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Wed, 22nd February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “United States presidential election” Tag

Obama Makes First Statement Since Leaving White House, Supports Protests Against Trump Policy

It took Obama ten days since he departed the White House one final time to break his promise that he would “stay on the sidelines” regarding Trump’s policies…

… and in his first public statement, the former president the charge that the Trump administration had based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by his own administration, and endorsed the protests that have been taking place across the country in response to the new restrictions.

Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, said rejected Trump’s insistence that the decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America is similar to a 2011 decision by Obama. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

As a reminder, over the past 24 hours, Trump has compared his actions to Obama’s 2011 moves to restrict entries from Iraq after two Iraqis were arrested in Kentucky on terrorism charges.

Former Obama administration officials have denied that there was ever a halt to the awarding of visas to Iraqis, though the processing of these applications slowed after they were subject to more intense scrutiny.

Obama’s decision to step back into the public light comes just 10 days after he left office. He joins the chorus of Democrats and mostly tech CEOs criticizing Trump for his decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America.

12 major executive orders signed by Donald Trump

In less than two weeks as president, Donald Trump has signed several executive orders and presidential memoranda, but with the maelstrom that has followed some of them, it is easy to forget the range of them.

  1. Executive order against Obamacare: Throughout the presidential campaign, Mr Trump promised that if elected, he would repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act dubbed Obamacare. Within hours of being sworn in, Mr Trump signed an executive order that said agencies should exercise all their authority to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of any provision of Obamacare that would impose a cost or burden on states, individuals, insurers or healthcare companies.
  2. Memorandum regarding Mexico City Policy: This move saw Mr Trump reviving a ban on foreign aid to overseas aid organisations that provide or promote abortions.
  3. Presidential Memorandum on government hiring: Mr Trump last Monday ordered a freeze on hiring federal civilian employees but said the order did not apply to military personnel.
  4. Presidential memorandum on the TPP: Withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiation other trade deals that he deemed unfair were also part of Mr Trump’s campaign promises. And just days after taking office, he withdrew America from the 12-nation TPP, which had been a signature trade deal for President Obama and part of his pivot to Asia. The move was in keeping with Mr Trump’s promises of “America first”.
  5. Executive order expediting environmental reviews: He also signed an order aimed at speeding up environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects.
  6. Presidential memoranda on pipelines: Last Tuesday, Mr Trump also took steps to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, that had been rejected by the previous president. Mr Trump said the pipelines would help his campaign promises of creating blue-collar jobs at home and added that portions built in the US would have to use domestically produced steel.
  7. Executive order ‘enhancing public safety in the Interior of the US: The purpose of the order is to enforce immigration laws domestically, giving immigration agencies authority to remove ‘aliens’ they believe could pose a risk to public safety or national security.
  8. Executive order on border security and immigration enforcement: With this order, Mr Trump acted on his campaign promise of a physical wall on the border between Mexico and the US, including all points of entry. Mr Trump also took to Twitter to argue once again the Mexico would pay for the wall, a move that prompted Mexico president Enrique Pena Nieto to call off a planned meeting.
  9. Executive order protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry: It is Mr Trump’s order to severely restrict immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations that stirred up rousing protests over the weekend.
  10. Executive order on reducing regulation: The order that has been billed as a move to support local businesses requires that “whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed”.
  11. Executive order on ethics commitments: The order signed on Saturday places a five-year lobbying ban on the executive branch of employees.
  12. Presidential Memorandum plan to defeat Isis: On Saturday, Mr Trump also signed a plan to that would require the Secretary of Defense to, within 30 days submit a preliminary plan to defeat Isis.

Trump To Sign Executive Order Restricting Immigration From Seven Muslim Countries

Having taken on the Keystone pipeline and America’s struggling manufacturing sector in a flurry of executive actions on Tuesday, moments ago Reuters reported, citing several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter, that on Wednesday Donald Trump will sign several executive orders restricting immigration. The president is expected to sign the orders at the Washington headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration and border security.

Trump’s orders are said to involve restricting access to the United States for refugees and some visa holders from seven mostly Muslim nations including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Additionally, Trump’s restrictions on refugees are likely to include a multi-month ban on admissions from all countries until the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security can increase the intensity of the vetting process.

During his presidential campaign, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States to protect Americans from jihadist attacks. Many Trump supporters decried Democratic President Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that those fleeing the country’s civil war would carry out attacks. However, since then both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose emigres could pose a threat rather than placing a ban on people who follow a specific religion.

