(2 of 2)
On Dec. 25, China and Japan announced an agreement to begin direct trading of their currencies, freeing businesses in both countries from the need to convert their money into U.S. dollars first. The deal won't immediately challenge the dollar's status as the standard reserve currency, but it is a large step by China toward internationalizing the yuan. China and Japan, the world's second and third largest economies, are also the countries with the two biggest stockpiles of foreign-exchange and total-currency reserves.
Amount of reserve assets
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
*CHINA FIGURE INCLUDES GOLD AND FOREIGN-EXCHANGE RESERVES ONLY; OTHER FIGURES ARE FOR TOTAL RESERVE ASSETS; SOURCES: PEOPLE'S BANK OF CHINA; IMF
Arab League Arrives
6 | SYRIA
Arab League monitors sent to observe the Syrian government's response to months of unrest began their mission on Dec. 27 by visiting the embattled city of Homs, where thousands of residents then took to the streets to protest the regime of President Bashar Assad. Activists accused the government of withdrawing tanks and troops in an effort to mislead the observers. An estimated 5,000 people have been killed in clashes in Syria over 10 months.
A Pause in an Endless Campaign
7 | INDIA
Anticorruption activist Anna Hazare, who went on a two-week hunger strike last summer to promote legislation to create a government ombudsman, cut short his most recent, three-day fast because of health concerns. The lower house of Parliament approved antigraft legislation on Dec. 27; however, Hazare called it watered down, as the watchdog it created lacks authority over India's Central Bureau of Investigation.