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posted on 28 December 2016

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Slips, New Debt Record, Clinton Email Suit Revived, Wealth In Trump's Swamp, French And German Stocks Rally, UK House Prices Weak, China May Weaken Oil Prices And More

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Early Bird Headlines 28 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.




  • Sustainability in the Trump Era (Project Syndicate) The forces fighting global warming and battling to strengthen environmental protection must brace for heavy collateral damage as a result of Donald Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election. Judging by Trump’s campaign rhetoric, and by statements from his Republican allies, environmental protection in the US will be gutted in a frenzy of deregulation and inducements for domestic oil, coal, and gas producers. But, says the author, the more strongly we organize to stay the course and reinforce action to halt global warming and promote sustainability, the more likely it will be that pragmatic members of the new majority can minimize the damage at home and abroad.

  • Corporates lead surge to record $6.6tn debt issuance (Financial Times) Global debt sales reached a record in 2016, led by companies gorging on cheap borrowing costs that are now threatened by Donald Trump’s pledge to fire up the US economy. The rush to issue credit this year surpassed the previous record set in 2006. Companies accounted for more than half of the $6.62 trillion of debt issued, underlining the extent to which negative interest-rate policiesadopted by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan, as well as a cautious Federal Reserve, encouraged the corporate world to increase its leverage. Corporate bond sales climbed 8% year on year to $3.6 trillion, led by blockbuster $10 billion-plus deals to finance large mergers and acquisitions. The remaining debt included sovereign bonds sold through bank syndication, US and international agencies, mortgage-backed securities and covered bonds. The figures exclude sovereign debt sold at regular auction.


  • DeVos heads into confirmation with a megadonor's advantage (Politico) Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment," she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions. From this article:

After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination - four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process.

Big donors often get plum government jobs. But DeVos’ contributions to the lawmakers who will decide her fate stand out in a year in which President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to “drain the swamp" of Washington politics.

  • U.S. appeals court revives Clinton email suit (Reuters) A district judge in January ruled suits brought by Judicial Watch and Cause of Action moot, saying the State Department and the National Archives made a "sustained effort" to recover and preserve former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails. In a new legal development, on Tuesday an appeals court overturned the lower court ruling and said the two U.S. government agencies should have done more.

  • Ohio Governor Vetoes Bill to Extend Freeze on Renewable Energy (Bloomberg) Ohio Governor John Kasich rejected a bill to extend a freeze on a law that requires utilities in the state to buy more electricity from renewable sources including wind and solar power. The bill would have extended for two years a delay on the state’s requirement that utilities get 12.5% of their power from renewables by 2027, slowing development of the clean energy technologies and threatening investment and jobs, Kasich said Tuesday in a statement. House bill 554 would also have made the goal voluntary.

  • Trump rewards big donors with jobs and access (Politico) It's mighty comfy in the swamp. More than a third of the almost 200 people who have met with President-elect Donald Trump since his election last month, including those interviewing for administration jobs, gave large amounts of money to support his campaign and other Republicans this election cycle. The details:

Together the 73 donors contributed $1.7 million to Trump and groups supporting him, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission records, and $57.3 million to the rest of the party, averaging more than $800,000 per donor.

Donors also represent 39 percent of the 119 people Trump reportedly considered for high-level government posts, and 38 percent of those he eventually picked, according to the analysis, which counted candidates named by the transition and in news reports.

While campaign donors are often tapped to fill comfy diplomatic posts across the globe, the extent to which donors are stocking Trump’s administration is unparalleled in modern presidential history, due in part to the Supreme Court decisions that loosened restrictions on campaign contributions, according to three longtime campaign experts.



  • U.K. House Prices May Barely Rise as Brexit Weighs on Economy (Bloomberg) U.K. house prices may only eke out a modest gain next year as economic growth weakens and a pickup in inflation squeezes consumers, according to Halifax, which forecasts increases of 1%-4% by the end of 2017. The mortgage lender sees housing demand easing in 2017, partly as tax changes and stricter underwriting standards restrict buy-to-let investment. It also highlighted the market in London, saying adverse affordability means the capital will see a sharper slowdown than elsewhere. Elsewhere, there are “few signs" of significant stresses and imbalances at present, it said.


  • Will Europe Let Germany Lead? (Project Syndicate) The German government should learn from its past mistakes, while continuing to step up as a leader for Europe. But it can’t do it alone. Other EU governments should stop bashing Germany as a way to deflect attention from their own failings. In recent years, their attacks have gone too far, and have been counterproductive. Germany needs its partners to come to the table, and to engage in a constructive dialogue about concrete solutions to Europe’s deepening crisis.


  • Blast in Afghan capital wounds member of parliament (Reuters) A bomb attack targeted a member of Afghanistan's parliament in the capital, Kabul, on Wednesday, wounding him and several other people, officials said. Fakori Behishti, a member of parliament from Bamyan province, and his son were wounded in the blast, an official with the parliament's security department said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which destroyed the vehicle in which Behishti was traveling, badly damaged other vehicles and shattered the windows of nearby shops. Last week, another member of parliament was targeted by a suicide bomber who killed seven people. The member of parliament survived.


  • Toshiba plunges on prospect of fresh multibillion-dollar hit (Financial Times) Shares in Toshiba sank by their daily limit of 20% on Wednesday morning as investors scrambled to reassess the company’s financial stability and questioned the future of one of Japan’s most celebrated industrial names. The stock plunge followed Toshiba’s warning to the market the previous evening that it could book multibillion-dollar impairment losses on part of its Westinghouse nuclear business in the US - a key engine for the company’s efforts to revive its fortunes after a $1.3 billion accounting scandal last year. Toshiba is now down nearly 30% since earlier this month after shooting up more than 70% since July,

South Korea

  • South Korea fines Qualcomm $854 mln for violating competition laws (Reuters) South Korea's antitrust regulator fined Qualcomm Inc 1.03 trillion won ($854 million) for what it called unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales, a decision the U.S. chipmaker said it will challenge in court. The fine, the largest ever levied in South Korea, marks the latest antitrust setback for Qualcomm's most profitable business of licensing wireless patents to the mobile industry, at a time when the business is facing headwinds from a cooling smartphone market. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) ruled on Wednesday Qualcomm abused its dominant market position and forced handset makers to pay royalties for an unnecessarily broad set of patents as part of sales of its modem chips. Qualcomm also restricted competition by refusing or limiting licensing of its standard essential patents related to modem chips to rival chipmakers such as Intel Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and MediaTek Inc, the regulator said, hindering their sales and leaving their products vulnerable to lawsuits.


  • China could derail OPEC’s effort to balance oil markets this year, says analyst (CNBC) OPEC's effort to balance an oversupplied oil market could have the unintended consequence of crimping crude demand from China, said Matt Smith, head of commodities research at shipment-tracking firm ClipperData. Falling demand from China, the world's second largest oil consumer, would hurt OPEC's current strategy. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with nonmembers, is cutting production in a bid to reduce huge stockpiles of oil that have built up during more than two years of weak oil prices. But cutting production has boosted prices, and that could result in less strategic buying from China, according to Smith. China's imports have varied considerably among countries from month to month as China seeks discounts from a wide range of oil exporters.

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