AstraZeneca have been authorized by the E.U.; another one produced by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is under evaluation at E.M.A.; E.M.A. will evaluate data of Sputnik V as they become available to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks; the rolling review continues until enough evidence is available for formal marketing authorization application. A Swiss-based pharma-group to produce Sputnik V vaccine in Italy; the Lugano-headquartered Adienne pharma company has agreed to produce the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in its northern Italy plant, needing still the approval by Italian authorities; Sputnik V is being reviewed by European Union regulators, but has not been approved for use in the bloc; Russia has complained that the E.U. keeps pushing back the approval process, while acknowledging that the vaccine is already authorized in 46 countries worldwide. There is no indication that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is linked to an increased risk of blood clots, the EMA’s medicines regulators says, after a number of countries, including Denmark, Norway, Island and Italy suspended the use of the jab, after a small number of people had developed clots after receiving that vaccine; insisting EMA that there is no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine; the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risk and the vaccine can continue to be administered , while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing, EMA is saying. The Covid-19 vaccine Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is now authorized across the E.U. after EMA’s recommendation, granting a conditional marketing authorization for this Covid-19 vaccine to prevent Covid-19 in people from 18 years of age; it’s the fourth vaccine authorization for use in the E.U., after the approval of the BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna y AstraZeneca vaccine. Germany and France also paused use of AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over blood clots found in people who received the jab. Denmark the first country in the world to suspend definitively the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine over blood clots concerns.

Brexit: British companies are preparing for a no-deal Brexit. Britain and EU strike pessimistic tone in post-Brexit trade talks. Britain and the E.U. reach finally a last minute landmark deal on Brexit, after months of negotiations, and still leaves critical details to be worked out; the hard-fought trade agreement must be ratified by the British and European parliaments. New era for Europe as U.K. and E.U. complete Brexit separation; the United Kingdom has finally completed its economic separation from the European Union embarking on an era of greater freedom but heightened isolation from its continental neighbors; Thursday 31.12.2020 marked the end of a transition period in which the U.K. followed all the E.U.’s rule and regulations.

The German Government cuts grows forecast for 2021 from 4,4% to 3%, after its economy shrank by 5% in 2020. Armin Laschet, 59, a Merkel Loyalist, elected as new leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats, putting him into a good position to succeed Angela Merkel as Chancellor, when she steps down as German Chancellor in September 2021, after 16 years if office; Germany goes to the polls in September 2021. German inflation dropped 0,3% from a year earlier in December 2020, but increased 1% year-on-year in January 2021 and 1,3% in February 2021, (Euro-zone 0,9% inflation in February 2021). Germany’s debt level stood at 59,8% of GDP at the end of 2019 and Germany reported a general government budget surplus of 1,4% of GDP in 2019, expecting government debt will rise to about 75% of GDP in 2020, planning a general government budget deficit of about 7% of GDP, due to the sizeable measures adopted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Germany’s trade surplus 2020 suffered a decline due to the corona virus pandemic, reaching € 179 Billion, dropping exports 9,3% to € 1.205 Billion and declining imports 7,1% to € 1.026 Billion, remaining China Germany’s most important trading partner. Germany’s jobless rate stood at 6,3% in February 2021, the same level as in January 2021.

Mario Draghi, former ECB chief, formally accepts president’s offer after securing broad support across, to become Italy’s new Prime Minister.


March 5, 2021

Political and Economic Updates:

A World Health Organization/WHO team of experts (from Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam) arrived in Wuhan to begin investigating the origin of the novel corona-virus, more than a year after it began to spread to all corners of the globe, leaving more than 92 Million people infected and more than 1,9 Million dead. According to international news about 10 people of the team managed to reach Wuhan on Thursday, January 12, 2021, though months after they hoped to be given access. The mission was approved after months of negotiations between the United Nations and President Xi Jinping. China was slow to grant permission for the researchers to enter the country prompting a rare public complaint from the WHO. There are lingering concerns over the investigation, including whether China will be forthcoming with information that could cast the government in a negative light. The team will undergo a two-week quarantine as well as a throat swab test and an antibody test for Covid-19. The researchers are to start working with Chinese experts via video conference while in quarantine. The WHO team in Wuhan dismisses lab leak theory , saying WHO officials that they will not recommend further investigation into the theory that the virus accidentally leaked from Wuhan labs; the team continues hunt for intermediary corona virus host, visiting the now disinfected and shuttered Huanan sea food market, situated in the middle of the town of Wuhan, where a cluster of pneumonia-like cases were first detected in late 2019 and which is long thought to have been a potential origin of the outbreak.

China has two Covid-19 vaccine front runners: Sinovac and Sinopharm; Sinovac has been approved for emergency use in high-risk groups in China since July 2020; interim dates from late-stage trials in Turkey and Indonesia showed that the Sinovac vaccine was 91,25% and 65,3% effective respectively; researchers in Brazil initially said it was 78% effective in their clinical trials, but in January 2021 revised that figure to 50,4% after including more date in their calculations; several Asian countries including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have singed deals with Sincovac; Turkey has also approved the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use; the company is also known to have secured other deals with Brazil and Chile. Sinovac will be able to produce 300 Million doses a year and like all other vaccines it requires two doses. Sinopharm announced on December 30, 2020, that phase 3 trials of the vaccine showed that it was 79% effective; however the United Arab Emirates , which approved a Sinopharm vaccine said it was 86% effective according to interim results of its phase 3 trials; the vaccine has already been distributed to nearly a Million people in China under an emergency program. Bahrain also approved the Sinopharm vaccine. There are at least two more Covid-19 vaccines under development in China: CanSino Biologics, which is reportedly in phase 3 clinical trials in countries, including Saudi Arabia; Anhiu Zhifu Longcom – its vaccine uses a purified piece of the virus to trigger an immune response and has recently entered phase 3 trials. The spread of the virus within China has been for the most part detained and life slowly but surely is returning to a ‘new normal’. Within its vaccine diplomacy China’s President Xi pledged to set aside $2 Billion for the African continent, while also offering Latin America and Caribbean countries a $1 Billion loan to buy vaccines. China approved two more Covid-19 vaccines for public use; the two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc., a one doses Vektor-vaccine, effective about 65,28%, and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), effective 71,25%, joining a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech and another from Sinopharm’s Beijing unite; the four approved Chinese vaccines can be stored at normal freezer temperatures; China is exporting vaccines to 27 countries and providing free doses to 53 countries.

Experts laud China’s efforts to combat corruption; comprehensive anti-corruption efforts by the Communist Party of China in recent years have achieved remarkable results and the Chinese experience is worth learning from, foreign experts and scholars have said; the CPC has prioritized anti-corruption work which provides a strong guarantee for China to deliver on its two centenary goals; it also shows that China will continue its anti-corruption campaign and maintain zero-tolerance stance towards corruption; China’s achievements in fighting corruption have improved the transparency of social governance and help promote social fairness and justice. China, the world’s second largest economy, surpassed U.S. as largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) during the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 with inflows of $163 Billion compared to $134 Billion by the U.S. China’s President Xi advocated to bring down trade barriers promoting free trade. China targets a robust growth of at least 6% for 2021, after growing its economy by only 2,3% in 2020, and expects an unemployment rate not to exceed 5,5% in 2021, down from 5,6% in 2020.


March 2, 2021

Political and Economic updates:

Alexi Navalny, 44, was arrested as he returned to Russia, after being poisoned and restored to health in Germany, authorities had issued a warrant for his arrest on December 29, 2020, and the message was clear, stay out of Russia or face prison; Navalny defied the Kremlin and came anyway; the dissident politician was jailed for 30 days on the grounds that he has violated the terms of his suspended sentence for embezzlement issued in 2017, a conviction he has always dismissed as being trumped up in order to deny him a chance to stand as candidate in the 2018 presidential election; he will be held until a court rules on his new charge of parole violation; while Navalny is the most recognized opposition leader in Russia, and has core of committed supporters, particularly among the younger generation, his overall approval ratings are at -30%; Western protests never bothered Putin, now Russia’s relations are in a deep freeze after the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the accusations of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. presidential election, or poisoning of Sergio Skripal in the U.K. in 2018; on each of these incidents Russia was placed under significant economic and political sanctions and there is nothing for the Kremlin to care about in terms of possible damage to its non-existing reputation in the West, or even further economic sanctions; it actually appears inconceivable for Putin to let the West dictate him how Russian politics should be run; if Putin were to release Navalny it would create an untouchable opposition leader under Western protection, operating with impunity inside Russia; so the more the West piles on pressing to release Navalny the more defiant Putin will be in keeping him in prison. However Putin might consider to show his statesmanship and generosity to his citizens, granting Navalny a conditional pardon, showing his government is willing to hear different opinions, respecting dissidents, seeking to start reshaping deteriorated relations with the West, as Biden assumes office as the 46th President of the United States, rebuilding a peaceful competitive coexistence, the way Russia is eager to construct with China. Protests swell across Russia calling for the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny; tens of thousands of Russians took the street in protest on Saturday, January 23, 2021 to demand the release of the jailed opposition leader, braving the threat of mass arrests in what was expected to be one of the largest demonstration against the Kremlin in years; police and protesters clashed in multiple cities ; by 10.00 p.m. Moscow time more than 2.600 demonstrators across the country had been detained, among those was Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, she was later released; the U.S. State Department condemned the Russian Government for its use of ‘harsh tactics against protesters and journalists’ and called on Moscow to release all those who had been detained ‘for exercising their universal right’, including Navalny; saying the U.S. we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and partners in defense of human rights, whether in Russia or wherever they come under threat; Navalny’s team released a scathing investigation accusing Putin of corruption and detailing the construction of a lavish palace on the Black Sea allegedly built for the Russian leader using a ‘slush fund’; The investigation titled ‘Putin’s palace, history of world’s largest bribe’. The Kremlin already denied Putin has such a palace. The palace by the Black Sea, estimated property cost about €1,1 Billion, was allegedly financed by billionaires close to Mr. Putin, it is said to have a casino, skating rink and vineyard; Russian President Putin, who’s net worth is estimated to reach at least €36 Billion, which would make him the richest man of Europe, says the opulent palace featured in a video by his arch-critic Alexei Navalny ‘doesn’t belong to me’. A leading Russian oligarch, Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s ex-judo sparring partner and childhood friend, has taken the beat by claiming that he is the owner of a notorious €1,1 Billion Black Sea palace, not Vladimir Putin. Russian riot police arrest more than 5.000 people as protesters across the nation again take the street to demand the release of jailed opposition leader Navalny. A Russian court handed opposition politician Navalny a 3 1/2-year jail sentence for parole violations, charges he and his team say are trumped up and politically motivated; the judge said, the year that Navalny has already spent under house arrest, will be deducted from his jail term. Sicne Navalny’s return to Russia, and his immediate detention, demonstrations have broken out across the country in the last two weekends, with thousands protesting against Navalny’s treatment and demanding his release, as well as railing against corruption and kleptocracy. Russia expels diplomats from three countries as tensions rise over Navalny protests, accusing them of taking part in illegal protests. Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Kreml critic Alexei Navalny returned to Germany. Russia’s communists are split over support for Navalny; the opposition activist’s jailing is upsetting the balance between the party’s pro-Kremlin leadership and radical grassroots membership. E.U.’s foreign ministers agreed to fresh sanctions, such as asset freezes and visa bans, against ‘specific persons’ over Russia’s jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny and a crackdown on his allies. Europe’s top human rights court urged Russia on February 2021 to immediately release Kremlin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny ; the European court for human rights (ECHR) said it was granting on interim measures on an application lodged January 20, 2021 by Navalny related to his detention that asked for release. The U.S. and the E.U. impose coordinated sanctions on Russia in response to the Kremlin’s poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent arrest and detention; the U.S. is sanctioning seven members of the Russian government, including FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov, as well as 14 entities that are involved in the chemical and biological industrial base in Russia.

Russian President Putin signed a law ratifying the extension of New Start, a key nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, a week before it was due to expire; the nuclear arms control agreement has been extended for five years, until February 5, 2026.

Russia authorized its third Covid-19 vaccine, after Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona, now the CoviVac vaccine, however clinical trial reports are not yet available.

The Chinese yuan has been included in Russia’s National Wealth Fund, accounting 15% of the Fund’s foreign currency portfolio.


