Daniel Ritort

Latvia joins the euro zone

Latvian euro coin

Latvian euro coin

Latvia has begun the new year by joining the euro zone, becoming the 18th member of the group of European Union states which uses the euro as its currency.

The former Soviet republic on the Baltic Sea recently emerged from the financial crisis to become the European Union’s fastest-growing economy.

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US stock markets end 2013 on record levels

Stock Market activity

Stock Market activity

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is up by 26.5% for the year, rose 72.37 points to 16,576.66, its biggest annual gain in 18 years.

The S&P 500 also saw gains of close to 30% for the year, and closed out 2013 up 7.29 to 1,848.36. The tech-heavy Nasdaq finished up by 22.39 to 4,176.59.

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China’s public local debt jumps 70%

Chinese renminbi banknote

Chinese renminbi banknote

According to an official report, China has local government debts of 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.9tn), up 70% from three years ago.

China’s government asked the National Audit Office (NAO) in July to do a round-up of the debts outstanding at a local level.

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Hollande’s 75% income tax rate gets approval

Francois Hollande, President of France

Francois Hollande, President of France

France‘s highest court has approved a 75% tax on high earners that is one of President Francois Hollande‘s signature policies.

The initial proposal to tax individual incomes was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Council almost exactly one year ago.

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Cuba eases loan restrictions

Shop in La Havana

Shop in La Havana

The Cuban government has eased restrictions on loans to private borrowers in the latest measure aimed at boosting the island’s troubled economy.

Individuals and small businesses can now borrow smaller amounts and have more time to pay back the government.

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China eases one-child policy

Chinese family

Chinese family

Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, said China‘s top legislature has formally adopted a resolution easing the country’s one-child policy.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed a resolution allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child.

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Japan to leave behind 15 years of deflation

Japanese supermarket

Japanese supermarket

Japanese consumer prices have risen at the fastest pace in five years, showing government policies to end its deflation problem may be taking effect.

Core inflation excluding food rose 1.2% in November from the previous year, surpassing market expectations.

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UK to become European largest economy

London financial district

London financial district

The United Kingdom will be in a position to overtake Germany as Europe‘s largest economy, according to the think tank the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).

The CEBR predicts that Germany will lose its current top spot in Europe by 2030. It cites the United Kingdom’s population growth as an aid to economic acceleration.

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France to avoid recession in 2013

INSEE headquarters in Paris

INSEE headquarters in Paris

According to France’s statistics body, the country will avoid a recession this year. The body predicted growth of 0.2% for the whole of 2013.

INSEE said the economy will grow 0.4% in the last three months of the year, after contracting 0.1% in the third quarter.

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Chinese central bank calms credit concerns

Bank office in China

Bank office in China

China‘s central bank has pumped $5bn into the banking system to ease concerns over a credit squeeze that has caused rising interest rates.

The People’s Bank of China did not explain its actions, but over the last few days there has been growing concern over the availability of credit.

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