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Dems react to Trump’s economic achievements with stone faces and eye rolls – Will they ever grow up?

I’ve never seen a group of Washington lawmakers visibly upset to hear that America is back at work. But Tuesday night, I watched in genuine confusion and disappointment as Democrats scowled, eye-rolled, head-shook, and grumbled at President Trump’s economic remarks during the State of the Union address.

Particularly striking were the dozens of Democratic women newly-elected to the House and Senate, donning white outfits to “unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century.” So-called progressives love a good symbolic gesture.

President Trump took a big victory lap on the economy, and it was well-deserved. Since Trump took office, more than 5 million jobs have been created, including 600,000 manufacturing jobs. There were 304,000 new jobs created in January 2019 alone. Unemployment is at the lowest rate in almost half a century.

TRUMP REJECTS SOCIALISM AT SOTU AS EXPRESSIONLESS DEMS SIT UNMOVED

These numbers were met by Democrats with stone faces and eye rolls.

President Trump’s pro-growth policies have raised the standard of living for real people and families. Nearly 5 million Americans have left the food stamp program since President Trump took office, with African-American and Hispanic-American poverty rates reaching record lows in 2017 at 21.2 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively.

This year’s State of the Union address presented House Democrats with a choice. They can come to the table and govern like grown-ups, or they can continue to divide and destroy. They can root for Donald Trump to lose, or they can root for the American economy to win.

This progress was met by Democrats with side comments and head shakes.

There are plenty of other economic victories worth bragging about in President Trump’s first term. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth exceeded 3 percent over the last four quarters and began the year at 3.4 percent. For the first time in 65 years, the U.S. has become a net exporter of energy.

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” will save American households an average of $ 1,200 per year on their taxes. Businesses across the country will benefit from Trump eliminating 22 regulations for every new one created in 2017, and 12 regulations for every new one created in 2018.

If the economic victories of the last two years were accomplished by President Obama, without a doubt, these Democratic eye rolls would have been applause lines, and likely standing ovations.

This year’s State of the Union address presented House Democrats with a choice. They can come to the table and govern like grown-ups, or they can continue to divide and destroy. They can root for Donald Trump to lose, or they can root for the American economy to win.

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President Trump finally broke the ice with the “Women in White” when he mentioned there are more women in the workforce and serving in Congress than ever before.

Apparently, the only jobs the rising generation of Democrats believe are worth applauding for are their own.

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Madeleine Albright and David Miliband: Welcoming refugees makes total economic sense

Syria's lost generation

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Syria’s lost generation 01:51

Madeleine Albright is a former US secretary of state. David Miliband is president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee and a former UK foreign secretary. The opinions in this article are those of the authors.

(CNN)In 1956, András Gróf decided to start walking. At 20, he had survived Hungarian fascism, Nazi occupation, and the invasion of the Soviet Red Army. To escape the crossfire of a bloody counterrevolution, he walked from Budapest to Vienna, where he reached the offices of the International Rescue Committee (IRC): an organization founded by Albert Einstein to help people fleeing violence and persecution.

The IRC put Gróf on a boat to the United States. When he arrived at Ellis Island, he took the name Andy Grove.
Andy Grove went on to become co-founder and CEO of Intel. He is recognized today as one of the people who profoundly shaped Silicon Valley and the digital transformation of the world economy. The decision to admit this one refugee created immense prosperity for America.
Not every person fleeing violence is the next Andy Grove, but his story represents a basic truth: when given the opportunity to rebuild their lives in a welcoming country, refugees make enormous contributions. Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, the data shows that refugees work hard and quickly become net economic contributors in their host societies. In other words, resettling refugees is not just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing, too.
    Yet today, the global refugee resettlement system is breaking down. There are approximately 1.4 million refugees worldwide who are in need of urgent resettlement — either because of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or poor health. But in 2018, just 100,000 refugees were resettled, down from the previous year’s 180,000. Countries that once proudly welcomed refugees are closing their doors. Under the Trump administration, the United States is less welcoming to the international homeless now than at any time in modern memory.
    This moment demands bold action — not only to revive the bipartisan American tradition of resettling refugees, but to broaden the coalition of countries accepting the world’s most vulnerable people.

