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April 9, 2014

Via Kevin Drum, we find that Greece might have a successful debt auction:

Greece is undergoing an astonishing financial rebound. Two years ago, the country looked like it was set for a messy default and exit from the euro. Now it is on the verge of returning to the bond market with the issue of 2 billion euros of five-year paper.

There are still political risks, and the real economy is only now starting to turn. But the financial recovery is impressive. The 10-year bond yield, which hit 30 percent after the debt restructuring of two years ago, is now 6.2 percent....The changed mood in the markets is mainly down to external factors: the European Central Bank's promise to "do whatever it takes" to save the euro two years ago; and the more recent end of investors' love affair with emerging markets, meaning the liquidity sloshing around the global economy has been hunting for bargains in other places such as Greece.

That said, the center-right government of Antonis Samaras has surprised observers at home and abroad by its ability to continue with the fiscal and structural reforms started by his predecessors. The most important successes have been reform of the labor market, which has restored Greece's competitiveness, and the achievement last year of a "primary" budgetary surplus before interest payments. [Reuters]

But let's not get ahead of ourselves:

(Source: tradingeconomics.com)

Given the kind of people who have been in charge of the thing, I guess it's sort of impressive that the European Central Bank has finally figured out how to use their infinite Euro-creation power to keep member nations from defaulting on Euro-denominated debt. But with unemployment still over 27 percent, I'd say let's hold off on talk of a recovery.

Indeed, I rather fear this could be the worst of all worlds. Moving off the Euro would have been awful, but at least held the prospect of returning to growth and full employment within a couple years (from a much lower base). By contrast, the bank Natixis recently estimated that, given very generous assumptions, it will take Spain (which is in similarly dire straits) 25 years to return to 2007-era employment. A nation can do a great deal of catch-up growth in that time.

Realistically, I'd guess this means that Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, etc., will never recover fully, and instead we're witnessing the birth of a crummy, tattered Franco-German empire with a permanently depressed periphery. Ryan Cooper

1:23 p.m. ET
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Actor Tom Hanks will make his debut as an author on Oct. 24. Publishing company Alfred A. Knopf first announced the book in 2014 — shortly after Hanks published a story in The New Yorker — but it wasn't until Tuesday that the short-story collection's title was revealed.

Uncommon Type: Some Stories will revolve around typewriters, and each of its 17 stories will involve the increasingly obsolete machines that Hanks collects. The Hollywood Reporter noted the book ranges from stories "about an immigrant just arriving in New York City after leaving his civil war-torn country to a man who bowls a perfect game to an eccentric billionaire."

Hanks has been working on the collection since 2015, and he said in a statement he's taken his work with him as he's "made movies movies in New York, Berlin, Budapest, and Atlanta." "I wrote in hotels during press tours. I wrote on vacation. I wrote on planes, at home, and in the office," Hanks said. "When I could actually make a schedule, and keep to it, I wrote in the mornings from nine to one."

Alfred A. Knopf's editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta praised the book as an "accomplished debut." "I am thrilled by the narrative range on display in this collection, and by the humor and humanity Tom brings to his work," Mehta said. Becca Stanek

1:09 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Tennessee lawmakers have proposed making it legal for drivers to run over protesters who block public streets. The Republican-sponsored legislation would protect motorists from civil liability if a protester were injured, provided the driver exercised "due care," The Huffington Post reports. The bill was introduced 10 days after a car ran into people at a Nashville protest against President Trump's travel ban. Similar driving laws have been proposed in at least four other states with Republican-led statehouses, including Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The Week Staff

12:46 p.m. ET

On Tuesday, President Trump outright denounced anti-Semitism while speaking at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After dodging questions from reporters at two separate press conferences last week regarding rising anti-Semitism — only offering that he is "the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen" — Trump was less equivocating Tuesday, saying "the anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil."

But the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, the U.S. branch of the worldwide organizations founded in Frank's name to fight prejudice and hatred, was not impressed by the president's statement, deeming it a "pathetic asterisk of condescension" after his administration's track record:

On Monday, a Jewish community center in Wisconsin was evacuated after receiving its second bomb threat in three weeks. The Wisconsin center was reportedly one of at least 10 Jewish facilities that received similar threats Monday. Kimberly Alters

12:25 p.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released documents briefing its agencies on the Trump administration's expanded guidelines for tackling undocumented immigration and deportation. The documents, which Time described as "essentially instruction manuals for the sweeping executive orders issued by President Trump in late January," eliminate Obama-era guidelines that prioritized recent border crossers, undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes, or those who may have posed a serious threat to national security. Trump will call for the deportation of any immigrant that is "convicted, charged, or suspected of a crime, which could include traffic infractions," The Associated Press reported.

A DHS fact sheet was succinct: "All of those present in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States." Becca Stanek

12:19 p.m. ET
iStock

Jessica Sharman fell in love with the same man twice. When the 20-year-old Briton woke up in the hospital last March after an epileptic attack, her memory was wiped clean. She didn’t recognize her parents, or her doting boyfriend, Rich Bishop. She tried to end their relationship, but Rich vowed to win back her heart. He took her on walks in familiar parks and revisited their favorite restaurants. Eventually, Rich won her over — again. "I don't remember the first time I fell in love with Rich," says Sharman. "But I do remember the second." Christina Colizza

11:41 a.m. ET
Kris Connor/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Women played the leading role in a record 29 percent of the top-grossing films of 2016, a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film revealed. That marks a 7 percent increase from 2015 and the highest percentage ever since the study started in 2002, thanks to last year's female-fronted films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ghostbusters, Hidden Figures, and Arrival. "While audiences were still more than twice as likely to see male characters as female characters in top grossing movies, females fared better as protagonists and major characters in 2016," Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center, said in a statement.

Progress wasn't made across the board though. While more women took the spotlight than ever before, the overall number of female speaking roles dropped by 1 percentage point. The percentage of Asian female characters doubled and the percentage of black women increased slightly, but the percentage of Latina characters in films dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent.

That's why, while some of the numbers may appear promising, the center isn't getting its hopes up just yet. "It is possible that this is something of a quirk that we will not see repeated in the future,” Lauzen said. "It is also possible that introducing female protagonists is somehow an easier, less threatening fix than hiring women directors and writers." Becca Stanek

11:39 a.m. ET
Courtesy image

Ever dreamed of running a food-truck business? Realize your barista fantasies with the Wheelys 5, a high-tech coffee cart created by Wheelys Café, a Stockholm-based company whose mobile café business has spread to more than 60 countries in just three years. The bike-mounted cart costs $8,999 and has running water, a refrigerator, a gas stove, a solar roof, a stereo system, integrated Wi-Fi, and even a miniature greenhouse for growing organic coffee beans. Its customizable layout can accommodate a juicing station, a creperie, and an ice-cream bar, and it can brew anything from espresso to nitro coffee. The Week Staff

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