The DailyBrief

Monday March 13, 2017

Federal Reserve raise: Whether the Federal Reserve raises the overnight rate to 1% from 0.75% tomorrow rather than at its May meeting, as expected earlier, is a matter of compelling interest in the financial world but it shouldn’t be, writes David P. Goldman. Economic data suggests that the transmission mechanism between monetary policy and the real economy is extremely loose, if not completely broken and the Fed might want to consider why its models have stopped working and think about devising better ones.

China’s space war: China’s military is developing powerful lasers, electromagnetic railguns and high-power microwave weapons for use in a future “light war” involving space-based attacks on satellites, writes Bill Gertz. Beijing’s push to produce so-called directed-energy weapons aims to neutralize America’s key strategic advantage: the web of intelligence, communication and navigation satellites enabling military strikes of unparalleled precision expeditionary warfare far from US shores.

Indonesian corruption scandal: A graft watchdog’s claim that politicians embezzled US$173 million from a state scheme may if proven represent Parliament’s largest ever skimming scam, reports John McBeth. The House Speaker, Justice Minister and 37 parliamentarians appear in a list of figures suspected of embezzling Rp2.3 trillion from an electronic identity card project in what the head of one corruption watchdog group called “a massive robbery of the national budget.”

SexyCyborg woos China: Naomi Wu, a 23-year-old from southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, who has been called the world’s sexiest hacker, is also known as SexyCyborg and her do-it-yourself videos have made her an online phenomenon. Johan Nylander writes that, despite the leather boots, stay-up stockings and miniskirts, her video clips are largely meant to inspire young women to go into technology, to code and to promote China as a hub for creative technology.

Abenomics and Japan: Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s leadership has earned him public support ratings near 60% but he hasn’t managed to pull the economy out of its multi-decade slump. Yet, argues Grant Newsham, although critics attack the prime minister about the apparent failure of Abenomics, it should be noted that none of his predecessors were any more successful on the economic front over the last 25 years.