Clues on Trump’s Budget Plans
Trump’s fiscal reforms will spare large welfare programmes from cuts, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Editor’s Remarks: Discussing Trump’s upcoming economic proposals, which the President will outline in his first ‘State of the Union’ address, Mnuchin didn’t add many specifics to the planned tax overhaul beyond what is already known – tax cuts and simplification for lower-income Americans and US companies – but drew some clear lines on spending plans. His remarks indicate that funding cuts to federal benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare will not be on the agenda, though he did not rule them out for future policy proposals.
What to watch: Trump’s ‘State of the Union’ Address, Steven Mnuchin
Tunisia’s Reforms Cut Deep
In response to IMF demands, Tunisia is set to undertake drastic fiscal reforms.
Editor’s Remarks: Finance Minister Lamia Zribi said the measures are likely to include up to 10,000 public sector jobs and the sale of stakes in three state-owned banks. After the first $320m tranche of a loan paid last June, the IMF decided to postpone the second tranche in December, concerned over Tunisia’s banks and public finances. A suspension of further instalments could see other international creditors back off from Tunisia, complicating the country’s woes as it struggles to bounce back from economic turmoil in the wake of its 2011 pro-democracy ‘Jasmine revolution’.
What to watch: Lamia Zribi, the IMF, Société Tunisienne de Banque, Banque Nationale Agricole, Banque de l’Habitat
Trump’s “Aggressive” Environmental Deregulation
US environmental regulations will be rolled back in an “aggressive way” according to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Editor’s Remarks: In an address to the Conservative Political Action conference, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt hinted that plans to slash rules put in place in the Obama era will be outlined as soon as this week. Arguing that the EPA’s focus on climate change measures under the previous administration had cost jobs and growth, he sided with Americans who have come to see the agency as unfavourably as the IRS tax collectors – though his measures are just as relevant to the conflict between business interests and environmental activists.
What to watch: President Trump’s ‘State of the Union’ Address, Scott Pruitt, EPA
Huawei’s Challenge to Samsung
The Chinese telecoms giant is wheeling itself into the gap left by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 with a new mass-market phone.
Editor’s Remarks: The new ‘P10’ line of mobile phones is likely to be a lower-budget version of Huawei’s ‘Mate 9’ premium business phone, and will be timed to make the best of the scorched gap left by Samsung’s flagship Note 7, withdrawn after exploding batteries were reported across the line. If successful, the move could see Huawei to pip Samsung to the spot of second-largest phone maker globally, as the Korean company’s Note 7 meltdown hit consumer trust and wiped $5.3bn off its operating profit – already having allowed Apple’s iPhone to overtake it in sales figures.
What to watch: Mobile World Congress, Huawei, Samsung, Apple
Google’s Robo-assistant Roll-out
The ‘Google Assistant’ will be brought out to all phones running the latest versions of Google’s Android operating system.
Editor’s Remarks: The digital personal assistant was previously limited to Google’s own products, but its reach will be greatly widened now that any smartphone running Android 6.0 or 7.0 will gain access to it, starting with the US this week, followed by other English-speaking countries until the company adds support for more languages. The company’s roll-out plan has already seen misfires, though – Android manufacturer Huawei’s decision to support Amazon’s Alexa was likely due to Google putting the feature on its own hardware before offering it to partners – so whether Google Assistant beats its rival or even makes it out of the novelty niche occupied by Siri remains to be seen.
What to watch: Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung Electronics