AP Analysis: NRA Donated $7.3 Million to Hundreds of Schools

The National Rifle Association has given more than $7 million in grants to hundreds of U.S. schools in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis, and few have shown any indication that they’ll follow the lead of businesses that are cutting ties with the group following last month’s massacre at a Florida high school.

Florida’s Broward County school district is believed to be the first to stop accepting NRA money after a gunman killed 17 people at one of its schools Feb. 14. The teen charged in the shooting had been on a school rifle team that received NRA funding.

Denver Public Schools followed Thursday, saying it will turn down several NRA grants that were to be awarded this year. But officials in many other districts say they have no plans to back away.

Shooting sports

The AP analysis of the NRA Foundation’s public tax records finds that about 500 schools received more than $7.3 million from 2010 through 2016, mostly through competitive grants meant to promote shooting sports. The grants have gone to a wide array of school programs, including the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, rifle teams, hunting safety courses and agriculture clubs.

“Whatever I think of the NRA, they’re providing legitimate educational services,” said Billy Townsend, a school board member in Florida’s Polk County district, whose JROTC programs received $33,000, primarily to buy air rifles. “If the NRA wanted to provide air rifles for our ROTC folks in the future, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

The grants awarded to schools are just a small share of the $61 million the NRA Foundation has given to a variety of local groups since 2010. But it has grown rapidly, increasing nearly fourfold from 2010 to 2014 in what some opponents say is a thinly veiled attempt to recruit the next generation of NRA members.

The NRA Foundation did not return calls seeking comment.

Broward announced Tuesday that it would no longer accept NRA grants, following more than a dozen major businesses that have split with the group in recent weeks. Companies including Delta Air Lines, MetLife insurance and the Hertz car agency have said they will no longer offer discounts to NRA members.

​Grants directed at youths

Annual reports from the pro-gun group say its grant program was started in 1992 and raises money through local Friends of NRA chapters. It says half the proceeds from local fundraisers go to local grants and half goes to the national organization. Tax records show roughly $19 million in grants going to the group’s Virginia headquarters in 2015 and in 2016.

Besides schools, other typical recipients include 4-H groups, which have received $12.2 million since 2010, Boy Scout troops and councils, which received $4 million, and private gun clubs. Overall, about half the grants go to programs directed at youths.

Nearly half of the 773 grants awarded to schools have gone to JROTC programs, which put students through a basic military curriculum and offer an array of small competitive clubs, like the rifle team at Broward’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But JROTC leaders say few students ultimately enlist in the military, and the primary goal is to teach students skills like discipline and leadership.

“The safety that we’re teaching, the good citizenship that we’re teaching here, those are the things you don’t hear about,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jim Flores, a JROTC instructor at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “The majority of people walk out of here awesome young men and women, respectful of authority, things of that nature. Not so much little tin soldiers.”

In some parts of the country, shooting clubs draw the same sort of following as any school sport. Bill Nolte, superintendent of the Haywood County district in North Carolina, says he still shows up at school sportsman’s club tourneys even though his son graduated. Starting in sixth grade, students can join the clubs to compete in shooting events, archery and orienteering. For many families, Nolte said, it’s just like any other weekend sports event.

“You take your lawn chair and your coffee in a thermos, and do much like you would do if you were going to a youth soccer or travel basketball or baseball event,” Nolte said, adding that NRA grants have helped buy firearms and ammunition and cover other costs that otherwise would fall to the parents. “We are constantly seeking revenue for sportsman’s club just like we do for cheerleading and track.”

Top grant recipients

Districts that tallied the largest sums of NRA money typically used it for JROTC programs, including $126,000 given to Albuquerque schools, $126,000 to Broward County and $125,000 to Anchorage, Alaska. The most awarded to a single district was $230,000, given to Roseville schools near Sacramento, California, which say much of the funding went toward ammunition and gear for trap-shooting teams.

Grants are often provided as equipment rather than cash, with schools given rifles, ammunition, safety gear and updates to shooting ranges. Nationally, about $1.3 million was provided as cash, while $6 million was provided through equipment, training and other costs.

Ron Severson, superintendent of the Roseville Joint Union High School District, says no parents have raised concerns over the funding, but administrators may reconsider it in the wake of the Florida shooting.

“After we get through this spring, we will probably take some time to assess how to move forward,” he said.

