• ‘Canada is Hot Right Now’: Port Cities Expect Spike in Cruise Visitors this Summer

    MONTREAL—Canadian port cities expect to get an economic boost this summer from an influx of cruise visitors attracted by a low loonie and the country’s 150th birthday celebrations. Ports across Atlantic Canada, Quebec and British Columbia are anticipating a surge in cruise traffic. “Canada is hot right now,” Pierre Bellerose of Montreal’s tourism board said in an interview. With the opening in May of a $78-million refurbished passenger terminal, the Port of Montreal anticipates the number of cruise passengers and crew members will be up 28 per cent from last year to 110,000 as the city is celebrates its 375th birthday and Canada’s sesquicentennial. “The Port of Montreal is at the heart of those celebrations,” said port CEO Sylvie Vachon. “We know that maritime trade has played an important role in the development of the city and the entire country.”
    The extra passengers are expected to generate an additional $5.5 million in local spending, raising the total this year to about $30 million, says Tourisme Montreal. Ports in Atlantic Canada are also anticipating double-digit increases in 2017 above the nearly 600,000 passengers that landed last year, said Brian Webb, executive director of Cruise Atlantic Canada. “It’s looking great across the board, so every single port looks to be seeing increases,” he said from Nova Scotia.
    Newfoundland and Labrador is expecting a record cruise season with an expected 99,266 passenger and crew visits, up from 50,448 passenger and crew visits in 2016. “We’re definitely excited about the increases because it will mean increased economic activity,” Webb added. While in Canadian ports, cruise ship passengers spent almost $262 million or nearly $150 per person in 2012, according to the latest study conducted by the industry. Average spending was highest in B.C. ports, which accounted for 54 per cent of the more than two million passenger visits and 77 per cent of spending. A new study is slated to be released this spring. Webb attributed most of the growth in visitors to the low value of the Canadian dollar which encouraged cruise lines a couple of years ago to add routes this summer. Canada’s birthday celebrations, the Tall Ships gathering in Halifax from July 29 to Aug. 1 and increased tourism efforts across the region are also contributing factors, said Lane Farguson, spokesman for the Port of Halifax. The Port of Halifax, largest in Atlantic Canada, welcomed 238,000 cruise passengers in 2016, up seven per cent from the prior year. “And things are looking very, very strong for the year ahead,” he said, noting that the favourable currency makes cruising in Canada a cost-effective option for America visitors. Although the number of vessels calling at Halifax decreased last year, the port is seeing larger ships, with the Royal Caribbean’s 4,100-passenger Anthem-of-the-Seas setting a record for most passengers last fall. In Vancouver, Canada’s largest port anticipates a strong cruise season after seeing volumes grow three per cent in 2016 to 830,000 passengers, mainly on Alaskan cruise itineraries. Prince Rupert, B.C., foresees a doubling of the smaller cruise ships that will come ashore at the port on the cruising route near the Alaskan border. “For Prince Rupert, a community of 14,000 people, it’s a significant driver to the economy when a cruise ship sails into Prince Rupert it increases the population by about 13 per cent so it has a huge impact on the local economy,” said port CEO Don Krusel.
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  • Canadian Firms Upbeat About post-election U.S. Growth: Survey

    After downgrading its forecast in October, the Bank of Canada offered a rosier outlook Monday for the Canadian economy in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, as businesses in this country anticipate gains from stronger growth stateside. In its winter 2016-17 business sentiment survey, Canada’s central bank says the new U.S. administration is expected to underpin commodity price gains, although concerns over rising consumer costs and trade protectionism in the U.S. cloud the horizon. Companies are generally more optimistic about future sales than at this time last year, and plan to boost investment and hiring as domestic and U.S. demand picks up, the bank said. In its survey last January —when West Texas crude traded below $32 (U.S.) per barrel — the bank forecast a downturn in business spending along with sluggish GDP growth. The bank in its summer 2015 survey of business sentiment found low oil prices undermining confidence and presaged another rate cut that occurred later that year.
    Last October, the central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent, but cut its economic forecasts through 2018, citing a rebound in the export sector that had not materialized as anticipated. But the bank in its business outlook released Monday said “forward-looking measures of business activity have improved as domestic sales growth gains momentum.” The outlook is based on interviews conducted late last year with about 100 executives from representative firms across the economy. “The drag from the oil price shock and related spillovers is gradually dissipating, and demand growth remains steady in less-affected regions. Foreign demand continues to support export prospects.”
    Overall, the survey said companies expected faster sales growth over the next 12 months, with support anticipated from services, housing and tourism. Exporters cited the weaker Canadian dollar and stronger U.S. demand as the most important supporting factors for improving sales expectations. The survey also found stronger investment intentions among firms for the coming year, especially in Central and Eastern Canada, as well as more-widespread hiring expectations in most sectors and regions. Some respondents to the bank’s survey said suppliers are moving to stabilize or increase prices following cuts over the past two years, or to pass on anticipated increases in commodity costs. The bank said inflation expectations edged up in the survey period from a low level and remain concentrated in the lower half of the bank’s inflation-control range of 1 to 3 per cent. Most respondents pointed to hiring plans over the next 12 months, although the bank said “material excess slack remains” in staffing at resource-related businesses. And the bank said some companies were optimistic about potential moves by the incoming Trump administration. “Firms’ views . . . are divided: some are optimistic about the prospect of increased infrastructure and military spending as well as changes in energy policies, while others are more pessimistic, often because of the risk of increased protectionism,” the central bank said.
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  • Trump Reverses: Transition is Going ‘Very, Very Smoothly’

