Top Economic News

 

"My prediction? More dysfunction than there should be, unfortunately," said Representative Peter King, a New York Republican.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-02/divided-congress-s-first-task-tussle-with-trump-over-shutdown?srnd=premium
The first test of the new dynamic in Washington may come as soon as Wednesday. Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate will attend a meeting with Trump for a briefing on border security at the White House.
The 435-seat House will be controlled by at least 235 Democrats, including a number of progressive freshmen who may show little inclination to compromise. In the Senate, Republicans gained two seats to boost their majority to 53-47, and the only GOP senators who consistently took on the president, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, are retiring.
On policy matters, an early action item in the House and Senate will be legislation approving Trump’s trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. But Pelosi has dismissed the trade deal as a “work in progress” and says she wants to add environmental and labor protections. She also hasn’t indicated whether she would back the “fast track” up-or-down vote procedure Trump could need to easily clear the deal. 
The trade agreement may also have trouble getting support in the Senate, although incoming Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has praised it and promised to try to usher it through his panel.
McConnell told reporters after the November elections that Senate Republicans aren’t interested in a $900 billion infrastructure package Democrats are discussing, and said no proposal for roads and bridges should be considered without resolving how to finance it. 
“You know what the sticking point is: How do you pay for it,” McConnell told reporters.
Leaders in both chambers must agree on raising the federal debt limit, which is now suspended but will go back into effect March 1. The Treasury Department likely can use so-called extraordinary measures to delay reaching the limit into mid-year, but eventually lawmakers must find a way to prevent a default on government obligations.
The two chambers almost certainly won’t agree on an annual budget blueprint like one that allowed the GOP Senate in 2017 to bypass a Democratic filibuster and enact a massive tax cut. Going forward, any tax changes would be subject to a 60-vote threshold, meaning they couldn’t be enacted without Democratic support.

Growing U.S. output has sent imports to a 3-year low, as domestic barrels are cheaper than imported ones. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark oil, is being traded at a discount of $8.10 per barrel compared with Brent, the benchmark used to price imported oil.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-31/u-s-gulf-refiners-feast-on-domestic-oil-amid-rising-output
U.S. light oil has become too cheap for Gulf Coast refiners to pass up. 
Fuel makers on the Gulf, home to the largest cluster of refineries in the world, processed oil with an average API gravity of 33.06 in October, according to the Energy Information Administration. The measure of oil density matches a record set in February, when Gulf refiners processed the lightest crude in 26 years thanks to a surge in domestically produced light barrels.

“Our outlook is that U.S. growth will be constrained by ebbing fiscal stimulus and higher interest rates,” economists at UBS said in a note Wednesday. China, meanwhile, is facing the twin pressures of import U.S. tariffs and economic rebalancing.
“The decline in global growth will mean a weaker tailwind for global markets, which could begin to anticipate an end of the economic cycle as 2019 progresses, ” the investment bank said.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/02/ubs-2019-outlook-global-growth-to-slow-in-2019.html
After seeing a growth of 3.8 percent in 2018, UBS said in its outlook for the year ahead that it expected global economic growth to slow to 3.6 percent in 2019.
On the bright side, UBS said a recession looks unlikely given current rates of consumption, investment and employment growth “and we think the typical causes of a downturn are unlikely to materialize in 2019.”
“Our base case is for inflation to stay contained, allowing central bankers to remain sensitive to growth. We don’t foresee a major fiscal policy shift or a commodity price shock. Consumer balance sheets are in solid shape and improvements in banking sector capitalization since the financial crisis reduce the risk of a global credit crunch.”

