Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.
"There is an air of fatigue from the bulls in a number of developed equity markets, but they continue to grind higher."
Bitcoin's nightmare scenario has come to pass (The Verge) Over the last year and a half a number of prominent voices in the Bitcoin community have been warning that the system needed to make fundamental changes to its core software code to avoid being overwhelmed by the continued growth of Bitcoin transactions. There was strong disagreement within the community, however, about how to solve this problem, or if the problem would ever materialize. This week the network's capacity to process transactions has maxed out, causing transactions around the world to be massively delayed, and in some cases to fail completely.
World's No. 2 Currency Trader Sees Dollar Surge as Misery Wanes (Bloomberg) When misery fades, the dollar rallies. That's the contention of Deutsche Bank AG, the world's second-biggest currency trader according to Euromoney magazine, which expects the greenback to resume its surge this year after slumping in February. The misery index, a measure of inflation and unemployment, fell in November to the lowest in almost six decades, underpinning the currency's outlook. The jobless rate is forecast to hold at an eight-year low Friday as the Federal Reserve weighs the path of U.S. interest rates.
EU closes on migrant deal with Turkey (Financial Times) The EU is close to a breakthrough deal with Ankara that would see all non-Syrian migrants reaching Greek islands returned to Turkey, marking a crucial step in the bloc's hardening stance against the flow of people pouring into its territories. After weeks of diplomatic pressure from Berlin and Brussels, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, privately signaled in negotiations on Thursday that Ankara will accept the systematic returns of non-Syrians and step up action against smugglers. Although the agreement is tentative and its implementation would be hard, the terms could mark a long-sought turning point in Europe's migration crisis, giving a harder edge to a strategy that has largely failed to dent flow of people across the Aegean Sea.
EU unveils 700-mn-euro migrant aid plan for Greece (AFP, Yahoo News!) EU President Donald Tusk was due to arrive in Athens Thursday for talks on the migrant crisis, after the bloc proposed 700 million euros in emergency aid for Greece and other states to help them manage the influx at their borders. Tusk's visit forms part of a regional tour which has already taken in Slovenia and will on Friday see him meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, ahead of a migration-focused summit in Brussels on Monday. See article under EU, above.
Japan halts US Okinawa base expansion (BBC News) Japan's PM Shinzo Abe has agreed to suspend construction work required for the relocation of a controversial US military base in Okinawa. Mr Abe said he was accepting a court-mediated settlement reached after a long stand-off between the central government and local authorities. The government wants to move the US Futenma airbase from its densely populated site to a more remote area. But local officials and residents want the base removed entirely. Mr Abe said that the government's plan was still to eventually relocate the base to the new area.
China says 2016 defense budget to rise 7-8 percent (Reuters) China's defense budget this year will rise by about 7-8% compared with 2015, the spokeswoman for the Chinese parliament said on Friday. Spokeswoman Fu Ying told a news conference that the actual figure would be released on Saturday, when the annual session of China's largely rubber-stamp parliament opens. Last year, defense spending was budgeted to rise 10.1% to 886.9 billion yuan ($135.39 billion). Econintersect: The increased military spending could add up to as much as an additional 0.1% of GDP growth assuming a multiplier of 1.
North Korea leader tells military to be ready to use nuclear weapons (Reuters) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his country to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any time and the military to be in "pre-emptive attack" mode in the face of growing threats from its enemies, state media said on Friday. The comments, carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, marked a further escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula after the U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions against the isolated state on Wednesday for its nuclear program. North Korea, known for belligerent rhetoric, has previously threatened pre-emptive attacks on its enemies, including South Korea and the United States. Military experts doubt it has yet developed the capability to fire a long-range missile with a miniaturized warhead to deliver a nuclear weapon as far as the United States.
Peru, Bolivia underwater (Reuters) El Nino has produced widespread flooding in Peru and Bolivia, causing damage to homes, roads and farms.
Kerry trip to Cuba for rights dialogue canceled: U.S. officials (Reuters) Tentative plans for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Cuba before mid-March for a human rights dialogue have been canceled, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, amid concerns over the Cuban government's human rights record. Kerry told a congressional hearing on Feb. 23 that he might be in Cuba "in the next week or two" to hold a dialogue on human rights, ahead of President Barack Obama's scheduled trip to the island on March 21-22. The sources said the trip had been canceled because U.S. and Cuban officials were deep in negotiations on issues including which dissidents Obama might see in Havana and that a trip in the timeframe Kerry had mentioned was not seen as constructive.
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