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posted on 21 December 2015

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Rise, Europe Stocks Look Lower, Brent Below 2008 Bottom, US Profits Falling, UK Wage Growth Slowing, Vietnam Pivot To West And More

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Early Bird Headlines 21 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 rise on China surge, oil plunges to 11-year low (Reuters) Chinese shares led Asian markets higher on Monday, defying a dive on Wall Street, while the price of Brent crude plumbed 11-year lows on renewed worries over a global oil glut. European shares are unlikely to follow Asia's example, with spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE and France's CAC40 .FCHI to open down about 0.6%, and Germany's DAX .GDAXI to start the day 0.5% lower. Brent crude futures LCOc1 slumped as low as $36.17 a barrel, the lowest since 2004. See next article.

  • Brent Oil Slides to 11-Year Low as Producers Seen Worsening Glut (Bloomberg) Brent crude slumped to the lowest level since 2004 amid speculation suppliers from the Middle East to the U.S. will exacerbate a record glut as they continue fighting for market share. Futures fell as much as 1.9% in London after a 2.8%t drop last week. Producers are focusing on reducing costs amid the price decline. Rig counts rose last week in the U.S. Econintersect: This sounds like "Saudi Arabia price war? Bring it on!" To see what Iraq thinks, see below.



The fall in the rate of profit in the US has now given way to a fall in the mass of profits

- Mick Peel (@Mick_Peel) December 21, 2015




  • David Cameron has begun a 'battle for Britain' in the EU - but how can he possibly win? (The Conversation) The British government has a lot of work to do and not very much time to do it. In constitutional terms, seeking an exemption from the commitment to "ever closer union" is particularly problematic. This is contained in Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union and provides the whole rationale for the European project.

  • Theresa May risks 'turning clock back 140 years' with plans for fire service (The Guardian) Home Secretary Theresa May risks "turning the clock back 140 years" with discredited plans for police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to take over fire authorities, the head of the firefighters' union has warned. The May argument is that the change would "provide direct, democratic accountability in fire as we now have in policing". Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said a model of combining police and fire services had already been attempted in Britain in 1870 and was discredited. And he also criticizes the "democratic accountability" statement:

"I think the claim by Theresa May that this improves local accountability is just nonsense. The police and crime commissioners, as everyone knows, were elected on a local turnout of about 15% that makes them less democratic than local councils, which are generally currently what runs the fire and rescue service across the UK so that claim is completely unsustainable."

#BoE: Rate rises are further away due to slow wage growth and falling commodity prices

- SentifiUK Market (@Sentifi_UK) December 21, 2015


Spain enters uncharted territory as PM Mariano Rajoyloses majority

- Bloomberg Business (@business) December 21, 2015


  • Iraq Sees Crude Oil Prices Rising on Strong Fundamentals (Bloomberg) Crude prices are set to rise from current "very low" levels that are hurting producers, Iraq's Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said after a meeting of Arab petroleum-exporting nations. He didn't forecast when prices would rebound from an almost seven-year low for Brent, the benchmark for more than half of the world's oil. Econintersect: Perhaps the word "eventually" was lost in translation?


  • Shift in strategy: India & US to talk on giving access to each other's military bases (The Economic Times) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. India has agreed to reopen talks with the US on a pact to allow each other access to their military bases and ports, signalling a strategic shift from the UPA position to not take any such step for fear of conveying an impression of a military alliance. The proposed pact, which is called the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), allows both sides to make changes to each other's facilities in a way that it allows for easier conduct of military exercises besides expanding their scope and ambition. It's also aimed at raising trust levels for the US to share more high-end technology with India, which is critical to spur military co-production between both countries.


  • ‚ÄčCaring for His Elderly Dad Made This Japanese Businessman Homeless (Bloomberg) When Akihiro Takano resigned from his well-paid job as an events manager at a Tokyo department store at age 45 to take care of his ailing father, he had no idea he was about to slip down the ranks of society until he was penniless and living in a park. After his father's death, Takano struggled to make ends meet with a series of insecure jobs while keeping an eye on his frail mother. Nine years later, in 2009, he spent the last of his savings on her funeral, fell behind on rent and was evicted from the apartment that had been the family home for 30 years. He left with his mother's ashes in an urn and her pet cat in a cage. Now, back on his feet thanks to a chance encounter with a group of volunteers, Takano has paid work as a counselor for people on low incomes and has become a public face for what the Japanese refer to as "kaigo rishoku", or the growing phenomenon of job loss due to caring for elderly family members.


  • Vietnam's pivot to the West? (East Asia Forum) Hat tip to Rob Carter. Signing onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in Atlanta last October and the high-level state visits of half the politburo to the United States put Vietnam in the international spotlight and, when the dust had settled, left the Southeast Asian diplomatic status quo profoundly shaken. Did this represent a decisive pivot by Vietnam to the West that would overturn the established, less-aligned, order in Southeast Asia? Was it the harbinger of political reform at home - reform that might lead to a political system congenial to even deeper political relationships with the United States?

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