Bitcoin Whipsaws Investors as Bubble Shows Signs of Bursting – Trending Stuff

Bitcoin whipsawed investors, falling below $8,000 for the first time since November before recovering most of Friday’s losses, as a miserable 2018 continued for cryptocurrencies.

Since reaching a record high of $19,511 on Dec. 18 shortly after the introduction of regulated futures contracts in the U.S., Bitcoin has wiped out more than half its value amid waves of negative news. Setbacks included escalating regulatory threats from authorities around the world including India, South Korea, China and the U.S., a record $500 million heist at Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc., fears of price manipulation and Facebook’s ban on cryptocurrency ads.

PMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., the nation’s two largest banks, said Friday they’re halting purchases of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on their credit cards. Japanese authorities raided Coincheck’s offices Friday morning, a week after the robbery, hauling out documents and computers as evidence. The inspection was conducted to ensure security for users, Finance Minister Taro Aso said.

“Bitcoin is in trouble,” Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at foreign exchange broker Forextime Ltd, wrote in a note Friday. “Price action suggests that bears are clearly in control, with further losses on the cards as jitters over regulation erode investor appetite further.”

The largest digital currency dropped as much as 16 percent to $7,643, before trading at $8,646 at 4:47 p.m. in New York, according to consolidated Bloomberg pricing. Bitcoin tumbled 21 percent during the week, the biggest five-day decline since Jan. 16. Rival coins Ripple, Ether and Litecoin tumbled at least 28 percent as losses continued to spread across cryptocurrencies.

Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Macro Associates said Bitcoin is the “mother of all bubbles,” and its bubble is now bursting, speaking in an interview on Bloomberg Television. He said “virtually every” Group of 20 country is talking about cracking down on the phenomenon as policymaker worries grow.

For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the podcast:

Related news and information:
Bitcoin’s Huge Arbitrage Play Just Vanished as Korea Bubble Pops
Roubini Says Bitcoin Is the ‘Biggest Bubble in Human History’

To see Bloomberg’s cryptocurrency monitor, type VCCY

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Australia unveils plan to become one of worlds top 10 arms exporters – Trending Stuff

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull wants Australia to be one of the worlds biggest weapons exporters, saying it will support high-end manufacturing jobs and support the capability of the Australian defence force. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Australia is set to become one of the worlds largest arms exporters under a controversial plan of the Turnbull governments.

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has unveiled a new defence export strategy setting out the policy and strategy to make Australia one of the worlds top 10 weapons exporters within the next decade.

Hailing it a job-creating plan for local manufacturers, the Coalition says Australia only sells around $1.5bn to $2.5bn in defence exports a year and it wants the value of those exports to increase significantly.

It has identified a number of priority markets: the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

It will set up a new Defence Export Office to work hand in hand with Austrade and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to coordinate the commonwealths whole-of-government export efforts, and provide a focal point for more arms exports.

A $3.8bn Defence Export Facility, to be administered by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic), will provide the finance local companies need to help them sell their defence equipment overseas.

A new Australian Defence Export Advocate position, set up to support the Australian Defence Export Office, will provide industry with the constant high-level advocacy needed to promote Australian-made weapons overseas.

It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses, Turnbull said in a statement.

A strong, exporting defence industry in Australia will provide greater certainty of investment, support high-end manufacturing jobs and support the capability of the Australian defence force.

The controversial plan has been anticipated since mid-2017 when Christopher Pyne, the defence industry minister, said he wanted to start selling far more Australian-made weapons overseas.

At the time, Tim Costello, the World Vision Australia chief advocate, attacked the plan, saying the government had cut humanitarian aid which saved lives while simultaneously discussing the merits of becoming a major weapons manufacturer and exporter. The government says this is an export and investment opportunity, but we would be exporting death and profiting from bloodshed, Costello said last year. There is only one purpose in making a weapon and that is to kill someone with it. Do we really want that to be what people think of when they see the brand made in Australia?

