North America

The U.S. and Germany on Wednesday announced a deal to allow the completion of a controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions, the Associated Press reported. The agreement aims to stanch fears about European dependence on Russian energy, but it was immediately assailed by critics who said it doesn’t go far enough. Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. and Germany committed to countering any Russian attempt to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a political weapon.

Read more

More than 1.5 million children worldwide saw a parent, custodial grandparent or other relative who cared for them die from COVID-19, according to a study published by the Lancet, UPI reported. Of these children, more than 1 million experienced one or both parents dying during the first 14 months of the pandemic, and another 500,000 experienced the death of a grandparent caregiver living in their own home, the data showed.

Read more

The Biden administration has reached a preliminary agreement with Germany over a controversial Russia-to-Europe gas pipeline that is vehemently opposed by Ukraine and Poland, as well as both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the Associated Press reported. Congressional aides briefed on the outlines of the deal said it would allow the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline without either Germany or Russia facing new U.S. sanctions. In return, the U.S. and Germany will make certain concessions to Ukraine and Poland, although it was not immediately clear if those would be welcomed.

Read more

Global stock markets swooned Monday, with the Dow slumping more than 700 points, as investors are growing increasingly anxious about a delta-led resurgence in coronavirus cases and its potential to derail the economic recovery, The Washington Post reported. Oil prices also fell sharply. The delta variant is now the dominant strain worldwide and surging rapidly, even in countries with high vaccination rates. New coronavirus infections in the U.S. rose nearly 70 percent in a single week, officials reported Friday, and nearly every state has reported an increase in cases.

Read more

A new weapon is gaining traction in the fight against the economic fallout of Covid-19: Debt sales designed to alleviate suffering, Bloomberg reported. Governments and companies in emerging markets have sold close to $16 billion of so-called social bonds so far this year, on pace to shatter last year’s total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of close on July 19. These bonds, with proceeds earmarked specifically for projects that address human needs — such as health, hunger and education — have already lured fresh investment to Chile and Ecuador, and soon, Ghana.

Read more

Within the U.S., cannabis is now legal in 16 states including Washington, D.C., with legalization taking effect in two more states, Virginia and New Mexico, later this year, Mondaq reported. This state-level trend toward legalization in the U.S. continues even though cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. However, in Canada, cannabis has been legal at both the federal and provincial levels since 2018. The opening of these markets has generated significant investment on both sides of the U.S./Canadian border.

Read more

Canada on Monday said it will begin to ease pandemic restrictions at the U.S./Canada border next month, allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in the U.S. who are fully vaccinated with Canadian-authorized vaccines to enter for nonessential travel without quarantining, The Washington Post. The decision, which takes effect Aug. 9, follows months of criticism from U.S.

Read more

Canadian companies are on track to sell a record volume of bonds in their own currency this year, taking advantage of low rates to refinance and fund post-pandemic investments, Bloomberg News reported. Almost C$78 billion ($52.5 billion) has been issued already this year, more than 70% of the record C$111 billion sold in all of 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bankers expect a new high, despite a slower pace through year-end as borrowers shift from stockpiling liquidity to rightsizing balance sheets and protecting ratings.

Read more

Mexico’s new Finance Minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O pledged to maintain the country’s austerity, making a better use of its resources instead of increasing the debt burden, according to a statement, Bloomberg reported. Ramirez, a longtime ally and third Finance Minister of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, begins what in Mexico is considered the most influential cabinet role with the goal of obtaining a level of independence his predecessors didn’t attain.

Read more

India's central bank has ordered Mastercard to stop adding new customers for failing to comply with the country's data storage rules, escalating a dispute between Indian authorities and U.S. financial services groups over the control of customer data, the Financial Times reported. The Reserve Bank of India said that Mastercard had not complied with rules introduced in 2018 that bar payment companies from transferring customer data overseas. The regulations, which were fiercely resisted by U.S. payment companies, required all financial data to be stored exclusively in India.

Read more