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.
Senate Panel to Probe If Trump Campaign Had Contact With Russia (Bloomberg) (Econintersect: Ultimately the question is a possible felony, defined by the Logan Act.) The Senate Intelligence Committee announced a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 elections, including any links with associates of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, in a joint statement late Friday:
“As part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight responsibilities we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States."
Moody’s Reaches $864 Million Subprime Ratings Settlement (Bloomberg) Moody’s Corp. agreed to pay almost $864 million to resolve a multiyear U.S. investigation into credit ratings on subprime mortgage securities, helping to clear the way for the firm to move beyond its crisis-era litigation. Moody’s reached the agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and 21 states, which accused the company of inflating ratings on mortgage securities that were at the center of the 2008 financial crisis, the Justice Department said Friday in a statement. That penalty is about a third of the $2.5 billion that Moody’s earned in the four years leading up to the crisis. Standard and Poor’s, after fighting the U.S. in court for two years, settled similar claims with the U.S. for $1.5 billion last year.
Dems 'outraged' with Comey after House briefing (The Hill) A number of House Democrats left Friday's confidential briefing on Russian hacking fuming over the actions of FBI Director James Comey and convinced he's unfit to lead the agency.
Trump’s Talks With Dealmaking CEOs Rattle Antitrust Lawyers (Bloomberg) It wasn’t a surprise when Donald Trump took the opportunity during his Jan. 11 press conference to angrily accuse CNN of spreading fake news. Throughout the campaign Trump had complained the cable network was being unfair to him -- and at one point vowed that as president, he would block AT&T Inc.’s proposed $85.4 billion merger with CNN’s parent, Time Warner Inc. It was surprising, though, when AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson turned up at Trump Tower the next day. People familiar with the meeting said beforehand that the CEO and president-elect would discuss the Time Warner deal. Afterward, both AT&T and Trump aides said the topic didn’t come up and the two just talked about job creation. Even so, a closed-door meeting between Trump and Stephenson set off alarms inside the U.S. Justice Department, which is currently reviewing the merger to make sure it won’t violate monopoly laws by creating too much media concentration. The attorneys in the department’s antitrust division are usually given a wide berth to render an independent judgment based on the merits and the law--free even from the appearance of political pressure from above. Spencer Weber Waller, a law professor at Loyola University Chicago and a former Justice Department attorney, said :
"It is highly unusual for a president or president-elect to meet with a CEO who has a pending merger under review."
What Vladimir Putin really wants from Donald Trump (Financial Times) The Kremlin craves a world in which national interests replace international rules. Putin's objective in making an arrangement with Trump is the fracturing of globalism, the EU, and other "new wolrd order" forces, with the build-up of nationalism.
India Cash Ban Disruptive But Won’t Harm Modi’s Election Chances (Bloomberg) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s disruptive cash ban is unlikely to damage his party’s performance in upcoming state polls. In fact, it might even help. Modi’s move to invalidate 86% of circulated currency in Asia’s third-largest economy forced millions of Indians into lengthy bank queues. It has also dented India’s world-beating growth as the country’s cash-dependent economy stalled. But even with millions enduring serious hardship, numerous polls and political analysts indicate Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party will perform well in upcoming state elections, suggesting Modi could win a second term in the 2019 national poll. With less than a month to go before the elections, Modi’s surprise cash ban remains popular with India’s poor, who think it will hit rich tax evaders, even as the move is criticized by economists such as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
Why Eight Million Homes Lie Empty in Japan (Michael Yardney's Property Update) In Japan, population decline is such a serious problem that in some cases, entire neighbourhoods are left abandoned. Japan’s ageing demographics means that in every year since 2008, more than half a million homes have been left empty or abandoned with the total now reaching about 8 million.
China’s Water Stress Is on the Rise (World Resources Institute) Water stress levels in many parts of China are very high, due to low levels of water supply and very high levels of demand. And new research shows the situation is worsening.
Goldman Sachs Defies Mexican Peso Bears, Forecasts 13% Rally (Bloomberg) Against the most “Trumpian" of odds, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is defying bearish bets and predicting Mexico’s peso will make a comeback this year. The worst performer among the world’s 16 major currencies so far in 2017 will rally 13% to 19 per dollar over the next 12 months on the view that the protectionist impact of the new U.S. administration will be less severe than the rhetoric of President-elect Donald Trump. The currency touched a record low of 22.04 per dollar this week after he reiterated during a press conference that Mexico would be paying for a border wall and that companies that relocate operations there would have to pay a border tax.
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