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 mixed, with Chinese markets leading the way (CNBC) Chinese markets stood out in a mixed trading session in Asia on Monday, with many market watchers predicting a quiet week ahead in the absence of major economic data from the U.S. and China, and with many markets off for Good Friday.
Why the Global Oil Glut Might Not Fill Swimming Pools After All (Bloomberg) One of the warning lights that there's too much oil around is no longer flashing, adding to signs that global crude markets are finally on the mend. Declining U.S. oil production coupled with disruptions in OPEC members Iraq and Nigeria have helped revive crude to $40 a barrel, leading the International Energy Agency to conclude that the worst of the rout is over. Contrary to expectations that tankers would be needed, onshore storage hasn't been exhausted.
Negative rates have helped global economy: IMF's Lagarde (Bloomberg, The Japan Times) The world economy would be worse off without negative interest rates, according to International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Negative rates in Europe and Japan have helped support global growth and price gains, she said in an interview in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday. The finance sector may need to implement new business models as a result, she said.
N.Y. Fed Hacked for $81 Million in Modern Day "Wild West" Bank Heist (Money Morning) The N.Y. Fed - hacked by cyber-criminals on Feb. 5 - had $101 million in Bangladesh Bank funds stolen from it by alleged Chinese hackers. The stolen money was transferred to accounts in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. About $20 million sent to Sri Lanka has reportedly been recovered, but $81 million remains missing. Some of that money is thought to have been funneled through casinos
Wall Street's Pile of Unwanted Treasuries Exposes Market Cracks (Bloomberg) The world's biggest bond dealers are getting saddled with Treasuries they can't seem to easily get rid of, adding to evidence of cracks in the $13.3 trillion market for U.S. government debt. The 22 primary dealers held more Treasuries last month than any time in the last two years, Federal Reserve Bank of New York data show. While at first glance that may suggest a bullish stance, the surge in holdings is more likely the result of investors including central banks dumping the debt on the firms, said JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategist Jay Barry. Foreign official accounts sold a net $105 billion of the securities in December and January, an unprecedented liquidation, Treasury Department data show. Strategists say there are signs that the buildup of Treasuries held by dealers is having a ripple effect, mucking up the plumbing of the financial system. While the holdings show they did their job by soaking up the supply from central banks raising cash to support their currencies, it's adding to questions about the resilience of the world's most important market. The Treasury Department is already looking into whether the market isn't operating as smoothly as it should.
EU, Turkey seal deal to return migrants, but is it legal? Or doable? (Reuters) The European Union sealed a controversial deal with Turkey on Friday intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara. The accord aims to close the main route by which a million migrants and refugees poured across the Aegean Sea to Greece in the last year before marching north to Germany and Sweden. But deep doubts remain about whether it is legal or workable, a point acknowledged even by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has been the key driving force behind the agreement.
ECB could cut rates again if economy fails to pick up: Praet (Reuters) The European Central Bank can cut interest rates again if the euro zone's economy fails to pick up and, under extreme circumstances, it might even consider printing money and giving it out directly to people, its chief economist said in a newspaper interview published on Friday. The ECB upset investors last week when its president, Mario Draghi, said he did not expect further rate cuts, raising questions about his pledge in 2012 to do "whatever it takes" to save the euro. Markets have since stabilized and Draghi said on Thursday ECB rates would stay at current or lower levels for a long time. Additionally, asked whether the ECB could simply print money and distribute it to euro zone citizens, an extreme form of policy easing first envisaged by U.S. economist Milton Friedman using the metaphor of a flying helicopter dropping money, Praet said this was a possibility, at least in theory. (Econintersect emphasis.)
Moody blues: Tories forced to abandon controversial welfare cuts as Iain Duncan Smith lashes out (City A.M.) The government will perform a screeching U-turn today as ministers scramble to repair the damage caused by controversial plans to cut disability payments. Prime Minister David Cameron will aim to draw a line under a blistering row prompted by the resignation of former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who stepped down as welfare secretary at the end of last week. Stephen Crabb, who has replaced Duncan Smith at the Department for Work and Pensions, is expected to abandon the proposed changes to personal independence payments signaled in last week's Budget.
Migrants keep arriving in Greece despite deal to return them (Associated Press) Hundreds of mostly Syrian asylum-seekers continued to arrive in Greece by sea Sunday despite the start of an international agreement to send migrants back to Turkey. While the deal between the European Union and Turkey is officially in effect, the process for deporting migrants has yet to be worked out. Greek and Turkish officials are set to hold discussions on Monday. And Greece is still awaiting the arrival of 2,300 European experts, including translators, to help carry out the agreement. In the meantime, the EU said any new arrivals in Greece from now on will be subject to possible deportation. At least 875 new refugees - mostly Syrians, along with Iraqis and Afghans - landed on four of Greece's Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast between Saturday evening and daybreak Sunday. Two Syrian men were found dead of undetermined causes aboard a boat arriving on the island of Lesbos, and two girls were found drowned east of Rhodes
A caution on nuclear restarts (The Japan Times) This author questions the safety of nuclear plants scheduled for reopening in Japan. Terer are inadequate procedures in place to protect residents in the event of an accident, he says.
China's Central Bank Chief Sounds Warning Over Rising Debt (Bloomberg) People's Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan sounded a warning over rising debt levels, saying corporate lending as a ratio to gross domestic product had become too high and the country must develop more robust capital markets. China still has a problem with illegal fundraising and financial services are insufficient, Zhou said in a speech at the China Development Forum in Beijing on Sunday. He said the country still needs regulation to guard against excessive leverage in foreign currencies.
U.S. to offer China's ZTE 'temporary relief' on export curbs: official (Reuters) The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected this week to lift export curbs it imposed on Chinese telecom equipment and smartphone maker ZTE Corp (0763.HK) for alleged Iran sanctions violations. "The relief would be temporary in nature and would be maintained only if ZTE is abiding by its commitments to the U.S. Government," according to a senior official at the agency. The Commerce Department restrictions imposed earlier this month made it difficult for ZTE to acquire U.S. components by requiring its suppliers to apply for an export license before shipping any American-made equipment or parts to ZTE. The department had said the license applications generally would be denied. Shenzhen-based ZTE has been "in active, constructive discussions" with the Commerce Department for the past week, according to a senior official at the agency.
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