- Mario Draghi wins confidence vote
- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s push for major stimulus package
- Bill Gates says he has a “neutral view’’ on Bitcoin
Mario Draghi Wins Confidence Vote
The 67th government established by Mario Draghi in Italy also received a vote of confidence from the lower house of the parliament, the House of Representatives, the final step needed for his new government to exercise its full powers.
He already won a confidence vote on Wednesday by a 262-40 margin, in the upper house Senate, where he gave his maiden speech as a premier setting out his policy priorities, starting with tackling the twin coronavirus and economic crises. He pledged to use “all means” to fight the pandemic, starting with a faster vaccination program. He also sketched out an ambitious reform plan, in line with European Union expectations. The EU is set to help Italy’s recovery with more than 200 billion euros ($240 billion) in loans and grants during 2021-2026.
Draghi started his speech in the Senate with a strong call for political unity, asking all parties to work together in the name of the “love for Italy.”
“Our main duty is to fight the pandemic in any way and to safeguard the lives of our fellow citizens,” he said, showing some emotion when he mentioned the victims of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 92,000 people in the country.
“Today, unity is not an option, unity is a duty,” he stressed as he was interrupted by lawmakers” applause several times.
Founded on February 13 by the former President of the European Central Bank Draghi, with the support of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), the Democratic Party (PD), Italia Viva (Iv), the League, Forza Italia (FI), and the Free and Equal (Leu) parties. The government has also completed the second phase of the requirement to get a vote of confidence from the lower and upper wings of parliament, which is required to officially take office.
596 deputies attended the voting at the 630-seat General Assembly of the House of Representatives. In the voting, in which 5 deputies abstained, the Draghi government was able to get a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives by an absolute majority with 535 “Yes” votes against 56 “No” votes.
Despite the support decision in the party voting, 15 senators in the Senate and 16 deputies in the House of Representatives voted against the Draghi government. In a statement this morning, M5S leader Vito Crimi announced that those who voted “no” in the Senate yesterday, despite the party’s decision to support the Draghi government, will be expelled from the party.
“They openly opposed the government in the vote in the Senate. So they cannot take part in the 5 Star Movement anymore,” Crimi said.
The party is expected to impose similar sanctions on MPs who voted “no” in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, M5S’s Luigi Di Maio, who will also serve as Foreign Minister in the Draghi government, said in a post on his Twitter account that now is the time to respond to the country’s pending problems.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s Push for Major Stimulus Package
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that despite the announcement of strong January retail sales data in the US this week and maintaining high levels in stock valuations, her country continues to need a $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package.
Speaking to CNBC, Yellen pointed out that despite these data, the necessity of the package offered by US President Joe Biden continues, saying “We think it’s very important to have a big package that addresses the pain this has caused – 15 million Americans behind on their rent, 24 million adults and 12 million children who don’t have enough to eat, small businesses failing,” Yellen told Sara Eisen on “Closing Bell.” “I think the price of doing too little is much higher than the price of doing something big. We think that the benefits will far outweigh the costs in the longer run,” she added.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that it is important to pass a large economic support package for the negative effects of Covid-19. Reminding that the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package was passed through the Senate without the need for Republicans’ support, Yellen said, “We hope to see progress in the enactment of this package in the next few weeks.”
In addition, Yellen pointed out that the unemployment rate in the country is close to 10 percent and that the estimates of the US Congress Budget Office indicate that returning to full employment will continue until 2024 without an economic stimulus package.
Noting that she is not worried that government spending could cause inflation, Yellen said, “Inflation has been very low for over a decade, and you know it’s a risk, but it’s a risk that the Federal Reserve and others have tools to address,” she said. “The greater risk is of scarring the people, having this pandemic take a permanent lifelong toll on their lives and livelihoods.”
Yellen stated that the permanent damage that the epidemic could leave on human life and livelihoods is a greater risk. Emphasizing that 9 million more Americans were unemployed compared to the pre-pandemic, Yellen pointed out that 4 million people were completely out of the workforce.
An important indicator of the effects of the pandemic on the US employment market also announced on Thursday. The number of applicants for unemployment pension in the country has exceeded the estimates with 861 thousand the previous week.
As part of the latest round of stimulus spending, President Joe Biden wants to send $1,400 checks to millions of Americans.
“You know, there’s so much pain in this economy,” Yellen said. “I think these checks really will provide relief and they’ll help jump-start our economy, giving people money to spend when we can get out again and go back to our former lives. So you know, there’re a lot of families that are operating on the margin. And I think these checks will really help them.”
If accepted, the package, which will be the second biggest incentive in US history, is aimed to be voted in the US House of Representatives on February 26th. Then eyes will be turned to the Senate.
Bill Gates Says He has a “Neutral View’’on Bitcoin
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made statements about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, stating that he is not buying Bitcoin, but he is not against crypto money. Gates stated that he had a neutral stance on this issue; but in another statement, he stated that crypto coins helped commit various crimes.
In his statement published yesterday in Gate The Wall Street Journal, he said, “The way cryptocurrencies work helps commit some crimes. This should not happen.”
“The way cryptocurrency works today allows for certain criminal activities. It’d be good to get rid of that,” he quickly added: “I probably should have said bioweapons. That’s a really bad thing.”
Bill Gates spoke more moderately about Bitcoin in a live broadcast on CNBC television. Stating that he did not buy Bitcoin, Gates said, “I am not against Bitcoin. I am neutral on this. Making money more digital and reducing transfer fees is something the Gates Foundation does in developing countries.’’
However, the Microsoft co-founder seemed to imply that many were using a digital currency outside developing countries for “tax avoidance or illegal activity.” He said his philanthropy work through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation moves “money into a more digital form,” with “total visibility of who’s doing what.”
Speaking about Bitcoin prices, Gates said, “Bitcoin can go up and down just based on the mania or whatever the views are and I don’t have a way of predicting how that will progress.”
This statement by Bill Gates came at a time when the interest of other important names in the technology world in Bitcoin is increasing. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stands out as the biggest advocate of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. Tesla bought $1.5 billion of Bitcoin in January.
In addition, Twitter announced that it is considering adding Bitcoin to its balance sheet. The US press claimed that giant companies such as Apple and Oracle could make a similar move.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin, which saw its new historical peak by exceeding $52,500 yesterday, is following a horizontal course in the range of $51,000-52,000 today. Ethereum, which broke a record with $1950, has been able to hold above the critical level of $1900 so far. In the last week, Bitcoin has gained 10.2 percent and Ethereum has gained 9.6 percent.
Additionally, Dogecoin, which Elon Musk frequently brings to the agenda, rose 7 percent today after a 1-week drop.