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posted on 14 February 2018

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks And Oil Mixed, Dollar Down, Gold Up, Waiting On US Inflation, Trump Budget, Over 3 Mn Still Missing In US Labor, Japan Growth Streak, Kim Praises S. Korea, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 14 February 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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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional committee that Russia and other foreign entities were likely to attack U.S. and European elections this year and beyond, adding that Moscow believes similar efforts successfully undermined U.S. democracy two years ago.

  • Markets will be closely watching the Consumer Price Index report Wednesday in which the government gauges the level of price pressures.
  • Economists expect January to show a 1.9 percent increase in the headline number including food and energy.
  • Investors worry that inflation will read to aggressive rate hikes that will choke off the bull market in stocks and bonds.
  • FBI chief contradicts White House account on Porter background check (The Hill) FBI Director Christopher Wray offered a new timeline on the background check for former White House staff secretary Rob Porter that contradicts the White House’s account of when it learned of domestic allegations against the aide. Wray, in response to questions from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), said that investigators submitted a partial report on their investigation of Porter as far back as March 2017, and that the investigation ended in July. He said new information was also provided to the White House in November and January. See also Sanders: FBI chief did not contradict us on Porter controversy.
  • What You Should Know About Trump’s Nihilist Budget (Huffington Post) Not a very flattering review of the Trump administration budget proposal, which says that the populist candidate shows little populism in actual governance. From the article:

The budget document President Donald Trump released on Monday doesn’t really matter. It will have no effect on government spending or tax levels. It will not build bridges or defund public housing programs. Congress controls federal spending, not the president, and for the past several years lawmakers have jettisoned the formal budget process in favor of a series of backroom deals.

Trump’s budget shows he doesn’t care very much about anything. The signature proposal, hyped ahead of the release as a $1.5 trillion program to rebuild America’s infrastructure, turns out to include just $200 billion in new spending ― offset by $240 billion in cuts to existing infrastructure programs, including the Highway Trust Fund, Amtrak and the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works initiatives.

  • Trump Privatizes America (The Real News Network) Trump's infrastructure privatization plan is a hat trick that optimistically turns $200 billion into $1.5 trillion, is designed to eliminate the public sector and to bankrupt cities and states, says economist Michael Hudson.

The department said the rules it's proposing to repeal fit into three categories: Rules interpreting tax-code sections that have been repealed, rules interpreting tax-code sections that have been significantly changed and rules that no longer apply.


  • Top charts of 2017 (Economic Policy Institute) There is still a lot of slack in the prime age labor force. It would take employment of 3.25 mllion more adults in the 25-54 age group to get back to 2000 levels of labor force participation. Note: if that were to occur the unemployment rate would drop to xx




  • US destroys Russian tank in Syria, reportedly killing three (The Hill) A U.S. drone, acting in self-defense, destroyed a Russian-made T-72 tank in eastern Syria over the weekend, the head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command told reporters Tuesday. News reports indicate that three people inside the tank were killed. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said U.S. forces for several hours used drones and B-52 bombers to strike fighters after they came under fire from the tank. Harrigian said via teleconference from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar:

"We detected and saw a tank that took a shot at us. It continued to move, so we again executed self-defense rules of engagement to protect ourselves. And I believe, again, that’s something we always have the right to do and will make sure we’re in a position to do."


  • Japan posts longest growth streak since 1980s bubble economy (Reuters) Japan’s economy posted its longest continuous expansion since the 1980s boom as fourth quarter growth was boosted by consumer spending, moving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s revival plan a step closer to vanquishing decades of stagnation. The economy expanded at a 0.5% percent annualized rate in October-December, less than the median estimate for annualized growth of 0.9%, Cabinet Office data showed on Wednesday. That followed a revised 2.2% annualized increase in July-September.

Japan’s economy has now posted the longest continuous expansion since a 12-quarter stretch of growth between April-June 1986 and January-March 1989 around the height of Japan’s notorious economic bubble.

North Korea

  • Americans shouldn't fall for the regime's recent charm offensive, top officials said Tuesday at a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • "North Korea continues to pose an ever-more increasing threat to the United States and its interests," said Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats.
  • CIA head Mike Pompeo said he saw "no indication of any strategic change" in the North Korean leader's desire to hold nuclear weapons.
  • Intelligence officials also warned that Pyongyang is expected to continue launching cyber attacks to raise funds for the regime.
  • Kim Jong Un Showers Praise on ‘Impressive, Sincere’ South Korea (Daily Beast) Kim Jong Un has welcomed his sister home from the Winter Olympics, praising South Korea for its “impressive" and “sincere" hosting of the Games. The North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, led a delegation of officials whose attendance in Pyeongchang has been seen by many as a warming of relations after decades of hostility against each other since the Korean War in the 1950s. North Korean state media quoted Kim Jong Un remarking on his “satisfaction" with the visit and “expressing thanks" to the South Korean hosts.

South Korea

  • South Korea approved a record 2.86 billion won ($2.64 million) budget to bankroll the cost of hosting hundreds of visiting North Koreans during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
  • The Ministry of Unification said that these funds will cover the costs of the visit, which will include accommodation and food for North Korea's cheering squad, orchestra, taekwondo performers, as well as for journalists and other supporting personnel.
  • Most of the North Koreans stayed at luxury hotels in Seoul and near the Olympics venue

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