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posted on 07 February 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Dollar, Treasuries, Oil And Gold All Up, More Trump Confusion, UK Parliament Refuses Trump, Japan's Huge ME Oil Habit, Italy's Great Depression, China Moves To Privatize SOEs And More

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Early Bird Headlines 07 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.



  • Asia markets fall as investor sentiment weakens, RBA keeps policy unchanged (CNBC) Asian markets were negative on Tuesday following the sluggishness in global equities amid risk-off sentiment. Spot gold, viewed as a safe-haven asset, was trading at $1,233.56 per ounce, up for the fifth straight session and at a three-month high. The Japanese yen, another safe-haven play due to its large current account surplus, has appreciated strongly against major currencies. In currency markets, the U.S. dollar index was at 99.907 against a basket of currencies on Tuesday in Asia, up from its U.S, close on Monday. U.S. Treasurys also saw increased buying, with the yield on the U.S. 10-Year Treasury notes down to 2.393%, compared to levels around 2.411% earlier. Treasury yields move inversely to the price. Oil prices recovered from more than 1% declines on Monday during U.S. hours, on supply concerns and growing tensions between Washington and Tehran. U.S. crude was up 0.28% at $53.16 a barrel, as Brent futures added 0.31% to $55.89.



  • White House memo confuses Wall Street on fate of fiduciary rule (Reuters) Conflicting signs from the White House have left brokerage firms and lobbyists unsure whether a controversial rule governing retirement advice will ever be put in place, but they are taking no chances and complying anyway. President Donald Trump's Friday memorandum ordered the Labor Department to review the so-called "fiduciary" rule, which requires brokers to put their clients' interests first when advising them about 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts. But that call for a review was significantly weaker than an earlier draft, seen by Reuters, that requested a 180-day delay in the scheduled April 10 effective date of the rule, which is already on the books. Trump's memo did not go as far as White House early guidance to reporters that the memo would ask the department to "defer implementation" of the rule. It is not clear to Washington insiders just how quickly or easily the Labor Department can delay implementation of the rule.

  • Trump’s Travel Ban, Aimed at Terrorists, Has Blocked Doctors (The New York Times) Across the United States, more than 15,000 doctors are from the seven Muslim-majority countries covered by the travel ban, according to The Medicus Firm, a firm that recruits doctors for hard-to-fill jobs. That includes almost 9,000 from Iran, almost 3,500 from Syria and more than 1,500 from Iraq. The Trump administration has mounted a vigorous defense of its ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim nations, saying it is necessary to prevent terrorists from entering the United States. But the ban, now blocked by a federal judge, also ensnared travelers important to the well-being of many Americans: doctors. Foreign-born physicians have become crucial to the delivery of medical care in the United States. They work in small towns where there are no other doctors, in poor urban neighborhoods and in Veterans Affairs hospitals.

  • Tech groups file action against travel ban (Seeking Alpha) Silicon Valley is also involved in the Federal Appeals Court hearing on the Trump travel ban. U.S. tech companies have filed an amicus brief opposing the travel ban, saying it "inflicts significant harm on American businesses".


  • Europe's Political Economy: Schäuble's Disastrous Trans-Atlantic Tactics (Adam Tooze) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. The author points out that Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble putting the blame on the ECB for the euro being valued too low for German use, resulting in a massive trade balance surplus, is quite disingenuous. He points out that Germany could alleviate the problem by easing its obsessive austere fiscal policy.

  • Trump: militant attacks 'all over Europe,' some not reported (Reuters) President Donald Trump on Monday accused the news media of ignoring attacks by Islamist militants in Europe. Trump, who has made defeating Islamic State a core goal of his presidency, did not specify which attacks were going unreported, which news media organizations were ignoring them, or offer any details to support his claims. See next article.

  • Here are the 78 terrorist attacks the White House says were largely underreported (The Washington Post) The White House on Monday night released a list of 78 terrorist attacks in response to an assertion earlier in the day by President Trump that the “very dishonest press" often doesn’t report on them. The list, which includes domestic and overseas incidents, starts in September 2014. It includes some very heavily covered news events, including last year’s attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the series of attacks in Paris in 2015. But the White House asserted that most of incidents on the list were under-covered by Western media sources. Econintersect: Try Googling one of the items that doesn't look familiar. We tried "Sarah Hervouet, Ines Madani, and Amel Sakaou", the names listed for a bombing attempt in Paris in September 2016. The search produced many pages of news stories. There was even a Wikipedia entry.


  • Trump Barred From U.K. Parliament Over ‘Racism and Sexism’ (Bloomberg) U.S. President Donald Trump must not be allowed to address the U.K. Parliament during a state visit to Britain, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said. Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to visit the U.K., but there have been calls by lawmakers not to give the president the honor of addressing both houses of Parliament after he introduced a ban on people from some majority-Muslim countries traveling to the U.S.


  • Europe's Political Economy: Schäuble's Disastrous Trans-Atlantic Tactics (Adam Tooze) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Tooze contends that the admission by German Finance Minister Schaeuble that the euro is undervalued for Germany's use, leading to huge trade surpluses is disingenuous because Schaeuble argues the valuation is all the responsibility of the ECB. Tooze points out that inappropriate valuation is also a consequence of Germany's fiscal austerity and the problem could also be attacked from that angle.


  • Why Italians Might Be Economic Losers in Era of Euro (Bloomberg) Almost two decades after the creation of the euro single currency, Italians are proving to be the big losers among the 19 member countries. Italy is in a great depression with GDP still lower than 18 years ago.


  • Assad hangs thousands of tortured opponents (The Times) President Assad’s regime has slaughtered up to 13,000 people in a campaign of torture and extrajudicial killings at a Syrian jail, evidence has found, many after trials lasting minutes.




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