Cyber Security National Plan, Combatting Zika and India’s Rapid Growth
February 09, 2016
White House to announce “cyber security national action plan”; President Obama requested $1.8 billion today to combat Zika virus outbreak; December release of the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported 5.6M open jobs on the last business day of the month; India maintained its place as the world’s fastest growing economy in the fourth quarter with output rising 7.3%.
- The White House will announce a so-called “cyber security national action plan” that would create the office of the federal chief informational security officer, establish a new commission that will develop strategies for protecting computer networks, and increase coordination between federal officials who focus on privacy issues. The detailing of the new measures follows an op-ed written by President Obama and published in Sunday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal in which he calls for the federal government to act as a leader in the protection of digital information. The Obama administration plans to request a 35% increase in funding to the Executive Branch’s cybersecurity programs next year for a total budget of $19 billion. $3 billion of such funding would go towards modernizing the computer systems government workers say are so outdated that it is easy for hackers to breach and access classified intelligence. The Department of Homeland Security is currently responsible for enforcing cybersecurity measures across federal offices, while the Pentagon and National Security Agency also have initiatives to protect government data. Congress may be unlikely to approve such a large increase in funding, however, as the majority of its disbursement would occur after the expiry of President Obama’s term in the White House. [WSJ]
- President Obama requested $1.8 billion today to combat the recent outbreak of the Zika virus that has spread to 26 countries across Central and South America. Zika causes a rare birth defect in newborn children called microephaly, which results in babies born with abnormally small skulls and underdeveloped brains. The president’s requested funding includes $828 million for direct response efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while $200 million would be appropriated for research on new vaccines and $210 million would be placed in an emergency fund for other activities to be conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The virus spreads via the transmission of fluids, especially by mosquitoes in humid climates. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wrote to the White House, on behalf of his caucus in Congress, urging the Obama administration to expediently act on a disease that could have serious implications on the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met with Secretary of Health and Human Services Syvia Burwelll to receive a briefing on the Zika outbreak. [NYT]
Economic Indicators & News
- The December release of the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported 5.6 million open jobs on the last business day of the month, an increase of 0.2% from November. Meanwhile the quits rate rose 0.1% in an indication that more Americans are moving up to better positions of employment. The healthcare industry led openings with 172,000 jobs available and the finance and insurance industry maintained 99,000 openings. Net employment opportunities fell by the most in the mining and logging industry and by the least in construction and retail trade. The number of layoffs fell an aggregate 0.1% on the month. Regionally, the number of job openings were the greatest in the Northeast, followed by the Midwest and West. [BLS]
- India maintained its place as the world’s fastest growing economy in the fourth quarter with output rising 7.3%, affirming that the subcontinental Asian nation has officially overtaken mainland China to achieve the highest rate of economic expansion. India, a large importer of oil, greatly benefitted from the collapse of global energy prices through the end of 2015, which allowed it to boost domestic trade and infrastructure development. The government announced that it forecasts output growth of 7.6% in the first quarter of 2016—its quickest pace in five years—though the country faces significant challenges in achieving China-like levels of expansion throughout the next decades amid broader weakness in emerging markets. GDP growth fell 0.4% from the third quarter of 2015. [FT]