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posted on 22 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Lower, North Pole Heat Wave, Trade Setback Could Be 25 Years, GOP Wrestles With ACA, Berlin Killer Should Have Been Deported, Putin Strongman Gains In Libya And More

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Early Bird Headlines 22 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.




  • Oil prices fall as U.S. inventories, Libya output weigh (Reuters) Oil prices slipped in tepid Asian trading on Thursday, dragged down by an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories last week and moves by Libya to boost output over the next few months. But the fall was curbed by a weaker dollar and optimism that crude producers would abide by an agreement to limit output to prop up markets. Brent LCOc1 futures for February delivery had fallen 4 cents to $54.42 a barrel by 0642 GMT, having previously finished 89 cents lower. Prices rose to $54.69 a barrel earlier in Thursday's session before falling.

  • Heat wave to hit North Pole just before Christmas (The Hill) It’s going to be a warm Christmas for Santa this year. Temperatures at the North Pole are expected to soar this Thursday just before the holiday weekend. The temperature will hit a balmy 32 degrees F in the North Pole, meteorologists from ABC News have predicted. The abnormal temperature is expected to be roughly 50 degrees F warmer than the average day this time of year. A new study shows that the North Pole and other northern regions are "undergoing rapid, sometimes turbulent change beyond anything previously experienced," ABC News reported.

  • Trump's consultants are considered global economic risk (Welt) This German newspaper has a dim view of the global economic outlook under President Donald Trump. The author quotes a study that estimates how Trump policies would impact world trade, in the worst case setting it back to where it was 25 years ago (graph below). They write:

The list of economic consultants Trump had presented in the run-up to the election is indeed a strange combo of old Trump's business partners, Wall Street financiers, xenophobic economists, and quirky conspiracy theorists.


  • FBI director under pressure to explain Clinton bombshell (The Hill) Six weeks since Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss in the presidential election, FBI Director James Comey is under pressure to justify the bombshell announcement that rocked the final days of the campaign. Democrats, still smarting from the Nov. 8 loss, have lashed out at Comey as the architect of the Democratic nominee's defeat.

  • Mapping the Growth of Disability Claims in America (Bloomberg) Social Security disability benefits are becoming the long-term unemployment benefit.

If you’ve paid into Social Security, become injured or sick, and can no longer earn more than $1,130 a month, you can get a monthly subsidy from Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund. In 1990 fewer than 2.5 percent of working-age Americans were “on the check." By 2015 the number stood at 5.2 percent. That growth has left the fund in periodic need of rescues by Congress - most recently in 2015, when the Bipartisan Budget Act shifted money from Social Security’s old-age survivors’ fund to extend the solvency of the disability fund to 2023.

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  • GOP considers holding off on repealing ObamaCare taxes (The Hill) Congressional Republicans are considering holding off on repealing some of ObamaCare's taxes, according to lobbyists familiar with the discussions. GOP lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee discussed the possibility of keeping some of the taxes in place during a retreat last week at the Library of Congress, the sources say. Even if some of the taxes are not removed as part of the initial repeal bill, it does not necessarily mean they will remain indefinitely. Some ObamaCare taxes could be dealt with as part of a larger tax reform bill later in the year. Still, there is at least a possibility that some taxes could remain in place to provide revenue for a replacement healthcare measure.

Some low-income U.S. patients may have an easier time choosing a hospital for emergency care thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new study suggests.

Under the ACA, also known as Obamacare, some U.S. states expanded coverage through Medicaid - a joint federal and state insurance program for the poor - starting in 2014.

That year, average travel times to the hospital for emergency department (ED) care dropped 9 minutes in 17 states where Medicaid coverage expanded, while it remained little changed in 19 states that didn’t make more people eligible for these benefits, the study found.

  • Average hourly earnings of production & non-supervisory workers (Twitter) Remember when manufacturing jobs paid above the median and one worker supported a household? Now the average hourly earnings in manufacturing produce an annual income about $42,800 and median family houshold income is about $13,700 higher than that (2015). See Fred. See also next two articles.

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  • Manufacturing Under President Donald Trump (Logan Mohtashami) In addition to the decline in relative wages for manufacturing workers, there are about 7 million fewer than 35 yeras ago, even as manufacturing output has grown by about 2X.

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  • Putin Promotes Libyan Strongman as New Ally After Syria Victory (Bloomberg) Flush with success in supporting his ally in Syria, Vladimir Putin has a new ambition: supporting another one, this time in Libya. The effort is beginning to undermine the UN-backed government there. Russian President Putin’s government is befriending a powerful military leader, Khalifa Haftar, who now controls more territory than any other faction in the tumultuous, oil-rich North African state.


South Korea

  • ‘Korea’s Trump’ Rises in Polls as Voter Anger Fuels Populism (Bloomberg) Lee Jae-myung, mayor of a city near Seoul, is rising in opinion polls with about a year to go until South Korea’s next presidential election. He wants to break up the country’s biggest companies, meet unconditionally with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and throw President Park Geun-hye in jail over an influence-peddling scandal. Lee respects Donald Trump and enjoys being compared to Bernie Sanders.


  • China foreign minister says U.S. ties face new uncertainties (Reuters) China-U.S. relations face new uncertainties but with mutual respect for core interests they will remain stable, China's foreign minister said, adding one individual will not impede ties, a likely reference to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. President Xi Jinping spoke with Trump soon after he won last month's election, but Beijing has been unsettled by Trump's subsequent call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, suggestions Trump may change U.S. policy towards self-ruled Taiwan, and Trump's threats to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.

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