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Well, they did it: The UK and EU signed a trade deal mere days before a no-deal Brexit would have become official. Beyond avoiding higher tariffs and significant trading delays , the agreement also frees the UK to seek separate trade deals with the US and other major partners—something that has, by and large, been on hold. Both sides won some important concessions:
The pandemic’s financial toll has been widespread, but a surprising silver lining has been the relatively short-lived corporate default wave. Default volumes were certainly elevated throughout 2020 but steadily declined over the last several months as risk-seeking capital rushed to meet companies’ liquidity shortfalls. Even more notable, defaults have been relatively rare among COVID-impacted businesses, with most default activity occurring in areas already struggling before the pandemic—not because of it.
In November 2020, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting US investors from investing in a group of Chinese companies. The targeted companies are believed to supply and/or support China’s military. Subsequently, there have been media reports of the US government potentially adding companies to the blacklist. Most recently, media reports indicated the US government was considering adding Alibaba and Tencent.
Amid a year peppered with trade disputes, Brexit talks and the pandemic’s all-encompassing impacts, long-time Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to step down may have gotten short shrift—a bit surprising, given Japan is the world’s third-largest economy. As Japan also looks to recover from the COVID’s economic disruption (destruction?), the question becomes whether new prime minister Yoshihide Suga and his already eponymously nicknamed economic plan, Suganomics, can finally usher in for Japan a new dawn of economic relevance. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are reasons for hope as well as for concern.
The recent cancellation of Ant’s IPO and investigation of Alibaba by the Chinese government has sparked a wide-ranging discussion about the outlook for Chinese technology companies heading into 2021.