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Big central banks move to wait-and-see mode

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT/TOKYO (Reuters) – Easing come. Easing go. FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File PhotoA concentrated burst of interest rate cutting and other measures to loosen global financial conditions by the world’s central bankers looks to have largely run its course, and policymakers now appear…

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Big central banks move to wait-and-see mode

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT/TOKYO (Reuters) – Easing come. Easing go. FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File PhotoA concentrated burst of interest rate cutting and other measures to loosen global financial conditions by the world’s central bankers looks to have largely run its course, and policymakers now appear content to wait and see if their handiwork staves off a deeper slowdown in the months ahead. Led by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s nearly yearlong pivot away from a tightening bias, rate setters from Australia to Brazil and the euro zone to the Philippines have lowered borrowing costs in recent months to blunt the headwinds from global trade tensions headlined by the standoff between Washington and Beijing. It is an easing wave that appears to have crested for now. For their parts, the Big Three in the central bankersphere – the Fed, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan – are in no rush to drive rates any lower, especially in Europe and Japan where they are already in negative territory. The Fed last week cut rates for the third time since July, but officials emerged from the meeting with a near-explicit declaration to expect no more for the moment. In Europe, meanwhile, a changing of the guard at a deeply divided ECB likely means that its September rate cut will not be followed in the near future, with their focus instead being on jawboning the trading bloc’s political leaders to step up their own efforts at stimulus. In Japan, a BOJ weary of expending its limited ammunition has so far avoided cutting rates at all in the latest global wave. It would prefer to hold fire for as long as possible, relying instead of pledges of more accommodation in the future should it be needed. And in the developing world, the pace of easing has slackened notably from a crescendo reached in August, although October marked the ninth straight month of net rate cuts by emerging market central banks. HOW LONG A PAUSE? To be sure, the factors allowing policymakers to take a breather may prove fleeting – on the trade front in particular. In mid-October the International Monetary Fund pinned the blame on the U.S.-China trade war when it slashed its global growth forecast to the slowest pace since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The dispute, initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump, is in a state of detente as the two sides work to complete “Phase One” of a wider deal. But the erratic American president has abruptly changed stance before and may again. Still, the messaging in the past two weeks from central bankers in Frankfurt and Tokyo was consistent with the Fed’s new stance: Let’s see how what we’ve done plays out. “We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in his press conference last week after the U.S. central bank cut its benchmark rate by a quarter point to a range of 1.50-1.75%. A solid upside surprise on job growth in October only cemented that view. “We’ve done the adjustment,” Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said in an interview on Bloomberg TV after Friday’s payrolls report. The ECB has restarted a 2.6 trillion euro bond-buying program after cutting its interest rate on deposits in September. Back then investors were betting on two further rate cuts by March of next year, but have since pared their expectations as deep divisions emerged among ECB policymakers on the path ahead. New ECB President Christine Lagarde, who took office on Friday, will have to heal a rift between representatives of cash-rich countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and France, who opposed the decision to resume bond purchases, and the struggling periphery. The former managing director of the IMF has struck a balanced tone, saying an accommodative monetary policy was needed but also had side effects that needed monitoring. The issue is that the economic benefits of pushing the deposit rate, currently at -0.5%, further below zero are dubious. Mario Draghi, who just turned over the reins to Lagarde, acknowledged in his farewell speech that the negative rate was “not delivering the same degree of stimulus as in the past” because the return on investment in the economy had fallen. The BOJ decided to hold fire on Thursday and instead buy time with a tweak to its forward guidance. It now pledges to keep rates ultra-low or even cut them for as long as necessary to gauge whether overseas risks have heightened enough to erode the economy’s path toward achieving its 2% inflation target. While Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has stressed the BOJ still has room to deepen negative rates or take any other steps to spur growth, many analysts see last week’s decision as underscoring the central bank’s desperation in trying to save its dwindling ammunition for when the economy takes a turn for the worse. Communication will remain a key challenge for the BOJ even under the new guidance, which removed a specific timeframe on how long interest rates will stay low. “It’s wise the BOJ ditched a calendar-based commitment. But it’s hard to tell whether the BOJ committed to keep rates long for a longer period than it previous did … and how much lower it could bring down rates,” said Nobuyasu Atago, a former BOJ official who is now chief economist at Okasan Securities. Reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington, Francesco Canepa in Frankfurt and Leika Kihara in Tokyo; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Daniel Wallis
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Obama urges voters to focus on down-ballot races to combat gerrymandering

