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posted on 07 March 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Sanders Wins Maine, US Food Stamps Near Record, UK Threatens Banksters, India Green Cheaper Than Coal, China's "Good" Exports And More

Written by Econintersect

Early Bird Headlines 07 March 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.

early-bird-301-180

Global

  • Asia markets end mixed as the Nikkei slips 0.6% (CNBC) Japan's shares slid even as markets in Australia, South Korea and China gained on Monday as traders digested Friday's better-than-expected U.S. non-farm payroll and China's new economic targets announced at the National People's Congress (NPC) over the weekend.

asia.pac.stocks.2016.mar.07

U.S.

  • Sanders wins Maine caucuses (The Hill) Sanders had 64% to Hillary Clinton's 36% after the final caucuses wrapped up at 8 p.m. He will get 14 delegates from the contest, while Clinton will get 6 delegates, according to The New York Times. There were several reports of high turnout throughout the day. In Portland, a line to get into one caucus site was more than a mile long by some estimates. Sanders has benefited from that sort of turnout, and the caucus system more broadly, before. A state lawmaker reportedly said he would introduce a bill to return the state to the primary process as a result of the high turnout. Econintersect: Most believe that Clinton still has a commanding lead in delegates, and doubts remain that Sanders has a viable path to the nomination. The primaries in the next 9 days, including those of "not-quite-super" Tuesday 15 March could be Sanders' last chance to make a meaningful move.

  • Food Stamp Users Near Record High Despite Low Unemployment Rate (MRC TV) The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been hovering around 46 million participants since 2011. The current figure, as of February 2016, shows average SNAP participation at 45.8 million Americans receiving food stamps in 2015, even as the unemployment rate dipped toward 5% and now even lower. One reason is that many millions are no longer counted in the labor force (and therefore not counted in calculating the unemployment rate) and others are underemployed and working in low wage jobs which keep them in or near poverty. See next article for another reason.

  • Food Stamps Still Feed One in Seven Americans Despite Recovery (Bloomberg) The first graph below shows the persistence of high numbers receiving food stamps and the second graph shows how the average income level of recipients has been dropping in the 21st century. The average income level in 2014 was about 30% lower than in 2000.

Several reasons explain the high numbers. Governments have made it easier to sign up for the program. More than 85 percent of eligible food-stamp recipients took assistance in 2013, the most recent year of available data, compared to 70 percent in 2008. The higher sign-up rate among those qualified accounts for 8.6 million more people on food stamps -- about half of the program's total increase.

food.stamps.population

income.levels.on.food.stamps

UK

  • New rules could send thousands of UK bankers to jail (City A.M.) Tens of thousands of City bankers could face seven years in jail or a limitless fine under new regulation being put in place today. From today, senior managers in British banks, building societies or so-called systemically important investment firms will be held criminally liable for a range of offenses, including taking a decision which causes their institution to fail, being aware of the risk that a decision could lead to institutional failure or demonstrating conduct "far below that could be reasonably be expected of a senior manager in that position". Econintersect: Very lenient. In Iran they would get death. (But in the U.S. they get bonuses.) Also see next article.

  • Jail bankers for failure? It's just a paper tiger (City A.M.) A criminal trial attorney says that the new law is too subjective and convictions would be problematic.

India

The state of Bihar in India has approximately 75 million people with no access to electricity. The government of India has pursued a policy of rural electrification through the provision of centralized coal-fired power which has been unable to resolve the low levels of electrification. Coal supply woes in India have led Indian companies to pursue new coal mines in Australia's Galilee Basin. The costs of these mining ventures will be high due to the mining infrastructure required and long transport distances to rural India. A high level analysis of mining, transport and power station investment to meet rural demand in Bihar shows that the absolute investment requirement using coal, especially coal sourced from Australia, as an expensive option. Pursuing electrification through village level, renewable energy micro-systems provides more flexibility. Pollution costs associated with coal-fired generation, employment benefits associated with many village implementations and a rural load unsupported by industry load, show a benefit associated with decentralized, renewable energy electrification.

China

  • Sorry Mr. Trump, the Chinese Aren't 'Crushing' Us (Real Clear Markets) Hat tip to John O'Donnell. Donald Trump espouses the commonly held belief that China is harming the U.S. economy by exporting so much more to us than we export. This is an entirely fallacious idea as George Reismnan explains in this article.

... the truth is that in the monetary conditions of the present-day world, an excess of imports over exports does not at all represent a threat to the money supply of a country or the ability of domestic spending to support employment. In the 17th Century, when the doctrine of the balance of trade first came into vogue, the money of the world was gold and silver. In those conditions, the only way that a country without gold or silver mines could increase its money supply was by means of obtaining money from abroad, in exchange for the export of goods. The import of goods could for a time reduce the money supply of a country.

But today, money is irredeemable paper, and every country manufactures its own money supply. Indeed, in these conditions, an outflow of part of the money supply of a country in exchange for imports is positively favorable. This is certainly true in the case of the United States dollar, which to an important extent serves as a global currency. The fact that dollars are in demand globally, but are produced only in the United States, implies that the United States must export a more or less considerable part of its new and additional supply of dollars. Exporting part of the supply of dollars represents getting imports of real goods in exchange for pieces of paper that are virtually costless to produce and replace.

  • The stimulus that wasn't: re-interpretingChina's monetary moves (The Conversation) Here is an analysis that is based on Chinaese banking operating according to the loanable funds theory of banking. Econintersect: Does anyone know if this is applicable? It is demonstrably obvious that loanable funds banking is not operating in the U.S.

North Korea

  • N Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike on South, US (The Times of India) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. North Korea has threatened to start a war again. North Korea threatened "indiscriminate" nuclear strikes against South Korea and the US mainland if the two allies push ahead with joint military drills scheduled to begin today. The threat to carry out what it described as a "preemptive nuclear strike of justice" was made in a statement by the North's powerful National Defense Commission, citing the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army (KPA). It came just days after leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the country's nuclear arsenal to be placed on standby for use "at any moment," in response to tough new UN sanctions imposed over the North's fourth nuclear test in January and last month's long-range rocket launch.

Australia

Sydney is hot. Well technically, it's persistently warm and lacking cool outbreaks, but this run of weather is no less remarkable for that.

The city has had a record 31 straight days above 26℃ (and counting), smashing the previous record of 19 days in a row set in 2014. Nights have also been unusually warm, with only two nights in February dropping below 19℃ (equalling the record set in 2003 and 1983).

Only one day last month dipped below the average February maximum temperature for Sydney (25.8℃). The previous record for February was five below-average days, which happened in 2000, 1983 and 1978.

March has continued this pattern, with every day so far (including the forecast period) expected to be above average.

So what's going on here? Is it climate change? Is it the super El Niño? Is it urban heating, or some other factor? Or is it just natural variation in the weather?

Like many things in life, the answer is that it's complicated.

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