These three things will change the world today.
1. The rumble over the rock
The UK / Spanish international incident over Gibraltar — triggered by the European Union’s draft Brexit negotiating guidelines containing a clause suggesting Spain will be able to veto any future trade deal between the EU and the UK — is rumbling on.
This morning Spain’s foreign minister urged the UK not to “lose tempers” over the British controlled territory.
Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo accused president of the European Council Donald Tusk of behaving like a “cuckolded husband who is taking it out on the children” for including the territory in negotiating guidelines.
Spain has a long-standing territorial claim on Gibraltar, which has been held by the UK since 1713 and has the status of a British overseas territory.
2. Tapering off is hard to do
Today the European Central Bank’s (ECB) will begin effective tapering of its monthly bond-buying programme.
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Purchases will fall to 60bn a month from 80bn.
ECB officials will try to soften the punch by insisting the bank’s monetary policy will remain loose even if the need for more easing has ebbed.
Markets and investors appear sanguine over the potential threat for now, especially when it comes to the corporate bond market.
I don’t think that the ECB scaling back its purchases will have a huge effect on the corporate market and we’re not expecting spreads to blow out wider,” said Roger Webb, Aberdeen Asset Management’s head of European credit.
3. Ready, set, apply for visas!
From today skilled workers can start submitting applications to work in the US.
Last year, the cap of 85,000 H-1B visas was reached less than a week after the application period opened up, according to a report by CNN.
H-1B visa petitions — now open for the new fiscal year — are a favourite of tech companies who want to attract top talent from overseas.
However, the H-1B has become the subject of controversy as visas aren’t just given to the most highly trained workers.
Critics have said the program is used to hire and exploit foreign labour with large outsourcing firms flooding the system and snatching more than their fair share of the visas on offer.