Costello said at the time that the contemporary Syrian war now in its eighth year could not have lasted for more than a year without armaments profiteering. As a result, there had been more than 300,000 people killed, including thousands of children, 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, 6.3 million people internally displaced and five million people turned into refugees.

Defence industry minister Christopher Pyne says he wants Australia to become a major arms exporter on par with Britain, France and Germany and use exports to cement relationships with countries in volatile regions such as the Middle East. Is it really a good idea to sell weapons in a volatile region? he said.

A government fact sheet says the strategy sets a new direction for Australian defence exports.

The government will set aside $20m a year to implement the strategy, including $6.35m to implement strategic multi-year export campaigns, an additional $3.2m to expand the Global Supply Chain program, and an additional $4.1m for grants to help build the capability of small and medium enterprises to compete internationally.

This strategy is about job creation, Turnbull said in a joint statement with Pyne, the minister for defence Marise Payne, and the minister for trade Steven Ciobo.

It will give Australian defence companies the support they need to grow, invest and deliver defence capability.

It will make Australian defence exports among the best in the world.

Between 2012 and 2016, the 10 largest arms exporters were, in order: the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Ukraine and Israel.

Australia was the 20th largest arms exporter during that period, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Trump’s Tariffs on Solar Mark Biggest Blow to Renewables Yet – Trending Stuff

President Donald Trump dealt his biggest blow to the renewable energy industry yet.

On Monday, Trump approved duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made outside the U.S., a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. 

The tariffs are the latest action by Trump to undermine the economics of renewables. The administration already decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, sought to roll back Obama-era regulations on power plant-emissions and signed sweeping tax reforms that constrained financing for solar and wind. The import taxes are the most targeted strike on the industry yet and may have larger consequences for the energy world.

“We are inclined to view it as posing greater trade risk for all types of energy, particularly if other nations establish new trade barriers against U.S. products,” Washington-based research firm ClearView Energy Partners LLC said Monday.

Solar Surges

U.S. panel maker First Solar Inc. jumped as much as 9 percent to $75.20 in after-hours trading in New York. The Tempe, Arizona-based manufacturer stands to gain as costs for competing, foreign panels rise.

Just the threat of tariffs shook solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association projected 23,000 job losses this year in a sector that employed 260,000.

Trump approved four years of tariffs that start at 30 percent in the first year and gradually drop to 15 percent. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells are exempt for each year.

The duties are lower than the 35 percent rate the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in October after finding that imported panels were harming American manufacturers. The idea behind the tariffs is to raise the costs of cheap imports, particularly from Asia, and level the playing field for those who manufacture the parts domestically.

“This is not a goodbye for renewable energy in the U.S.,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “I don’t believe this decision will reverse the solar expansion in the U.S. The global solar industry will adjust. The penetration of solar in the U.S. will continue.”

First Solar is the largest of a handful of panel makers left in the U.S. after most of the industry migrated to China in the past decade. That means the major impact of the duties will be on panel installers, which get most of their supplies from Chinese companies.

Read More: Why Trump Is Taxing Solar Panels Imported by U.S.: QuickTake Q&A

Despite higher anticipated costs, American solar installers including Vivint Solar Inc. and Sunrun Inc. jumped in after-hours trading. “A 30 percent tariff in Year One is bad,” said Gordon Johnson, a New York-based analyst at the Vertical Group, but “it’s less than what the consensus was.”

Jigar Shah, co-founder of investor Generate Capital Inc. and an outspoken advocate for the solar industry, went as far as to describe the decision as “good news.” The tariffs are “exactly what the solar industry asked for behind closed doors” to prevent a negative impact on companies, he said.

Not Deterred

The duties won’t be entirely devastating for the U.S. solar industry, said Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He estimated they’ll increase costs for large solar farms by less than 10 percent and for residential systems by about 3 percent.

The decision will “destruct some demand for new projects in the next two years,” Bromley said. “But they will likely prove insufficient in magnitude and duration to attract many new factories.”