    President-elect Donald Trump’s transition into the White House is going “very, very smoothly,” he said Wednesday afternoon, hours after complaining on Twitter that President Barack Obama’s “roadblocks” had made for a rough changeover of power. When asked by pool reporters whether he thought the transition was going smoothly, Trump replied: “Oh, I think very, very smoothly. Very good. You don't think so?” The reversal apparently comes after Trump and Obama spoke privately. “He phoned me,” Trump told reporters. “We had a very nice conversation.” Trump, however, would not say whether he broached his roadblock allegations in his conversation with the president. “We had a very general conversation,” he said. “Very, very nice. Appreciated that he called.” Later, he told reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago residence that he and Obama "had a good talk about things. He was in Hawaii. It was a very nice call and I actually thought we covered a lot of territory. "Our staffs are getting along very well. And I'm getting along very well with him, other than a couple of statements that I responded to and we talked about it and smiled about it. And nobody is ever going to know because we're never going to be going against each other in that way. It was a great conversation." After weeks of warm words and promises of a smooth transition in the wake of perhaps the most contentious presidential election in modern history, Trump accused Obama in a Wednesday morning tweet of throwing up “roadblocks.” “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks,” he wrote, referring to the president by his initial. “Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!” The two men, who had little positive to say about each other on the campaign trail, seemingly buried the hatchet during an Oval Office meeting that took place just days after Trump’s surprising victory in last month’s election. Obama and Trump have spoken multiple times since then and both expressed interest in a seamless transition between administrations. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday during the transition team's daily conference call for reporters that "as the inauguration gets closer, both the current president and his team have been very helpful and generous with their time as far as the actual transition, the mechanics of the transition have gone, and I expect them to continue to speak fairly regularly.” But Spicer also refused to tone down his boss' Twitter rhetoric, telling reporters that the president-elect's social media posts "speak for themselves, I think very clearly." The budding relationship between the president and president-elect has frayed in recent weeks, first over the assessment of the FBI and CIA that the Russian government launched cyberattacks targeting the U.S. electoral process with the intention of aiding Trump's candidacy. Trump has been unwilling to concede the validity of that assessment, or even that Russia was behind the cyberattacks at all, a stance that prompted critical remarks from White House press secretary Josh Earnest. The president-elect also lashed out this week at the Obama administration over its unwillingness to defend Israel at the United Nations against a resolution condemning it for new settlement activity. He told reporters that Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech Wednesday defending the U.S. abstention “really spoke for itself” and suggested the United Nations has failed to live up to its potential. “When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don’t,” he said. “They cause problems. So if it lives up to the potential, it’s a great thing. And if it doesn't, it’s a waste of time and money.” In an earlier tweet Wednesday, he said that “we cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect” and urged Israel to “stay strong” because his inauguration on “January 20th is fast approaching!” Obama also has made veiled criticisms of Trump in various public remarks, indirectly attacking the president-elect multiple times during his end-of-year news conference and in his remarks Tuesday at Pearl Harbor, where he warned that “even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.” And in an interview with CNN’s David Axelrod, his former senior adviser, Obama said he was confident that he could have won a third term in a race against Trump running on his “hope and change” message. The president-elect disagreed. “President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me,” Trump wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon. “He should say that but I say NO WAY! - jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.” Read More..

  • Economists Say Trump Delivered Hope

    Economists say Donald Trump is right to credit himself for sending consumer confidence to a 15-year high this month as Americans reported a rosy outlook for job creation, business growth and the stock market. The news broke Tuesday, when the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index soared to 113.7 in December, the highest level since 2001. The jump surprised economists, who say the economy has been slowing down. But it didn’t surprise Trump. "Thanks Donald!” the president-elect said Wednesday morning on Twitter. Trump’s election put the country in a good mood, economists say. “There’s a lot of hope that things are going to change and get better,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. “Let’s see what happens.” American’s weren’t particularly overjoyed about the economy. What made them cheerful was the hope for a new, better economy. The Conference Board’s measure of expectations, a measure of how consumers feel about the future, leapt to a 13-year high as Trump’s promise of more jobs, lower taxes and a better business climate made people upbeat. “Optimism did surge after the election. The question is can we maintain it,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators. “That depends on what happens in terms of the economy and job growth.” It’s not unusual for consumers to feel better after an election, especially when a new party takes office. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and even Barack Obama, who won his first presidential campaign in the midst of the Great Recession, enjoyed a boost in consumer optimism the month they were elected. By contrast, optimism sank as the nation waited on hanging chads and Bush v. Gore at the end of 2000. “Elections always give confidence a boost. There’s a sense of relief that it’s behind us,” Vitner said. “There does seem to be something to the Trump bump.” This election year, the economy has been on a long road to recovery since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Consumer confidence has been on the upswing all year. Still, confidence doesn’t boost wages or create jobs, and nine of the past 10 recessions began under Republican presidents. “Trump will be breaking with tradition if we don’t see a recession in the next four years,” PIMCO’s Joachim Fels wrote in a recent blog post. Read More..

  • What Effects Will Donald Trump Have on the Online Gaming Market

    It is no longer news that Donald Trump is the latest United States’ president. From the perspective of those in the igaming world, his existence in the Oval Office may actually be something worth celebrating. The common perception goes like this: Trump operates casinos with his name on them. He likes gambling and might attempt to legalise it nationwide. At least one poker pro considers this to be right and the emotion echoed through the poker world. However, the only thing we have from Donald Trump on the record is that about five years ago, he tacitly supported online betting. For anyone who is familiar with Donald Trump and his presidential campaign, his statement in the past at times has little bearing on what he says or believes now. The Adelson-Trump connection To put more limitation on the idea that a Trump-led administration would never legalise US online betting or poker, consider the following: Sheldon Adelson, the Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp funded the efforts to stop online betting at the federal level. He also donated a huge sum of money towards the Trump campaign. This is a relationship that for some time now has been percolating with the possibility of having an effect on online betting legalisation. Perhaps you think Sheldon Adelson will not have Trump’s ear despite the money he donated, then you do not know much about politics. If Congress forwards a bill to Trump’s desk prohibiting online betting, the possibility of him approving it is hard to guess given his relationship with Adelson. Being a billionaire himself, Trump is perhaps the least likely president to succumb to monetary bribes. Going on record saying how he won’t accept a dollar during his presidency, it throws it up in the air whether Trump will help online casinos, such as royalvegas.com, or hinder them. RAWA efforts have failed to date In spite of having the majority in both chambers, the Republicans have failed to secure RAWA or any iteration of language criticising online betting, anywhere near passage. Hearings held by Chaffetz late last year were nothing but a disaster. However, that does not imply that the powers leading RAWA will surrender. They might be encouraged by the fact that Republicans have the majorities in the Senate and the House, plus having control of the presidency. Even with that, the Republicans have not been totally on board with RAWA and its implications. That is, it will reverse the online betting laws passed in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey and would ignore legalisation efforts in states like New York and Pennsylvania. RAWA takes over the Tenth Amendment, several lawmakers concur, by taking the ability to manage a form of betting from states’ hands. And that is not an awfully popular position to take for several Republicans. The impact of Trump presidency on online betting is definitely unknown, other than it is not expected to be a positive one. The most probable and most positive circumstances would be the status quo. That implies online betting can be legalised by the states as they wish, without any change at the federal level. But in the range of outcomes, is the not too unrealistic chance that online betting is banned in the US.

