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posted on 07 December 2015

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Below 40, GOP Mocks Obama, Geminid Shower, Auto Loan Bubble, London Fringe Housing Boom, Right Wing Gains In France, Conservative Sweep In Venezuela And More

Written by Econintersect

Early Bird Headlines 07 December 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 stocks wary of China data, oil pressured (Reuters) Asian share markets turned mixed on Monday as caution grew ahead of Chinese data, though sentiment stayed supported by hopes the U.S. economy would be able to handle an expected first increase in interest rates in almost a decade. Oil prices were near their lowest since 2009 in the wake of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' decision to keep production high despite depressed demand. U.S. WTI crude was back below $40.

  • Scientists find source of Southeast Asian arsenic ( Hat tip to Rob Carter. Every year, as many as 100 million people are poisoned by arsenic-laced water in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Vietnam and China. Concentrations in drinking water sometimes spike to 20, 30 or 100 times the levels considered safe by the World Health Organization. The majority of the arsenic is naturally occurring, the byproduct of microbial activity in the soil. In a new study, researchers say they've finally found the food that's feeding these arsenic-releasing microbes. Scientists have found that the high levels of water contamination come from wetlands that are kept waterlogged year-round. These occur primarily in human altered environments such as rice paddies.


  • Obama warns of 'new phase' in terrorist attacks on U.S. (Military Times) In the wake of last week's Islamic State-inspired massacre in California, President Obama on Sunday vowed to defeat the terrorist organization but said the the United States will not be "drawn once more into a long and costly ground war" overseas. Obama, in a rare national address from the Oval Office, warned that the terrorist threat facing the United States has "evolved into a new phase," saying extremist groups far from American soil can too easily spawn attacks here. From YouTube (advance to 28 minutes to start of address):

  • Republicans Attack Obama's Address (The New York Times) By turns withering and mocking, Republican presidential candidates blasted President Obama's address on terrorism on Sunday night, saying that he was incapable of defeating the Islamic State, misguided in his focus on new gun control laws and showing weakness in the face of lethal threats. For an example see Trump on Obama's speech: 'Is that all there is?' (CNN).

  • Your Guide To The Best Meteor Shower Of The Year: The Geminids (Forbes) Recommended gy Gary from GEI Market Commentary. The most reliably repeating meteor showers are the Perseids (in August) and the Geminids (in December, peaking this year on the nights of the 13th/14th). The ability to see these showers is affected by ambient light and this year the Geminid shower comes when the waxing crescent moon sets about sundown. So the major interference will come from scattered ground light (see U.S. map below and go to Google Earth for light maps for the rest of the world). If you are near the east coast of the U.S., head for the Maine backwoods, the Adirondacks, Maryland Mountains, West Virginia, southern Virginia /Northern North Carolina, Okefenokee Swamp or the Everglades. West of the Mississippi there are losts of "wide open spaces". See also Everything you need to know: Geminid meteor shower (

  • Brown University Professor Denounces 'McCarthy' Witch-Hunts (The Daily Beast) A community of self-proclaimed diversity seekers has turned Brown University into a dysfunctional institution, a la Animal Farm.

  • What Happens When the Auto-Loan Boom Blows Up (Larry Kummer, Editor Fabius Maximus, Wolf Street) The idea that there are few imbalances in the U.S. economy because the expansion following the Great Recession has been so tepid is notconsidering what has happened to auto sales (see first graph below). To acheive this record level of sales has taken a huge debt buble (see second graph below). While this credit bubble (as well as that for student loan debt) will not create a crash as the mortgage bubble collapse did (author explains why) there will still be credit market impacts in the next recession and there will be a "drag on the economy".


  • NATO says won't send ground troops to fight IS: report (Reuters) NATO has ruled out sending ground troops to fight against Islamic State militants in Syria, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg told a Swiss newspaper, stressing the need to bolster local forces in the conflict.


  • House prices boom in London's City fringe areas (City A.M.) House prices in London's City fringe have surged since the crisis to outperform the wider London market, new research shows, thanks to the booming popularity of areas such as Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Wapping to live as well as work. According to property advisory firm CBRE, average residential property prices in the City fringe have soared by 62% since 2008 to reach £570,000 ($855,000) this year.

  • David Cameron moves to bypass House of Lords (Financial Times) David Cameron has been secretly drawing up a plan to bypass an increasingly hostile anti-Tory majority in the House of Lords, which is threatening to wreak havoc with his legislative plans. High quality global journalism requires investment. To avoid this blockade, the government has increasingly used statutory instruments to get its way, most recently when George Osborne, the chancellor, used that route to try to enforce £4.4bn of cuts to tax credits.

  • Plans to build the City's tallest skyscraper unveiled (City A.M.) Plans to build the City's tallest skyscraper and London's second highest building - rivalled only by the Shard - have been unveiled today. Singapore-based developers Aroland Holdings are seeking planning permission to build a 73 storey tower at One Undershaft in the City, between the Leadenhall Building and 30 St Mary's Axe.

  • The truth about UK defence spending (The Conversation) In a rare use of comparative data, the Telegraph recently reported that the UK is currently the world's third biggest spender, behind only the USA (which spends more than half a trillion dollars every year) and China.


  • France elections: National Front leads in regional polls (BBC News) France's far-right National Front (FN) appears to have made big gains in the first round of regional elections, estimates show. They put the FN ahead in at least six of 13 regions in mainland France. The elections are the first electoral test since last month's Paris attacks, in which 130 people were killed. The centre-right Republicans party led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared to be in second place ahead of the governing Socialist Party. A second round of voting will be held on 13 December.



  • Venezuela opposition wins parliamentary majority (BBC News) The opposition in Venezuela has won a majority of seats in the National Assembly, overturning nearly two decades of dominance by the Socialists of President Nicolas Maduro. Results so far: opposition has won 99 seats, the Socialists Maduro's party) have gained 46 seats, with another 22 yet to be declared. The opposition alliance, made up of center and conservative parties, is confident of ultimately taking at least 112 seats after 17 years of socialist rule. The "Bolivarian Revolution" of the late president Hugo Chavez may be over.

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