Friday Morning Briefing: As U.S. debt and deficits mount, presidential candidates sweep them under the rug

Top News

In four hours of debate among Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidency, the word “deficit” was never uttered and the government’s debt was mentioned only once. The reality is that Democrats are reluctant to make a campaign issue out of one of America’s most worrying problems — the ballooning annual budget deficits and overall debt under President Trump. That’s because some of their most popular policies going into the 2020 election would present significant budget challenges of their own, including expanding Medicare health coverage and offering government help to cut college costs and reduce student debt.

Donald Trump retreated from adding a contentious question on citizenship to the 2020 census, but insisted he was not giving up his fight to count how many non-citizens are in the country and ordered government agencies to mine their databases. Trump’s plan to add the question to the census hit a roadblock two weeks ago when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against his administration, which had said new data on citizenship would help to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority rights.

Tropical storm Barry could strengthen into a hurricane by Friday night or early Saturday when the center is near the coast of Louisiana, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Nervous New Orleans residents prepared to flee as Tropical Storm Barry closed in, with forecasts of “extreme rain” and more flooding ahead of the storm’s predicted landfall by early on Saturday as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019.

Fifty years after men first walked on the moon, there are plans to go back, this time to stay. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, NASA is setting its sights on returning to the moon, and going far beyond. The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a crucial outpost for the U.S. mission to relay astronauts to the moon in 2024, has had a slow start, but the initial module is now under contract.


Exclusive: Singapore has cautioned wealth managers against aggressively marketing their services or making other efforts to woo clients to the city state by capitalizing on rival Hong Kong’s political turmoil, people with knowledge of the matter said. The central bank told bankers it wanted to ensure wealth managers in Singapore were sensitive to the situation in Hong Kong and did not design campaigns specifically targeting business from Hong Kong, the people said.

Singapore’s economy grew at its slowest annual pace in a decade in the second quarter, preliminary data showed, raising bets that a technical recession and monetary policy easing could be just around the corner. The slump in Singapore - often seen as a bellwether for the health of the global economy - is the latest evidence that momentum has slowed across Asia as the year-long U.S.-China trade war and sliding growth weigh on the region’s export-reliant economies.


Coordinating chaos: The scenes of protest in Hong Kong over the last few months can appear chaotic, filled with throngs of activists and waving umbrellas. But in the undulating waves of people is a well-developed system for moving supplies, providing aid and constructing barricades - all driven by hand signals.
Kim Jong Un has been formally named head of state of North Korea and commander-in-chief of the military in a new constitution observers said was possibly aimed at preparing for a peace treaty with the United States. Chinese President Xi Jinping urged President Trump to ease sanctions on North Korea during their meeting in Japan last month, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in the United States on a trip that has angered Beijing, warning that democracy must be defended and that the island faced threats from “overseas forces,” in a veiled reference to China. China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and views it as a wayward province, had called on the U.S. not to allow Tsai to transit there on her overseas tour.
Exclusive: India’s ruling party will revive a plan to build secured camps to resettle scores of Hindus in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, a senior leader said, a proposal that would almost certainly heighten tensions in the restive region. Ram Madhav, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party national general secretary responsible for Kashmir, said his Hindu nationalist party was committed to helping bring back some of the estimated 200,000-300,000 Hindus who fled the Kashmir Valley in the aftermath of an armed revolt that began in 1989.
South Korea called for an international investigation of what it said were accusations by Japanese officials that it had passed some high-tech materials imported from Japan on to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions. Japan last week tightened restrictions on the export of three materials used in smartphone displays and chips, following frustration over what it sees as South Korea’s failure to act in response to a ruling by one of its courts last October ordering Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp to compensate former forced laborers.


Volkswagen to contribute $2.6 billion to Ford's autonomous venture

Carmaker Volkswagen will inject $1 billion in capital and $1.6 billion worth of assets into Ford’s self-driving unit, a source close to the matter said, as the two carmakers deepen a global alliance to share costs.
3 min read

Boeing reshuffles management of grounded 737

Boeing has reassigned the head of its next airplane project to run the troubled 737 program, according to a memo seen by Reuters, as the grounding of its 737 MAX in the wake of two accidents commands the U.S. planemaker’s full attention.
4 Min Read

Fed's Powell affirms rate cut view; others see U.S. economy humming

As Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell kept the focus on global risks that could trigger a Fed rate cut in coming weeks, his colleagues from regional Fed districts painted a rosier picture of continued U.S. economic growth and a solid business outlook.
6 min read

Top Stories on Reuters TV

R. Kelly arrested in Chicago on federal charges

Trump rips tech firms at 'social media' event

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