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posted on 20 December 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Up, Dollar And Gold Flat, Islamic Finance, Tax Plan, ECB Sued For Records, Macron Polls Bounce, Turkey Softens On Kurds, Another Mexican Journalist Shot, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 20 December 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, published Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 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.pac.2017.dec.20

  • Sovereign Islamic debt issuance by non-Muslim countries is set to hit a 3-year high in 2017
  • Islamic finance complies with Sharia, or Islamic law, which prohibits earning interest and bars funding activities involving alcohol, pork, pornography or gambling
  • The non-speculative nature of Islamic finance can help to ensure financial stability - a reason why it's gaining traction globally, experts told CNBC

U.S.

... here is a prediction: no matter which party controls Congress after next year’s midterms, lawmakers will eventually be forced to revise this tax bill substantially. This legislation simply isn’t workable in the long run. Unless it is fixed, it could end up crippling the tax system.

  • Trump’s Ex-Im Bank Nominee Rejected After 2 Republicans Bail (Daily Beast) The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday rejected President Trump’s nominee for chair of the Export-Import Bank after two Republicans decided to vote no. Former Rep. Scott Garrett’s nomination was voted down by a vote of 10-13, a margin assisted by “no" votes from GOP Sens. Tim Scott and Mike Rounds. As a staunch fiscal conservative, Garrett has a history of opposing Ex-Im, the federal government’s export credit agency, and while a congressman he actively worked to try and kill the agency.
  • Here's what America's biggest companies plan to do with all that cash coming back to the US (Business Insider) Econintersectpan: We assume that some part of the 25% of comapies planning "Other" would be adding employees. This is what happens when you give money to 'job creators'?

Nothing he said was particularly surprising. The speech, like so many Trump addresses, hinged on a recitation of his triumphs, real and imagined. He appealed to his right-wing, nationalist base, growled about the need to strengthen borders and cast America as a protagonist “engaged in a new era of competition."

  • Trump’s Dark Deregulation (ProPublica) Passing legislation and rolling back regulatory rules are hard. There are quieter, easier ways to cut down on governmental oversight. Here are five ways the Trump administration is doing so:
  • Deprive a regulator of information, and it can’t do much.
  • Sometimes, just doing less adds up to deregulation, in a form that’s difficult to identify and even harder to challenge in court.
  • Impose a so-called “regulatory budget" on government agencies.
  • It’s a lot easier to justify postponing a rule than it is to justify killing or revising it.
  • Many agency rules include exceptions to their requirements so these are simply expanded.
  • DuPont, Washington Fought to Keep Amtrak Out Before Killer Crash (DailyBeast) Dozens of local community leaders have fought against the redirection of the stretch of railway through this town for years, worried that shifting the line through quiet DuPont was an idea that would end in tragedy. Early indications are that the accident occurred while the train was travelng at 80 mph around a curve signed for 30 mph.

EU

  • ECB sued over decision to freeze help to Greek banks during crisis (Reuters) Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and a German parliamentarian are suing the European Central Bank to gain access to a document underpinning the ECB’s decision to freeze vital funding to Greek banks in 2015. They want to read secret legal opinion whether ECB was entitled to blackmail Greece and cut it off from the euro if they (the Greeks) resisted austerity.
  • Does Europe Really Need Fiscal and Political Union? (Project Syndicate) There is a growing sense in Europe, among conservatives and progressives alike, that fiscal and eventual political union is necessary to maintain the euro without damaging economic performance or democratic values. But there is also an alternative, much less ambitious view, according to which only banking union is needed. Good short review of Eurozone financila and political issues - but does not postulate a specific solutuion:

In contemporary societies, finance must serve a public purpose beyond the logic of financial market profitability. So it is irrevocably politicized - for good as well as bad reasons. It appears that conservative and progressive policymakers alike are resigning themselves to this reality.

UK

  • UK employers downbeat on economy, less confident about hiring - survey (Reuters) Fewer British employers plan to hire extra staff next year due to one of the gloomiest economic outlooks since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, a monthly recruitment industry survey showed on Wednesday. The data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) agree with official figures showing a falling number of people in work. In London, employers expected to shed jobs, the REC said.
  • Britain's Brexit rebels offer compromise on latest EU exit laws row (Reuters) British MPs who inflicted defeat on Prime Minister Theresa May last week in parliament over Brexit have signalled a possible compromise to avoid another row on Wednesday when legislation taking Britain out of the EU is debated.

another row - this time over the government’s desire to fix the planned date of Britain’s departure into law - could be averted on Wednesday after rebels said they were prepared to agree to it if another proviso were inserted in the bill allowing that date to be changed if necessary.

France

  • France's Macron firms up bounce in opinion polls (Reuters) French president Emmanuel Macron’s popularity jumped back above 50 percent thanks in part to better ratings among the young and the working class, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday, confirming a rebound that started at the beginning of December.

Turkey

  • Turkey backtracking on 'red lines' for Syria's Kurds (Al-Monitor) A sensitive topic these days is whether the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) - the prime mover behind the push for “democratic autonomy" in northern Syria - will be invited to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that Russia is organizing in Sochi. In return for cooperating with Moscow and Tehran in the Astana process, Ankara wants to get dividends on the Kurdish issue. Ankara's two critical demands are known: a green light for a military move on Afrin to uproot affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the PYD’s exclusion from the Sochi congress.

According to Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service, Erdogan reiterated his objections to PYD attendance in Sochi. Putin responded with a proposal for the participation of non-PYD Kurds. Erdogan reportedly raised no objections to this formula. “Diplomatic sources who closely followed the meeting say Erdogan and Putin agreed that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress can convene with the participation of Kurds other than the PYD," according to the report.

Israel

  • Palestinians reject US mediation (Al-Monitor) US President Donald Trump's Jerusalem proclamation of Dec. 6 sent shock waves throughout the Middle East. Visiting Ramallah one comes away with the impression that the Palestinians are experiencing some sort of a political earthquake. Meetings that took place in recent weeks with US envoy Jason Greenblatt focused on a possible American peace Initiative. And so, the Palestinian leadership was taken by surprise when Trump made his decision on Jerusalem.

The analysis of the Palestinian leadership was that Trump is simply a supporter of the Israeli right wing and that he was influenced by two of his closest Jewish advisers - his son-in-law Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is known for his close ties with the settler movement. The Palestinian leadership had warned Greenblatt that any policy move on Jerusalem would be perceived as a casus belli, ending Palestinian willingness to accept US mediation. Obviously, their warning was not taken seriously. And so, the sense of disappointment is double. The declaration reflects the fact that insufficient pressure was put on the White House by their Arab allies, as well as by their friends in the European Union.

Mexico

Gumaro Pérez Aguilando was attending the school event in the town of Acayucan on Friday, when a pair of gunmen burst into the building and killed him in front of a classroom full of schoolchildren, witnesses told local media.

His death marked the 12th murder of a media worker in Mexico in 2017, according to the press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The killing puts Mexico alongside Syria as the most murderous country for journalists, according to RSF.

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