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Morning Briefing

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made a surprising decision today, asking the 25 biggest US banks to voluntarily offer low-cost, no-overdraft accounts to American consumers. The CFPB's request is intended to help many of the estimated 10 million Americans without access to affordable financial services. CFPB Director Richard Cordray noted: "Living outside the banking system can be costly and time-consuming, especially for those who are the most financially vulnerable."

Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan, said today that he would continue to lower interest rates (already at negative 0.1 percent since last week) in order to achieve his goal of only two percent inflation. Citing the Swiss National Bank and the Swedish Riksbank as examples of national banks with negative interest rates of negative 0.75 percent and negative 1.1 percent respectively, he insisted that lowering interest rates further is the best way to reign in inflation and retain modest economic growth.

With an eye to this trend, the US Federal Reserve has included a below zero rate scenario in its 2016 stress test of major banks. According to Bloomberg, the imagined situation sees the three-month US Treasury bill rate remaining negative for a prolonged period. "This scenario does not represent a forecast of the Federal Reserve," the Fed has stated.

Concerns about stuttering product sales seems to have cost Apple its position as the world's most valuable company, notes The Guardian. Google, which restructured its holdings and now trades as Alphabet, has almost doubled in value since August, with its cap rising by $200bn. Although the company has branched out into mobile operating systems (Android) and the internet of things (Nest), the core money-spinner remains Search.

Morgan Stanley to pay $63 million U.S. mortgage bond settlement: FDIC
Microsoft steps up AI push with Swiftkey deal
Sliding lira increases the pain for Turkey's central bank
Nigeria's poor feel pain of Abuja's monetary policy

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