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posted on 16 March 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks, Oil, Gold All Higher, Dollar Lower, Judge Blocks New Ban, Fed Hikes And Bond Rates Fall, Dutch Reject Far Right, Euro Jumps, S. Sudan Famine, China Also Hikes And More

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Early Bird Headlines 16 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.



  • Asia markets trade higher; dollar weakness in focus (CNBC) Shares in Asia see-sawed on Thursday but closed higher, as investors digested monetary policy decisions from the Bank of Japan, the People's Bank of China and the Federal Reserve. The Bank of Japan held monetary policy steady and maintained a positive view on the economy, signalling that no expansion of monetary stimulus was due in the near future, Reuters reported. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of major currencies, slipped below the 101 handle to trade at 100.5. During Asian trade, Brent crude futures were up 0.66% to $52.15 a barrel, and U.S. crude gained 0.57% to $49.14. Spot gold rose 0.5% to $1,224.70 per ounce at 0313 GMT after touching $1,225.76, the highest since March 7, earlier in the session.



  • Judge blocks Trump's revised travel ban (The Hill) A federal judge in Hawaii has placed a nationwide block on President Trump’s revised travel order, delivering a major blow to the president's policy just hours before it was set to go into effect. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, a President Obama appointee, ruled after a hearing on Wednesday that the plaintiffs, the state of Hawaii and a Muslim leader, showed a "strong" likelihood to succeed in their lawsuit against the ban. They argue that the policy violates the Establishment Clause and proved that "irreparable harm" is likely if temporary relief is not granted. See also Trump blasts court ruling blocking revised travel order.

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In remarks on the Senate floor today, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that because Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected to a bill to advance Montenegro’s inclusion in NATO:

“... the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin. If there is objection -- and I note the senator from Kentucky on the floor -- I will say before I read this, if there’s objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin. You’re achieving the objectives of trying to dismember this small country [Montenegro] that has already been the subject of an attempted coup."


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  • May forces Hammond into budget U-turn (The Times) Theresa May made the chancellor pay the price for a botched tax rise yesterday with a U-turn that showed the government’s vulnerability to pressure from rebel Tory MPs. The prime minister ordered Philip Hammond to abandon his key budget measure after only a week during a meeting attended by Gavin Williamson, the chief whip, yesterday morning.

Mr Hammond was told that the planned rise in national insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed had no chance of clearing parliament, while his denial that it breached a manifesto pledge was unsustainable.

The retreat, announced minutes before prime minister’s questions, creates a £2 billion hole in the public finances, raising fears of deeper spending cuts or another raid on pension reliefs this autumn.

Before the EU referendum, fears abound that the laws in place to help and protect the lives of disabled people would be disregarded, and future progress stilted. We have yet to see what impact Brexit will have, but my own research has revealed one extremely concerning fact: parliament is, and has been for some time, filled with institutionalised ableism, and without the EU’s help, the situation for disabled people may become very dire indeed.


  • Dutch voters halt revolt as far right fails election test (The Times) Dutch voters turned out in huge numbers to thwart the anti-Muslim leader Geert Wilders yesterday and halt the wave of populist successes that delivered Brexit and President Trump. Mark Rutte, the centre-right prime minister, emerged from a bitter election campaign with the highest number of parliamentary seats, according to exit polls. However, he lost nearly a quarter of his MPs and may struggle to form another coalition quickly. Labour, his ruling partner for the past five years, lost 28 of 38 MPs.

South Sudan

  • South Sudan’s famine is the fallout from a spiralling ethnic war (The Conversation) The UN’s most senior official for humanitarian affairs has proclaimed “the largest humanitarian crisis" since 1945, a complex of conflicts, famines and refugee crises unfolding across several countries from the Middle East to West Africa. Alongside the catastrophes playing out in Yemen, Somalia and north-east Nigeria, he also mentioned one of the most beleagured countries on the African continent: South Sudan. The UN has been trying to sound the alarm on what’s happening there for some time, recently issuing a formal famine declaration for the country’s Unity state. Around 5m people in South Sudan are suffering from extreme hunger, and without further intervention, the crisis may well spread to other parts of the country.

South Korea

  • Lessons from Samsung and South Korea in cracking down on corruption (The Conversation) South Korea’s scandal-plagued president, Park Geun-hye has been forced from office. Park was impeached by the country’s constitutional court over accusations that she helped a friend win bribes from Samsung and other South Korean conglomerates. The impeachment follows swiftly on from the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto head of Samsung, the country’s biggest conglomerate. He is on trial for a string of corruption charges, including bribery and embezzlement, linked to Park’s impeachment. He has denied any wrongdoing. The author is critical of the corporate business structure in South Korea:

Samsung is a business conglomerate characterised by the concentration of economic power. In fact, in South Korean culture it is called a chaebol, which means dynasty.

Chaebols have been central to the success of South Korea’s development and economy today. Each one is controlled by a founding family that, although typically holds only a small portion of the total equity, exerts an unchallenged power within the group. The chairmen are absolute rulers and key managerial posts are almost always given to their relatives. It is this kind of culture of unswerving loyalty that research indicates makes it easy for a company’s top management to be enmeshed in corrupt practices.

If we want really to fight corruption in the business world we must also have the courage to transform the internal structure of big companies. Their efficiency must be safeguarded, but the individualism and accountability of employees must be enhanced at the same time.


  • China's Central Bank Raises Borrowing Costs in Step With Fed (Bloomberg) China’s central bank raised borrowing costs as a stable economy and factory reflation give it scope to follow the Federal Reserve in tightening policy. Hours after the Fed’s quarter percentage-point move, the People’s Bank of China increased the rates it charges in open-market operations and on its medium-term lending facility. The move was aimed at preventing yuan devaluation and capital outflows.


Contrary to what some doom-mongering commentators say, this doesn’t signal an impending military coup, but it does show just how badly the authorities have failed to maintain public security.

Federal and state authorities who introduced severe austerity measures as Brazil entered an economic crisis have found that their cuts are starting to bite back. Just after being praised for successfully reducing spending, Esp'rito Santo state had to deal with a striking police force.

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