February 22, 2021

A country which could have a promissory future, however facing many internal difficulties and challenges. Center-right President Macri inherited an economical and political disaster from his predecessor Cristina Kirchner, one of Latin America’s populist and authoritarian political leaders and a close ally of Venezuelan Maduro. Stubborn and corrupt worker unions, radical and aggressive social movements, a bad functioning justice still integrated and badly influenced by disturbing militants of the Kirchner Front of Victory, egoistic local companies with lack of competitiveness and progressiveness, which enjoyed government protection during the 12 years of the Kirchner administration and an opportunistic and small-minded opposition missing to be constructive, contribute to continued political instability. High inflation, an overvalued local currency and a declining spending capacity slowing consumer demand delay the return of the country into growth territory. The government, advancing to reintegrate Argentina back into the world, taking decisive corrective steps to stimulate, activate and normalize the economy, received considerable applause and support from important Foreign Head of States, international political leaders and chief executives of multinationals, increasing foreign commitments, investments and exposures, complementing local private initiatives or occasionally replacing them, comforting the Macri administration, promising there is no return to the past and to continue its efforts pushing the country ahead; the country’s stability and progress may depend finally on the government’s willingness and capability of compromising with remaining major local power players to implement pending essential domestic reforms, like a tax reform and a labor reform and cleaning up the justice system, to reduce risks to fail. The outcome of the legislative election to be held on October 22, 2017, will be decisive for the future of the country and should confirm that the majority of voters continue to support the Macri administration, helping an improving economic outlook for the second half of 2017, despite a still high inflation and a persisting weak consumer spending capacity.  The Peronists, divided into two main groups, the Front of Victory led by former President Cristina Kirchner, leading the parliamentary opposition to Macri’s administration, and another group composed of politicians of dissident Peronists from the Justicialist Party, the largest Party in Congress, and the Renewal Front of Sergio Massa, forming an alliance with Margarita Stolbizer’s Progressive Party to improve their chances in the coming legislative election, are not expected to obtain sufficient votes to be able to introduce political changes or reverse the economical reforms introduced by the Macri government. Argentina failed to win back its status as an emerging market in the influential MSCI benchmark equity index, relegating the country to the ranks of frontier markets for at least until 2018, contrasting the MSCI’s decision with Argentina’s success to issue a $2,75 Billion 100-year bond; the downgrade to frontier market status has been caused during the former restrictive populist Kirchner administration and the MSCI wants to be sure that Macri’s open market policies will be irreversible, waiting to see the results of the important midterm legislative elections in October 2017, still influenced by the campaigning former President Cristina Kirchner, introducing her new left-wing alliance called ‘Unidad Ciudadana’, opposing Macri’s economic reforms, which she claims are hurting the poor, launching her bid for a Senate seat and breaking with Peronism; a still more divided opposition could help Macri’s coalition for a strong showing in the coming elections, not expected to change the actual balance of power in Congress, and improve his chances to seek re-election in 2019. Obtaining Cristina Kirchner a seat in the Senate would give her immunity from arrest, but not from trial, advancing investigations of accusations of wrong doing and corruption related charges against her. Renewal Front’s Massa success strategy seems to be polarizing with former President Cristina Kirchner seeking also a Senate victory to stop her as he did winning in 2013. Cristina Kirchner won narrowly the mid-term primary elections against Macri’s candidate Bullrich and also a possible second-place finish in the October 22, 2017 election would still grant her a seat in the Senate, from where she likely will lead a most uncomfortable opposition intending to stop planned Government reforms, what advancing investigations and trial, even an eventual prison sentence against her could interrupt, cautioning her candidacy many investors; senator Pichetto, president of the Peronist/Front of Victory party bloc, already signaled that Cristina Kirchner, if elected to the Senate, will have to form her own bloc; after a strong general showing of Macri’s ‘Let’s change’ coalition in the mid-term primary elections his Government is facing the coming October challenge with confidence; but no matter how many seats he will be able to pick up he will still lack a majority and has to continue seeking, building and strengthening alliances to pass necessary reforms. A second place finish in the October 2017 election is granting Cristina Kirchner a Senate seat, giving her immunity from arrest but not from trial, and advancing legal procedures may still frustrate and limit her political ambitions. A sweeping and notably victory of the ‘Let’s Change Coalition’ in nearly the whole country allows to increase its seats in the House and the Senate, pressing and calling President Macri for a basic consensus to push ahead with tax, labor and pension reforms, as well as reforms of the country’s justice system to combat more efficiently corruption, seeking with governors to achieve a fiscal balance. Elisa Carrio and Cristina Kirchner , totally opposed political players, both tolerated and also used by the Macri-Government, likely underestimating the problems they can cause to the administration given their renewed influence and political power. Elisa Carrio, founder of the political movement ‘Civic Coalition ARI’, is actually a fundamental part of the ‘Let’s Change’ coalition, accustomed to express publicly her opinion about what’s wrong and what’s right and what and how it should be done, worrying not only the opposition but also the government. Cristina Kirchner, accused also on treason, asking a federal judge to lift her immunity from arrest as newly sworn in senator, facing also charges in several corruption investigations, creating her own political movement ‘Citizens’ Unity’ and dividing Peronists, may not be able to enjoy her role as a potential opposition figure, as she will have to face a difficult and long battle with justice. After violent protests pushed by opposition legislators, identified also as Kirchner supporters, battled to stop a congressional session on the pension reform, intending to destabilize the government, and Cristina Kirchner’s first appearance in the Senate, seen as destructive and full of hate, breaking congressional rules, her image is suffering a further deterioration, which could damage still more her remaining political influence. President Macri, recovering the initiative, leaving no doubt about his firmness and determination to fight for the pending reforms to overcome the worst legacy of the Kirchner administration, pushing grows and seeking above all to reduce deficits, stabilizing public finances and balance budget, counting on the approval and help from foreign economic powers, including the U.S. Trump administration. President Macri, seeking to position himself for re-election in 2019, delays necessary labor reform to avoid further confrontations with unions. Declining purchasing power, stagnating growth, a still uncontrolled inflation and a very high, still increasing debt level are seen as obstacles to reach a major economic recovery, making it doubtful if the government will be able to fulfill its goals, implementing all the mandatory reforms and secure re-election in 2019. During his second speech to Congress since he was elected, President Macri tried to transmit optimism, willingness to overcome difficulties, defending pending reforms, confirming that the country’s economy surged 4,1% in January 2018 compared with the same month of 2017 and the poverty rate fell to 25,7% in the second half of 2017 from 28,6% in the first half of the year and 30,3% in the second half of 2016, but overshadowed Macri’s market friendly policies designed to cut fiscal deficit, reduce inflation and attract foreign investment, by a persisting high inflation elevated due to additional increases in the prices of electricity, gas, transportation, communication and prepaid medicine, reducing again spending capacity of consumers, expecting actually analysts 2018 will be still ending with a high inflation more likely around 40%. After not very successful interventions of the Central Bank to stop the Peso sinking and to help slow down inflation, mowing rates up to growth depressing 40%, Argentina finally returns again to the IMF, seeking financial assistance, like a Standby Credit Facility to address the Peso volatility and regain the confidence of investors, hoping its program of adjustment and reforms gets back on track in time for the Presidential election late 2019, counting with little or no constructive help from a still deeply divided opposition. President Macri vetoed the law seeking to freeze utility rates agreed by an unified Peronist opposition, including followers and non-followers of Cristina Kirchner, saying there was no way the budget can stand an additional 1% of GDP, complicating still more a political relation with the divided opposition and increasing tensions with labor unions and social movements. Index provider MSCI finally reclassified Argentina as an emerging market, coming the reclassification just hours after the IMF approved a $50 Billion financing deal for Argentina as the country seeks to stabilize its currency. The IMF $50 Billion Stand By facility is considered as a political gesture to support the Macri administration, helping to avoid the return of populism in Argentina; however stagnating growth, an out of control and run away inflation, the pressure of a strong Dollar, the elevated fiscal deficit, high foreign debts and increasing social tensions require very conscious economic measures and corrections, discipline and more consensus, and do not permit arrogance and new errors, without putting at risk a possible re-election of President Macri in 2019. President Macri is obliged to resolve the fiscal deficit, cutting it according to the agreement with the IMF from 3,7% to 2,7% of GDP in 2018 and to 1,3% in 2019, meaning the government is forced to accelerate austerity rising recessionary tendencies, and to deal with the continuing lack of productivity of the Argentine economy, as he seemed to have lost the political capital to carry through the much-needed labor reform. Very high interest rates accelerate advancing recession, increasing pressure on the Peso, as the confidence in Argentina is also shaken by a major corruption scandal, expected to damage further economic growth, seeing economists a contraction of at least 1% of the GDP in 2018, before returning the country eventually to growth in 2019, seeking President Macri to renegotiate the IMF- agreement getting still more flexible conditions, allowing to use all $50 Billion of the agreement in 2018/2019, helping to ease the financial pressure on Argentina and to regain calm and confidence of the people and markets. Following an urgent request from Argentina the IMF seems willing to speed up loan disbursements helping to reverse collapse in investor confidence and the local currency, after the government disclosed to impose taxes on exports and cutbacks in government ministries to ease budget deficit, needing President Macri now a political consensus to make it possible that congress approves a revised budget 2019, which sees inflation coming in at 23% with an average exchange rate of 40,1 Pesos for 1,- US-Dollar, after the inflation rate of 2018 is expected to hit 40%, while the budget deficit will be reduced to 2,7% of GDP. The IMF announced a deal extending financial institution’s support by a further $7 Billion elevating total commitment to $57,1 Billion, after the resignation of Luis Caputo from the presidency of the Central Bank, succeeded by Guido Sandleris, confirming the IMF every effort is being made to stabilize Argentina’s economy, agreeing on disbursements of $19 Billion until the end of 2019 and of the remaining $38,1 Billion until 2021, adopting the Central Bank a floating exchange rate regime between 34 Pesos and 44 Pesos for 1,- US-Dollar to face still ongoing currency crisis, allowing interventions only in case of disorderly market conditions or erratic fluctuations in exchange rates. The government seemed to ignore a nationwide strike to protest President Macri’s handling of the economy and his decision to turn for help to the IMF. Each day less people are believing in President Macri’s economic team, as it has lost credibility; the approval ratings of Macri’s top political opponent Cristina Kirchner, embroiled in a widening corruption scandal, have plunged even lower than his, giving him still hope for re-election in 2019. Eventually Argentina has lost the train against Brazil with its new elected right-wing President Bolsonaro, expected to seek new trade agreements, and to attract more international companies and foreign  investment, while the hesitating and contradictory Macri-Government, forced to ask the IMF for help to avoid default and to delay necessary reforms, leading the economy into recession, has not been able to win back the confidence into the country, as out of control inflation, record high interest rates and a dramatically shrinking money supply to protect the Peso against the U.S. currency, as well as extraordinary spending cuts to fix the permanent budget deficit are depressing demand and blocking the economic activity and expansion altogether, increasing social conflicts, probably overshadowing violent protests the coming G20 leaders summit under the presidency of Macri. Jet investors see still chances that the country’s plan seeking financial stability will be successful under the supervision and assistance of the IMF. Fitch rating agency revised Argentina’s Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating/IDR, leaving it at ‘B’, but downgraded outlook from stable to negative, citing a weakening economy, doubts about a multi-year fiscal consolidation and market availability when IMF funds are used up, as repayments come due in 2021, posing risks to sovereign debt sustainability; saying intense macroeconomic instability in 2018, marked by a major depreciation in the Peso, have dramatically weakened Argentina’s near-term growth prospects and prospects for economic recovery in the medium term are unclear. Leaders of the world’s most important economies will meet in Buenos Aires Nov 30-Dic 1, 2018, for the G20 summit to discuss sustainable development, existing some expectations on solving trade disputes, above all the U.S.-China trade war; before the G20 summit President Trump signed with his counterparts of Mexico and Canada the USMCA deal (the renegotiated NAFTA trade deal U.S.-Mexico-Canada). Argentina received a good notice just days before the arrival of President Trump for the G20 summit: After 17 years Argentina is set to secure a two-way trade deal with the U.S. for fresh beef products, giving the country a limit of 20.000 tonnes on exports to the U.S., valued at around $150-180 Million, and there would be no limit on beef imports from the U.S.. The final comuniquè of the successful G20 summit in Buenos Aires backed the necessary reform of the WTO to improve its functioning and encouraged energy transition that combine growth with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions towards cleaner more flexible and transparent systems and cooperation in energy efficiency, although the U.S. reiterated its decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Argentina is still pending to receive a formal invitation to join the OECD, remaining also delayed a Mercosur-EU trade agreement, now awaiting Brazil’s position under its new President Bolsonaro. If re-elected in 2019, with an economy probably still in recession, carrying out a severe austerity plan, making it difficult to obtain political concessions, Macri, most likely governing again with a marked minority in both chambers of the Congress, will necessarily have to seek stronger alliances with moderate and pragmatic Peronists, an option, he may be advised to initiate still during his first term, to get the approval of his hardest delayed decisions, such as the labor reform, an improvement to education, more ambitious tax and pension reforms and a waiting justice shake-up. Elsewise, a new Macri- Government could face another 4 years failing to push through the necessary basic reforms to stabilize the economy of the country, improving the expectations of its citizens and increasing relations with potential investors. Quite obviously there seems to be no way to make a deal with the left wing Cristina Kirchner-movement ‘Unidad Cuidadania’, and apparently the chances to reach an agreement with the volatile leader Sergio Massa of the apparently non constructive Renewal Front are doubtful. The national government confirmed electoral schedule 2019, with primary elections taking place on August 11, 2019, and the presidential elections, where also half of the Lower House and a third of the Senate are elected, taking place on October 27, 2019, while an eventual runoff, in case neither of the presidential candidates manage to obtain over 50% of the vote, would take place on November 24, 2019. Still to be seen if Federal Peronists and the Kirchner-movement will hold a large primary or if they do arrange it separately. Also pending details about a primary in the ‘Let’s change coalition’. Cabinet chief Marcos Peña has once hinted at the possibility of eliminating the primaries, calling them an ‘exorbitant expense’ that the government had to pay for. Moderate Peronists see an opportunity to beat President Macri in 2019, indicating multiple polls that Roberto Lavagna, a lifelong Peronist and a former minister of economy who helped lead the country out of its 2001/2002 economic crisis, already endorsed by important politicians and one of the country’s most popular figures, could be a perfect candidate to oppose and win Macri in the presidential elections 2019, although Macri is seen to have good chances to win re-election if the economy in the election year 2019 is improving and not getting worse and concerns about the possibility of a new default after 2021 have been duly addressed and are going to disappear. Accelerating the devaluation of the Peso against a strong U.S. currency, putting still more pressure on the out-of control inflation in the election year 2019, leading continuing high interest rates the country into a deeper recession, rising unemployment, the opposition is sharply increasing its criticism and doubts about Macri’s economic policy, practically ignoring the IMF support in propping up the still-vulnerable Peso. OECD called on Argentina to deepen its economic and structural reforms, warning that the nation must not reverse its course, a similar recommendation as received from the IMF, predicting that inflation, which topped 47% in 2018, would remain high in 2019, and that the economy would bounce back from recession and start recovery in the second half of 2019, insisting that Argentina must continue to fight against inflation and prioritize the reduction of spending. President Macri is seeking a deal with the opposition over the economic crisis, inviting the country’s political and social leaders to join negotiations on agreeing a 10-point plan to stabilize the economy, receiving some main political figures like Lavagna and Massa, and Cristina Kirchner, his invitation cool; even so the President continues to go ahead with his plan, a necessity to calm markets and improve chances for his re-election. IMF chief Lagarde said that many, including herself, underestimated the complicated economic situation in Argentina. An eventually re-elected Macri government, likely again with a minority in both chambers of the Congress, will finally have to seek a participation of moderate opposition leaders in his ‘Let’s change’ coalition to be able to deepen and push through Congress outstanding tax, labor, pension and justice reforms, and put into effect structural reforms to promote future growth; it appears to be quite doubtful that an eventual populist government under Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Kirchner would be really willing to seriously carry out such reforms, seeking probably a constitutional reform to reduce independence of justice, after Alberto Fernandez intimidated judges who are cracking down on the corruption of the last Kirchner administration. Macri chooses Peronist senator Miguel Pichetto as vice-presidential running mate, an expected and necessary step to open up the ‘Let’s change’ coalition, obviously producing positive market reactions, joining former Economic Minister Lavagna and Salta Peronist Governor Urtubey up for elections under ‘Federal Consensus 2030 banner’, formalizing Renewal Front leader Massa a deal with Kirchnerism, promised to lead a list for Lower House. Among 20 economies Argentina ranked more fragile, needing a continuation of a good relationship with the IMF, which requires an internal basic political consensus, requiring from whoever wins the general election to seek to establish cross-party bridges. The populist ticket including Cristina Kirchner as VP dominated with 48% of the vote the primaries, defeating by surprising 15 points center-right President Mauricio Macri, reflecting a general repudiation of the actual austere economic program and seen as a ‘vote of punishment’, as in the last two years businesses had to close and more than 250.000 jobs were lost, outpacing an uncontrollable inflation waged and pensions. Reflecting investors fears of a possible take over by populists, the Argentine stock market fell by 35%, the local currency declined 26% against the dollar, interest rates jumped from 64% to 74% and the country’s risk more than doubled. To calm markets and intending to win back voters before the coming general elections, President Macri, seeking his re-election, announced after years of spending cuts, significant relief measures helping to reduce the pain of the economic crisis. Of the record $57,1 Billion bailout the IMF already disbursed $44 Billion facing now the difficult choice to hand over another $5,4 Billion to the Macri government  or wait to deal with the next president, however conforming it will continue to stand with Argentina during these challenging times. Now under a new finance minister a delayed contingency plan went into action, imposing currency controls on businesses and asking creditors for more time to pay back Argentina’s $101 Billion foreign debt, including the IMF money. Macri lost the presidential primaries 47-32% to Peronist Alberto Fernandez, the likely new president, who has been sending contradictory signals about his intentions, saying he will pay back the IMF loan, but also harshly blaming the IMF for Argentina’s running away inflation and recession, adding his VP candidate Cristina Kirchner, Argentina will pay back the IMF loan but not at the expenses of suffering people. Investors and business people would like to see Mr. Fernandez and President Macri work together to calm markets and stabilize the economy, but there is now sign that either of the two presidential candidates is prepared to do so, which could be a chance to resolve united, including eventually other presidential candidates, Argentina’s political and economic problems. President Macri launches election push with Buenos Aires march, saying he could still turn the tide and win the upcoming presidential election, despite his main opponent’s wide lead, counting with considerable public support. The IMF forecasts that Argentina’s economy will contract by 3,1% in 2019, after declining 2,5% in 2018, and shrank still by 1,3% in 2020, seeing an inflation of 57,3% in 2019 and of 39,2% in 2020. Alberto Fernandez secured 48% share of the vote, returning populist y protectionist Peronists back to power, defeating conservative President Mauricio Macri who won about 41% of the vote, regaining America’s left force after several years of conservative gains. Fernandez will have to face a lengthy recession, an out of control inflation, high unemployment and a debt crunch, increasing market fears of a possible default in 2020/2021. Alberto Fernandez was sworn in as Argentina’s new president, marking a historic return to power for the leftist Peronist movement, amid a looming sovereign debt crisis and a deep recession, saying the new president that the country is willing to pay, but it needs first time to grow; creditors and bondholders have a difficult choice: negotiating or wait until there is a new plan with credible policies from the new government and it is doubtful that the IMF for now will be on board, considering the plans of Fernandez to increase subsidies, tax cuts and generally high public spending. Fernandez is close to former leftist Brazilian president Lula da Silva and Mexico’s populist president Lopez Obrador, while tensions with far-right president Bolsonaro of Brazil, Argentina’s main trading partner, have been increasing. Bolivia’s exiled former president Evo Morales has been granted asylum by the new leftist leaders of Argentina, who probably would also grant refugee status to Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa, if asked for, both Morales and Correa accused of crimes committed in their countries. Argentina announced measures to protect Argentinians from the corona virus outbreak , presenting the pandemia a big test for its ailing economy, the country has at least 21 confirmed corona virus cases with two fatalities so far. The rhetorical battle between the government, the IMF and bondholders is heating up, seeking the country a sustainable debt relief agreement, while the economy on its current trajectory is itself completely unsustainable, increasing the risk of a looming financial collapse; Country risk above 4.000, an all time high, S&P credit risk for Argentina CCC- with a negative outlook. Argentina announced an obligatory quarantine, restricting people to their homes, with some exceptions, beginning at midnight March 20, 2020 until midnight March 31, 2020, confirming 31 new cases of corona virus, bringing the total to 128, and three deaths. The World Bank predicts recession of the local economy and a contraction of up to 5,2% in 2020. Fitch puts Argentina in restricted default, offering the government to restructure foreign-law bonds proposing a 62% cut in interest payments, asking for a three-year grace period; the corona virus crisis provides a natural argument for a postponement and it could be ideal to wait for the crisis to phase out to to initiate negotiations in earnest and avoid a protracted default; eventually creditors may accept to negotiate a standstill agreement, to allow the reprofiling of debt service with a view to new negotiations, say in 2022/23, under a more stable economy and with a better idea of what the country can afford to offer. The offer from Argentina to restructure about $ 65 Billion in foreign bonds (about 40% of its foreign currency debt) into new debt was rejected by a group of creditors that includes Black Rock and Fidelity, raising the stalemate the risk that Argentina may default again as soon as next month (Mayo 2020), which would be the ninth default of the country; the government is seeking a modest -haircut- of 5,4% on the principal (which would save the country about $3,6 Billion) and a dramatic 62% cut in interest payments; these payments would start low, at just 0,5%, and late, beginning in 2023, when an election is due, they would peak in 2029 at less than 5%; under this plan the government would save $37,9 Billion on its interest bill; the government put a 20-day limit on negotiations, but the real deadline is May 22, 2020, the end of the 30-day grace period for a missed $500 Million payment. Pressure to ease the lock-down is building up before the pandemic is expected to peak (June 2020) and the government is likely to rule out a quick return to normality; the preexisting recession makes the trade-off between public health and economic growth still more painful, and a new -patriotic- tax on the rich of the country, endorsed by the government but not yet approved by congress, may delay further or even kill any possibility of recovery. The three principal rating agencies downgraded the long-term foreign currency rating of Argentina, Fitch restricted default from CC, Moody’s from CAA2 to CA with a negative outlook, Standard & Poor’s from CCC- to SD;  Argentina missed the deadline on May 22, 2020, to pay $503 Millions in interest on dollar bonds issued under New York law, marking the ninth default since independence in 1816; the government intends to extend its self-imposed deadline for negotiations set to expire on May 22, 2020, until June 2, 2020 and further, planning to revise its offers to creditors, seeking eventually to avoid a hard default which carry serious economic and political costs. Due to corona virus effects on the economy the IMF forecasts a contraction of 9,9% for the country in 2020. Argentina will unveil a new debt offer to creditors, extending deadline until August 4, 2020, and eventually until late August 2020, seeking still to strike a deal despite rising tensions with creditors. Creditors said the offer of Argentina is short of what the creditor group can accept, adding they would not meet the deadline August 4, 2020, imposed by Argentina to find an agreement; but Alberto Fernandez dismissed the counter-offer from the three groups of creditors, who said they had rejected the proposal of the country to restructure $66 Billion of debt, saying it is not possible to move from the last offer which was worth 53,5 cents on the dollar up from initially 39 cents, improving the originally three year grace period to one year, with repayments beginning September 2021;  sources said, the counter-offer from the group of creditors represents 56,6 cents on the dollar with the new bonds beginning to accrue interest from September 2020. This deal represents roughly a fifth of the total debt of the country, which reaches $324 Billion, amounting to around 90% of its GDP. Argentina has been in default for the ninth time in its history since May 2020, when the country missed the deadline to pay $500 Million in interest on the debt that is subject to the current negotiation. Standard & Poor’s lowered to the level of default the qualification of Argentina’s bonds. Argentina reached an agreement with three creditor groups, the Ad. Hoc. Group of Argentine Bondholders, the Exchange Bondholder Group and the Argentina Creditor Committee; they will now help to restructure the debt and offer a significant debt relief; Argentina agreed to make some debt payments sooner than expected and the new recovery value seems to be 54,8 cents on the dollar; bondholder will still need to vote on the deal, representing the three main bondholder groups 60% of bonds outstanding from the previous restructurings of the country known as exchange bonds, and 51% of the outstanding global bonds issued from 2016; notes issued in 2005 and 2010 require sign off from at least 85% of all bonds, versus two-thirds or 75% threshold on securities issued more recently; the country extended its debt offer invitation until August 24, 2020, while the settlement date remains September 4, 2020. Argentina will now enter into talks with the IMF, which has lent the country $44 Billion since a currency crisis in 2018, seeking to delay payments coming due in 2021-23, while avoiding strong austerity measures. Argentina succeeded in restructure $66,5 Billion in foreign debt as 93,55% of bondholders agreed, activating collective clauses lifting overall acceptance to 99%; the deal is worth 54,8 cents in the dollar, and the republic issued 12 new bonds exchanging those previous bonds, settlement date September 4, 2020, obtaining Argentina a benefit of $37,7 Billion in debt relief, dropping annual interest rate from 7% to 3%, avoiding its ninth default, which took place since May 22, 2020. President Fernandez has won some applause for reaching a deal restructuring $65 Billion of the country’s foreign debt; now comes a tough negotiation with the IMF to delay a punishing repayment schedule starting in 2021, in which the lender is requesting a plan to reduce fiscal deficit, reaching 10% in 2020. Critics evidence and are worried about a gradual radicalization of Mr. Fernandez’s leftist government under influence and pressure from his VP, Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, examples include: a failed attempt to nationalize the country’s largest grain exporter, the freezing of telecoms tariffs and bills being pushed through Congress such as a wealth tax and a judicial reform that opponents say is an effort to secure impunity for Mrs. Cristina Fernandez Kirchner prosecuted for corruption. Argentina’s lock-down, the longest and toughest in Latin America has failed to prevent some of the highest death from corona-virus, while dealing a blow to the economy; according to the country’s industrial union production at 63% of companies has either fallen by more than half or ceased altogether; President Fernandez can’t afford a rupture in the uncomfortable alliance with Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, needing to keep the coalition together to guarantee governability. Adjustments required by the IMF, the ongoing pandemia and the political radicalization will make efforts in reactivating the economy more difficult. President Fernandez announced the purchase From Russia of enough vaccines Sputnik V for 10 Million people, as Argentina’s corona-virus death surpassed 40.000, accumulating more than 1,5 Million cases. The Sputnik V vaccine has been authorized in Russia, but does not yet count on an international approval and there are still doubts about its safety and effectiveness. A Russian interim report from a phase 3 trial of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine was published in the scientific magazine ‘The Lancet’, saying the vaccine appears to be secure and effective and that no serious adverse events considered related to the vaccine were recorded; the vaccine efficacy, based on the numbers of confirmed cases from 21 days after the first dose of vaccine is reported to reach 91,6% and the suggested lessening of disease severity after one dose is particularly encouraging for current dose-sparing strategies. The Argentina government celebrated the report and V.P. Cristina Kirchner, who promoted the negotiation to acquire the Sputnik V, appears to feel relieved, despite an announced delay in the production and delivery of the vaccine from Russia. Argentina is rattled by a VIP vaccine scandal that led to the resignation of its Health Minister, naming the President Carla Vizzotti, the second on board, as his successor, who already was sworn in; Argentina, with a population of about 45 Million, so far has received 1,22 Million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from the Russian Gamaleya Institute and 580.000 doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Indian Serum Institute and developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca; India’s Serum Institute will also manufacture the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine once authorized in India; the new Health Minister, Carla Vizzotti,  approved emergency use of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine ahead of an expected delivery of 1 Million doses of the Chinese made jab.

