‘Frexit’ concerns ahead of French election
The latest of the exit scenarios to spook financial markets, the risk of France leaving the eurozone has heightened in recent wwwks after far-right candidate Marine Le Pen launched her presidential campaign with a hardline speech on immigration and globalization. Her bid to become the next French president has for long been discounted, but as a scandal has surrounded the campaign of conservative candidate François Fillon, Le Pen is seen as a serious contender for the position. “The French presidential candidate, Le Pen, has managed to create a stir since putting herself forward and vocalizing her desire for a Frexit,” said Fiona Cincotta, market analyst City Index, in a note. Five days before the first round of the French presidential election the candidates are frantically canvassing for votes.And one of their key issues is France’s position in Europe. Many voters care deeply about the future of the European Union, and the election has as much potential to save the bloc as it does to destroy it.
IMF says pace of global economic growth is picking up
The world economy seems to be gaining momentum, according the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. Writing in the IMF’s new World Economic Outlook, Maurice Obstfeldt said “we could be at a turning point”. The report forecasts global growth this year of 3.5%, up from 3.1% predicted in 2016. The UK’s economy is forecast to expand by 2% this year, stronger growth than any of the major developed economies apart from the US. The prediction for Britain this year is now only marginally below what the IMF predicted a year ago, its last full forecast before the Brexit referendum, the figure then was 2.2%. The IMF also warns of headwinds that could weaken its global projections. The organisation highlights the possibility of protectionism and what the report calls “trade warfare” and that “inward-looking policies” could derail economic improvements. “Avoiding the damage from potential protectionist measures will require a renewed multilateral commitment to support trade,” said IMF head of research Maurice Obstfeld. The warning appears to be aimed at President Trump’s “America First” agenda and other protectionist polices. Trump has already pulled the U.S. out of one vast trade deal in the Pacific. He’s also promised to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico, and threatened to slap tariffs or taxes on imports.
Venezuela spirals into ‘deep economic crisis’
Venezuela is diving deeper into crisis as citizens prepare for a mega march Wednesday against President Nicolas Maduro. The IMF didn’t sugarcoat its updated economic outlook for Venezuela on Tuesday. “Venezuela remains mired in a deep economic crisis,” IMF authors wrote in its World Economic Outlook. Unemployment is set to surpass 25% this year, possibly on its way to 28% next year. It was at 7.4% in 2015. Venezuela’s economy shrank a massive 18% last year – its third year of recession and it’s expected to be in the red this year, and next too. The IMF’s prediction for inflation in Venezuela is pretty bad, but better than previous expectations: It’s expected to skyrocket 720% this year – somehow only half of the previous forecast. But if Venezuela stays on its current path, the IMF predicts inflation will rise over 2000% in 2018.
Netflix nears 100 million subscribers
Netflix has grown slower than it expected in the first three months of the year, but insists that the opportunity for growth is “gigantic”. The streaming firm added 4.95 million new subscribers in the quarter, fewer than the 5.2 million it had forecast. In the US, the firm added a third fewer new members than the same period a year ago, while overseas members fell 22%. Netflix blamed the drop partly on shifting some of its popular shows to the second quarter of the year. The firm said its House of Cards series, which last year debuted in the first quarter but for this year has been pushed into the second quarter, was the main reason for the lower-than-expected subscriber growth. Netflix said it still expected to add 8.15 million new members in total for the first half of the year, just below the 8.42 it added in the first half of last year.
Google Earth is getting a facelift
Google Earth, which is known for showing satellite imagery, topography and 3D buildings, unveiled new features on Tuesday that offer additional information and more interactive experiences. New features like “Knowledge Cards” give more information, history and pictures of places people search for, while “I’m feeling lucky” suggests unique locations, like the Pemba Island off the Swahili coast or the Zao Hot Spring in Yamagata, Japan. “Feeling lucky” features 20,000 curated places that Google says are “a little bit off the beaten path” and a spot a local might recommend. Also, Google Earth now suggest “Points of Interest” it thinks the user will like based on what they have searched for on the past. “Google Maps is for finding your way. Google Earth is for getting lost,” Gopal Shah, Google Earth product manager, told CNNTech. “Google Maps is sort of my personal assistant to get me around a place…[With] Google Earth we want to take you where you’re not…It’s about exploring the world.”