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posted on 15 October 2016

Early Headlines: Good Economy-Poorer Health, Clinton Foundation Ethics ?, Wells Fargo Customers Leave, UK Brexit Crisis, China's Imports Problem And More

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Early Bird Headlines 15 October 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.



  • Researchers have debunked one of our most basic assumptions about how the world works (The Washington Post) In recent years, accumulating evidence suggests that rising incomes and personal well-being are linked in the opposite way. It seems that economic growth actually kills people. Christopher Ruhm, an economics professor at the University of Virginia, was one of the first to notice this paradox. In a 2000 paper, he showed that when the American economy is on an upswing, people suffer more medical problems and die faster; when the economy falters, people tend to live longer. The question is, of course, what is the distribution of health problems. The article ends with:

All of this research should have us thinking about inequality. If growth is not wholly good, we should pay attention to who secures its blessings and who suffers the health consequences. In the United States, the financial rewards of economic expansion have mostly accrued to those at the very top, while average Americans have faced decades of stagnant wages. The question is: Have the health consequences accrued to the bottom?


  • Hacked emails raise possibility of Clinton Foundation ethics breach (Reuters) Hacked emails published by Wikileaks this week appear to show Qatar pledging to donate $1 million to Hillary Clinton's family's charitable foundation, despite her promise to curb new donations by foreign governments while U.S. secretary of state. In an email from 2012, a senior official from the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation informs colleagues that a planned donation by Qatar's government to mark Bill Clinton's birthday came up in a meeting he had with the Gulf state's ambassador in Washington. The ambassador said that he asked "to see WJC 'for five minutes' in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC's birthday in 2011," Amitabh Desai, the foundation official, writes in his email, using the former U.S. president's initials.

  • Wells Fargo: The Customers Strike Back (Bloomberg) Some alarming signs of damage emerged in the third-quarter report. The bank provided a look at trends to isolate September, and it showed a noticeable impact from the scandal: Customer visits with branch bankers were down significantly, as were checking-account openings and credit-card applications:


"The other day I'm standing at my podium and she walks in front of me, right? She walks in front of me and when she walked in front of me. Believe me, I wasn't impressed, but she walks in front of me."

  • What Hillary Clinton’s tax plan would really do to the economy (The Washington Post) Taxes would increase substantially for only a few Americans, and the overall effects on the economy would be minimal, said Alan Cole, an economist at the Tax Foundation, which published a new analysis of Clinton's plans Wednesday. Notably, the foundation is usually skeptical of proposals to increase taxes. Wednesday's report does predict some negative effects in the labor market and the broader economy from Clinton's proposals. The general conclusion, however, is that Clinton is proposing modest changes that would likely have few tangible consequences - an analysis that is at odds with Trump's criticism of her plan.


  • We’re heading for the biggest crisis since Suez (The Times) The author says that it is horribly apparent that, four months after the referendum, the Brexiteers have no idea where they’re leading us. He posits that the reason PM May doesn't want her plans to be reviewed by Parliament is that she has no plan. He concludes (addressing the new government):

The initiative is yours. We await your proposals and we accept your right - even (as I have written) your duty - to proceed with them. But we want to know what they are. How do you plan to make this thing work? Michael Gove began his column with three short sentences: “Take. Back. Control." I can reply with one: “How?" Or perhaps in the same vein: “What. Are. You. Going. To. Do?"

We ask because the suspicion grows that none of you has the foggiest. And if that’s true then you have betrayed the trust of 17 million people who thought you knew. Before the referendum you assumed the mantle of “us" in a revolt against “them" and profited mightily from that assumption. But now you’re in charge. You’re not Us any more: you’re Them, the new Establishment, the powers that be. You are the experts we were enjoined to scorn. So scream - because the people’s anger will be terrible.



  • Threats drive out beauty pageant in Upper Egypt (Al Monitor) What would have been Upper Egypt’s first beauty pageant stirred a hornet's nest of controversy this month, outraging local conservatives who said it would spread debauchery and was unsuited to the region’s traditions. The pageant was scheduled for Oct. 10 in Assiut governorate, where a large gathering of celebrities, fashion designers, beauticians and public figures were expected. Yet the event was canceled that day when hotel officials said organizers hadn’t received proper security clearance - meaning police would not be present in the event of demonstrations. Given that the organizer received a death threat and warnings that her workplace and the hotel would be set on fire, security was a serious concern. She and the judges were also assailed and threatened on social media. Assiut governorate, 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of Cairo, is known for its fundamentalist ideas about religion and gender. Women there are often viewed as religious conservatives who all wear black cloaks and veils (hijab) and are less educated than women in Cairo and coastal cities.


  • Will Jewish MP join Iraqi parliament? (Al Monitor) The vice president of the European Jewish Congress, Edwin Shuker, posted a video on his Facebook page Oct. 2 in which he addressed the Iraqi people on the occasion of the Jewish New Year. Iraq's Jews fled en masse decades ago when the Baath party accused them of spying for Israel. Now one of them is eyeing a parliament seat.


  • China Exports Sink, But Shrinking Imports May Matter More (Peterson Institute) China’s exports unexpectedly dropped 10% in September from a year earlier, a sign of global economic weakness. Year-to-date, China’s exports are down 7.5%, a significant enough decline to cause serious concern about the state of China’s manufacturing industry. Interestingly, industrial value added climbed 6.4%, so the link between lower exports and weak industrial growth does not seem to be strong. China’s imports resumed their negative spell for the year with a near two percent drop from the same month last year, imports are down more than 8% year-to-date. This is not brushed off by saying commodity prices are lower -- in fact, import prices have risen this year. This makes the lower import figures a stronger indicator that China’s domestic demand may be weakening, potentially slowing China’s transition towards a consumption driven economy.


  • China producer prices end multiyear negative run (Market Watch) China's long battle with industrial deflation turned a corner last month as a gauge of prices for factory output turned positive for the first time in more than four years. China's producer price index edged up 0.1% in September from a year ago, the government reported Friday, marking the first time the index was positive in 54 months. The index had fallen by 0.8% in August. If sustained, the inflation of wholesale production prices should add to profitability in the manufacturing sector.

  • Magnus: China Narrative Has Gone Stale This Year (Bloomberg) George Magnus, senior independent economic adviser at UBS, talks about the factors behind the slowdown in the Chinese economy. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."

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