March 6, 2014

In 2011 and 2012, many thought the Euro might break up due to the sovereign debt crisis. Unlike countries that have their own currency, countries in the Eurozone are dependent on the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB). This disconnect makes Euro countries much more vulnerable than other countries to solvency crises. Since, then, however the new chief of the ECB, Mario Draghi, has engaged in a bond-buying program of Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs) which has helped struggling periphery countries (Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, etc) stay solvent.

But while this has lowered interest rates in the struggling countries — and done enough to keep the Euro together — it has not been enough to get Europe out of the woods. Unemployment still remains cataclysmically high in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and high throughout the Eurozone. And now with inflation rapidly falling, many are worried that Europe is falling into debt deflation. Of course, Europe as a whole is not in deflation yet.

But as Paul Krugman argues, the process is already under way:

I'd say that to have debt deflation — in which falling prices due to a weak economy increase the real burden of debt, which depresses the economy further, and so on — you don't need to have literal deflation. The process begins as soon as you have lower inflation than expected when interest rates were set. It's also noteworthy that inflation rates in the highly indebted countries are all well below the eurozone average, with actual deflation in Greece and near-deflation in the rest. So the debt deflation spiral is in fact well underway. [The New York Times]

Europe's approach throughout the crisis has been to do the very minimum necessary to keep the Euro system afloat. It remains to be seen if that is an approach compatible with an economic recovery anytime soon. John Aziz

1:58 p.m. ET

Russia has lost its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, having been ousted by a vote Friday among the 193 member countries of the United Nations. Russia had been a member of the UNHCR since its creation in 2006.

Membership to the 47-member council is appropriated geographically, and Russia was competing with Hungary and Croatia for two available seats allotted to Eastern Europe. In the elections Friday, Russia received only 112 votes, while Hungary and Croatia received 144 votes and 114, respectively. Russia has been widely criticized for human rights violations, particularly with its treatment of LGBT individuals and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Also Friday, Saudi Arabia — another nation with a spotty human rights record, as New York Times United Nations reporter Somini Sengupta notes — won one of the seats available for Asia. Egypt, Iraq, China, and the United States were also elected to the council. Kimberly Alters

1:56 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump praised the FBI's decision to reopen it's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, calling it "brave" and a chance for the bureau to "right the horrible mistake that they have made."

"We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office," Trump declared to his audience in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Trump joked that, "With that being said, the rest of my speech is going to be so boring. Should I even make the rest of my speech?" But he continued to return to the topic, saying, "I think [the FBI is] going to right the ship, folks, I think they're going to right the ship" and "this is bigger than Watergate."

Trump claimed he had only been told the news 10 minutes before taking the stage; Clinton has been in the air "with no wi-fi for the last two hours," Politico reports.

Jeva Lange

1:41 p.m. ET

Stocks screeched downward on Friday after the FBI announced it would be investigating new emails linked to Hillary Clinton's use of a private server while serving as secretary of state. "Stocks turned negative after the report of the new probe. Many analysts have said that markets were pricing in a Clinton victory in November," NBC News reported.

The Mexican peso also dropped by 0.6 percent, with analysts previously having used its strength to argue for a likely Clinton win, Business Insider reports. Jeva Lange

1:10 p.m. ET

The FBI is reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server that she used while serving as secretary of state, NBC News has learned. FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter to Congress that "in connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation … I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."

Analysts at NBC pointed out that there would have to be "pretty dramatic information in these emails to change the previous conclusion."

"Could be a big deal. Or nothing," Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief David Corn observed.

In July, the FBI recommended no criminal charges for Clinton, but Comey did call her handling of classified information in emails "extremely careless" during his congressional testimony. Jeva Lange

12:55 p.m. ET

Dogs may be man's best friend, but let's be honest — a dog's best friend is her chew toy. One couple decided to surprise their pooch Jolene with a real-life version of her favorite squishy, Gumby. The result is completely aww inducing.

Watch the completely adorable surprise unfold below. Jeva Lange

12:44 p.m. ET

The hack and leak of campaign chairman John Podesta's emails has resulted in a major headache for the team behind Hillary Clinton. But as it turns out in newly released WikiLeaks emails, Clinton's own IT help desk might be accidentally responsible for the emails getting out.

Last week, Motherboard reported that the hack resulted from Podesta falling for a phishing attempt that was disguised as Google alerting him that his account had been compromised. "The phishing email that Podesta received on March 19 contained a URL, created with the popular Bitly shortening service, pointing to a longer URL that, to an untrained eye, looked like a Google link," Motherboard wrote. "Inside that long URL, there's a 30-character string that looks like gibberish but is actually the encoded Gmail address of John Podesta. ... That's the link that opened Podesta's account to the hackers."

But when Clinton's IT team was alerted to the fake email, they actually confirmed it was "legitimate."

"This is a legitimate email," Charles Delavan, part of Clinton's IT team, seemingly confirmed, as can be seen on the WikiLeaks page here. "John needs to change his password immediately, and ensure that two-factor authentication is turned on his account."

Of course, this is not the first time concerns about Clinton's email security have come up. Many of the candidate's critics have expressed concern over possible vulnerabilities in the private email server she used while serving as secretary of state. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET

Marco Rubio really wants to hold onto his Senate seat, he swears — but it seems like Florida voters may not be so sure.

After his failed presidential bid, the Florida Republican swore up and down he'd be a "private citizen" come January 2017, right up until he reversed course and announced he'd run for re-election to the Senate. Rubio's flip-flop was largely interpreted in part as an effort to help Republicans hold onto their Senate majority, with Rubio being a strong candidate against Democratic opponent Rep. Patrick Murphy. But a new Public Policy Polling survey shows Rubio locked in a dead heat with Murphy:

Public Policy Polling surveyed 742 likely Florida voters for this poll from Oct. 25-26, and the results have a 3.6-point margin of error. But while the poll shows the two men in a dead heat, its results also hint at how either candidate can get a leg up in the race: PPP noted that undecided voters are "looking at gun violence prevention as a major factor in their upcoming vote," with 72 percent of these undecided respondents supporting background checks for all gun sales.

Rubio has said he was moved to jump back into the Senate race in part by the deadly June attack on an Orlando nightclub, where a lone gunman killed 49 people — though last December he voted against a measure that would have expanded background checks.

Rubio has also been attempting to distance himself from Donald Trump, who trails Hillary Clinton in the same PPP poll by 4 points in the Sunshine State. But Rubio has affirmed that he'll be voting for Trump, so whether Rubio's delicate dance around the Republican nominee will help or hurt him remains to be seen. The RealClearPolitics average of polls of the Rubio-Murphy race shows the incumbent hanging on to a 3.6-point lead — but it also shows Murphy has been steadily gaining support in recent weeks. The two held their second and final debate Wednesday at Broward College near Fort Lauderdale, which you can read more about at the Miami Herald. Kimberly Alters

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