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Referendum: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Quits

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  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Quits

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quit in the early hours of Monday after losing a referendum he’d called to push through constitutional changes, threatening renewed political and financial turmoil for Europe.

Opponents of Renzi’s proposal to rein in the power of the senate won Sunday’s referendum by 60 percent to 40 percent, with almost all votes counted. Renzi said he’ll turn in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella later in the day and signaled that he won’t stay on to help stabilize a caretaker administration. The euro fell to a 20-month low.

“In Italian politics, no one ever wins,” Renzi told supporters, his voice breaking and a tear on his cheek as he thanked his wife for her support. “I did everything I thought possible in this phase, but we were not convincing.”

The 41-year-old premier became the second European leader this year to be toppled by a populist revolt that is propelling Donald Trump into the White House and Britain out of the European Union. The result leaves Mattarella seeking a new government chief who can provide a firebreak against the insurgents; polls show an early election would see the anti-euro Five Star Movement swept into power.

A survey by EMG released Sunday showed Five Star winning a second-round ballot by 53 percent to 47 percent against Renzi’s Democratic Party and by 57 percent to 43 percent against the center-right bloc. Five Star had demanded a snap election if Renzi is defeated as it looks to force another referendum — this time on taking Italy out of the euro.

Still, a poll last month showed only 15.2 percent favored leaving the single currency and 67.4 percent were self-described single-currency believers.

Who’s Next?

Possible successors who might be asked to lead a caretaker government include Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso and Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. The country’s mainstream parties have been preparing contingency plans to ensure a government would keep functioning if Renzi was forced out.

The result is “a negative outcome for both political stability and the economy in Italy,” said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of research firm Teneo Intelligence. “However, it will not pave the way for immediate worst-case scenarios such as snap elections.”

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA will be in focus when trading opens Monday. The lender is in the middle of a 5 billion-euro ($5.3 billion) capital raising. Its stock has fallen 83 percent this year and a third of its loan book has soured.

Italian bonds may feel a shock too. They rallied in the final days of the campaign, with the spread between the country’s 10-year debt and similar dated German bunds narrowed by 24 basis points to 162 points.

Europe Votes

The Italian referendum kicked off a year of voting with establishment parties across Europe threatened by upstarts channeling voters anger at immigration and economic stagnation. French President Francois Hollande last week declined to seek a second term, leaving the Republican Francois Fillon as the main opponent to the anti-European Marine Le Pen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will run for a fourth term, with the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party branding her public enemy no. 1. In Austria, the populists suffered a setback on Sunday when the environmentalist Alexander Van der Bellen defeated Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party in a presidential runoff.

Renzi’s Farewell

Renzi campaigned intensively for weeks to in an attempt to salvage his plans to reform Italy. He traveled across the country and used Facebook Live sessions to push home his message that the reform would bring more stable government to Italy, a country which has seen 63 administrations since World War II.

In his referendum campaign, the former mayor of Florence had sought to line up against the elites. He argued that the reform would land a blow against the ruling class which he said has paralyzed Italy for decades, and insisted he was different from Roman politicians. It wasn’t enough.

“I have lost,” Renzi said in a televised statement. “I wanted to get rid of jobs for the boys in politics, and it’s my job that is going.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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