Like the program, not the NRA

School board members in some districts said they didn’t know about the grants. Donna Corbett, a Democrat on the school board in southern Indiana’s New Albany-Floyd County School Corporation, said she never heard about $65,000 that went to a JROTC program at one of the high schools. Corbett said she plans to raise the issue with her board but feels conflicted about it.

“I am not a big NRA fan, but I also realize that ROTC is a good program,” she said. “I’m not sure I would be willing to pull it to the detriment of the kids and their programs.”

In some ways, the issue reflects the nation’s deep political divide over guns. Nearly three-quarters of the schools that received grants are in counties that voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, while a quarter are in counties that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to the AP analysis. Most are in medium-sized counties or rural areas, with few near major cities.

In Massachusetts, for example, known for its strict gun laws, no schools have received NRA grants since 2010, tax records show. Terry Ryan, a school board member in the Westford district northwest of Boston, says a local teacher considered applying for a grant in 2014, but the district ultimately didn’t pursue it.

“We were not interested in any way, shape or form endorsing the NRA or its philosophy,” Ryan said in an interview.

By contrast, parent Jana Cox in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish says few in the area would have a problem with the $24,000 in NRA grants that have gone to school JROTC programs.

“Everybody here has guns,” Cox said. “This is north Louisiana. You’ve got a lot of hunters and you’ve got a lot of guns.”

Grants keep programs afloat

Without NRA grants, some programs would struggle to stay afloat, officials say. For JROTC groups, which receive most of their money from their respective military branches, the grants have become more important as federal budgets have been cut. Programs at some high schools in Virginia, Missouri and other states have folded in recent years amid the pinch.

Lt. Colonel Ralph Ingles, head of the JROTC program at Albuquerque schools, says the Florida shooting has sparked a conversation about NRA grants, but he doesn’t anticipate cutting ties anytime soon.

“I don’t see anybody really backing down,” he said. “I think it’s just ingrained that we’re going to continue to move forward in a positive direction.”

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Trump’s Tariffs Elicit Strong Response at Home, Abroad

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum is eliciting strong reactions at home and around the world.

America’s neighbors breathed a sigh of relief at being granted an exemption from the tariffs. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said despite the concession, Canada would continue to push back.

“In recent days, we have worked energetically with our American counterparts to secure an exemption for Canada from these tariffs,” she said. “This work continues and it will continue until the prospect of these duties is fully and permanently lifted.”

Canada is the largest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. Freeland ridiculed Trump’s national security justification for the measure, saying: “That Canada could pose any kind of security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”

​Allies combative

Other allies took an equally combative stance. 

“Protectionism, tariffs never really work,” British trade minister Liam Fox said Thursday. “We can deal multilaterally with the overproduction of steel, but this is the wrong way to go about it,” he said.

As did Canada, Fox said it was “doubly absurd” to target Britain with steel tariffs on national security grounds when it only provided the U.S. with 1 percent of its imports and made steel for the American military.

France said it “regrets” Trump’s decision. 

“There are only losers in a trade war. With our EU partners, we will assess consequences on our industries and agree (to an) appropriate response,” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted Thursday.

Last week, Le Maire had warned that any such measures by the U.S. would be “unacceptable” and called for a “strong, coordinated, united response from the EU.”

​Negotiate exemptions

During the announcement of the tariffs, the White House said that countries concerned by the tariffs could try to negotiate possible exemptions.

“The EU is a close ally of the U.S. and we continue to think that the EU must be exempted from these measures,” said EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom.

“I will demand more clarity on this issue in the days to come,” she said.

 

WATCH: Economists Warn of Escalating Trade War Following US Steel Tariffs

Invitation to a trade war

Others also panned the tariffs as an invitation to a trade war. 

“If you put tariffs against your allies, one wonders who the enemies are,” said the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned, “Choosing a trade war is a mistaken prescription. The outcome will only be harmful. China would have to make a justified and necessary response.”

Brazil also said it planned such negotiations. 

“We will work to exclude Brazil from this measure,” acting Trade Minister Marcos Jorge told Reuters. Brazil is the United States’ No. 2 steel supplier.

​Mixed reactions on Capitol Hill

Many of the reactions around Washington were mixed.

“There are unquestionably bad trade practices by nations like China, but the better approach is targeted enforcement of those bad practices. Our economy and our national security are strengthened by fostering free trade with our allies,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

Senator Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, who is not planning to seek re-election, said he will “immediately” draft legislation that attempts to block the tariffs.

