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posted on 15 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Oil Steady, Problems For Trump And Nominees, Obama Mad Dash For Environment, Fiscal EU, UK House Prices Headed Lower, EU Halts Greek Debt Support And More

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Early Bird Headlines 15 December 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.

early-bird-301-180

Global

  • Asia markets mostly lower as dollar strength weighs (CNBC) Asian markets were mostly lower on Thursday as the dollar rose sharply and investors digest the Federal Reserve's first interest rate rise this year and its hawkish rate outlook for 2017. U.S. crude futures were trading down 0.16% at $50.96 a barrel during Asian trade on Thursday, while global benchmark Brent futures was up 0.04% at $53.92.

asia.pac.2016.dec.15

U.S.

Rex Tillerson rose to the top of Exxon Mobil Corp. partly by negotiating a deal with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to kick-start an oil project on the Pacific Ocean island of Sakhalin, which had been tied up in bureaucratic knots for years.

He also led Exxon into Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region against the wishes of Baghdad and the State Department, and kept pumping oil in Chad after international oil profits were being used to support the autocratic government’s military operations.

In many ways, Mr. Tillerson’s record since becoming chief executive in 2006 makes him the international energy equivalent of President-elect Donald Trump’s claim to fame in real estate: a shrewd, opportunistic businessman who amassed daring investments and valuable assets around the world.

  • This GOP-Backed Law Forbids Donald Trump From Using Presidency For Personal Profit (The Huffington Post) President-elect Donald Trump’s business empire represents an unprecedented source of conflicts of interest between his presidential duties and the hundreds of private companies he controls, which he has said he will not sell and will leave to his sons to run. Luckily for Trump, the president of the United States is exempt from most of the conflict of interest rules that govern other federal employees. “In theory, I can be president of the United States and run my business 100 percent," Trump bragged to The New York Times in November. But a 2012 law called the STOCK Act could throw a wrench in Trump’s plan. A section of that law states that “no executive branch employee may use nonpublic information derived from [or acquired through] their position as an executive branch employee as a means for making a private profit." “The STOCK Act bars the President from: using nonpublic information for private profit," the independent Office of Government Ethics, which handles executive branch ethics issues, wrote in a Monday letter to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). The measure was originally designed to apply only to members of Congress. But Republicans - annoyed that it covered the GOP-controlled House and Senate but not the Obama administration - made sure to extend it to the executive branch,including the president and vice president.

  • Obama's Mad Dash to Protect the Environment (Outside) Obama is determined to shift the environmental trajectory as far to the left as possible before Donald Trump takes office in January. In many cases, that means exerting every federal lever still available to promote renewable energy, restrict drilling and coal extraction, and safeguard a handful of prized landscapes in the western United States. Within the span of just two weeks after the election, the administration issued a series of key policies aimed at cementing environmental gains. It issued a five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling that halts such decisions in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska, as well as in waters off the southeast Atlantic Coast. The administration also finalized a rule aimed at curbing accidental methane releases from oil and gas drilling on federal and tribal lands. Officials estimate the new methane rule - which compels reductions in gas flaring, more leak inspections, and the installation of new equipment in some operations - will cut annual emissions of the heat-trapping gas by 175,000 to 180,000 tons. Republicans - who will control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House - have threatened to overturn some of these rules, especially those that restrict coal, oil, and gas exploration.

  • After Meeting with Gore/DiCaprio Then Choosing “Fossil Fool" Cabinet, Trump is saying “I’m Evil" (New Economics Perspectives) While Trump in his campaign gave almost no signs that he had any interest in climate action, calling climate change a hoax and hewing to the now-standard Republican pro-fossil fuel “drill, baby, drill" line, Trump had in the last couple weeks flirted with climate action advocates and the mainstream press by suggesting that he had “an open mind" with regard to the reality of human-caused climate change.

  • OPEC Threatened by Tiny Oklahoma Town With Soaring Supplies (Bloomberg) For OPEC, there are few enemies more fearsome than the tiny Oklahoma town of Cushing. With oil inventories at Cushing creeping near an all-time high, U.S. benchmark futures prices are struggling to advance despite the promised production cuts agreed to by OPEC, Russia and other producers. And the storage tanks are likely to stay full as refiners park crude in Oklahoma to lower their tax bills.

EU

  • Eurozone QE creates breathing space - here's what governments must do now (The Conversation) What eurozone QE is doing is to give governments the breathing space to make changes that will unlock private investment and make national finances more viable before national debts become unmanageable. But QE cannot go further and be a substitute for these kinds of reforms. Policy reform that encourages innovation, education and trade will eventually lead to more growth in the eurozone. The challenge is to hold the bloc together and avoid a financial crisis long enough to let them take effect.

UK

Greece

  • EU halts Greek debt relief payments over pension bonus plan (RT, YouTube) The Eurogroup is halting short-term Greek debt relief payments following Alexis Tsipras’ attempt to make a bonus payment to pensioners. Ameera David has the details. Then, Bianca Facchinei takes a look at the latest trouble Wells Fargo got itself into, this time failing the Federal Reserve’s “living will" test. After, Lindsay France breaks down Monsanto shareholders’ approval of the proposed merger with Bayer. Following the break, GEI contributor Money Strong LLC founder Danielle DiMartino Booth explains why the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates was long overdue, plus her thoughts on where might be heading. And finally, in The Big Deal, another GEI contributor Edward Harrison gives his take on which indicators and markets to watch post-Fed decision.

Syria

  • Evacuation preparations begin after new Aleppo ceasefire deal (The Guardian) A new deal to evacuate civilians from east Aleppo has been reached, rebel officials said, after a day of intense shuttle diplomacy and violent bombardment in the opposition enclave. Civilians and the wounded in east Aleppo were expected to begin evacuating from the city at 6am but it is as yet unclear if any have left.

Iran

  • Iran sanctions renewal becomes law without Obama signature (CNBC) In an unexpected reversal, President Barack Obama declined to sign a renewal of sanctions against Iran but let it become law anyway, in an apparent bid to alleviate Tehran's concerns that the U.S. is backsliding on the nuclear deal. Although the White House had said that Obama was expected to sign the 10-year-renewal, the midnight deadline came and went Thursday with no approval from the president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had decided to let it become law without his signature. Iran has protested that the bill is a violation of the nuclear control agreement.

Philippines

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