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
On Friday, Donald Trump threatened fellow GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz with a lawsuit over Cruz's eligibility to run for president:
If @TedCruz doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016
Though Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, has maintained that he is a natural-born citizen and thus eligible to run for office, the constitutionality of his presidential run has been challenged — particularly by Trump.
Meals on a yacht or private jet were such cheerless affairs before the Hemisphere Marine Blue Collection ($78) came along. The new porcelain set, produced by silver retailer Michael C. Fina and based on a classic pattern by the house of Jean-Louis Coquet, brightens such repasts with its splashes of "jaunty" blue, said Michalene Busico at RobbReport. More than that, though, the set is thinner and lighter than traditional china, and features stabler bases plus more generous rims for catching spills. If you're waiting on delivery of a yacht, don't rule out using the set at a summer home.
While there is a lot of money and research that goes into the study of relationships, a certain amount of mystery remains about why people tend to cling to the memory of their first love. Speaking to a number of psychologists who study relationships and romance, The Washington Post floated several theories as to why we still can't get over that certain someone, no matter how many years go by. Below, a selection of some experts' most illuminating quotes. Jeva Lange
It was sort of scary, and that makes it memorable.
"Your first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences. Presumably there'd be more arousal and excitement, especially if it's somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary — you're afraid you'll be rejected, you're afraid you won't live up to their expectations, afraid they won't live up to yours. Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time." -Art Aron, State University of New York at Stony Brook psychology professor
It was when we learned what love is.
"I [...] think it becomes, to some degree, a template. It becomes what we measure everything else against.”
-Jefferson Singer, Connecticut College psychologist
"Together you decide what love is."
-Nancy Kalish, California State University at Sacramento psychology professor
We experience a 'memory bump.'
"[People between 15 and 26] recall more memories, and they tend to be more positive memories... [And] we have more opportunity to rehearse it and replay it, rethink it, reimagine it, re-experience it." -Singer
We like who were were then.
"I think it's not just about the other person. It's about who we were at that time. We're relishing the image of ourselves. They give us license to be the person we were once again — young and vibrant and beautiful." -Singer
Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, sat down for a historic meeting early Friday afternoon at José Martí International Airport in Havana. The meeting between the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox and Western factions of Christianity marks the first such meeting in history and is a symbolic step in repairing relations between the two factions that split nearly 1,000 years ago.
Donald Trump has pledged that his presidency would resume waterboarding "or worse" — orders that top CIA officials say would cause heavy resistance from the agency.
"I certainly think many of those who were connected to the [enhanced interrogation techniques] program over its six years' span — and hundreds are still there — would resign or retire rather than having to go down that perilous road again," former CIA lawyer John Rizzo told Newsweek.
While many have debated the extent to which waterboarding is effective (not to mention if such measures violate the Geneva Convention's prohibitions on torture), Trump has insisted that, "It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn't work." Trump has gone as far as to admit that even if it doesn't work, terrorist suspects "deserve it anyway, for what they're doing."
"I pity the poor SOB who is President Trump's CIA director and gets the order to do interrogation techniques 'worse' than waterboarding, not to mention the CIA general counsel or Justice Department attorney general who has the legal issue dropped in his or her lap," Rizzo said.
One of the CIA's former chiefs, General Michael Hayden, put it in clearer terms in the ABC documentary The Spymasters: "If some future president is going to decide to waterboard," Hayden said, "he'd better bring his own bucket, because he's going to have to do it himself." Jeva Lange
The Washington City Council has approved a plan to pay convicted felons not to commit crimes. Up to 200 people a year deemed "at risk" of breaking the law would be placed in behavioral therapy, and if they avoided jail time they would get cash stipends of up to $9,000 annually. That amount "pales in comparison" with the costs of victimization and incarceration, the bill's sponsor said.
The Tax Policy Center (TPC) released its take on Marco Rubio's tax plan on Thursday. They concluded it would overwhelmingly benefits top earners the most, largely because it greatly reduces taxes on wealth income. And maybe eliminates them entirely — it's unclear.
Which brings up another point the analysis highlights: details matter.
For instance, Rubio's plan makes heavy use of tax credits, which allow filers to eliminate a set amount of their final tax liability. But what if the tax credit eliminates all of their tax liability, and there's still some of the credit left over? If the credit is refundable, the filer gets the remainder back from the government. If it's not, they don't.
How refundability would work has massive implications for who Rubio's tax plan would help the most. The TPC said Rubio's people didn't provide them the necessary details, so they went with assumptions based on the Rubio campaign's assertion that "our reforms would not create payments for new, non-working filers." Here are their results, in terms of the percent change in people's after tax income. ("Lowest quintile" means the bottom fifth of workers, "second quintile" means the second-lowest fight, and so on.)
(Graph courtesy of the Tax Policy Center.)
TPC found the plan would also massively reduce government revenue. Since Rubio has promised both a balanced budget and an increase in military spending, this implies enormous reductions in spending elsewhere. Jeff Spross