    White House slashes refugee cap to new low

    White House slashes refugee cap to new low

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    White House slashes refugee cap to new low 02:16

    At the IRC, we have concluded that persuading more countries to accept refugees requires a new coalition of actors — from the private sector, philanthropy and civil society — to address three constraints that hold countries back from doing more.
    First, we need to address the concern that refugees represent a cost, rather than an asset. In the United States, refugees become net economic contributors — contributing more to the economy than they have taken out — after eight years. The European Commission estimates that for every euro spent on refugees, two euros is generated within five years.
    We can make the economic argument even more compelling. Right now, when a refugee is resettled, agency representatives decide which town or city to send them to, based on a wide range of criteria. Our partners at Stanford University have developed an algorithm to improve placement decisions by harnessing employment data — the skills and characteristics of refugees, available jobs in a community, housing costs and other local factors. If we applied the algorithm to the 25 cities where we work today in the US, the employment rate of refugees after three months could be 40% higher. In Switzerland, the algorithm yields a 70% improvement.
    Second, while refugees go on to become economic contributors, they require up-front investment of between $ 10,000 and $ 20,000 to cover the costs of plane tickets, the first few months of housing, and language training. In some countries, enough political will exists to resettle refugees, but not enough to win spending battles at a time of tight public finances.
    An answer to this problem is to borrow from the models developed in global health, climate finance, and social impact bonds, which have harnessed private finance for public good. At the IRC, we are exploring the possibility of creating a financial facility that pays for the initial cost of resettling refugees. This investment would then be paid back using the refugees’ tax contributions as they work.
    Finally, we have to deal with the more intangible concern that refugees often face a backlash from local communities. When a refugee is resettled in Canada, a few members of the public — from a church or local organization — come together to act as their legal sponsors. This group finds housing, gets children into school, connects them with local jobs, and, like volunteers in the US, provides guidance on everything from transportation to financial literacy. Two million Canadians, or 7% of the adult population, have now sponsored a refugee.
      By using a digital platform, we believe we can spread the sponsorship model, so that it is much easier to recruit sponsors, match them to refugees, and provide sponsors with the information and support needed to help refugees.
      Taken together, these three solutions can change the way governments make decisions. There is no easy fix to the current global refugee crisis. But if people see that refugees will be an economic asset, at no up-front cost, with an army of citizens prepared to integrate them and support the cause, we believe the political dynamic around refugee resettlement will begin to shift — offering hope to millions of refugees around the world who carry the same dreams that Andy Grove once did.

      Fed holds rates steady amid economic uncertainty

      Washington (CNN Business)The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced it would hold interest rates steady, another clear signal it intends to take a cautious approach in an uncertain economic environment.