THE WORLD today!

January 15, 2021

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Top -Suchen

December 9, 2020

1.G8 countries – of the 8 nations (actually reduced to G7 as Western sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine have been extended for another six months) only Canada and Germany continue with a triple A rating from all the three leading U.S. credit rating agencies, since Moody’s and Fitch downgraded Britain to Aa1, downgrading Standard & Poor’s Britain after its vote to exit the EU by two notches from AAA, cutting Moody’s and Fitch France credit rating to Aa1 and Standard & Poor’s further to AA, lowering Standard & Poor’s credit rating of the United States 1 notch to Aa1. Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Germany continues to stand at AAA with a stable outlook, expecting growth remains stable, while Moody’s credit rating for Germany was last set at Aaa with stable outlook and Fitch’s credit rating for Germany was last reported at AAA with stable outlook.

2.Currency composition of official foreign exchange reserves – 2017: Dollar 64,0%, €uro 19,7% (declining), Yen 4,2%, Yuan 1,1%, others 11,0%. Currencies like the Australian, the Canadian and the New Zealand Dollar increased their participation. BIS sees Dollar reserve role as secure but set to shrink, from 65% and 70% to 50% and 60%. The Euro, continuing in the second place, is still seen as no alternative to the Dollar.

3.SSFI program was established to provide stability and prevent disruptions to financial markets from the failure of institutions that are critical to the functioning of the U.S. financial system. The only participating institution getting money through this program was American International Group/AIG keeping it from collapsing, calling the Treasury later the program ‘AIG Investment Program’. The G20 group created the Financial Stability Board/FSB in an ambitious effort to strengthen international prudential standards in response to the financial crisis. The full range of its resolution powers specified in the Key Attributes are available to resolution authorities with responsability for the resolutions of banks that could be systemically significant or critical in the event of failure: Crisis Management Group/CMG, Institution-Specific Cross-Border Cooperation Agreements/COAGs, Recovery and Resolution Plans/RRPs. Meanwhile Europe is launching the ECB as banking supervisor for the Euro-zone, planning a rigorous asset review exercise, which is likely to put pressure on national supervisors outside the banking union countries to be equally, shaping EBA’s ongoing work of monitoring risk weights and any action it takes. Additionally and complying with Basel III big European and U.S. banks will be placed under stricter capital requirements. G20/FSB developed a policy framework and critical policy measures to address the systematic and moral hazard risks associated with systematic important financial institutions/SIFIs, targeting full implementation for 2019.

4.G8 – group of eight leading industrialized nations, representing around 15% of the world population and two-third of the global output, holding Russia the every 12 months rotating presidency this year, replacing Britain January 01, 2014, announcing to host the G8 summit 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, set for June 4th-5th, after holding the Winter Olympics there. As Ukraine crisis deepens Western countries decided not to attend a preparation meeting for the planned G8 summit in Sochi, announcing EU members of the G8 group to pull out of all preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi, threatening President Obama to ‘isolate Russia’, kicking the country out of the G8 group of leading economies, but opposing Berlin that. The Group of seven leading industrialized nations/G7 is considering meeting in the near future, a move that would exclude Russia, which joined what became the G8 in 1998, saying G7 in a statement that referendum on Crimea’s future is a violation of international law, declaring Crimea independence from Ukraine after official referendum results showed 96,77 of Crimean voted to join Russia, signing President Putin Crimea annexation treaty, calling Crimea an ‘integral’ part of Russia, defying U.S. and EU sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans on officials from Russia and Ukraine, warning Ukraine that conflict with Russia has entered into a ‘military stage’, reaching relations between Russia and the West their lowest point since the end of the ‘Cold War’, planning Ukraine under pressure from Russian troops and local forces to abandon Crimean bases. Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions on nine U.S. officials and lawmakers, signing Putin final Crimea reunification treaty, while Ukraine signed an association agreement with the EU. G7 nations announced that the summit meeting planned for Sochi will now be held in Brussels, without Russia, suspending G7 nations their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course, saying G7 energy ministers will also meet to discuss ways to bolster the countries’ collective energy security, considering the great dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies in nations like Germany and Italy, getting EU about a third of its natural gas supplies from Russia. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly affirmed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and deemed the referendum that led to Russia’s annexation illegal, announcing the IMF bailout program for Ukraine unlocking amounts to $27 Billion over the next two years. President Putin called President Obama to discuss U.S. proposal for a diplomatic solution to Crimea crisis, urging Obama to withdraw Russian troops from Ukrainian border, saying Russia it has no intention to invade eastern Ukraine, warning European leaders of gas supply cuts over Ukraine’s $2,2 Billion gas debt, accusing the U.S. that Moscow is using energy as ‘tool of coercion’. G7 powers used the first meeting without Russia in 17 years to warn Moscow of further hard-hitting sanctions, demanding that Putin must recognize and negotiate with the new Poroshenko Government in Kiev, stop the flow of weapons from Russia into Ukraine and induce the rebels to lay down their arms. Ukraine signed a historic association agreement with EU, after Georgia and Moldova ratified similar deals, alarming Moscow concerned about losing its influence over former Soviet republics.

4a)Significance of suspending G7 nations their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course: Russia, now the sole remaining member of the G8, considers the group of eight/G8 ‘as an informal club’, saying its mission is over because all the economic and financial problems are now discussed in the group of twenty/G20, retaining Russia its membership. Most European countries remain too fragile to cut off important investment and trade sources, warning, like big EU companies, of imposing stricter trade and financial sanctions on Russia. So far the EU, concerned of Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas supply, has imposed limited sanctions on Moscow, including travel bans and asset freezes. German Chancellor Merkel, worried that economic sanctions against Russia would negatively affect Germany’s economy, said the Ukraine crisis should be resolved by political means without imposing economic sanctions on Russia. The United States and EU sanctions are especially designed to hurt President Putin’s inner circle, having of course also negative effects on Russia’s weak economy, but continued Western diplomatic pressure and already agreed sanctions may convince Moscow to ease its grip on Ukraine, allowing finally a peaceful settlement with pro-Russian rebels in the east of Ukraine, not ending Putin’s outright annexation of the strategic Black Sea Peninsula Crimea, he considers historically important as part of Russia.

4b)The next G7-summit will take place in Germany June 7 and 8, 2015, and German Chancellor Merkel considers that actually President Putin’s participation seems to be unlikely. EU ratified a new round of asset freezes and travel bans against 19 Ukrainian separatist and Russians, which will come into effect February 16, 2015, regardless of the latest ceasefire deal of Minsk, signed by pro-Russian rebels, and starting at 00:01 local time on February 15, 2015. The truce will be monitored by the OSCE, warning European leaders that Russia faces additional sanctions if the Minsk peace agreement is not respected, saying Ukrainian President Poroshenko there is ‘a long way to go to peace’. France’s President disclosed that EU sanctions against Russia could be loosened step-by-step in exchange for compliance with the Minsk peace agreement. German Chancellor Merkel said that there would be not any Group of 8 meetings with Russia as long as it fails to comply with basic common values of democracy and states based on rules of law. Hours after Germany’s Foreign Minister suggested Russia could be readmitted to the G8, a senior Russian official appeared to rebuff the notion, saying Moscow would rather work with emerging economies than the rich nation’s club, from which it was suspended following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. G7 leaders agreed to keep sanctions against Russia in Place until PM Putin and Moscow-backed separatists fully respect a ceasefire negotiated in Minsk in February 2015, warning they could escalate sanctions if needed, claiming Russia also Kiev must still fully implement the peace deal. Russia’s PM Medvedev said his country is in a new Cold War with the U.S. and its allies, even as Russia, Europe and the U.S. are suggesting to seek cooperation to end Syria’s civil war, resolve the armed stand-off in eastern Ukraine and make progress toward lifting European economic sanctions against Russia. The G7 summit 2016 in Japan without China and Russia on board left the question open if such a reduced G7 can tackle today’s problems, although some observers defended that like-minded countries are better able to prepare for decisive meetings, such as G20 summit 2016 in China of leading and developing countries, agreeing a common line. German Economy Minister Gabriel urged in June 2016 to quickly allow Russia to rejoin the G7 and turn it back into G8, saying: ‘Russia is an important global player and not a regional power’.

5.ICBC, the world’s biggest bank with a Tier 1 capital of $160.646 Billion per mid-2013, reached an agreement with Standard Bank Group Limited, UK, regarding the sale and purchase of shares in Standard Bank Plc, the largest African Bank, acquiring 60% of existing shares in SB Plc for around $770 Million, having a call option to increase its shareholding to 80% in the future and a put option to buy all of the shares of SB Plc.

6.Germany held G7/G8 Group’s presidency 2015, followed by Japan in 2016. The G7 summit 2017 in Sicily/Italy marked by discords over climate change, but unity on tackling terrorism, intending officials to try to agree the wording with the United States on global trade, as U.S. partners in the G7 club are concerned that President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda could lead to protectionist measures rolling back decades of liberalization between the world’s advanced economies. German Chancellor Merkel, a ‘convinced trans-Atlanticist’, said it became clear at the G7 summit when there was no agreement with the United States, underlining her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally, how long and rocky the path would be, warning President Trump he risked isolating the United States, but stressing that Germany still considered the United States as an ally. President Trump announced the U.S. will pull out of the landmark Paris climate change pact, as French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel are saying they will defend and seeking to implement the agreement with other states.