For Trump, the tariffs represent a step toward making good on a campaign promise to get tough on the country that produces the most panels — China. Trump’s trade issues took a backseat in 2017 while the White House focused on tax reform, but it’s now coming back into the fore: The solar dispute is among several potential trade decisions that also involve washing machines, consumer electronics and steel.

Solar Threatened

Tariffs may curb U.S. solar investments that have already fallen in recent years

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The decision comes almost nine months after Suniva Inc., a bankrupt U.S. module manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner, sought import duties on solar cells and panels. It asserted that it had suffered “serious injury” from a flood of cheap panels produced in Asia. A month later, the U.S. unit of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG signed on as a co-petitioner, adding heft to Suniva’s cause.

Suniva had sought import duties of 32 cents a watt for solar panels produced outside the U.S. and a floor price of 74 cents a watt. Trump’s tariffs translate to a charge of about 10 cents a watt, according to Bromley.

Read More: U.S. Solar Has a $1.5 Billion, Long-Shot Plan to End a Trade War

Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., Suniva’s parent, was up 3.9 percent in Hong Kong after jumping as much as 5.2 percent earlier.

While Trump has broad authority on the size, scope and duration of duties, the dispute may shift to a different venue. China and neighbors including South Korea may opt to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization — which has rebuffed prior U.S.-imposed tariffs.

Here’s what people are saying about the tariffs:

  • Suniva thanked Trump for “holding China and its proxies accountable” and said it looked forward to global settlement negotiations. Trump said in his statement that the U.S. Trade Representative will discuss resolving a separate trade dispute that resulted in duties imposed on Chinese solar products and U.S. polysilicon.
  • SolarWorld said it “appreciates the hard work of” Trump and is “hopeful” the tariffs will be enough to rebuild solar manufacturing in the U.S.
  • Sunrun said that while the decision lifts “a cloud of uncertainty,” it runs counter to “consumers, bipartisan elected officials, many military personnel, and the 99 percent of American solar workers whom this tariff will harm in the coming years.” It called for the administration to clarify which countries won’t be subject to the tariffs. (The U.S. Trade Representative said Mexico and Canada will be subject to the duties, despite previous reports that they may be spared.)
  • Rooftop solar installer Sunnova Energy Corp. said the tariffs will not deter the industry. Vivint said it was “disappointed” but would continue to “provide consumers with a better way to create energy.”
  • China’s JinkoSolar Holding Co. said the tariffs were “better than expected” and that it wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of building a plant in the U.S. Taiwan’s Neo Solar Power Corp. similarly said it would study the feasibility of establishing assembly lines in the U.S.
  • South Korea’s Hanwha Q Cells Co. plans to diversify sales to avoid the U.S. tariffs and look for other markets
  • Regardless of the tariffs, solar installer Tesla Inc. said it’s “committed to expanding its domestic manufacturing,” citing a “gigafactory” it opened in Buffalo, New York.
  • Bill Waren, senior trade analyst at Friends of the Earth, called the decision “recklessly irresponsible and a thinly veiled attack on clean energy.”
  • ClearView Energy Partners LLC estimated a roughly 6 percent increase in the costs of commercial solar projects and a 4 percent rise in residential rooftop solar expenses. Large, utility-scale projects may bear the brunt, with a 10 percent increase.
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association warned the tariffs will delay or kill billions of dollars of solar investments.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

SpaceX Rocket Fuels Thaw in Chilly Musk-Trump Relationship – Trending Stuff

Elon Musk’s rocky rapport with President Donald Trump appears to be on the mend, and it only took 5 million pounds of thrust to patch things up.

Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. pulled off a seemingly impossible feat Tuesday when it launched the world’s most powerful rocket in 45 years, then flew two of its spent boosters back to the Florida coast for a spectacular, simultaneous recovery on land. Musk then pulled off something perhaps even more surprising — winning public praise from the White House.

