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posted on 22 April 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Asia Bank Debt Problems, SEC Loves Wall St, Ponzi In Paradise, EU Migration To UK, Services Drive India, Japan Huge Trade Surplus, Is China Next Japan? And More

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Early Bird Headlines 22 April 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.




  • Asian banks' bad debt pile highest since global financial crisis (The Business Times) It is not just China with excessive debt problems (see article under China later,below). Bad debts at Asian banks outside of China, Japan and India have climbed to their highest levels since the global financial crisis and the trend will likely worsen as regional economies battle against China's slowdown and volatile oil and commodities prices, a Reuters data analysis shows. The bad loans pile at 74 major listed Asian banks, excluding Indian and Japanese banks, reached US$171 billion at the end of 2015, the survey of banks showed, the highest since at least 2008. Non-performing loans (NPLs) jumped 28% from a year earlier, nearly twice the growth seen in 2013.


  • Ranking the Presidents Since 1932 (Inside Gov) Using six numerical criteria, the 13 most recent U.S. presidents are ranked from worst to best. Some of the results are surprising, almost shocking, The top ranked president is not Ronald Reagan. Nor is FDR. And Nixon is not near the bottom.

  • Why Haven't Bankers Been Punished? Just Read These Insider SEC Emails (Jesse Eisner, The New Yorker and ProPublica) JE has contributed to GEI. This article makes a clear presentation of the regulatory capture of the SEC is a particular situation during the financial crisis, documented by SEC staff e-mails. See also next article.

  • Steve Cohen's New Firm Has No Plans to Run Outside Money Before 2018 (Bloomberg) See also preceding article. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is taking the Securities and Exchange Commission to task for allowing Steven Cohen back in the hedge fund game just months after the billionaire settled allegations that he failed to supervise a convicted insider trader. Warren (D, MA), wrote in a letter dated April 21 to SEC Chair Mary Jo White:

"This decision raises serious questions about the SEC's ability to protect investors, to uphold the integrity of financial markets from corrupt, illegal investment management practices, and to impose meaningful accountability on wrongdoers."

  • A massive financial scandal is unfolding in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom (PRI, MSN News) Vermont is embroiled in what's being called a massive Ponzi scheme. Two developers who brought foreign investment to an impoverished part of Vermont are now accused of misusing hundreds of millions of dollars. The money came from more than 700 foreign investors hoping to get a special visa through the federal EB-5 program. Now everything's come to a crashing halt. Locals are angry and Vermont state officials who backed the project are feeling betrayed. Econintersect: This is where the GEI managing editor spent much of his childhood. The Northeast Kingdom was then and has remained a backwater, but a completely delightful backwater, a natural paradise. The capital infusion to create two major resorts for some of the best skiing terrain and snowfall in the eastern U.S. seemed quite a believable bonanza - Jay Peak (pictured below) some years has some of the best powder skiing in the entire lower 48, possibly falling short of the best in Utah. Burke Mountain has produced a myriad of Olympic skiers for the U.S. This treasured region and its wonderful people did not desrve this mess.



  • Draghi defends ECB as Merkel enters low-rates debate (Reuters) The head of the ECB robustly defended its cheap money policy on Thursday against sharp criticism from Germany, as the country's leader entered a debate that has driven a wedge between the euro zone's central bank and its biggest economy. Mario Draghi said the ECB's policy of printing money and keeping borrowing costs at rock bottom was working, adding that interest rates would stay at current record lows for a long time. Emphasizing the bank's right to independence from political interference, Draghi also called on euro zone governments to help get the region's sluggish economy on a more solid footing through economic reforms. Speaking to reporters after the bank's governing council held key rates, he said harsh criticism in Germany undermined the ECB and its attempts to buoy the economy, playing down complaints that low rates were squeezing savers.

  • Obama's disdain for Europe's 'free riders' makes this an awkward transatlantic trip (The Conversation) Whenever he swings through Europe, President Obama makes a public show of friendship and unity - but he clearly thinks the US is being exploited by a troublesome continent that relies on American power to shore itself up. But this British author says this is a misdiagnosis on his part. The issue here, he says, is not European fecklessness, but Obama's imperative to gloss over his own foreign policy failings.


  • We must stop looking at EU migrants as coming from two Europes - the east, and everywhere else (The Conversation) EU migration has been a political hot potato since enlargement of the union in 2004, which enabled the free movement of workers from the new member states. Following this, the UK has seen migration from eastern Europe on an unprecedented scale - in particular from Poland. The latest official data shows estimated net migration of EU citizens to the UK was 172,000 in the year ending September 2015. Indeed Poland is the dominant country for immigration to the UK but after that western Europe contributes as much as eastern:



  • Japan exports, imports fall for sixth month (Tapei Times) Japan has the highest trade balance surplus since October 2010. This was accomplished even thought exports fell for the sixth consecutive mont because imports fell even more. Customs data reported yesterday showed exports fell 6.8% last month from a year earlier to ¥6.46 trillion (US$59.2 billion) while imports sank 14.9% to ¥5.7 trillion. The resulting trade balance surplus was ¥754 billion, the largest in 5 1/2 years.


  • China's economy is heading toward the train wreck Japan experienced in the late '80s (Business Insider) The amazing consistency in Chinese GDP data over the years has led many to be sceptical that it is real data. What does seem to be real data is the tremendous amount of debt in the Chinese economy, now over 308% of the suspect GDP. To Roy Smith, an academic at New York University, the breakneck growth seen in recent decades may be nearing its end, suggesting that he sees parallels with Japan's build-up of bad loans in the late 1980s, which ended up hobbling the once high-flying economy. Smith said in an interview with Bloomberg:

"China has now arrived at an existential moment after nearly 40 years of extraordinary economic progress."

As Global Stocks Rally, China's Markets Send More Ominous Signal (Bloomberg) The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen 4.6% this week, the worst performance among 93 global benchmark gauges tracked by Bloomberg and the steepest decline since January. It's not just the stock market. The yuan is trading around its lowest level against a basket of currencies since November 2014, while yields on corporate debt have risen for 10 of the past 12 days.


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