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Archive for 5. Januar 2018

President Trump Denounces Steve Bannon After Comments in Book

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Former strategist calls 2016 meeting with Russian ‘treasonous’; president says Bannon ‘lost his mind’

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump publicly repudiated Steve Bannon, his former senior strategist and onetime campaign chief, after a new book surfaced in which Mr. Bannon made scathing and highly personal criticisms of some of the president’s top advisers, including several family members.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” Mr. Trump said in a statement released to reporters on Wednesday. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

In the book, a copy of which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bannon called a June 2016 meeting between top Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer “treasonous” and aired concerns that missteps by aides could lead to legal jeopardy for the president.

The meeting has become a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign aides colluded with the Kremlin in the interference. Mr. Trump has said his campaign didn’t collude with Russia, and Moscow has denied meddling in the U.S. election. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Biggest Risk to the Eurozone’s Booming Economy: Inflation

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Simon Nixon

What did forecasters miss in 2017 and what might they be missing this time?

For the first time in a decade, economic forecasters appear to be unambiguously optimistic about the prospects for the eurozone economy. Perhaps that isn’t surprising given how badly wrong-footed they were by the strength of the recovery in 2017.

A year ago, the European Central Bank was forecasting growth of 1.7% while the consensus among independent forecasters was 1.3%. Yet the ECB now reckons that the eurozone grew in 2017 by 2.4%. Given that it was the fourth consecutive year of economic growth, ECB board member Benoît Coeuré insists this should no longer be called a recovery but an expansion. Some even call it a boom.

Certainly the latest data points to a very strong start to the New Year. Business and consumer confidence in the eurozone are at their highest levels since 2001, according to the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator, while the latest surveys of purchasing managers show optimism among manufacturers at record levels and export orders at new highs. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China’s Soft and Sharp Power

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US assistant secretary of defense and chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, is University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Is the American Century Over?

As democracies respond to China’s use of information warfare, they have to be careful not to overreact. Much of the soft power that democracies wield comes from civil society, which means that these countries‘ openness is a crucial asset.

CAMBRIDGE – China has invested billions of dollars to increase its soft power, but it has recently suffered a backlash in democratic countries. A new report by the National Endowment for Democracy argues that we need to re-think soft power, because “the conceptual vocabulary that has been used since the Cold War’s end no longer seems adequate to the contemporary situation.”

The report describes the new authoritarian influences being felt around the world as “sharp power.” A recent cover article in The Economist defines “sharp power” by its reliance on “subversion, bullying and pressure, which combine to promote self-censorship.” Whereas soft power harnesses the allure of culture and values to augment a country’s strength, sharp power helps authoritarian regimes compel behavior at home and manipulate opinion abroad. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Google and Intel Beware: China Is Gunning for Dominance in AI Chips

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

With more than 750 million people online, China provides plenty of consumers and data for firms to use

China is seeking to dominate the global market for processors that use artificial intelligence.

The silicon part of Silicon Valley needs to watch out. Competitors in China think it’s finally their turn to shine.

As the world’s largest market for semiconductors, China has tried mightily—without much success—to challenge the dominance of Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. in making central processing units, the brains of computers and smartphones.

Now, some ambitious Chinese companies see an opportunity to take the lead in building processors that use artificial intelligence to make phones, cars and home appliances interact with us more seamlessly. Think of home air conditioners that can recognize family members and adjust to their temperature preferences. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Year Climate Change Began to Spin Out of Control

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: Technology Review by James Temple

Fires ravaged the West, hurricanes battered the East—and still emissions continued to rise.

For decades, scientists have warned that climate change would make extreme events like droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires more frequent, more devastating, or both. In 2017, we got an up-close look at the raw ferocity of such an altered world as high-category hurricanes battered the East and Gulf coasts, and wind-whipped fires scorched the West.

We’re also seeing with greater clarity how these dangers are interlinked, building upon one another toward perilous climate tipping points. And yet for all the growing risks, and the decades we’ve had to confront them, we have yet to address the problem in a meaningful way.

In fact, despite all our climate policies, global accords, solar advances, wind farms, hybrid cars, and Teslas, greenhouse-gas emissions are still moving in the wrong direction. And as long as we’re emitting any at all, we’re only making the problem worse.

Here are the five most worrisome climate developments we saw in 2017.

Emissions are rising again

After three relatively flat years, greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels and industry picked up again in 2017, rising an estimated 2 percent, according to the Global Carbon Project. The shift was driven by rising carbon pollution in China and India, which more than offset a slight decline in the United States.