“Congratulations @ElonMusk and @SpaceX on the successful #FalconHeavy launch,” Trump tweeted late Tuesday. “This achievement, along with @NASA’s commercial and international partners, continues to show American ingenuity at its best!”

Musk, who was born in South Africa and has since obtained U.S. citizenship, thanked the president in a reply, noting that “an exciting future lies ahead.”

Thawing Relationship

The 37-word exchange between the two billionaire businessmen is a step forward in their shaky relationship. Musk, who initially served on two of Trump’s White House advisory councils, stepped down in June after the president’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord. But the palpable excitement of the launch appeared to leave Trump and more than 2.3 million concurrent viewers on a YouTube webcast on the edge of their seats.

With hordes of fans gathered along the Florida space coast, the new rocket rumbled aloft under clear skies shortly after 3:45 p.m. local time. The live-stream of the Falcon Heavy Test Flight was the second-most-watched in YouTube’s history, and the launch led all three television network broadcasts in the U.S. Tuesday evening.

Falcon Heavy cleared the launch pad without blowing up — a feat Musk had said would be enough to deem the mission a win — and continued on to deliver Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster with a space-suit wearing mannequin at the wheel toward an Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.

“It seems surreal to me,” said Musk, 46, during a post-launch press conference. “Crazy things can come true.”

Musk said on Twitter late Tuesday the payload’s trajectory had “exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.”

Beating Russia

Falcon Heavy, with three boosters and 27 Merlin engines, makes SpaceX a competitor to United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, a workhorse for large U.S. military payloads. Its 5 million pounds of thrust are the most since the Saturn V used for Apollo moon missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and rival Boeing Co. were among those congratulating SpaceX on the launch.

“A private company just outperformed every government on earth,” said Greg Autry, a professor at the University of Southern California and a former NASA White House liaison. “This is bigger than anything Russia or China is doing. No one else is even close.”

The strides Musk has made rendering Falcon 9 launches more routine — SpaceX pulled off a record 18 launches last year– has helped make it one of the word’s most richly valued private companies.

Following the Falcon Heavy launch, SpaceX accomplished a feat never before seen in space history, re-landing two rocket cores back on earth. Two touched down on land in tandem; the third center core that was slated to settle on an unmanned drone ship ran out of propellant needed to slow down the descent and slammed into the ocean instead.

“The center core didn’t land on the drone ship,” said Musk, who said early reports are that the rocket booster “hit the water at 300 miles per hour and sprayed the drone ship with shrapnel.”

Read more: Tesla sees your Super Bowl ad, raises you a rocket launch

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX already has paying customers committed to flying with Falcon Heavy, including commercial satellite operators Arabsat, Inmarsat and Viasat, according to its launch manifest. The U.S. Air Force also chose Falcon Heavy for its STP-2, or Space Test Program 2, mission, though the vehicle still needs to go through certification.

Playful Payloads

Musk outfitted his Roadster with cameras to capture views of the car as it floated through space, but the batteries were only expected to last for roughly 12 hours. Behind the wheel was “Starman,” clad in the same space suit that astronauts will wear during SpaceX’s Crew Dragon flights to the International Space Station. Musk said that Crew Dragon is now the company’s top priority, with the first demo flights slated for later this year.

A nearly indestructible disk carrying a digital copy of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series, Foundation, is also on board, along with a plaque engraved with the names of SpaceX’s 6,000 employees.

The successful test flight means that SpaceX can move forward with Falcon Heavy missions for paying customers, with the first to take place within three to six months.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and has led the company since the beginning. Falcon Heavy was developed without any government funding, and took far longer than originally planned.

“We tried to cancel the Falcon Heavy program three times because it was way harder than we thought,” said Musk. “Our total investment is over half a billion.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Military chopper crash in Calif. leaves 2 dead – Trending Stuff

A U.S. Army Apache attack helicopter crashed in the predawn hours early Saturday while flying a routine training mission at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California.

Both the pilot and the co-pilot were killed, according to Lt. Col. Jason S. Brown, a spokesman for the Army at the Pentagon.

