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October 31st Briefing: US economy, political ads, Trump’s impeachment and more…

By November 1, 2019 No Comments

US economic growth slows to 1.9%

Third quarter growth in America slowed to only 1.9%, though this is ahead of expectations of 1.6%. It still does not allay fears for some that a contraction is around the corner. Growth was buoyed by consumer spending which managed to offset falls in business investment and public spending. In 2018, third quarter growth was nearly double at 3.4%.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the US economy. Consumers are believed to have brought forward spending before tariffs on Chinese goods kicked in on August 1, damaging potential fourth quarter spending.

Chile cancels climate summit due to protests

A UN climate change conference due to be held in December in Santiago, the capital of Chile, has been cancelled. Protests have been taking place after a planned public transport price hike. These sparked wider demonstrations over the cost of living. 20 people have died so far and over 7,000 people have been arrested.

Brazil was due to hold the COP25, as the conference is known, in November before pulling citing economic reasons. Another summit, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, has also been cancelled.

Impeachment moves to next stage

Democrats in the US House of Representatives, led by Nancy Pelosi, have published a resolution that will move the impeachment process against President Trump onto its next stage. This will be more public than the closed-door meetings previously held. The House will vote on the resolution today.

President Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son in return for aid. The inquiry has heard from Lt Col Vindman who was monitoring a call between the US and Ukraine presidents, who prompted a whistleblower to come forward.

Twitter to ban political ads

The social media platform said that from November 22 political ads will not be displayed. Politicians and political parties can still tweet to promote their stance but they will not be able to pay to boost the reach of any tweet. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, tweeted saying that ‘political message reach should be earned, not bought’.

Facebook has ruled out a similar move. In testimony in front of Congress Mark Zuckerberg said that his company would also refuse to take down falsehoods promoted by politicians.

US interest rates cut once again

The US Federal Reserve has cut interest rates for the third time this year yesterday. After this week’s monetary policy meeting, the rate was cut by 0.25%, or 25 basis points, to 1.5% – 1.75%. Jay Powell, the chairman of the Fed, indicated, however, that the rate-cutting has come to an end for the time being.

Mr Powell also indicated that the outlook for the US economy was better. A US-China trade deal is in the works and a no-deal Brexit seems to be ruled out. Rates, though, would only be increased to battle inflation.