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posted on 14 March 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar, Oil, Gold All Steady, AHCA Coverage Gap, Winter Storm Stella, North Sea Island For Wind Power, Brexit A Go, Modi Magic, China Economy Grows And More

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Early Bird Headlines 14 March 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.

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Global

  • Asia markets mixed; China's Jan-Feb economic data paints rosy picture (CNBC) Asian equities wavered on Tuesday, following Wall Street's mixed close as the Federal Reserve kicks off its two-day meeting and European political uncertainty weighs on sentiment. The greenback traded at 101.39 against a basket of currencies, above levels around 101.2 seen yesterday. Oil prices began to reverse losses on Tuesday Asian time. Brent crude futures added 0.12% to $51.29 a barrel, while U.S. crude was up just 0.04% to $48.42. Gold was little changed.

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U.S.

  • No Evidence Jobs Data was ‘Manipulated’ (FactCheck.org) President Donald Trump’s chief budget officer claimed - without any evidence - that “the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers" to make the nation’s unemployment rate “look smaller." President Donald Trump’s chief budget officer claimed - without any evidence - that “the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers" to make the nation’s unemployment rate “look smaller". Asked for evidence, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also offered none. Spicer replied that Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, was “clearly referring to Obamacare". That’s false. Mulvaney was clearly taking about employment data when he made his remarks March 12 on CNN’s “State of the Union". Host Jake Tapper played a video clip from Feb. 9, 2016 in which Trump called the unemployment rate “phony numbers". At the time, the unemployment rate was 4.9%. “Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment," Trump said. “The number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent." Here is the summary finding by FactCheck.org, which calls into question the Trump administration's ability to deistiguish between fact and opinion:

Mulvaney is perfectly within his rights to question what measurement best captures the nation’s employment situation. But he went beyond that when he accused the Obama administration of manipulating employment data without providing any evidence.

  • WH analysis of ObamaCare replacement projects bigger coverage gap than CBO: report (The Hill) The White House's internal analysis of the GOP's ObamaCare replacement plan reportedly projects more insurance losses than the report released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The White House document, obtained by Politico, projects that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade under the GOP's healthcare plan. It finds that 54 million people total would be uninsured in 2026.

The CBO on Monday projected that the number of people without health insurance would grow by 14 million in 2018 under the Republican ObamaCare replacement bill.

The CBO estimated that 24 million people would become uninsured by 2026 under the bill, largely due to the proposed changes to Medicaid.

  • Wheat markets lower after storm moves through the Plains (Farm Futures) Winter wheat markets are lower as a winter storm dropped snow in Kansas over the weekend and is producing snow on Monday in the Midwest winter wheat areas. The moisture is needed as the crops begin spring growth. Econintersect: It's called 'white fertilizer'.

  • Trumpism is now getting exposed as a monumental fraud (The Washington Post) The set of policy proposals and ideas loosely known as Trumpism goes something like this: President Trump is not an ideological fellow traveler of congressional Republicans on the economy, the safety net and immigration. Unlike Paul Ryan Republicans, he sees a robust government role in maintaining protections for the poor, sick and old; and he is much more willing than other Republicans to slam the brakes on immigration to protect blue collar whites from global forces that are making them feel culturally, economically and demographically destabilized. This Op Ed claims that representation is "fraudulent to its core".

  • Democrats Strike Back in the Redistricting Wars (Bloomberg) The Republicans have gerrymandered their way to majority status in the government, many states and federal, while getting a monority of the vote. Convinced that under the current structure Democrats have little chance to win a majority in the House, party heavyweights, including former President Barack Obama, have launched the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) with Ward as executive director. Working with other party organizations, the group is targeting governor's and state legislative races in 2018 and 2020 with the ultimate aim of making Democrats competitive in the next redistricting after the 2020 census. In most states, the legislature, often subject to the governor's approval, sets boundaries for state legislative and congressional districts.