The news punctured tentative hopes that the recent flattening was solidifying into a trend. Among other things, it means that our collective climate efforts haven’t even prevented greenhouse-gas levels from rising, at a point when we need to be radically cutting them. Keeping temperatures from rising beyond a dangerous 2 °C will require slashing emissions as much as 70 percent by midcentury, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Europe Between Trump and Xi

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Zaki Laïdi

Zaki Laïdi, Professor of International Relations at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), was an adviser to former French prime minister Manuel Valls. His most recent book is Le reflux de l’Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to advance a new kind of „offensive multilateralism.“ But unless the European Union as a whole embraces the cause, Europe risks becoming a casualty of China’s efforts to bend the multilateral system to its own will or, worse, Trump’s efforts to dismantle it altogether.

PARIS – The most recent World Trade Organization ministerial conference, held in December in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was a fiasco. Despite a limited agenda, the participants were unable to produce a joint statement. But not everyone was disappointed by that outcome: China maintained a diplomatic silence, while the United States seemed to celebrate the meeting’s failure. This is bad news for Europe, which was virtually alone in expressing its discontent.

It is often pointed out that, in the face of US President Donald Trump’s blinkered protectionism, the European Union has an opportunity to assume a larger international leadership role, while strengthening its own position in global trade. The free-trade agreement recently signed with Japan will give the EU a clear advantage over the US in agriculture, and strengthening trade ties with Mexico could have a similar impact, as the US renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Milking it: bosses’ pay

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: The Economist
Today has been dubbed “Fat Cat Thursday”, at least by those critical of the bumper salaries Britain’s business chiefs enjoy. According to the High Pay Centre, a think-tank, this is the date by which bosses at FTSE 100 companies will have already earned more in the new year than the typical full-time worker can expect in the entirety of 2018.

The HPC calculates that the executives’ median pay was £3.45m ($4.66m) in 2016 (the latest available data); that of an average worker in 2017 just £28,758. Fat Cat day has caught a populist mood in austere times.

Scandals at businesses like BHS, a retailer whose boss pocketed millions in 2016 while its pension pot dwindled, have not helped. Under public pressure, in that year corporate pay actually fell. Politicians have responded too. Theresa May’s government is expected soon to force listed companies to publish the ratios between the highest and lowest earners. Expect the fattest cats to diet.

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Dow Industrials Cross 25000 for First Time

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Should it close above that mark, milestone would represent the fastest 1,000-point gain in the blue-chip index’s history

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped past 25000 for the first time Thursday, continuing a rapid ascent in what would be the fastest 1,000-point gain in its history if it closes above that mark.

The blue-chip index, which heavily weights industrial giants like Boeing Co. and Caterpillar Inc., was recently up 141 points, or 0.6%, at 25064.

Thursday’s moves marked the latest feat for a rally that has repeatedly wrong-footed skeptics and sent stock indexes around the world to multiyear highs. The Dow industrials hit five thousand-point milestones last year, its most such records in its 120-year history.

Faster economic growth around the globe and improving sentiment from both consumers and businesses—both of which were elusive for many years since the financial crisis a decade ago—have helped power this rally in recent weeks.

The first days of the new year brought more data suggesting that economies around the world continue to expand. Activity in China’s service sector expanded at a faster pace in December to its highest level in more than three years, the latest indication of strength in the world’s No. 2 economy. In Europe, a purchasing managers survey suggest growth in early 2018 will continue at a similar pace, as strong new order flows persuaded businesses to hire additional workers at the joint-fastest pace in the last 17 years. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Bitcoin Isn’t a Currency, It’s a Commodity—Price It That Way

Posted by hkarner - 5. Januar 2018

Date: 04-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

If bitcoin has more in common with gold than dollars, it could have a long way to fall

Is a bitcoin worth the $15,000 it commands today, or is it really worth about $3,000? The huge runup in value since September suggests the lower figure.

Cryptocurrency fans typically fall into two groups. One sees the currencies as ways to buy and sell things; the other views them as investments. For now, the investment crowd is winning out: Bitcoin remains a cumbersome way to purchase most goods, but its value has skyrocketed, nearly quadrupling since mid-September.

If bitcoin is an investment, it most closely resembles gold. Both are stores of value that provide some built-in protection against inflation because there is a finite supply and because extracting new deposits gets more expensive over time, barring big technology changes.

If bitcoin really is digital gold, however, investors should analyze it like a commodity—looking at supply constraints and the factors driving demand. That exercise produces worrying results.

Bitcoin and gold are both stores of value that provide some built-in protection against inflation.

The most important factor in gold prices over the long run is production costs, which act something like a natural price floor when demand dips. Of course, gold prices can also temporarily move much higher when demand is strong but tend to fall back toward the marginal cost of production once worries about inflation or the dollar subside and gold begins to lose its appeal as a hedge. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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