  • Achieve Financial Success And A Fulfilling Life – Unlock Your Repressed Destiny

    A desire to achieve financial success and a fulfilling life is a fairly ubiquitous goal that we share as humans, but achieving these two goals at the same time seems to elude most of us.  Fortunately for us, Iain Balmain has found his calling in life as both an esoteric healer and career consultant who seeks to impart his spiritual insights about the human soul to unlock a life path that often eludes our conscious state of mind. He has been practicing as an intuitive consultant in Britain and now seeks to bring his energy, experience and wisdom to America, in an effort to help spread more happiness and fulfillment. In the U.S. in particular, our struggles to achieve financial success and fulfilling lives at the same time seem to be often rooted in the confusion we feel, when we are trying to figure out which degree to pursue, in our efforts to obtain a university or college education.  If we do graduate, we often end up pursuing careers that seem to only existentially drag us down.  This feeling often occurs regardless of how much we earn. In our experiences, which have been documented in countless case studies, the efforts to elevate oneself from economic insecurity up the employment ladder to greater levels of financial security, does not lead us to a greater sense of fulfillment. Research on this issue has been the source of many studies by organizational psychologists who have sought to help businesses yield a more productive workforce, for corporate shareholders. While corporations have sought to shape the minds of their workforce, individual workers and managers have been without a champion who could help them individually achieve the happy, fulfilling and “productive” lives they have always wanted but felt they could never attain. Indeed, we may finally access relatively high paying jobs and finally get to enjoy the material comforts of life that we always thought we had wanted, but still not feel fulfilled as human beings.  We may have simply gone from stressful lives without economic security to the correspondingly negative stresses of higher paying jobs, that we dread going to everyday, in our surrender to the “matrix” of a global capitalist economy. In such a context, we may simply seek to pursue moments of “escapism” through vacations or, worse case scenarios, taking our frustrations out on others, in an effort to dump our negative energies, or through taking drugs and narcotics in an effort to “treat” and contain negative energy. However, we often get inspired when we do occasionally hear about some people, who left a job that they didn't care for, to find a career path in which they were able to feel both financially secure and fulfilled as human beings. Luckily, these people, men and women, were able to unlock their own hidden destiny and live their lives in ways that they were meant to live, by tapping into their souls mission.  It is our soul as human beings –the essence of who we really are - that gets hidden from us in the confusion and chaos of modern life. In this confusion, it is often impossible for most of us to pursue the fulfilling lives that we desire to have while also seeking financial security in order to have that which is imposed upon us as part of living up to this competitive environment, which America stands for: the land of tremendous opportunities. In the new era of Donald Trump as President, whether we voted for him or not, we might feel a renewed need to “find ourselves” onto a path of security and fulfillment in these uncertain but exhilarating times. Thankfully, Iain Balmain is now seeking to further share his spiritual insights in helping America unlock much of its untapped potential, one human being at a time; Americans who have not been luckily enough to stumble across and embrace their soul's destiny. By connecting with a person's soul, through his professional consultations, Iain wishes to awaken and clarify who we really are, that “who” repressed by artificial personae molded by society's chaos, which so often stunts the fruition of our identities. These artificial personas are essentially counterfeit or “fakes” that, if adopted, often mislead us into directions that create frustrations and negative stresses, eventually resulting in unfulfilled lives, the cause of bad health and many other problems. If you're feeling frustrated, lost, confused or uncertain about your career path and also seek a more fulfilled life, you may very well owe it to yourself to find a consultant like Iain Balmain who will inspire your divine potential.  A service like Iain's will save, not only precious time and money, but also promise to rejuvenate the course of personal health from the stresses that impact our daily lives. You contact Iain here - http://innerconsult.co.uk/

  • Samsung Electronics to invest more than $1 billion in US chip production

    Samsung Electronics said on Tuesday it planned to invest more than $1 billion by the end of June 2017 to boost production of system chips at its Austin, Texas, facilities in the United States to meet growing demand. The South Korean firm, the world's second-largest chipmaker behind Intel, said in a statement its investment would boost output of chips for mobile and other electronics devices from its existing facilities in the city. The investment comes after Samsung said last week its capital expenditure for 2016 would rise to a record 27 trillion won ($24 billion), with 13.2 trillion won earmarked for its semiconductor business. While most of Samsung's semiconductor profits come from memory chip sales, it has been trying to boost earnings from other products including its own Exynos mobile processors and contract manufacturing deals with clients such as Qualcomm and Nvidia Samsung did not give further details for its investment plans in Austin, such as how much production capacity would be added.
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  • GM sales drop 1.7 pct; U.S. auto sales seen off Despite Discounts