The API gravity of crude oil produced in the U.S. varies widely across states.
states

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=30852
API gravity is one of the key characteristics of crude oil that, along with other characteristics such as sulfur content, is used by refiners when evaluating different crude streams for processing into petroleum products. In 2016, the majority (51%) of the 8.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil produced in the Lower 48 states was light oil, or less dense oil with an API gravity of 40.1 or above. Light oil also made up more than half of the oil produced in 2015.
API gravity is measured as the inverse of the density of a petroleum liquid relative to water. The higher the API gravity, the lower the density of the petroleum liquid, so light oils have high API gravities. Based on the mix of their respective crude oil production streams, the distribution by API gravity of crude oils produced in Texas, North Dakota, and California differs significantly.

The European Central Bank has appointed temporary administrators for troubled Italian lender Banca Carige with the decision coming after the majority of the bank’s board members resigned on Wednesday.
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/02/italys-watchdog-reportedly-suspends-trading-in-carige-shares.html
The ECB said in a statement Wednesday that it had appointed three temporary administrators and a surveillance committee to replace the board of directors and to “take charge of Banca Carige.”

The IHS Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 54.2 from an upwardly revised 53.6 in November, the highest reading in six months and stronger than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-economy-pmi/uk-factories-build-up-stockpiles-before-brexit-boosting-pmi-idUKKCN1OW0KZ
Markit said the improvement did not herald a big change in the outlook for Britain’s stuttering economy and was caused in large part by manufacturers stockpiling inputs and finished goods, both of which were near record highs.

On average, around 44.8 million people per year worked in Germany. That was 562,000 people or 1.3 percent more than in 2017, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Wednesday according to preliminary calculations. "An increased labor force participation of the domestic population as well as the immigration of foreign workers offset negative demographic effects, so that in 2018 the highest number of persons in employment since reunification in 1991 was reached," it said. "All in all, the now 13-year increase in employment continued."
https://de.reuters.com/article/deutschland-erwerbst-tige-idDEKCN1OW0DM 
Experts believe that this will remain so even in the year just started, albeit with less momentum. The Munich-based Ifo Institute predicts that the number of people in employment will increase by almost 400,000 to just over 45.2 million - even if economic growth is not likely to be quite as strong. The Ifo researchers expect for 2019 only a plus in the gross domestic product of 1.1 percent, after 2018 should have been about 1.5 percent. In 2016 and 2017, the growth rate was 2.2 percent each. "Persistent economic risks such as a Brexit without a withdrawal agreement or an increase in US tariffs on European cars pull the expectations down," said KfW chief economist Jörg Zeuner. "But as long as the most acute risks do not materialize in the next few months.

The Caixin Media and IHS Markit China’s December manufacturing PMI fell to 49.7 from 50.2 in November, below the 50 threshold for the first time since May 2017. That follows the official gauge, which fell into the same zone for the first time since July 2016 on Monday.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-01/u-s-stock-index-futures-rise-as-in-first-trading-day-of-2019?srnd=premium-asia
“The disappointment that came through in December has transferred into January as well,” said Jingyi Pan, a Singapore-based market strategist at IG Asia Pte. While there was some small development in uncertain Washington politics, it’s a reminder of the U.S.-China trade tensions and “brings back to the surface worries on growth,” she said.
FedEx Corp. last month slashed its profit forecast just three months after raising it, and pared its international freight capacity amid a slowdown in global trade in recent months, with leading indicators pointing to an ongoing deceleration in the near term.

“China must and will be united, which is an inevitable requirement for the historical rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the new era,” Xi told a gathering in Beijing to mark the 40th anniversary of a landmark Beijing overture to Taipei after the U.S. and China established relations. The two sides have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek moved his Nationalist government across the Taiwan Strait during the Chinese civil war.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-02/china-s-xi-says-taiwan-must-be-unified-with-mainland?srnd=premium-asia
Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested that mainland China and Taiwan enter into “in-depth democratic consultations” and work toward unification, in the clearest sign yet that he wants to settle the 70-year dispute during his tenure.
Xi also sent a warning to Taiwan independence advocates, who include supporters of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

The number of Chinese peer-to-peer lenders may drop by 70 percent this year, a research firm that tracks the industry says, as the nation intensifies a crackdown on riskier forms of financing.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-02/china-s-online-lending-crackdown-may-see-70-of-businesses-close?srnd=premium-asia
As few as 300 companies will remain by the end of the year, according to an estimate from Shanghai-based Yingcan Group. The number of operators dropped by more than 50 percent to 1,021 during 2018, it said, adding that there’s been no new entrants into the market since August.

