Political Roundup

In Our Headlines…

Amid the heating upcoming presidential election, President Trump suggested that he discussed former Vice President Joe Biden and his family during a phone call to Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, last week. This complaint, stemming from Mr. Trump’s “concerns about corruption,” polarized politicians and the public alike. Democrats were exasperated by Trump’s self-admitted abuse of power. The House of Representatives formally launched an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Republicans are vehemently defending Trump’s actions, with Sen. Lindsey Graham vying for an extensive investigation into Biden and his son’s actions. Despite being the center of the tumult, Biden has so far refrained from any radical stance, only calling for an investigation into Trump’s calls (Vox, Trump admits he discussed Biden with Ukraine, but says he was just worried about corruption, 09.22.2019).

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gained an edge in a major new Iowa poll with her support at 21 percent, slightly ahead of consistent frontrunner Biden’s 20 percent, according to a survey of the state’s Democratic voters. Her chances of maintaining and surpassing this high, though, remain tentative. Warren also scored 71 percent for being “actively” considered, ahead of Biden’s 60 percent. In third place is Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) with 11 percent support, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) with nine and six percent support respectively. At the far end of the list, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (D-NJ) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) both at score 3 percent; former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and entrepreneurs Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang each scoring two percent. Sanders, whose base of support has stagnated in recent months, has seen an existent decline in this poll. However, while Warren’s “universe of support” is larger than other candidates, the order may shuffle again if poorly faring candidates manage to kindle strong enough coalitions among potential supporters (Vox, “Iowa poll Elizabeth Warren Ann Selzer Des Moines register September 2019 Democratic primary,” 09.22.2019).

In their annual policy interest rates discussion on Sept. 17, the Federal Reserve injected $75 billion into the short-term money market for the first time in a decade. The consecutive cash’s worth of overnight funds acted as an urgent intervention when the Federal Fund rates—the rate at which banks can borrow money to replenish their own stockpile—topped the Fed’s target in conjunction with the precipitous spike in “repo” rate, or the price at which high-quality securities such as American government bonds can be temporarily swapped for cash, to 10 percent. Though not indicative of a banking crisis such as the one in 2007, the repo rate’s increasing divergence from the Federal Fund rate poses an insecurity to the Fed and its core monetary public policy. The jumping demands for cash from companies for quarterly tax-payments and investors have dwindled the money supply in banks, requiring them to borrow from one another, leading to jumping repo rate with increased cash scarcity. Though having soothed the rampage for cash, the Fed now faces a more perennial issue: What should it do when the same tumult emerges again? According to Chairman Jerome Powell, the Fed would continue to expand its balance sheet sufficiently to cater for future demand rises.(The Economist, “Why the Fed was forced to intervene in short-term money markets,” 09.19.2019).

Around the world…

On Sept. 14, Saudi Arabia withstood a missile attack on the Abqaiq, a town in the eastern Saudi desert that facilitates the world’s largest oil-processing plant. The firing penetrated the spheroids used for processing crude oil and demolished five of Abqaiq’s 18 stabilization towers. Another hit struck the Khurais oilfield, 185 kilometers southwest. Consequently, oil prices briefly surged by 20 percent and oil production decreased by 5.7 million barrels per day. The largest escalation yet by Iran amid its feud with the United States and allies, the attack points to the Islamic Republic and its allies given its established habits to press tensions in the region. This is also possibly the start of a violent transition from the covert proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, alongside alignments to outright aggression between Iran and the U.S., with neither nation willing to tame or be tamed (The Economist, “A strike on Saudi Arabia moves a shadowy conflict closer to open war,” 09.19.2019).

International climate strikes rippled across the country on Friday, Sept. 20. The Economist released an array of analyses concerning climate change and its effects, alongside proposed strategies to combat it. Regarding the candidates for implementation, which include reducing carbon footprint in production and consumption via carbon taxes, lucidity on firms’ climate vulnerabilities is only one of the most needed actions, but a monumental one, requiring a rigorous transformation of energy supply to renewables. In a wise avoidance of glamorizing the consequences of climate change, The Economist focused on the impacts global warming has on tens of millions of marginalized individuals by tampering with the functions of even the most daily amenities; thereby altogether calling for immediate and unanimous actions that will shift traditional ways of life. Right now, chances for survival require not only compensation for affected nations and regions, but also true initiatives revitalizing the global entire economy (The Economist, “A Warming World: The Climate Issue,” 09.19.2019).

In India, the incremental and 20-year static research and development fund occupying 0.6 percent of the national GDP requested investments from private firms. Ideologies seemed to have been the main drive for public funding. A particular focus since the ascent in 2014 of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a self-professed champion of Hindu nationalism, has been on the use of Indian ancient science and medicine, including Vedic chants to reduce brain trauma. Scientists claimed to have had to conduct research on cows’ urine and panchagavya (a mixture of yogurt, milk, clarified butter and dung) to win funding from a recently created government board tasked with “validating” the beneficial qualities of bovine materials. Desperate for equipment and lab facilities, a researcher lamented at ideas “based on absolutely unscientific mythology and scripture” whilst a newly born National Cow Commission has promised a 60 percent startup capital fund to businesses promoting panchagavya (The Economist, “India’s Government is Pouring Money into Dung,” 09.12.2019).

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