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Quest: Time to enjoy the holidays after an eventful 2017

Quest's Profitable MomentIt would be far too easy (and highly inappropriate) to enter the holiday season full ...

Posted: Dec. 22, 2017 12:22 AM
Updated: Dec. 22, 2017 2:16 PM

Quest's Profitable Moment

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It would be far too easy (and highly inappropriate) to enter the holiday season full of sourness. Yes, there is plenty to be worried about -- North Korea, Brexit going wrong and a new tax law that will increase the U.S. deficit, to name a few -- but that would be neither right nor fitting as we prepare to spend time with families and try to relax.

Instead, let me turn things around in true festive spirit.

Brexit negotiations have finally moved on to an important phase two, with the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU being discussed. That is real progress for Theresa May.

Turning to the U.S., the good news is that the new tax legislation will bring back overseas corporate profits and put real money into the pockets of working Americans. Several companies have already announced bonuses and wage hikes. (We can worry about the deficit in another year or two.)

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In other words, there is much to be thankful and grateful for. That includes you having signed up for this newsletter. I have enjoyed my jousts with those who choose to email me. I try to reply to everyone, and I look forward to sharing many more next year.

So forget the stock market, Brexit and global trade wars. Enjoy an extra glass of your favorite tipple next week and have a few more mince pies. I wish you all a belated "Chag Sameach" for Chanukah, a merry Christmas, and a happy holiday season whatever festival you may celebrate.

Tax bill passes in U.S. But what comes next?

A victory for President Trump. But will it help consumers?

Only 14% of CEOs said they planned to make capital investments needed to create jobs because of lower corporate taxes. Some experts note the economy is doing fine already and that the boost to the deficit that will likely come with the tax cuts could create problems down the road.

Cynics argue lower taxes may only help shareholders. FedEx said its profits could be boosted by $1.5 billion next year.

But Wells Fargo announced it will raise the minimum wage for employees while AT&T, which hopes to merge with CNN owner Time Warner, is giving out bonuses.

-- Paul R. La Monica

Trump and China: 2018 could be nasty

A trade war between China and the United States never materialized in 2017 after President Trump threatened drastic measures during his campaign, such as 45% tariff on all Chinese exports to America. But 2018 could be a much different story.

Trump and his trade team are expected to announce the results of a few rare investigations into steel and aluminum imports. Experts say both cases are aimed at punishing China for what the Trump administration views as unfair trade practices.

There's another, separate, ongoing investigation into Chinese intellectual property theft.

And if Trump's Commerce Department steps up its tariffs on China next year, many believe China will respond with the same medicine.

-- Patrick Gillespie

Look out! Bitcoin mania speeding into 2018

The frenzy over bitcoin and blockchain doesn't seem to be going away.

All sorts of companies are refocusing their businesses around cryptocurrencies and related tech, from Overstock to Long Island Iced Tea (yes, you read that correctly).

Despite the hype, bitcoin trading remains a volatile space. The SEC suspended trading of The Crypto Company on Tuesday over concerns about the "accuracy and adequacy" of company information. A bitcoin exchange in South Korea went out of business after it was hacked.

And CNNMoney's retirement adviser wouldn't necessarily recommend adding bitcoin to your retirement portfolio.

-- Julia Horowitz

Controversial reform in Argentina; Corruption crisis in Peru

Argentina passed a deeply polemic pension reform on Tuesday after violent protests rocked the country's capital, Buenos Aires, on Monday. The reform was a major victory for President Mauricio Macri and his pro-business administration.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski could be impeached later Thursday. Kuczynski admitted that his consulting firm was paid advisory fees by a construction corporation a decade ago when he was finance minister. Critics say the payments were bribes. Kuczynski and the construction firm, Odebrecht, deny any wrongdoing.

The payments were undisclosed up until December. Odebrecht was at the center of Brazil's corruption crisis and admitted last year to dolling out $800 million in bribes across Latin America and beyond.

-- Patrick Gillespie

Quick takes

Europe gives U.K. a move-out deadline: Brexit transition must end by late 2020

About that balanced budget....Saudis ramp up spending amid austerity jitters

You knew it! Apple admits it slows down older iPhones, citing battery issues

From Charlottesville to Dreamers, 2017 was the year companies took a stand

Capitalism is slowly coming to North Korea. Will sanctions halt this revolution?

Facebook + Microsoft crack down on hackers behind massive WannaCry hack

What's next

Unemployment in Japan: The country will release its November unemployment rate on Monday, as well as its year-over-year inflation rate. Keep an eye on these numbers from an economy that's finally growing.

We're taking a break: The Quest's Profitable Moment newsletter will be off for the holidays next week. See you in 2018!

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