United States’ federal budget deficit amounted to $779 bn for the fiscal year ending 30 September. It has increased to 3.9 per cent of GDP, up from 3.5 per cent in 2017.
One of China’s largest producers of vaccines, Changsheng Biotech, was fined ¥9.1 bn ($ 1.3 bn) by the government in relation to its faulty data on vaccines for rabies. It is the largest penalty imposed on a Chinese drug firm to date. Changsheng was fined earlier this year for distributing defective children’s vaccines.
Facebook removed more than 800 political pages and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. With less than one month left before the US midterms, it is under pressure to stem the spread of fake news. It said the pages were removed for their owners’ conduct, not their content.
A law legalising cannabis for recreational use came into force in Canada. It is only the second country, after Uruguay, to legalise pot nationwide. Expect the business to be taken over by big food, liquor or pharmaceutical companies.
China’s economy grew by 6.5 per cent in the third quarter, year on year. That was the slowest pace since early 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis. This doesn’t fully reflect the trade war with the US, as the largest tariffs imposed on Chinese exports only came into effect in late September. More penalties are due to be implemented in January.
The state of New York filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, saying the company misled investors by downplaying the expected risks of climate change to its business. The litigation represents the most significant legal effort yet to establish that a fossil fuel company misled the public on climate change and to hold it responsible.
The US surpassed Russia in August as the world’s top oil producer, with the largest year-on-year output increase in US history. Increased shale drilling in Texas, Colorado and the US Gulf of Mexico contributed to the production burst. Though their reign as world’s biggest oil producer may be short-lived. Russia and Saudi Arabia has offered to pump more oil to offset declines in Venezuela and supply shortfalls from US sanctions on Iran.
Saudi columnist Jamal Kashoggi was strangled to death as soon as he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, the city’s chief prosecutor said. Kashoggi’s body was then dismembered and destroyed, yet another sign that his killing was planned in advance.
A brand new Boeing 737 charted by Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed minutes after taking off from Jakarta. All 189 people on board are feared dead. Other budget airlines are in strife. An industrial pay dispute has 40 per cent off the market value of Air France-KLM. Ryanair’s pre-tax profits fell by 9 per cent in the six months to September, as rising oil prices push up fuel prices.
Humanity has wiped out 60 per cent of animal populations since 1970. The same decline in the human population would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania.
Two prominent Chinese economists have broken with Communist party orthodoxy, arguing that the trade war with the US is an understandable response to Beijing’s state-led development model, rather than an unprovoked attack. The criticisms highlight the split between the reform and statist-minded camps in Chinese policy intellectuals and bureaucrats.
Economists expect further fiscal and monetary stimulus to avoid a slowdown, as trade war impacts loom large. Though the main reason for the very small slowdown is likely a cooling economy and slow growth of credit, rather than US trade actions.
The stand-off between India’s central bank and government worsens. Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Urjit Patel, faces growing pressure from the Modi administration to ease monetary policy. Tensions have escalated over the government’s push to access some of the central bank’s reserves to shore up its own finances and increase spending, ahead of next year’s general elections.
Italy’s economy unexpectedly stalled in the third quarter, as GDP was flat in a period marked by political tumult and financial volatility. The past year has been marked by instability for Italian sovereign debt, sparked by an EU rule-busting 2019 budget. The EU attempts to control budget deficits, as there is worry that fiscal deficits and public debt might lead to crises in bond markets and strong pressure on the European Central Bank or other member governments to bail out the irresponsible government in question. Fear of spillovers is also key.