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Dan Coats at the Heritage Foundation October 13, 2017. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

"I'm quite skeptical about all of this," said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday referring to talks of a denuclearization breakthrough with North Korea.

Why he is skeptical: Past administrations "have been frustrated" with previous talks and so-called breakthroughs since many "have just given them time to further develop" their nuclear capability, added Coats.

"Hope springs eternal" that this might be the breakthrough the international community needs on North Korea, said Coats.

The bottom line: Coats explained that U.S.' stance is that "North Korea has to agree to not possess nuclear capability...until that happens we cannot have an agreement with them...Maybe this is a breakthrough. I seriously doubt it," he concluded. North Korea has approached conversations many times before regarding denuclearization and a freeze — and all have fallen through.

Go deeper

School principals are not OK

Principal Alice Hom (purple jacket) of New York's Yung Wing School P.S. 124 near a vaccination van in November. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The overwhelming majority of secondary school principals experienced frequent stress last school year, according to a RAND Corporation report out Wednesday.

The big picture: The stress levels among female principals and principals of color were especially stark, with nearly 40% in these groups reporting constant job-related stress, compared to about 24% of male principals and 26% of white principals.

It's official: Stock market having worst start to year ever

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

It's been a decidedly ugly start to the year for the stock market, with particular pain in the tech trade.

State of play: As of the end of trading Tuesday — the 16th session of the year — 2022 is now, officially, the worst-ever start in the history of the S&P 500, according to data from Ned Davis Research, a stock market research shop.

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

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