     General Motors' sales in October fell a less-than-forecast 1.7 percent as hefty gains for pickups and SUVs offset declines for its sedans but the industry was expected to report a larger drop.
    U.S. auto sales in October were seen declining between 6 percent and 8 percent, according to industry analysts, as higher consumer discounts failed to prevent a fall-off from last year's record high. GM said on Tuesday U.S. industry auto sales will be 17.4 million on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, slightly weaker than most industry analysts expected. GM's two full-size pickup truck models, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, collectively fell 7.6 percent. GM's Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon large SUVs collectively gained 69 percent versus a year ago. The vehicles are hugely profitable for GM. The rate of decline in October from a year ago will not be known until later this week because Ford is delaying its sales report due to a fire at its Dearborn, Michigan headquarters on Monday. Fiat Chrysler's sales slid 10 percent, hampered by outsized drop-offs of two sedans it will soon stop making, and a rare decrease of 7 percent for its Jeep SUV brand. Cherokee sales were down 23 percent. Ford, the second-biggest automaker in the U.S. market with a 15 percent share of sales through September, has not said when it will issue its sales report. Analysts expect Ford to show a decline of between 9 percent and 11 percent from a year ago, which some analysts said was due to better discipline on the use of discounts. Others pointed out that the company stemmed production at North American F-150 pickup truck plants and sedan plants to counteract weak demand. Comparisons to last October are pressured because of two fewer selling days. But even with that factored in, sales would likely have been weaker if not for the big consumer discounts, known as incentives, analysts said. TrueCar said October incentives industrywide rose nearly 16 percent from a year earlier, or about $3,600 per new vehicle sold. Nissan's sales fell 2.2 percent, though sales of its SUVs and pickup trucks rose 13 percent.
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  • Asian shares lower; ASX, Nikkei, Kospi, HSI drop more than 1%

    Most Asian markets dropped more than 1 percent after Wall Street's "fear index" spiked on jitters over the U.S. presidential elections. "Markets have been rankled by some polls putting Trump ahead of Clinton for the first time, given Trump's controversial policy platform of re-looking at trade deals and clamping down on immigration," Chang Wei Liang, FX strategist at Mizuho Bank, said in a Wednesday note. Australia's ASX 200 closed down 1.16 percent, or 61.47 points, at 5,229 dragged by its energy subindex, which was down 1.81 percent, and its financials subindex, which fell 1.43 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 ended down 1.76 percent, or 308.07 points, at 17,134.68, likely due to the stronger yen which is seen as a safe haven currency. The yen strengthened against the greenback, fetching 103.86 a dollar as of 1:57 pm HK/SIN, compared to 104 levels seen on Tuesday. In South Korea, the Kospi closed down 1.42 percent, or 28.45 points, at 1,978.94. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.44 percent as of 3:09 pm local time. Mainland China's Shanghai composite was down 0.62 percent, or 19.48 points, at 3,102.97, while the Shenzhen composite slipped 0.63 percent, or 13.06 points, at 2,060.05.
    The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.58 percent at 18,037.1, the S&P 500 ended 0.68 percent lower at 2,111.72, and the Nasdaq composite closed down 0.69 percent at 5,153.58, after a choppy day in which better-than-expected earnings failed to cancel out worries about the U.S. election. The CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX), called the "fear index" because it shows the market's expectations on volatility over a 30-day period, went above the key 20 point during U.S. trading, taking its rise to more than 40 percent over the past six days. It is the first time the VIX has risen for six straight days since the period just before the U.K.'s shock vote to leave the EU, and traders told CNBC the latest climb was due to the increased possibility of a Donald Trump presidency. The VIX last traded at 18.56 as of 4:14 am HK/SIN time.
    Symbol
    Name
    Price
    Change
    %Change
    NIKKEI NIKKEI 17134.68 -307.72 -1.76%
    HSI HSI 22810.50 -336.57 -1.45%
    ASX 200 S&P/ASX 200 5228.99 -61.48 -1.16%
    SHANGHAI Shanghai 3102.96 -19.48 -0.62%
    KOSPI KOSPI Index 1978.94 -28.45 -1.42%
    CNBC 100 CNBC 100 ASIA IDX 6837.65 -75.88 -1.10%
    The Federal Reserve will finish its two-day meeting on Wednesday in the U.S. The central bank is considered very unlikely to hike at the meeting, according to the CNBC Fed Survey, which found that 100 percent of respondents did not expect a move, but 86 percent did forecast a quarter-point hike at the December 13-14 meeting. Meanwhile, it's been a bruising few days for Trump rival Hillary Clinton, after the FBI said it was investigating new emails related to her controversial use of a private server while she served as secretary of state. "Even if the Fed does signal an inclination to lift rates in December, markets will take the view that this is unlikely if a Trump victory leads to uncertainty and a surge in financial market volatility. This view was played out in markets last night with the U.S. dollar falling sharply and gold rallying," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a Wednesday note. Spot gold traded at $1,293.02 per ounce, compared to last week's levels as low as $1,266. In currency markets, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, stood at 97.696 as of 3:12 pm HK/SIN, down from 98 levels on Tuesday. The Mexican peso extended its fall against the dollar, fetching 19.308 per dollar as of 3:12 pm HK/SIN. The peso had sold off as much as 1.3 percent against the greenback to 19.1102 pesos on Tuesday. The Korean won weakened against the greenback to 1,148.45, a three-and-a-half month low. In October, the KRW/USD had depreciated as much as 3.5 percent. "The woes surrounding labor strikes in Hyundai and Samsung's battery flame-outs were part of the domestic reasons that led to the underperformance versus the USD. Arguably, these issues may be partially reflected in the price, but we think that the room for more KRW weakness ahead has increased meaningfully." analysts at National Australia Bank said in a Tuesday note. Singapore's major banks were mixed, OCBC stock was down 0.47 percent at S$8.46 per share, United Overseas Bank slipped 1.12percent to S$18.50, while DBS traded up 0.07 percent at S$15.00 A Moody's Investors Service report on Wednesday warned that the three banks could see their profitability come under further pressure, as seen in their latest financial results. The ratings agency assigned a negative outlook to the banks' ratings in March. "The Q3 results for DBS, OCBC and UOB show a further weakening in the banks' asset quality and profitability, because of the persistent challenges that they face in relation to their oil and gas exposures," said Eugene Tarzimanov, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody's Investor Service, in the note.
    Australia's CSR sees a lift in H1 profits
    Australia's CSR sees a lift in H1 profits  
    Australia's CSR jumped 8.61 percent to A$3.89 after it reported half-year revenue was up 8 percent to A$1.24 billion, and half-year net profit after tax rose 12 percent to A$103.1 million. The building materials company has risen more than 31 percent year-to-date. Shares in Virgin Australia were down 4.17 percent at A$0.23per share, after the airline operator reported an underlying loss before tax of A$3.6 million. Hong Kong-listed Standard Chartered dipped 6.45 percent to HK$63.05 a share, after it reported a 6 percent decline in income from the previous year on Tuesday. The bank also warned that it might have compliance and regulatory struggles ahead, confirming that Hong Kong's financial regulator planned to take action against it because of its role as a joint sponsor in an initial public offering in 2009. Oil majors in the region were all lower, Australia's Santos was down 4.27 percent, Oil Search fell 1.35 percent and Woodside Petroleum dropped 1.07 percent, Japan's Inpex slipped 1.63 percent, while South Korea's S-Oil was up 1.23 percent, China's Shanghai Pechem was down 1.52 percent and Petrochina was down 0.82 percent. U.S. crude futures were down 0.77 percent, at $46.31 a barrel, after it had settled to $46.67 on Tuesday. Global benchmark Brent was down 0.60 percent at $47.85 after it settled at $48.14. The American Petroleum Institute (API) said crude inventory rose by 9.3 million barrels in the week to October 28. A Reuters poll had forecast stockpiles to rise by 1 million barrels. Traders will likely look to the Energy Information Administration's official inventory data, due for release later Wednesday, for further direction.
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  • Homeowners Twice as House rich as Five Years Ago

