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.
OPEC Seeks to Quiet Doubts on Supply Cuts as Rally Falters (Bloomberg) When OPEC and Russia meet this weekend to gauge progress on their oil-supply deal, they’ll be trying to dispel the shadow of previous unfulfilled promises. Oil prices rose 20% in the month after OPEC agreed to cut output, reaching $54.06 a barrel in New York on Dec. 28. Since then, they’ve slipped almost 5% as traders, with one eye on rising U.S. shale production, await proof that OPEC and other producers will live up to their deal. They recall how Russia broke its pledge during cutbacks in 2008, while some members of the producers group failed to fully implement the agreement. See also next article.
Oil Resumes Advance as Report Shows U.S. Crude Stockpiles Drop (Bloomberg) Oil resumed gains after the biggest drop in more than a week as industry data showed U.S. crude stockpiles declined, while OPEC and other producing nations trim production to ease a global glut. Futures rose as much as 1 percent in New York after sliding 2.7 percent on Wednesday amid a surge in the dollar. U.S. crude supplies fell by 5.04 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. Government data Thursday is also forecast to show a decline.
Trump meets with Supreme Court candidate (Associated Press) President-elect Donald Trump has met with one of the judges on his short list for potential Supreme Court nominees, less than two weeks before he is expected to announce his choice for the nation's highest court. Judge William Pryor, an Alabama-based judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, met with Trump in New York on Saturday, said two people familiar with the meeting. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting had not been publicly announced.
Trump said last week that he would select a candidate to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia within his first two weeks in office. He has promised to seek someone in the conservative's mold and said he is working from a list of 21 people, mainly conservative state and federal judges in their 50s.
Other potential Trump nominees include state Supreme Court judges Allison Eid of Colorado, Joan Larsen of Michigan, David Stras of Minnesota and Don Willett of Texas, and federal appellate judges Steven Colloton, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Diane Sykes.
Trump hinted last February that he had two favorites on the list of 21, Pryor and Sykes, although there is no indication that he's made a final decision.
Wyoming Bill Would Outlaw Renewable Energy (EcoWatch) Republican lawmakers in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would block the use of renewable energy in the state. If passed, utilities that use wind or solar to produce power for Wyoming residents would be penalized with a costly fine of $10-per-megawatt-hour. Under Senate File 71, only six resources - coal, hydroelectric, nuclear, oil, natural gas, and net metering systems such as rooftop solar or backyard wind projects - are considered "eligible" generating resources. Electric utilities will have one year to be 95% compliant with the approved resources and 100% compliant by 2019. Wyoming is by far the nation's largest coal producer and a major producer of natural gas and crude oil. But the state also has some of the best on-shore wind resources the U.S., with wind power constituting 8% of the state's energy. The bill's sponsors, who largely come from top coal counties, include climate change deniers such as Rep. Scott Clem who once said:
"I don't believe that CO2 is a pollutant, and am furious of the EPA's overreach."
Don's what? Portable toilet names covered for inauguration (Associated Press) It's the great port-a-potty cover-up for President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. Workers preparing for the inauguration Jan. 20 have taped over the name of the company - "Don's Johns" - that has long supplied portable restrooms for major outdoor events in the nation's capital. Virginia-based Don's Johns calls itself the Washington area's top provider of portable toilet rentals. But the name apparently strikes too close to home for organizers of the inauguration of Donald John Trump. Workers have placed blue tape over the company name on dozens of portable restrooms installed near the Capitol for the inauguration.
Hard Questions for Trump's Health Secretary Pick (Bloomberg Editorial Board) Forget the questions about insider trading and conflicts of interest. Bloomberg's editors have questions about Tom Price's qualifications to do the right job. They write:
Price would also assume responsibility for safeguarding public health -- a job of growing urgency, given that U.S. life expectancy has begun to fall. Among the culprits are an uncontrolled opioid epidemic, obesity and smoking (still the country’s leading cause of preventable death and disease).
Yet Price has opposed regulating tobacco as a drug. And he has voted against efforts to provide children’s health insurance, to improve access to mental health care and to guarantee hospital care for people who can’t afford copayments. Price needs to let Americans know what he will do to protect and improve their basic health.
AP-NORC Poll: Americans of all stripes say fix health care (Associated Press) More than 4-in-10 Republicans, Democrats and independents say health care is a top issue facing the country, The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showed. That's more than named any other issue in the survey, conducted Dec. 14-19. But there seems to be little agreement on what to do about it. Democrats say they want to fix problems in the current program - among them, rising costs and dwindling competition - but not dismantle it. They warn that the GOP is threatening the coverage gained by 20 million people under the 2010 overhaul. Republicans want to repeal Obama's signature law but fear the political damage of stranding millions of Americans who secured coverage. Congress' nonpartisan budget analyst lent weight to that concern Tuesday, estimating that a bill passed in 2016 to only repeal - not replace - the law would result in 18 million more uninsured people and a spike in premiums.
Israel Wants Trump Understandings on Settlements, Minister Says (Bloomberg) Israel should try to reach understandings with Donald Trump’s administration that would allow for intensified construction in West Bank settlements and the possible extension of Israeli law to one of the largest communities there, Israel’s justice minister said. Coordination with the U.S. will be critical as Israel looks for a fresh start after President Barack Obama’s adamant opposition to building homes for Jews on those lands, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in an interview in her Jerusalem office.
Opposition: Airstrikes in northern Syria kill 10 militants (Associated Press) Airstrikes in the northern Syrian province of Idlib killed at least 10 suspected al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of targeted attacks against the group, activists said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 10 were killed when missiles struck two vehicles and three motorcycles in the airstrike in Saraqib, in the rebel-stronghold province of Idlib. The Observatory said it was not clear if all killed were members of Fatah al-Sham Front, the powerful al-Qaida-affiliate in Syria. The group said militants from other groups may be among those killed, including non-Syrians.
Russia Fears That Trump Won't Be Such a Great Deal After All (Bloomberg) (Econintersect: Buyer's remorse.) Russia is giving Donald Trump the kind of fawning television coverage usually reserved for Vladimir Putin, with its most popular propagandist hailing the president-elect this week as “a man of his word". But inside the Kremlin, the initial euphoria over having a Putin admirer in the White House is giving way to skepticism that any meaningful detente with the U.S. can be achieved, according to four senior officials in Moscow. Swirling controversies over alleged Putin-ordered hacking to help Trump get elected and a leaked dossier claiming the Kremlin has blackmail material on him has transfixed Washington, where a bill to impose even harsher sanctions on Russia is gaining bipartisan support.
Drug violence here is again on the upswing, the government has struggled to combat widespread corruption and nationwide protests have erupted after gasoline prices spiked this month amid the country's falling oil production and inability to produce all its own fuel.
Even before his swearing-in, Trump has already hurt the country's economy by pressuring automakers to shift factories out of Mexico, threatening its most important manufacturing sector and status as a rising star in auto production. Amid an uncertain economic outlook, the peso has plunged to all-time lows against the U.S. dollar.
Now Trump takes office vowing to crack down on migrants, whom he famously denigrated as criminals and "rapists," and who send back remittances that inject billions of dollars into Mexico's economy. He has also threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican products, force Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and pay for a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile (3,145-kilometer) border.
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