The video represents the latest attempt by top Democrats to focus attention on down-ballot races, like those for state legislatures across the country. The party hopes that they can take control of a handful of state legislatures in November, wins that could be key because the state bodies elected in 2020 will play major roles…

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Obama urges voters to focus on down-ballot races to combat gerrymandering
The video represents the latest attempt by top Democrats to focus attention on down-ballot races, like those for state legislatures across the country. The party hopes that they can take control of a handful of state legislatures in November, wins that could be key because the state bodies elected in 2020 will play major roles in redrawing the congressional and legislative maps in 2021.

“You’ve heard a lot about the presidential race, maybe too much,” Obama says in a video for NowThis News, “but there is a lot more that will be on the ballot this fall.”

Obama adds: “In this election, the state leaders we elect will help redraw electoral districts all across the country.”

Obama is not new to the fight over redistricting and has focused a portion of his post-presidency work on the issue, including by folding his Organizing for Action group into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group run by his former attorney general, Eric Holder, that looks to link Democratic issues with the need to take on gerrymandering.

“President Obama has said this is an all hands on deck moment, and one of the main drivers is redistricting that will happen based on November’s results,” Eric Schultz, an Obama adviser, said. “Now more than ever, we need to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. The Presidential campaign generally gets most of the attention, but President Obama believes these other races are mission-critical.”

The former president says in the video that he doesn’t think people “completely appreciate how much gerrymandering affects the outcome” of elections. The video then notes how Republicans swept into control in key states during the 2010 elections, allowing them to redraw maps in places like Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Ohio.

Obama argues that many priorities of his presidency, including immigration reform and gun control measures, were thwarted, in part, because of gerrymandered districts electing Republicans to Congress.

“Those maps will stand for 10 years, that could mean a decade of fairly drawn districts where folks have an equal voice in their government, or it could mean a decade of unfair partisan gerrymandering,” Obama says in the video.

The video was made with NowThis News, a progressive mobile news outlet.

Democrats, emboldened by considerable excitement among their party’s key voters, hope they can flip at least one legislative body in Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Minnesota. And the party hopes it can make substantial inroads in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, Georgia and Florida.

Groups like the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and Forward Majority, a super PAC that aims to pour millions into key state legislative races, have been leading the fight to focus Democratic attention to these races.

Forward Majority announced earlier this month that they would direct $15 million into state legislative races in Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona, so-called Sun Belt states where Democrats believe President Donald Trump could lead voters to reject Republicans in November.

“Without having a seat at the table next year, we will likely see an unprecedented level of gerrymandering,” said Forward Majority co-founder Vicky Hausman, who argued that these four states “represent the most powerful points of leverage in our democracy.”

The is partly a newfound focus for Democrats on down-ballot races like state legislatures. Republicans spent millions to control the legislative bodies over the last decades, leading Democrats to lose control of several state legislatures during Obama’s presidency.

But Democratic groups have been making the case, like Obama does in the video, that these local officials wield notable power on everything from how a state responds to something like the coronavirus pandemic to how they deal with issues of police brutality.

“This year, educate yourself on the candidates at every level on your ballot,” Obama says. “They can make a profound impact on your community and our country.”

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The Atlantic writer: ‘I scared myself’ writing this story – CNN Video

The Atlantic staff writer Barton Gellman tells CNN’s Don Lemon that he believes President Trump will not concede defeat if he loses the 2020 presidential election.

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The Atlantic writer: ‘I scared myself’ writing this story – CNN Video

The Atlantic staff writer Barton Gellman tells CNN’s Don Lemon that he believes President Trump will not concede defeat if he loses the 2020 presidential election.
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Outrage over lack of charges in Breonna Taylor’s death turns into protests across the US

(CNN)Outrage and heartbreak boiled over into protests in many cities across the US on Wednesday after news broke that none of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death were charged with her killing.More than six months after Taylor was shot to death after Louisville police officers broke down the door to her apartment while…

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Outrage over lack of charges in Breonna Taylor’s death turns into protests across the US

