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Macro chatter: It's decision time at the World Bank

Around the world today in business and economics. Need to know, want to know, and strange but true.
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Cafe Havana in Cartagena, Colombia on April 15, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Need to know:
China’s yuan now has a little more wiggle room.

Chinese officials this weekend announced they would let China’s currency rise or fall by up to 1 percent a day, Bloomberg said. That’s twice as much as before and a step toward the freer float much of the world has been lobbying for.

China is hoping the change will boost domestic demand, the Wall Street Journal said.

The world’s advanced economies, particularly the US, have been pressuring China to let the yuan appreciate more quickly, a move that would make Chinese exports more expensive to the rest of the world.

Advanced economies argue China's currency is undervalued and gives China an unfair trading advantage. 

Want to know:
A record one in five Greeks is out of work, according to the latest numbers from the Greek government. For young Greeks, the situation is even worse. One in every two is unemployed.

Greece’s unemployment rate is nearing 20 percent as the country continues to struggle with a heavy debt load and a shrinking economy.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spanish borrowing costs are continuing to surge, spurring more talk of a potential bailout. Spanish bond yields are now above 6 percent, the BBC said.

Dull but important:
The World Bank is expected to announce its new president Monday, CNNMoney reported.

The competition is down to two candidates: the US pick, Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim, and Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Kim is the favorite, according to Reuters, but Okonjo-Iweala is seen as a better representative of emerging markets nations that have been pushing for more clout within the World Bank.

Just because:
While Hillary Clinton went dancing and a bunch of secret service agents got busted with prostitutes, US trade officials in Cartagena were working out the details of the US Colombia free trade agreement.

That agreement is now set to go into effect on May 15, earlier than had been expected.

The US credited quick progress on worker protections and human rights issues in Colombia with helping speed things up, Reuters said.

Strange but true:
People aren’t the only ones trying to lose weight out there. Ford plans to make its vehicles at least 250 pounds lighter by 2020.

Since a low-carb diet and exercise won’t work for Ford, the company plans to use smaller engines and lighter materials to reduce vehicle weights.

Lighter vehicles would be more fuel efficient and help Ford meet any increases in government fuel-efficiency requirements.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/macro-chatter0416

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