“These so-called ‘flexible tariffs’ are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth: protectionism and uncertainty,” Flake said in a statement. “Trade wars are not won, they are only lost.”

But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virgina said he was “excited” by the idea of tariffs.

“I’m encouraged, I really am, and I think it gives us a chance to basically reboot, get jobs back to West Virginia, back to America,” he said.

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Trump’s Tariffs Elicit Strong Response at Home, Abroad

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum is eliciting strong reactions at home and around the world.

America’s neighbors breathed a sigh of relief at being granted an exemption from the tariffs. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said despite the concession, Canada would continue to push back.

“In recent days, we have worked energetically with our American counterparts to secure an exemption for Canada from these tariffs,” she said. “This work continues and it will continue until the prospect of these duties is fully and permanently lifted.”

Canada is the largest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. Freeland ridiculed Trump’s national security justification for the measure, saying: “That Canada could pose any kind of security threat to the United States is inconceivable.”

​Allies combative

Other allies took an equally combative stance. 

“Protectionism, tariffs never really work,” British trade minister Liam Fox said Thursday. “We can deal multilaterally with the overproduction of steel, but this is the wrong way to go about it,” he said.

As did Canada, Fox said it was “doubly absurd” to target Britain with steel tariffs on national security grounds when it only provided the U.S. with 1 percent of its imports and made steel for the American military.

France said it “regrets” Trump’s decision. 

“There are only losers in a trade war. With our EU partners, we will assess consequences on our industries and agree (to an) appropriate response,” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted Thursday.

Last week, Le Maire had warned that any such measures by the U.S. would be “unacceptable” and called for a “strong, coordinated, united response from the EU.”

​Negotiate exemptions

During the announcement of the tariffs, the White House said that countries concerned by the tariffs could try to negotiate possible exemptions.

“The EU is a close ally of the U.S. and we continue to think that the EU must be exempted from these measures,” said EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom.

“I will demand more clarity on this issue in the days to come,” she said.

 

WATCH: Economists Warn of Escalating Trade War Following US Steel Tariffs

Invitation to a trade war

Others also panned the tariffs as an invitation to a trade war. 

“If you put tariffs against your allies, one wonders who the enemies are,” said the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned, “Choosing a trade war is a mistaken prescription. The outcome will only be harmful. China would have to make a justified and necessary response.”

Brazil also said it planned such negotiations. 

“We will work to exclude Brazil from this measure,” acting Trade Minister Marcos Jorge told Reuters. Brazil is the United States’ No. 2 steel supplier.

​Mixed reactions on Capitol Hill

Many of the reactions around Washington were mixed.

“There are unquestionably bad trade practices by nations like China, but the better approach is targeted enforcement of those bad practices. Our economy and our national security are strengthened by fostering free trade with our allies,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

Senator Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, who is not planning to seek re-election, said he will “immediately” draft legislation that attempts to block the tariffs.

“These so-called ‘flexible tariffs’ are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth: protectionism and uncertainty,” Flake said in a statement. “Trade wars are not won, they are only lost.”

But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virgina said he was “excited” by the idea of tariffs.

“I’m encouraged, I really am, and I think it gives us a chance to basically reboot, get jobs back to West Virginia, back to America,” he said.

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Trump, Porn Star Scandal Hits Mainstream Media

The story of President Donald Trump’s alleged extramarital relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels has been an open secret in Washington’s media circles for weeks. 

Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted paying Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 to keep quiet about the alleged affair just before the 2016 presidential election. 

Celebrity magazine InTouch in February published an in-depth interview detailing Clifford’s story. But with denials and evasive silence, the story had remained on the sidelines of mainstream news until Wednesday when the White House appeared to acknowledge for the first time that Trump was involved in some way with the porn actress.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, during a Wednesday press briefing, tried to dismiss a question asked about the scandal by saying the president had already won a legal battle relating to the case. 

“This case has already been won in arbitration,” Sanders said, referring to a temporary restraining order issued last week by a private dispute-resolution firm that bars Clifford from talking publicly about her alleged affair with Trump and from suing the president.

Ruling ignored

Sanders added she was not aware that the president knew of the payment made to the actress.

Clifford ignored the order, filing a lawsuit Tuesday asserting that the nondisclosure agreement that accompanied the $130,000 payment was void because Trump never signed it. She contends in the lawsuit that she began “an intimate relationship” with Trump in the summer of 2006, and continued the relationship “well into the year 2007.”

