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.
Global Liquidity Falls to 2008 Crisis Levels (Financial Sense) BofA Merrill Lynch's Global Liquidity Tracker fell into negative territory right as the S&P 500 peaked in 2000 and again in 2007. Given that it measures liquidity conditions around the globe, it also dipped into negative territory in 2011-2012 during the height of the European debt crisis. The latest data point shows that global liquidity has accelerated further into negative territory and now rests at levels we haven't seen since 2008. In the graph below, zero represents the long-term average and +3, -3 are +/- one standard deviation. Thus we are one standard deviation below average now. It is important to monitor this because continued downward movement would become quite alarming.
European countries plan to send thousands of refugees back to Turkey in a deal aimed at preventing people from trying to reach the EU by sea.
In what is being described as a "one in, one out" deal, anyone washing up on the shores of Greece will be sent back to Turkey, with one person being transferred from a Turkish refugee camp in their place.
But the deal, which is yet to be finalized, is flawed from the outset. Denying refugees the right to apply for asylum as they reach the EU is against international humanitarian law. And refusing protection to unarmed people fleeing war and persecution by sending them back to Turkey, a country under threat of a civil war, is unconscionable.
How Most Aid to the Palestinians Ends up in Israel's Coffers (CounterPunch) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Shir Hever, an Israeli economist who has spent years piecing together the murky economics of the occupation, recently published a report that makes shocking reading. Like others, he believes international aid has allowed Israel to avoid footing the bill for its decades-old occupation. But he goes further. He says that at least 78% of humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians ends up in Israel's coffers. The sums involved are huge. The Palestinians under occupation are among the most aid-dependent in the world, receiving more than $2 billion from the international community a year. According to Hever, donors could be directly subsidizing up to a third of the West Bank occupation's costs. In 2013 the World Bank very conservatively estimated that the Palestinians lose at least $3.4 billion a year in resources plundered by Israel.
U.S. warns Mosul dam collapse would be catastrophic (Reuters) The United States and Iraq on Wednesday hosted a meeting of senior diplomats and U.N. officials to discuss the possible collapse of the Mosul hydro-electric dam, which U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said would create a catastrophe of "epic proportions". Mosul dam has sustained structural flaws since its construction in the 1980s. If it collapsed, a wall of water would flood the heavily populated Tigris River valley, in some places reaching a height of 45 feet. Between 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis live in the flood path, according to the U.S. statement on the situation.
Russia will cut defense budget by 5 percent in 2016, RIA reports (Reuters) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Russia's defense budget will be cut by 5% in 2016, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Tatiana Shevtsova said, according to the RIA news agency. Defense spending has been growing as part of a drive by President Vladimir Putin to restore Russia's military might. The decision to cut shows, however, that even the armed forces are not immune to a slowing Russian economy, which has been hit by falling oil prices and Western sanctions. The 5% cut, if approved by Putin, would be the biggest reduction in defense spending since he took office in 2000.
The $1 Billion Plot to Rob Fed Accounts Leads to Manila Casinos (Bloomberg) Bangladesh has charged that nearly $1 billion was stolen from its account at the U.S. Federal Reserve and this has been connected to an unidentified Chinese-Filipino businessman linked to casinos in Manila and a lax anti-money laundering regime. A Fed spokeswoman said there were no signs its systems had been hacked. Instructions to make the payments from the central bank's account followed standard protocol and were authenticated by the SWIFT message system used by financial institutions, she said. A Bangladesh official said the Fed should've checked the payment orders with the central bank, and that it plans legal action against the Fed to retrieve the missing funds.
Chinese investment in Europe hits $23bn record (Financial Times) Overall, state-owned and private businesses invested an unprecedented $23 billion in Europe - including Norway and Switzerland as well as the EU - in 2015 while investing $15 billion in the US. New investment in Europe was up 28% on the $18 billion registered in 2014, a smaller increase than 2014's doubling of the 2013 figure. Investment in the US was up 17% compared to 2014's level of $12.8 billion. However, data suggest that the pace of Chinese investment in western economies may be slowing this year.
Charges filed against Brazil's Lula (BBC News) Brazilian prosecutors are filing charges against ex-President Lula da Silva in a money laundering investigation, officials say. He denies any wrongdoing and says the charges are politically motivated. The accusations are part of a major corruption investigation at the state oil company, Petrobras. Lula and his wife, Marisa Leticia, face questions over the alleged ownership of a seafront penthouse in the exclusive resort of Guaruja. They are among 16 people who are formally being accused of money laundering by Sao Paulo prosecutors. The charges still have to be formally accepted by a judge.
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