7.Fannie Mae – financial sanctions: The Federal Housing Finance Agency filed in 2011 claims against 18 major financial institutions relating to U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities offerings between 2004 and 2007, remaining settlement of 7 suits against various institutions pending, after the latest $9,33 Billion agreement with Bank of America covering $57,5 Billion of private-label residential mortgage-backed securities bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

8.BASEL III banking standards – to make financial markets more secure BASEL III is rising global minimum capital standards or levels of minimum common equity to risk weighted assets to 7% and for systemically important banks to 9,5%, complaining especially JP Morgan Chase that rules are not in ‘America’s interest’ and that the U.S. should not submit any more to BASEL rules. The Fed approved final U.S. rules implementing BASEL III capital frame work in July 2013, making the U.S. version of BASEL III due to an enhanced supplementary leverage ratio for covered bank holding companies and their insured depositary institution much stricter for larger U.S. banks than their European competitors and could present a disadvantage for U.S. banks, as U.S. regulators are lobbied to reduce the U.S. requirements. You find more BASEL III comments in: http://1read.me

8a)JP Morgan Chase – living will – for the 8 biggest U.S.banks capital ratio – Tier 1 capital (predominant common shares and retained earnings, perhaps some equity, like nonredeemable preferred shares) will have to be 9,5% to risk-adjusted assets, and new rules could raise the minimum capital ratio for the biggest banks from 9,5% to 11,5%, proposing the Fed regulations against banks that are still thought to be too big to fail in favor of smaller less complex banks. JP Morgan seems to be already at 9,8%. The leverage ratio, seen by the Fed as a crititical backstop to the risk-based capital requirements for banks that rely on risky short-term funding, assets to Tier 1 capital on a bank’s balance sheet (including also off-balance sheet exposures), maintaining a minimum of 5%, while FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries would have to maintain a minimum of 6%, and by 2018 banks must rely more on funding sources such as shareholder equity rather than borrowing money. JP Morgan is predicted to have a shortfall under the new standards of $15,6 Billion. But most banks are already on track to comply and could meet requirements by retaining earnings or could shrink or restructure some assets to reduce capital needs. FDIC insurance covers eligible savings of up to $250.000 per depositor, per insured bank for each account ownership category. Letting banks issue against uninsured deposits over the $250.000 limit so-called contingent capital bonds, bonds that a point of a crisis would be automatically transformed into riskier share equity, would mean to transform creditors into owners of a bank.

9.UK Financial Investment Ltd. (UKFI) – manages the British Government’s investments in the Royal Bank of Scotland/RBS, Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds) and UK Asset Resolution Ltd. (UKAR), acting on behalf on HM Treasury, its sole shareholder.

10.Algeria -FDI above US$ 2 Billion each year since 2012, mainly in the hydrocarbon sector, as the country’s economy is heavily dependent on the petroleum industry. (Algeria: 15th place in terms of proven oil reserves in the world and 10th place in the world of proven gas reserves). Observers are reporting many corruption scandals involving foreign companies, although they consider the climate for international firms considering direct investments is stabilizing.

11.Chase Bank open Sunday in New York, Downtown, Flushing Main St. 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, San Francisco, Union Square, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, other branches in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago may also be attending on Sunday, in Miami Chase branches seem to be closed on Sunday.

12.Founders Federal Credit Union, Lancaster, South Carolina, SC 29720 – like all U.S. Federal Credit Unions it is a not-for-profit institution owned by its members, committed to serve its members financial needs, governed by a board of volunteers. The National Credit Union Administration/NCUA, an independent U.S. Government Agency, regulates, charters and insures the Nation’s Federal Credit Unions, which have to demonstrate high standards of safety and soundness in its operations.

13.U.S. bank political appointment – President Obama nominated Allan Landon, a former community banker and Chief Executive of the Bank of Hawai, actually partner of private investment fund Community BanCapital, to a seat on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Board, responding calls for a greater voice for Main Street in the central bank’s deliberations, concerned that Wall Street holds too much sway.

14.G7 thinking of punishing further Russia../go to 4b).

15.Founders Federal Credit Union/go to 12.

16.Chase Bank, release levy/go to smallbusiness.chron.com/remove-bank-levy-4059.html and to smallbusiness.chron.com/dispute-bank-levy-37255.html

17.Banco Santander, the Euro-zone’s biggest bank, targeting lending push after 4thQ. 2014 profit jump, facing its U.S. unit setbacks in its U.S. operations, remaining under pressure from regulators, after a former Banco Santander SA executive has been indicted for insider trading.

18.HSBC Japan Index Fund Accumulation C. is a fund launched in 1989 with a size of Pound Sterling 279 Million, available in a regular savings plan by investing just Pound Sterling 25 per month, deducting charges from income, investing the fund in companies that make up the FTSE Japan Index providing long-term capital growth.

19.Credit Repair Organizations offering help to boost your credit score and clean up your credit report, working under the ‘Credit Repair Organization Act’, a title of the ‘Consumer Protection Act’; there are many credit repair companies and there are lots of scams. Select a company with a good reputation and money-back guarantee, like SkyBlue Credit Repair, Lexington Law, Credit Repair.com, related with TransUnion.

20.Fed’s QE ended completely October 2014, remaining pending rate hike, which likely happens in the second half of this year. Go to 1read.me/U.S./EU/Euro-zone Economies: United States of America, where you will find more explanations.

21.The NFIP was launched in 1968 and Congress passed a number of laws to strengthen the program. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Water Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, making additional program changes to other aspects of the NFIP.

22.BRIC currency reserve pool $100 Billion – go to 1read.me/BRICS – Countries.

23.Countrywide Financial – has been purchased by BofA – go to U.S.Banks, 1read.me

24.Countrywide mortgage assistance – homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com – home loan assistance – check my loan status.

25.Lloyds TSB – UK Government’s privatization plan delayed as shares in the bailed-out bank are trading below the Government’s break-even price, falling below 69p, ordering to sell the share whenever the price is above 73.6p, the level at which the state bailed out Lloyds in 2008; small investors may be granted a discount of 5p. In the wake of the ‘Brexit’ vote Britain’s Government has scrapped plans to sell stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds in 2016, leaving disposal plans until 2017 at the earliest. Today/17.05.2017 the British Government has sold its last shares in Lloyds Banking Group, which was bailed out in 2008 at a cost of 20,3 Billion Pounds, handing the state a 43% stake in the bank, which now returned fully back in private hands, continuing BlackRock as the bank’s biggest stakeholder with around 7%, rising shares 0,8% to 70,69 pence. The Government still owns 73% of Royal Bank of Scotland, which was rescued with 45,5 Billion pounds of taxpayers’ cash.

25.a)Lloyds share savings plan maturing June 2016 – oil price declines, oil-related default fears, growth concerns and a general aversion to lower-quality bonds have combined to produce high-yield bond price declines, putting pressure on the banking sector; still ECB considers European banks far more solid than a few years ago as they have significantly strengthened their capital positions; Lloyds is attempting to streamline its business as it prepares to return fully to the private sector; the British Government has reduced its stake from more than 40% to less than 10%, with a deadline of June 2016 being set to complete the task of offloading the taxpayer’s interest; that selloff is now officially on hold and postponed until markets have calmed, as shares fell as low as 60p. and even after rising to 62.4p. the stock remains well below the Government’s bailout breakeven price of 73.6p.; full year result of the bank is due in March 2016, eventually including an additional allocation for compensation claims relating to payment protection insurance mis-selling by another 2 Billion pounds, putting in doubt hopes for a special dividend payout; however an expected positive result of Lloyds, half way through a bigger plan to close 200 branches and cut 9.000 jobs to reduce costs and take more of the business online, could put Government’s sales plans back on track; stock markets likely remain volatile in 2016, following the economy, continuing China as the epicentre of current market instability.

26.BlackBerry’s transformation into a cross-platform, security-focused software and services company advanced, reporting for the third quarter ended November 28, 2015 total revenue of $557 Million, up 14% over the previous quarter, growing the software and services revenue 183% year-over-year and 119% quarter over quarter.

27.Bank of America Merrill Lynch – one of the five largest investment banks in the U.K. paying no corporation tax at all in 2014, despite booking billions of pounds in profits, by using tax breaks and offsetting previous losses against any gains. The bank has about $8 Billion in tax assets to use against tax following the $34 Billion of losses it incurred in the U.K. in 2007 and 2008. However tax regime is changing fast and being forced to adopt to a more fit-for-purpose model, forcing foreign companies to pay more tax. BofA will post a $600 Million pretax write-down in the 4thQ. 2015 as it redeems $2 Billion of trust preferred securities, paying holders 7% to 7,28%, tied to its 2009 acquisition of Merrill Lynch, expecting to realize cash savings from lower funding costs as a results of the redemption.

28.EMU Direct Governments – predominantly in Euro denominated sovereign bonds  with a maturity of up to 10 years of the European Economic and Monetary Union/EMU countries, comprising actually 16 nations of the Euro-area; representative indices available measuring the performance of Euro-denominated Government debt of EMU nations: CITI EMU Government Bond Index/EGBI 1-3 years, Schroder International Selection Fund, SISF Euro Government Bond, Bank of America Merrill Lynch EMU Direct Government Index.

29.PEMEX – refined fuel theft and oil duct illegal tapping – one of the most concerning issues, however making a gloomy economic outlook an implementation of highly needed projects to protect the oil infrastructure difficult for PEMEX and the Mexican Government; PEMEX officials estimate that 8,5 Million fuel barrels are drained from the more than 35.000 km long PEMEX national pipeline network, elevating today the costs of thefts to be at around $1,29 Billion.

30.QATAR – diplomatic crisis in the Middle East; President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia signaled the green light for an aggressive action by the Saudis and Emirati bloc against Qatar, which became a central target for apparently supporting terrorism, rejected by the country’s leader. The U.S. publicly backed the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council/GCC members to get Qatar to come back to the agreed common GCC pledge of fighting terror, refusing to cooperate with the proponents of terror and ensuring that there is a united front against Iran’s malignant meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states, reiterating that a united GCC, of which Qatar is a member, and a strong United States – Gulf Cooperation Council partnership are critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability. Qatar, where the U.S. military has its largest Middle East Air Base, Al-Udeid, is not necessarily prepared to support a united GCC under Saudi leadership pledging loyalty to confront Iran, as expected by President Trump, preferring to maintain normal relations with its neighbors, and is talking to Iran and Turkey about securing food and water supplies to avoid possibles shortages two days after its biggest suppliers, the United Arab Emirates/UAE and Saudi Arabia cut trade and diplomatic ties, confirming Turkish exporters they are ready to meet Qatar’s food and water demand, debating Turkey a law for military support of Qatar. Escalating diplomatic crisis President Trump now accused Qatar of being a ‘high-level’ sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others, defending notably the position of Saudi Arabia; according to German Chancellor Merkel all Gulf nations and also Iran and Turkey should work together to find a solution to the regional dispute. Qatar said it will not negotiate with its neighbors to resolve Gulf dispute unless they first lift the trade and travel boycott they imposed. Ignoring its previous terrorist accusations of Doha, the business- and America first-minded Trump administration approved to sell $12 Billion of warplanes to Qatar, after signing a military agreement  worth up to $110 Billion with Saudi Arabia. Four Arab states that imposed a boycott on Qatar have issued an ultimatum to close Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish base and pay reparations, aggressive demands making it difficult to settle conflict, recommending the United States any demands should be ‘reasonable and actionable’. Saudi Arabia has led the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in demanding that Qatar cuts ties with Tehran in return for lifting boycott they have currently imposed on the nation. The State of Qatar expressed its aspirations to strengthen bilateral relations with Iran, not bowing to the regional pressure placed upon it. While Saudi Arabia and its allies accused Iran of interfering in Arab states such as Iraq and Yemen, claiming Tehran’s increasing influence has destabilized the region, Iran claims it is helping fight Sunni extremists and accused Saudi Arabia of backing insurgents. Qatar ramps up air and  sea power, saying dispute with neighbors requires greater self-reliance. Qatar, OPEC’s smallest oil producer but the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter said it will withdraw from the Saudi influenced OPEC effective January 1, 2019 to focus on gas.

31.CUBA – The end of the Castro-era in Cuba, stepping down Raul Castro as President, taking over his chosen successor Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, a Communist Party loyalist.

32.Hong Kong’s leader is backing down after huge protests and will suspend a bill allowing extraditions to China.

33.Fires a raging in the Amazon at a rate scientists have never seen before, burning the largest rain-forest in the world, roughly the size of the U.S. and a key to the health of the entire planet, mobilizing Brazil and the world soldiers and finances in response.