“The cause is currently under investigation and next-of-kin notifications are ongoing, therefore we can provide no further details at this time,” he said in a statement to Fox News.

The Apache gunship was flying a “readiness training exercise” at the time of the crash, according to a separate official.

The helicopter was attached to the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based out of Fort Carson, Colorado. It had been sent to California as part of a regular training rotation in the California desert, the official added.

The crash occured hours after the government shutdown, but officials say that did not play a roll in the accident.

The AH-64 Apache is armed with hellfire missiles, rocket pods as well as a 30mm chain gun.

In November, the head of Army aviation, Maj. Gen. William Gayler, told Congress his pilots’ flight hours were at their lowest levels in 30 years after years of budget cuts.

Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the military’s advantage over Russia and China has “eroded,” blaming in part the readiness of his forces after years of budget cuts and more than 16 years of continuous combat while Beijing and Moscow modernized their forces.

“For too long, we have asked our military to stoically carry a ‘success at any cost’ attitude as they work tirelessly to accomplish the mission with now inadequate and misaligned resources, simply because the Congress could not maintain regular order,” Mattis said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

With no budget, U.S. military units will be deprived of valuable training opportunities, “aircraft will remain on the ground, their pilots not at the sharpest edge,” Mattis warned.

Last year twice as many U.S. troops were killed in non-combat aviation crashes compared to the year before.

Saturday’s crash was the first known deadly accident for the U.S. military in 2018.

 

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

Bitcoin Ban Expands Across Credit Cards as Big U.S. Banks Recoil – Trending Stuff

A growing number of big U.S. credit-card issuers are deciding they don’t want to finance a falling knife.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. said they’re halting purchases of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on their credit cards. JPMorgan, enacting the ban Saturday, doesn’t want the credit risk associated with the transactions, company spokeswoman Mary Jane Rogers said.

Bank of America started declining credit card transactions with known crypto exchanges on Friday. The policy applies to all personal and business credit cards, according to a memo. It doesn’t affect debit cards, said company spokeswoman Betty Riess.

And late Friday, Citigroup said it too will halt purchases of cryptocurrencies on its credit cards. “We will continue to review our policy as this market evolves,” company spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier said.

For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the podcast:

Allowing purchases of cryptocurrencies can create big headaches for lenders, which can be left on the hook if a borrower bets wrong and can’t repay. There’s also the risk that thieves will abuse cards that were purloined or based on stolen identities, turning them into crypto hoards. Banks also are required by regulators to monitor customer transactions for signs of money laundering — which isn’t as easy once dollars are converted into digital coins.

Bitcoin has lost more than half its value since Dec. 18, falling below $8,000 on Friday for the first time since November. The drop occurred amid escalating regulatory threats around the world, fear of price manipulation and Facebook Inc.’s ban on ads for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

Now, cutting off card purchases could exacerbate those pressures by making it more difficult for enthusiasts to buy into the market. Capital One Financial Corp. and Discover Financial Services previously said they aren’t supporting the transactions.

Mastercard Inc. said this week that cross-border volumes on its network — a measure of customer spending abroad — have risen 22 percent this year, fueled partly by clients using their cards to buy digital currencies. The firm warned that the trend already was beginning to slow as cryptocurrency prices fell.

Discover Chief Executive Officer David Nelms was dismissive of financing cryptocurrency transactions during an interview last month, noting that could change depending on customer demand. For now, “it’s crooks that are trying to get money out of China or wherever,” he said of those trying to use the currencies.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

George Soros Says Trump Administration Is Danger to the World – Trending Stuff

George Soros said President Donald Trump is risking a nuclear war with North Korea and predicts that the groundswell of opposition he’s generated will be his downfall.

“I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world,” the billionaire investor said in a speech from Davos, Switzerland. “But I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner.” He expects a Democratic “landslide” in the 2018 elections.

