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posted on 19 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Higher, Senators Call For Hacking Probe, Trump Impresses Kissinger, Judge: Poland Autocracy, Duterte Likes Trump's Mouth, OxyContin Surge In China, New Cold War And More

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Early Bird Headlines 19 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 stocks mostly lower; Nikkei snaps 11 straight sessions of gains (CNBC) Asian markets traded mixed on Monday as Australia gained after it appeared to dodge a possible downgrade for now of its treasured top sovereign rating and Japan fell despite better-than-expected trade data. Oil prices were higher during Asian trade. U.S. crude were up 0.85% to $52.34 a barrel while global benchmark Brent futures traded up 0.67% to $55.58.

U.S.

  • Kissinger calls Trump a 'phenomenon that foreign countries haven't seen' (The Hill) Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in an interview Sunday that President-elect Donald Trump could go down in history as a "very considerable president".

  • Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based US-Russian oil firm (The Guardian) New documents from Bermuda, a tax haven, ties Rex Tillerson more closely to Russian interests and will raise more questions over suitability of Donald Trump’s pick for US secretary of state.

  • Senators call for probe of cyberattacks by Russia (CNBC) U.S. Republican and Democratic senators on Sunday called for a special bipartisan panel to investigate cyberattacks against the United States by foreign countries with a focus on Russia's alleged efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election. Charles Schumer (D, NY), who will be the Senate Democratic leader in the new U.S. Congress in January, and John McCain (R, AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, were joined by two other senators, Lindsey Graham (R, SC) and Jack Reed (D, RI), in sending a letter to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell requesting the panel.

  • Michigan unemployment agency made 20,000 false fraud accusations - report (The Guardian) A Michigan government agency wrongly accused individuals in at least 20,000 cases of fraudulently seeking unemployment payments, according to a review by the state. The review released this week found that an automated system had erroneously accused claimants in 93% of cases - a rate that stunned even lawyers suing the state over the computer system and faulty fraud claims. The state is now trying to rectify these errors and has to back-track to refund garnished wages, tax payments and other fines incorrrectly assessed. There is no indication if legal fees paid by those who tried to fight the errors will be reimbursed. Econintersect: This is the state which tried to save money by poisoning people in Flint. It appears they have had other disasterous money saving schemes as well.

  • A $55 Billion Manager Who Bought at Market Low Returns to Cash (Bloomberg) David Samra, the award-winning stock picker, is boosting cash holdings close to their limit in a market he sees as lacking buying opportunities. Samra, who oversees about $55 billion for Artisan Partners, says he increased cash to about 13% of his international fund, near the 15% maximum, as equities around the world extend rallies after Donald Trump’s election. While he’s been selling companies that he sees as reaching their true worth, he’s found it harder to find stocks to replace them.

UK

  • Brexit: UK can't deport millions of EU nationals, report warns (The Guardian) Mass deportations of the estimated 2.9 million EU nationals living in the UK would be impractical and they should not be used as a “bargaining chip" in Brexit negotiations, the government is being warned. In a strongly-worded report published on Monday, parliament’s influential joint committee on human rights (JCHR) highlights the political uncertainty over the residential status of both EU citizens in the UK and the 1.2 million Britons believed to be living elsewhere within the European Union.

  • UK ‘dumps’ billions in bid to meet aid target (The Times) Britain is “dumping" billions of pounds in overseas aid money into obscure World Bank trust funds in an apparent attempt to meet the country’s controversial annual target, The Times can reveal. Over the past five years, Britain has channelled at least £9 billion ($11 billion) into 219 different trusts, more than any country apart from the United States. The World Bank charged British taxpayers at least £241 million in administration fees over that period. Aid insiders claimed that the Department for International Development (Dfid) was transferring money into the trust funds to fulfil Britain’s requirement to spend 0.7% of national income - or £12.2 billion - a year on aid.

Poland

  • Poland is 'on road to autocracy', says constitutional court president (The Guardian) The outgoing president of Poland’s highest constitutional court has accused the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) of a systematic attempt to destroy oversight of government activity, describing the country as “on the road to autocracy". The departure of Prof Andrzej Rzepliński, whose term expires on Monday, is expected to pave the way for PiS appointees to assume control of Poland’s most important institutional check on executive power. The expiration of Rzepliński’s term comes amid signs of the most serious political crisis in Poland since PiS won presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015.

Iraq

"... we think the Strategic Framework Agreement [between the United States and Maliki’s government in 2008] was not correctly implemented. That’s what we said before Mosul fell, when we asked the United States to target the camps of terrorist gangs that were using the desert of Anbar province as a base and a refuge. But the US side refused on unrealistic pretexts, which led to Daesh [IS] taking over large areas of Iraq."

Philippines

  • Philippine president: Trump has a mouth like mine (The Hill) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte this weekend compared himself to Donald Trump, offering praises for the president-elect and suggesting the two might work well together in the future. The Associated Press reported Duterte said of Trump:

"I like your mouth. It’s like mine - yes, Mr. President. We are similar and people with the same feathers flock together."

China

  • Are Trump’s America and Xi’S China on a Collision Course? (South China Morning Post) The new US president-elect’s questioning of the one-China policy may have been a gambit to gain an economic advantage - but in testing such a core principle of Chinese identity he risks a crisis far greater than bargained for, according to this article. See also next article.

  • Donald Trump’s collision course with China (Financial Times) The biggest surprise since Donald Trump’s election victory is his decision to pick a fight with China. Not once in his campaign did he mention the word Taiwan. Yet all of a sudden there is now a threat over America’s “One China" policy - a bedrock in today’s unstable global order. Beijing has so far chosen to blame a wily Taiwan for the call between Mr Trump and his Taiwanese counterpart - the US president-elect is “as ignorant as a child", says China’s state media. Without realising it, US voters appear to have opened the gates to a new cold war by electing Trump president. See also Donald Trump has no idea how to run a superpower, says Chinese media (The Guardian)

  • China's OxyContin Boom Is a Gold Mine for This Drugmaker (Bloomberg) With its harsh anti-narcotics laws and painful history with debilitating opium epidemics in the 19th-century, China wouldn’t spring to mind as a promising market for OxyContin, a painkiller that has been at the center of an opioid addiction outbreak in the U.S. Yet in China, powered by soaring cancer rates and an aging population, OxyContin is turning into a hit. And the drug company behind the brand is giving sales an added boost through an outreach push to physicians and by working with the most powerful of allies - the Chinese government. OxyContin is sold in the Asian country by Mundipharma (China) Pharmaceutical Co., a company associated with Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma LP, the seller of the long-acting opioid in the U.S. Both are part of a worldwide network of independent, privately held companies owned by trusts belonging to the Sackler family, one of America’s richest families with a $13 billion fortune, according to Forbes.

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