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Low interest rates and high liquidity have also generated collateral damages. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that aggressive monetary policies lead to “rising market concentration, reduced dynamism, a widening productivity-gap between industry leaders and followers, and slower productivity growth.”

Another negative side effect is the rise of zombie companies, those that cannot cover interest expenses with operating profits for an extended period of time. According to Ryan Banerjee, an economist at the Bank of International Settlements, the percentage of zombie firms has risen to multi-year highs.

We must also understand that the concerns about liquidity created a large impact in global markets, as investors worried about central banks normalizing policy. 2018 was the first year in which global money supply fell after years of exceptionally high growth. Central banks have changed their communication to a more dovish tone, but this is not necessarily going to prevent a change of economic cycle, rather the opposite. Failure to normalize sends a message of deteriorating economic signals.

These issues are unlikely to end due to a trade deal. Cycles change. China’s slowdown was inevitable and a reduction in U.S. growth estimates is logical after the longest expansion in history.

Remember that the same reason why tariffs had a relatively small impact on the global economy shows why a new trade agreement is unlikely to change the current trend. Those tariffs affected a relatively small proportion of the global economy.

A new trade deal will probably have a marginal effect on the Chinese and U.S. economies.

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Pompeo urges new era of cooperation in Middle East meeting



U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Thursday for a new era of cooperation on the Middle East and said no country could afford to stay on the sidelines in tackling regional challenges such as Iran, Syria, Yemen and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Pompeo spoke amid tensions with the European Union over Washington’s decision to pull out of world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran deal and its sudden announcement to withdraw American troops from Syria.

“The United States seeks a new era of cooperation between all of our countries on how to confront these issues,” Pompeo told foreign ministers and other officials from more than 60 countries in Warsaw.

Pompeo refrained from directly criticising Iran and instead included it in a list of Middle East challenges, while acknowledging differences among countries on all of the issues.

“None of the region’s challenges will solve themselves. We must work together for security,” he said. “No country can afford to remain on the sidelines.”

European allies of Washington have voiced concern that the conference would turn into an Iran-bashing session and increase tensions with the Islamic Republic, which has lambasted the gathering as a “desperate circus”.

Earlier, in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo said peace and stability in the Middle East could not be achieved without confronting Iran.

Iran says its ballistic missile programme is defensive and a deterrent only, and that it has has deployed forces to Syria and Iraq only after the invitation of governments of those countries.

The Warsaw meeting was a rare show of Middle East cooperation, bringing together Israel and Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu, who met with the Omani foreign minister on the sidelines on Wednesday, called the conference a “historical turning point” in tackling the threat from Iran.

“I think this marks a change, an important understanding of what threatens our future, what we have to do to secure it and the possibilities of cooperation that extend beyond security to every realm of life for the peoples of the Middle East,” said Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9.

“This happened here, it happened in Warsaw, and I think the main conclusion I have is that it must continue, in other forms, in other ways, for the same purpose.”

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Bitcoin trading volumes hit an all-time high



President Nicolas Maduro has presided over Venezuela’s spiral into its worst-ever economic crisis, with hyperinflation forecast to reach 10 million percent this year.

As a result, some 3 million Venezuelans have fled abroad over the past five years to escape worsening living conditions.

The rising interest for bitcoin and other digital assets in Venezuela has been driven, in large part, by the fast-moving political and economic collapse in the South American country.

In early 2018, Maduro sought to bring an end to a prolonged period of economic turmoil by introducing the so-called petro cryptocurrency.

The petro was designed to help Venezuela’s government keep up with international financial obligations at a time when the country’s collapsing economy was hit by sanctions from the U.S. and European Union.

Critics have since widely discredited the move, calling the currency a “scam.”

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Wave technology could provide thousands of households with energy



Engineers have developed wave energy technology that could help to produce low-cost electricity for thousands of households.

In an announcement Wednesday, the University of Edinburgh said that the device could convert wave power into electricity and had been designed “to be incorporated into existing ocean energy systems.”

Experiments in an ocean simulator have shown that one full-size device was able to produce the equivalent of 500 kilowatts, the university added. This represents enough electricity for roughly 100 houses.

The device, called a Dielectric Elastomer Generator, uses flexible rubber membranes and can fit on the top of vertical tubes.

According to the university, when these tubes are put in the sea, they partially fill with water that “rises and falls with wave motion.”

The university adds that when waves pass the tube, the water inside it pushes trapped air which in turn inflates and deflates a generator at the top of the device. While the membrane inflates, a voltage is produced, which increases when the membrane deflates, producing electricity.

“Wave energy is a potentially valuable resource around Scotland’s coastline, and developing systems that harness this could play a valuable role in producing clean energy for future generations,” David Ingram, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, said in a statement Wednesday.

The study was undertaken in collaboration with researchers at the University of Trento, University of Bologna and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa in Italy. It was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A and supported by Wave Energy Scotland and the European Union Horizon 2020 program.

The European Commission has described “ocean energy” as being both abundant and renewable. Ocean energy could potentially contribute around 10 percent of the European Union’s power demand by 2050, according to the Commission.

In addition to the work being carried out at Edinburgh, the U.K. is home to a number of interesting marine based renewable energy projects.

In August 2018, for example, Scotrenewables Tidal Power, which is now known as Orbital Marine Power, announced that a tidal turbine had generated record levels of power production in its first year of testing at the European Marine Energy Center in Orkney, Scotland.

The 2 megawatt SR2000 turbine produced more than 3 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity in less than 12 months, according to the firm.

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