Soros, the 87-year-old chairman of Soros Fund Management, said his Open Society Foundations are spending more than half of their budget “closer to home” rather than in the developing world, in an effort to protect democracy. While he said the strength of institutions will help prevent Trump from succeeding, Soros counted nuclear war and climate change as greater threats to civilization.

The billionaire former hedge fund manager, speaking Thursday at the World Economic Forum, also struck at social-media companies Facebook Inc. and Google in the speech, comparing them to gambling companies that foster addiction among users, and called cryptocurrencies a typical bubble.

Here are some of the highlights from his speech:

On Global Threats

“Mankind’s ability to harness the forces of nature, both for constructive and destructive purposes, continues to grow while our ability to govern ourselves properly fluctuates, and is now at a low ebb,” Soros said. “The survival of our entire civilization is at stake.”

The U.S. must accept North Korea as a nuclear power, and then cooperate and negotiate with China to establish an alliance that’s better equipped to confront the nation, he said. His comments come amid heightened trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

Facebook, Google

Soros said social-media companies Facebook and Google “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide.” He said the “network effect” that has propelled these companies to dominance is “unsustainable” and predicted that Facebook will “run out of people to convert in less than three years.”

The money manager, whose family office owned a small stake in both companies as of Sept. 30, also criticized social-media organizations for exploiting the data they control and called them a “menace” to society that needs more oversight.

“The fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access,” he said.

A representative from Facebook had no comment on the remarks. A Google representative didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Read more on Soros’s view of the tech companies here

On Bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies are a bubble and aren’t stable stores of value, the legendary macro trader said in response to an audience question after his speech. But he doesn’t see them crashing because of their use by authoritarian regimes in the world.

“As long as you have dictatorships on the rise, you will have a different ending, because the rulers in those countries will turn to Bitcoin to build a nest egg abroad,” Soros said.

He was more positive about the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin, noting that his Open Society Foundations are using such technology to help migrants communicate with their families and keep their money safe.

European Union

Soros also pointed in his speech to the rise of nationalism, particularly within the EU, which he said needs to be “radically” reinvented in order to regain support. He reiterated his view that the EU should avoid creating a core Europe along the lines of the euro area. He added that he’d like to see Britain remain a member of the EU, or eventually rejoin it.

Prior Calls

Soros’s predictions at last year’s conference in Davos were also gloomy and bearish on Trump, and have yet to pan out. He said that the stock market rally would soon come to an end. Since then, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has rallied almost 30 percent. He said that China’s growth rate was probably unsustainable, and that the nation would probably fail to change its growth model in the next two years. Instead, growth in China has continued to accelerate even as authorities clamped down on excessive debt.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

World’s confidence in US leadership under Trump at new low, poll finds – Trending Stuff

In just under half of the worlds countries 65 out of 134 US standing collapsed, by 10 percentage points or more. Photograph: Kham/AFP/Getty Images

Global confidence in US leadership has fallen to a new low, and the country now ranks below China in worldwide approval ratings, according to a new Gallup poll.

The survey of opinion in 134 countries showed a record collapse in approval for the US role in the world, from 48% under Obama to 30% after one year of Donald Trump the lowest level Gallup has recorded since beginning its global leadership poll over a decade ago.

The result comes after a separate Gallup survey found that Trump reaches the first anniversary of his inauguration with the lowest average approval rating of any elected president in his first year.

map

That poll showed that Trump has averaged just a 39% approval rating since his inauguration. The previous low was held by Bill Clinton, whose first-year average was 10 points higher than Trumps, at 49%.

The latest study confirms some of the worst fears of foreign policy analysts in the US and Europe that Trumps America first approach, combined with his volatile and irascible personality, is weakening cohesion among western democracies in the face of a growing challenge from autocracies in Russia and China, and the rise of illiberal democracies and xenophobic nationalism inside Europe.

Germany is now seen as a global leader by many more people (41% of the sample), with China in second place on 31%. Russia has 27% approval for its global role according to the poll.

In just under half of the worlds countries 65 out of 134 US standing collapsed, by 10 percentage points or more. Some of the biggest losses were among Washingtons closest allies in western Europe, Australia and Latin America.

