katerinasokou.2016A week after Donald Trump’s upset victory, U.S. President Barack Obama is traveling to Greece, in the first stop of his last European trip of his Presidency. During his largely symbolic visit, President Obama is planning to deliver a legacy speech from the birthplace of democracy. He is expected to make an impassioned case for the merits of democracy, European unity and security, and regional stability; at a time when all three are being tested by the rise of extremist parties and rhetoric. Although he is expected to repeat these themes during his second stop in Germany, given that Greece is faced with the extra challenges of a debilitating economic crisis and an historic influx of migrants and refugees, President Obama’s stop in Athens is a particularly welcome sign of support to the country. 

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spellmanLatest data shows manufacturing stronger, unemployment falling

One key barometer of the Euro-area manufacturing sector, the Purchasing Managers Index,  posted its highest level in 33 months in October, and another index showed Germany’s unemployment dropping, all suggesting economic strength is building slowly in Europe, with Germany as the powerhouse.

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bod.hunter2The United States and Russia are now at daggers drawn over Syria. Following the collapse of the ceasefire negotiated last month by Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the United States has abandoned talks with the Russians on Syria. Meanwhile, in a supposedly unrelated part of the relationship, Russia has suspended the 2000 agreement between the two countries on ridding themselves of excess stocks of weapons-grade plutonium. 

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Stacks of books and memoirs on the post-9/11 Afghan war have appeared in both the United States and United Kingdom. Unfortunately few of them make the trip across the ocean, denying readers different perspectives on a conflict that brought heavy casualties to several allied nations, not to mention tens of  thousands of Afghans. 

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spellmanWho bails out failed banks this time? With what means – public and/or private? And, to what extent to ensure safety, soundness in financial markets?

With numerous banks throughout Europe showing troubling balance sheets – the bad debts and non-core assets increasingly undermining financial institutions’ profitability in a sluggish global economy – Europe’s leaders, central banks, and investors are debating what should be done quickly to prevent bank failures, bolster investor confidence, and ensure that another global financial crisis does not flare up. On the sidelines of this week’s World Bank-IMF meetings, the issues are high among bankers’ concerns.

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