According to the lawsuit, Trump’s lawyer filed the arbitration proceeding against Clifford last week to seek a restraining order to “shut her up” and “protect Mr. Trump.”

Trump ‘absolutely knew’

Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, told ABC News that Trump “absolutely knew” about the payment to his client. “Any suggestion that he didn’t know about it is, quite honestly, absurd,” he said.

Avenatti said the nondisclosure agreement was “sloppy” and referred to it as “amateur hour.”  

“He purposely did not sign it so that later he could have deniability as to its existence,” Avenatti told ABC News.

The nondisclosure agreement directed that $130,000 be paid into the trust account of Clifford’s then-attorney. In return, Clifford was not to disclose any confidential information about Trump or his sexual partners to anyone beyond the few individuals she had already talked to, or share any texts or photos from Trump. It also mandates “binding confidential arbitration of all disputes which may arise between them.”

The nondisclosure agreement also stipulates that any dispute be settled by a “solo, neutral arbitrator” at one of two private firms. One of those firms, Action Dispute Resolution Services, issued the restraining order against Clifford. 

David Dennison?

The agreement refers to Trump throughout as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. In the side letter agreement, the true identity of “DD” is blacked out, but Avenatti says the individual is Trump. Each document includes a blank where “DD” is supposed to sign, but neither blank is signed.

The absence of the signatures is the basis for Clifford’s lawsuit filed Tuesday. Clifford claims that she is not bound by the nondisclosure agreement to stay quiet or go through arbitration because Trump never signed the agreement, rendering it unenforceable.

If the court agrees with Clifford and invalidates the agreement, Clifford will be free to bring her story involving the American president to the front pages of international news. 

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Trump, Porn Star Scandal Hits Mainstream Media

The story of President Donald Trump’s alleged extramarital relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels has been an open secret in Washington’s media circles for weeks. 

Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted paying Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 to keep quiet about the alleged affair just before the 2016 presidential election. 

Celebrity magazine InTouch in February published an in-depth interview detailing Clifford’s story. But with denials and evasive silence, the story had remained on the sidelines of mainstream news until Wednesday when the White House appeared to acknowledge for the first time that Trump was involved in some way with the porn actress.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, during a Wednesday press briefing, tried to dismiss a question asked about the scandal by saying the president had already won a legal battle relating to the case. 

“This case has already been won in arbitration,” Sanders said, referring to a temporary restraining order issued last week by a private dispute-resolution firm that bars Clifford from talking publicly about her alleged affair with Trump and from suing the president.

Ruling ignored

Sanders added she was not aware that the president knew of the payment made to the actress.

Clifford ignored the order, filing a lawsuit Tuesday asserting that the nondisclosure agreement that accompanied the $130,000 payment was void because Trump never signed it. She contends in the lawsuit that she began “an intimate relationship” with Trump in the summer of 2006, and continued the relationship “well into the year 2007.”

According to the lawsuit, Trump’s lawyer filed the arbitration proceeding against Clifford last week to seek a restraining order to “shut her up” and “protect Mr. Trump.”

Trump ‘absolutely knew’

Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, told ABC News that Trump “absolutely knew” about the payment to his client. “Any suggestion that he didn’t know about it is, quite honestly, absurd,” he said.

Avenatti said the nondisclosure agreement was “sloppy” and referred to it as “amateur hour.”  

“He purposely did not sign it so that later he could have deniability as to its existence,” Avenatti told ABC News.

The nondisclosure agreement directed that $130,000 be paid into the trust account of Clifford’s then-attorney. In return, Clifford was not to disclose any confidential information about Trump or his sexual partners to anyone beyond the few individuals she had already talked to, or share any texts or photos from Trump. It also mandates “binding confidential arbitration of all disputes which may arise between them.”

The nondisclosure agreement also stipulates that any dispute be settled by a “solo, neutral arbitrator” at one of two private firms. One of those firms, Action Dispute Resolution Services, issued the restraining order against Clifford. 

David Dennison?

The agreement refers to Trump throughout as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. In the side letter agreement, the true identity of “DD” is blacked out, but Avenatti says the individual is Trump. Each document includes a blank where “DD” is supposed to sign, but neither blank is signed.

The absence of the signatures is the basis for Clifford’s lawsuit filed Tuesday. Clifford claims that she is not bound by the nondisclosure agreement to stay quiet or go through arbitration because Trump never signed the agreement, rendering it unenforceable.