As Reuters adds, to block entry from the designated countries, Trump is likely to instruct the U.S. State Department to stop issuing visas to people from those nations, according to sources familiar with the visa process. He could also instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop any current visa holders from those countries from entering the United States. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the State and Homeland Security departments would work on the vetting process once Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, is installed.

Trump Signs 3 Executive Orders: Withdraws From TPP, Freezes Federal Hiring, Limits Overseas Abortion Funding

“It’s a great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said on Monday after signing an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 other nations. He didn’t sign any actions to direct a renegotiation of the Nafta accord with Mexico and Canada, yet he said on Sunday he would begin talks with the two leaders on modifying the accord, BBG reported. “We’ve been talking about this a long time,” Trump said. 

Trump’s trade focus fulfills a campaign promise to rewrite America’s trade policy during his first days as president. In declaring his determination to renegotiate Nafta, Trump would rework an agreement that has governed commerce in much of the Western hemisphere for 22 years. By scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord negotiated by former President Barack Obama, Trump will delight many of his most fervent supporters as well as a good many Democrats, while opening an economic vacuum in Asia that China is eager to fill.

Trump campaigned against the TPP and other trade deals, including Nafta, during his campaign for the White House. In a video released in November, Trump promised to exit TPP “on day one,” calling it “a potential disaster for our country.”

Priebus: Trump “Accepts” That Russia Played A Role In Election Hacking

In a surprising twist, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday on Fox News that President-elect Donald Trump accepts that Russia played a role in hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.

Priebus, the former RNC chairman, said Trump understands that Moscow was behind the intrusions into the Democratic Party organizations. “He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia so that’s not the issue” and added that Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign.”

“But here’s the thing that I think everyone needs to understand — when this whole thing started, it started from the Russians 50 years ago … This is something that’s been going on in our elections for many, many years.” Priebus said it “happens every election period.”

“In this particular case, it started way back in 2015 before either nominee of either party was chosen,” Priebus said. “And it started … as a spearfishing expedition over many different institutions.”

Additionaly, Priebus blasted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for its lack of IT defenses. The DNC was warned multiple times by the FBI before being hacked, Priebus added, and officials didn’t respond. “So yes, we have bad actors around the world,” Priebus said.”But we also have a problem when we have a major political institution that allows foreign governments into their system with hardly any defenses or training.”

As Reuters notes, Priebus’ comments marked a major shift in the official Trump narrative: the president elect has repeatedly dismissed claims that the Russians were trying to help him, arguing that those charges are the product of his political opponents trying to undermine his victory. 

So far, Trump has only indirectly acknowledged the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election and has consistently downplayed its significance — and the president-elect has a history of later contradicting what his surrogates tell the media.

On Friday morning, shortly before being briefed by US intelligence, Trump tweeted that “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place.The Republican National Committee had strong defense!” He then tweeted two follow-up comments, first that “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!” followed by “Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!”

After the briefing, Trump stated, “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

Global Debt Hits 325% Of World GDP, Rises To Record $217 Trillion

While we eagerly await the next installment of the McKinsey study on global releveraging, we noticed that in the latest report from the Institute for International Finance released on Wednesday, total debt as of Q3 2016 once again rose sharply, increasing by $11 trillion in the first 9 months of the year, hitting a new all time high of $217 trillion. As a result, late in 2016, global debt levels are now roughly 325% of the world’s gross domestic product.

In terms of composition, emerging market debt rose substantially, as government bond and syndicated loan issuance in 2016 grew to almost three times its 2015 level. And, as has traditionally been the case, China accounted for the lion’s share of the new debt, providing $710 million of the total $855 billion in new issuance during the year, the IIF reported.

Joining other prominent warnings, the IIF warned that higher borrowing costs in the wake of the U.S. presidential election and other stresses, including “an environment of subdued growth and still-weak corporate profitability, a stronger (U.S. dollar), rising sovereign bond yields, higher hedging costs, and deterioration in corporate creditworthiness” presented challenges for borrowers.

Additionally, “a shift toward more protectionist policies could also weigh on global financial flows, adding to these vulnerabilities,” the IIF warned.

“Moreover, given the importance of the City of London in debt issuance and derivatives (particularly for European and EM firms), ongoing uncertainties surrounding the timing and nature of the Brexit process could pose additional risks including a higher cost of borrowing and higher hedging costs.”

For now, however, record debt despite rising interest rates, remain staunchly bullish and the equity market’s only concern is just when will the Dow Jones finally crack 20,000. 

Sadly, since we don’t have access to the underlying data in the IIF report, we leave readers with a snapshot of just the global bond market courtesy of the latest JPM quarterly guide to markets. It provides a concise snapshot of the indebted state of the world.

