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posted on 23 September 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, US Oil Inventory Shrinks, Global Oil Demand Growth Slows, US No. 28, UK Property Inequality, India Claims UN Victory, Syria Launches New Offensive And More

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Early Bird Headlines 23 September 2016

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.




  • OPEC Under Pressure to Act in Algiers as Oil Surplus Triples (Bloomberg) As OPEC prepares to meet in Algiers next week, the oil market is reminding the group's members what's at stake if they fail to reach a deal. More than 800,000 barrels a day of additional crude is pouring into the global market this month from last as Russia pumps at an all-time high while Libya and Nigeria restore disrupted supplies, according to statements from their ministry officials. That would imply a tripling of the supply surplus, estimated currently at about 400,000 barrels a day by the International Energy Agency. See also next article. Note: WTI inventories have been shrinking which has been supporting oil prices - see article below.



  • WTI Investories Drive Prices Higher (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look, The Daily Shot) Even as OPEC wrestles with surging inventories (see above) surprise inventory declines in the U.S. are driving oil prices higher.


  • Tesla Cranks Up Pressure to End Ban on Direct Auto Sales (Bloomberg) Tesla Motors Inc. is cranking up the pressure to sell electric cars directly to customers, filing its first federal lawsuit over the practice on the home turf of General Motors and Ford. Tesla sued the state of Michigan to overturn its ban on direct sales by auto manufacturers. Until now, Tesla has been challenging prohibitions of its sales model on a state-by-state basis. A federal court ruling over the constitutionality of the ban would have national implications as the company races to bring the Model 3, it's more affordable electric sedan, to market late next year. Carl Tobias, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond, says there are legitimate questions:

"States can regulate business but can they do what they appear to be doing here, keeping Tesla out? It's not a frivolous claim. They have a strong argument, but it depends on the judge and what they can prove.''

  • US election news: Trump businesses collect $1.6 million payout from Secret Service: Politico (CNBC) The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) paid Donald Trump's campaign $1.6 million to cover the costs of flying agents charged with protecting the Republican presidential candidate on his company's plane, Politico reported on Thursday. While it's a long-accepted practice for the agency, which has also reimbursed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign $2.6 million, the payment to Trump's campaign was unusual because the plane was owned by TAG Air, owned by Trump, Politico reported. That meant the U.S. government was effectively paying the candidate to protect him, the report said. The Clinton campaign has been chartering planes from a private company in which the family has no ownership interest, the report noted.

  • Musk Plans to Unveil Solar Roof With Storage, Charger in October (Bloomberg) Tesla Motors Inc. plans to introduce a new combination of solar power, battery storage and electric-vehicle charging systems at an event near San Francisco on Oct. 28. Billionaire Elon Musk, the chairman and the largest shareholder of both Tesla and SolarCity Corp., announced his plans to unveil the new product in a message on Twitter Thursday. SolarCity's board agreed to Tesla's offer to buy the biggest U.S. rooftop solar supplier on Aug. 1. The product fits into his long-term vision of helping provide green homes that run on solar energy and use battery storage to help power systems, including charging electric cars, even after sundown. He announced in August that SolarCity is developing a "solar roof," a roofing product that incorporates solar technology without using standard photovoltaic panels. Musk wrote in a tweet Thursday:

"Aiming for Oct 28 unveil in SF Bay Area of new Tesla/SolarCity solar roof with integrated Powerwall 2.0 battery and Tesla charger."


  • Monetary policy won't fix Europe's problems: UBS' Axel Weber (CNBC) The European Central Bank needs to recognize that the Europe's needs cannot be solved by monetary policy, according to UBS Chairman Axel Weber. Weber, who was a member of the European Central Bank Governing Council from 2004 to 2011, stressed that monetary policy is only effective as an "interim solution or an intermediate solution".



  • Poland Debates Total Abortion Ban as Culture Clash Expands (Bloomberg) Poland began debating a draft law to ban all abortions and curb sex education as the country's conservative government opens a new front in a cultural "counter-revolution" that has already roiled the country's economy and justice system. Religious groups loosely supported by the ruling Law & Justice party have proposed the bill to tighten what's already one of the European Union's most-restrictive regulations. While the current law limits abortions to pregnancies stemming from rape or incest, and cases where the mother or fetus faces serious health risk, they want a total ban that would put the Roman Catholic country of 38 million in a group of eight states that includes El Salvador, Guatemala and the Vatican. Econintersect: May we suggest the logic? Keep sex a secret and then there will be no need for abortions.


  • Syria announces new offensive, diplomats fail to renew truce (Reuters) Syria announced a new offensive against rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Thursday while diplomats failed to find a way in New York to revive a U.S. and Russian-brokered ceasefire that collapsed this week. Warplanes mounted the heaviest air strikes in months against rebel-held districts of Syria's commercial hub and largest city, dealing a fresh blow to efforts to end Syrian civil war that has raged since 2011. Rebel officials and rescue workers said incendiary bombs were among the weapons that rained down on Aleppo. Hamza al-Khatib, the director of a hospital in the rebel-held east, told Reuters 45 people were killed.


Only days after the latest ceasefire agreement came into force in Syria, a United Nations aid convoy en route to Aleppo was attacked and destroyed. The UN was quick to declare this both a premeditated attack and a war crime. Citing air space intelligence, the US government released a statement accusing the Russian Air Force of responsibility, detailing the presence of two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 fighter aircraft in the area at the time of the attack.

The Russian government has denied the accusations, stating that the US has "no facts", and responded with drone footage of the convoy allegedly showing that anti-government militias were using it as cover. At the same time, it argued that the explosion did not come from the air, and was in fact a militant attack on the convoys. (The convoy was traveling through militant-held territory at the time of the strike.)

The attack on the convoy follows the pattern of accusation and denial that has characterized the public diplomacy argument between Russia and the West, though chiefly the US: the US or UN makes a statement, and Russia responds with an equally publicly credible alternative. This back-and-forth pattern has played out many times in Syria and Ukraine, with both sides playing to their own constituencies rather than talking to each other - whether over the downing of flight MH17, Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons, or the definition of what counts as a "rebel" or "extremist" group.


  • India claims diplomatic win over Pakistan at UN (The Hindu) India on Thursday said Pakistan's campaign to highlight Kashmir at the United Nations had failed even as the Ministry of External Affairs stopped short of giving a definitive answer on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans to attend the November SAARC summit in Islamabad. Uncertainty continued over Mr. Modi's presence at SAARC as India held consultations with Afghanistan and the U.S., and pushed Pakistan to shut down the infrastructure of terrorism affecting South Asia and the world. The MEA said the question of Mr. Modi's visit to Islamabad could not be answered in a "yes" or "no". India is much concerned with terrorism originating from Pakistan.


  • 'Vietnam is my life. Dragon is my life' (Financial Times) Hat tip to Rob Carter. Dominic Scriven is the proud owner of the Vietnamese Labor medal, an honor the 52-year-old explains is awarded by the Asian country's communist government for "contributions, as a laborer, towards the revolution". It seems an unusual honor to bestow on someone whose career so clearly relies on capitalism. Mr Scriven set up an asset management company in Vietnam in 1994 and has been running it since. Scriven says he has been successful because of

"Long term, committed, helping to develop parts of the economy that they [the Vietnamese government] need help in,".

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