As the great unwind of global monetary stimulus gains momentum, markets are at increased risk of experiencing doom loops. Investors need to be prepared for these downward spirals, where shocks set off a self-perpetuating sequence of disruptions.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-01-01/five-doom-loops-investors-may-confront-in-2019?srnd=premium-asia
There are five doom loops that feed each other in a financial crisis.
The collateral doom loop.
The hedging doom loop.
The sovereign doom loop.
The intermediary doom loop.
The real economy doom loop.

Click here to download a pdf of this article, Missile.pdf
 
 

"The slowdown will continue into the next year," said Larry Hu, a Hong Kong-based economist at Macquarie Securities Ltd. "The weak PMI could result in more government stimulus to shore up the economy."
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-31/china-slowdown-continues-with-factory-gauge-down-to-2016-level?srnd=premium-asia
The manufacturing purchasing managers index dropped to 49.4 in December, the weakest since early 2016 and below the 50 level that denotes contraction. Measures of new orders and new export orders slipped -- a bearish signal for future demand -- while readings for input and output prices weakened.
There was some good news as the non-manufacturing PMI rose to 53.8 from 53.4. That suggests recent stimulus efforts may already be starting to have some effect.

"Services is increasingly a bigger part of the economy, so that holding up is a counter to the weaker manufacturing, but to maintain the pace of growth, more stimulus will be needed," said Patrick Bennett, head of macro strategy for Asia at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Hong Kong.

A U.S. government delegation will travel to Beijing in the week of Jan. 7 to hold trade talks with Chinese officials, two people familiar with the matter said.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the Trump administration’s team, which will also include Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Neither the USTR nor Treasury responded to requests for comment.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-26/u-s-team-said-to-travel-to-china-for-trade-talks-in-early-jan-jq5ns3wy?srnd=premium-asia
Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng confirmed that the two sides planned to sit down for talks next month, although he didn’t provide a date for the meeting during his regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday

As funds do their usual start-of-year rebalancing, “a lot of money is going to be moved around,” he said.
“You have nothing that is tangible from the government, and it’s all hearsay, so it’s more explosive,” Georgy said.
More grain volatility is on the way as a lack of U.S. federal data sends the market hunting for crop information to trade on.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-31/get-ready-for-explosive-grain-market-as-shutdown-quiets-usda?srnd=premium-asia
That’s according to Steve Georgy, the president of agriculture broker and advisor Allendale Inc. A partial government shutdown means most key reports -- including figures on export sales -- released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been halted. Given the thin holiday trading, last week the dearth of information sent investors to the sidelines, he said.

American farmers, already hit by low commodity prices and China’s punitive trade tariffs, are poised to endure further pain in 2019 now that a major Pacific trade deal has come into effect.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/31/cptpp-american-farmers-set-for-pain-as-pacific-trade-deal-kicks-in.html
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, was ratified by seven of its member countries on Sunday. Now that the massive free trade pact is a reality for Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam, the remaining four members — Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Peru — are soon expected to follow suit.
The milestone agreement, a refurbished version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will slash tariffs among the 11 nations that cover 14 percent of global growth, making their exports cheaper in each other’s markets. Around 90 percent of planned tariff cuts will be immediately take place, HSBC said in a note on Sunday, adding that businesses will benefit from reduced administrative costs thanks to other benefits such as pre-arrival customs clearance.
“I’ve never seen such nervousness in the U.S. business community as I see now,” Steve Okun, senior advisor at McLarty Associates, an international trade consultancy, told CNBC last week, referring to developments such as the CPTPP. There is a sense that “the world is moving forward without us,” he said.

