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 mixed; Nikkei wavers as yen continues climb (CNBC) Asia stocks trading was mixed on Thursday morning, largely failing to follow U.S. equities' advance in the wake of the release of the most recent Fed meeting minutes, which set a relatively dovish tone. But late in the day many markets strengthened.
Panama law firm says data hack was external, files complaint (Reuters) The Panamanian lawyer at the center of a data leak scandal that has embarrassed a clutch of world leaders said on Tuesday his firm was a victim of a hack from outside the company, and has filed a complaint with state prosecutors. Founding partner Ramon Fonseca said the firm, Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in setting up offshore companies, had broken no laws and that all its operations were legal. Nor had it ever destroyed any documents or helped anyone evade taxes or launder money, he added in an interview with Reuters.
Wall Street Is Edging Toward Win on Derivatives Capital Rule (Bloomberg) Wall Street is making progress in its effort to soften a crisis-era capital requirement that banks argue places onerous expenses on trading. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on Wednesday proposed a new method for banks to assess their exposure to derivatives, which could wind up lowering the amount of capital lenders need to meet restrictions on leverage. The committee, which includes the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, also took steps toward alleviating banks' concerns that they're taking a capital hit on the billions of dollars in collateral they receive from customers for handling derivatives.
Zika mystery deepens with evidence of nerve cell infections (Reuters) Top Zika investigators now believe that the birth defect microcephaly and the paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome may be just the most obvious maladies caused by the mosquito-borne virus. Fueling that suspicion are recent discoveries of serious brain and spinal cord infections - including encephalitis, meningitis and myelitis - in people exposed to Zika. Evidence that Zika's damage may be more varied and widespread than initially believed adds pressure on affected countries to control mosquitoes and prepare to provide intensive - and, in some cases, lifelong - care to more patients. The newly suspected disorders can cause paralysis and permanent disability - a clinical outlook that adds urgency to vaccine development efforts.
Wall St is pretty certain Hillary Clinton will be president (CNBC) In the polling places and on the airwaves, there remains a high level of uncertainty about who will be the next U.S. president. Not so on Wall Street and the markets. Recent indications from deep-pocketed institutional investors as well as those who frequent prediction markets say Hillary Clinton will win. And it's not close. More than 70 percent of respondents to a recent Citigroup poll of institutional clients viewed the former secretary of state, first lady and New York senator as the likely 45th president. Just over 10 percent give Donald Trump the nod, while fellow Republican John Kasich is a few points behind. Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Ted Cruz barely register. (The poll was taken before Sanders and Cruz scored big primary wins Tuesday in Wisconsin.)
State Dept. wants questions to Clinton aides 'limited' in email case (The Hill) State Department lawyers want a federal judge to require that any questions asked to current or former State Department officials as part of an ongoing court case involving Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton's private email server be "limited" and fine-tuned ahead of time. In a court filing late Tuesday evening, government attorneys asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to limit questions to the creation of Clinton's personal email system. Other topics - such as the handling of classified information, the FBI's ongoing investigation connected to the server or the unusual employment arrangement of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin - should be off-limits, the government insisted.
The Best Reporting on Hillary Clinton Over the Years (ProPublica) Hillary Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for four decades - and there have been investigative stories about her for nearly as long. This is a comprehensive review of that long history.
