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posted on 04 February 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Japan Drops, Toxic Loans, 'Oilmageddon', FDA Opioid Policies, Brexit Could Cut Pound, Why China Rattles The World And More

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Early Bird Headlines 05 February 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 markets trade mixed as Nikkei extends losses (CNBC) Asian markets came under pressure on Friday, despite a positive finish on Wall Street overnight, as a newly weaker dollar brought fresh concerns. In Japan, the Nikkei extended losses, appearing set for a five-day losing streak, with the index falling 2.15% on the back of a stronger yen. The dollar-yen pair fell to the 116-level, trading at 116.63 in afternoon trade; earlier this week, the pair was trading above 120. This is a huge move.


  • Toxic Loans Around the World Weigh on Global Growth (The New York Times) Beneath the surface of the global financial system lurks a multitrillion-dollar problem that could sap the strength of large economies for years to come. The problem is the giant, stagnant pool of loans that companies and people around the world are struggling to pay back. Bad debts have been a drag on economic activity ever since the financial crisis of 2008, but in recent months, the threat posed by an overhang of bad loans appears to be rising. China is the biggest source of worry. Some analysts estimate that China's troubled credit could exceed $5 trillion, a staggering number that is equivalent to half the size of the country's annual economic output.

  • Advisory: the Zika virus (International News Safety Institute) Hat tip to Alun Hill. Zika is a newly-emerging virus that follows hot on the heels of a dramatic increase in recent months and years of two other viral infections that cause similar illnesses - chikungunya and dengue fever. The following from this article may be modified as health officials in the U.S. have said they have found Zika transmitted by human sexual intercourse. Here is the excerpt as presently written:

Zika is an arbovirus (arthropod-borne virus), spread by bites from Aedes mosquitoes, which are also responsible for spreading other related viruses such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Without mosquitoes, individual sufferers are not directly contagious; however, blood-borne infection may be a possible risk, and guidance on blood donation and transfusion, and even possible sexual exposure, will need to be re-assessed to take account of possible risks.

  • Citi: 'We Should All Fear Oilmageddon' (Bloomberg) Markets are currently in a well-oiled "death spiral", according to Citigroup Inc. analysts led by Jonathan Stubbs. The declining spiral is driven by the recent high correlation of inflation with WTI crude prices. This is something that has not occurred in the longer more recent past. See graphs below. The analysts cite the resilient U.S. dollar, lower commodities prices, weaker trade and capital flows, and declining emerging market growth:

"It appears that four inter-linked phenomena are driving a negative feedback loop in the global economy and across financial markets."




  • Here's What Oil and Gas's Ugly 2015 Did to Business Investment (The Wall Street Journal) Econintersect: Other than needing a better headline editor, this is a good article. The mining and oil/gas exploration sector suffered the second biggest four-quarter decline for investment in any sector in more than 50 years.


  • FDA Unveils Sweeping Changes to Opioid Policies (Medscape Multispecialty) In response to the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic, top officials at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced plans to reassess the agency's approach to opioid medications. The FDA statement says the multicomponent plan will focus on policies aimed at reversing the epidemic, while still providing pain patients access to effective medication. Robert Califf, MD, the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco, said in a news release:

"We are determined to help defeat this epidemic through a science-based and continuously evolving approach. This plan contains real measures this agency can take to make a difference in the lives of so many people who are struggling under the weight of this terrible crisis."


  • Brexit could slash sterling by 20%, warns Goldman Sachs (The Guardian) Analysts at Goldman Sachs are warning that sterling could fall by up to 20% if Britain votes to leave the European Union. The US investment bank believes Britain will remain in the EU, but its macro markets strategy team has looked at what would happen to the pound if the vote goes the other way. It predicts that such an outcome would alarm foreign investors and put them off injecting capital into Britain, placing pressure on the current account deficit.


  • Russia Says Turkey May Be Planning Syria `Invasion' (Bloomberg) Russia ramped up its rhetoric in its confrontation with Turkey by accusing it of carrying out "intensive preparations" for a military invasion of Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry sees "a growing number of signs of hidden preparation of the Turkish Armed Forces for active actions on the territory of Syria", General-Major Igor Konashenkov said in a e-mailed statement Thursday. There are "reasonable grounds" to suspect Turkey of preparing for action. In a "dangerous precedent", Turkey on Wednesday banned Russian military planes from carrying out inspections of its territory allowed under the Open Skies accord, the Defense Ministry said. Russia regards this decision as an attempt by Turkey to hide "illegal military activity near the Syrian border", it said.


  • U.S. intelligence is debriefing brother of former presidential aide, translating documents (Free Beacon) Hat tip to Rob Carter. A defector from China has revealed some of the innermost secrets of the Chinese government and military, including details of its nuclear command and control system, according to American intelligence officials. Businessman Ling Wancheng disappeared from public view in California last year shortly after his brother, Ling Jihua, a former high-ranking official in the Communist Party, was arrested in China on corruption charges. Ling Wancheng, the defector, has been undergoing a debrief by FBI, CIA, and other intelligence officials since last fall at a secret location in the United States, said officials familiar with details of the defection who spoke on condition of anonymity. The defector is said to be a target of covert Chinese agents seeking to capture or kill him.

Among the information disclosed by Ling are details about the procedures used by Chinese leaders on the use of nuclear weapons, such as the steps taken in preparing nuclear forces for attack and release codes for nuclear arms.

Other secrets revealed included details about the Chinese leadership and its facilities, including the compound in Beijing known as Zhongnanhai. That information is said to be valuable for U.S. electronic spies, specifically for cyber intelligence operations targeting the secretive Chinese leadership.

  • Why China Is Rattling the World (The New York Times) China's economy, long a reliable source of growth, is slowing, a situation that is rattling stocks around the world. The worry is that the problems in China, the world's second largest economy, will crimp global growth, at a time when low oil prices and geopolitical concerns are also clouding the outlook.



  • Almost Heaven (Powder Magazine) Here is a bonus from Powder Magazine which usually focuses on places like Utah, Colorado, British Columbia, New England and the Alps. But this is special - it's Westbygod Virginia.

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