Headlines

Facing unease over the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, the European Central Bank said it would maintain its stimulus in the form of ultra-low interest rates until inflation “durably” reaches its 2% target, the Associated Press reported. The monetary authority for the 19 countries that use the euro said it would not back off its efforts to support the economy, even if that resulted in a “transitory” period of inflation moderately above target. ECB President Christine Lagarde underlined the bank’s determination to persist with supportive policy.

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The British government said that the post-Brexit trade rules it negotiated with the European Union “cannot go on” and need a major rewrite, straining already-tense U.K./E.U. relations and drawing a message of concern from the U.S. government, the Associated Press reported. The government said Britain would be justified in unilaterally suspending the legally binding Brexit agreement but had decided not to do so just yet. Since the U.K. left the EU’s economic embrace at the end of 2020, relations have soured over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K.

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Indian farmers, protesting against new agriculture laws they say threaten their livelihoods, started a sit-in near parliament in the capital, renewing a push for a repeal of the laws, Reuters reported. In the longest-running growers' protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on major highways leading to New Delhi for more than seven months.

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There’s still at least one thing Americans do better than anyone else in the world: Corporate bankruptcies, Bloomberg reported. Since 2013, hundreds of foreign businesses have taken advantage of U.S. bankruptcy courts to slash debt and clean up their balance sheets, according to an analysis of legal filings. The reason is simple, lawyers and former judges say: America has the most company-friendly bankruptcy rules in the developed world. “The lawyers and judges know how to move things through the system quickly,” said Prof.

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The Olympics have long been an almost ideal forum for companies looking to promote themselves, with plenty of opportunities for brands to nestle ads among the pageantry and feel-good stories about athletes overcoming adversity — all for less than the price of a Super Bowl commercial, the New York Times reported. But now, as roughly 11,000 competitors from more than 200 countries convene in Tokyo as the coronavirus pandemic lingers, Olympic advertisers are feeling anxious about the more than $1 billion they have spent to run ads on NBC and its Peacock streaming platform.

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The Biden administration’s business advisory on Hong Kong has generated more heat and light than appears justified by its contents, according to a Bloomberg Opinion. The fireworks may be a sign that the U.S. and China are content to let hostilities play out as diplomatic theater, and are reluctant to raise confrontation to a level that would meaningfully challenge the functioning of a key global financial center.

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The chief executive of Unilever on Thursday said the global consumer goods giant remains “fully committed” to doing business in Israel, distancing himself from this week’s announcement by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand that it would stop serving Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and contested east Jerusalem, the Associated Press reported. But CEO Alan Jope gave no indication that Unilever would force Ben & Jerry’s to roll back its controversial decision.

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Britain's supermarkets, wholesalers and hauliers were struggling to ensure stable food and fuel supplies after an official health app told hundreds of thousands of workers to isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19, Reuters reported. Coronavirus cases in Britain have been broadly rising for a month, with more than 44,000 recorded on Wednesday. "We're very concerned about the situation," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.

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Israel’s aviation industry is in danger of collapse, airline company heads told the country’s coronavirus airport commissioner, the Jerusalem Post reported. A solution to allow air travel, despite fears of new coronavirus variants and rising case numbers, must be found quickly, the airline heads told Maj.-Gen. (res.) Roni Numa ahead of the coronavirus cabinet’s meeting. Numa met with the heads of El Al, Israir, and Arkia and international carriers in order to hear their feedback and ask for solutions ahead of the meeting.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that a compromise deal that will allow the completion of a Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions is “good for Ukraine,” the Associated Press reported. The U.S. and Germany announced the deal on Wednesday and committed to countering any Russian attempt to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a political weapon. They also agreed to support Ukraine and Poland, both of which are bypassed by the project and fear Russia’s intentions, by funding alternative energy and development projects.

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