U.S. weakens retirement advice rule, responding to industry (Reuters) A new U.S. rule aimed at protecting retirement savers from profit-hungry brokers turned out to be much weaker than an initial proposal after the Obama administration bowed to pressure from the financial services industry. The rule, announced by the Department of Labor on Wednesday, sets a so-called fiduciary standard for financial brokers who sell retirement products, requiring them to put clients' best interests ahead of their bottom line. The language is tougher than an existing rule that only requires brokers to ensure products are "suitable." However, the Labor Department did compromise with the industry on a range of provisions. Unlike the draft proposal, the final rule does not restrict brokers from pushing proprietary products, splitting revenue with creators of funds they promote, or recommending risky, high-fee investments in alternative assets and certain annuities. Econintersect: In other words, brokers can collect very high fees and commissions if they can justify that somehow "making the advisor rich is in the clients best interest". This is a very difficult challenge but we expect that some brokers will be successful in selling that idea as fact to clients. Nonetheless, some financial industry spokesmen claim that the new rule will deny small investors from access to services they had before the new rule. See Beware the Fiduciary Rule's Unintended Consequences (Financial Advisor)
DEC Announces Zero Hunting Fatalities During 2015 Season (Adiriondack Almanack) Improving gun safety is possible. The 2015 New York hunting season proved to be one of the safest on record and yielded the first year without a hunting-related shooting fatality ever since the 1950s when record keeping began, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC's 2015 Hunting Safety Statistics report highlighted a total of only 23 hunting incidents, the third lowest number on record, with 10 incidents self-inflicted and 13 two-party incidents (8 of the 13 were not wearing the recommended hunter orange). New York's hunting-related shooting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) has declined almost 80% since the 1960s. For more info see 2015 Hunter Safety Statistics (New York DEC).
"[T]he range of outcomes of a Brexit is large and potentially unknown In a bad scenario, and this is not the worst-case scenario, trade retaliation against Britain by countries in the European Union is possible, even though this would not be in their own self-interest. Retaliation would make things even worse for the British and European economies. And it is hard to determine if the long-run impact would strengthen the European Union or cause it to break apart."
In fact, what is happening is a test for society and the President. He passed an exam for the "leader of the nation", and society - for the "superpower". I have no doubt, personally, of the result. And also no doubt on the number of political cadavers that will appear soon in stupid Europe, which thought that she was taking part in the hunt for the beast, whilst the ambush was prepared for her.
RBI is on right track, but India Inc calls for more (Business Standard) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut rates by 25 basis points (bps) on Tuesday but many of India's corporate leaders thought the decrease should have been twice as big. Business activity in China's service sector rose slightly in March on stronger demand, according to research results released on Wednesday. The Caixin China General Services PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index), based on a survey by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media, came in at 52.2 in March, up from 51.2 in February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction. The improved data pointed to a modest rebound across China's service sector as new orders rose among service providers in March.
Japan's economy in contraction phase, faces headwinds: gov't report (Xinhuanet) Japan's leading economic index dropped in February for the fourth straight month and to the lowest level in four years in a sign that the world's third-largest economy will be facing more headwinds, the government said Wednesday. According to the Cabinet Office, the index of leading indicators, which predicts future economic activity, dropped 2.0 points from a month earlier to 99.8 in February, with the figure in line with median analysts' expectations, although the lowest reading since December 2012, when the index read 98.9. In addition, the preliminary report, showed the index of coincident indicators, such as industrial output, retail sales and new job offers, retreated 3.2 points in the recording period from the previous month to 110.3 against the 2010 base of 100.
No hard landing for China's economy: Fitch (ChannelNewsAsia) China has the "administrative and financial resources to avoid a disruptive slowdown to near-zero growth", according to the credit rating agency's report on Wednesday. The credit rating agency expects the world's second-largest economy to grow between 6 and 6.5% in 2016 and 2017, lower than the country's official growth target range of 6.5 to 7% this year. Unlike Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service who have lowered their outlook on China's credit rating last month, Fitch is holding on to its stable outlook on China's credit rating for now. It has an "A+" rating on China's sovereign, but said it has not raised it to "AA" due to "high and rising leverage" across the economy, which is a "mounting source of systemic vulnerability".
China's service sector activity rises in March (Xinhuanet) Business activity in China's service sector rose slightly in March on stronger demand, according to research results released on Wednesday. The Caixin China General Services PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index), based on a survey by financial information service provider Markit and sponsored by Caixin Media, came in at 52.2 in March, up from 51.2 in February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction. The improved data pointed to a modest rebound across China's service sector as new orders rose among service providers in March.
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