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    New York state lawmakers agreed a budget plan late on Sunday night that includes much-debated ethics and education reforms, state governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders said in statement. Cuomo proposed a $142 billion plan in January that keeps spending growth below 2 percent and promises money for big-ticket infrastructure projects while cutting property taxes.

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    China's central bank governor said Sunday that the U.S. dollar could grow "too strong" and prompt capital flows out of China and other nations. Speaking at an annual forum in the Chinese city of Boao, People's Bank of China Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan said monetary easing by major central banks was driving up the U.S. currency, while adding that he saw "more room" for China to further ease policy if the economy remains soft and inflation continues to weaken, according to comments carried by...

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    U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle increasingly are finding appeal in an ambitious concept for overhauling the nation's income-tax system: a tax based on consumption, a tool long used around the world. The tax-writing Senate Finance Committee is giving new consideration to the consumption-tax idea with the hope that its promised boost to economic growth would ease the way to a revamp. As lawmakers have examined a tax overhaul, "it becomes extremely difficult to see a...

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    Corruption is common among politically connected groups that profit by circumventing international sanctions.“ The economy is not healthy,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech University.“ It is a bit like a sick man whose leg breaks and then the leg is repaired, but the other stuff is still there.” The six global powers...

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    The headlines in Tehran have been trumpeting some good news for Iran’ s economy lately. Reports on the talks suggest that one of the remaining disputes is how fast sanctions would be lifted and which ones might remain in effect while Iran proves its commitment on the nuclear front.The incentives are these: An agreement on Iran’ s nuclear program could reopen...

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    The White House’s top data nerd was kicked out of an algebra class in high school and almost didn’t graduate.DJ Patil, who was named the nation’s first chief data scientist last month, shares credit for coining the term “data science.” He is the latest Silicon Valley transplant to join the Obama administration, working under former Google executive Megan Smith, the White House’s chief technology officer.At the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Patil shares a work space with former Twitter executive Alex Macgillivray, a skateboard, and a giant Pokemon stuffed toy. He occasionally rides the skateboard to work, and he calls the executive mansion a place filled with “awesomeness.” He says he misses California weather and his favorite Indian restaurants.But Patil is no stranger to Washington. After graduating from high school in Cupertino, (thanks to “a very kind administrator who took pity on me,” he said in a speech) he went on to obtain a doctorate in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland at College Park. He also had a brief stint at the Pentagon in 2004, analyzing social networks to study emerging threats.Since then, Patil has worked at LinkedIn (LNKD), Skype, PayPal and eBay (EBAY). Most recently, he was an executive at the data intelligence company RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce last year.In an interview, Patil outlined his priorities as chief data scientist and explained why he made the switch to public service. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.Q. What does the first chief data scientist do?A. To me, the government says, “Okay, we have data, but how do we use that responsibly to create efficiencies, to create transparency, to unlock economic potential? How do we get that data to preserve American competitiveness and advance innovation?”The mission of this role is an amplification of things that have been happening.How will you achieve those goals?There are three areas where we have the biggest chance to succeed in our mission.The first is precision medicine.We’re at this place where we have much more comprehensive ways of looking at our bodies. How do we take bioinformatics and what we’ve been able to do in data science and bring them together to optimize health care? The open question is: How do we make precision medicine scalable? How do we bring it to the masses?The next one is open data. We’ve got data.gov [a Web site that features machine-readable government data], which has really changed the game. Think about the billions of dollars that rest on open data infrastructure. People do research on that data, that research turns into insight, that insight turns into wisdom and that wisdom is put back into models and scientific results. The foundation of all this is open data. How do we enhance that across-the-board?The third area is tech talent. How do we increasingly bring in and train the necessary talent to prepare our government to capi­tal­ize on open data?What about the privacy concerns with big data, especially in areas such as precision medicine?A big part of the framing of precision medicine is how do we do this responsibly?This is one area where we’re well ahead of the problem, as opposed to the kind of thing that would go on for years and then we’d say, “Uh-oh, we better think about this” when a crisis happens.Privacy is essential, but there’s also the question of bioethics — the issue of what is the acceptable use of that data. There’s a whole rich field within bioinformatics on the ethical use of data and genetics. The National Institutes of Health has been a leader in this space.Why did you decide to join government instead of solving the same problems at a technology company?Given the field of data science and the things we can do, we’re in a really unique place in time and history. When else can you have this kind of impact?You can go and build an app, and I’ve been fortunate to work on a lot of great technologies. But in this type of role, you get to ask yourself a true-north question every morning.That question is: Will this impact my kids or my friends’ kids? Will it make their lives better? Will it make their kids’ kids’ lives better?I don’t really know how you can think about those questions — with that level of focus — as a company. That is, by definition, public service. And once you get a taste of doing public service, it’s really hard to let go.What’s different about working in Washington now?Being here 11 years ago versus now — I can’t express how much has changed. Oftentimes, we look at government and say, “Look at that slow-moving ship.”If anything, it’s really incredible how much change is happening, how much opportunity is there. It’s hard for me to have ever imagined an administration doing this much to empower data science, given that it’s such a new area.Not only is this the most data-driven organization we’ve seen, but when you look at the demographics of the teams, and how balanced and diverse they are, it’s amazing.Government in many ways is ahead of a lot of corporations, and I say that coming from industry.Are there any downsides to the job?There are always challenges. It’s not supposed to be easy. There are very hard questions to answer. What has been the most impressive thing is the willingness for everyone to roll up their sleeves and get to work.There’s plenty of days where it’s tough, but I haven’t had a single day where I’ve been demoralized or where I feel like I’m frustrated and I should just pack up shop and head home.