If the court agrees with Clifford and invalidates the agreement, Clifford will be free to bring her story involving the American president to the front pages of international news. 

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Judge to Weigh Whether Trump’s Twitter Blocks Violate Free Speech

A federal judge is expected to hear arguments on Thursday about whether President Donald Trump violated Twitter users’ free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution by blocking them from his account.

The arguments before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan are part of a lawsuit brought last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several individual Twitter users.

Trump and the plaintiffs are seeking summary judgment, asking Buchwald to decide the case in their favor without a trial.

Twitter lets users post short snippets of text, called tweets. Other users may respond to those tweets. When one user blocks another, the blocked user cannot respond to the blocker’s tweets.

The plaintiffs have accused Trump of blocking a number of accounts whose owners criticized, mocked or disagreed with him in replies to his tweets.

They argued that Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is a public forum, and that denying them access based on their views violates the First Amendment.

Trump in court papers countered that his use of Twitter is personal, not a “state action.”

Even if it were a state action, he said, his use of Twitter was a form of “government speech,” not a public forum.

Trump’s Twitter use draws intense interest for his unvarnished commentary, including attacks on critics. His tweets often shape news and are retweeted tens of thousands of times.

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Judge to Weigh Whether Trump’s Twitter Blocks Violate Free Speech

A federal judge is expected to hear arguments on Thursday about whether President Donald Trump violated Twitter users’ free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution by blocking them from his account.

The arguments before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan are part of a lawsuit brought last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several individual Twitter users.

Trump and the plaintiffs are seeking summary judgment, asking Buchwald to decide the case in their favor without a trial.

Twitter lets users post short snippets of text, called tweets. Other users may respond to those tweets. When one user blocks another, the blocked user cannot respond to the blocker’s tweets.

The plaintiffs have accused Trump of blocking a number of accounts whose owners criticized, mocked or disagreed with him in replies to his tweets.

They argued that Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is a public forum, and that denying them access based on their views violates the First Amendment.

Trump in court papers countered that his use of Twitter is personal, not a “state action.”

Even if it were a state action, he said, his use of Twitter was a form of “government speech,” not a public forum.

Trump’s Twitter use draws intense interest for his unvarnished commentary, including attacks on critics. His tweets often shape news and are retweeted tens of thousands of times.

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European Central Bank: Trump Tariff Move ‘Dangerous’

Europe’s top monetary official criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as a “dangerous” unilateral move.

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, said that the “immediate spillover of the trade measures … is not going to be big.” But he said such disputes should be worked out among trade partners, not decided by measures initiated from one side.

“Whatever convictions one has about trade … we are convinced that disputes should be discussed and resolved in a multilateral framework, and that unilateral decisions are dangerous.”

Trump is expected to announce by the end of this week tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Trump has long singled out China for being unfair in trade practices, but experts say the tariffs would hurt U.S. allies Canada and the European Union far more.

Draghi warned that unilateral moves like these tariffs could trigger retaliation — which the EU and China, among other, have already threatened.

The most important fallout, Draghi said, would be if tariffs raised fears about the economy. They could depress confidence among consumers and businesses, he said, which could weaken both growth and inflation.

Draghi also alluded to the kind of financial deregulation the U.S. is pursuing as a risk to the global economy. The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would remove some of the banking safeguards imposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers. The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho but has attracted several Democratic sponsors as well.

Draghi didn’t mention the bill specifically but said that the global financial crisis had been preceded by “systematic disruption of financial regulation in the major jurisdictions.” He said that while European regulators are not looking to ease back checks on the financial sector “massive deregulation in one market is going to affect the whole world.”

These uncertainties overshadowed a monetary policy announcement by the ECB, in which it hinted it is closer to withdrawing a key economic stimulus program.

The bank left unchanged its key interest rates as well as the size of its bond-buying stimulus program after its latest policy meeting. But in its statement it omitted an earlier promise that it could increase its bond-purchase stimulus in size or duration if the economic outlook worsens.

Draghi downplayed the step, saying it was a “backward-looking measure” that no longer fit today’s circumstances. Economic growth in the eurozone hit a strong annual rate of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, making the prospect of added stimulus remote.

The bank has said it will continue buying 30 billion euros ($37 million) in bonds per month through September and longer if needed — but has given no precise end date.