      Fed governors unanimously agreed at their first two-day policy-setting meeting of 2019 to keep the federal funds rates, which influences the cost of mortgages, credit cards and other borrowing, at a range of 2.25% to 2.5%.
      The Fed said in a separate statement it is prepared to use a range of tools to steer the US economy, including changing its plans to normalize its balance sheet by size and composition, "if future economic conditions were to warrant a more accommodative monetary policy than can be achieved solely by reducing the federal funds rate."
      Since late last year, central bankers have grown increasingly wary of a slowdown amid signed of a weakening global economy, ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China, and more recently, the protracted government shutdown.
        "In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes," the Federal Open Market Committee's two-page statement read.
        Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the shutdown, which led to delayed paychecks, reduced working hours and stalled contacts, will result in a permanent loss of about $ 3 billion in gross domestic product over the five-week period.
        The shutdown, the longest in US history, was not directly referenced in the Fed's statement.
        Fed officials are still maintaining a somewhat rosy outlook for the US economy pointing to "strong" job gains in recent months and continued low unemployment.
        "The labor market has continued to strengthen," the statement said, adding "economic activity has been rising at a solid rate."
        Although the US central bank has emphasized that decisions on future rate hikes would depend on incoming data on the economy, that effort was hindered this month by the lack of critical data from the Commerce Department due the shutdown. The central bank uses a number of metrics to assess the health of the US economy both from the private and public sector.
        For now, the central bank has penciled in two rate hikes in 2019.
        President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against the Fed's rate changes, breaking precedent by openly attacking Powell and expressing his hopes via Twitter that governors would keep rates steady, a move that could risk letting the economy overheat amid continued strong hiring.
        In recent months, top Fed officials including Chairman Jerome Powell have made clear they plan to take a wait-and-see approach before weighing any additional rate hikes.
          "We're actually in a good place," Powell said earlier this month at the Economic Club of Washington. "We have the ability to be patient and watch patiently and carefully as we watch the economy evolve."
          That sentiment has been echoed in recent weeks by other policymakers, including Powell's top deputy, Richard Clarida, who told the Fox Business Network: "We're going to take this meeting by meeting." He noted that policy makers would be taking a holistic view of incoming data, particularly on global growth.

          Who’s hurting (and who isn’t yet) from China’s economic slowdown

          Hong Kong (CNN Business)China's economic slowdown is starting to weigh on some of the world's biggest businesses.

          From Silicon Valley to Detroit, big international companies are feeling the effects from the downturn in the world's second-largest economy.
          Growth in China last year was the weakest it has been in nearly three decades and the outlook for 2019 could be worse, as the trade war with the United States continues to damage the economy.

          Who's hurting?

            A number of big companies have already said their sales are suffering as a result of China's economic slowdown.
            This week, US construction machinery maker Caterpillar (CAT) said its biggest earnings miss in a decade was partly due to lower demand in China. Hardware manufacturer Stanley Black & Decker (SWJ) has similarly highlighted weakening demand in China's construction industry.
            Shares in Nvidia (NVDA) tumbled on Monday after the computer chip maker slashed its sales outlook for the fourth quarter, blaming "deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, particularly in China."
            Shares in Nvidia tumbled on Monday after the computer chip maker slashed its sales outlook for the fourth quarter.

            Shares in Nvidia tumbled on Monday after the computer chip maker slashed its sales outlook for the fourth quarter.

            Earlier in January, Apple (AAPL) roiled global markets after it said it expected a weaker Chinese economy to hurt its sales numbers. CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to investors that the company had been blindsided by "the magnitude of the economic deceleration" there.
            China is hugely important to Apple, making up about 15% of the company's global revenues. Samsung, another smartphone maker, could also be hurting due to China's slowdown.

            Who's at risk?

            Experts think there are likely more international businesses exposed to China's faltering growth.
            Sectors like luxury goods and automobiles, which count China as one of their biggest global market, could be hit particularly badly as Chinese consumers dial back purchases.
            Investors will likely focus on earnings from Luis Vuitton owner LVMH (LVMHF), due later on Tuesday.
            "After a strong run over the last two to three years, luxury brands are going to struggle," said Ben Cavender, an analyst at research firm China Market Research.
            The auto industry looks particularly vulnerable. For a number of top international carmakers, China brings in more revenue than the United States or Europe. But last year the Chinese car market shrank in terms of sales.
            For a number of top international carmakers, China brings in more revenue than the United States or Europe.

            For a number of top international carmakers, China brings in more revenue than the United States or Europe.

            Electric carmaker Tesla (TSLA) could be the next to face pressure. Tu Le, Beijing-based founder of research firm Sino Auto Insights, said the fact the California-based company has been cutting prices in China was not a good sign.
            "Tesla sales in China are being affected by the softness in the market," he said. The company is also facing increasing competition in China from a number of local rivals.
            Things could also get worse before they get better for big US auto brands like GM (GM) and Ford (F), which have seen their China sales slow.