U.S. companies have sent home over half a trillion dollars of cash they held overseas in 2018 to take advantage of tax changes, but data suggest the pace is slowing, potentially removing a key source of support for Wall Street.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-us-repatriation-companies/u-s-companies-repatriate-over-half-a-trillion-dollars-in-2018-but-pace-slows-idUSKCN1OU0ME?il=0
Dollar repatriation in the July-September period fell to $93 billion, around half of second-quarter volumes and less than a third of the $300 billion or so sent home from January to March, U.S. current account data shows.

“We still have some differences but I will tell you that the president is thinking long and hard about Syria - how to withdraw our forces but at the same time achieve our national security interests,” Graham said.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/31/lindsey-graham-suggests-trump-will-slow-down-us-withdrawal-from-syria.html
Asked if Trump had agreed to any slowing down of the troop withdrawal, Graham said: “I think the president’s very committed to making sure that when we leave Syria, that ISIS is completely defeated.”
He said Trump’s trip to Iraq last week was an eye-opener and he understood the need to “finish the job” with Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“I think the president has come up with a plan with his generals that makes sense to me,” Graham said.

“This issue has a lot of complications,” Adel Abdul Mahdi told reporters, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement this month that he will withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq’s neighbor.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-syria/iraq-hints-at-bigger-role-in-syria-after-u-s-withdrawal-idUSKCN1OT0K5
“If any negative development takes place in Syria it will affect us. We have a 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria and Daesh (Islamic State) is there,” Abdul Mahdi said.
The premier said the Iraqi delegation had visited Damascus to “gain the initiative, not just deal with the consequences” of any future Islamic State (IS) activity emboldened by the U.S. withdrawal. Iraqi news websites said the visit took place on Saturday.


 

Iraqi warplanes hit a meeting of Islamic State leaders near Deir al-Zor in Syria on Monday, destroying the building they were gathered in, the military said in a statement, without giving further details about the militants targeted.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-syria/iraqi-warplanes-strike-islamic-state-leaders-in-syria-military-idUSKCN1OU0MP?il=0
The statement said F-16 fighter jets carried out the raid around al-Sousa village in eastern Syria, as “30 leaders from Daesh (Islamic State) gangs” met in the building.

Tough negotiations lie ahead over a new pact between China and Southeast Asian nations aimed at easing tensions in the South China Sea, as Vietnam pushes for provisions likely to prove unpalatable to Beijing, documents reviewed by Reuters suggest.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/31/tough-south-china-sea-talks-ahead-as-vietnam-seeks-to-curb-sino-power.html?forYou=true
Hanoi wants the pact to outlaw many of the actions China has carried out across the hotly disputed waterway in recent years, including artificial island building, blockades and offensive weaponry such as missile deployments, according to a negotiating draft of the ASEAN Code of Conduct (COC) seen by Reuters.

A survey of 32 economists and analysts forecasts the North Sea Brent crude oil benchmark LCOc1 will average $69.13 per barrel in 2019, more than $5 lower than last month’s projection.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-oil-prices/oversupply-faltering-growth-to-weigh-on-oil-prices-in-2019-reuters-poll-idUSKCN1OU0HY
Crude oil prices look likely to trade below $70 per barrel in 2019 as surplus production, much of it from the United States, and slowing economic growth undermine OPEC-led efforts to shore up the market, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

(Hoyer probably wishes he said it differently.  Not “in this instance” but always)
“In this instance, the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress,” Hoyer said in a statement, citing “the now well-documented election fraud that took place” in the contest.
A combination of court rulings and changes to state law left the top vote-getter in an initial tally, Republican Mark Harris, seemingly no closer to taking office.
A leading Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, said his party would object to seating Harris when it takes control in the new Congress that convenes on Jan. 3.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-north-carolina/north-carolina-seat-in-u-s-congress-likely-to-stay-vacant-as-fraud-controversy-intensifies-idUSKCN1OR1KE
 partisan fight over a North Carolina congressional contest under investigation for election fraud intensified on Friday after legal developments reshaped a state elections board.