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    WASHINGTON-- The U.S. economy has slowed down by almost every measure except for perhaps the most crucial one: jobs. Sales at retailers have been soft, manufacturers are growing more slowly and business investment has fallen six straight months, a batch of recent reports show. Companies continue to hire at the fastest pace in 15 years, with little sign they are ready to apply the brakes.

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    America's economy is starting to see cracks after closing out 2014 with Superman strength. The U.S. job market had its best year of gains last year since 1999, and economic activity hit a whopping 5% in the third quarter -- the best quarter since 2003. Three months later, the U.S. economy is looking a little tired.

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    The state of the U.S. labour market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike.

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    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled that the U.S. central bank will likely start raising borrowing costs later this year, even before inflation and wages have returned to health, but emphasized the return to normal interest rates will be gradual.

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    By Joseph Adinolfi and Carla Mozee, MarketWatch. Buck little-changed by Yellen's speech. NEW YORK-- The U.S. dollar booked its largest two-week decline against the euro since September 2012 on Friday, sliding on expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates later, and more gradually, than market participants had previously anticipated.

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    WASHINGTON-- Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Friday channeled her inner Mary Poppins, giving markets a spoonful of sugar while delivering the message that an increase in interest rates is coming soon. "I expect that conditions may warrant an increase in the federal funds rate target sometime this year," Yellen told a conference sponsored by the San Francisco Fed. Yellen said she was "cautiously optimistic" that growth would top 2.3% this year and that the unemployment...

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    The Federal Reserve must take the global economy into account when judging the U.S. domestic outlook, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday, noting that a stronger dollar buoyed by weakness abroad may restrain U.S. exports.

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    WASHINGTON-- In a speech delivered Friday afternoon, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen laid out the conditions that would prevent the central bank from making its first rate hike in about nine years. "I would be uncomfortable raising the federal funds rate if readings on wage growth, core consumer prices, and other indicators of underlying inflation pressures were to weaken, if market-based measures of inflation compensation were to fall appreciably further, or if...

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    Wall Street ended its four-day losing streak on Friday, but the minor gains were nowhere near enough to erase big losses suffered over the week. Equities have been under pressure this week since an unexpected slide in durable goods orders on Wednesday provided investors with another sign the U.S. economy could be on weaker footing.

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    NEW YORK-- The Brazilian real moved sharply lower Friday after a gross domestic product report showed Brazil's economy contracted in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. The real traded at 3.23 to the U.S. dollar, compared with 3.19 Thursday. The plight of the real, which has lost 18% of its value against the dollar since the beginning of the year, shows how important policy makers' credibility can be to sustaining foreign investment and economic growth in...

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    U.S. short-term interest rate futures dipped slightly on Friday from their settlement levels after the release of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech on monetary policy in which she said higher interest rates may well be warranted later this year. In after-hour trading, the federal funds contract for December 2015 delivery was quoted at 99.595, compared with the day's settlement of 99.600.

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    Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Friday that gradual rate hikes are likely this year but stressed that the central bank would move cautiously. In a speech to a conference in San Francisco, Yellen, for the first time, said that the Fed would stay on hold if there were further weakening in key inflation indicators. But she added that it would not take an increase in inflation or wages to prompt the Fed to raise interest rates.

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    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen thinks the economy is improving ... but that it should be doing much better. In a speech Friday afternoon in San Francisco, Yellen was more blunt than usual in her assessment of the economy. "If underlying conditions had truly returned to normal, the economy should be booming," she said. Her more sobering tone will likely please Wall Street.