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posted on 29 February 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Tumble, Oil Up, EU Tower Of Babel, Tough Times For UK Consumers, UK Housing Bubble?, India's Garage Sale, China 1.8 Million Layoffs And More

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Early Bird Headlines 29 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.



  • China shares tumble; Nikkei gives up gains to close down 1% (CNBC) Markets in China, Japan, and Hong Kong tumbled Monday, with renewed concerns over China's economic fundamentals and the deluge of economic data due this week dragging stocks. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai composite dropped 4.2%, while the Shenzhen composite slid 5.88%.




  • EU's Tower of Babel may fall while leaders distracted (Reuters) It's little wonder the European Union can't find common solutions to Europe's urgent problems when its main members are having such different national conversations. Like the biblical Tower of Babel, Europe's ambitious construction is in danger of toppling because its peoples are not speaking the same political language.


  • Budget 2016: Economists warn of tough times ahead for the British consumer (City A.M.) British households will have to rein in their spending next year as inflation creeps back up and a fresh round of austerity bites, economic forecasters are warning today. The EY Item Club, which uses Treasury models to make its forecasts, said consumers will enjoy "one last hurrah" this year while inflation remains below one per cent - making incomes stretch further - and the implementation of a national living wage from April lifts pay. However, it expects conditions to be tougher next year as household finances are squeezed by higher inflation and fiscal austerity. Growth in UK incomes is forecast to slow to 1.6% in 2017, down from 3%.

  • Why socialists should oppose the European Union (The Conversation) The debate over EU membership for Great Britain has been debated for decades. Back in 1975, many on the left of the Labour Party argued that membership of the EEC was incompatible with the pursuit of socialism in Britain. Some were concerned about the loss of sovereignty and some thought it was a "capitalist club". Others in the party campaigned to remain. They argued that the EEC was important for trade and that, without it, Britain would become a "small island" with no influence in the North Atlantic.

  • With mortgage rates heading towards 1 per cent, should we be worried about a bubble in the market? (City A.M.) Two "experts" give their opinions, one says "yes" and the other "no". Which one is the real expert? Ask again in 2-3 years.


  • Migrant crisis: Greece needs EU help to avoid chaos, says Merkel (BBC News) Europe cannot allow Greece to fall into "chaos", German Chancellor Angela Merkel says, amid sharp divisions among members over the migrant crisis. Austria and several Balkan countries have introduced restrictions stranding migrants in Greece. Mrs Merkel said EU nations had not battled to keep Greece in the euro just to leave it "in the lurch". She also defended her decision to open German borders to migrants, despite a resulting slump in her popularity. More than one million people arrived to claim asylum last year, sparking opposition within her governing coalition and a rise in far-right extremism.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudis Claim to Have Nuclear Bomb (InfoWars) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Over a week ago a Saudi political analyst told RT's Arab network the kingdom has a nuclear weapon. Econintersect: Such rumors have been perpetrated for several years but there has been no confirmation

North Korea

  • North Korea gives media a look at detained American (Associated Press) North Korea presented a detained American student before the media on Monday in Pyongyang, where he tearfully apologized for attempting to steal a political banner - at the behest, he said, of a member of a church back home who wanted it as a "trophy" - from a staff-only section of the hotel where he had been staying. North Korea announced in late January it had arrested Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student. It said that after entering the country as a tourist he committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation".


  • India's Great Garage Sale (Bloomberg) State-owned companies in India, an economist once quipped, are like old bicycles: The government is more than willing to sell them, provided it can still ride them on Sundays. All that could be about to change with Monday's federal government budget. The urgency to find monetary resources has reached a point where the finance ministry is toying with the idea of using a part of the central bank's capital to shore up state-run lenders. That may be a tad too desperate, but the financing imperative might lead to a garage sale of all kinds of assets that were created with taxpayer money. Econintersect: Reading some of the specifics in this article, will India have a "buy high, sell low" experience?


  • China expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in coal, steel sectors (Reuters) China said on Monday it expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in the coal and steel sectors as part of efforts to reduce industrial overcapacity, but no timeframe was given. China has vowed to deal with excess capacity and eliminate hundreds of so-called "zombie enterprises" - loss-making firms in struggling sectors that are being kept alive by local governments trying to avoid job losses. Yin Weimin, the minister for human resources and social security, told a news conference that 1.3 million workers in the coal sector could lose jobs, plus 500,000 from the steel sector. It was the first time a senior government official has given a number for job losses as China deals with industrial overcapacity amid slowing growth.

  • China Stocks Tumble Toward 15-Month Low as Stimulus Bets Unwind (Bloomberg) Chinese stocks sank, with the benchmark index approaching the lowest level since November 2014, as some investors were disappointed by a lack of specific measures to boost growth during the Group of 20 meetings in Shanghai. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped as much as 4.4% as almost 20 stocks fell for each that rose. The measure has declined 24% this year, the worst performer among 93 global equity indexes, on concern capital outflows will accelerate as the economic slowdown deepens. The yuan headed for its longest losing streak this year.


  • How Steve Keen got the housing bust wrong (Macro Business) Steve Keen contributes to GEI. This author says that Prof. Keen wasn't wrong on economic fact, only on timing, and he "sees it as much more at risk now". For Steve Keen's "confessional", see I was wrong on Australian house prices (Business Speculator). He says he incorrectly assumed Australia would de-lever after the Great Financial Crisis (like the U.S. did) and that never happened. Econintersect: Never happened yet.

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