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posted on 11 January 2018

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks, Dollar And Oil All Down, Gold Up, Bitcoin Woes, Shutdown Crisis, Blue States Could Fight Tax Slam, Iran Deal, China Could Sell US Bonds, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 11 January 2018

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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  • The North American Bitcoin Conference, held in Miami next week, said it has stopped accepting last-minute ticket payments in bitcoin
  • Bitcoin's slow transaction speed and high fees have led many merchants to rethink their decisions to accept payments in the cryptocurrency


    • Congress barrels toward another shutdown crisis (The Hill) Lawmakers are scrambling to avoid a government shutdown as they barrel toward another funding deadline without a clear path forward. GOP leadership is remaining tightlipped about their plan, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) declining to outline their next steps before a Jan. 19 deadline. They are expected to offer a short-term stopgap measure given the fast-approaching deadline and a failure to lockdown a deal on raising spending ceilings for defense and nondefense.
    • NOAA Report: 2017 Was the Costliest Year on Record for US Disasters (Union of Concerned Scientists) Hat tip to Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture. The costs of 2017 disasters, at $306.2 billion dollars cumulatively, set a new US record that blew past previous totals. These events also resulted in 362 fatalities. (This number only reflects official tallies to date - as news reports indicate the true death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico could as high as 1,052, over 16 times the current official figure.)

    Click for larger image.

    • A version of the Murray Energy "Action Plan" to save the coal sector includes many policy initiatives taken up by the Trump administration, the memo's release shows.
    • Published by The New York Times, the Action Plan calls for the elimination of federal regulations on carbon, ozone, cross-state air pollutants and mining safety as well as subsidies for renewable energy. Market compensation for coal plants was not mentioned, but Murray said there is more than one version of the memo.
    • The release comes days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a Department of Energy plan that would have moved some at-risk coal plants into cost recovery. Murray in a separate statement called for Trump to fire four of the regulators who rejected the rule.
    • Internal document reveals Trump's strategy on ObamaCare changes (The Hill) An internal Trump administration document shared with Republican lawmakers last year shows officials' plans to change ObamaCare through administrative actions, in what Democrats say is evidence of “sabotage" of the health law.
    • How Progressive States Could Fight Back Against the Republican Tax Scam (Truth-Out) The Republican Congress gave themselves and their contributors a huge Christmas present with the tax cut bill they pushed through at the end of last year. They decided to cover the costs in part by whacking Democratic states like California and New York, which have relatively high state and local taxes. But there ius a way around the new law for states. They can look to replace much of their income tax with an employer-side payroll tax. This will effectively preserve the tax deductibility of the income tax and even extend this benefit to people who don't itemize.
    • Donald Trump’s Open Meeting Just Proves How Right Michael Wolff Is (Daily Beast) This Op Ed author was not impressed with President Trump's 'Open Meeting' Tuesday:

    The televised meeting that was supposed to show his mastery at the deal only showed what a doofus he is. All the king’s men couldn’t put it together again.


    • Black Market Sold Drones Used in Russian Base Attack (Daily Beast) Russia has all but accused the U.S. military of being behind the improvised drone attack on its air base in Syria last week, claiming the aircraft could have only come from a major military power like the United States.

    But days before the unique, jury-rigged drone bomber surfaced in the attack, a seller in a rebel social media arms market based in Syria’s Idlib province posted an advertisement for an identical-looking model of rickety homebrew drone along with similar munitions, casting serious doubt on Moscow’s tales of high tech transfer.


    South Korea

    • Police and tax agencies raided South Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchanges this week for alleged tax evasion
    • South Korean financial authorities had previously said they are inspecting six local banks that offer virtual currency accounts
    • The crackdown comes as the South Korean government attempts to calm frenzied demand for cryptocurrency trading
    • Olympic dialogue: What’s realistic for the two Koreas? (Brookings) The central point of discussion is to figure out a mutually acceptable way to have North Korean athletes join the global community at the upcoming winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But even before the dialogue began, the inter-Korean talks were burdened with expectations that were simultaneously too high and too low.


    • Bond markets took a hit following a report that China could trim its U.S. Treasury holdings
    • China delivered a statement soothing those worries on Thursday
    • China is the biggest holder of U.S. Treasurys
    • The U.S. government uses Treasurys to help finance itself

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