U.S. President Trump

December 9, 2020

U.S. President Trump and his ambition to strengthen America by changing rules, producing deep divisions in his country. Authoritarian nationalist seeking to put into effect promises of his aggressive presidential campaign, surprised allies and enemies with radical measures, attacking immigrants and intimidating the media, taking distance from free world trade and globalization. His budget plan includes a tax reform, of both personal and corporate taxes, a massive Trillion-Dollar infrastructure program, elevating security and military spending by reducing spending in most other areas, projecting an economic growth of 3%, up from meager 1,6% in 2016. He leaves no doubt to favor companies investing in the United States and contracting Americans, saying that those producing abroad should have to pay a -protectionist- compensating border tax, insisting that U.S. allies used America for years owing lots of money, causing his returning to protectionism, contributing to the rise of global populism, caution and consternation in the international community. Although having a strong base of followers, his approving rate is one of the lowest in U.S. history, as he hopes to gain the support from conservatives motivating their nationalist vision. Saying ‘enough is enough’ the Trump administration ordered a massive missile attack on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack killing at least 87 civilians, stepping up the pressure on Russia to rein in Syrian President Al Assad warning of any further chemical attacks, saying the missile strike carries a message for others, sending a carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula, increasing international tensions, dropping U.S. military its most powerful nonnuclear bomb on an Islamic State complex in Afghanistan. North Korea said it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might. The U.S. started moving parts of an anti-missile defense system/the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system to a deployment site in South Korea, about 250 km south of the capital, Seoul, arriving a guided missile submarine from the U.S. Navy in South Korea on the same day that North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Signaling a certain willingness to exhaust non-military alternatives despite repeated warnings that ‘all options are on the table’, the Trump administration said now it aimed to push North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and missile programs through tougher international sanctions and diplomatic pressure and still remained open to negotiations. A CNN/ORC poll showed nearing the 100-day mark that Donald Trump is the least popular U.S. President in history at this point in his term, as some observers compare his opening months with a chaotic discovery of power. Going by President Trump’s ‘100-day action plan to make America great again’, his progress has been slow. President Trump’s ‘very friendly’ talk with President Rodrigo Dudarte, who has lead a deadly crackdown on drugs in the Philippines, inviting him despite human rights criticism to visit the White House, stuns aides and critics alike, the same as his opening the door to meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, saying he would be honored to meet the young leader under the right circumstances, even as Pyongyang suggested it would continue its nuclear weapons tests, as Asian nations are swinging toward China’s orbit, a consequence of President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda. Without referring to President Trump, a Fed-speaker declared that trade protectionism is a ‘dead end’ that may score political points but will ultimately hurt the U.S. economy. Deepening sense of crisis as President Trump defends F.B.I. firing, media revealed that the President pressed James Comey, the law enforcement official leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, for ‘loyalty’ at a private dinner in January 2017, promising the F.B.I. director only ‘honesty’, asking President Trump in February 2017 F.B.I. director Comey to close the Flynn/Russia investigation, facing the deepest crisis of presidency as Comey memo surfaces, playing online bettors early end to Trump presidency, naming Justice Department Robert S. Mueller III., former F.B.I. director, special counsel for the Russia investigation. North Korea launched a new developed mid-to-long range ballistic missile, reaching an altitude of more than 2.000 kilometers and landing in the Sea of Japan close to Russia, saying North Korea it was aimed at verifying the capacity to carry a large scale heavy nuclear warhead, asking the U.S. also Russia, after China, to help convince Pyongyang to stop its reckless nuclear weapons program or face serious consequences, sharing the code used in the latest cyberattacks many similarities with past hacks blamed also on North Korea. President Trump shared intelligence about ISIS provided by Israel with Russian officials, probably endangering spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, saying Trump he has an absolute right to share ‘facts’ with Russia, not informing if he revealed classified secrets, offering Russian President Putin transcript to prove that Trump did not pass secrets to Russia. With Trump crisis deepening Wall Street tumbled as reform hopes fade and the Dollar declined to a six-months low, threatening new Russia probe leaks to derail President Trump’s first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia and Europe, reporting media he told Russian officials in the Oval Office that Comey’s firing relieved ‘great pressure’ calling him a ‘nut-job’. President Trump, proving his art as deal maker, celebrated in Saudi Arabia mega-deals worth approximately $380 Billion, including $110 Billion arms agreement and $50 Billion worth deal with Saudi Aramco, inaugurating new era of U.S.-Arab partnership, urging Muslim countries at the Arab-Islamic-American summit to take a lead in fighting terror. European leaders were confronted in Brussels with an authoritarian President Trump, rebuking NATO leaders for not paying defense bill and producing deep differences in discussions over trade with the EU, receiving renewed pleas not to abandon the Paris climate change agreement. Fellow Republican and former U.S. House speaker Boehner said that Trump’s time in office has been a ‘complete disaster’, aside from foreign affairs, praising his aggressive steps to challenge the Islamic State militant group and other moves in international affairs, explaining ‘he’s still learning how to be President’, ‘meaning President Trump the apprentice’, what may explain his cautious attitudes during the G7 summit in Sicily, still developing views on different very important issues, for example on climate change, where he is expected to ultimately do what he believes was best for the United States. German leader Merkel, remaining committed to U.S.-German relations, said that very unsatisfactory results of the G7 summit in Sicily shook her confidence in the United States, reducing her confidence in the Trump administration, moving President Trump and Chancellor Merkel further apart, which could mean a shift in the wider world order, emerging China as Europe’s unlikely global partner on areas from free trade to security. In a statement backed by all 28 EU states the EU and China will commit to full implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement that U.S. President Trump appears to be set to pull out of. President Trump announced the United States will pull out of the landmark Paris climate change pact, saying it was too expensive for the U.S., meaning the decision a profit for U.S. polluters, placing America alongside with Syria and Nicaragua, the other two non-participating countries, fulfilling a major pledge of his election campaign. However the climate won’t be able to survive the long-run absence of U.S. leadership, considering that the United States are second worldwide after China in greenhouse gas emissions; if an actual U.S. withdrawal ends up as a four year absence on a long-run downward emissions trajectory than the climate can survive it. Democratic state governors from California, New York and Washington intend to form an alliance committed to countering climate change, defying President Trump’s determination, announcing disappointed chiefs of Tesla and Space X, Elon Musk and of Disney, Robert Iger, they resign from the President’s advisory council, regretting other important business leaders, so from Apple, Facebook, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Google, and Microsoft, the decision to exit the Paris agreement, expressing they will remain committed to fight climate change. President Trump accused former FBI chief Comey of lying under oath in his testimony to Senators, where he confirmed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, saying ‘they did it with purpose’. Notably backing the aggressive position of Saudi Arabia against Iran, and escalating the diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, President Trump accused Qatar of being a high-level sponsor of terrorism, recommending German Chancellor Merkel that all Gulf states and also Iran and Turkey, nations maintaining relations with Qatar, should work together to find a solution to the regional dispute. President Trump is rolling back the dètente with Cuba begun by Obama, asking Cuban government to release political prisoners. Described by President Trump ‘as the single greatest witch hunt in American political history’, former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III appointed as special counsel is overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation. The U.S. Senate voted to enact new sanctions in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, after reports that the Trump administration is considering easing sanctions on Moscow; EU-allies formally renewed economic sanctions against Russia on Ukraine until January 31, 2018. The Trump administration seems to be ready to use forth in North Korea if needed to stop its nuclear missile program, seeing it as a growing threat, although saying it preferred a global diplomatic action against Pyongyang for defying world powers. The G20 meeting in Hamburg ended with a forged trade compromise as U.S. tariff threat lingers, finding the Trump administration itself isolated, standing on issues like immigration, trade and climate change alone, expressing world leaders their total disagreement with President Trump on climate change. On the sideline of the G20 gathering in Hamburg President Trump and Russian President Putin met face-to-face, who denied again any meddling in the U.S. 2106 election, establishing both sides a discussion how they could work together, including combating cyberattacks and de-escalating the war in Syria, apparently without producing any news. President Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury’ after Pyongyang announced it examines plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major U.S. military base and home of U.S. bombers. President Trump praised Kim Jong Un’s decision not to fire missiles toward Guam, easing tensions between the two countries. After more CEO’s quit Trump council over his response to violence in Charlottesville, the U.S. President ended his two advisory panels, the Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum. Outraged by his defense of white nationalists, the President has been abandoned by executives, contradicted by military leaders and shunned by Republicans. Stephen Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, left the White House after clashing for months with other senior advisers and members of Trump’s family. President Trump decided to deepen American involvement in Afghanistan, formerly opposed by him. Shock Poll: a Pew Research Poll shows that most countries prefer Russian President Putin over the U.S. President Trump. After North Korea’s new sixth and most powerful nuclear test, the U.S. urges a fuel cutoff for the country, saying it’s ‘begging for war’, intending to resolve the standoff using tougher sanctions rather than military means. The U.N. Security Council strengthened North Korea sanctions, but North Korea launches still another missile over Japan, escalating again crisis. President Trump signaled he will choose approach on Iran that preserves nuclear deal. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, said Trump was treating his office like ‘a reality show’, in an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, adding he concerns me and he would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation. According to polls, President Trump now is the least popular first-year President in U.S. history and only 18% of voters are actually prepared to vote him again as President in 2020. 12 months of President Trump since election are bringing an economic boom, deepening divisions and probe politics. Compiling a solid record of accomplishments, much of it is unilateral, dependent on extensive executive actions, rolling back President Obama’s regulations, impressive judicial appointments and some progress in the fight against ISIS overseas. The $1,5 Trillion tax bill is his most significant legislative achievement, and a provision of the tax overhaul is expected to release a tide of U.S. corporate cash from abroad, estimated to reach eventually up to $400 Billion, a development likely to jolt the Dollar and reverberate throughout financial markets early 2018. 2018 could bring a bout of protectionism and his toxic persona, suffering still under the not yet concluded investigation of a Russian election interference in his favor, could drive a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterms.Michael Wolff promoted his new book ‘Fire and Fury’-‘Inside the Trump White House’ by saying that Trump is unfit for presidency, adding that his revelations will bring down Trump, defending Trump his mental capacity, saying he is ‘a very stable genius. President Trump accepted an invitation to meet Kim Jong-un of North Korea offering to start talks on giving up its nuclear weapons, a high-level diplomatic encounter so risky and seemingly far-fetched that some of Trump’s aides believe it will never happen. President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials and closed a consulate, joining a coordinated campaign by two dozen countries to retaliate for poisening of a former Russian spy in Britain, saying Russia it will respond in kind to West’s expulsions. James Comey, the President’s fired FBI director, said President Trump is a serial liar, treats women like ‘meat’ and is a ‘stain’ on all who work for him. President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end Robert S. Mueller III’s, the special counsel’s inquiry into Russia’s election interference and possible ties to his campaign, saying his lawyer it was an opinion, not an order. President Trump forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tapping Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, seeking U.S. Democrats hearings of the ouster, calling it a move to undermine federal probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. President Trump is becoming after midterm elections even more radical, suspending the White House press pass of CNN reporter after confrontation with the President and warning Democrats against using their new majority in the House of Representatives to investigate him and his administration. Fed Chairman Powell has a high approval rate among corporate chief financial officers, the same can’t be said of President Trump or his trade advisors, according to the latest CNBC Global CFO Council. Accused of wrongdoing the Trump foundation will be resolved. A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll contains that only 43% of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing, while 54% disapprove; only 28% of Americans think the economy will get better in the next 12 months, while 33% expect it will get worse and 37% believe it will stay about the same, the survey found. Ex-Trump adviser and longtime ally Roger Stone was arrested facing obstruction charge, saying he ‘never will’ turn in Trump; he was indicted by special counsel Mueller over alleged coordination with Trump officials about stolen emails from WikeLeaks with information that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. President Trump declared a National Emergency so he could build the border wall, provoking a constitutional clash, urging key GOP Senator Lamar Alexander the President to withdraw his national emergency declaration or face a Republican revolt. President Trump considers the U.S. might be closer to reach a positive trade agreement with China, continuing the negotiations between the two nations. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller declines to clear President Trump and more 2020 Democrats call for impeachment warning of Russian sabotage rejecting President Trump’s ‘witch hunt’ claims. House Democrats issue first subpoena in impeachment inquiry seeking documents and witnesses regarding President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, resigning Kurt Volker, Trump’s envoy for Ukraine; President Trump pressed Ukraine’s President to open inquiries, as a favor, that could benefit him politically, saying a former Ukraine Prime Minister in an interview, that Ukraine must investigate the activities of U.S. Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son to establish whether his role in Ukrainian gas company complied with the country’s laws. The White House declared war on impeachment inquiry, claiming effort to undo Trump’s election. The House voted to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump, setting up a critical public phase of the process.

British PM May, after initiating the ‘Brexit’ process, and Japanese PM Abe, considering the growing threat of North Korea and Chinese military expansion in Asia, depend increasingly on their traditional ally, the United States, advancing President Trump to accept his  international commitments. PM May called for early general elections on June 8, 2017, claiming they are a chance to heal divisions over ‘Brexit’, suggesting new polls she will win comfortably Labour, which is on 28%, trailing her Conservative Party , which is at 47%. Conservatives lead over Labour Party has fallen, showing new polls before election that Conservative Party was on 43%, down 1% from a weak ago, while Labour Party was up 3% to 37%. Britain’s official terror level has been raised to ‘critical’ by PM Theresa May, which means another attack is expected ‘imminently’, after bomber slaughted at least 22 people, including children, at packed pop concert in Manchester, suspending May her election campaign, warning an EU report that more than 1.500 jihadists have returned to Europe with orders ‘to carry out attacks’. After a third terrorist attack in less than three months in Britain its PM May said ‘enough is enough’, vowing to intensify counter terror efforts, clarifying that election on June 8, 2017, would go ahead. Ruling Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority, forming PM May a minority government with the small Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party/DUP, weakening her position just days before negotiations of U.K.’s exit from the U.E. were due to start, agreeing both sides the first day of talks that ‘Brexit’ must be orderly. An explosion on the London Underground is being treated as a terrorist attack, leaving more than 30 people injured. U.K.’s growth will lag behind most of E.U.; accelerating Euro-zone set to outstrip Britain at time of ‘Brexit’, as uncertainty is continuing to weigh on investment in the U.K., while inflation is hitting customer purchasing power; the Euro-zone will mark its best year in a decade and maintain a solid growth well into 2018. The U.K. is expelling 23 Russian diplomats over the poisening of a former spy on British soil in a sharp escalation with Moscow, joining the Trump administration a collective statement with Britain, France and Germany denouncing Russia for its role in a nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter. Most of U.K. P.M. May’s Conservative Party members oppose her ‘Brexit’ deal, a recent survey showed. Boris Johnson new British PM in deep crisis saying Brexit will happen by October 31, 2019. PM Johnson won a backing to hold a general election on December 12, 2019, throwing the Brexit debate back to British public; the EU agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until January 31, 2020, with the option for Britain to leave sooner if the Parliament approves Johnson’s divorce deal.

German Chancellor Merkel seeking re-election in 2017, challenged by opposition candidate Martin Schulz, is considered as a strong conservative European leader, criticized for her immigration policy allowing refugees to enter and stay in Germany, pushing now public spending on refugees the economic growth in Germany, most likely will be able to rule for a fourth term of four years as chancellor, as people seek calm and stability. In her first meeting with President Trump deep differences about immigration and world trade got evident. Angela Merkel vowed fight hard to win a fourth term in the German Federal election on September 24, 2017 against her center-left challenger Martin Schulz, after an unexpectedly clear state election victory in the German State of Saarland. Angela Merkel won a fourth term as chancellor, placing her in the front of Germany’s post war leaders, even as her victory was overshadowed by the entry of the far-right party Alternative for Germany/AFD, getting some 13% of the vote, into Parliament for the first time in more than 60 years, while the center-left Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partner for the last 4 years, announced that the party would go into opposition, forming Mrs. Merkel probably a coalition with the pro-business minded party of the Free Democrats/FDP, who won some 10,4% of the vote, and eventually with the left-leaning pro-environment party of the Greens, who won about 9%, before ending 2017. German veteran finance minister conservative Wolfgang Schaeuble, deeply respected in Germany, agreed to become president of the parliament, clearing the way for another party to take his job, possibly the Free Democrats/FDP as likely new coalition partners, seen as a decisive step to help Mrs. Merkel to form a new government. After failing coalition talks with Free Democrats and the Greens momentum is growing for another grand coalition after SPD leader Schulz agreed to hold talks with Merkel about reviving their outgoing coalition government. Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/CDU has thrown its support behind pursuing a new alliance with Social Democrats/SPD, renewing the ‘grand coalition’, stressing Merkel the importance for a stable German government. Slowly Germany begins to ponder life after Merkel, as members of Merkel’s conservatives are starting to look ahead to potential alternatives to lead their party and Germany; the succession debate has been supercharged by the inclusion of a clause in the preliminary coalition deal with SPD that envisages a review of the next government’s progress after two years to assess whether any changes to its mission are needed, seen as a good time for Merkel to resign. Angela Merkel moved closer to a fourth term as German Chancellor, after naming Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as new CDU general secretary, tipped as her successor, and appointing ministers for a renewed coalition with the Social Democrats/SPD, still pending a postal vote of SPD’s 464.000 members in favor or against the deal, expected the results to be announced on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Angela Merkel was sworn in for a fourth term as German Chancellor, approving the Parliament earlier her re-election by 364 votes to 315, after securing a new coalition deal with the Social Democrats/SPD, who succeeded to appoint two pro-European politicians to key posts, the Finance and Foreign Minister. Chancellor Merkel initiated her term with a trip to Paris, visiting French President Macron who is seeking her support for plans to reform the EU. Chancellor Merkel, in a major reversal on immigration, agreed to tighten asylum policies to prevent her government’s collapse, weakening her position still more. Angela Merkel will step down as German Chancellor when her mandate ends in 2021, following recent election setbacks in the state of Hesse and after Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered huge losses in a state parliament vote. She also said she would not seek re-election as leader of the central-right CDU party in December 2018, post she holds since 2000, explaining the time has come to open a new chapter. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s preferred candidate Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been elected as new German CDU party leader, a decision that moves her into pole position to succeed Europe’s most influential leader as Chancellor; Kramp-Karrenbauer dubbed by the opposition as the continuity candidate is known as centrist seeking the party unity. German Chancellor Merkel, 64, has been seen shaking for a third time, but she said, she as very well and there was no need to worry, reacting German media with alarm to Mrs. Merkel’s health scare, becoming now a political issue.