Click here to download a pdf of this article, Missile.pdf
 
 

U.S. retail sales topped forecasts in November, with the so-called control group subset -- used to calculate gross domestic product and which excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gas stations -- climbing 0.9 percent.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-14/blowout-november-for-u-s-retail-sales?srnd=premium-asia
That was more than double the median projection of economists and followed an upwardly revised 0.7 percent increase the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The data indicate that consumers are giving a bigger boost to the economy than expected this quarter and may alleviate some concerns that growth is significantly weakening.

The House increased the chances of a partial U.S government shutdown by voting to give President Donald Trump funds for his proposed border wall in a spending bill the Senate is sure to reject hours before a midnight Friday deadline.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-21/shutdown-looms-as-house-backs-trump-border-funds-senate-opposes
The 217-185 House vote Thursday capped a tumultuous day in which Trump surprised fellow Republicans by insisting he won’t sign a bill without the border money, after the White House had hinted he would accept it. Now, the House and Senate have passed spending measures that differ in one crucial way -- the House bill includes the $5 billion Trump is demanding for a wall and the Senate version, passed a day earlier, does not.
The Senate is scheduled to convene at noon Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is almost certain to advance the same measure, without wall money, that the GOP-controlled chamber easily passed by voice vote Wednesday.

 “Significant” cuts to taxes and fees will be enacted in 2019 and while monetary policy will remain “prudent,” officials will strike an “appropriate” balance between tightening and loosening, according to a statement published after the annual Economic Work Conference that concluded in Beijing Friday.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-21/china-says-more-tax-cuts-coming-signals-easier-monetary-policy?srnd=premium-asia
The statement signals that China is ratcheting up the limited, targeted stimulus approach used during 2018, though still stopping short of the all-out support that would pressure the currency and hobble efforts to contain debt. Facing the most difficult economic environment in years amid the trade standoff with the U.S., the conference outcome suggests Beijing sees increasing urgency in tackling stalling growth.

A coordinated offensive against Chinese cyber-espionage from the United States and its allies shows a different approach to countering what they call theft of commercial and government secrets.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/21/china-hacker-accusations-us-teams-with-allies-to-counter-cyber-threat.html
The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealandjoined Washington on Thursday in condemning cyber-espionage on the same day that Washington indicted two Chinese nationals, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, for participating in a 12-year global hacking campaign in conjunction with the Chinese government.
China’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the accusations, calling them “slanderous.”
The fact that Thursday’s offensive was executed as a united front is significant, Abigail Grace, research associate in the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for New American Security said in a tweet.

The possible withdrawal of Japanese conglomerates from nuclear export projects in Britain and Turkey would leave the nuclear newbuild industry open to Russian and Chinese state-owned companies as Western private firms struggle to compete.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclearpower-russia-focus/japan-inc-exit-from-nuclear-exports-would-leave-field-to-russia-china-idUSKCN1OK148
Japanese media reported this month that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) was set to scrap the Sinop nuclear project in Turkey as cost estimates had nearly doubled to around 5 trillion yen ($44 billion).
Last week, Hitachi was reported to be considering whether to scrap its 3 trillion yen Horizon nuclear project in Britain as cost estimates had risen, while Toshiba liquidated its UK project this year.
“Without Horizon, Japan is left without a nuclear project abroad ... this is becoming a Russia/China-dominated industry,” said a consultant who advises one of Japan’s nuclear groups.

Japan’s population decline continued in 2018, with fewer than 1 million babies born for the third consecutive year.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-21/births-in-japan-hit-new-low-miss-1-million-for-third-year?srnd=premium-asia
Live births of Japanese nationals in Japan were estimated at 921,000, the lowest annual figure since records began in 1899, according to a health ministry survey released Friday.
The most deaths in any year since the end of World War II led to a record net population decline of about 448,000 people, 54,000 more than in 2017.

