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posted on 24 December 2015

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Surges, Oil Demand Falling Until 2020, Wrong Fed Target, Boko Haram 'Nearly Finished', Gazprom Weakens And More

Written by Econintersect

Early Bird Headlines 24 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 mixed; Shanghai leads losses (CNBC) Asia stocks were mixed on Thursday, dragged by declines on the mainland, knocking the region's Christmas cheer before the holiday period. But energy stocks still outperformed amid a recovery in oil prices. U.S. crude rose as much as 1% in Asian trade after data on Wednesday showed U.S. crude inventories fell by 5.9 million barrels in the last week, compared with expectations for an increase of 1.1 million barrels.


  • Why millions will have restricted Internet access starting next week (CNBC) Over the next year, the algorithms older than SHA-1 level of encryption will no longer meet the trusted level of security for many websites, leaving as many as 37 million people unable to access them. The change, decided by a consortium of vendors of Internet browser software, could disproportionately affect mobile devices in the developing world.

  • The story of the Arab Spring is far from over (Al Jazeera) The story of the Arab Spring is still being written. In the context of a deep historical transformation, five years is a short time. We're still at the beginning of an era on enlightenment for the Arab world. The author of this Op Ed is Iyad El-Baghdadi, a career entrepreneur, a writer and an Arab Spring activist.

  • OPEC Sees Demand for Its Crude Oil Falling for Rest of Decade (Bloomberg) Don't be fooled by the latest inventory drop in crude. See video after graphic below. Remember peak oil? Well, it came in 2015, according to . But it wasn't a peak in ability to produce; it was a peak in demand. The next time there is predicted to be a year-over-year increase in global demand in from 1919 to 1920. But 1920 will still be well below the 2014 peak demand.



  • Polls: Republicans thaw on climate change (Reuters) As warm weather sweeps much of the United States at Christmastime, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows changing attitudes among Republicans when it comes to climate change. Econintersect: Will opinion go the other way with the first cold snap?

  • The Core PCE Price Index Remains Disappointingly Below Target (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives) DS is a regular contributor to GEI. (Econintersect: Is a 2% target realistic? By out estimation core PCE has spent only about 15% of the time at or above 2.0% growth and 75% below in the almost 20 years since the beginning of 1996. The average over that time has been close to 1.5%.) Here is Doug's summary:

The Personal Income and Outlays report for November was published this morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The latest Headline PCE price index year-over-year (YoY) rate is 0.39%, up from the previous month's 0.22%. The latest YoY Core PCE index (less Food and Energy) came in at 1.33% little changed from the previous month's 1.29%.

The general disinflationary trend in core PCE (the blue line in the charts below) must be perplexing to the Fed. After years of ZIRP and waves of QE, this closely watched indicator consistently moved in the wrong direction. Since Early 2013, the Core PCE Price Index has hovered in a narrow YoY range around 1.5%. For six months beginning in April 2014 it rose to a plateau slightly above the range, but it has since dropped to a lower range around the 1.3% level.



  • Russian ex-tycoon Khodorkovsky may seek UK asylum (BBC News) Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says he is considering applying for political asylum in the UK and feels safe in London. Once Russia's richest man, the former head of the now defunct Yukos oil firm spent 10 years in a Siberian prison on fraud charges, which he says were politically motivated.


  • Nigeria Boko Haram: Militants 'close to defeat' - Buhari (BBC News) The Nigerian military is close to completely defeating Islamist Boko Haram militants, President Muhammadu Buhari has told the BBC. He said the militants could no longer mount conventional attacks against security forces or population centers. The president has given the army until the end of the month to defeat Boko Haram, whose six-year insurgency has devastated north-eastern Nigeria.



  • Gazprom Is Losing Its Market Muscle (Bloomberg) Gazprom has long been accustomed to dictating terms because of its size. In the European Union, it supplies about 30% of the gas. But with a 70% drop in profits, the Russian company finds itself fighting to protect its share of a market it depends on for as much as a third of its revenue of $100 billion. Gazprom is no longer a potent diplomatic tool for the Kremlin at a time when customers have many more options. American natural gas is one of the big new sources for a growing EU market, as well as new gas fields in Algeria, the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.


  • Japan Approves Record Defense Budget as China's Presence Grows (Bloomberg) Japan's cabinet approved a record defense budget Thursday as it seeks to ensure security in the waters and airspace around the island nation amid China's increasingly assertive military posturing in the region. The 5.1 trillion yen ($42 billion) spending package for the year starting April is an increase of 1.5% from the current fiscal year, marking the fourth straight annual rise under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It accounts for just over 5% of the overall 96.7 trillion yen budget, also approved Thursday.


  • Shenzhen Landslide Casts Shadow Over China's Success Story (The New York Times) The landslide this week in Shenzhen casts a dark shadow over what had come to epitomize the China story, a gleaming metropolis of 11 million people, where only 3.3 million are registered as locals. The migrant city, which did not exist a few decades ago, even seemed to defy the country's current economic problems. The city, which was only a coastal fishing village when the country started reopening to the world in the late 1970s, leapfrogged ahead of China's other metropolises on the path of capitalism thanks to its status as a special economic zone, separated from the rest of the country by an internal border. Tax breaks, cheap land and proximity to Hong Kong lured foreign investment. Many millions of migrants from other parts of China provided an able supply of low-cost labor.

  • Survivor recovered from China landslide (Reuters) Last Sunday's disaster happened when a giant deluge of mud and construction waste from an over flowing dump site covered 33 buildings. More than 70 people are still missing. The official news agency said the dump was being used 10 months after it was supposed to have stopped taking waste.

  • British, U.S. embassies warn of threats against Westerners in Beijing (CNN) The British and the American embassies in China say they have received information of possible threats against Westerners visiting a popular shopping district in Beijing around Christmas.

  • Man Who Called China's Boom and Bust Now Warns of Crisis Risks (Bloomberg) One of the few forecasters to predict both the start and peak of China's equity boom is now warning the nation will be buffeted by the same forces that caused financial crises around the world over the past four decades. Hao Hong, chief China strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co. in Hong Kong, says a shortage of dollars was the common feature in the oil rout in the 1970s, Latin American debt turmoil in the 1980s, the Asian currencies collapse in 1997 and the global crisis in 2008. Next year will see Federal Reserve interest-rate increases, an improving U.S. current-account balance and a stronger greenback, putting strains on the most-leveraged parts of the world's second-largest economy, he says. See also assessment by GEI Associate Yuhua Zhang: Strong US Dollar Will Bring Deflation Pressure to China Economy. But not all think the fallout will be a "bust". See following video.


  • Afghan troops rushed to area under Taliban attack (Associated Press) The Afghan military has rushed reinforcements to a southern district threatened for days with takeover by the Taliban, the country's defense minister said Wednesday as he appealed for stepped-up NATO assistance and military support. In a besieged army base in the embattled district of Sangin, an Afghan soldier described a dire situation, saying a handful of Afghan troops inside were fighting to the last, trying to keep the Taliban out. Meanwhile, at an air base outside of Kabul, U.S. troops saluted fallen comrades during a memorial ceremony Wednesday for six American soldiers killed in a Taliban attack this week.


  • Giant Blue Hole Solves Mayan Mystery (The Weather Channel) Analysis of sediments at the bottom of the "blue hole" has determined that there was an extended drough in that region during the decades when the advanced Mayan faded away during the 700s AD.

Cartoon forwarded by Roger Erickson

  • Translation: A financial reform? But that is damaging the economy !!


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