Andrews Agreement. U.S. Assistance to the United Kingdom The International Fund for Ireland (IFI), created in 1986, provides funding for projects to generate cross-community engagement and economic opportunity in Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom) and the border counties of Ireland. Since the IFI’s establishment, the U.S. Government has contributed over $500 million, roughly half of total IFI funding. The other major donor to IFI is the European Union. Bilateral Economic Relations The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union and a major international trading power. The United Kingdom is one of the largest markets for U.S. goods exports and one of the largest suppliers of U.S. imports. The United States and the United Kingdom share the world’s largest bilateral foreign direct investment partnerships. The United Kingdom is a large source of foreign tourists visiting the United States. It participates in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for certain business or tourism purposes for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The United Kingdom’s Membership in International Organizations The United Kingdom and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, G-20, G-8, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
pot and cocaine are cheap By Jose Pagliery @Jose_Pagliery October 9, 2013: 4:10 AM ET NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Have you ever wondered how much illegal drugs cost? Here’s your chance. Last week, the FBI busted the Silk Road website, a massive black market that specialized in the anonymous sale of drugs. But a month before the feds shut down the highly secretive network, a computer savvy Australian startup called The Price Geek harvested data on the two most popular items for sale on Silk Road: cocaine and marijuana. The Price Geek prides itself in being the go-to website to find the price of anything. So, naturally, illicit drugs seemed like a good fit. Related story: Arrests in U.K. follow Silk Road bust Marijuana was — by far — the most popular drug for sale on Silk Road. That’s no surprise, given that marijuana is by far the world’s most-used illegal drug, according to the World Health Organization. Prices on Silk Road were set in bitcoins — digital currency that’s hard to trace. For simplicity, we’ve converted them to their value in today’s U.S. dollars. Here are some key insights on weed: Of the most popular nations, it’s cheapest in South Africa. It’s most expensive in Germany, but Poland and Australia are close behind. It’s relatively affordable in the United States.
Fitch Downgrades United Kingdom to ‘AA+’; Outlook Stable
At the same time, the agency has affirmed the UK’s Short-term foreign currency rating at ‘F1+’ and the Country Ceiling at ‘AAA’. The rating actions follow the conclusion of the review of the UK’s sovereign ratings initiated on 22 March and resolve the Rating Watch Negative. The previous Negative Outlook on the UK’s sovereign ratings had been in place since 14 March 2012. KEY RATING DRIVERS The downgrade of the UK’s sovereign ratings primarily reflects a weaker economic and fiscal outlook and hence the upward revision to Fitch’s medium-term projections for UK budget deficits and government debt. Despite the loss of its ‘AAA’ status, the UK’s extremely strong credit profile is reflected in its ‘AA+’ rating and the Stable Outlook. – Fitch now forecasts that general government gross debt (GGGD) will peak at 101% of GDP in 2015-16 (equivalent to 86% of GDP for public sector net debt, PSND) and will only gradually decline from 2017-18. This compares with Fitch’s previous projection for GGGD peaking at 97% and declining from 2016-17 and the ‘AAA’ median of around 50%. – Fitch previously commented that failure to stabilise debt below 100% of GDP and place it on a firm downward path towards 90% of GDP over the medium term would likely trigger a rating downgrade. Despite the UK’s strong fiscal financing flexibility underpinned by its own currency with reserve currency status and the long average maturity of public debt, the fiscal space to absorb further adverse economic and financial shocks is no longer consistent with a ‘AAA’ rating. – Higher than previously projected budget deficits and debt primarily reflects the weak growth performance of the UK economy in recent years, partly due to headwinds of private and public sector deleveraging and the eurozone crisis. Fitch has revised down its forecast economic growth in 2013 and 2014 to 0.8% and 1.8%, respectively, from 1.5% and 2.0% at the time of the last review of the UK’s sovereign ratings in September 2012. The UK economy is not expected to reach its 2007 level of real GDP until 2014, underscoring the weakness of the economic recovery. – Despite significant progress in reducing public sector net borrowing (PSNB from a peak of 11.2% of GDP (GBP159bn) in 2009-10, the budget deficit remains 7.4% of GDP (excluding the effect of the transfer of Royal Mail pensions) and is not expected to fall below 6% of GDP and GBP100bn until the end of the current parliament term. The slower pace of deficit reduction means that the next government will be required to implement substantial spending reductions (and/or tax increases) if public debt is to be stabilised and reduced over the medium term.