Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.
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Econintersect: As expected based on strengthening opinion polling in recent days, former Communist youth member Alexis Tsipras will be the next Prime Minister of Greece. The 41-year old charismatic leader of the leftist Syriza party will replace outgoing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras whose conservative New Democracy Party lost the election by a margin about 8% (36% to 28%). With 60% of the vote counted Syriza appears to be winning about 149 seats in the Greek parliament, two short of an absolute majority in the 300 member body.
Last week during the State of the Union address, President Obama pledged :
"To protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks."
Obama is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to challenge a wave of state laws blocking the construction of municipal broadband networks, which are high-speed Internet services run by local communities.
There is a side to the Ebola crisis that, perhaps understandably, has received little media attention: the threat it poses to our nearest cousins, the great apes of Africa. At this moment in time Ebola is the single greatest threat to the survival of gorillas and chimpanzees.
In 2014, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions - was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million, was little different from 2013. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.
Econintersect: The first English settlement in North America was on what is now called Roanoke Island in 1587. The settlement there was 22 years before the first permanent settlement at Jamestown in Virginia. The fate of the Roanoke Island settlement has been an investigation of archaeologists for more than 100 years. It vanished from the Roanoke Island site sometime between when they were left there by Captain John White who returned to England for supplies in late 1587 and when he was finally able to return in August 1590. In 2012 GEI News reported on new developments in the quest for the Lost Colony involving a map that belonged to Capt. White, who was a cartographer and artist. The picture below is a woodcut by Theodor de Bry based on a watercolor by Capt. John White.
During the past six months, US dollar showed a powerful appreciation trend among the world currencies. Based on the statistics from Oanda Corporation, US dollar appreciated about 12% against Euro , about 18% against Japanese Yen, and about 10% against Canadian Dollar and British Pound in the past several months.
The Greek election tomorrow (January 25) is the most important in recent memory. If the pollsters are proven correct, Syriza is poised to win by a large margin and this victory will end four decades of two-party rule in Greece.
The falling price of oil, now at under $50 a barrel for the first time since 2009, has caused a spate of layoff announcements impacting thousands of workers in oil-related industries. Since June 2014, Challenger has tracked 21,917 US job cuts by oil and oil-related industries. Most recently, oil field services giant Schlumberger announced 9,000 job cuts and Baker Hughes reported 7,000.
Falling gasoline prices: the influence of crude oil prices and other factors
by U.S. Energy Information Agency
On a national level, the main reason cited for movements in gasoline prices is often changing crude oil prices. Crude oil acquisition is the main cost in producing gasoline, and changes in crude oil prices, along with changes in gasoline market conditions, drive changes in spot and retail gasoline prices. EIA estimates that at current prices, about 55% of the retail price of gasoline is attributable to the cost of crude oil. However, at the regional level, several factors other than falling crude prices are influencing regional wholesale gasoline spot prices and retail gasoline prices.
While the number of overall job cuts declined in 2014 to the lowest level since 1997, planned workforce reductions in the technology sector trended in the opposite direction, rising to the largest year-end total since 2009.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federal program that provides cash assistance, work support, and other services to some low-income families. The cash assistance is generally limited to families with income well below the poverty threshold and few assets; it goes to roughly 2 million families per month, most of them headed by single mothers. The work support (such as subsidized child care) and the other services (such as initiatives to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies and promote marriage) are usually available to families with income up to twice the poverty threshold.
By tempering financial losses, the insurance industry lends resilience to the economy and helps homeowners and businesses recover from natural disasters and other catastrophes. In order to do this, however, the insurance industry must itself be resilient.
It’s confirmed: 2014 produced the highest global temperatures since records began in the 1880s. As if that’s not cause enough for concern, this year threatens to see the return of El Niño, which like some enraged climate-driven Godzilla, could emerge from the depths of the South Pacific and lay waste to entire regions.
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a series of federal securities law violations by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services involving fraudulent misconduct in its ratings of certain commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS).
“Below the thunders of the upper deep, Far far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee….
“There hath he lain for ages, and will lie Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.”
As the situation on the ground quiets down in the wake of the Jan. 24 barrage by Russian-allied forces near the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Stratfor is continuing the watch initiated by our Red Alert. We believe, at the very least, that Russia is keeping its option to mount an offensive open, and at most, is preparing to launch an offensive to secure its hold on the Crimean Peninsula.
The European Central Bank (ECB) just announced a $70 billion per month bond buying plan. And Greece will probably elect an anti-austerity government on Sunday. Neither will do much to remedy the problems of the Eurozone.
Reports of heavy rocket artillery firing on the eastern parts of the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, as well as a statement made by a separatist leader, indicate the potential preparation of an offensive on the city. While this would be a significant escalation and an indicator of Russian intent to push further into Ukraine, potentially forming a much-rumored land connection to the northern border of Crimea, there are also several indicators required for such an offensive that are currently still missing.
Social safety nets are government or non-government (NGO) social programs to assist those in society who cannot work (or cannot work to full capacity). Many worry that such programs are incentives for people not to work IF they can get covered by a social safety net.
On Tuesday the National Bureau of Statistics released China’s 2014 GDP growth numbers and reported growth consistent with what the government has been widely promoting as the “new normal”.
According to the preliminary estimation, the gross domestic product (GDP) of China was 63,646.3 billion yuan in 2014, an increase of 7.4 percent at comparable prices. Specifically, the year-on-year growth of the first quarter was 7.4 percent, the second quarter 7.5 percent, the third quarter 7.3 percent, and the fourth quarter 7.3 percent.
