In Brief – N.41 – December 2, 2016

US businesses added 161,000 new nonfarm jobs in October 2016, nudging the unemployment rate down to 4.9% from 5% the previous month. The latest jobless report was another indication of a durable but lukewarm economy.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega won re-election, electoral authorities said, setting the stage for his third consecutive term – this time accompanied by his wife as vice president. The president of the Supreme Electoral Council, Roberto Rivas, said that Ortega had more than 71% of the votes with about a fifth of the ballots counted.

China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei who has played an important role in trying to reform the country’s debt-laden economy for the past 3 years will be replaced by Xiao Jie, a former tax chief. No reason was given for the change.

France’s electricity sustainability could be “more complicated” to provide this winter than in previous ones because of several nuclear plants which were put on hold, and in case of colder weather than expected, “exceptional measures” could be taken, warned RTE.

Iran and French oil giant Total have signed heads of agreement regarding the development of phase 11 of South Pars gas field, worth a total USD 6 billion. France confirmed this way its trade comeback to Iran after the international Nuclear Deal agreed in July 2015.

Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, has revised its grain harvest forecast up for 2016 at 117 million tons at least, an unprecedented high level since the end of the USSR, according to Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev.

Russian Minister of Economy Alexei Ulyukayev has been accused of receiving a bribe of two million dollars in connection with an oil sector sale. He was arrested during an operation conducted by the Federal Security Service, the FSB. He faces a prison sentence of 8 to 15 years.

Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon were respectively appointed Chief of Staff and Chief Strategist of President-Elect Donald Trump, accrediting the assumption of a strongly rightist Trump administration.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung has acquired US-based Harman, the leading automotive connectivity solutions for USD 8 billion. Samsung thus affirms its ambitions in the connected automotive sector.

Global oil demand will continue to grow until 2040, mostly because of the lack of easy alternatives to oil in road freight, aviation and petrochemicals, according to IEA’s WEO-2016. However, renewables and natural gas will be the big winners in the race to meet energy demand growth till then.

We want to build an alliance with Russia to face world conflicts. Such alliance has obvious political and cultural meaning,” said Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a French MP and a prominent member of the Front National (FN).

The European Commission (EC) has warned that 8 eurozone countries, including Italy, are at risk of breaking EU rules because of excessive budget deficits. Under EU rules, member states are not supposed to run annual deficits greater than 3% of their total economic output.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been the first chief of government to meet with US President-elect Donald Trump in New York with whom he said his confidence in building a relationship of mutual trust.

Despite a rise in deliveries, German automotive group Volkswagen could spare EUR 3.7 billion by laying off up to 30,000 employees as a result of the “dieselgate” that revealed the group had rigged its engines’ pollution-tests.

Under the supervision of the European Union (EU), 80 countries have pledged to support the Central African Republic (CAR) with USD 2.28 billion over 3 years with a view to promoting peace and economic development in the country where France’s military intervention proved decisive.

Turkey has abandoned plans for a controversial law that would have allowed men who had sex with underage children to be pardoned if they married the victim, announced Prime Minister Binali Yildrim. The reversal came after Parliament approved the bill in an initial reading. Meanwhile, Turkey’s accession talks with the European Union (EU) continue.

In line with a Cyceon’s article published in July 2016, the peace accord with the FARC in Colombia that was rejected in a referendum then modified in October 2016 has been rejected once again by the Colombian opposition led by former President Alvaro Uribe.

Angela Merkel, motivated by the 3-day visit of US President Barack Obama in Berlin, said that she will seek a fourth term as Chancellor of Germany in general elections in 2017. Cyceon analysts pointed out the risk of her candidacy’s gradual deterioration amid growing questioning of her political longevity and her policies especially on immigration.

South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, is fighting for her political life amid a scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, her close friend who has been dubbed “shadow president” for her role as a secret adviser. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets every weekend for the last month, calling on her to step down.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to be the US ambassador to the United Nations (UN). Haley, who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, has been serving as her home state’s first female and first minority governor.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that an upcoming vote in the European Parliament (EP) on whether to freeze membership talks with Turkey is of “no value” to his country. The EP’s vote would mostly result from unprecedented crackdown following the failed military coup in July 2016.

Officials in Wisconsin conducted a full recount of the votes from the US election in the state after a formal request for the recount was filed by the Green Party’s Jill Stein. President-elect Donald Trump said that he had fallen short in the popular vote in the general election only because millions of people had voted illegally.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny has told Sky News it will be “impossible” for the UK to agree a full Brexit deal within the two years set out in Article 50. As a result, Kenny said a Brexit transition deal between the UK and EU was “inevitable”.

“In light of the current context of low interest rates, policymakers have a unique window of opportunity to make more active use of fiscal levers to boost growth and reduce inequality without compromising debt levels. We urge them to do so,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said.

“The Italian debt is sustainable, that does not mean there is room for complacency. Therefore it’s important the country lives up to its commitments under the Stability and Growth Pact,” ECB President Mario Draghi told an EU parliamentary committee.

Being constantly wrong is good. Despite endorsing Hillary Clinton and enduring Donald Trump’s repeated criticisms, The New York Times (NYT) said paid subscriptions online and in print have soared by 132,000 since Election Day.

Qatar pledged USD 1.25 billion in financial support for Tunisia’s struggling economy. Speaking at an investment conference in Tunis, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said Qatar would provide the assistance “to support the Tunisian economy and strengthen its process of development.”

After having been rejected twice including once through a referendum, Colombia has finally ratified on November 30, 2016 the peace agreement with the FARC guerilla by a parliamentary vote with 130 for and 0 against it.

In line with the principle agreement drafted in Algiers (Algeria) in September 2016, OPEC member countries have signed an agreement on November 30, 2016 that aims to limit oil production at 32.5 million barrels per day (bpd) instead of 33.6 million currently.

51-year-old undercover agent, a Germany’s domestic intelligence agency employee in charge of surveilling Islamist groups, onetime porn actor who secretly converted to Islam, has been arrested on accusations of planning an attack against the agency’s bureau in Cologne.