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posted on 16 May 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Higher, Oil Jumps, Billion Face Flooding By 2060, Oil Glut Yes, Oil Glut No, Eastern Europe Turns On Democracy, Airnb And Berlin Housing Shortage, China Buyout Deals Unravel And More

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Early Bird Headlines 16 May 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.



  • Asia closes higher; Chinese shares reverse losses, HSI leads gains (CNBC) Asian markets ended mostly higher on Monday, as traders shrugged off data released over the weekend that revived concerns over the Chinese economy.

  • asia.pac.2016.may.16Charity Save the Children urges 'new deal' for child refugees (BBC News) Save the Children is calling for greater international commitment to ensure child refugees remain in school. The charity's new report, A New Deal for Refugees, says no child should be out of school for more than a month. It comes as countries struggle to respond to a huge displacement of people fleeing conflict and hardship. Another call for a greater response to the crisis will be made on Monday by the Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, Angelina Jolie-Pitt.

  • Mars and Earth are getting closer (for now) (CNN) The red planet will soon be closer to Earth that it has been in 11 years: On May 30, Mars will be about 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers) from Earth. Yes, that's still a long way off, but sometimes Mars is 249 million miles (400 million kilometers) from Earth, so it will be closer by 5x than when at its furthest distance. It means Mars will appear bigger and brighter from May 18 until June 3, according to NASA. But you don't have to wait. Mars already is putting on a spectacular show in the early morning sky. And you don't need a telescope or binoculars to see it. In fact, you'll probably be able to find it without a star chart or an astronomy app. In the United States, the best time to look for Mars during its close approach will be around midnight Eastern time, according to NASA. It will be the brightest "star" that you'll see in the southeastern sky and it will appear a bit reddish.

  • Billion people face global flooding risk by 2060, charity warns (BBC News) A British aid charity is warning that by 2060 more than a billion people worldwide will live in cities at risk of catastrophic flooding as a result of climate change. A study by Christian Aid says the US, China and India are among the countries most threatened. It says the Indian cities of Kolkata and Mumbai will be most at risk. The eight most vulnerable cities on the list are all in Asia, followed by Miami in the US.

  • OPEC signals greater oil glut in 2016 as its output surges (Reuters) OPEC said the global oil market is oversupplied and signaled the glut may increase this year, as surging output from its members makes up for losses from other countries whose production has been hit by a price fall. Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is climbing after sanctions on Iran were lifted and an initiative with Russia and other non-members to tackle a supply glut by freezing output failed last month. OPEC pumped 32.44 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, the group said in a monthly report citing secondary sources, up 188,000 bpd from March. This is the highest since at least 2008, according to a Reuters review of past OPEC reports. However, see Goldman Sachs report in U.S. section.


  • Oil prices jump as Goldman Sachs says market flips into deficit (Reuters) Oil prices jumped over 1% on Monday after long-time bear Goldman Sachs said the market had ended almost two years of oversupply following global oil disruptions and flipped to a deficit. International Brent crude futures were trading at $48.50 per barrel at 0255 GMT, up 67 cents, or 1.4%, from their last settlement. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 68 cents, or 1.5%, at $46.89 a barrel. Supply disruptions from Nigeria, Venezuela, the United States, Canada and China triggered a U-turn in the oil outlook of Goldman Sachs, which long warned of overflowing storage and another looming crash in prices. However, see OPEC article in Global section.

  • In surprising turnabout, Oklahoma eyes Medicaid expansion (Associated Press) Despite bitter resistance in Oklahoma for years to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republican leaders in this conservative state are now confronting something that alarms them even more: a huge $1.3 billion hole in the budget that threatens to do widespread damage to the state's health care system. So, in what would be the grandest about-face among rightward leaning states, Oklahoma is now moving toward a plan to expand its Medicaid program to bring in billions of federal dollars from President Obama's new health care system. What's more, GOP leaders are considering a tax hike to cover the state's share of the costs.


  • Eastern Europe is shunning liberal democracy - but it'll come back in the end (The Conversation) What's happening to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe? A new authoritarianism, what one leader has called "illiberal democracy", has taken over in Hungary and Poland. Propelled in part by the Paris and Brussels attacks and the fear of terrorism, parts of Europe are drifting away from democratic pluralism. There's a growing sense that the world is spinning out of control, and that liberal democracy is only making matters worse. This turn to the illiberal has been coming for a long time. After 1989, the people of Central and Eastern Europe hoped that democracy would bring immediate economic benefits. These hopes went largely unfulfilled. These festering resentments were the building blocks of a new nationalism, one founded on both the politics of national identity and the politics of fear.