    America's housing market is heating up again, fortifying the finances of current homeowners and frustrating potential first-time buyers. After hitting bottom in 2012, home prices took off dramatically before leveling off a bit in mid-2014. In the last two months, though, they turned higher again. The amount of equity homeowners now have — the value outside their mortgage debt — has doubled in the last five years, according to CoreLogic. The latest read on September home prices showed a 6.3 percent annual gain, a touch bigger than August and a clear sign that prices are heating up again after cooling through much of spring and summer. "Home-equity wealth has doubled during the last five years to $13 trillion, largely because of the recovery in home prices," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Nationwide during the past year, the average gain in housing wealth was about $11,000 per homeowner, but with wide geographic variation."
    Housing by the numbers
    Housing by the numbers  
    All real estate is local, and while most states show gains in home values, the variance is wide. Connecticut and Alaska are the only states seeing annual price declines. For Connecticut, it is jobs plain and simple. The loss of major employers there, like General Electric's decision to move its headquarters to Boston, have hit the housing market hard. Other states, like Arkansas, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Maine and Maryland, are barely in the black. On the flip side, as tech companies flee California, nearby states like Washington and Oregon are seeing double-digit home price gains, with Colorado and Utah not far behind. Homeowners today show more wealth on paper, but they are not extracting it at nearly the rate they did during the last housing boom. Near-record-low mortgage rates have certainly prompted thousands of borrowers to refinance and lower their monthly payments, but a very small share have extracted cash in these refinances and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). "That weakness of active home equity withdrawal looks in large part to reflect tight credit conditions. Although lenders have reported loosening lending standards for HELOCs in each of the past 15 quarters, that easing has been modest compared to the conventional mortgage market," wrote Matthew Pointon, property economist with Capital Economics. "Indeed, median credit scores for new HELOC originations have not declined at all over the past couple of years, despite the serious delinquency rate on those loans dropping to its lowest since records began in 2008." So homeowners get richer, and those trying to become homeowners have to face not just higher prices, but a severe lack of homes for sale, especially at the entry level. There is clearly demand, just not enough supply. "After all, measures of home purchase sentiment are elevated, and there is evidence that first-time buyers are making a welcome return to the market," added Pointon. They are returning, but still not hitting their historically normal share of homebuyers. While the National Association of Realtors reported a jump in first-time buyers in September sales, other measures show they have been dropping pretty steadily from a high of 40 percent in May to 34.8 percent in September, according to Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance. That was the lowest level recorded since April 2014.
    The slowdown in first-time buyers is likely due to higher home prices. First-time buyers are much more price-sensitive than the rest of the market, and they are also more limited in credit availability. Housing affordability is now below average in half of the nation's top 20 metropolitan markets, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. These include Denver, Houston, Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee. "This means that they are at high risk of a sharp price correction whenever the next recession hits," the Burns researchers said.
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  • The Garbage Indicator: What trash is Telling us About the Economy Now

    It is said that one man's trash is another man's treasure. It also happens that all of our trash could collectively make for a great economic indicator.

    In addition to other, more conventional indicators, Deutsche Bank's chief international economist, Torsten Slok, consults freight rail waste data put out by the Association of American Railroads for a check on how the economy is doing. Given the drop in oil prices and rise in the dollar, "a lot of economic statistics were distorted and you did see a slowdown in a lot of places. ... This indicator is an attempt to get a more pure view of where the business cycle is at the moment," Slok said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." At this point, the garbage transport gauge "is indeed suggesting that the recovery continues, or that the economic expansion is moving forward from here." Slok isn't the first to notice the connection between waste carloads and the GDP growth. Michael McDonough, an economist at Bloomberg, has followed growth in the waste carloads indicator for years. Indeed, the data series has been shown to have a high correlation to changes in GDP. This makes some intuitive sense, given that consumption, construction and other such activities generally create waste. While peering deeply into trash may sound strange, "all joking aside, this is really an attempt to capture what is the economic activity when we measure it from a whole different angle than we normally do," Slok said. He added that it generally confirms what economic data have shown, but "if anything, this also points to that there are some upside risks to the outlook from where we are at the moment." In more conventional data, Tuesday's ISM reading showed that the manufacturing sector expanded in October. The October employment report is set to be released Friday. Read More..

  • 370 top economists publish scathing letter against 'dangerous, destructive' Trump

    Eight Nobel laureates joined 362 other economists in an open letter arguing that Americans should not vote for Donald Trump. The letter, released Tuesday and reported on by the Wall Street Journal, lists 13 economic arguments against Trump, but does not specify which (if any) candidate voters choice in lieu of the Republican nominee. "Donald Trump is a dangerous, destructive choice for the country. He misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality," the economists write, according to a copy posted online by the Journal. "If elected, he poses a unique danger to the functioning of democratic and economic institutions, and to the prosperity of the country. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you do not vote for Donald Trump," the letter concludes. Despite the apparent breadth of this week's letter, many economists are also against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's policies. In a September letter, 306 economists published a letter against Clinton's "ill-advised economic agenda." Read More..

