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.
Reports of Oil Rally's Death Premature as Inventories Decline (Bloomberg) Hedge funds betting that oil's rally was over missed an 11% gain after U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly fell. Short positions in West Texas Intermediate crude jumped 35% in the week ended April 5, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The next day, the government reported a 4.94 million-barrel drop in U.S. oil inventories, the first decline in eight weeks.
Did comets kick-start life on Earth? Chemists find missing piece of puzzle(The Conversation) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. The origin of life on Earth has been a matter of intense debate throughout human history. Even today, scientists don't know whether the molecular building blocks of life were created on Earth or whether they were brought here by comets and meteorites. This is obviously hugely important - if they were delivered to Earth then it seems plausible that they may have been transported to other planets, too. See also An extraterrestrial life (The Hindu)
The suicide of the US political elite is a terrifying threat to global stability (City A.M.) The author (John Hulsman) says that everything that has happened in the poisonous 2016 presidential election merely confirms this startling thesis, providing a bolt of lightning to make clear to all but the most gormless analyst that America is in the throes of a political meltdown not seen in decades. Econintersect: This article is a blend of definition of problems and representations of possible solutions, that at times seem almost caricatures. At one point Hulsman longs for "the grown up economic policies of Bill Clinton". He seems to have no recollection of the key role Bill played in laying the regualtory laxity framework that fed the Great Financial Crisis.
OECD convenes global tax expert meeting on Panama Papers (The Business Times) Tax officials from across the world are to meet at the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) this week to discuss joint action following the revelations from so-called Panama Papers. Taking part will be members of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC), a network of tax administrations, committed to sharing intelligence and "working together to tackle common risks", especially tax avoidance.
US faces 'disastrous' $3.4tn pension funding hole (Financial Times) The US public pension system has developed a $3.4tn funding hole that will pile pressure on cities and states to cut spending or raise taxes to avoid Detroit-style bankruptcies. According to academic research shared exclusively with Financial Times, the collective funding shortfall of US public pension funds is three times larger than official figures showed, and is getting bigger. Econintersect: This should be no problem - the amount spent on unnecessary wars in this century is more than the shortfall.
UK pensions trends: FTSE 100 defined benefit pension schemes are increasingly bolstered by bonds (City A.M.) According to the study by JLT Employee Benefits, FTSE 100 companies increased the value of bonds they held in their DB pension scheme assets by roughly £25 billion over the year to the end of September 2015 to a record £315 billion. On average, bonds now account for 59% of the assets in the average pension scheme, up from 56% at the end of September 2014 and up from 49% six years ago.
Italy pushes for bank rescue fund (Financial Times) Italy is rushing to cobble together an industry-led rescue to address mounting concerns over the solidity of a banking sector whose woes pose a risk to the wider eurozone economy. Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360 billion pile of non-performing loans - equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders' profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession. The Italian government can provide only limited financial backing because of EU state aid rules and because it is already struggling under a public debt load that amounts to 132.5% of GDP.
Embattled Ukraine prime minister resigns (USA Today) Pro EU Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has resigned. Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko called for the resignation in February and said then that Yatsenyuk had lost support. Public opinion polls have showed support for Yatsenyuk as low as 1%.
Gandhi's tryst with Bihar enters 100th year (The Hindu) One hundred years ago, 10 April 1916, a 48-year-old England-trained barrister named Mohandas K. Ghandi alighted from a third-class compartment at Patna railway station to set foot in Bihar for the first time. Ghandi came to Bihar to Bihar at the invitation of indigo cultivator Raj Kumar Shukla who wanted him to take up the cause of the farmers who were forced to grow indigo by the British. That mission became a live-long dedication that changed the course of history of the entire country.
FOREX-Yen stalls as finance minister warns on intervention (Reuters) The yen surged at one point by as much as 2% against the dollar on Thursday, and Minister Taro Aso responded early on Friday by warning rapid currency moves were "undesirable", that the yen's moves were "one-sided" and that Japan would take steps as needed. That is language that Tokyo has used in the past to flag intervention, and the yen's run to 17-month highs against the dollar has required investors to believe that it would hold fire at least until after next week's G20 meetings in Washington. But see latest news in next article.
Asia markets mixed, with Nikkei falling on yen strength (CNBC) Asia markets retraced some of their morning losses on Monday, but a strong yen continued to weigh Japan's shares even as a reading on China inflation helped to bolster mainland stocks. The Japanese yen broke the 108 handle, with the dollar/yen trading at 107.86 Monday afternoon, compared with Friday's close at 108.03.
John Kerry makes historic visit to Hiroshima memorial (BBC News) US Secretary of State John Kerry has made a historic visit to the Hiroshima memorial in Japan, which commemorates the world's first atomic bombing. He is the first US secretary of state to ever visit Hiroshima, where around 140,000 were killed when the US dropped its atomic bomb in 1945. Mr Kerry was joined by foreign ministers from the G7 group of nations who are holding talks in the city. They laid wreaths at the memorial and observed a minute's silence.
Early Look: China's Economy Likely Slowed in First Quarter; Green Shoots Emerging (The Wall Street Journal) Beijing's efforts to spur economic growth may finally be having an impact as nascent signs of stabilization begin to emerge, economists say, though a solid rebound may still be months away. China's economy likely expanded 6.7% from a year earlier in the first quarter of 2016, a tad slower than the 6.8% on-year growth in the previous quarter, according to a median forecast of 14 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The world's second largest economy had moderated for two quarters in a row last year.
Fujimori faces likely run-off with Kuczynski in Peru election (Reuters) Keiko Fujimori, the conservative daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, won the first round of Peru's presidential election on Sunday but she will likely face center-right economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in a tight run-off. Exit polls and early official results showed Fujimori with close to 40% support, falling well short of the 50% needed for an outright victory. A quick count by polling firm Ipsos said Fujimori had 39.6% of the vote with Kuczynski on 21.5% and leftist lawmaker Veronika Mendoza on 18.7%. Mendoza still has a chance to overtake Kuczynski for the second runoff spot when all the votes are counted.
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