Global News December 01, 2017

  1. BBC
  2. Global News December 01, 2017

“Japan’s Economy Is Still Outrunning Its Potential Growth Rate.”

Japan’s economy is on track to close out the year expanding faster than its potential growth rate, even after recent soft readings for consumption and inflation.
Global demand remains strong, driving double-digit gains in Japanese exports in recent months and helping to fuel business investment. Capital expenditure stood out in a slew of important data released on Friday, beating expectations with a 4.2 percent gain in the third quarter.
While the fourth quarter got off to an inauspicious start for corporate Japan — bad weather kept shoppers at home and scandals at companies including Kobe Steel Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. dominated the headlines in October — key indicators released this week suggest the impact was limited. Industrial production rose 0.5 percent from September, lower than estimates, but forecasts point to solid gains for November and December. Consumer spending and retail sales were largely flat.
The world’s third-largest economy is set to grow by more than 1 percent in the fourth quarter, extending a run of expansion that stretches back to the start of 2016, said Nobuyasu Atago, chief economist at Okasan Securities Co. and a former Bank of Japan official.
Inflation is rising, with prices excluding fresh food increasing in October by the most in more than two years, but at 0.8 percent it remains far off the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent target. Tepid consumption makes companies cautious about raising prices, while sluggish wage gains keep consumers reluctant to spend.


“Ex-Trump adviser Flynn charged with lying to FBI, expected to plead guilty.”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, the U.S. special counsel’s office charged in a court filing made public on Friday.
The Office of the Special Counsel, which is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential collusion by Trump’s campaign, said a plea hearing for Flynn had been set for 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) on Friday. Flynn is expected to plead guilty. Flynn, a retired Army general who was fired from his White House post in February after revelations he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, is a central figure in the federal investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The charge against him is another escalation in an investigation that has cast a cloud over the Trump administration since the Republican president took office on Jan. 20.
Flynn, who was a senior adviser to Trump before the president took office, also falsely stated that he did not recall the Russian ambassador telling him that Moscow had chosen to moderate its response to U.S. sanctions as a result of his request, the document alleged.
The filing, dated Nov. 30, also said Flynn falsely stated that he did not ask the Russian ambassador earlier in December to delay a vote or defeat a pending U.N. Security Council resolution, and that the ambassador never described Russia’s response to his request. Moscow has denied a conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that it meddled in the election campaign to try to sway the vote in Trump’s favor. Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign.


BBC News
“Brexit: UK divorce bill offer worth up to 50bn euros.”

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has named his cabinet, appointing senior military figures to high-profile positions. Critics have said that it has dashed hopes of change in the country.
Mr Mnangagwa was inaugurated as president last week. He took over from Robert Mugabe who had been in power for 37 years. Mr Mugabe stepped down after the army took control of the country, following a power struggle in the ruling party. Thousands of people celebrated Mr Mugabe’s resignation as they hoped the failed economy would improve.
Some had hoped that President Mnangagwa would appoint members of the opposition to his cabinet, to form a transitional government until elections next year but this did not happen. The appointments led government critic Tendai Biti to suggest that Zimbabweans were «wrong» to have hoped for change.»Up until now, we had given the putsch the benefit of the doubt. We did so in the genuine, perhaps naive view that the country could actually move forward. We craved change, peace & stability in our country. How wrong we were,» he said.
A minister who served in Mr Mugabe’s government, Jonathan Moyo, said the changes meant that Zanu-PF, the party which has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, was «dead» and the military was now in charge. Newspaper owner Trevor Ncube said the cabinet was «very disappointing». «Largely the same people that caused this crisis have been recycled. The honeymoon comes to an end and reality dawns. His concern seems to have been rewarding those who brought him to power and Zanu-PF unity,» he said.


“Bitcoin Futures Get Official Green Light From Regulators.”

CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. are poised to offer bitcoin futures contracts, easing the way for mainstream investors to bet big while dragging regulators into a realm skeptics call a fad and fraud.
CME, the world’s biggest exchange owner, and smaller venue Cboe, known for its VIX volatility products, were allowed to offer the products after pledging to U.S. regulators that they comply with the law. CME said its contract will begin trading Dec. 18, while Cboe said it is “operationally ready” and would announce a start date soon. Cantor Exchange, a subsidiary of Cantor Fitzgerald, also will offer bitcoin binary options. Bitcoin extended gains following the announcement.
The moves are a watershed for Wall Street professionals — including institutional investors and high-speed traders — who’ve been eager to bet on cryptocurrencies and their wild swings. But the new products will also spur federal regulation, with the contracts announced Friday subject to oversight by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. All three exchanges promised to help the agency surveil the underlying bitcoin market.
“Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the commission has dealt with in the past,” CFTC Chairman Chris Giancarlo said in a statement. “We expect that the futures exchanges, through information sharing agreements, will be monitoring the trading activity on the relevant cash platforms.”
Trading in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is largely unregulated, and that’s the point. Bitcoin was introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis as a way of avoiding governments and central banks. Now with its meteoric rise and the proliferation of cryptocurrencies, banks, brokers and mainstream investors want in. And they want regulation, something they’ll get plenty of a market like CME or Cboe’s.