  • The Next Big Thing in Spread Betting

    Spread betting is quite popular but it still has not reached the mass which it is capable of. According to some experts in countries like UK the number of spread betting traders would be close to around 1 million in 2011. It is expected that by the year 2017 the number should double and it should touch around 4 million by 2022. Hence, no doubt that there is a big opportunity as far as spread betting is concerned. To meet the growing numbers from 1 million to current levels the industry had to take lot of steps. The biggest challenge now and even today is spreading knowledge about spread betting to the prospective customers and the audience at large. This is important because the objective is to ensure that spread betting moves beyond the domains of affluent white males. It can achieve that mass growth only when it is accepted by society at a large and is not restricted to white collared professionals and whites alone. As of today, it is restricted to mostly white makes and that too under the age of 45. The real wealth is centered around people above the age of 50 and many women also need to be roped in. This is what the challenge all about. Bringing in ethnic minorities, elderly people, senior citizens and growing beyond national boundaries are things which must be given the attention it deserves. Sustaining Growth Is Important There is no denying the fact that the growth story of spread betting has been quite good and it has averaged around 25% CAGR over the past few years, thanks to some reputed spread betting companies like CMC Markets. This momentum has to be maintained and towards this objective educating consumer about the product is very important. This particular product could well and truly help customers to have a balanced portfolio. However, the term betting is associated with it and this stigma is a challenge for its growth. It has to be educated that betting and trading are almost one and the same. Further customers have to be explained about the tax benefits which are available with spread betting. They should also be explained that it can be an effective hedge against falling markets. Putting across these messages to the customers is a time consuming matter and requires lot of patience and efforts. The Next Big Changes Which Could Come Once the perceptions about spread betting are removed and if the government of the day comes out with tax concessions and rebates then there is likelihood that it will see a huge growth over the next ten to fifteen years. The internet users in particular would not mind being a part of spread betting because of the simple fact that almost 80% of internet users (adults) would have visited some betting site and tried their luck out. Hence these are potential customers who could be tapped. Betting Will Move Beyond The Online Casinos Since the average adult of the country has had experience of casino and almost each time they end up losing they would be willing to have a look at a product which offers them a chance to make steady money over a period of time. It also gives them a reasonably fair chance to make it big and earn big money and break free from mediocrity. However, this would be pertinent to mention here that the role of technology is important and extremely critical. The next wave of spread betting will be a result of more advanced analysis and online trading tools. This without any doubt will leave behind the traditional share trading software and other such solutions which are being used now. Further the role of mobile phones will have a major role to play in defining the success of spread betting. Hence the focus should be on development of easily downloadable apps which can facilitate trading using the mobile phone. As mentioned earlier there is also the need to educate people and offer them easily understandable online tutorials and other such helping hands. The younger generation should be made to come into it early in the day (by the age of 25). This will help broad base the entire market of spread betting and make it widely acceptable to the ordinary man on the street. The regulatory mechanisms should also be tightened especially when it is being made more customer-friendly and where use of technology will become indispensable.

  • Can Standing Promote Weight Loss, and How Much Movement Does It Take to Burn Off Your Favorite Junk Food?

    To Rein in Your Weight, Eat Real Food and Stay Active

    In a nutshell, if you're concerned about your weight and health, you need to address the quality of your food, the ratio of carbs, fats and protein, and increase your physical activity level. Don't make the mistake of trying to figure out which processed foods are "good" for you and which ones aren't. A far more effective rule is to simply eat real food, as close to its natural state as possible. These simple and easy-to-remember guidelines will set you off on the right track:
    Eat REAL FOOD: buy whole, ideally organic, foods and cook from scratch. First of all, this will automatically reduce your added sugar consumption, which is the root cause of insulin resistance and weight gain. If you buy organic produce, you'll also cut your exposure to pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, and in ditching processed foods, you'll automatically avoid artificial sweeteners and harmful processed fats. Opting for organic grass-finished meats will help you avoid GE ingredients, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other growth promoting drugs. Reduce net carbs: to 50 grams a day or less and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. The remaining calories would come from high-quality fat sources like avocados, butter, coconut oil, macadamia and pecans. For more detailed dietary advice, please see my free Optimized Nutrition Plan. Consider intermittent fasting: if you're still struggling with excess weight after you've cleaned up your diet, you may want to reconsider the timing of your meals. Intermittent fasting can be very effective for helping your body shift from sugar- to fat-burning mode. Increase physical activity: this includes standing up more during your work day and walking more. Ideally, aim for 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day. Later you can add on a more regimented workout routine, which will really help maximize all the other healthy lifestyle changes you've implemented. But for general health and longevity, staying active throughout each day and avoiding sitting takes precedence.
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  • A Syrian Lands In The U.S. For An Award, Only To Be Turned Back

    Raed Saleh, a Syrian national, landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Monday afternoon after an 11-hour journey from Turkey. In his passport was a visa for the U.S. He was planning to attend a Tuesday evening banquet in the capital where he was being honored for his rescue work in Syria. But as Saleh tried to make his way through immigration, he says, he was pulled aside by security at the airport. "After about two or three hours, they told me, 'We apologize but you must return to Turkey because this visa has been canceled. It's not valid.' I told them, 'How isn't it valid? It's good for six months.' " Saleh says the immigration official could not tell him why he was being turned back. "He told me, 'I don't have any explanation or details. I can't tell you anything,' " according to Saleh, who spoke to NPR via Skype. He was in Geneva, on his way back to Turkey. Saleh had to head back without the award he was to receive from InterAction, an alliance of international humanitarian and aid agencies. Saleh heads up Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, a collection of 2,800 volunteer rescue workers who help victims caught up in the war. "Their group really responds when buildings have been damaged from bombings or other kind of strikes and they go in and they pull people out of the rubble," says Nancy Wilson, the head of Relief International, which nominated Saleh for the award. Wilson says the awards dinner carried on without Saleh — but many in the audience honored him by wearing white helmets, the trademark of his group. Wilson says she's surprised Saleh wasn't allowed into the U.S. "He has been to the United States before, spoken at the U.N. Security Council, was allowed on the plane — which is not an easy thing in Turkey to begin with because they scrutinize your visa papers there," she says. "And then for him to get here, and then not be able to actually be allowed in the country is just very disappointing." The still-unanswered question is why Saleh was turned back. The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying a number of U.S. agencies have a say in determining whether someone can enter the country. They include the State Department and law enforcement agencies. The keynote speaker at the dinner was Gayle Smith, who heads the U.S. government's Agency for International Development. But she didn't shed any light on the matter. For his part, Saleh says he felt demoralized by the incident, but knows it's not unusual for Syrians traveling abroad. "Honestly, this is a problem across the board," he says. "For the Syrians in any airport in the world. It's become common." One of Saleh's colleagues will deliver the award to him in Istanbul. Alison Meuse in Beirut contributed to this story. Read More..