China, the world’s top oil importer, is set to start 2019 buying little or no crude from the United States despite a three-month truce in a trade scrap between the two nations, with relatively high freight costs and political uncertainty choking demand.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-oil/crude-refusal-china-shuns-u-s-oil-despite-trade-war-truce-idUSKCN1OK0FG
That muted appetite means the United States, which became the world’s top oil producer this year as its shale output hit record levels, will continue to hold only a sliver of China’s market even as a wave of new refining capacity starts up there.

It also suggests that China is unlikely to use crude purchases to help plug a widening trade gap with the United States, which remains a core source of tensions between the world’s top two economies.

Click here to download a pdf of this article, Missile.pdf
 
 

“The Fed is really in a sweet spot right now: Growth is good, unemployment is very low at 3.7 percent and they’re roughly at their target of 2 percent inflation. So, what could be better?” Heller told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/20/federal-reserve-in-sweet-spot-to-hike-rates-to-neutral-robert-heller.html
The Federal Reserve is well positioned to bring interest rates in the U.S.back to neutral levels, and it may need to raise rates two or three more times, former Fed Governor Robert Heller said.
“They have to continue on their path of taking away the accommodation and get into a neutral stance and that’s exactly what they did,” he added.
“I think the market got what it expected and that was a 25 basis points increase, but did not get what it hoped,” John Petrides, managing director and portfolio manager at Point View Wealth Management, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.
 

“Some of the elements in oil’s bullish story have fallen apart,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG in Zurich. “U.S. production is higher than expected, concerns over spare capacity didn’t materialize, and the OPEC+ cuts don’t start until January. The correction in equities triggered by the Fed didn’t help either.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-20/oil-drops-as-fed-s-interest-rates-boost-clouds-growth-outlook?srnd=premium-europe
Crude’s set for its worst quarterly drop in four years despite an accord between OPEC and its allies to cut 1.2 million barrels a day of production from January. While Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said he’s certain the deal will be extended in April, the assurance coming even before the pact has gone into effect only highlighted the prevailing anxiety in the market.

On Wednesday, Saudi Minister Al-Falih said the current price dip isn’t based on supply and demand of oil, but stems in part from factors including geopolitics, U.S. interest rates, the strength of the American currency and investor speculation. Still, he added that the group will “need more time” for production curbs to balance the market.

“It’s a disaster for OPEC,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “It will definitely take time for fundamentals to improve.”

 

“The broader economic outlook will continue to depend significantly on the nature of EU withdrawal,” the minutes of the meeting said. “The monetary policy response to Brexit, whatever form it takes, will not be automatic and could be in either direction.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-20/boe-keeps-interest-rate-on-hold-as-brexit-uncertainty-rises?srnd=premium-europe

The Bank of England said the uncertainty around Britain’s divorce from the European Union was intensifying as it kept interest rates unchanged.
The Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mark Carney, voted 9-0 to hold the benchmark at 0.75 percent. All but one of the 61 economists in a Bloomberg survey correctly predicted Thursday’s decision.

U.K. policy makers said they now see inflation slowing below the 2 percent target as soon as January after oil prices fell. Nevertheless, stronger-than-anticipated wage growth and weak productivity suggest that underlying inflation pressures are building.


Japanese stocks entered a bear market as the last policy statements of the year from the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan added to mounting investor concerns.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-20/japan-stocks-decline-after-fed-rate-hike-as-growth-concerns-rise?srnd=premium-asia
"It looks like the market had been expecting some sort of action from the BOJ, like maybe an increase in the amount of ETF purchases -- but there was nothing,” said Tetsuo Seshimo, a portfolio manager at Saison Asset Management Co. "And with the Fed kind of slowing the pace of its rate hikes, that would mean a weaker dollar and a stronger yen."

