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posted on 24 December 2016

Early Headlines: World Getting Better, Automation Beyond Factory, New Home Sales Up To 1995 Level, Japan In Space Race, China Ready For Slower Growth And More

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Early Bird Headlines 24 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.



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Something smelled unusually rotten in Trumpland when Democratic Senator from New York Chuck Schumer fell all over himself to endorse Donald Trump’s nominee, Vincent Viola, as Secretary of the Army. Viola has never served in battle and has spent the bulk of his adult life as an oil and gas futures trader. He became a billionaire from his stake in a high frequency trading firm, Virtu Financial, which he took public last year.

Multiple media outlets reported that Viola was a donor to Donald Trump’s campaign. According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, however, Viola’s only Federal election contribution in the past two years was a $5,000 donation to the CME Group Pac in December 2015.

Raising further questions about what is actually going on here, Virtu Financial’s CEO, Douglas Cifu, was a major donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, giving $10,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund on August 22, 2016. On the same date, Cifu gave $10,000 to the Democratic National Committee.

Even more eye-popping, Cifu and nine other executives of Virtu Financial gave donations ranging from $1,000 to the maximum $2700 to Senator Chuck Schumer’s re-election campaign. Those executives include Brian Palmer, the Global Head of Development and Joseph Molluso, Virtu’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

The FEC shows no employee of Virtu Financial making a donation to Donald Trump’s campaign.

  • Liberal media enjoys post-Trump election boom (The Hill) President-elect Donald Trump's November victory has been a boon for liberal news outlets, which are getting big business from voters shocked by the billionaire’s surprise win over Hillary Clinton. Instead of wallowing in despair, left-leaning voters are buying subscriptions to The New York Times and Vanity Fair while tuning in to television programs with a liberal slant.

  • Automation beyond the factory (Brookings)

Automation has already had a major impact on manufacturing employment in the U.S. - now retail and transportation are also susceptible to automation. It’s unclear if and when new technologies will displace large numbers of workers in these sectors, but policymakers should prepare for this possibility. Focusing on employment growth sectors like health care and education (most common occupation in seven states) would help new workers adjust to automation. Education and training could also prepare displaced workers to take higher-skill jobs in their current industry, or to switch careers entirely. Without any preparation, increased automation will continue the trend of worker displacement.

  • Uber Ships Self-Driving Cars to Arizona After California Ban (Bloomberg) A few days of regulatory tussles were enough for Uber Technologies Inc. to pull its fleet of self-driving cars from the streets of San Francisco and send them instead to friendlier territory in Arizona. The California Department of Motor Vehicles banned Uber’s self-driving cars from San Francisco on Wednesday, just days after they first deployed. In response, Uber picked up and moved out. Uber said Thursday in an e-mail:

“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck. We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we’re excited to have the support of Governor Ducey."


  • Merkel Orders German Security Review (Bloomberg) Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a review of German anti-terror measures after the Berlin Christmas market attack and pressed Tunisia, the suspected attacker’s homeland, to take back more asylum seekers. With 12 people dead and about 50 injured after the assailant drove a truck driven into a festive crowd on Monday, political risks for Merkel have increased further as she seeks re-election next year. Support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party rose and backing for Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc declined in a poll published Friday. The suspected terrorist driving the truck was shot by police in Italy early Friday morning.


  • Why Obama broke with Israel at UN (The Hill) Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said the rapid expansion of settlement activity under Netanyahu had put the possibility of a future peace agreement at risk.


  • The U.S. and China Are Fighting Over Mars, but Japan May Win the Space Race (Bloomberg) The U.S. and China are spending billions of headline-grabbing dollars in a tacit race to put humans on Mars. Japan prefers lower-key missions in the opposite direction, sending mechanical explorers toward Venus and Mercury for a fraction of the price. A $290 million probe orbiting Venus is collecting information about the scorching atmosphere that may foretell Earth’s future. A collaborative mission with Europe will measure Mercury’s magnetic field and electromagnetic waves. Another craft is gliding toward an asteroid to search for water. With a budget less than a 10th the size of NASA’s, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is more about scientific endeavors with earthly applications than spectacular travels. JAXA-launched satellites track movements in the Earth’s crust that can portend volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and its astronauts are helping a Tokyo drug developer pursue a cure for cancer.


  • China Slaps GM With $29 Million Fine Amid Growing Tensions (Bloomberg) China slapped a $29 million fine on General Motors Co. for antitrust violations, a sign of the growing tensions between the U.S. and the Asian nation. The largest U.S. automaker is accused of setting minimum prices on some models in its SAIC General Motors joint venture. The Shanghai Municipal Development & Reform Commission, which imposed the 201 million yuan fine, alleged in a statement that GM punished dealers who sold cars for less than the prices set by the Detroit-based automaker. This is the first time China has fined GM, the second-largest foreign carmaker in China by sales. China-U.S. relations have become strained after President-elect Donald Trump proposed tariffs on Chinese goods, questioned the One-China policy regarding Taiwan and accused the Asian nation of stealing an American naval drone in international waters in the South China Sea. A Communist Party newspaper in November said a “tit for tat" retaliation could follow proposals by Trump for tariffs on the world’s largest trading nation, which had $627 billion in U.S. trade in 2015.

  • President Xi Open to Growth in China Falling Below 6.5% (Bloomberg) President Xi Jinping isn’t wedded to China’s 6.5% economic growth objective due to concerns about rising debt and an uncertain global environment after Donald Trump’s election win in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the situation. Xi told a meeting of the Communist Party’s financial and economic leading group this week that China doesn’t need to meet the objective if doing so creates too much risk, said the person, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private. Leaders at the gathering agreed that the $11 trillion economy would remain stable with slower growth as long as employment stays firm, the person said.

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