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posted on 03 February 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Oil And Dollar Up, Gold Off, No Debate In Trump Admin, Dodd-Frank Overhaul, UK Pollution Haven?, Russian Stocks And Currency Surge And More

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Early Bird Headlines 03 February 2017

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.



  • Chinese shares fall after week-long break, PBOC raises interest rates (CNBC) Chinese shares were in the red after returning from a week-long holiday, as a private Chinese manufacturing survey missed forecasts and China's central bank surprised markets by raising its short-term lending rates. In currency markets, the greenback fell to its lowest levels overnight since mid-November against a basket of currencies at 99.233, but recovered to trade at 99.916 on Friday. Crude oil futures were higher during Asian trade, after news that the U.S. could impose fresh sanctions on several Iranian entities, Reuters reported. U.S. crude was up 0.35% at $53.73 per barrel, while Brent crude was up 0.3% at $56.73.


Donald Trump’s announcement of the reinstatement and reinforcement of the “global gag" - which means the US will no longer fund any non-governmental health organisations working outside the US that give information about abortion - will have a devastating impact in some countries. I know because I have witnessed it happen before.


  • Republicans impatient with anti-Trump civil servants (The Hill) Republican lawmakers are frustrated with mounting dissent from civil servants over President Trump's policies. Amid unusually public tension between federal employees and the new administration - including Trump’s firing of the acting attorney general, State Department dissent and frequent leaks to the media - some of Trump's allies in Congress want federal employees to either do their jobs or get out.

  • Trump to Order Review of Dodd-Frank, Halt Obama Fiduciary Rule (Bloomberg) President Donald Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, a White House official said, signing an executive action Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010. Trump also will halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.

  • Poll: 4 in 10 support impeaching Trump (The Hill) Forty percent of registered voters support impeaching President Trump, according to a poll released Thursday from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP). Nearly half of voters, 48%, are opposed to impeaching Trump, and 12% remain unsure, according to the poll. Econintersect: Differing political philosophy and disagreement with course of action are not impeachable offenses. However, the politically motivated and unconstitutionally contrived impeachment of Andrew Johnson does set an uncomfortable president.

  • South Dakota declares 'state of emergency' in order to repeal ethics law (YouTube) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. South Dakota voters just passed an ethics law by referendum which imposed financial and imprisonment for accepting more than nominal money or things of value from a lobbyist. Lawmakers have stated that there is a state of emergency which requires the referendum to be suspended immediately until a law is passed overturning the referendum.


  • MEPs will fight Brexit deal that lets the UK become an offshore pollution haven (The Conversation) The environment was notably absent from Theresa May’s recent speech laying out her Brexit negotiating priorities. It was also rarely mentioned during the referendum campaign. But worries that the UK could turn itself into a post-Brexit pollution haven have now been thrust front and centre by another often overlooked political actor: the European Parliament. The EU will demand a treaty agreement that controls pullution in and from the UK.

  • European Lehman Moment Wouldn't Cause a Lehman Moment, ECB Says (Bloomberg) Europe’s biggest banks can be shut down in line with the bloc’s new bank failure rules without losses snowballing and causing wider mayhem, according to a European Central Bank study. Based on confidential bank-by-bank data, the study shows that resolving any one of the euro area’s 26 largest banks by applying the tools of the new European Union’s new rule set -- imposing losses on shareholders and creditors instead of resorting to state aid -- wouldn’t bring down another lender. Spillovers among the top group would be small and those outside of the network “contained", according to the study by four ECB economists and one from the University of Frankfurt.


  • Theresa May must decide: is she with Trump or against him? (The Conversation) May is under increasingly intense political pressure to distance the British government from the Trump administration. Before May’s plane had even left American soil, Donald Trump had signed an executive order banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, and placing a blanket ban on granting asylum to refugees. After her "chummy" visit with the president in Washington, May will have to decide whether she is with or against Trump. The authorn says there is no middle ground with this president.


  • Trump's Chance to Act on Iran (Bloomberg) Iran’s recent test of a medium-range ballistic missile is an early indicator that it doesn’t fear the bellicose rhetoric of Donald Trump any more than it did the passive approach of Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s immediate response -- National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the U.S. is “officially putting Iran on notice" -- seems straight out of the Obama playbook, according to this editorial.

The president needs to get beyond his vague campaign statements about standing up to Iran. When the regime breaches its obligations under the 2015 nuclear pact -- or even tests its boundaries -- the U.S. needs to be ready with specific penalties.


  • Russian Stocks Surge as Comrade Trump Eases Relations with Vlad (Vanity Fair) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. Russia E.T.F.s have been on a tear since Trump’s election in November, given his long history of comments about easing economic sanctions on Russia and the large number of Russia-affiliated advisers in his orbit. Vaneck Vectors Russia E.T.F. is up more than 15% since Election Day, while Direxion’s Daily Russia Bull & Bear 3x Shares fund is up about 60%. iShares MSCI Russia Capped jumped about 50% on 09 November alone. Yesterday another spurt in stocks and the Russian ruble ocurred following media eports that the Treasury Department would ease sanctions on Russia's intelligence agency. See also next article.

  • Treasury amends Russian sanctions to allow US tech exports (The Hill) The White House insists that sanctions were "modified" and not "eased". The Treasury Department on Thursday amended former President Obama’s most recent slate of Russian sanctions to allow U.S. technology companies to export products to Russia. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) clarified that American tech companies can seek licenses from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to export their goods to Russia, so long as the products aren’t used in Crimea and don’t violate pre-existing sanctions. The White House on Thursday denied that it is rolling back sanctions on Russia, put in place by Obama in response to Russian interference in the election. President Trump told reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House:

"I haven't eased anything."


  • India’s great Trump hope (The Washington Times) Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni. Signs are promising that the U.S.-Indian partnership will thrive and endure


  • Lessons from Laguna Lake (The Volatilian) Changing national commitments for ideological reasons can cause unintended problems and produce unanticipated costs. Thsi article tells of the human and financial costs resulting from former Philippine president Benigno Aquino canceling projects and contracts of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. According to this article, the Aquino moves were made with "arrogance and petulance" based on political philosophy rather than pragmatic reasoning.

North Korea

  • US threatens North Korea with 'overwhelming' retaliation if it uses nuclear arms (The Hill) U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday threatened North Korea with an "effective and overwhelming" retaliation if the country decided to utilize its nuclear arsenal. According to Reuters, Mattis issued the warning during his two-day visit to the South Korea, where he sought to reassure U.S. allies in the region that President Donald Trump's administration is fully committed to their security.



  • Second GOP senator phones Australian ambassador after Trump call (The Hill) Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called Australia’s ambassador on Thursday to reaffirm the alliance between the two countries amid reports of a tense call between President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the second GOP senator to call Ambassador Joe Hockey on Thursday. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he spoke with Hockey earlier in the day.

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