President Putin, the powerful and intriguing Russian leader, an experienced ex-spy chief, used to take advantage of international tensions and conflicts to reinforce and extend Russian presence and power. Apparently helped President Trump to get elected through intensive covered operations and hacking, attacking Trump’s adversary Hillary Clinton. The U.S. taking a sharper tone on Russia’s role in Syria, accusing the Kremlin of cover-up the Syrian’s government culpability in chemical weapons attack, ending Russia hopes of swift detente under President Trump, making state media, which hailed his election win, a U-turn, saying Trump was scarier than North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. Russian President Trump now is saying, maybe private Russian hackers meddled in U.S. election, remarking ‘anything is possible in this virtual world’, denying again any state role. After President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, now the escalation of a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, cutting Saudi Arabia and the UAE trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar, accused to support terrorism, expecting Washington Qatar to pledge loyalty to a united GCC, of which it is a member, confronting under Saudi leadership Iran, considered as the worst enemy of the United States. Qatar, where the U.S. military has its largest Middle East airbase, Al-Udeid, rejecting the accusations to cooperate with proponents of terror, wanting just normal relations with its neighbors, is seeking help from Turkey and Iran to secure food and water supply, debating Turkey a law for military support of Qatar. President Putin joking, offering political asylum to former F.B.I. chief Comey, who denounced the Russian interference ‘with purpose’ in the U.S. 2016 election favoring Trump. After the U.S. shot down a Syrian military jet near Racca for bombing near U.S. allied forces on the ground, Russia warned the U.S. that it viewed any planes flying in its areas of operations as potential targets and will track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it will shoot them down, while the White House said coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right of self-defense. U.S. President Trump signed a bill with new sanctions against Russia, escalating tensions, responding Russian President Putin with an order that the U.S. must cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said he will seek another term as president in the 2018 election; he has been in power since 2000 and if he wins the March 2018 election he will be eligible to serve until 2024. President Putin was re-elected obtaining 75% of the vote, beginning a fourth term and expected to stay in power until 2024. Russia announced to expel 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, closing Washington’s consulate in Saint Petersburg, in retaliation for Western nation’s response to the poisening of a former spy. President Putin invited President Trump to Moscow, saying ‘be my guest’, after the Helsinki meeting and delaying President Trump for the moment to welcome President Putin in Washington.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, the calm, mostly smiling power seeker, is always ready to confront other world leaders, intending to change global power balance further in favor of China; taking advantage of President Trump’s protectionism and regressive climate politics may be in a position to challenge the U.S. for global leadership, expanding China’s economic and military influence not only in Asia, but also in Europe, Africa, the Arab States of the Persian Gulf and Latin America. To avert a trade war with the United States, Peking is offering concessions, promising more liberalizations to increase accessibility for U.S. companies in China. U.S. officials praised China for stepping up efforts to rein in North Korea, Beijing’s neighbor and ally, announcing North Korea it will continue regularly test missiles and military action against it by the U.S. would prompt ‘all out war’, warning China of ‘storm clouds gathering’ in U.S.-North Korea standoff, urging an end to ‘mutual provocations and threats’, cautioning that tensions on the Korean peninsula could run out of control. China said it warned North Korea it would impose unilateral sanctions should Pyongyang carry out another nuclear test, possibly China’s toughest threat yet against its defiant neighbor. Elected new South Korean leader, liberal politician Moon Jae-in, may bring a more conciliatory approach toward North Korea. After launching North Korea an ICBM that can carry a large and heavy nuclear warhead, President Trump warned China he is willing to pressure Pyongyang on His Own.

After an attack on Champs-Èlysèes injecting more uncertainty into French Presidential election, France voted on April 23, 2017, in the first round of bitterly fought election that could define the future of the E.U.. The outcome, a choice between extremes, will show whether the populist tide that saw Britain vote to leave the E.U. and Donald Trump elected President of the U.S. is still rising, or starting to ebb. The pro-EU Emmanuel Macron, the centrist front-runner and  far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a May 7, 2017-runoff for the French Presidency after coming first and second in the first round, early projections have indicated, seeing opinion polls Macron winning the final clash against Le Pen. The European friendly Macron said the EU must reform or face the prospect of a ‘FREXIT’, making the comments as he and his far-right rival Le Pen entered last week of campaigning. Macron has been elected new French President, succeeding Hollande, keeping France at the center of the EU and reducing uncertainties of the Euro-zone, pledging in his inauguration to restore the country’s lost confidence and to relaunch the flagging European Union, agreeing President Macron with German Chancellor Merkel to draw up a road map to deepen EU integration, despite scepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms. Chancellor Merkel said she was open to creating Euro-zone budget, inclusively to study the possibility of an Euro-zone Finance Minister as proposed by French President Macron. President Macron won a solid parliamentary majority enabling him to push through necessary reforms. German Chancellor Merkel praised the ideas of French President Macron for reform of the E.U. and said they could form the basis for intensive Franco-German cooperation. Emmanuel Macron says France’s economy needs re-shaping to lure investment and rein in spending, as he strives to persuade Berlin that Paris can be a credible partner with whom to drive European reform. As he revolutionized the French labor market, he is battling with unions calling for strikes, putting pressure on him struggling to shake off criticism that he is ‘president of the rich’. France and Germany want to reach a joint position on Euro-zone reform, including tax convergence, capital markets and the banking union, between March and June 2018. EU’s 27 Finance Ministers, with out Britain, reached a Euro-zone reform deal to fight against a financial crisis, expanding the responsabilities  of the European Stability Mechanism/ESM, but without setting up a European -style IMF. France in problem: the ‘yellow vest’ campaign started as a protest against green taxes on petrol and diesel in November 2018, leading President Macron to scrap them. But despite the u-turn violence including widespread rioting has continued , costing the French economy millions. Eight people are now dead as France’s violent ‘yellow vest’ protests entered their fifth weekend facing tear gas and pepper spray. A movement created on social media with no recognized leadership, has forced President Macron into concessions that were unthinkable a few weeks ago. Protesters say it’s not a confrontation about fuel taxes, or any one issue, it’s first and foremost a way for people to say ‘we exist’, to the elites, to the political class, to those who have forgotten about them for the past 20 years, showing to the rest of Europe that people have some power. Three-quarters of French people are unhappy with the way President Macron and his government  are running the country, with the majority keen to see more measures to boost household incomes, a poll showed recently. As the U.K. moves to leave the E.U., France and Germany signed a new treaty aimed at breathing new life into their place at the center of the European Union, highlighting peace and security, backing the emergence of the European Army, saying French President Macron the challenge was for Europe to become ‘a shield’ against the tumults of the world.

EU member States – Sanctions against Russia again extended, new U.S. sanctions against Russia, beginning ‘BREXIT’ talks after Britain’s vote and formal notification to leave the E.U.