The eventual end of the stimulus will have wide-ranging effects. It could cause the euro to rise in value against other currencies, potentially hurting exporters, and it could bring higher returns on savings as well as stiffer borrowing costs for indebted governments in the 19-country eurozone. It should make it easier for people and companies to fund pension savings. But it could make richly valued stock markets less attractive relative to more conservative holdings.

The euro was volatile after the ECB’s statement, first jumping and then falling back to $1.2333 by end of day.

The stimulus program pushes newly printed money into the economy. That in theory should lower borrowing rates and raise inflation and growth. But while growth has bounced back, inflation has been slow to respond. It remains at 1.2 percent, stubbornly below the bank’s goal of just under 2 percent, the level considered best for the economy.

The bond purchases were started March 2015 to help the eurozone bounce back from troubles over government and bank debt in several member countries including Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and Italy. The economy is now doing better, but the bank has moved cautiously in ending its crisis measures for fear of roiling recently volatile financial markets.

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European Central Bank: Trump Tariff Move ‘Dangerous’

Europe’s top monetary official criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as a “dangerous” unilateral move.

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, said that the “immediate spillover of the trade measures … is not going to be big.” But he said such disputes should be worked out among trade partners, not decided by measures initiated from one side.

“Whatever convictions one has about trade … we are convinced that disputes should be discussed and resolved in a multilateral framework, and that unilateral decisions are dangerous.”

Trump is expected to announce by the end of this week tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Trump has long singled out China for being unfair in trade practices, but experts say the tariffs would hurt U.S. allies Canada and the European Union far more.

Draghi warned that unilateral moves like these tariffs could trigger retaliation — which the EU and China, among other, have already threatened.

The most important fallout, Draghi said, would be if tariffs raised fears about the economy. They could depress confidence among consumers and businesses, he said, which could weaken both growth and inflation.

Draghi also alluded to the kind of financial deregulation the U.S. is pursuing as a risk to the global economy. The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would remove some of the banking safeguards imposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers. The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho but has attracted several Democratic sponsors as well.

Draghi didn’t mention the bill specifically but said that the global financial crisis had been preceded by “systematic disruption of financial regulation in the major jurisdictions.” He said that while European regulators are not looking to ease back checks on the financial sector “massive deregulation in one market is going to affect the whole world.”

These uncertainties overshadowed a monetary policy announcement by the ECB, in which it hinted it is closer to withdrawing a key economic stimulus program.

The bank left unchanged its key interest rates as well as the size of its bond-buying stimulus program after its latest policy meeting. But in its statement it omitted an earlier promise that it could increase its bond-purchase stimulus in size or duration if the economic outlook worsens.

Draghi downplayed the step, saying it was a “backward-looking measure” that no longer fit today’s circumstances. Economic growth in the eurozone hit a strong annual rate of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, making the prospect of added stimulus remote.

The bank has said it will continue buying 30 billion euros ($37 million) in bonds per month through September and longer if needed — but has given no precise end date.

The eventual end of the stimulus will have wide-ranging effects. It could cause the euro to rise in value against other currencies, potentially hurting exporters, and it could bring higher returns on savings as well as stiffer borrowing costs for indebted governments in the 19-country eurozone. It should make it easier for people and companies to fund pension savings. But it could make richly valued stock markets less attractive relative to more conservative holdings.

The euro was volatile after the ECB’s statement, first jumping and then falling back to $1.2333 by end of day.

The stimulus program pushes newly printed money into the economy. That in theory should lower borrowing rates and raise inflation and growth. But while growth has bounced back, inflation has been slow to respond. It remains at 1.2 percent, stubbornly below the bank’s goal of just under 2 percent, the level considered best for the economy.

The bond purchases were started March 2015 to help the eurozone bounce back from troubles over government and bank debt in several member countries including Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and Italy. The economy is now doing better, but the bank has moved cautiously in ending its crisis measures for fear of roiling recently volatile financial markets.

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Trump Has ‘Feeling’ Departing Aide Cohn Will Be Back

President Donald Trump is joking about Gary Cohn as he bids farewell to his departing economic adviser.

 

Trump says at a Cabinet meeting that will be Cohn’s last that the former Goldman Sachs executive “may be a globalist but I still like him.”

 

The president says Cohn may one day return to the White House after leaving to make what Trump’s calling another couple hundred million dollars.

 

Cohn announced this week that he’d be leaving the administration in the coming weeks. That announcement came amid a wave of staff departures and after Cohn failed to convince Trump that he should reconsider imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

At Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Trump told Cohn: “I have a feeling you’ll be back.”

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