5 Things to Know (11th February – 15th February)

Hope y’all are enjoying the long weekend! Do spare some time reading 5 highlights of the week though 🙂

In order to end the major trade dispute between the two largest economies, China and the USA, negotiators from both countries have begun senior-level talks in Beijing. The US threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 24 percent on March 1st if Beijing fails to agree to the demands of Washington with regards to amendments in its trade practices. Earlier this week, According to a few reporters that were present at the White House on the 13th, President Trump seemed optimistic about the discussions. Washington has accused Beijing of stealing proprietary company secrets just for the sake of boosting the technological expertise of their firms. Though the Chinese have agreed to buy more US goods, they are resistant to making deeper changes to their economy. The US stock prices have continually been rising in hopes for a valid solution to the trade war. These talks are expected to conclude today.

USA & China to begin senior-level talks

UK inflation has fallen to a two-year low in January, according to The Office for National Statistics. The Consumer Prices Index in January was 1.8% compared to 2.1% in December last year. Economists had predicted that the CPI would fall to 2% in January, but it ended up being below the forecasts. The reasons behind this fall are because of cheaper gas, electricity, and petrol, which is partly offset by the rising ferry ticket prices along with the airfares. Petrol prices reduced by 2.1% per liter between December 2018 and January 2019 due to a fall in crude oil prices. At the same time, wages are rising at 3.3%, which is easing the cost of living for the citizens of the UK. Even if we assume that there is a Brexit deal, inflation could stay below 2% and even reduce to 1.6%. However, with no Brexit, Bank of England would possibly cut interest rates which would impact the economic activity significantly.

chart
UK inflation at its lowest in 2 years

Researchers in India have discovered a new species of frog in the Western Ghats of India, a biodiversity hotspot in the country. The species belongs to a new genus which the scientists have named Mysticellus. The name has a Latin origin where it means mysterious and diminutive. This narrow-mouthed frog has been discovered after extensive explorations for about three years. The reason why this frog went unnoticed until today was due to the fact that it only appears for less than four days for breeding purposes and then lives a secretive lifestyle for the remaining year. Even previously, numerous frog species have been discovered in the Western Ghats.

New frog
Discovery of a new frog species in the Western Ghats

The US investment bank JP Morgan created a crypto-currency in order to settle payments between clients in its wholesale payments business. Shockingly, it is the first digital currency to be backed by a famous US bank. The crypto-currency, running on blockchain technology, is being utilized in order to move money between the bank and the client account. This is enabling the bank to reduce risk as well as allow instant transfers. The head of the bank has claimed that they are supportive of crypto-currencies only if they are regulated and controlled effectively. The reason why crypto-currencies are attractive to people is that they allow illegal purchases on the Dark Web- the part of the Internet that cannot be indexed by search engines like Google.

A crypto-currency mining rig
US bank to create crypto-currency

New research depicts that aging brains can actually be rejuvenated, at least in mice. Drugs can be developed to stop or reverse mental decline. These results were demonstrated at the 2019 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Evidence from the University of California, Berkeley, showed MRI scans which indicated that mental decline is supposedly caused due to molecules leaking into the brain. The scans showed that the blood-brain barrier becomes leakier as we age. In addition, it was found that a chemical that stops the damage to the barrier from causing inflammation to the brain has been discovered. This chemical not only stopped mice from showing signs of aging but in fact reversed the signs of aging.

Image result for mice brain aging signs
Chemical to slow aging signs in mice

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