            Who's doing OK?

            Some of the world's biggest consumer names so far appear to be withstanding the China downturn. Retail sales in China have so far held up well as the economy slows, with the country expected to become the world's top consumer market next year.
            Procter & Gamble (PG), which makes Pampers diapers and Tide laundry detergent, said earlier in January that it does "not see a sign at this point of slowdown of the consumer in China."
            Starbucks, America's biggest coffee chain, faces increasing competition in China.

            Starbucks, America's biggest coffee chain, faces increasing competition in China.

            Similarly, sportswear makers Adidas (ADDDF) and Nike (NKE) are not sweating over Or we position in China just yet. Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted said in November that the European firm was still seeing strong growth in this market, but could see a "slight slowdown" in the first quarter of 2019.
            Nike's CFO Andrew Campion said in December the company sees "very strong signs of momentum in China."
              PVH (PVH), which owns fashion brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, said late last year that it continues "to see strong results out of China," despite the slowing economy and trade tensions.
              Starbucks (SBUX), America's biggest coffee chain, faces increasing competition in China, but CEO Kevin Johnson said this month that the company's leaders "remain bullish" on the market.

              How socialism turned Venezuela from the wealthiest country in South America into an economic basket case

              Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America, but in recent years millions have fled the country amid mass starvation and violence after socialist policies were enacted and government seized private industries.

              Now, as Venezuelans struggle against the country’s current dictator, some Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. are desperately warning Americans to avoid going down a similar path.

              Socialism not only takes away from people the access to basic food and medicines, but also creates an environment in which life is worth nothing,” Giannina Raffo, who fled Venezuela in 2016 but who still works with activist organizations there, told Fox News.

              VENEZUELA’S INTERIM PRESIDENT GUAIDO OFFERS MADURO AMNESTY IF HE CEDES POWER

              Despite that situation in Venezuela, polls show Americans warming to the term “socialism” in recent years.

              Venezuelans who have fled their country warn that their country’s history shows what others must watch for and avoid.

              Venezuela’s journey to disaster began in 1992, when a Venezuelan lieutenant colonel named Hugo Chavez led several army units in a coup against the government. More than 100 people were killed in fighting, but his coup was defeated.

              However, in the name of national unity, the government released Chavez from prison after just two years.

              NIKKI HALEY LED THE WAY WITH VENEZUELA CONDEMNATION AT UN

              Chavez made many positive statements about socialism after his release from prison. Almost immediately after his release, he went to Cuba and spoke before the Cuban parliament and Fidel Castro, telling them: “I do not deserve this honor. I hope I will deserve it one day… We are committed to the revolutionary work.”

              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro walks past a painting of his predecessor, late President Hugo Chavez, inside the chambers of the Constitutional Assembly where he will give his annual address to the nation in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. 

              Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro walks past a painting of his predecessor, late President Hugo Chavez, inside the chambers of the Constitutional Assembly where he will give his annual address to the nation in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.  (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

              Four years after that, Chavez ran for the Venezuelan Presidency. During his run, he downplayed his previous radicalism – telling people that he was ”neither for savage capitalism, nor socialism, nor Communism”. Instead, he claimed to support a “third way” — a balance between socialism and capitalism.

              Chavez won the election. Maria Teresa Romero, a Venezuelan who fled to the U.S., says Chavez’s softer rhetoric was all about seizing power.

              “Hugo Chávez deceived people by blatantly using lies,” she told Fox News.

              News reports from when Chavez won the Presidency in 1998 state that some Venezuelans sent their valuable property to Miami to protect it from potential confiscation.

              Anti-government protesters cheer after Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's opposition-run congress, declares himself interim president of the South American country until new elections can be called, at a rally demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. 

