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posted on 03 November 2015

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Rally, Bitcoin Surges, Keystone XL Delayed, Record MA, US Deaths Midlife, Money Flees China, US Ranks High Illicit Funds And More

Written by Econintersect

Early Bird Headlines 03 November 2015

Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.



  • Asia shares aim to break losing streak (Reuters) Asian share markets crept ahead on Tuesday after the benchmark for U.S tech stocks hit its highest in 15 years, while a holiday in Japan kept currencies tethered within recent tight ranges. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed 1.1% after losing ground for five straight sessions. Australian stocks bounced 1.2%, recouping a little ground after a vicious run of selling. In China, the CSI300 index .CSI300 of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen was all but flat.

  • Bitcoin is Suddenly Surging Again (Bloomberg) There are lots of guesses why but no one seems to know for sure.


  • TransCanada asks US to suspend pipeline application review (Associated Press) TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S Gulf Coast, has asked the U.S. State Department to pause its review of the project. The move comes as the Obama administration increasingly appears likely to reject the pipeline permit application before leaving office in January 2017. TransCanada said Monday it had sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the State Department suspend its review of the pipeline application. The pipeline company said such a suspension would be appropriate while it works with Nebraska authorities to secure approval of its preferred route through the state that is facing legal challenges in state courts. TransCanada anticipated it would take seven to 12 months to get route approval from Nebraska authorities.

  • Hey big spender! US firms splash out a record $1.8 trillion on M&A as 2015 marks return of the mega-deal (City A.M.) US companies have spent a record $1.8 trillion on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) this year as they scramble to offload huge cash piles before an expected increase in interest rates. The figures, from Dealogic, include Visa Inc's $23.4 billion (£15 billion) purchase of Visa Europe yesterday, the latest in a frenzy of multi-billion dollar mega deals signed off in 2015. Other stateside deals revealed yesterday included beauty brand Coty announcing that it would buy the beauty care unit of Brazil's Hypermarcas for roughly $1 billion, while ConAgra confirmed its intention to sell Ralcorp to TreeHouse Foods for $2.7 billion in cash. General Electric confirmed its €9.7 billion acquisition of Alstom's energy business.

  • Here's How Much QE Helped Wall Street Steamroll Main Street (Bloomberg) Hat tip to John O'Donnell. For every job created in the U.S. this decade, companies spent $296,000 buying back their stocks, according to Michael Hartnett, Bank of America's chief investment strategist. An investment of $100 in a portfolio of stocks and bonds since the Federal Reserve began quantitative easing would now be worth $205. Over the same time, a wage of $100 has risen to just $114. And Main Street sentiment shows the stress:

  • A group of middle-aged whites in the U.S. is dying at a startling rate (The Washington Post) A large segment of white middle-aged Americans has suffered a startling rise in its death rate since 1999, according to a review of statistics published Monday that shows a sharp reversal in decades of progress toward longer lives. The mortality rate for white men and women ages 45-54 with less than a college education increased markedly between 1999 and 2013, most likely because of problems with legal and illegal drugs, alcohol and suicide, the researchers concluded. Before then, death rates for that group dropped steadily, and at a faster pace. A paper published yesterday (02 November 2015) by Nobel laureate Angus Deaton and his wife Anne Case, shows data indicating that "drugs and alcohol, and suicide . . . are clearly the proximate cause." But that is like saying cessation of breathing is the proximate cause of death. The real mystery is why this is happening to a group of people that encompasses the entire baby boom demographic. And it is specific to the U.S. only - see graph below. Prof. Deaton put the magnitude of the observations in context:

"Half a million people are dead who should not be dead. About 40 times the Ebola stats. You're getting up there with HIV-AIDS."



  • Meet a lamprey. Your ancestors looked just like it. (BBC News) Genetic analysis indicates that lampreys were among the first backboned animals to evolve, so these fish carry important clues about our ultimate origins. And an apocryphal tale has been told to British school children for centuries recounting that King Henry I died as a result of consuming a surfeit of lampreys.


  • EPA's New VW Cheating Allegations Threaten to Taint CEO Mueller (Bloomberg) The man charged with cleaning up VW may have dirty hands himself. New allegations from U.S. regulators that German automaker Volkswagen AG cheated on more diesel-powered models, including one Porsche, could be trouble for new Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller, who came from the company's prestigious sports-car maker after his predecessor, Martin Winterkorn, resigned.



  • Analysis: Russian goals in Syria defined by timing (Associated Press) Russia's bottom line: Preserve Syria as a unified country. There has been much speculation about Russian motives for intervening in Syria. The root answer lies in the timing. Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin boss, finally decided Syrian leader and Moscow ally Bashar Assad was in danger of losing control of Damascus, the capital of the civil-war ravaged nation. That, in turn, would have crushed a key Russian foreign policy objective - keeping Syria together as a unitary state and maintaining the Russian foothold in the Middle East.


  • China Should Dethrone Its GDP Target (Bloomberg Editorial) Bloomberg to China: Simply abandon issuing an official GDP target. The fixation on the growth target is a mistake for observers and China's policy makers alike. The government should do all it can to promote rapid sustainable growth -- but now that China is a semicapitalist economy, what that number turns out to be is beyond official control. Many commentators -- Western and Chinese -- have long thought China should just drop the target altogether. Pressure to meet the number drives local officials to pump up wasteful investment, adding to an aggregate debt pile that's approaching 300 percent of GDP, according to McKinsey. Outright fudging of data is another byproduct. This undermines the government's credibility and fuels concern that the economy's problems are worse than they look. Setting a lower and more plausible target would help, but it wouldn't address the main issue.

  • US to return to South China Sea after warship visit (BBC News) The sailing of a US warship within an area claimed by China last week angered Beijing, which issued a warning. The US has said it plans to return to contested areas of the South China Sea, with a top military commander saying it has conducted similar operations worldwide "for decades".

  • China's Money Exodus (Bloomberg) This is a virtual how-to manual describing what wealthy Chinese do to get money out of the country to invest abroad. A substantial amount is going into residential real estate, contributing to housing bubbles in London, Australia, the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.



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