What We're Watching &What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US-China trade talks – Today, US and Chinese negotiators are meeting for a third day to try to hash out a deal to end the trade war. Both sides have been hurt by tit-for-tat tariffs on $360 billion of cross-border trade. China's economy is growing at its slowest clip since the global financial crisis, by some measures, while the US stock market just experienced its worst December in 80 years.


On Tuesday, stocks jumped after President Trump tweeted that "talks with China are going very well!" and the countries agreed to extend negotiations. We'll find out soon whether that was just empty posturing or a sign of real progress.

Succession at the World Bank On Monday, World Bank President Jong Yon Kim resigned unexpectedly. Under a long-standing gentlemen's agreement, in which the US picks the World Bank president while Europe gets first dibs on the head of the International Monetary Fund, Donald Trump will select Kim's successor. The US president is skeptical of multilateral institutions, but recently backed more funding for the Bank to help counter China's growing development influence. Some of Trump supporters are already suggesting that president should use the opportunity appoint a World Bank chief who is more focused on infrastructure and jobs and less focused on climate change. That could rile developing countries, which have long chafed as US dominance of the nomination process and have more to lose from climate shocks.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Kim Jong-un's birthday train trip Beijing Earlier this week, a mystery train was spotted crossing the North Korean border into China. On Tuesday, North Korean president Kim Jong-un appeared in Beijing, just in time for his 36thbirthday. Kim will use the visit to cozy up to China and grumble about US demands that North Korea unilaterally give up its nukes before it gets sanctions relief. Xi Jinping will repeat calls for dialogue, but he'll shy away from any moves that could alienate the US during ongoing trade talks. This looks more like an opportunity for two allies to check in than a sign of an impending breakthrough on denuclearization.

Hacked German politicians – Last week, Germany's political establishment was rocked by revelations that someone had hacked and published the personal details of hundreds of the country's politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany party was spared in the data dump, prompting speculation that it might have been the work of Russia or another country intent on destabilizing Merkel's fragile governing coalition. But it turns out the culprit was a 20-year-old German student living with his parents who said he found politicians annoying. In some ways, that's more terrifying than if it was the work of the nation-state, but since it now appears unlikely to spark a major international incident, we're parking this one under ignoring.

The 10-year challenge might actually be an attempt to improve facial recognition technology.

It's Tech in 60 Seconds with Nicholas Thompson!


And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft Today in Technology.

"Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." So said Winston Churchill in November 1947, a time when Soviet Communism was beginning to offer the world a new alternative.

Read Now Show less

My high school history teacher Dr. Cohen once told me, as we shuffled through the school cafeteria, that computers would one day make socialism viable. Given that the Soviet collapse had already happened, and that Super Nintendo still seemed vastly more magical than anything you could put on your desk, this seemed far-fetched.

Read Now Show less

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Syria ISIS attack A suicide bombing in Syria claimed by ISIS killed 14 people including four Americans this week. Two questions we'll be watching: Will this attack impact the pace of President Trump's ordered withdrawal of US troops from Syria, and is the bombing part of a broader ISIS strategy to launch a wave of new attacks as US troops depart?

Read Now Show less