The Week That Was- 1st February 2016
After Ebola, the new global health scare on the block is the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne disease which seems to have originated in Africa and is reported to cause microcephaly and developmental problems in foetuses has forced governments across the Caribbean to recommend women to not get pregnant for the time being. The virus which also causes nerve and immune system damage in adults may possibly also be sexually transmitted. There are no vaccines or cures at present and has been declared an international public health emergency by the WHO.
The Federal Open Market Committee had its first meeting of the year on January 27th. Things have changed considerably since the Committee’s last meeting in December when they hiked rates. The minutes of this meeting suggest that after oil prices plunging to $30 a barrel and the worst start to the year for markets in a decade, the Fed may adopt a more dovish stance towards rates. However according to the FOMC, labour market conditions have improved even in the midst of slower economic growth and labour market resources are better utilized than before.
Apple announced the largest quarterly earnings of any company ever at $18 billion last week. However amid trouble in emerging markets- especially China- Apple forecasted a decline in sales of its iPhones next quarter. Shares tumbled at the news.
The primary elections for electing the president of the United States commence this week in Iowa. While it had been expected earlier that it would be a straightforward race between the Democratic Party’s Hillary CIinton and Jeb Bush of the Bush dynasty on behalf of the Republican it now seems it will be a tense race with wild card candidates such as property mogul Donald Trump from the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders- a septuagenarian Democrat with strongly socialist views. Adding more mayhem to the mix is a possible independent run by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Google settled on a deal with British authorities to pay £130m in back taxes – which was hailed as a ‘major success’ by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne. However the deal has attracted deep criticism for being far too lenient.