One of the sharpest declines in confidence in US leadership was in the UK, where it dropped by 26 percentage points. A third of Britons questioned in the new poll expressed approval, with 63% voicing disapproval.

This year marks a significant change in our trends, wrote Gallups managing partner, Jon Clifton. Only 30% of the world, on average, approves of the job performance of the USs leadership, down from 48% in 2016. In fact, more people now disapprove of US leadership than approve. This historic low puts the USs leadership approval rating on par with Chinas and sets a new bar for disapproval.

As part of his America First policy, Trump took the US out several multilateral agreements on the grounds they did not serve national interests, including the proposed Trans-Pacific trade partnership and the Paris Climate Change accord. He walked out of talks on a new trade and investment deal with Europe and has threatened to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Approval of US leadership climbed by 10% or more in only four countries: Belarus, Israel, Macedonia and Liberia. It increased moderately in Russia, the former Soviet states in central Asia and parts of west Africa.

Trumps first year in office has aroused particular intense antipathy. Gallup found that the median of worldwide disapproval of US leadership has hit a new record of 43%, higher than disapproval of Russia (36%), China (30%) or Germany (25%).

The US has fallen below China in the Gallup global poll once before, in the last year of the George W Bush administration in 2008, but both the US and China were significantly more popular then than they are now.

The collapse in support is particularly dramatic in Canada and Latin America, where 49% approved of the Obama administrations leadership, with 27% disapproval in 2016. After Trumps first year, the ratings graph has scissored sharply, with only 24% now expressing faith in US leadership a new low – and 58% disapproving.

The Gallup report said that China, which has overtaken the US as the leading trading partner in parts of Latin America, may be positioned to take further advantage. Its approval rating across the Americas is four percentage points higher than the US, but disapproval is much lower at 35%. Many Latin Americans have not made up their minds about Chinese influence.

It is too early in Trumps presidency to deem his America first foreign policy a success or failure, the Gallup report said. However, it is clear that based on the trajectory of what the world thinks of the US, many of the US alliances and partnerships that the Trump administration considers a great strength are potentially at risk.

Daniel Drezner, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy said that the most serious finding was the severe drop in approval for US leadership in the worlds democracies.

He said: Elected leaders care what their publics think about the United States. These numbers will make it harder for those leaders to publicly cooperate with the Trump administration even when it might be in their interest to do so.

Donald Trump’s first year: in his own words – video

However, Mike Gonzalez at the Heritage Foundationsaid the poll was probably more about personal factors and that the reality was not as dire as the numbers suggested.

It is difficult to interpret this polling result as anything other than a visceral reaction to Donald Trump. In reality, this administration has devoted itself to renewing and rebuilding alliances which had been neglected for years, from Great Britain to Japan to various partners in eastern Europe, Gonzalez said.

While China has consistently attempted to expand its global reach, it still has no soft power worldwide, there is no Chinese version of blue jeans, cinema, TV shows, way of life, music, and the like. There are no 700 million people wanting to move to China. President Xis Chinese Dream is a transparent attempt to mimic the American model.

China to Overtake U.S. Economy by 2032 as Asian Might Builds – Trending Stuff

The growing importance of Asia’s major economies will continue in 2018 and beyond, according to a league table that sees the region dominating in terms of size in just over a decade.

The report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London sees India leapfrogging the U.K. and France next year to become the world’s fifth-biggest economy in dollar terms. It will advance to third place by 2027, moving ahead of Germany.

In 2032, three of the four largest economies will be Asian — China, India and Japan — and, by that time, China will also have overtaken the U.S. to hold the No. 1 spot. India’s advance won’t stop there, according to the CEBR, which sees it taking the top place in the second half of the century.

