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.
Nikkei down 2 pct, yen climbs after PM Abe delays new sales tax (CNBC) Japan's Nikkei tumbled after the government moved to delay a sales-tax hike for more than two years, bucking mostly higher markets around the region. The Nikkei 225 shed 1.91% in Asian trade, extending Wednesday's losses of 1.62%. The Japanese yen strengthened against the dollar, trading at 109.1 at 1:18 p.m. HK/SIN time, compared with levels above 111 yen on Tuesday after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a delay of the consumption tax hike until 2019 because of growing softness in the economy. A strong yen is generally a negative for Japanese stocks. Chinese markets were to flat to mildly higher, with the Shanghai composite flat and the Shenzhen composite up 0.19%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.22%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.89%, led by losses in its energy and financial subindexes which were 0.96% and 1.26% lower respectively.
Musk: We intend to launch people to Mars in 2024 (CNBC) SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk will send a mission to Mars - on the Flying Dragon version 2 rocket - starting in 2018 and launch a rocket headed there at every open opportunity - every 26 months. The series will launch the first manned mission (up to 7 people) in 2024,arriving on the red planet after an 18 month voyage.
Central Banks Have Already Used a Better Tool Than Helicopter Money (Bloomberg) Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke has worked to disabuse investors and economists of the notion that the Fed is nearly out of ammunition, pointing to a number of other tools at the central bank's disposal. One problem? Some of the world's largest economies might have already tried his most controversial idea. The final edition of his three-part series on the more unconventional measures the Fed could pursue focused on an option Milton Friedman bandied about at the tail end of the 1960s: helicopter money. This entails central banks coordinating with the fiscal authority to finance the mailing out of a check to every citizen, or perhaps a slew of new infrastructure projects. Toby Nangle, head of multi-asset allocation at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, contends that major central banks and governments have already done something that differs from helicopter money in form, but not in function. He claims that if a central bank is engaging in quantitative easing - buying sovereign bonds - at the same time the government is embarking upon a more expansionary fiscal policy, this constitutes de facto helicopter money. Econintersect: Increasing the reserve accounts of banks at the Federal Reserve is NOT the same as directing money into the hands of consumers. Toby Nangle is simply off base here. He wrote:
"Given that debt is effectively canceled from the moment it is bought by the central bank from a monetary and fiscal perspective, the debt service and monetary effects of QE and helicopter money appear the same.The implementation of quantitative easing during periods of fiscal expansion in the UK, US and Japan have effectively already delivered ex post helicopter money."
Federal regulators propose restrictions on payday lenders (Associated Press) Federal regulators are proposing a significant clampdown on payday lenders and other providers of high-interest loans, saying borrowers need to be protected from practices that wind up turning into "debt traps" for many. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed regulations, announced Thursday, seek to tackle two common complaints about the payday lending industry. The CFPB is proposing that lenders must conduct what's known as a "full-payment test". Because most payday loans are required to be paid in full when they come due, usually two weeks after the money is borrowed, the CFPB wants lenders to prove that borrowers are able to repay that money without having to renew the loan repeatedly. Secondly, the CFPB would require that lenders give additional warnings before they attempt to debit a borrower's bank account, and also restrict the number of times they can attempt to debit the account. The aim is to lower the frequency of overdraft fees that are common with people who take out payday loans.
Clinton staffer who set up private email server invokes 5th Amendment in case (The Washington Post) Lawyers for a former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Clinton's private email server told a federal court Wednesday that he will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination and decline to answer questions at his June 6 deposition in a civil public records lawsuit in Washington. Bryan Pagliano worked on Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign before setting up a server for her in her New York home in 2009 during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state. His deposition is set in a lawsuit over public records brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog group, regarding its May 2013 request for information about the employment arrangement of Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide.
USA Today: Trump Involved in 3,500 Lawsuits (Newsmax) A new analysis has uncovered 3,500 lawsuits in which Donald Trump or his companies have been involved in. USA Today found tthat 1,900 of the lawsuits had Trump or one of his companies as the plaintiff, he was the defendant in 1,450, and the remaining 150 were classified as "bankruptcy, third party, or other". The data goes back three decades and includes both state and federal court cases. Seventeen hundred of the cases involved Trump's casino business, while others, according to USA Today, were real estate lawsuits involving millions of dollars. The report finds that 70 cases have been filed since Trump entered the Republican presidential race a year ago. At least 50 total lawsuits are still open.
Western powers urge Syria aid drops (BBC News) The US, UK and France have urged the UN to begin air drops of humanitarian aid to besieged areas in Syria. They said the Syrian government had failed to respect the 01 June deadline for widespread aid distribution agreed by world and regional powers. Only a small amount of aid was delivered on Wednesday and a convoy to the town of Darayya near Damascus did not carry food. The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the air drops.
Game On for China, U.S. Ahead of South China Sea Ruling (Bloomberg) After years of simmering friction, the disputes have taken on some urgency as an international arbitration court in The Hague prepares to rule on a case brought by the Philippines against China. A ruling seen as unfavorable to Beijing could undermine its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters. The Philippines has asked the court to rule on the status of features China claims as well as the legal basis of its "historic rights" claim, based on a 1940s map showing a vague dashed line looping down about 1,800 kilometers (1,119 miles) south of Hainan island and covering around 1.4 million square miles. The area overlaps claims from Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan. China -- which has declined to participate in the case -- and the U.S. have embarked on a diplomatic and public relations frenzy before the ruling, expected within months. The U.S. is not a claimant but has championed free navigation in the area.
China's New Silk Road Into Europe Is About More Than Money (Foreign Policy) Beijing is spending billions on new ports and rail lines, but its ambitions for Europe are as much about geopolitics as commerce. One of the unstated purposes of China's entire Silk Road program is to buy political goodwill from countries along the way. Decades ago, Chinese investment in Africa often brought support from those countries for Chinese positions in the United Nations. Chinese investments in Afghanistan, for instance, have recently translated into Kabul's support for China's territorial positions in the South China Sea disputes. In Europe, China's investment push has indeed led to a few diplomatic victories. Fueled by big investments in the energy sector, Xi received red-carpet treatment from British leaders on a state visit last year, and China considers the U.K. its best friend in the West. Several of Europe's biggest countries, including the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy, supported China's creation of a new international development bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite heated objections from the United States.
5 decades after China's Cultural Revolution, a few say sorry (Associated Press) The Communist Party, which still rules China with an iron fist, also has yet to apologize five decades after Mao launched the movement to realize his radical communist egalitarian vision. The party closed the book on the era in 1981 without holding Mao responsible or apologizing to the nation. It instead rendered a verdict that the movement was a "catastrophe" caused by mistaken policies and a handful of self-serving political radicals. A further re-examination of the decade might further threaten its legitimacy to rule; last month's 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution was met mostly with stony official silence. However, dozens of individual participants have accepted responsibility and shown contrition. The vast majority have not, though an entire generation was almost wholly caught up in the events. About one million people were estimated to have died from execution, persecution, extreme humiliation, factional warfare and savage prison conditions - often in the hands of their fellow country people.
Ballots and Bullets in the Heat of Mexico's Drug War (Foreign Policy) The gulf coast state of Tamaulipas, across the border from McAllen,Texas, is one of 14 Mexican states set to hold local and gubernatorial elections on June 5 and one of five in which the National Electoral Institute, the country's independent electoral authority, has issued warnings for the possibility of violence and fraud. And with good reason. Ahead of the last gubernatorial race in 2010, front-runner Rodolfo Torre was shot dead in an ambush by masked gunmen on the eve of his probable victory. The motive for the hit has never been determined.
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