              Anti-government protesters cheer after Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress, declares himself interim president of the South American country until new elections can be called, at a rally demanding the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.  (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)

              But in the short run, their property was safe. Chavez didn’t implement many socialist policies immediately.

              US ORDERS SOME DIPLOMATS TO LEAVE VENEZUELA, CITING SECURITY CONCERNS

              His first priority was instead to re-write the Constitution. He was direct about it, telling the Venezuelan congress in 1999: “The constitution, and with it the ill-fated political system to which it gave birth 40 years ago, has to die. It is going to die, sirs — accept it.”

              Chart looks at Venezuela's oil production and inflation.;

              Chart looks at Venezuela’s oil production and inflation.; (AP)

              Chavez succeeded in re-writing the Constitution, which came with new rights to things like free government-provided health care, college, and “social justice”. The constitution passed a popular vote easily, with 72% of the vote.

              The basic structure of both the old and new constitutions followed the U.S. model – with a Presidency, a legislative branch, and a Supreme Court.

              However, after several Supreme Court rulings went against Chavez, in 2004 he “stacked the court” by passing a law to add 12 new justices to it – justices that he got to pick.

              A similar move was once proposed in the United States by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the idea has also been proposed recently by professors angry about President Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court.

              Only once Chavez had control of the courts and the legislature did he begin to fully advance socialist policies.

              VENEZUELA’S LEADERSHIP CRISIS ‘CANNOT BE IGNORED’ AS WORLD PICKS WHETHER TO BACK MADURO OR SUPPORT OPPONENT GUIADO

              “A series of changes started to show us the terrifying truth,” Giannina Raffo said. “Constant attacks on private property, the implementation of very harmful economic policies, criminalization of dissent, censorship, etc,”

              In 2006, Chavez ran for election on an overtly socialist platform, and soon after he won, he began major seizures privately-owned property.

              Thousands of private businesses were nationalized – including media outlets, oil and power companies, mines, farms, banks, factories, and grocery stores.

              One video shows a shop owner in tears as his business is confiscated for charging higher prices than were allowed.

              Through the nationalizations, Americans from Michael Moore to Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz often applauded Chavez’s regime. In beginning, Chavez had shown some progress in reducing poverty – something experts say was possible by spending Venezuela’s vast oil wealth.

              “They were able to fund a lot with the oil money, and when oil prices went down, the rest of the economy had been just destroyed,” Tom Palmer, Executive VP at the Atlas Network, told Fox News.

              Hundreds of people, mostly Venezuelan migrants, held a rally against Maduro and in favor of Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela's opposition-run congress who proclaimed himself president of the South American nation. 

              Hundreds of people, mostly Venezuelan migrants, held a rally against Maduro and in favor of Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress who proclaimed himself president of the South American nation.  (AP)

              America may be a long way from Venezuela’s tragedy, experts say. Polls show that many of the 37 percent of Americans who say they support “socialism” actually have in mind the generous welfare states seen in Europe, rather than the traditional definition of socialism – the nationalization of production.

              Giannina Raffo personally experienced the effects of Chavez’s economic policies, which caused massive shortages and hyperinflation.

              “Just before coming to the U.S. in January 2016, my family and I used to make +8 hour lines to buy basic goods.”

              Food was her biggest worry.

              “It’s the same that Cuba has – basically you can only buy a certain amount of food per week (2 pastas, 2 milks, 1 chicken, etc).”

              She noted that, often, even that amount was not available. Surveys show the average Venezuelan has lost 24 pounds.

              Her family was fortunate and was able to move out of the country.

              “’Living’ in Venezuela was not living anymore. [My family] only spent their time trying to find food and medicines to survive. The apartment that [my family] left behind – my home for 24 years – is now empty. They are not coming back.”

              She continues to be an activist and tries to help Venezuelan pro-freedom groups from the U.S.

              My advice to people, especially to youth, is to never stop fighting for their freedom. Never let your country be ruined by a “Chavez” or anyone,” she said.

