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The 19-nation euro-zone is enjoying its strongest growth in a decade and economists say it’s heading toward a golden period of expansion with low inflation rates. That’s a striking turnaround for a region that plunged, after the global financial crisis, into its own sovereign debt turmoil, political rancor, record unemployment and near-deflation that threatened the very survival of the currency union. The ECB credits its aggressive stimulus program for helping, and the IMF says Europe’s recovery is spilling over to the rest of the world.
Rollercoaster. Bitcoin, the granddaddy of cryptocurrencies, plunged 29 percent over the weekend from a record high after a planned technical upgrade was canceled, then pared its decline on Monday as short-sellers backed off. The wild swings underscore the volatility of the instrument and raise questions about its long-term viability. Bloomberg Gadfly’s Lionel Laurent says bitcoin’s fundamental flaw is an “inability to evolve as a piece of code without tearing itself apart.”
Fields of wheat. Russia, a leading exporter of crude oil for decades now, is increasingly dominating another critical global commodity. Its output of wheat has surged in recent years as good growing conditions boost farmers’ profits, allowing them to reinvest in better seeds and equipment. About half the countries in the world now import wheat from Russia, which has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest exporter.
Pressure’s on. Planemaker Airbus went to the Dubai Airshow expecting a lifeline: an order for its A380 superjumbos from Emirates Airlines. But then the unthinkable happened: Emirates committed to buying $15.1 billion of rival Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliners. The order puts even more pressure on Airbus, which has struggled to keep the A380 alive. Meanwhile, Emirates is doubling down on luxury, unveiling an overhaul in collaboration with Mercedez Benz of the first class cabins on its Boeing 777s.
Worstminster. Britain’s government is nearing turmoil. As Brexit negotiators approach five crucial weeks to nail down a future relationship with the European Union, the pound is sliding on the country’s continuing political uncertainty. Theresa May’s Conservative party has descended into open warfare over how to leave the EU. And the rebounding Labour Party offered to help May secure a two-year transition deal to protect the economy and preserve jobs because she lacks the “authority” to deliver it herself.
Not over yet. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may have held off Catalan demands for independence, but the issue is far from over. The Madrid government’s plan to restore permanent stability hinges on preventing the separatists from winning a majority in the Dec. 21 Catalan election—but polls suggest the result is anything but a sure bet. Close to 2,400 companies have already left the region because of uncertainty.
Frying high. There’s good news for cooks and homemakers, who might finally get a break on grocery bills after three years of elevated prices for olive oil. Deoleo, the world’s largest olive oil supplier, expects rising global output in 2017-2018 will bring prices of the Mediterranean staple down. Bigger olive harvests across much of the Mediterranean region will lift oil output by an estimated 12 percent. High prices have led shoppers to choose cheaper options like sunflower-seed oil.
Compiled by Andy Reinhardt and Leila Taha