Those under the "benevolent" rule of empire did not necessarily experience British imperialism as a gift. For many around the world, the costs of empire were not restricted to the occasional episode of violent repression, nor even to structural injustices such as the slave trade. Rather, these were systematic, everyday costs. These costs included exclusion - from power and privilege in their own lands - coupled with humiliation at being made to pay deference to white people who assumed the right to govern them.

Before condemning the corruption and rudeness of others perhaps we should remember the act of imperialism itself may be seen as self-interested, arrogant rudeness on a global scale.

  • Donald Trump warning over UK relationship (BBC News) US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has warned he may not have a "very good relationship" with David Cameron. He was responding to the prime minister who called Mr Trump "stupid, divisive and wrong" over his call for Muslims to be banned from the US. Mr Trump told ITV's Good Morning Britain that he will remember Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's "very nasty statements" that he was "ignorant".


  • Berlin has banned homeowners from renting out flats on Airbnb - here's why (The Conversation) Anyone planning a weekend getaway to Berlin may have received a nasty shock, when the city announced that it has banned residents from renting out their flats to tourists through Airbnb. The move comes as a result of acute housing shortages, unprecedented population growth and marked changes in Europe's housing system. Conversion of residential units to short-term rentals had created a significant part of the housing shortage.


  • A blow against free speech (The Hindu) This commentator says that the Supreme Court has always had an ambivalent relationship with the freedom of speech and expression, treating free speech more as an annoyance than a right. Its defamation law judgment continues that long, unfortunate history. This past week the India Supreme Court ruled to sustain the existing criminal defamation law which derived from 17th century English law and which has been completely irradicated from the statutes in Great Britain today. From the article:

... the court kept the 1860 provision, with its 17th century roots, entirely intact. In order to keep such an onerous offence on the statute books, the court had to construct novel arguments which will have serious and unfortunate implications for the freedom of speech and expression in the coming years.


  • China admits overcapacity not yet falling in bloated steel sector (Reuters) Massive overcapacity in China's bloated steel industry is not yet falling, but protectionism is not the solution for problems facing the global steel industry, the country's vice minister for industry said on Monday. China is facing anger and calls for trade penalties to block its exports from steel producers around the world, who say it is dumping cheap exports after a slowdown in demand at home. The world's biggest steel producer has vowed to cut capacity, but its efforts have been complicated by a recovery in domestic steel prices.

  • China's production, investment, retail sales all disappoint in April (CNBC) China's investment, factory output and retail sales all grew more slowly than expected in April, adding to doubts about whether the world's second-largest economy is stabilizing. Growth in factory output cooled to 6% in April, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Saturday, disappointing analysts who expected it to rise to 6.5% on an annual basis after an increase of 6.8% the prior month. China's fixed-asset investment growth eased to 10.5% year-on-year in the January-April period, missing market expectations of 10.9%, and down from the first quarter's 10.7%. Fixed investment by private firms continued to slow, indicating private businesses remain sceptical of economic prospects. Investment by private firms rose 5.2% year-on-year in January-April, down from 5.7% growth in the first quarter. Reuters reported on Saturday that China's banking regulator has sent an urgent notice to banks telling them to clear bottlenecks holding back lending to private firms.

  • China's Record $26 Billion Buyout Deals at Risk of Unraveling (Bloomberg) The great retreat of Chinese companies from the U.S. stock market is hitting a snag. Concern last week that Chinese regulators may restrict overseas-traded companies from returning home helped erase more than $5 billion in the market value of firms seeking to do so. Shares of companies from Momo Inc. to 21Vianet Group Inc. have plunged at least 20% since May 6 amid speculation that the management-led investor groups may back away from the buyout deals or lower their purchase prices. The selloff marks another twist in the saga of U.S.-listed Chinese companies seeking to go private, lured by the prospect of relisting at higher valuations in Shanghai or Shenzhen. Econintersect: This is another source of capital outflow from China and is not viewed favorably by the Chinese government and that is making dealmakers nervous.

  • China barely notes start of Cultural Revolution 50 years ago (Associated Press) Exactly 50 years ago, China embarked on what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade of tumult launched by Mao Zedong to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism. The milestone was largely ignored Monday in the Chinese media, reflecting continuing sensitivities about a period that was later declared a "catastrophe", characterized by extreme violence, leading to the downfall of leading officials, factional battles, mass rallies and the exile of educated youths to the countryside. It wound up severely threatening the Communist Party's legitimacy to rule. See also next article.

  • Maoists still a force 50 years after the Cultural Revolution (Associated Press) In spite of the lack of official attention to the anniversary, the spirit of modern China's founder still exerts a powerful pull. For example, in the ancient city of Luoyang, the old, the poor and the marginalized gather daily in the main public square to profess nostalgia for the political movement, downplaying that period's violent excesses. In the marble halls of power in Beijing, Cultural Revolution-era song-and-dance performances are being revived. China's liberals see ominous signs of a society tugged backward by ideological currents.

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