Deloitte received 108 responses to the poll from executives at a mix of multinational, state-owned and privately owned companies operating in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. The survey was conducted between September and November.
A total of 69 percent of respondents hold positions at the level of CFO or finance director, while 8 percent are vice presidents, Deloitte said.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/20/trade-war-finance-execs-less-confident-on-china-economy-deloitte.html
Asked what countries or regions would benefit from shifting trade patterns, 53 percent of the executives said Southeast Asia would see the largest increase in export volumes, with only 9 percent choosing China.
“Southeast Asia has been developing itself as a manufacturing hub and the changes may provide it unforeseen opportunities,” Deloitte said in its explanation of the results.
“The region may also benefit from companies shifting manufacturing capabilities to avoid some of the trade protectionist measures,” the consultancy added.
And regarding the outlook for China’s currency, 74 percent of respondents said they expect the yuan to weaken further against the dollar in the coming year.
Deloitte’s Chou said executives are hungry for a positive resolution to the conflict:  “If (the U.S. and China) can eventually reach an agreement, business sentiment will quickly improve.”

But buried in 439 pages of proposed regulations released by the Internal Revenue Service last month was an unfortunate surprise for investors in so-called trader hedge funds like Point72, which trade stocks or other assets frequently: Their tax bills might increase as a result of the deduction limit.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-20/hedge-fund-pain-compounded-as-surprise-tax-hit-awaits-investors?srnd=premium
“The rules create the worst possible situation,” said David Miller, a tax lawyer at Proskauer Rose LLP.
Trader funds that borrow money to make their wagers could be hit hardest. Here’s how it works: Those funds can now only deduct a certain amount of the interest they pay on that borrowed money (previously they could deduct it in full). Any remaining interest costs get passed to fund investors.
Investors can only deduct those interest costs along with any of the fund’s investment interest expenses on their 2019 tax returns if the fund has had relatively strong performance and generated enough interest income against which to take the deductions.
With hedge funds overall down 3.62 percent this year through November, many funds won’t meet that hurdle -- and wind up saddling investors with a “double whammy” of non-deductible fund expenses, said Simcha David, a tax partner at accounting and advisory firm EisnerAmper, which works with investment funds.
Hedge funds that buy and hold assets -- so-called investor funds that aren’t engaged in quick trading -- aren’t affected by the deduction cap. And businesses with average annual gross receipts of less than $25 million are also exempt.

“The danger of the situation is being downplayed,” Putin told the audience of over 1,000 journalists at his year-end question and answer session.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/20/putin-warns-the-threat-of-nuclear-war-should-not-be-underestimated-.html
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the threat of a nuclear war should not be discounted and criticized the U.S.′ move to withdraw from an international nuclear treaty.
“It now seems to be impossible, something without crucial importance, but at the same time if something like this would happen this would lead to the collapse of the entire civilization and maybe our planet. So this is an important question,” he said via a translator.
“Unfortunately, we have this trend to underestimate the current situation. There are dangers, there are risks in our day-to-day lives. What are those risks? First and foremost, the collapse of the international system of arms control, of moving away from an arms race,” he said.

North Korea said Thursday it will never unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons unless the United States first removes what Pyongyang called a nuclear threat. The surprisingly blunt statement jars with Seoul’s rosier presentation of the North Korean position and could rattle the fragile trilateral diplomacy to defuse a nuclear crisis that last year had many fearing war.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/20/north-korea-says-it-wont-denuclearize-unless-the-us-removes-threat.html
The latest from North Korea comes as the United States and North Korea struggle over the sequencing of the denuclearization that Washington wants and the removal of international sanctions desired by Pyongyang. The statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency also raises credibility problems for the liberal South Korean government, which has continuously claimed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is genuinely interested in negotiating away his nuclear weapons as Seoul tries to sustain a positive atmosphere for dialogue.

