Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.
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Topics today include:
Senate Prepares for Confirmation Hearings Blizzard
Fiat Chrysler Reacts to Trump Squeeze, Spends $1 Billion in U.S.
Priebus: Trump Doesn't Want to Meddle with Social Security or Medicare
Eurozone Bond Spreads Forecast to Widen Significantly in 2017
U.S. Stockpiling Weapons in Germany to Counter Russia
Refugees Snowbound in Greece in Summer Camps
Turkey Lira is Collapsing
U.S. History of Election Interference
Outspoken Stock Bull Reverses, Now Top Bear
Deficit Forecasts: Then and Now
Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world
Senate readies for blizzard of confirmation battles (The Hill) The Senate will begin a blizzard of confirmation hearings Tuesday for Donald Trump’s prospective Cabinet, as Republicans race to get members of the president-elect’s team in place on day one of his administration. The fast-tracking of nominees is frustrating Democrats, who want to use the hearings to press Trump’s team on a host of issues. It has also drawn criticism from the federal Government Ethics Office, which in a letter to Democrats on Saturday argued that the confirmation process has become so rushed, it is difficult to do ethics probes.
Fiat Chrysler Spends $1 Billion on U.S. Amid Trump Squeeze (Bloomberg) Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will invest $1 billion toward making three new Jeep models in the U.S., plus a Ram pickup now built in Mexico, as President-elect Donald Trump pressures the auto industry to hire workers and produce vehicles above the border. The outlays planned by 2020 include retooling factories in Michigan and Ohio and adding 2,000 jobs, according to a company statement. The Italian-American automaker confirmed the Jeep brand will add the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer sport utility vehicles and a truck model to its lineup. After improvements to a plant in Warren, Michigan, the site will be able to assemble heavy-duty Ram pickups now made in Saltillo, Mexico.
Priebus: Trump doesn't want to 'meddle with Medicare or Social Security' (The Hill) Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Sunday's Face the Nation (CBS) suggested President-elect Donald Trump stands by his campaign vow not to cut Medicare. The president-elect does plan to grow the economy and help "shore up Medicare and Social Security for future generations", Priebus said.
Don't get any ideas, Vladimir! Massive stockpile of U.S. tanks and military equipment arrives in Germany as part of mission to 'deter Russian aggression' (Daily Mail) Ships began unloading U.S. tanks, self-propelled howitzers and hundreds of other fighting vehicles Friday in the northern German port of Bremerhaven, to be moved into Eastern Europe to bolster NATO's deterrence against possible Russian aggression. Some 3,500 troops from the 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colorado, will join up with the equipment, which includes 87 tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, over the next two weeks. The deployment marks the start of a new phase of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which foresees the continuous presence of an American armored brigade combat team in Europe on a nine-month rotational basis. The mission is meant to help allay concerns from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and other NATO allies over an increasingly unpredictable and bellicose Russia.
Shocking Conditions for Refugees in Outdoor Camps in Greece (The Pappas Post) Two days ago, the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Refugees (UNHCR) warned the Greek government and European Union officials that more must be done to move refugees off of Greek islands and into mainland reception centers that are indoor and better equipped to handle the deteriorating weather conditions. Conditions on many Greek islands remain poor and a situation was waiting to happen as snow storms were on their way, according to meteorological forecasts. According to the UNHCR, the situation on Samos, Chios and Lesvos is of particular concern. An estimated 15,000 people, including young children, and other vulnerable individuals remain in unheated tents or are scattered throughout makeshift facilities throughout the islands.
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
Election Interference? The U.S. Has Done It In 45 Countries Worldwide (vocativ) Hat tips to Roger Erickson and Angelina Siard. New research shows that America has a long history of meddling in the elections of foreign countries. The simmering tit for tat has kept the issue of election meddling burning bright in the national spotlight, fueled even further by the belief among U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia wanted to help Donald Trump capture the presidency. Yet neither country is a stranger when it comes to directly trying to sway the election of other nations. In fact, the U.S. has a long and stunning history of attempting to influence foreign presidential elections. See, Partisan electoral interventions by the great powers: Introducing the PEIG Dataset (Conflict Management and Peace Science) written by Dov H. Levin, Carnegie Mellon University.
Wall Street’s Most Outspoken Stock Bull Reverses, Now Top Bear (Bloomberg) Thomas Lee of Fundstrat sees S&P 500 finishing 2017 at 2,275, almost the same as Friday's close of 2,276.98. His caution stems from policy risk and a yield curve flattening he sees translating into an S&P 500 decline to 2,150 by mid-year before the index rebounds. He wrote in a client note on Friday:
"[The] bond market is signaling inflation confusion. [That] generally leads to a 5 to 7 percent selloff.”
2016 in Charts. (And Can Trump Deliver in 2017?) (The New York Times) The NYT says that huge tax giveaways — along with Mr. Trump’s promises to increase infrastructure spending and not touch Social Security and Medicare — would blow up the deficit and add $4 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years over and above current projections. That’s made particularly ironic by Mr. Trump’s claim in a Washington Postinterview that he would eliminate our current $19 trillion of debt over eight years through better trade deals and economic growth. The sharp increase in interest rates since the election — mortgage costs are up by about a half a percentage point — can be directly attributed to investors’ fears of rising deficits and debt and the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will respond by raising interest rates more quickly. Econintersect: The NYT remains oblivious to the reality of deficits: the size matters only to the extent they are large enough to create inflation above desired levels. The size of the national debt matters only to the extent that the federal government makes payments to serve the coupons if the increased payments also add to undesirable inflation. Inflation control can be achieved in such cases by fiscal action (increased taxes and/or reduced spending) and monetary action (open market actions and higher interest rate levels). The NYT is guilty (in their implications) of gold standard monetary thinking.
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