Is This a Constitutional Crisis?

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As the news broke late this afternoon, the politicos of Washington stared into their smartphones, stunned, struggling with what to make of it. TV networks cut into their regularly scheduled programming. Chyrons promising “breaking news” actually delivered it: President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey.

Though the story is still developing and our understanding of it is evolving, we know a few basic facts. We know that Trump cited Comey’s handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails as a reason for his firing. We know that Comey’s FBI had been investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. What we don’t know is where all this ends.

Is this a constitutional crisis? If not, what is it, and how dangerous? Politico Magazine asked an all-star panel of legal minds to offer their insights and tell us just what to make of it.

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It’s either ‘comforting’ or ‘alarming’
Cass Sunstein is professor at Harvard Law School. From 2009 to 2012, he was administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

There are two ways to understand President Trump’s firing of James Comey, and neither is unreasonable. The first is that in light of the multiple controversies that came to surround Comey, he was rightly fired. The FBI director needs to be widely trusted by the American people. Comey is not widely trusted. For the FBI, a fresh start is a good idea.

The second is that Trump does not want an independent FBI director; he wants someone who is fully subservient to him. Everyone should agree that Comey is not a subservient type. Like him or not, he is no one’s lackey. When Comey is in charge of an investigation, he goes where the facts take him (by his own lights). He insists on exercising his own judgment.

The first understanding is comforting; the second is alarming. Whether one or the other is right (or both), it is the responsibility of the Senate to ensure that the new FBI director is a person of unimpeachable professionalism, nonpartisanship and integrity. At this point in our history, the United States is struggling with unusually high levels of polarization and distrust, and the FBI is engaged in investigations that involve the White House itself. The Senate’s responsibility has never been more solemn.

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‘The rule of law will disintegrate’
Robert Post is a professor at Yale Law School and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Law Institute.

Faith in the integrity of government institutions is a precious social resource. No society can run without it. That integrity depends upon trust, and trust is as much a matter of appearance as it is of reality. No one can know the inner workings of the president’s mind. But we can know that he consistently acts in ways that flout the creation of trust. The firing of FBI Director Comey, at a moment when Comey was investigating the president, is simply the latest and most egregious example of Trump’s disregard for appearances.

If the president continues to act in this way, we shall rapidly descend into a terrifying state of social dissolution. The rule of law will disintegrate. That will endanger everyone who cares about this country. If ever there was a time for politicians to put the interests of the nation above those of partisan self-interest, it is now.

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‘Trump’s actions were entirely constitutional’
Josh Blackman is a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and the author of Unraveled: Obamacare, Religious Liberty, and Executive Power.

Under the Constitution, the president has the absolute power to fire principal officers, such as Director Comey, at will. In that sense, Trump’s actions were entirely constitutional. Indeed, the termination was accompanied by a fairly elaborate set of reasons by the deputy attorney general.

As for whether there is a crisis, we must keep in mind that Comey’s replacement must be approved and confirmed by the Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats will have a say in who heads the agency going forward. At bottom, this is a political question, which ultimately the electorate can decide.

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‘Trump made the only legally correct call’
Elizabeth Price Foley is a professor of law at Florida International University.

The FBI director, like all other officers of the executive branch, is an at will employee, which means he can be fired at any time, at the sole discretion of the president. When the deputy attorney general concluded that Director Comey usurped the role of the Department of Justice in his decision not to recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton, President Trump made the only legally correct call, to fire the director. The country deserves an FBI director who respects his limited role as an investigator, and whose reputation is not sullied by inappropriately political behavior. If there is any ongoing FBI investigation into any of Trump’s associates, this investigation can and will continue unabated. This is far from a constitutional crisis–it is a confirmation that the Constitution is working exactly as it should.

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‘It’s a deeply unsettling moment’
Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, is the author of The Fight to Vote and The Second Amendment: A Biography.

It’s a deeply unsettling moment.

This has every appearance of a brazen cover-up, a possible act of obstruction of justice, just as much as Richard Nixon firing the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in October 1973. That’s the only comparable historical precedent. That led to a constitutional crisis and a public outpouring of anger. Will this?

Trump’s rationale is transparently, laughably absurd. Does anyone actually believe that Donald Trump fired Comey because Comey was unfair to Hillary Clinton during the campaign?

Let’s be very clear what happened here. For all his flaws and mistakes, Comey is leading an investigation of extraordinary gravity: possible collusion between Trump, his campaign and administration, and a hostile foreign power. Remember, Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation because he himself lied to Congress about conversations with Russia. So he did the next best thing, recommending that the person leading the investigation–Comey–be fired.

It comes a day after the former Acting Attorney General clearly implied there was an ongoing FBI investigation of Michael Flynn. It comes before Comey was due to testify again.

Comey made many errors. But does anyone trust Trump to nominate his successor, the person who will effectively lead the investigation? How can Americans have trust in their government without even the pretense of independence for key investigations?

This is an extraordinary test of our democracy and its institutions. Will the Republicans in Congress stand up for the rule of law and independent investigations, at a time when a hostile foreign power has tried to interfere in our democracy? Will they stand up for country or party?

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‘We are not at crisis yet’
Robert Chesney is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, cofounder of the Lawfare Blog, and senior editor for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

Trump was clever here in two respects. First, the timing. He chose a moment of sharply renewed anger on the left regarding Comey’s role in the election, and took pains to frame his justification in part in those exact terms. Most of us understand that this is not at all why he fired Comey, of course, but the fact remains that this somewhat wrong-footed his critics. Second, note the critical role played by issuing the memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein alongside the firing letter. Rosenstein is a respected law-and-order figure, with far more credibility than Attorney General Jeff Sessions acting alone.