In the middle of this century, climate change is likely to punch a hole through the busiest stretch of rail in North America. Parts of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route, which carries 12 million people each year between Boston and Washington, face “continual inundation.” Flooding, rising seas, and storm surge threaten to erode the track bed and knock out the signals that direct train traffic. The poles that provide electricity for trains are at risk of collapse, even as power substations succumb to floodwaters. “If one of the segments of track shuts down, it will shut down this segment of the NEC,” warned members of Amtrak’s planning staff. “There is not an alternate route that can be used as a detour.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-amtrak-sea-level/?srnd=premium
That was the conclusion of a three-volume, multi-year climate study undertaken with first Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and then Stantec Inc. Although the report was completed in April 2017, its conclusions were kept private until this November, when a partially redacted version was obtained by Bloomberg through a public records request. Titled “Amtrak NEC Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment,” the document outlines the severe threat facing one 10-mile section of the 457 miles of track, much of which runs perilously close to water.

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It is not about if the Fed is raising rates, but how they will adjust policy going forward.
Stock buybacks hit a record $1.1T.
Mnuchin says China and US are planning talks in January.
Over-supply and slowing economic activity weighing on oil.
The European Commission is unveiling plans to avoid an "immediate disruption" of a harder Brexit.
Germany is tightening up rules on foreign ownership of German companies.
China and the US are battling it out in the WTO court.
The Senate passes the bipartisan prison reform bill.

 

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German debt sales rise as they refinance bad bank fund.
Xi says reform and opening up of the country is revolutionary.
China signs oil deals with nine firms.
Chinese export hub Guangdong has stopped publishing monthly economic data.
The UK economy heads toward a bleak 2019/
Waiting for OPEC.
The ECB wants Italy to cut 2.5 to 3B Euros more.
Credit Suisse advises rich clients to consider accelerating their shift out of UK assests.
Japan buys more military stuff from the US.
Spacex taps into the lucrative spy satellite launching business.
 

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It looks like we are headed for a patial shutdown.
US student loan debt has doubled since 2009.
Small assault style rifles firms are thriving.
The king of machine guns.
Malaysia files criminal charges against Goldman.
The percentage of high school e-cigarette usage nealy doubles.
US land usage.
European retail sales shows signs of serious deterioration in November.
A powerful explosion wrecked offices at Greece's DKAI TV.
China's electric car makers are heading for a make or brake moment.
Toyota struggles to save the Prius hybrid.
Saudi Arabia rejects the US Senate interferenc. ​

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Stock market exodus is the second largest on record.
Trump says GM will not be treated well.
EU leaders brush off May's pleas for help on Brexit.
Italy's Conte seeks EU leaders backing on a revised budget.
The French exacerbate the Euro area slowdown.
China's consumers and factories take a beating.
China will suspend additional tariffs on US made vehicles on January 1.
Yale's Stephen roach asks why the US singled out Huawei.
Shales has made predicting oil prices an effort in futility.
Transoceanic freight peak season has been extra speacial.
Russia is ready to discuss nuclear capable cruise missiles and launchers with the US.
 

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NY Lawmakers look to end predatory lending.
Marriott data breach may give the US a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China.
China resumes buying soybeans.
Brexit guide to the end game.
ECB lowered the 2019 inflation forecast.
Macron is the wrong man for France.
Brent crude falls below $60 per barrel.
Qatar's OPEC exit frees them from the US legal concern.
 

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Farmer's finance conditions continue to deteriorate.
Odds increase on a partial government shutdown.
Apple is sadi to mull noving iphone output if tariffs hit 25%.
Fed Piles up $66B in paper losses but it doesn't matter.
Theresa Mays possible confidence vote outcomes.
Oil holds loss as doubts surface over production cuts.
Gasoline refining margins are dropping.
Turkey going back into Syria.
Macron's Euro Zone dream is turning into a nightmare.

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