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Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday night declared China to be a currency manipulator, just hours after the Chinese government allowed the yuan to slip below a 7-to-1 dollar ratio for the first time in over a decade.

Why it matters: This is a further ratcheting up of trade tensions between the two countries, and also marks the first time any U.S. president has used the currency manipulator label since 1994.

How it works: Under a 2015 law, in order to be a currency manipulator, a country needs to spend 2% of GDP on currency manipulation over a 12-month period. China is not doing this. If anything, China was keeping the yuan artificially strong until Trump ratcheted up the trade war on Thursday.

Why now: Trump campaigned on labeling China a currency manipulator, but was persuaded not to on the grounds that it would not be helpful. Today, however, voices from both the right (Lou Dobbs) and left (Chuck Schumer) have been urging the president to take this step.

What’s next: The currency manipulator designation does not come with particularly harsh remedies. First comes a year of negotiations, and after that even the Trump administration's proposed beefed-up penalties are small, amounting to no more than about $20 million per year. The move will certainly annoy the Chinese, however, and make any trade deal harder to achieve.

Go deeper

Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Salesforce's likely acquisition of workplace messaging service Slack — not yet a done deal but widely anticipated to be announced Tuesday afternoon — represents a big gamble for everyone involved.

For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
2 hours ago - Science

The rise of military space powers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nations around the world are shoring up their defensive and offensive capabilities in space — for today's wars and tomorrow's.

Why it matters: Using space as a warfighting domain opens up new avenues for technologically advanced nations to dominate their enemies. But it can also make those countries more vulnerable to attack in novel ways.

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