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posted on 06 February 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Up, Oil Up, Dollar Weak, Patriots Beat Falcons, Scary WH Staff Stories, Trump May 'Defund' Calif, EU 'Outshines' US, Romanian Unrest, Oz Stocks Decouple, Vancouver Stops Housing Bubble And More

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Early Bird Headlines 06 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.




  • Oil prices rise as investors pour fresh cash into crude futures (Reuters) Oil prices rose on Monday, with traders shifting money into crude futures as the dollar weakened, and as concerns rose that new U.S. sanctions against Iran could be extended to affect crude supplies. However, markets were held back by more signs of growing U.S. production as well as worries that import demand in China could slow. International Brent crude futures were trading at $56.96 per barrel at 0750 GMT, up $0.15 from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up $0.18 at $54.01 a barrel.


  • Patriots complete biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, win fifth title (CNN) For the first time, a Super Bowl needed overtime, and for the fifth time, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions. This time, it took the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to do it, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 at NRG Stadium in Houston in Super Bowl LI. Tom Brady became the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl titles. He was named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time, the most all time.

  • Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles (The New York Times) This is an account of a chaotic White House staff operation. Read it. But here is one absolutely astounding excerpt (see also next two items):

Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.



  • Eurozone economy quietly outshines the US (Financial Times) Donald Trump’s plans to boost the US growth rate may be getting plenty of attention - but it is the eurozone economy that is quietly exceeding expectations. Figures for business sentiment, growth rates and unemployment for the single currency area have all provided positive surprises during the start of this year, as business confidence proves resilient despite Britain’s vote to leave the EU. Econintersect: This article bases its claim of EU superiority on more rapid economic improvement there compared to the U.S. However, the EU still has poorer economic metrics than the U.S., and the EU will have to exceeed U.S. growth rates for some time to catch up on an absolute scale. For example, the EU unempoloyment rate id still double that of the U.S. And GDP growth still lags the U.S. for the three largest economies.


  • Romania protesters not backing down after decree repeal (BBC News) About 500,000 demonstrators have rallied across Romania, despite the government revoking a controversial decree that fuelled their discontent. The left-wing government earlier scrapped the decree, which would have shielded many politicians from prosecution for corruption. But protesters remain dissatisfied about a revised version of the bill which will now be put to parliament. Some are calling for the government of PM Sorin Grindeanu to resign. Recent days have seen Romania's largest protests since communism fell in 1989.


  • Indian IT firms have been preparing for changes in H-1B visa laws for nearly a decade (Quartz) India has been a significant source of "temporary" workers for the U.S. IT industry. But now it seems possible that the U.S. government may drastically reduce the H-1B visa program under which such workers are employed. This could have quite an impact of Indian tech firms (see graphic below) and the country's economy as a whole. India’s IT outsourcing industry accounts for around 9.5% of the country’s GDP and employs nearly 3.7 million professionals. However, these companies have been, over the years, changing their business model to accomodate such an eventuality:

  • Indian companies have begun investing in “near-shore centers" - facilities close to the US - and also increasing local hiring in America.

  • Other Indian companies have been steadily increasing American hires at their U.S. locations and relying on fewer Indian workers.

  • Indian companies have been acquiring American companies to handle some of their business growth.

  • Increasingly work has been moved to "the cloud"; work done in virtual machines can be done by workers anywhere in the world.

  • In the future, fewer people will be employed in this industry as artificial intelligence will take over more and more tasks.



  • US, Japan conduct successful missile interception test (CNN) The US and Japan have passed a crucial test for missile defense, shooting down a medium-range ballistic missile with a new interceptor launched from a guided-missile destroyer. The test came while new US Defense Secretary James Mattis was on his first overseas trip to South Korea and Japan. Ballistic missile defense was at the top of the agenda after North Korea's prolific testing of short- and intermediate-range missiles last year. And the US is worried that North Korea may be developing a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to reach as far as the US West Coast.


  • Australia's Stock Market Is Decoupling From the World (Bloomberg) It all started so well for Australian stocks this year, as they rallied to touch the highest since May 2015. That euphoria has ended abruptly as banks dragged down the country's main index, making it the worst-performing major Asian stock gauge. The nation's biggest lenders are getting hit as concern grows that their share prices rose too far, too fast given uncertainty around changes to regulation in a low-growth cycle.


  • How Vancouver got its housing bubble under control: a lesson for cities like London and San Francisco (Quartz) Good news Londoners, Stockholmers, and San Franciscans: Vancouver may have solved one of your toughest problems. Last year, the Canadian city topped UBS’s Global Real Estate Bubble index, a ranking of cities most at risk of being in a property bubble; the bank said Vancouver’s housing market was in “overdrive." But in the last four months, house prices have taken a marked turn downwards. Residential property sales dropped a staggering 39.5% in January compared to a year ago, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. With 1,523 properties sold in the region, that was also an 11% decrease from December, a report this week showed. How did the British Columbia city do it? In August 2016 they imposed a 15% tax on home purchases by foreigners. Prices have stopped skyrocketing, declining 3.7% in 6 months.

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