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              “Don’t let someone ruin your next generations with absurd ideas of socialism. Educate and disseminate ideas of freedom as far you can.”

              Maxim Lott is Executive Producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott.

              Bono calls capitalism ‘amoral,’ says ‘it requires our instruction’ at World Economic Forum event

              Outspoken social activist, and U2 frontman, Bono had some unusually kind words for capitalism while speaking to global business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

              According to The Irish Times, the singer was speaking at a panel to fill a multitrillion-dollar financing gap to help the U.N. achieve its goal to end global poverty by 2030 and advocate for the fight against extreme poverty in Africa and Aids. While there, he discussed the benefits of capitalism but cautioned that it cannot be left to its own devices.

              BONO ISSUES APOLOGY FOR ALLEGED WORKER ABUSES AT HIS CHARITY

              “Capitalism is not immoral – it’s amoral. It requires our instruction,” he told the crowd. “Capitalism has taken more people out of poverty than any other ‘ism.’ But it is a wild beast that, if not tamed, can chew up a lot of people along the way.”

              While Bono is most known for his music work with U2, he’s made himself into a prominent activist over the years, even co-founding One, a global campaign and advocacy organization with more than 10 million members fighting to wipe out global cases of extreme poverty

              U2 FRONTMAN BONO FORCED TO CANCEL CONCERT WHEN HE LOSES HIS VOICE MID-SHOW

              He routinely speaks about world issues, most recently with a provocative statement in which he compared the ONE organization to the NRA. The 58-year-old musician previously praised the organization’s ability to enact change for its members, while noting that he does not support their politics.

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              “Whatever you feel about the NRA – and I don’t like them very much – they’re a very well-organized group and we want ONE to be the NRA for the world’s poor,” Bono said at the Economic Club of Chicago’s event discussion with ECC Chair and Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson (via Rolling Stone). “So the ONE campaign – if you’re getting in the way of legislation that will make lives easier for the world’s most vulnerable populations, we’re gonna find out where you live [and] we’re gonna camp outside your office.”

              White House adviser says there could be zero economic growth if shutdown lingers

              New York (CNN Business)A top economic adviser to President Donald Trump told CNN on Wednesday that the US economy may show no growth in the first quarter if the federal government shutdown lasts much longer.

              White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow that he was not overly worried about the long-term effects of a government shutdown. But after Harlow asked him if the US could wind up with zero GDP growth this quarter, he conceded that it was possible. “We could, yes,” he said.
              Hassett said he and his staff members were not being paid during the shutdown, and he noted that some government workers are having to take on other work to compensate for the loss in wages. He said one of his staffers was now driving for Uber.
              But Hassett argued that the economy would bounce back when the government reopens — and that would mean that any hit to GDP would eventually be recovered.
                He added that he thought chances of the US entering a recession in 2020 are “close to zero,” even though many economists are predicting a downturn by next year. Hassett pointed to continued strong jobs gains as a healthy sign for the economy.

                Dow falls 300 points on weak economic outlook

                New York (CNN Business)Stocks fell Tuesday after a series of economic reports confirmed what investors have feared: The global economy's long rebound could be nearing its end.

