Feb 6, 2018

Last year's U.S. trade deficit was highest since 2008

Shipping containers at the port of Thessaloniki in Greece. Photo: Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The United States' trade deficit in 2017 hit $566 billion — the highest since since 2008 — spurred by a $375.2 billion gap with China and a $71.1 billion deficit with Mexico, reports the AP. President Trump has frequently singled out those two nations as he structured his "America First" economic policy around balanced trade deals, pondering tariffs against China and a renegotiation or termination of NAFTA.

Yes, but: A large trade deficit isn't necessarily a bad thing as it indicates that American consumer confidence is strong and willing to buy. Plus, there's good news for Trump's economic policies in the numbers as well: exports of goods in December were the highest since October 2014, per Reuters, indicating that a weak dollar is allowing more consumers abroad to purchase American-made products.

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post on Feb. 28, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health