Donald Trump Seals Electoral College Victory, Officially Becomes 45th US President

It’s finally over: Donald Trump has secured 304 Electoral Votes following the Texas vote (with 2 faithless electors), officially securing the presidency of the United States.  Of course, the now official President-Elect Trump took to twitter to confirm the victory:

Texas’ 36 electoral votes for Trump pushed him over the edge at around 4:30 Central Time, even though two rogue electors’ defections deprived Trump of one of those votes. That gave Trump 304 total electoral votes.

A quick recap of the day’s events from the WSJ:

 Members of the Electoral College meeting in state capitals across the country on Monday confirmed President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, ending a last-ditch campaign to deny him the presidency. Mr. Trump amassed at least 270 electoral votes on Monday afternoon—enough to officially become the president-elect over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, according to a tally of votes by the Associated Press.

Typically just a formality, this year’s Electoral College vote attracted an outsize amount of attention after a group of mostly Democratic electors made a late push to block Mr. Trump’s path to the White House. They argued the Electoral College had a constitutional duty to act independently of the will of the voters in extraordinary circumstances. Protesters gathered in several state capitols across the country to encourage electors to reject Mr. Trump.

Japan Overtakes China as Biggest Overseas US Debt Holder as Renminbi Drops

Mainland China has lost its status as the largest overseas holder of the US debt to Japan as the recent decline in the renminbi’s FX rate and the strengthening yen have affected the value of the two nations’ respective Treasury note portfolios.

The yen’s status as safe haven asset as fiscal stimulus effort have attracted investment capital to Japan, resulting in stronger yen, whilst China, struggling with low factory-gate inflation and weak international demand for manufactured goods, had to decrease its holdings of the US debt. Japan, now the biggest foreign holder of US Treasury debt, held $1.13 trln worth of US bonds in October, whilst China’s holdings shrank to their six-year lowest at $1.12 trln, according to the data from the US Department of the Treasury. Beijing has been selling US bonds in order to alleviate the downward pressure on the renminbi’s FX rate stemming from lingering economic turmoil. Mainland China uses the dollars obtained from selling the Treasuries to buyback the renminbi, currently at its 8-year lowest in offshore trading.

Japan, however, had been selling Treasuries in early autumn, too, due to the uncertainty surrounding the US presidential election. The subsequent developments in the form of the election of Donald Trump and the plunge in Treasury bond value accompanied by the rising benchmark 10-year yield have proven selling Treasuries the right move, but the yen’s ongoing appreciation has made Japan the largest international US bond holder.

Overnight US Market :Dow Closed +40 points

Stocks closed mixed Monday as the Dow hit a new all-time high and as oil prices jumped after several non-OPEC countries agreed to join the cartel in cutting output and as investors focused on interest rates. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq snapped 6-day winning streaks and retreated from record highs.

Investors were also focusing on interest rates as Federal Reserve  policymakers meet this week and most economists expect the Fed to announce a rate hike at the conclusion of the 2-day meeting on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39.58 points, or 0.2%, to a record close of 19,796.43, according to preliminary calculations. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.1% to 2256.96,  after rising in early trading to set a new intraday record. The Nasdaq composite index dropped fell 0.6% to 5412.54.

Energy stocks got a boost as the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil jumped 2.6% to $52.83 a barrel as oil-producing countries outside of OPEC agreed to reduce production by 558,000 barrels per day. That comes after OPEC countries agreed in November to reduce production by 1.2 million barrels per day.

US 10-year yield climbs above 2.5%, stocks mixed

Oil prices surged to their highest level since July 2015 on Monday raising concerns about inflation and helped push the US 10-year Treasury yield above the 2.5 per cent mark.

The yield on the US 10-year, which moves inversely to price, climbed above 2.5 per cent for the first time in two years to 2.5005 per cent.

“The bearishness in the bond market is even more acute than the bullishness on equities,” David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff, said.

Alongside energy prices, Peter Tchir at Brean Capital also said the weakness in Japan “is concerning to global bond investors”. He noted the Bank of Japan had pledge in September to keep the 10-year yield on the Japanese government bond at or below zero per cent. Instead, the JGB is now at nearly 0.8 per cent. That “might be an indication of Central Banks losing their ability or willingness to suppress interest rates,” he said.

Despite the run up in oil prices, the S&P 500 was down 0.1 per cent to 2,257.67, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 19,760.14 — less than 300 points shy of breaching the 20,000 level. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.5 per cent to 5,420.70.

Investors appear to be pausing for breathe following the sharp run up in stocks in recent weeks.