Also by 2032, South Korea and Indonesia will have entered the top 10, supplanting the Group of Seven nations of Italy and Canada.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Trumps error on Jerusalem is a disaster for the Arab world and the US too

The presidents foolish move in recognising the city as the capital of Israel will have negative consequences impossible to predict, says Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University

Every time it seems Donald Trump cannot outdo himself, he does it again. Now he has announced that his administration will recognise Jerusalem as Israels capital, reversing nearly seven decades of American policy. This step will have multiple negative ramifications, many impossible to predict.

Jerusalem is the most important of the so-called final status issues that have been repeatedly deferred during the Israel-Palestine negotiations because of their extreme sensitivity. Trump has ploughed into this imbroglio like a bull in a china shop, zeroing in on the most complex and emotional issue of all those connected to Palestine.

The peace process has been at deaths door since the former secretary of state John Kerrys peace mission ended in failure in 2014. But the international community apart from the US is united in saying recognition of Jerusalem as the capital ofIsraelis disastrous for any hopes of reviving meaningful talks. The status of Jerusalem is one of the pivotal issues that diplomats and peacemakers have said must be agreed between the two parties in negotiations.

Palestinians will see Trumps announcement as the end of their hopes and demands for East Jerusalem as a capital of a future independent state. While few want a return to violence, many will feel diplomatic efforts have got them no closer to a state of their own.

The Israeli government will be thrilled. Ever since it captured (and later annexed) East Jerusalem in the 1967 six-day war, Israel has claimed the city as its eternal and undivided capital, and has longed for international recognition. Some 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements will also celebrate.

Jerusalem is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the entire Palestine question. It has been central to the identity of Palestinian Muslims and Christians as far back as the founding moments of both religions, and has become even more so as the conflict over Palestine has become fiercer.

The rivalry over this holy city is exacerbated by the fact that the same site the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, the Temple Mount to Jews is sacred to both. Because of its explosive nature, this is an issue that no Palestinian politician, and few Arab leaders, would dare to trifle with.

For someone such as me, whose family has lived in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, Trumps announcement does not just mean that the US has adopted the Israeli position that Jerusalem belongs exclusively to Israel. He has also retroactively legitimised Israels seizure and military occupation of Arab East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, and its imposition of discriminatory laws on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living there. The damage he has done will be permanent: the US cannot undo this recognition.

This act completely disqualifies the US from its longstanding role as broker, a position that Washington has monopolised for itself. So much for the pitiful peace plan that Trumps son-in-law Jared Kushner was cooking up and hoping to impose on the Palestinians.

‘It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,’ says Trump video

Trumps action signals disdain for the opinion of the whole Arab world. Whatever Arab dictators and absolute monarchs may tell the Americans they depend on, the Arab peoples are unanimous in supporting the Palestinian position on Jerusalem. Their inevitable reactions to this move will impinge on vital US interests all over the region. As secretary of defense James Mattis noted in 2013: I paid a military security price every day as a commander of [Central Command] because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel.

This latest diplomatic fiasco is another instance of the administration showing utter contempt for the views of the rest of the world. Not one country recognises Jerusalem as Israels capital. There is a global consensus that until a settlement is achieved, it is illegitimate to prejudge or predetermine the outcome of negotiations. The US formally assured the Palestinians on this score in inviting them to the 1991 Madrid peace conference.

Of course, there is a lengthy American track record of bias in favour of Israel. No one should have expected fairness on this issue from them or from their boss.

It is now hard to see how a sustainable Palestinian-Israeli agreement is possible. True to Trump form, this is an entirely self-inflicted wound that will long echo in the annals of diplomacy. It will further diminish the already reduced standing of the US, complicating relations with allies, with Muslims and Arabs and with people of common sense the world over.

Trump, who was warned against this step by Arab, Middle Eastern and European leaders, has now made resolving the conflict over Palestine much harder, even as he has brought joy to his friends, and to their dangerous, extremist soulmates in Israel. Far from ushering in the deal of the century, as he boasted, with this foolish move Trump may usher in the debacle of the century. This is a sad day for international law, for Palestine, and for everyone who cares about peace in the Middle East.

Rashid Khalidi is Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us