December 9, 2020

Joint U.S. and EU action, stepping up punitive measures targeting key sectors like energy, arms and financing sanctioning Russia’s continued illegal actions in Ukraine, undermining Ukranian territorial integrity and sovereignty, will hurt European economies slowing recovery, hitting Russian import ban European food producers, harming above all the German economy with close ties to Russia and the already stagnating Euro-zone economy. EU agreed to extend Russia economic sanctions until January 31, 2016, leaving time to enable EU to judge the compliance and full implementation of the Minsk peace agreement, planning Russia to extend the ban on Western food imports for six months starting from early August 2015, deciding the European Union in December 2015 to extend sanctions on Russia for another six months. A further six month extension of the bloc’s economic and financial sanctions against Moscow to punish Russia for the annexation of Crimea and support of separatists in eastern Ukraine has been agreed on by the EU, extending sanctions until the beginning of 2017. EU leaders signaled a further shift form austerity of the €uro-crisis giving member States extra time to consolidate their budgets as long as they pressed ahead with economic reforms, insisting France and Italy on a further easing of EU budget rules (3% ceiling) to stimulate growth and cut unemployment, pledging Germany for budget discipline, saying countries must move faster on reforms. Euro-sceptic and populist parties scored dramatic gains in voting 2014 for the European Parliament, however continuing pro-European centre-right and centre-left parties to control more than half of the 751 seats, forced to collaborate to get key legislation through the Parliament and into law, as they will face unprecedented challenge of noisy anti-establishment members determined to stop business as usual, saying German Chancellor Merkel the EU must create jobs to counter populist wave, demanding French President Hollande EU should concentrate on what matters, on growth and employment, adding British PM Cameron that Brussels has got too big, too bossy, too interfering, seeking with Sweden and the Netherlands a repatriation of powers from Brussels. Analysts warn of increasing political risks in Europe in 2015, as protest- and populist parties are rising. ECB said European policymakers should not give up efforts to make their economies more efficient and stick to budget rules, despite a strong protest note in European elections, moving on with structural reforms to finish what was started in 1999 and make the €uro-zone work. The €uro-zone’s overall Government deficit fell to the EU limit of 3% in 2013 from 6,2% in 2010, striking the €uro-zone’s fiscal stance the right balance between cutting debt and helping growth, however warning the IMF that the unemployment rate of around 12% was still too high. Inflation moving ever closer toward zero, a stagnating economy, a double-digit unemployment rate and new signs of reform fatigue among Euro-zone Governments are posing a serious challenge for the ECB, that it says it cannot solve alone, expressing G20 concern about Europe’s extended stagnation asking for more Government spending to stimulate growth, insisting Germany in structural reforms, strict budget controls and balanced budget, rejecting stimulus, expressing ECB and IMF the need to see countries using Government money prudently to avoid the Euro-zone slipping into its third recession since 2008, increasing pressure on Governments that have fiscal space like Germany, which posted its biggest budget surplus since reunification in the first half of 2014, asking Paris for a ‘NEW DEAL’ in Europe, expecting movements from Berlin to avert a policy clash. German Chancellor Merkel insisted that all member States must fully respect the reinforced rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, reminding the Euro-zone debt crisis has not yet been overcome and its causes have not been eliminated. ECB’s Draghi warned that no amount of fiscal or monetary accomodation can compensate for necessary structural reforms in the Euro-area, delaying France and Italy labor market reforms and to open up to more competition, failing the two countries to cut their budget deficits and debt in line with EU rules, opting EU Commission not to sanction them for missing public finance targets, giving both until spring 2015 to bring their debts and deficits in line. British PM Cameron strongly opposed nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker, the candidate of the European People’s Party, which won the European Parliament elections, as the next President of the European Commission, describing him as face of the past, while Junckers, supported by German Chancellor Merkel, says the crisis is not yet over and EU budget policy must remain as it is, posing politics rather than economics the biggest risk to the long-term endurance of the €uro, saying 48% of British voters they would currently vote to leave the EU in a referendum, while 37% would vote to stay, naming EU leaders Juncker as new EU Commission President, confirming the European Parliament his nomination by a comfortable majority, announcing Juncker Euro 315 Billion investment program to bolster European economic recovery, setting up EU a 21 Billion Euro European Fund for Strategic Investment, with the aim of drawing in 15 times that amount in private- and public – sector money to boost desperately needed jobs and growth, confirming EU Finance Ministers details of the 315 Billion Euro four-year investment plan, including an eight-member committee that will choose the projects. China will pledge a multi-Billion Dollar investment in the new infrastructure fund at a summit on June 29, 2015, in Brussels, considering the fund is going to create opportunities for China to invest in the EU, in particular in infrastructure and innovation sectors. France, Germany, Italy and Poland have each announced they plan to contribute 8 Billion Euros, while Spain and Luxembourg are pledging smaller amounts. The bloc is relying mainly on private investors and developments banks to fund projects from an initial list of almost 2000 submitted by the 28 member States, from airports to flood defenses, that are together worth 1,3 Trillion Euros. In addition the EU Commission is exploring whether the EU could become collectively a member of the $100 Billion China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank/AIIB, Beijing, expecting China that European companies and Governments would take a greater interest in President Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, aiming to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt with railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links across Central, West and South Asia to as far as Greece. Greece, taking over the EU Presidency for the first half of 2014, criticising imposition of austerity, spending cuts and fiscal policy by Berlin and Brussels, is expecting still some more debt relief, like a further reduction of interest rates on existing loans, a new extension of the maturities and amortization schedule and some relief on financing EU structural funds, planning the €uro-zone to assure IMF it will keep funding Greece, enabling the IMF to disburse its next share of international aid to Athens, despite Greek delay in implementing 153 savings measures. Greece reached a primary budget surplus in 2014, confirming it doesn’t want a third bailout, raising €3 Billion with a coupon of 4,75%, after bringing a first sale of new Greek Government bonds more than €10 Billion of bids, backing Euro-zone Finance Ministers a precautionary ESM credit line for Greece after the country exits its bailout at the end of 2014. Greek Parliament approved budget 2015, preparing for the end of ‘an era of forced bailouts’, granting Euro-zone Finance Ministers Greece a two-month extension of the current bailout program, calling the country for early Presidential elections December 17, 2014, mounting political uncertainty, including fears Greece may exit Euro-zone, seeing European leaders no risk of contagion from Greek vote. PM Samaras failed to gather enough support for his candidate, Stavros Dimas, in a first, second and third Parliament vote, calling for national general elections to be held on January 25, 2015, suspending the IMF new disbursements of aid money until a new Government takes office, saying a Merkel ally that Euro-zone politicians are not obliged to rescue Greece as the country is no longer of systemic importance for the bloc, as Germany seems to believe an exit of Greece is manageable and the danger of contagion is limited, because Portugal and Ireland are considered rehabilitated, revising Fitch outlook on Greece to negative from stable. Greek leftist Tsipras was sworn in as new PM, after forming Government with a small Party of nationalist independent Greeks, winning Tsipras’ anti-austerity, left-wing Syriza 36,3% of the votes in general election and 149 seats in the 300-seat Parliament, just two short of an absolute majority, and Kammenos’ right-wing Party the Independent Greeks 4,8% of the votes and 13 seats, while ruling conservative coalition won just 27,8% and the extreme right Golden Dawn in third place 6,28% of the votes. Syriza’s Tsipras has pledged to renegotiate Greece’s debt arrangements with EU, ECB and IMF/amounting to €257 Billion, naming radical Yanis Varoufakis as Finance Minister, while Independent Greek leader Kammenos will take over the Defense Ministry, aiming France’s Socialist Government to facilitate Greece-Euro-zone talks. Moving to change Europe, leftist Greek Government is seeking anti-austerity allies in Spain, Italy and France, saying Greek Finance Minister he is looking for a new deal with the EU, ECB and the IMF, putting in doubt if Greece will continue to cooperate with the TROIKA and comply with its austerity program, but not calling any more for a write-off of Greece’s foreign debt, but proposing now a ‘menu of debt swaps’, making the ECB already €65 Billion available in emergency liquidity to Greek banks, as long as Athens will give compliance with the terms of the EU/ECB/IMF bailout program. The U.S. expressed support for a positive outcome of Greece-EU talks intending reaching a deal on a new aid program that would put an end to austerity and pursue necessary reforms. Greece’s negotiations with the EU failed to reach an agreement and Athens has been given time until February 20, 2015, to renew bailout-program, of which 70% would be acceptable for Greece and 30% could be replaced, announcing Greece it will submit a request to extend ‘loan agreement’ for up to six months, saying Germany no such deal was on offer, demanding that Athens must comply with the terms of its existing international bailout-program, sealing Euro-zone Finance Ministers finally a four-month extension after Athens sent a detailed list of reforms it plans to implement by the end of June 2015, returning Greece after seven years to growth, expanding its GDP by 0,8% in 2014, after shrinking by 0,4% in the final quarter of 2014, seeing the EU Commission a contraction of 1,4% in 2015. Athens is determined to loosen austerity to revive its economy. Greek Parliament elected pro-European former Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos as new President. Fitch lowered Greece’s rating by two notches to the high-risk level of CCC down from B, saying it nevertheless expects the Government would survive its cash squeeze, cutting the rating agency Athen’s growth forecast 2015 to 0,5% from 1,5%. Berkshire’s Buffett said ‘Grexit’ ‘may not be bad’ for the Euro-zone and could be ‘constructive’ for the region. Greece confirmed loan repayment €450 Million to the IMF, while still struggling to pay other debts, and has been requested to improve package of proposed reforms in time for the meeting of €uro-zone Finance Ministers on April 24, 2015, to decide whether to release more funds to keep the country afloat. Moody’s further downgraded Greek Government bonds to junk territory, cutting rating to Caa2 from Caa1, a level that is equivalent to an extremely speculative junk bond, lowering also Greek local and foreign currency bond ceilings to B3 from Ba3, citing the increased probability that Greece may exit the €uro-zone in the event of a sovereign default, saying Greece it will default in June 2015 without aid from lenders, suggesting the $300 Million-IMF payment on June 5, 2015, is under question, allowing creditors Athens to bundle four payments due in June 2015 into a single €1,6 Billion lumpsum, which is now due on June 30, 2015. EU President Juncker declined to speak to Greek PM Tsipras after the leftist leader rejected as ‘absurd’ international creditors’ terms for a cash-for-reform deal to keep Athens from default, saying ultimate proposals are not realistic, warning not to impose humilating conditions on his country. The IMF quits Greek negotiations because of major differences, telling EU PM Tsipras to stop gambling, leaving for home also the entire Greek delegation after continuing disagreements, downgrading Standard & Poor’s Greek long term credit rating from CCC+ further into junk territory to CCC with a negative outlook, cutting also further the credit rating of Greece’s biggest four banks, reflecting the probability that Greek banks will default if Athens doesn’t reach an agreement with its creditors, discussing Senior EU officials formally for the first time a possible Greek default. Greece and creditors failed in a ‘last attempt’ to reach a deal, coming a Greek default and a possible ‘Grexit’ closer, shifting the focus now to a June 22, 2015, EU emergency summit after Greek talks collapsed, to discuss the situation of Greece at the highest political, increasing ECB again emergency liquidity for Greek banks valid until Monday, June 22, 2015, moving Greece on the road of a possible Euro-zone exit. EU leaders received new Greek reform proposals cautiously, saying German economic experts the ‘Grexit’ is the solution, raising ECB its Emergency Liquidity Assistance/ELA to Greek banks again to €89 Billion. Greek debt declared by analysts as still sustainable, but will miss debt targets set out by creditors in 2012, seeing the IMF as worst case Greek debt falling to 142,2% of GDP in 2022 from 176,7% of GDP in 2015, assuming a new bailout program of at least 3 years with concessional financing. The Euro-zone readies to deal with a Greek debt default after its other 18 members refused unanimously to extend bailout program beyond June 30, 2015, the day Greece must pay €1,6 Billion to the IMF, following PM Tsipras’s surprise announcement of a referendum to take place on July 5, 2015, on an offer from creditors that his leftist Government rejected. Greece is set to introduce capital controls, keeping from June 29, 2015, Athens stock exchange and Greek banks closed, after ECB refused to increase emergency funding to Athens, saying analysts there may be a wave of contagion, affecting peripheral Government bond spreads, eventually weakening the Euro and contributing to new market volatility. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating again from CCC to CCC-, after Athens announced it will not pay €1,6 Billion to the IMF due on June 30, 2015. Greek aid Program expired on June 30, 2015, missing Athens its June 30, 2015-payment to the IMF, finding itself effectively in default, saying the Eurogroup Athens’ stance towards its creditors would have to change before its Euro-zone partners could consider any additional financial assistance, depending on the result of the referendum on previous EU credit terms, warning the IMF Greece will need €50 Billion more in financial assistance until the end of 2018, and must reform before getting debt relief. After the referendum, voting Greeks against the new EU bailout conditions, supporting their leftist Government, PM Tsipras offered creditors a reform package, including last-minute concessions, appealing to his party’s lawmakers to back it, intending to save the country from a financial meltdown, calling France the new proposal as trustworthy and serious. Greece won a conditional agreement to receive a third bailout of €86 Billion over three years, which may still face opposition within the Greek’s coalition government, needing the authorization of the German Parliament to opening loan negotiations. According to IMF secret report Greece will need far bigger debt relief the Euro-zone partners have been prepared to envisage so far, expecting a 30-year grace period on servicing all its European debt, including new loans, and a very dramatic maturity extension, passing Greek lawmakers a tough economic package demanded by Euro-zone as part of the bailout deal, rising ECB Emergency Liquidity Assistance/ELA for Greek banks by €980 Million to nearly €90 Billion, approving European Finance Ministers €7 Billion in bridge loans, allowing Greece to pay a key obligation of €4,2 Billion to the ECB and clear its arrears of about €2 Billion with the IMF, reopening Greece its banks, deciding the European Stability Mechanism/ESM to open formally negotiations with Greece on a third bailout program worth up to €86 Billion over three years, after German lawmakers backed the new Greek bailout, seen as a last attempt to fulfill this extraordinary difficult task, raising Standard & Poor’s Greece’s sovereign credit rating by two notches to CCC+ from CCC-. Greece and its lenders reached a new up to €86 Billion bailout agreement, needing to be adopted by the Greek Parliament and approved by Euro-zone countries, while a strong first review of the implementation of measures will take place in October 2015 and any discussion of debt relief has to come later. Greece will get €26 Billion as a first tranche of the three-year bailout program, €13 Billion very early to cover its debt repayment needs and an initial €10 Billion to be set aside at the ESM to bolster the capitalization of  Greek banks, which will have to pass a stress test before receiving fresh equity, while the remaining €3 Billion of the first €26 Billion tranche will be disbursed in the coming months in return for Greek reform progress, renewing the IMF call for the Europeans to grant Athens debt relief to make its global debt sustainable as condition to study an involvement in the bailout deal, considered as indispensable by the Eurogroup. Euro-zone Finance Ministers agreed with some additional measures to the Memorandum of Understanding to lend Greece up to €86 Billion, after Greek lawmakers accepted their stiff conditions despite a revolt by supporters of leftist PM Tsipras, which may lead to a confidence vote and eventually to early elections. PM Tsipras resigned paving way for snap elections to be held on September 20, 2015, which could allow him to return to power in a much stronger position without anti-bailout rebels in Syriza to slow him down, opposing the toughest part of the latest program, including further pension cuts, more value-added tax increases and a ‘solidarity’ tax on incomes, hoping the Eurogroup that the resignation would not delay or derail implementation of the bailout package, increasing eventually support in Greece for the third Euro-zone bailout program. Greece’s interim cabinet headed by caretaker PM Vasiliki Thanou has been sworn in and the Greek Parliament has been dissolved ahead of the snap elections to take place on September 20, 2015, giving the latest opinion survey Ex PM Tsipras a lead against his opponents backing 23% of voters his Syriza party. Leftist Tsipras and his Syriza party return to power with an unexpectedly clear election victory, forming Tsipras as new PMagain a coalition Government with his former partner, the right-wing populist party of independent Greeks/ANEL, obtaining Syriza 145 seats and ANEL 10 seats, gaining a narrow majority of 155 seats of the 300-member legislature, expecting Greece’s European creditors a swift and full implementation of the bailout deal. Greece is likely to qualify for recapitalization funds for its banks by a November 15, 2015, deadline, as the ESM has up to €25 Billion earmarked for the recapitalization of the Greek banking sector, having already disposed €10 Billion to be available, ready to be wired to Greece. According to the stress tests of Greek banks they have to raise €14,4 Billion of extra capital to cover mounting unpaid loans, reaching the total of non-performing loans €107 Billion, expecting the ESM that the third bailout for Greece will be smaller than the initially envisaged €86 Billion because Greek banks need less recapitalization. Greek Parliament approved a 2016 budget, including sharp spending cuts and some tax increases to satisfy the country’s internacional lenders, at a time of growing austerity fatigue. EU Ministers explored specific measures for a possible debt relief, which could be offered to Greece, ‘if necessary’, at the end of the bailout in 2018 if the country implements all the agreed reforms; the IMF however is insisting to give Greece eventually earlier a break on its future massive debt repayments. Euro-zone Finance Ministers will release €10,3 Billion in new funds for Greece in recognition of painful fiscal reforms pushed through by PM Tsipras, agreeing also to offer Athens debt relief in 2018 if that is necessary to meet agreed criteria on its payments burden, securing an agreement with the IMF to again joining the Euro-zone in funding the bailout for Greece. The Euro-zone granted Greece a short -term debt relief, while it’s still unclear if the IMF may join the Greek bailout Program of up to €86 Billion, continuing discussions how far Greece has advanced with reforms needed  for the release of the next tranches of loans. Greece received another credit lifeline worth $9,5 Billion advancing negotiations for a possible debt relief including finally also the IMF. Italy took over EU’s rotating Presidency for the second half of 2014, winning Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party/PD by nearly 41% of the vote at European elections, coming not only first, but first with a margin of almost 20 points, getting chief rival anti-Establishment Five Star Movement  /M5S of Beppe Grillo only 21,2%, becoming PD, winning more votes that any other party in the EU, the second largest force in the European Parliament, pledging Renzi that EU should focus more on growth, employment and reforms. Re-elected British PM Cameron promised an in-out EU referendum before ending 2017, warning President Obama Cameron of risks if Britain exits EU, signaling Goldman Sachs European banks would leave London ‘in very short order’ if Britain voted to exit EU, saying Standard & Poor’s Britain’s top credit rating is at risk because of the planned European Union referendum, lowering the outlook on the country’s AAA rating to negative from stable. Legal protection for London’s banks will be at the heart of UK’s EU reform plans, warning British Chancellor Osborne that a failure to change Lisbon treaty would prompt Britain to leave EU, saying shortly non-€uro-zone States will have to choose between joining the €uro or leaving EU, insisting ‘we don’t want to join the €uro’. EU leaders agreed on budget deal cutting ‘payment ceiling’ to €908,4 Billion, meeting austerity demands of British PM, reducing the higher ‘commitment ceiling’ to €960 Billion for the next seven-year budget 2014-2020. PM Cameron won a surprisingly solid victory in the British general election, leaving a stunning disappointment for the opposition Labour Party and its leader, Ed Miliband, who stepped down, gaining Conservatives in the 650-seat-House 331 seats, while Labour will hold 232 seats, accepting for five more years re-elected PM Cameron mandate to form first majority Conservative Government since John Major’s surprise victory in 1992, repeating Cameron a promise to hold a referendum on the membership in the EU. Moody’s downgraded UK’s AAA rating one notch to AA1. Greece’s international lenders discussed Greek financial requirements and extrafunding needs over €32,6 Billion, agreeing to reduce Greek debt by €40 Billion to 124% of GDP by 2020, putting together a package of steps, including debt buyback from private investors providing EFSF/ESM funding of about €10 Billion, return of profits of €11 Billion and also future accounting profits on ECB’s holding of Greek bonds, a reduction of lending rates on the first Greek aid package, an extension of repayment terms by 15 years of old and new bilateral and EFSF loans and deferring EFSF loans’ interest for 10 years. Greece’s leftist PM Tsipras said the EU was ‘sleepwalking towards a cliff’, expecting a debt relief for itself to be honored by end-2016 so that the economy could recover, considering that ‘Brexit’ will either awaken European leaderships or it will be the beginning of the end of the EU. After contracting the Greek economy by 0,2% in the 1stQ. 2016, it expanded by 0,2% in the 2ndQ. 2016, expecting the EU a full year decline of 0,5% or slightly better for 2016, seeing Greece’s economy rebounding by 2,7% in 2017. The German-led European fiscal pact was signed by 25 of the 27 EU nations, with the exception of Britain and Czech Republic. The EU Commission started a European project bond program to finance infrastructure projects involving a cooperation between private stake holders and EIB, EU and member States. The permanent €uro-zone bailout fund ESM entered officially into force October 8, 2012, after the German Constitutional Court ratified with conditions treaty to establish the ESM, saying Euro-zone rescue measures and transfers of competences to Brussels exhaust constitutional framework, remaining Germany’s liability capped at €190 Billion. Euro-nations will allow ESM to leverage its capital with the same techniques as its predecessor EFSF, which failed to attract investors, hoping to boost ESM lending capacity eventually to more than €2 Trillion to bailout if necessary Spain and Italy. The IMF increased its funding of currently around $380 Billion to address global financial needs, totaling new pledges from 37 nations $456 Billion, agreeing the €uro-group to boost the bloc’s bailout lending limit to €800 Billion. Spain asked for €uro-zone help to recapitalize its ailing banks agreeing European Finance Ministers to provide up to €100 Billion, approving EU Commission payment of a rescue package of €37 Billion to bailout troubled banks and of €2,5 Billion for Spain’s planned ‘bad bank’, granting EU Spain two extra years to meet deficit reduction target. €uro-zone rescue funds will be allowed to directly recapitalize banks, not adding to national debt level, once a single banking supervisory mechanism overseen by ECB has been set up, obtaining Italy commitment that the EFSF may purchase limited amounts of Government debt provided the country sticks to its current reform program, approving leaders a €120 Billion growth package, including proposed EIB €10 Billion capital increase. The ECB announced to expand its sovereign bond-buying program reaching actually €208,7 Billion, setting initially no limits on the amounts of bonds to be purchased with remaining maturities of one to three