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posted on 22 December 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Up, Dollar, Oil And Gold Nearly Flat, Ivanka Slips Up, ObamaCare Enrollments Strong, Catalan Separatists Win, China's Debt Diplomacy, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 22 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.22

  • UN votes to condemn Trump's Jerusalem decision (The Hill) The United Nations on Thursday delivered a stinging rebuke of President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, casting an overwhelming vote condemning the move and calling on the U.S. to withdraw the decision. The final vote count in favor of the resolution was 128. Nine countries opposed the resolution while 35 abstained. The resolution - essentially a formal statement of a U.N. opinion - is not legally binding. But it represents a condemnation of Trump's decision and exerts political pressure on him to reverse the move.

U.S.

  • House passes measure to avoid government shutdown (The Hill) House Republicans on Thursday evening narrowly passed a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown, one day before the deadline. GOP leaders’ struggle to clinch the 231-188 vote demonstrated how, despite being fresh off their tax overhaul victory, House Republicans remain bitterly divided when it comes to spending legislation. With House Democrats refusing to supply votes to help pass the spending bill, Republicans were left to pull together the votes among themselves.

  • Exclusive: State Department tells refugee agencies to downsize U.S. operations (Reuters) The U.S. State Department has told refugee agencies it will sharply pare back the number of offices across the country authorized to resettle people in 2018 as President Donald Trump cuts the number of refugees allowed into the United States. See also U.S. Refugee Numbers In Decline.
  • Broken health-care pledge tests Collins-McConnell relationship (The Hill) Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will be a crucial swing vote for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) next year, but it may be tougher to strike deals with her after McConnell failed to fulfill a pledge on health care.

The moderate senator told reporters this month that she had an “ironclad" commitment from McConnell and Vice President Pence to pass legislation by the end of the year to stabilize ObamaCare premiums. She wanted that assurance before committing her vote for tax reform.

But that vote has now been delayed until January due to opposition from House Republicans.

  • A federal judge threw out a lawsuit claiming that President Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by accepting foreign payments through his businesses.
  • In his 29-page opinion granting the government's request to toss the suit, U.S. District Judge George Daniels says the plaintiffs are not legally entitled to sue.
  • Other lawsuits remain pending that make similar claims against Trump.
  • 8.8 million sign up for ObamaCare, nearly matching last year (The Hill) Last year, 9.2 million people signed up for coverage during an open enrollment period that was twice as long. This year approximately 8.8 million people enrolled during the six-week open enrollment period in the 39 states that use the federal healthcare.gov website, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said. In the final week alone, more than 4.1 million people enrolled, more than 1 million of whom were new customers, the agency said.
  • Will U.S. Exports Increase? (The Daily Shot) This year (2017) was a bad year for the dollar. Will the US currency weakness drive up export growth? Past correlations look pretty good:

UK

  • May’s Brussels Agreement Means No-Going-Back (Social Europe) In early December UK Prime Minister Theresa May reached a “phase 1", “significant progress" agreement with the European Commission, the agency responsible for negotiations on the EU side. Much of the media and most UK politicians, both pro- and anti-EU made much of the ambiguities and lack of clarity over key issues in the agreement. Along with the scepticism go ominous warnings that “phase 2", involving trade negotiations, will prove considerably more difficult.

Valid as the scepticism may be, it misses the most important aspects of what I shall call the December Agreement.

As a result of the successive unprecedented withdrawal steps the likelihood that the remaining 27 EU governments would collectively accept British re-entry is not significantly different from zero.

Spain

  • Catalan separatists win election in rebuke to Spain and EU (Reuters) Catalonia’s separatists look set to regain power in the wealthy Spanish region after local elections on Thursday, deepening the nation’s political crisis in a sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and European Union leaders who backed him. With nearly all votes counted, separatist parties won a slim majority in Catalan parliament, a result that promises to prolong political tensions which have damaged Spain’s economy and prompted a business exodus from the region.

Rajoy, who called the elections after sacking the previous secessionist government, had hoped Catalonia’s “silent majority" would deal separatism a decisive blow in what was a de facto independence referendum, but his hard line backfired.

Turkey

On May 16, activists protesting Erdogan’s government clashed with Turkish bodyguards and security personnel. Eleven people were injured in the melee.

Prosecutors said Narin and Yildirim were both caught on video kicking protesters.

Syria

  • Russia Tells U.S. Military to Get Out of Syria (Newsweek) Russia ramped up its calls for the U.S. military to depart from Syria on Thursday, contending it has no substantial reasons to be in the country and its presence there "must end." Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy to Syria, told reporters:

“Any reasons cited by the Americans to justify their further military presence... are just excuses and we think their presence must end."

India

The resolution which expresses deep “regret" on the December 7 declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel received India’s vote even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit India in the new year.

China

  • China uses sovereign debt to gain political leverage over developing countries, according to Brahma Chellaney from the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research
  • Member countries of Beijing's Belt and Road program are being trapped into "debt servitude," he said

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