Italy-EU talks, US jobs report, Nato's 70th anniversary
The FT's Josh de la Mare on some of the top stories the FT will be watching this week, including America's latest labour market data, the pressures on Nato as it marks its 70th anniversary, and talks between Italy and EU leaders
Produced and edited by Josh de la Mare. Written by Miles Johnson, Mamta Badkar, Simon Greaves and Gideon Rachman
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Here are the top stories we'll be watching this week. The latest US jobs figures will tell us more about where the US economy is heading. Nato marks its 70th anniversary with the transatlantic military organisation facing many pressures. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meets Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte. And Iran remains defiant on the world stage, as it enters its 40th year as an Islamic republic.
First, to the US economy. Economists widely expect to see that job hiring rebounded in March, after nearly grinding to a halt in the previous month. The interruption to the strong run of employment growth followed a blockbuster gain in January of more than 300,000 jobs. This week's jobs figures come after the Federal Reserve moved to ditch rate rises this year. And investors are likely to pay close attention to average hourly earnings figures.
Many economists argued at the time in the previous report that investors should just fade the headline, as it did not reflect the underlying trend in job growth. The March non-farm payroll report is expected to show the US economy created 175,000 jobs, while wages were expected to remain unchanged at 3.4 per cent.
Transatlantic military co-operation and the shared security challenges of keeping a combined population of almost 1bn people safe are expected on the agenda, when 29 Nato foreign ministers gather in Washington on Thursday. They will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the alliance, which took place in the US capital. Nato is under pressure over tensions between the US and European members, and also with Russia over Nato's enlargement policy. Montenegro became the newest member in 2017.
Well, there is no doubt that Nato has plenty to celebrate. It's the 70th anniversary of the alliance, possibly in some ways the most successful military alliance in history, because it achieved a huge victory, a victory in the Cold war, without ever having to go to war. And then it survived afterwards, expanded, and then subsequently launched a big military operation in Afghanistan.
But there are real doubts about the future of the alliance, not that it will continue to exist, but whether it can continue to maintain its cohesion. President Donald Trump has been much more equivocal and much more challenging about Nato than previous American presidents, in particular, he's complained repeatedly about what he regards as European free-riding, a failure to spend as much money on the military as America does.
But there are also other operational issues. The Americans are planning to pull out of Afghanistan much faster than previously anticipated. There are also issues about how Nato handles the increasing turbulence in the western Balkans.
And then there's the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which America is going to pull out of, because it says that the Russians have been violating it. But that causes a lot of nervousness in Europe, because it raises the prospect that nuclear missiles may be redeployed on European soil in greater numbers. And that is, again, a potential source of tension. So although there will be a lot to celebrate, I think there are also big underlying tensions within the Nato alliance.
Moving to Europe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will travel to Rome this week to meet with Italian Prime Ministers Giuseppe Conte at a tricky time for relations between the eurozone's third largest economy and Brussels.
Mr Conte was an unknown in Italian political circles before he was appointed prime minister last year following elections to head up a populist coalition government made up of the rightwing league party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Mr Conte has also been a moderate voice in frequently bitter disputes between Brussels and Rome since the government was formed. High on the agenda in his meeting with Mr Juncker is likely to be the issue of immigration, which Matteo Salvini, interior minister and head of the league, has said Italy is getting a bad deal on, and also the economy, with all eyes on future budget negotiations between the coalition parties, which could threaten the stability of the coalition going forward.
And finally, on Monday, Iranians marked Republic Day, the day Iran became an Islamic republic state in 1979. Iran's attempts to influence foreign affairs beyond its borders have resulted in Tehran collecting many regional enemies in the 40 years since the Islamic republic's founding, when revolutionaries claimed victory having overthrown the US-backed Shah. Iran's hostility towards America, that has been a pillar of its foreign policy, persists.
Despite US imposed sanctions following the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Iran has struck a defiant position, saying Iran will continue to build missiles and seek to influence regional affairs. But oil exports, the lifeline of the economy, have plunged by more than 1m barrels a day. And Iranians are pessimistic about improved welfare policies and prosperity. And that's what the week ahead looks like from the FT in London.