Iran’s moderate leader Rouhani secured a second term with a landslide victory in Friday’s presidential election, winning 57% of the vote and giving a decisive victory to pro-reform groups eager to open up the Islamic republic and re-engage with the outside world, Reuters reported. Rouhani’s hardline opponent, senior cleric Ebrahim Raisi who was running for office for the first time, a protege of Iran’s Supreme Leader and the custodian of a religious charity worth tens of billions, came in second with 38.5% said Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Iran’s interior minister.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Iranians for their big turnout, with some 73% said to have voted. The vast turnout prompted Iran to extend the voting deadline by two hours on Friday. Many voters said they came out to block the rise of Raisi, one of four judges who sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death in the 1980s, regarded by reformers as “a symbol of the security state at its most fearsome.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his vote during the presidential election in Tehran
The U.S. Treasury Department has decided not to label China a currency manipulator in a report published Friday on the foreign exchange policies of America’s key trading partners, backing away from President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to do so.
The move was apparently taken out of consideration for China, which the U.S. hopes will help rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
This was the Trump administration’s first release of the twice-yearly report, which evaluates the foreign exchange policies of major U.S. trading partners.
Although the report did not signal a major shift in Washington’s own currency policy, it is likely Trump will try to use the issue as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other countries. The U.S. may try to limit the dollar’s rise against the yen in its first economic dialogue with Japan, scheduled for Tuesday. Japan’s large trade surplus will probably be high on the agenda.
Trump’s Treasury Department used the same standards for determining currency manipulation as those of the previous administration under President Barack Obama. The report kept China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland on a watch list as they met some of the criteria.
Speaking at a CNBC-moderated panel, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again said that accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential elections are “lies” used for “domestic American politics.”
“We said on numerous occasions and I reiterate that we are confident … And know for sure that opinion polls in the Unites States show that very many people are … friendly towards the Russian Federation and I’d like to tell these people that we perceive and regard the United States as a great power with which we want to establish good partnership relations,” Putin said and added “All those things are fictional, illusory and provocations, lies. All these are used for domestic American political agendas. The anti-Russian card is played by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside.”
Putin refuted the findings of a January ODN report which in January found that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said, adding that intelligence agencies have “high confidence” in that assessment, although have yet to release any of the facts backing the assessment.
FInally, Putin explicitly denied that Russia meddled in the U.S. elections. Putin quoted George Bush when asked if the “Russian government had ever tried to influence the outcome of the US presidential election, and there will be no evidence found?” to which he responded “Watch my lips, no.”
Polls missed the last two nationalist tremors; they may miss a third
Think of François Fillon as a more polished and experienced Ted Cruz. He might have been president of France until everything came crashing down.
Fillon is a former French prime minister and admirer of Margaret Thatcher whose libertarian-influenced agenda includes a pledge to ax half a million civil service jobs. He was initially dismissed as an also-ran in the center-right Les Républicains presidential primary, up against the seasoned Nicolas Sarkozy and the moderate Alain Juppé. Instead, Fillon thrashed them both, and polls showed him an early favorite for the French presidency, backed by energized conservatives and the Catholic Right. Eschewing first-past-the-post, France holds a runoff election between its top two finishing presidential candidates if neither secures a majority, and forecasts last year showed the finalists would be Fillon and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen. It was to be a rumble on the right, and Fillon was predicted to win in a rout as French leftists and centrists clothespinned their noses and voted to block the radioactive Le Pen.
Wall Street didn’t get the nitty gritty details it wanted on policies such as tax reform and trade from President Trump Tuesday night in his speech to Congress, but the commander-in-chief’s “presidential” tone set investors at ease and they pushed the Dow up more than 300 points to a record-setting close above 21,000.
Investors are taking Trump’s measured and positive demeanor as a sign that he will have a better chance of getting his economic agenda through Congress.
In his address to a joint session of lawmakers, Trump reiterated his push for “historic tax reform” that will put American businesses on a level playing field with foreign competitors, repeated his calls for a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan and noted that his administration has “undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations.” The president also repeated his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Wall Street was also listening for the things Trump didn’t say. He didn’t echo recent attacks on the media, complain about fake news or mention spats with celebrities and other topics considered “off message.”
As we previously noted, while speculatrs had been reducing their shorts in Treasury futures, they had added to Eurodollar shorts – pushing their bets on Fed rate hikes to record highs. However, as Bloomberg notes, signals are starting to emerge that traders who built up that heavy short, or hawkish, eurodollar base since the start of 2016 could be starting to throw in the towel on a March Fed rate hike.
CME confirmed that Wednesday saw record volume in fed fund futures of 658.7k contracts, beating the previous record of 613k on Nov. 9, the day after the U.S. presidential election. Over the course of Wednesday’s session, a total of 283k Apr fed funds futures contracts traded, largest single-day volume seen in the contract. Open interest in the contract rose by 109k, suggesting some short covering before the minutes and potential new longs after the minutes.
It took Obama ten days since he departed the White House one final time to break his promise that he would “stay on the sidelines” regarding Trump’s policies…
… and in his first public statement, the former president the charge that the Trump administration had based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by his own administration, and endorsed the protests that have been taking place across the country in response to the new restrictions.
Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, said rejected Trump’s insistence that the decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America is similar to a 2011 decision by Obama. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”
As a reminder, over the past 24 hours, Trump has compared his actions to Obama’s 2011 moves to restrict entries from Iraq after two Iraqis were arrested in Kentucky on terrorism charges.
Former Obama administration officials have denied that there was ever a halt to the awarding of visas to Iraqis, though the processing of these applications slowed after they were subject to more intense scrutiny.
Obama’s decision to step back into the public light comes just 10 days after he left office. He joins the chorus of Democrats and mostly tech CEOs criticizing Trump for his decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America.
In less than two weeks as president, Donald Trump has signed several executive orders and presidential memoranda, but with the maelstrom that has followed some of them, it is easy to forget the range of them.
Executive order against Obamacare: Throughout the presidential campaign, Mr Trump promised that if elected, he would repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act dubbed Obamacare. Within hours of being sworn in, Mr Trump signed an executive order that said agencies should exercise all their authority to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of any provision of Obamacare that would impose a cost or burden on states, individuals, insurers or healthcare companies.
Memorandum regarding Mexico City Policy: This move saw Mr Trump reviving a ban on foreign aid to overseas aid organisations that provide or promote abortions.
Presidential Memorandum on government hiring: Mr Trump last Monday ordered a freeze on hiring federal civilian employees but said the order did not apply to military personnel.
Presidential memorandum on the TPP: Withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiation other trade deals that he deemed unfair were also part of Mr Trump’s campaign promises. And just days after taking office, he withdrew America from the 12-nation TPP, which had been a signature trade deal for President Obama and part of his pivot to Asia. The move was in keeping with Mr Trump’s promises of “America first”.
Executive order expediting environmental reviews: He also signed an order aimed at speeding up environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects.
Presidential memoranda on pipelines: Last Tuesday, Mr Trump also took steps to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, that had been rejected by the previous president. Mr Trump said the pipelines would help his campaign promises of creating blue-collar jobs at home and added that portions built in the US would have to use domestically produced steel.
Executive order ‘enhancing public safety in the Interior of the US: The purpose of the order is to enforce immigration laws domestically, giving immigration agencies authority to remove ‘aliens’ they believe could pose a risk to public safety or national security.
Executive order on border security and immigration enforcement: With this order, Mr Trump acted on his campaign promise of a physical wall on the border between Mexico and the US, including all points of entry. Mr Trump also took to Twitter to argue once again the Mexico would pay for the wall, a move that prompted Mexico president Enrique Pena Nieto to call off a planned meeting.
Executive order protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry: It is Mr Trump’s order to severely restrict immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations that stirred up rousing protests over the weekend.
Executive order on reducing regulation: The order that has been billed as a move to support local businesses requires that “whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed”.
Executive order on ethics commitments: The order signed on Saturday places a five-year lobbying ban on the executive branch of employees.
Presidential Memorandum plan to defeat Isis: On Saturday, Mr Trump also signed a plan to that would require the Secretary of Defense to, within 30 days submit a preliminary plan to defeat Isis.
Having taken on the Keystone pipeline and America’s struggling manufacturing sector in a flurry of executive actions on Tuesday, moments ago Reuters reported, citing several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter, that on Wednesday Donald Trump will sign several executive orders restricting immigration. The president is expected to sign the orders at the Washington headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration and border security.
Trump’s orders are said to involve restricting access to the United States for refugees and some visa holders from seven mostly Muslim nations including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Additionally, Trump’s restrictions on refugees are likely to include a multi-month ban on admissions from all countries until the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security can increase the intensity of the vetting process.
During his presidential campaign, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States to protect Americans from jihadist attacks. Many Trump supporters decried Democratic President Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that those fleeing the country’s civil war would carry out attacks. However, since then both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose emigres could pose a threat rather than placing a ban on people who follow a specific religion.
As Reuters adds, to block entry from the designated countries, Trump is likely to instruct the U.S. State Department to stop issuing visas to people from those nations, according to sources familiar with the visa process. He could also instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop any current visa holders from those countries from entering the United States. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the State and Homeland Security departments would work on the vetting process once Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, is installed.
“It’s a great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said on Monday after signing an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 other nations. He didn’t sign any actions to direct a renegotiation of the Nafta accord with Mexico and Canada, yet he said on Sunday he would begin talks with the two leaders on modifying the accord, BBG reported. “We’ve been talking about this a long time,” Trump said.
As the AP notes, the move is basically a formality, since the agreement had yet to receive required Senate ratification. Trade experts say that approval was unlikely to happen given voters’ anxiety about trade deals and the potential for job losses. It remains unclear if Trump would seek individual deals with the 11 other nations in TPP— a group that represents roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy, according to World Bank figures. Trump has blamed past trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization for a decline in U.S. factory jobs.
Trump’s trade focus fulfills a campaign promise to rewrite America’s trade policy during his first days as president. In declaring his determination to renegotiate Nafta, Trump would rework an agreement that has governed commerce in much of the Western hemisphere for 22 years. By scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord negotiated by former President Barack Obama, Trump will delight many of his most fervent supporters as well as a good many Democrats, while opening an economic vacuum in Asia that China is eager to fill.
Trump campaigned against the TPP and other trade deals, including Nafta, during his campaign for the White House. In a video released in November, Trump promised to exit TPP “on day one,” calling it “a potential disaster for our country.”