                Existing home sales in the United States had their worst month in more than three years. China's economy grew at its lowest pace in almost three decades. And the International Monetary Fund warned that trade spats threaten to make slowing global economic growth even slower.
                The Dow fell 300 points. The S&P 500 fell 1.2% and the Nasdaq was 1.4% lower. US crude oil, which had rebounded in recent weeks, tumbled 3.1% Tuesday.
                Closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, markets got their first chance Tuesday to react to China's 2018 GDP report and the IMF's global economic outlook presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Both reports were released Monday.
                  The IMF lowered growth estimates for its 2019 World Economic Outlook by 0.2 percentage points to 3.5%, its second downward revision. It cited weakening economies in Germany and Turkey for the downgrade. The German economy had its worst year since 2013, though it may have dodged a recession.
                  But the report made clear that a no-deal Brexit and the unresolved trade war between the United States and China remain the biggest known risks to growth.
                  Also Monday, China reported that its economy grew 6.6% in 2018. That's the weakest annual performance since 1990.
                  Chinese growth has lost momentum following government efforts to try to rein in high levels of debt. It has also started feeling the effects of the trade war with the United States, which has resulted in new tariffs on more than $ 250 billion of Chinese exports.
                  And Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors reported sales of existing US homes fell by 6.4% last month. That marks the weakest performance since November 2015. Home sales had edged lower throughout most of 2018 — but nothing close to the drama of December's decline. Existing home sales fell 10.3% for the year.
                  The Federal Reserve has been closely watching the housing market for signs of deterioration as it weighs its next move. It could continue raising rates to fight inflation or slow its rate-hike campaign to avoid stalling an economic growth period apparently on its last legs.
                  As earnings season gets underway, investors will look to corporate sales and profit growth for signs of a slowing economy.
                  Dow components Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Travelers (TRV) both reported earnings Tuesday that beat Wall Street's expectations, but their shares both fell Tuesday, dragged down by the broader market.
                    Stanley Black and Decker (SWK) said its 2019 earnings would miss analyst's forecasts, citing "multiple external headwinds." Shares tumbled 13%.
                    But eBay (EBAY) shares rose 7% after after activist hedge fund Elliott Management said it took a stake in the company — and wants to break it up by spinning off ticket reseller StubHub.

                    China posts slowest economic growth since 1990

                    Hong Kong (CNN Business)China's economy grew at its slowest pace in almost three decades last year.

                    The world's second-biggest economy expanded 6.6%, according to official data published Monday. That's the weakest annual performance since 1990.
                    Growth slowed to 6.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018, in line with economist's predictions.
                    The Chinese economy has lost momentum following government efforts to try to rein in high levels of debt. It has also started coming under pressure from the trade war with the trade war with the United States, which has resulted in new tariffs on more than $ 250 billion of Chinese exports.
                      China's economic growth is expected to drop closer to 6% in 2019. But many analysts are skeptical about the accuracy of the government figures and say growth may be significantly lower in reality.
                      This is a developing story.

                      Zimbabwe’s leader skipping World Economic Forum in Davos after violent protests

                      Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)In the wake of violent protests across Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced he will skip the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

                      “In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings,” Mnangagwa said in a tweet Sunday. “We will be ably represented in Davos by Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube.”
                      Three days of protests broke out after Mnangagwa announced a 150% increase in fuel prices last week. He said that was meant to ease the impact of months of fuel shortages.
                      “The first priority is to get Zimbabwe calm, stable and working again,” Mnangagwa added in his Sunday tweet.
                        It’s unclear how many people in Zimbabwe actually received the message on Twitter, since the country remains without access to social media after the government this week ordered the country’s biggest mobile operator to shut down service.
                        A presidential spokesman said Saturday the shutdown was meant to limit access to sites like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, which protesters were using to coordinate demonstrations.
                        Security forces shot five people dead in the capital city of Harare on Wednesday and wounded another 25 in Harare. Human rights organizations blamed the police and the army for the violence.
                        But on Saturday Zimbabwe’s security forces placed the blame on “rogue elements” who they said had stolen army uniforms.
                        CNN noticed an increase in army patrols and in the number of armed soldiers throughout Harare on Sunday after Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba told state-controlled media outlet the government would “not stand by while such narrow interests play out so violently.”
                        “The response so far is just a foretaste of things to come,” Charamba added.
                          Mnangagwa joins a growing list of world leaders who will not be attending the forum. US President Donald Trump decided the US delegation would remain at home, and British Prime Minister Theresa May canceled her visit to focus on the UK’s Brexit plan.
                          French President Emmanuel Macron — who, like Mnangagwa, is trying to quell violent street protests — is also skipping the forum, as are Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.