  • The poor ‘just don’t want health care’: Republican congressman faces backlash over comments (The Washington Post) A first-term congressman who spent three decades as a physician - and is now part of a group of Republican doctors who have a major role in replacing Obamacare - is facing backlash after saying that poor people “just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves". Rep. Roger Marshall, (R-Kan.), a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, said comments he made to Stat News were not meant to suggest that poor people take health care for granted. The comments were published in a story last week about his burgeoning role in the fight to replace the Affordable Care Act. Marshall said in response to a question about Medicaid, which expanded under Obamacare to more than 30 states:

“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves." ... “morally, spiritually, socially," [the poor, including the homeless] “just don’t want health care."

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EU

  • Artificial island is planned on Dogger Bank for cheaper wind power (Sky News) A group of European firms are planning to build an artificial island that could provide power for tens of millions of homes. The 2.5 square mile island will have a harbour, runway and homes and will be built at Dogger Bank, a large sandbank in a shallow part of the North Sea, about 62 miles from England's east coast. The island will serve as a hub for thousands of wind turbines and solar panels and, with the island being in a relatively shallow part of the North Sea, building wind turbines will be easier. Electricity from the island hub will be sent via sea cables to several nearby countries, including Britain. Also set to benefit are the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium.

UK

Parliament on Monday passed legislation allowing the government to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, with the House of Commons overturning amendments from the unelected House of Lords that sought to restrict May’s room for maneuver. She plans to announce the formal start of Brexit in the final week of March, according to two officials familiar with her plans.

The victory for May in Parliament, where she has a slim majority, allows her to negotiate Brexit with a free hand and consolidates her hold on power in the ruling Conservative Party. She now faces the simultaneous challenge of pulling Britain out of the EU on good terms while navigating a second constitutional upheaval: Scotland’s renewed bid for independence.

India

  • Understanding Modi's Magical Appeal (Bloomberg) We are now deep in the era of political shocks. One electorate after another has expressed its anger with mainstream parties and technocratic elites by favoring political outsiders and know-nothing anti-incumbents. But what explains the appeal of demagogues once they start governing and reveal themselves to be exponents of chaos? This author says that Modi's popularity seems to grow with every added campaign promise not kept.

The widespread disorder predicted last November, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi abruptly withdrew 86 percent of the cash in circulation, has come to pass. This poorly conceived and ineptly executed demonetization damaged above all the toilers in India’s large informal economy.

Yet voters in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s poorest states, rewarded Modi last week with an overwhelming victory in elections to the local legislature, making him the country’s most powerful politicians in decades.

China

  • Industrial production climbed 6.3 percent from year earlier in January and February combined, versus median estimate of 6.2 percent in Bloomberg economist survey

  • Retail sales advanced 9.5 percent in the first two months, missing economists forecasts as auto sales dropped after a tax increase on small-engine cars

  • Fixed-asset investment increased 8.9 percent during the same period

  • Trump Is Already Losing to China (Bloomberg) Team Trump doesn’t fully grasp the threat China now poses to the U.S. economy. China is marshaling massive resources to march into high-tech industries, from robotics to medical devices. In the case of semiconductors alone, the state has amassed $150 billion to build a homegrown industry. In a report in March, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China pressed the point that the Chinese government is employing a wide range of tools to pursue these ambitions, from lavishing subsidies on favored sectors to squeezing technology out of foreign firms.

The only way for the U.S. to compete with those efforts is to “run faster." Yet Trump’s ideas to boost competitiveness mainly amount to cutting taxes and regulation. Although reduced taxes might leave companies with more money to spend on research and development, that’s not enough. The U.S. needs to do much more to help businesses achieve bigger and better breakthroughs.

New Zealand

  • U.S. Applications for New Zealand Citizenship Jump 70 Percent (Bloomberg) In New Zealand, the number of Americans who applied for a grant of citizenship rose by 70% in the 12 weeks following the election of President Donald Trump when compared to the same period a year earlier, immigration records obtained by The Associated Press show. Figures also show the number of Americans who obtained a New Zealand work visa in January was up 18% from a year earlier, as was the number of Americans who visited the country. In New Zealand, a grant of citizenship is the pathway for people without a family connection. Among those Americans with a New Zealand parent, citizenship applications after the election were up 11% from a year earlier. In response to an AP freedom of information request, New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs said that in the two days after the U.S. election in November, the number of Americans who visited its website to find out about citizenship was up more than 10X from the same two weekdays a month earlier.

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