(CNN)Outrage and heartbreak boiled over into protests in many cities across the US on Wednesday after news broke that none of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death were charged with her killing.More than six months after Taylor was shot to death after Louisville police officers broke down the door to her apartment while executing a warrant, a grand jury decided to indict only one of the three officers involved on first-degree wanton endangerment charges. The charge applies to the risk put on Taylor’s neighbors, but does not hold the officer responsible for her death. From Louisville to Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York, masses of people congregated to protest the decision. Police in Portland declared protests gathered outside the Justice Center a riot. And in Seattle, 13 people were arrested after a night of multiple fires and protesters throwing glass bottles and fireworks at police, authorities said. “We will go to our graves proclaiming that Breonna Taylor did not get justice from the Kentucky attorney general’s office,” attorney for the Taylor family, Ben Crump, told CNN’s Don Lemon Wednesday.Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician and aspiring nurse, was described by relatives as a hard-working, goal-oriented young woman who placed an emphasis on family, Crump said demonstrations over her death are “righteous anger.”In anticipation of potential unrest, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order setting a statewide 72-hour curfew starting at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday. 2 officers shot in Louisville protestsShortly before the curfew began, there were reports of gunfire near one of the marches in Louisville. Two of the responding officers were shot and had non-life-threatening wounds, Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters. A suspect was in custody, he added.Three videos obtained by CNN appear to show the gunshots and the scene that was set before they rang out. One video livestreamed by the Louisville Metro Police Department shows police moving forward as three apparent flash bands are fired into the air toward the protesters. Nine shots can be heard in a police video.”Shots fired, shots fired,” a voice is heard saying on the police livestream. “Officers down … take cover.” One officer is in surgery, Schroeder told reporters. The FBI Louisville office is asking for the public to continue to submit any videos related to the shooting of the officers, according to a post on the FBI’s website.Meanwhile, another suspect was detained in Denver, where police say a vehicle was driven into a protest Wednesday night. There were no injuries, police said in a tweet.At least one person was knocked to the ground in the protest that was peaceful up until the vehicle rammed into the crowd, CNN affiliate KCNC reported. The deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s homeThe incident that ended Taylor’s life began with a narcotics investigation on March 13. Former Det. Brett Hankison, Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove were executing a search warrant on Taylor’s home, though her ex-boyfriend was the focus of the narcotics investigation. Her ex-boyfriend was arrested on drug charges last month and told a Kentucky newspaper that she had nothing to do with the probe into an alleged drug trade that spurred the warrant. Taylor was sleeping next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, in the early hours of March 13, when they heard a noise. They both got up and walked to the door.”She’s yelling at the top of her lungs — and I am too at this point — ‘who is it?’ ” recalled Walker, her boyfriend. “No answer. No response. No anything.”Police forced entry into the home, and Walker said he couldn’t see but he fired one shot. After entering, Mattingly was shot in the leg, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said on Wednesday. The chaotic police operation that night was exacerbated by Hankison, who was accused by his own department of “blindly” firing 10 bullets into Taylor’s apartment from an outdoor patio. Hankison was fired in June, the Louisville police chief said, but he is appealing his termination. His attorney, David Leightty, has declined to comment.Cameron argued the officers were “justified in their use of force” because Taylor’s boyfriend fired first. Charges aren’t related to her deathHankison was charged with endangering not Taylor’s life, but those of the people in the next apartment, Crump said. Crump said the decision was an insult to Taylor’s family and an outrage to the community.”The fact that you’re going to charge for bullets going into an apartment but not for bullets going into Breonna Taylor’s body is outrageous,” Crump told CNN’s Don Lemon Wednesday. “There are two justice systems in America: one for Black America, one for White America.”First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, the lowest of four classes of felonies. The maximum sentence is five years; the minimum is one year.The NAACP said in a statement that the justice system “failed” Taylor and the charges against one officer do “not go far enough.””The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy,” said Cameron, the first Black person to hold the post and a rising Republican star. “The answer to that question is unequivocally yes.”Cameron called the Taylor’s death “a gut-wrenching emotional case.” He defended the length of the investigation, saying the time reflected “how important it was to get this right.””I certainly understand the pain that has been brought about by the tragic loss of Ms. Taylor. I understand that as an attorney general who is responsible for all 120 counties, in terms of being the chief legal officer — the chief law enforcement officer, I understand that. I understand that as a Black man — how painful this is, which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to uncover every fact.”CNN’s Eric Levenson, Konstantin Toropin, Mark Morales and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.
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