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posted on 15 July 2017

Early Headlines: Global Oil Demand Up, GOP Health Care Bill Teetering, Opioid Epidemic Reaches The Fed, Unit Labor Costs In EU, S. Africa And Brazil Sag Under Corruption, Taiwan Bldg Eats Carbon, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 15 July 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

U.S.

  • One more GOP defection would doom health bill (Reuters) President Donald Trump turned up the heat on fellow Republicans in the Senate to pass a bill dismantling the Obamacare law. But with their retooled healthcare plan drawing fire within the party even one more defection would doom it.
  • U.S. health insurers want Cruz proposal dropped from Senate bill (Reuters) Two major U.S. health insurance groups on Friday called on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to drop from a healthcare bill a provision proposed by Senator Ted Cruz that allows insurers to offer stripped-down, low-cost healthcare plans. America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said in a letter to McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer:

"It is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market."

  • What the Headlines Got Wrong about Friday’s Data Dump (Wolf Street) The news media had a field day on Friday morning - as if they were trying to force the Fed to change course with their headlines. But nothing was really changed. The data Friday morning depicts elegantly an economy of the same type we’ve seen for years: wobbly growth. The data was better than late last year when the Fed started hiking rates in earnest and when some Fed governors started talking about unwinding QE.
  • Yellen: Opioid crisis weighing on US labour force participation (Financial Times) About 100 Americans a day leave the labor force forever because opiods has killed them. That's more than 36,000 a year.

  • Forecasters Lower Economic Outlook Amid Congressional Gridlock (The Wall Street Journal) Early optimism that President Donald Trump would be able to revitalize the U.S. economy is fading as Congress struggles to pass major legislation. Forecasters in The Wall Street Journal’s monthly survey of economists marked down their outlooks for growth, inflation and interest rates this month, a partial reversal of a postelection bump. According to Scott Anderson, chief economist of Bank of the West:

“I think the probability of at least a temporary government shutdown over government funding this year is almost a 50/50 proposition. Congress appears more divided and less likely to compromise than ever."

EU

South Africa

  • South Africa Needs a New Direction (Bloomberg) The International Monetary Fund just pointed out that “South Africa’s vulnerabilities have become more pronounced." That’s one way of putting it. A potentially prosperous and dynamic economy is on the fast track to ruin. Altering its course will take real political reform. Unemployment has risen five percentage points since 2008, to a hope-crushing 28%. The country’s population is expanding faster than its economy, which lately has grown at less than half the rate of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. And its inequality is among the highest in the world.

These are the fruits of failed economic policy. Yet far from grasping the need for change, at a recent conclave of the ruling African National Congress, President Jacob Zuma championed ideas for entrenching his dominance and enriching his supporters. He’s trying to engineer the succession of his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as head of the ANC. And he’s pushing his program for “radical economic transformation" -- a toxic brew of all-too-radical populist policies.

Zuma wants, among other things, to change the constitution to let the government expropriate land without compensation, for the benefit of the black majority. He wants to force the country’s beleaguered mining companies to transfer more shares, and the proceeds from a levy on revenues, to black investors. His allies want to change the mandate of South Africa’s respected central bank to have it focus on “the socioeconomic well-being of the citizens" rather than on stable prices. That maneuver is a traditional precursor to subordinating the central bank to political control -- and Zimbabwe shows where that can lead.

North Korea

The analysis by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korean monitoring project, was based on satellite images of the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon nuclear plant from September until the end of June, amid rising international concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

China

  • China says Nobel laureate cremated and his wife is "free" (Reuters) Deceased Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo was cremated on Saturday and his wife is "free", a government official said, as a state-run newspaper attacked him as a "despised" criminal out of step with Chinese society. Liu, 61, died of multiple organ failure on Thursday in a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang, where he was being treated for late-stage liver cancer, having been given medical parole but not freed.

Taiwan

Brazil

Its political system has long been built on notoriously pervasive corruption. While Mr. da Silva has only recently been personally implicated, it has never been a secret that corruption is just how things work. The saying “rouba mas faz" - he steals, but he gets things done - has been common for half a century.

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