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posted on 20 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Lower, BoJ Holds, US CC Debt Nears High, Drug Pricing Travesty, Italy Wants $20 B For Banks, Iran's Big Oil Recovery, China's Econo-Social Revolution And More

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Early Bird Headlines 20 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.






  • Berlin attack: Police say lorry crash 'probably terror attack' (BBC News) German police are investigating a "probable terrorist attack" after a man ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. The driver is an Afghan or Pakistani asylum seeker, according to security sources cited by DPA news agency. He reportedly arrived in Germany in February as a refugee. The daily Tagesspiegel said the man was known to the police for minor crimes, but not terror links.




  • Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov shot dead in Ankara (BBC News) A Turkish policeman has shot dead Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, apparently in protest at Russia's involvement in Aleppo. The killer has been identified as Mevlut Mert Aydintas, 22, a member of the Ankara riot police. It was not clear if he had links to any group. The incident happened a day after protests in Turkey over Russian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey's president said the attack was aimed at hurting ties with Russia. Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone and, in a video message, said that they both agreed it was an act of "provocation".

  • Is Turkey recruiting militants evacuated from Aleppo? (Al Monitor) Although the Syrian armed opposition has lost its six-year war to declare Aleppo the “capital of the revolution" and the Syrian equation has changed drastically, the curtain is not yet down on this act of the bloody play.

Washington is idling and staying aloof while waiting for President-elect Donald Trump to take over, which has enabled Iran and Russia to complete their operations in Aleppo by sidelining Turkey. Militants and their families evacuated from Aleppo were transferred to Idlib.

Everyone will try to find out what strategy Turkey - which mediated the withdrawal of armed groups, especially Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra), as it had promised Russia - has in mind now. One Turkish approach being discussed indicates that Turkey wants to transfer some groups to Turkey via Hatay and then via Kilis to the Azaz/al-Bab front in Syria.


  • Iran’s OPEC Win Lacks Substance Without Deals With Big Oil (Bloomberg) Few countries have benefited from the oil market’s 2016 recovery like Iran. Since sanctions on its economy were eased in January, the Persian Gulf producer has doubled exports as prices rallied and won approval from OPEC last month to pump even more while other members cut. The key to continued growth will be attracting foreign investment to the energy industry.


  • Bank of Japan holds rates steady, upgrades economic outlook (CNBC) The Bank of Japan (BOJ) left policy unchanged on Tuesday at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting, as widely expected. The central bank maintained the negative 0.1% interest rate imposed on banks for some excess reserves, left the 10-year Japanese government bond (JGB) yield target at around zero, and kept annual rises in JGB holdings at 80 trillion yen ($676.9 billion). The BOJ also upgraded its economic assessment, revising up its views on exports and output, while noting that the economy continued to recover moderately.

  • An Eternal Japan Optimist Says Kuroda ETF Experiment Has Failed (Bloomberg) Haruhiko Kuroda’s attempt to engineer change at Japan Inc. using exchange-traded funds just isn’t working, says Jesper Koll, a perennial optimist on the country’s economy. The BOJ is spending 300 billion yen ($2.6 billion) a year on ETFs tracking companies that invest in their businesses and staff, seeking to get executives to do just that. But the funds themselves are falling flat by the most important yardstick, Koll says. Almost nobody else wants to buy them. When this was started, there were no such ETFs in Japan, so providers rushed to create them. A year later, six products from companies including Nomura Asset Management Co. and Daiwa Asset Management Co. have a combined $1.56 billion in assets. That’s less than 1% of the country’s $173 billion ETF market, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.




It is highly surreal listening to radio/TV commentators talking about government financial affairs (fiscal balance etc). These so-called experts are paraded before the nation and the script is generally the same. The interviewer who knows virtually nothing but has the key triggers on hand (‘budget repair’, ‘ratings downgrade’, etc ad nauseum) asks the ‘well respected expert’ about the state of affairs and the answers are always the same - fictional. This charade plays out almost daily but reaches a hysterical fever pitch at the time the Government releases its annual fiscal statement (May) or its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (December). The Government plays along with the charade releasing what it deems to be cleverly crafted documents, shifting revenue and spending across year lines to give one impression or another of the state of affairs. None of the charade is based on any fundamental economic understanding. None of it means anything other than a demonstration of a national scam to hide the truth from the ordinary citizen who for one reason or another relies on experts to summarise technical detail into meaningful sound bites. The nation then goes about its business in this cloud of ignorance, while the elites continue to suppress wages and living standards and march of with increasing shares of national income. They know what is going on and it is in their interests to keep the rest of us from having the same information. It is the same the world over. Well, here is what is going on with a framework that allows the reader to cut through the lies …

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