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posted on 11 April 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar, Oil Down, Gold Up, Asia Swimming In Debt, US Belligerence, Russia Wants Gas Inquest, N. Korea 'Ready For War', China Halts Cash Outflows, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 11 April 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

  • Asian shares close mixed on geopolitical risks; Toshiba earnings eyed (CNBC) Asian equities finished mixed on Tuesday, as investors paid particular attention to Toshiba's twice-delayed earnings results and as geopolitical tensions continued to weigh. The dollar traded at 101.050 against a basket of currencies at 2:15 pm HK/SIN time, off the 3-week high set yesterday. Brent slid 0.29% to trade at $55.82 a barrel while U.S. crude was lower by 0.36% at $52.88. Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,256.36 per ounce by 0307 GMT, while U.S. gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,257.90.

asia.pac.2017.apr.11

  • Asian Nations Swimming in Debt at Risk From Fed Rate Hikes (Bloomberg) Twenty years after the Asian financial crisis and a decade since the global credit crunch, the region is swimming in debt. The debt binge is spread across companies, banks, governments and households and is inflating bubbles in everything from the price of steel rebar in Shanghai to property prices in Sydney. As the Federal Reserve raises borrowing costs, that means debt is again a concern.

U.S.

  • Contrary to what critics say, Trump's strike on Syria was constitutional (The Hill, MSNBC) In the wake of President Trump's airstrikes against Syria, it is heartening to see so many voices in both parties rightly pointing out the constitutional requirement of congressional authorization for the U.S. to go to war. The reaction echoes the response of many members of Congress - as well as Trump himself - to President Obama's proposal for a strike on Syria after Assad's poison gas attack in the late summer of 2013. However, one important factor that these critics have omitted from their reactions is that the intervention arguably does not rise to the level of a war. It may thus pass constitutional muster - provided that it is not allowed to veer off into a full-scale armed conflict between the U.S. and Syria, a step that the president would need congressional assent to take.

  • Was Syria attack legal? Framers would say no: Column (USA Today) Did the Trump administration have legal authority under the Constitution to act without congressional authorization? And if the answer is yes, what legal limits - if any - apply to potential actions against other countries or in other situations? It will be up to lawmakers in Congress to answer these questions, and it would be a dangerous mistake for them to punt.

Recent events provide useful context. In the late summer of 2013, the Obama administration was preparing to launch a military strike in Syria. The circumstances were very similar to what happened this week: There was evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad had ordered a deadly chemical attack against Syrian civilians. However, as the Obama administration prepared to respond, more than 100 members of Congress, mainly Republicans but some Democrats as well, signed a letter explaining that the president could not act alone, that he needed congressional approval.

As these members of Congress explained, the Constitution does not permit the president to unilaterally order military action unless the United States or Americans face a direct threat of attack. That is an accurate description of constitutional law.

  • Why Trump’s Syrian strike was a good thing (The Conversation) The Syrian people and their Muslim brothers and sisters have been screaming for help for years as crimes against humanity racked up against them and their kin. Yet the West has so far refused to intervene directly and decisively, even as the conflict deepened to the point of catastrophe. But by launching tomahawk missiles on a Syrian government air base, Donald Trump has now made it clear that this policy is at an end.

  • Donald Trump's travel expenses in 10 weeks cost US taxpayers as much as Barack Obama spent in two years (Independent) Donald Trump’s trips to his luxury Florida resort have already cost the US taxpayer at least $24 million (£19.2 million) - roughly as much as Barack Obama spent on travel in the first two years of his presidency.

  • Trump seeks momentum after Syria strike, Supreme Court win (The Hill) The White House is seeking to parlay a successful Supreme Court nomination and military strike against Syria into some badly needed momentum for President Trump. Trump won some of his best press coverage in office for last week’s missile strike against Syria and Neil Gorsuch's confirmation as a justice.

While questions remain about Trump’s overall strategy in Syria, criticism from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and other Democrats has been muted.

Gorsuch's success, meanwhile, have given Trump the kind of legacy-burnishing accomplishment any Republican president would covet: saving the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat for conservatives.

  • 7 most valuable American allies (GO Banking Rates) American allies across the globe exemplify the shared values of democracy, economic advancement, military cooperation and peace. With various treaties and agreements, U.S. allies uphold our shared international objectives.This article lists seven of the strongest U.S. allies, and a breakdown of shared interests, trade relations and military cooperation. The list (in aplhabetical order):

  1. Australia

  2. Germany

  3. UK

  4. Israel

  5. Japan

  6. South Korea

  7. Turkey

UK

unclaimed.benefits.UK

Hungary

As a university, CEU has a dual identity, and offers degrees accredited in both the US and Hungary. But the latest amendments make the university’s continued operation in Hungary virtually impossible. This is because the bill would require CEU to operate under a binding international agreement and to provide higher education programmes in its country of origin - the US - all within a very short time-frame.

CEU is a privately funded university with more than 1,400 students from more than 100 countries, that offers degrees accredited in both the US and Hungary. It is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world in eight disciplines. It excels in political science and international studies.

It has had its home in Budapest for more than 25 years, and is part of the life of the city. That CEU was founded after the fall of communism to promote democracy makes the current move against it all the more reprehensible.

Syria

Russia

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said he would “respond with force" if there were more US air strikes in Syria after President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 missiles against a strategic air base. The missiles came after Mr Assad sanctioned a chemical weapon attack, which killed more than 90 people, including women and children.

North Korea

North Korea calls US aircraft carrier dispatch outrageous (Associated Press, CNBC) North Korea says it is ready for war, vowing tough counteraction to any military moves that might follow the U.S. move to send the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula. A spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying by the state-run Korean Central News Agency late Monday.

"We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions."

China

  • China Finally Halts Outflows. Now What? (Bloomberg) Is China finally making headway in its battle against currency outflows? On the surface, yes: People's Bank of China foreign exchange reserves are effectively unchanged since December at $3 trillion, and data for February released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange showed a significant narrowing of net outflows of capital based on international bank settlements and sales.

That's a major accomplishment, given that yuan had been leaving the country at an average rate of almost $60 billion per month in the middle of last year. But how this turnaround was achieved raises some serious long-term questions for China.

For one thing, it wasn't driven by economic strength. Officially recorded payments and receipts are both down significantly across all categories. Total foreign bank inflows are flat, while payments abroad were down by 15 percent through the first two months of the year.

In other words, balance wasn't achieved by increasing exports or investment into China, but rather by preventing Chinese from buying from and investing in the rest of the world. Some of the government's restrictions on currency-exchange transactions-- such as cracking down on fake trade data and overpayments for imports -- were justified and sensible. But others were more dubious and have led to significant distortions.

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