All that said, we are not at crisis yet. What matters is who comes next and what happens with the Russia and Flynn investigations. If the Trump team is smart, they will have an established law enforcement professional to nominate. At any rate, it will all come to a head in the Senate Judiciary Committee at that point. Paging Chairman Grassley: The Republic will be looking to you!

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‘It’s a constitutional crisis’
David Cole is the National Legal Director of the ACLU and the Honorable George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Anytime a sitting president fires the person responsible for investigating his campaign’s potential criminal activities, it is a matter of grave public concern. When that criminal investigation involves collaboration with Russia to undermine the U.S. democratic process, it’s a constitutional crisis. And when the president offers the most blatant pretext for his action, it is a challenge to the credulity of the American people. Does anybody really believe that he fired the FBI director over his part in resuscitating Trump’s campaign? This is the dénouement of the cover-up. But the truth will out, and democracy will prevail, if we insist upon it.

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‘James Comey needed to be ousted’
Saikrishna Prakash is a professor of law at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Miller Center.

James Comey needed to be ousted, whoever was in the White House. His mishandling of the Clinton investigation and his usurpation of prosecutorial decisions reflected poor judgment and something of a messianic complex. President Trump must be faulted for failing to come to this conclusion months ago. Count on more controversial firings.

Whether the ouster was related to the investigation of Russian hacking is unclear. But the new FBI Director will have to make all sorts of pledges to conduct an independent investigation in order to secure the Senate’s consent. Even as there are profound disagreements about the effects of the hacking and leaks on the election, I believe that there is a firm bipartisan consensus to determine what Russia did during the election and to take steps to ensure it does not happen again. The numerous investigations will continue, albeit without James Comey.

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‘We should reserve judgment’
Jamal Greene is Dwight professor of law at Columbia Law School.

Allusions to the Saturday Night Massacre are irresistible but premature. President Trump’s firing of James Comey is not a constitutional crisis—yet. We don’t have all the facts, and there is much Congress could do to learn them.

Given the FBI’s ongoing investigation into contacts between Trump campaign personnel and agents of the Russian government, it is crucial that responsible members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are fully briefed—including by Comey himself—on the status of that investigation and how it will be handled going forward.

We should reserve judgment until that happens—or doesn’t.

***

‘We won’t really know … until we know whom Trump nominates’
Dan Farber is the Sho Sato Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

It’s premature but understandable that some people are calling James Comey’s firing a constitutional crisis. Comey violated clear Justice Department norms by his conduct while investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails. He compounded the offense by making false statements to Congress about Huma Abedin’s allegedly massive forwarding of sensitive emails to her husband, Anthony Weiner. If another president had fired another FBI director for such conduct in a high-profile case, few questions would be raised.

But this is not just any president or any high-profile case. The real concern here is that Trump has abused the power of his office to protect his political associates from criminal investigation. It’s not paranoia to think that Comey’s conduct concerning the Clinton investigation is merely a pretext for firing him, given that Trump applauded much of that conduct at the time. But we also have no proof that the justifications were pretextual.

We won’t really know how to interpret the Comey firing until we know whom Trump nominates to replace him. If Trump nominates an independent, respected figure to replace Comey, well and good. If he nominates someone who is compromised by associations with Trump or who lacks credibility as an objective investigator, then it will be fair to start making comparisons to Richard Nixon. That would be the point to start worrying in earnest about a constitutional crisis.

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‘Not a constitutional crisis’ but it ‘might turn into a major political crisis’
Sanford V. Levinson is a professor of government at the University of Texas and a member of the American Law Institute.

No, this is not (yet) a constitutional crisis, since there’s no doubt about his authority to fire Comey. It would be far closer to a constitutional crisis if Sessions overtly intervened in the investigation or tried to shut it down.

It might (and I hope will) turn into a major political crisis, which is different. The political crisis arises if and when several major Republicans express significant concern and, among other things, indicate they’ll vote to subpoena Trump’s tax returns. One must assume that most Republicans would in fact prefer Mike Pence as president. He is definitely not “impeachment insurance” in this context.

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It may not be a constitutional crisis yet, ‘but it probably will be soon’
John Culhane is H. Albert Young Fellow in constitutional law and co-director of the Family Health Law & Policy Institute at Delaware Law School (Widener University).

Trump’s firing of James Comey isn’t a constitutional crisis yet, but it probably will be soon. That’s because the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress seems to have abandoned any sense of their constitutional responsibility, and are operating solely in service of temporal, political goals. For distressing evidence of this tendency, look back no further than yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: Republicans did their best to deflect attention from the administration’s failure to fire National Security Adviser Mike Flynn immediately after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House counsel that Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia. Nothing, it seems, will compel the GOP to look at the swelling evidence of possible corruption staring them in the face.

Whatever Comey’s mistakes might have been in the handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation, it’s crazy to think that issue had anything to do with firing him. A few Republicans, like Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, seem to have had enough. Flake tweeted that he can’t find “an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing.” So I have some hope that the party’s officeholders might finally buckle under the weight of public opinion—and their constitutional duties—and demand a truly independent investigation of the Trump’s campaign’s possible ties to Russia. That’s our only chance of avoiding a crisis in which the law succumbs to this president, rather than the other way around.

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‘I nominate Merrick Garland’
Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.

With Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey, the nation faces a crisis—but the severity of that crisis depends on who the president appoints in his place now. The director of the FBI is a critical figure in American government. The director needs to be an individual of integrity, honesty, experience and sound judgment. The last thing we need is another J. Edgar Hoover. The names tossed around at the moment—Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani—are political cronies of Trump who cannot be trusted at all.

What we need is someone who graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian from Harvard College and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. Someone who served as a law clerk to a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who served as a United States attorney, who prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombers, who has served as a federal judge and as chief judge of the most important federal court of appeals in the nation. An individual of impeccable credentials, an individual who can restore trust in the FBI, an individual who will once again bring distinction, independence and character to this critical nation office.

I nominate Merrick Garland to be the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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