”The Fed dished up one of its classic non-decision decisions — little to confirm market fears, but nothing to dispel them either,” says OZY’s Steve Butler. America’s central bankers left the benchmark rate unchanged today at between .25 and .5 percent, citing volatility in global markets and the need to keep an eye on international economies. But the Fed still thinks the U.S. economy is set to grow and lift inflation to a target of 2 percent, and bankers warn they may boost short-term interest rates in March.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He says it’s time to go home. In a written statement read by his lawyer, the protest leader asked holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon to leave. Noting that, “somebody died yesterday,” the son of rancher Cliven Bundy said it’s time to “step back” after he and several associates were arrested by the FBI and Oregon State Police on Tuesday. During the arrest, a Bundy associate was shot and killed by authorities. Several protestors have vowed to maintain their occupation and it’s still unclear if they’ll heed his request.
“Sometimes resisting means leaving,” tweeted Christiane Taubira, who stepped down from her cabinet post over proposed legislation that would strip convicted French-born terrorists with dual nationality of their French citizenship. It’s one of several measures brought forth after the Paris attacks of Nov. 13 — and according to OZY’s Paris-based contributor Rozena Crossman, moves like this “feed extremist propaganda” and may even make radicalization more likely among young Muslims. Nevertheless, President François Hollande has already named Taubira’s replacement, and France’s parliament will debate the controversial measure next month.
A new report from from the E.U.’s executive body is clear: Greece is letting the bloc down. As part of the Schengen accord that normally allows passport-free travel throughout much of Europe, Greece is required to keep an adequate handle on who’s coming and going across its external borders. The draft report alleges that Greece isn’t doing enough to fingerprint, identify and record everyone who enters the country — and thus the rest of the E.U. — and failure to shape up could mean more internal border controls are thrown up for refugees.
He may be done negotiating, but the network’s not budging. The real estate mogul and GOP candidate has decided to skip tomorrow’s final debate ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Trump has criticized debate host Megyn Kelly — they famously sparred on air last summer, though OZY’s Carlos Watson says Kelly came out the winner — and cited a mocking press release from the network. Today Fox News responded to say that “capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats.”
Another day, a stronger dollar. The Fed’s been meeting this week and is expected to release interest rate guidance today — and while Chair Janet Yellen had planned a gradual rise, some fear that any increase paired with a stronger dollar could do more damage to struggling global markets. OZY’s Simon Constable says money’s speeding away from China’s sluggish economy and into U.S. markets. But analysts say that a strong U.S. economy notwithstanding, the Fed has a responsibility to make policies that protect emerging markets, as well.
Netanyahu says Ban Ki-moon is giving “a tailwind to terrorism.” (CNN)
Danish patient tests positive for Zika virus. (The Independent)
Iranian president calls on U.S. to change its attitude. (Reuters)
U.S. presses China on North Korea issue in Beijing meeting. (DW)
Doomsday Clock stands still at three minutes to midnight. (USA Today)
The clock’s ticking, and they want to avoid a licking. OZY’s in Iowa, checking out presidential candidates and their varied campaign strategies in the run-up to next week’s caucuses. The retired neurosurgeon has taken hits in the polls in recent weeks, so much so that he’s not even guaranteed a third-place finish in the Hawkeye State. But now Carson’s pitching himself as a party of one — the anti-establishment guy everyone loves to pick on. The only trouble? Ted Cruz has already beaten him to that punch.
The apple may be juiced. Despite Q4’s record $18.4 billion profit, the company’s revenue and iPhone sales were slightly lower than analysts had expected. Stagnant phone sales indicate that the company’s growth may be hitting a wall, due to economic challenges in China or simply because of market saturation. Either way, Apple predicts the second quarter will bring its first sales decline in 13 years. No one is predicting doom for the corporate giant, but with sales of its other products already stalled, leadership may start dialing the help line.
Well, this is depressing. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all American adults, especially pregnant and postpartum women, be screened for depression. Recent data shows that the economic toll of the disease was $23 billion in lost productivity in 2011-2012. Experts are calling for regular screening for everyone over the age of 18, along with improved systems to ensure accurate diagnoses and proper treatment. It remains unclear how often people should be tested — but many health insurers are likely to adopt the independent panel’s suggestions.
Who knows what it’ll be called by then. The self-proclaimed genius’s seventh studio album, currently called Waves, has gone through a series of names already — but its debut has been decided: Feb. 11, Madison Square Garden. The entire 10-track album will premiere at a New York Fashion Week event for West’s new clothing line, Yeezy Season 3, and the performance will also be screened in theaters. Two of the songs have already dropped, and West says he’ll release one a week until the big show.
The lesson: Keep your hands to yourself. The Clippers power forward will miss four to six weeks due to a spiral fracture, allegedly sustained while punching the team’s assistant equipment manager, Matias Testi. Griffin apologized via Twitter to “the Clippers organization, [his] teammates and the fans,” while the team released a statement saying the incident had “no place” in the organization and promising a full investigation. Adding insult to injury, Los Angeles has thrived in Griffin’s absence, going 12-3 while he was recovering from a previous quadriceps issue.