years to bring down the interest rates of crisis nations, confirming it will not treat itself as a preferred creditor, announcing January 2015 a more than Euro 1 Trillion QE program, saying it will buy Euro 60 Billion in sovereign debt from March 2015 through September 2016 to revive Euro-zone economy, warning analysts you cannot address structural reforms with monetary policy. There was a consensus about risk sharing, meaning only 20% of purchases will be the responsability of the ECB and 80% of national central banks, buying up sovereign bonds in proportion to their ‘capital key, which would have to absorb any potential losses should a Government of the Euro-zone default. After Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s also Fitch lowered French sovereign debt rating from ‘triple A’ to ‘AA+’, agreeing EU to give France two extra years to meet EU deficit target of 3%, asking France for still more time to cut budget deficit, rejected by the European Commission, cutting Standard & Poor’s France credit rating from AA+ to AA, saying Paris is not implementing needed reforms to repair economy, unveiling French President Hollande plans to find around €50 Billion of spending cuts between 2015-2017 to help narrow budget deficit, reducing corporate charges by €30 Billion as part of a ‘responsability pact’ with employers. Shifting the ECB away from austerity, France announced in September 2014 it will not reduce its budget deficit to within EU limits until 2017, finally accepted by the EU, growing deficit steadily to 4,7% of GDP in 2016, despite having already been granted extra time to do that by 2015, although it has been expected France would set an example and show budget discipline, seen as the anchor of confidence in the European Union. Ruling Socialist lost local French elections, naming Hollande, facing the lowest popularity levels, new PM, winning Le Pen’s anti-Euro National Front with 25% of the vote European Parliament elections, becoming the strongest party in France, pushing Hollande’s ruling Socialists with only 14% into third place, gaining French far-right first Senate seats, losing Hollande’s Socialist Party its majority in the Upper House to centre-right UMP. Fitch cut France’s credit grade one notch from AA+ to AA, saying Paris has fallen short in its efforts to trim fiscal deficit, lowering Standard & Poor’s, which already reduced France’s rating to AA, its expectations of a debt reduction of the country, lowering Moody’s France’s Government bond rating one notch to ‘Aa2’ with a stable outlook from ‘Aa1’ with a negative outlook, because of the country’s continuing weakness in the medium-term growth outlook. Liberal Emmanuel Macron has been elected as new President of France, succeeding Hollande, giving a vote of confidence to France and Europe, reducing uncertainties of the Euro-zone, seen as a good news to open trade and globalization. German Chancellor Merkel y President Macron agreed to draw up a road map to deeper EU integration, despite scepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms. EU plans to implement the 11-nation financial transaction tax from 2014, failing its introduction EU-wide, opposed by Britain and Sweden. European leaders agreed on a supervision plan putting €uro-zone’s about 130 largest banks under the direct oversight of the ECB, which promised to put €uro-zone banks through a rigorous stress test before assuming supervisory role in November 2014, becoming French central banker Danièle Nouy €uro-zone’s new super-regulator. Italian Senate approved expulsion of Berlusconi from Parliament following his conviction for tax fraud, given for his year sentence community service. Florence mayor Renzi, who wants to remodel the left, became the new leader of Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party, voting the party in favor of urgently needed reforms, prompting Letta’s resignation accepted by President Napolitano, asking Renzi to form a new Government, who was sworn in as PM, promising to quickly enact economic reforms to get the country out of financial difficulties, announcing a sweeping fiscal reform, reducing income tax by a total of €10 Billion annually for 10 Million low and middle income workers from May 1, 2014, saying they would help economic recovery without breaking EU budget deficit limits. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Italy’s long-term credit rating due to economic weakness from BBB to BBB-, just one level above junk, with a stable outlook, expecting a growth of only o,2% for 2015, measure seen as a blow to PM Renzi, resigning President Napolitano January 14th, 2015, giving the country two weeks to find a successor, posing new risks for PM Renzi, whose candidate is constitutional court judge and one-time Christian Democratic Minister Sergio Mattarella, with a reputation of integrity, who finally was elected in a fourth vote by the Italian Parliament as new President, considered as a victory for PM Renzi. Italians voted no rejecting in a referendum on whether to streamline its baroque legislation, constitutional changes, dealing a blow to PM Renzi, who resigned, succeeded by Italy’s new PM Paolo Gentiloni, a loyalist from Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD). Italy’s Government adopted to support the banking sector starting with a bailout of Monte dei Paschi di Siena and should reduce contagion risks for other banks. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Finland from AAA to AA+, leaving only Germany and Luxembourg with the AAA rating in the Euro-zone, maintaining Moody’s and Fitch still Finland’s AAA rating. Chancellor Angela Merkel secured a big election win, beginning her third four-year term as German Chancellor after forming a ‘grand coalition’ with the Social Democrats.  Germany’s current account surplus has come under scrutinity from the U.S., the IMF and the EU, as it hits about 7% of GDP since 2007, expected to remain also in 2014 and 2015 above the EU 6% threshold, facing the ‘slow’ pace of domestic demand growth and the dependence on exports criticism, calling the U.S. Treasury on Germany to push domestic demand, importing more to boost other economies in Europe. German officials explain that the €uro-zone as a whole has a very small surplus and without the German surplus toward third countries the €uro-zone would have no surplus at all but a deficit; the U.S. deficit won’t be improved by an European one being added to it; the German economic growth has been driven mainly by domestic demand recently. EU leaders postponed a deeper discussion of the future of the Economic and Monetary Union/EMU because of no reform consensus between France and Germany and because of the more pressing migration issue, planning the European Commission to give more budget leeway to States that can prove to have suffered extraordinary costs to face the refugee crisis. German Chancellor Merkel, facing pressure from her conservative supporters as much as from opponents, called Europe vulnerable and the fate of the Euro ‘directly linked’ to resolving the migration crisis, while Berlin and Brussels continue to ask for more distribution across Europe. But Germany is counting on little help as leaders of EU co-founder France fear an anti-immigrant National Front and EU’s third largest economy Britain is consumed with its own debate on whether to just quit the European Union all together. Europe could face a wave of migration that may eclipse today’s refugee crisis if growing global economic troubles are getting worse. The European Union sealed a controversial deal with Turkey intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara, remaining doubts if it’s legal and workable as German Chancellor Merkel recognized, who was a driving force behind the agreement. Germany is seeking the creation of ‘safe zones’ to shelter refugees in Syria; keeping refugees on the Syrian side of the border would help Brussels and Ankara, which hosts 2,7 Million Syrian refugees, stem the flow of migrants to European shores, warning the U.N. against the plan unless there was a way to guarantee the refugees’ safety. The EU is intending to convince Britain with a new compromise reform package to accept a deal in a bid to prevent a ‘BREXIT’, saying PM Cameron he’ll hold the long-pledged referendum on the UK’s membership in the European Union on June 23, 2016, recommending to remain in a reformed EU, warning U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to London that if Britain votes to leave the European Union it will only suffer disadvantages and could be waiting a decade for a free trade deal with the United States. British voted for EU exit, as 52% were in favor of leaving the European Union, claiming they want an independent Britain, resigning PM Cameron, plunging global markets, expected to slow further global growth. Theresa May will become British PM on July 20, 2016, succeeding Cameron, and is the new leader of the Conservative Party who will lead Britain’s negotiations to exit the European Union. British PM May will not hold a parliamentary vote on ‘BREXIT’ before formally triggering Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, as a majority of the 650 lawmakers had declared themselves ‘remainders’. According to opponents elected lawmakers should review the vote before the process is started, since the EU-referendum is not legally binding. ‘BREXIT’ will require a vote in Parliament, U.K. court rules, a decision which seems likely to slow, but not halt the process. Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that the Government must seek parliamentary approval before invoking the formal process for leaving the EU, a decision considered as a victory to parliamentary democracy; the ‘BREXIT’ process has been formally activated by British PM May on March 29, 2017. The EU-Parliament, which has the final say on any ‘BREXIT’ deal, adopted its ‘red lines’ for tough ‘BREXIT’ negotiations, insisting Britain first agree divorce terms before striking a new trade deal. EU27 adopted a united stance on ‘BREXIT’ and urge Britain to be more realistic in its approach, suggesting that tough negotiations are ahead. EU officials are preparing for talks on Britain’s exit from the bloc to begin on June 19, 2017, after the British election on June 8, 2017. Ruling British Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority forming PM May a minority government backed by a small Northern Irish party, seen fighting for survival, weakening her position for the coming ‘BREXIT’ negotiations. German officials said the plan was to agree a rollover of EU sanctions against Russia, which are due to expire at the end of January 2017, but there is concern that President-elect Republican Trump might move in the opposite direction after his inauguration on January 20, 2017, fearing the EU that Russia will use the time before Trump’s inauguration to launch new offensives in Syria and Ukraine. The EU agreed to extend Russia sanctions until mid-2017 in a signal to Trump, formally extending again its sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2018. European Parliament President Martin Schulz steps down, saying he would not stand for re-election as speaker of the EU legislature, returning to German politics, becoming the Social Democrats candidate to challenge Conservative Merkel’s bid for a fourth term as Chancellor. Italian conservative Antonio Tajani, a former EU commissioner and an ally of former premier Silvio Berlusconi, was elected president of the European Parliament, succeeding German Social Democrat Martin Schulz. The recent lack of a G20 rejection of protectionism evidenced the pressure of an increasingly protectionist United States under President Trump and may lead to a weakening of the World Trade Organization/WTO and a more aggressive use of protectionist policies, pledging two of the world’s strongest export nations, Germany and Japan, to keep global trade free and open defending globalization, supported also by China, saying globalization is unstoppable, marking eventually China’s rise and America’s decline, where growth under President Trump remains modest. After President Trump declined to endorse in Brussels NATO’s doctrine of collective defense, leaving a fragile Atlantic alliance, and resisted during the G7 summit in Sicily to agree to any deal that would see the U.S. remain in the Paris climate accord, and allowing only shaky agreement of free trade, a frustrated German Chancellor Merkel convinced that the times when we could completely rely on others are over to a certain extend, underlining her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally, said Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands, without the United States and Britain. President Trump announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris climate change agreement, rejecting and regretting international leaders his decision, reaffirming China and India their commitment to meeting their targets, responding France and Germany that the Paris agreement could not be renegotiated. In the eve of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Japan and the European Union signed the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement/JEEPA, a trade deal that has been four years in the making, wanting both sides to show they can fill the vacuum left by America’s withdrawal from its role as the world’s trade dealer. The European Union and Canada said they agreed to start a free trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement/CETA, on September 21, 2017, paving the way for over 90% of the treaty to come into effect. Once dominant the United States found itself isolated at the G20 in Hamburg, as on issues like immigration, trade and climate change the Trump administration stands alone. According to the latest reports UK’s final Brexit divorce bill will reach more or less €50 Billion, which the British would have to pay to leave the EU. EU opened next Brexit phase allowing to begin crucial talks on a future relationship with Britain, after 27 EU-counterparts of PM May endorsed an interim deal on the terms of Britain’s divorce from the EU. The European Union wants transition period after Brexit to end not later than the last day of 2020, according to the EU’s negotiating directives now agreed on. Brexit: UK’s PM May gave a two years’ notice under Article 50, and that takes effect at 11:00 p.m. London time  on Friday, March 29, 2019. A final deal has to be ratified by all remaining EU 27 members, the European Parliament and the European Commission. After Italian elections, gaining populist parties ground at the expense of establishment voices, coming lengthy coalition talks with no clear winner, with no single party or straightforward coalition seemingly able to form government. Italy will be led by populist Guiseppe Conte, initiating the EU-critical government, which opposes the Euro and illegal migrants. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain lost a no-confidence vote, ousting one of Europe’s longest serving leaders from office over a major corruption scandal within the Conservative Party, becoming socialist Pedro Sanchez Spain’s new PM, adding to political uncertainty in Southern Europe, after populist Conde was sworn in as PM in Italy. European Union leaders agreed a hard-fought accord on migration, combining a more effective control of EU’s external borders. European leaders agreed to extend their economic sanctions against Russia for six months until the end of January 2019, for annexing Crimea from Kiev and backing rebels fighting Government troops in east Ukraine. The two populist parties governing in Italy agreed on a 2,4% deficit target for 2019, still below the EU’s threshold of 3%, but three times higher than the number the previous government had planned, and could spark negative market reactions, given that Rome holds the second highest debt pile in the Euro-zone totaling €2,3 Trillion/$2,67 Trillion. Brexit seems to be heading towards no-deal, as UK’s exit from the European Union is scheduled to occur in March 2019, actually at a very critical moment, intending negotiators to conclude talks before November 2018. Europe’s 48 Bigger banks passed the EU wide examination carried out by the European Banking Authority/EBA and the Single Supervisory Mechanism/SSM,  beating the common tier ratio of 5,5% under adverse stress, ranking British Barclays Bank lowest in the test. Britain and the EU agreed on a draft text setting out a close post-Brexit relationship. British PM May and the 27 remaining European Union member countries sealed a deal, the withdrawal agreement and an outline for a future trade negotiation, which will start once the U.K. has left, saying E.U. it was the best package Britain will get in a warning to the British Parliament not to reject it. Now PM May will have to win over critics in her own Conservative party and must get the deal through a vote in Parliament. If the agreement fails to win approval of the House of Commons, the U.K. will be on course to crash out of the E.U. in a chaotic ‘no deal’ split on March 29, 2019. President Trump warned that the Brexit agreement could threaten future U.S.-U.K. trade deal. Meanwhile the European Court of Justice will hear arguments in Luxembourg on whether the U.K. can unilaterally reverse its decision to leave, and if so, under what conditions. But what’s worrying the E.U. still more are Italy’s budget difficulties, starting disciplinary measures against the country which confirmed it would not backtrack on its expansionary 2019 budget law, however finally says if it appears necessary to reduce deficit a little bit during negotiations with the European Union, it won’t be a problem. British Parliament is due to vote on December 11, 2018, on EU divorce deal. British Pound jumps, after a senior European Union legal advisor said Britain could unilaterally withdraw its Brexit notice. EU’s 27 finance ministers, without Britain, reached a Euro-zone reform deal to fight against a financial crisis, expanding the responsabilities of the European Stability Mechanism/ESM, but without including far grander visions, such as designating a Euro-zone finance minister or setting up a European-style IMF. Party members voted for the preferred Chancellor Angela Merkel’s candidate Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a centrist, considered by the opposition as a continuity candidate, to replace Merkel as new German CDU party leader. PM May abruptly postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, throwing Britain’s plan to leave the E.U. into a chaos, saying she would return to the E.U. for further talks in a perceived sign of weakness. The U.K. would meanwhile step up contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, when it is due to leave on March 29, 2019. The European Council President Donald Tusk cited that the E.U. was ready to discuss how to smooth ratification of the deal by Britain’s Parliament. May will seek further assurances from the E.U. on the working of a backstop that could align Northern Ireland more closely with the E.U. than the rest of the United Kingdom. PM May survived a crucial no-confidence vote, but more than a third of lawmakers said she was no longer the right leader to implement Britain’s exit from the European Union. The U.K. cabinet agreed that delivering the deal that the PM agreed with Brussels remains the Government’s top priority and the best no-deal mitigation. However decided that emergency no-deal Brexit contingency plans must now be implemented across Government, including reserving ferry space for supplies and putting 3.500 armed forces personnel on standby to deal with any disruption. The British Government said it would send advice on preparing for no-deal to all U.K. businesses and suggested they should begin implementing their own contingency plans as they saw fit, growing calls for a second vote on Brexit. The European Commission is revealing that it has started to implement its preparation for a no-deal Brexit in case the U.K. crashes out of the E.U. without a plan in March 2019. The measures are designed to limit disruption in certain key areas, such as finance and transport, but will not – and cannot mitigate the overall impact of a no deal scenario, it’s an exercise in damage limitation. Most of U.K. PM May’s Conservative Party members oppose her Brexit deal, a survey showed. Britain plans to hold a vote in parliament on the government’s deal to leave the E.U. on January 15, 2019, amid talk of delay. British lawmakers defeated by a record margin PM May’s withdrawal deal from the E.U., facing PM May after her Brexit plan was crushed a no-confidence vote that could topple her government, suggesting European Council President Tusk that U.K. lawmakers revoke the country’s decision to leave the E.U., saying it’s the only positive solution left on the table. PM May survived a vote of no-confidence in Parliament, but the path of Brexit remains unclear. Political leaders are calling on their fellow opposition party, Labour, to join them in a growing opinion for a second Brexit referendum, known as a ‘People’s Vote’, while PM May is telling Labour leader Corbyn that it’s ‘impossible’ to rule out a ‘no deal Brexit’ before talks, saying Corbyn that the starting point for any talks to break the Brexit deadlock must be to rule out a disastrous no deal outcome. Germany and France signaled willingness to delay Brexit extending the negotiating time beyond March 29, 2019, announcing France that it is activating a no deal Brexit plan. According to the U.K. government Parliament will debate and vote on a PM May’s Brexit plan ‘B’ on January 29, 2019. Theresa May insists Brexit deadline March 29, 2019, still stands. The British opposition Labour Party said it would support a new Brexit referendum, offering new hope to opponents of withdrawal from the E.U.. The E.U. warned that Britain could be heading for a potentially disorderly exit in just 10 days, the actual April 12 date to leave the E.U., as PM May continues to seek ways to break the protracted Brexit deadline. Apparently PM May will seek again an extension of the Brexit date from the E.U. saying she would work with the opposition Labour Party on a Brexit compromise. E.U. extended Britain’s deadline to leave the bloc to October 31, 2019, averting a cliff-edge divorce that was set to happen on April 12, 2019, scrapping PM May’s proposal for a postponement until June 30, 2019, concluding that such a short deadline was unrealistic for the departure known as Brexit. PM May resigned throwing a fractured Britain into further turmoil, after three years of trying and failing to pull the country out of the European Union. New British PM Boris Johnson said the Brexit divorce was dead and warned that unless the EU renegotiated Britain would leave on October 31, 2019, without a deal. British Parliament voted against leaving the EU without a previous agreement and a law went into effect barring a now-deal Brexit, recommending to extend actual deadline of October 31, 2019 until January 31, 2020. Britain and the European Union said a lot more work would be needed to secure an agreement on Britain’s departure from the bloc, continuing Brexit-talks after ‘promising signals’ that a deal is possible. After PM Johnson secured Brexit deal with the European Union, UK lawmakers endorsed the agreement, but voted against a proposed timetable to push it through Parliament by October 31, 2019, the present Brexit deadline, forcing PM Johnson to beg the EU for delay, sending an unsigned letter to the EU asking for delay., calling PM Johnson for December 12, 2019, snap election in his latest effort to break the Brexit deadlock. The European Union agreed to London’s request for a Brexit deadline extension, but set now new departure date, giving Britain’s divided Parliament time to decide on PM Johnson’s call for general election. UK Parliament rejected PM Johnson’s call for an early election on December 12, 2019, but a pre-Brexit election remains likely. The EU agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until January 31, 2020, with an option for Britain to leave sooner if Parliament approves PM Johnson’s divorce deal. PM Johnson wins backing from Parliament to hold a general election on December 12, 2019, throwing the Brexit debate back to British people. PM Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party wins British election, obtaining according to polls a substantial parliamentary majority, with 368 seats, leaving behind Labour with 191 seats, counting Liberals and others with 91 seats, clearing the way for Brexit in January 2020. PM Johnson said the election victory provided an overwhelming mandate to take Britain out of the European Union on January 31, 2020. PM Johnson said he would use his huge majority to have revised the Withdrawal Agreement Bill put into law that the arrangements for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union must end by December 31, 2020. The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes final reading in the House of Commons, another step on the way to British independence on January 31, 2020, and must clear the House of Lords; the UK and European parliaments must formally ratify Brexit deal, meaning Brexit will almost certainly happen on January 31, 2020. Britain’s parliament finally approved historic Brexit deal, allowing it to become the first country to leave the European Union by the end of January 31, 2020, ending years of arguments and divided a nation; in 2020 talks will focus on post-Brexit trade relations, with a tight timetable and the threat of no deal. The European Parliament gave its final approval to Britain’s divorce deal from the bloc, paving way for Brexit to take place on January 31, 2020. EU-UK Brexit talks stalled, as UK resists EU demands on fair competition, nearing the possibility of a hard Brexit, or a no-deal Brexit. EU renewed sanctions on Russia over Ukrainian crisis for six months more until January 31, 2021. Britain plunged Brexit trade talks into crisis by explicitly acknowledging that it could break international law by ignoring some parts of its European divorce treaty, prompting a rapid rebuke from EU’s chief executive. With 4 weeks to go until U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU on October 31, 2020, the Commission has today in its 6th Brexit preparation communication reiterated its call on all stakeholders in the EU 27 to prepare for a no-deal scenario, considering the continued uncertainty in the U.K. regarding the radification  of the withdrawal agreement as agreed with the U.K. government in November 2018 – and the overall domestic political situation a no-deal scenario on November 2019, remains a possible although undesirable outcome; the U.K. would be treated as a third country and the EU would be required to immediately apply its rules and tariffs at its borders; the U.K. has stepped up its planning leaving the EU without a deal, covering areas as transport, healthcare, energy, food and water. EU and the U.K. so far failed to bridge gaps to secure trade deal.


December 24, 2016

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