Summary: To learn if 2014 was the warmest year let’s read the annual reports of NOAA and NASA. They give clear answers (different from the headlines). It might have been the warmest, but if so, only by a insignificant amount. The hysteria of activists about this is absurd. The data shows that the pause continues.
Although the crisis in Ukraine continues to focus attention on Russia's western border, Moscow is seeking to exploit a more lucrative prize along its vast northern frontage: the Arctic Circle. Melting ice has opened up new transit routes and revealed previously inaccessible oil and mineral deposits. Facing a year of harsh economic constraints, securing exploitable energy reserves remains a top priority for Moscow. The planned militarization of the Arctic is already underway, and funding is secured through 2015 (the Ministry of Defense was the only Kremlin ministry not to be curtailed in the most recent budget.)
Last week, I wrote about the crisis of Islamic radicalism and the problem of European nationalism. This week's events give me the opportunity to address the question of European nationalism again, this time from the standpoint of the European Union and the European Central Bank, using a term that only an economist could invent: "quantitative easing."
Markets top out when the news is good. Good news gives central banks the excuse they need to pull the punchbowl. In that respect, yesterday’s “bad news” on retail sales was bad news for stock market bears.
Pssst! Do you want to make some money trading some initials? Real easy money?
For real. I just made my subscribers 382% trading these initials. And we're not done. After closing out our 382% gain, we're in the same trade again, and we're up 180% in just a few weeks - and still going.
Insider buying declined sharply last week with insiders buying just $16.43 million of stock compared to $40.18 million in the week prior. Selling on the other hand increased with insiders selling $936.53 million of stock last week compared to $521.34 million in the week prior.
Sell/Buy Ratio: The insider Sell/Buy ratio is calculated by dividing the total insider sales in a given week by total insider purchases that week. The adjusted ratio for last week went up to 57. In other words, insiders sold 57 times as much stock as they purchased. The Sell/Buy ratio this week compares unfavorably with the prior week, when the ratio stood at 12.98.
Below is a summary of the activity at Trefis during the past week that Trefis thought Econintersect readers would find interesting.
Trefis is a financial community structured around trends, forecasts and insights related to some of the most popular stocks in the US. It provides the unique feature of allowing the user to model future valuation based upon projected changes in components of each business. It also provides communication capabilities among members, including consensus of member analysis compared to Trefis staff analysis and blogging opportunities for members.
“No stock-market crash announced bad times. The depression rather made its presence felt with the serial crashes of dozens of commodity markets. To the affected producers and consumers, the declines were immediate and newsworthy, but they failed to seize the national attention. Certainly, they made no deep impression at the Federal Reserve.” -Thus wrote author James Grant in his latest thoroughly researched and well-penned book, The Forgotten Depression (1921: The Crash That Cured Itself).
A reader asked me to comment on the subjects of pinning and max pain in the option market. Although it may sound like it, these are not terms from professional wrestling. They are option-related terms that describe the behavior, or alleged behavior, of stock prices on option expiration day.
Below, technical overviews and analysis for key stock indices, commodities and currency pairs, based on market activity at what would have been the close (absent the holiday) of the 22 January 2015 U.S. session. This information is a comprehensive summary derived from simple and exponential moving averages along with key technical indicators shown for specific time intervals.
High oil prices have led to a surge of drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. in recent years. The Baker Hughes Rig Count shows a sharp rise in natural gas drilling activity that corresponded with the very high natural gas prices of 2005-2008, followed by a surge of oil drilling activity that took place as oil prices bounced around $100 per barrel (bbl):
My previous article examined the dangers of widespread euphoria and optimism. In this article, I will focus on an important question few analysts are raising: Is the so-called recovery in commercial office markets real or a mirage?
No one-and I mean no one-wants anything to do with this base metal anymore. Stinks for anyone playing copper on the long side. But it also gives you a shot at fast, double-digit gains on another metals play... if you know where to look.
Afternoon markets melted down off their 2 pm highs to test the 10:45 morning lows on low volume - where are the BTFDers when you need them? DOW off triple digits, small caps in the green but flat and WTI oil is testing the morning lows (45.35).
By 4 pm the SP500 slipped below the morning lows and closed on a low note leaving investors, again, wondering what Mr. Market has in store for them tomorrow.
As reported in 'The Telegraph', Lars Anderson uses ancient bow and arrow techniques to perform archery as you have never seen it before.
A Danish archer has released a video of himself shooting targets with a skill and speed that makes the Lord of the Rings' elf archers look like amateurs. Lars Anderson claims to have become the fastest archer in the world today by studying historical descriptions of ancient war archery to re-discover their techniques.
Modern capitalism has a massive structural flaw in one of the cornerstones of its existence. The corporations which form the predominant business structure and which are the main instrument for dividing wealth have been operating on a false premise.
Since Milton Friedman we have all become monetarists. In order to raise inflation it will be necessary to increase the growth rate of the money stock. This requires that the ECB increase the money base. And to achieve the latter there is only one practical instrument, ie, an open-market purchase of government bonds. There is no other way to raise inflation than through an increase in the money base and a bond-buying programme is the time-tested way to achieve this.
Greece faces a decisive moment on January 25 in a snap election that could see major gains for the extreme left and right. But anyone worried about how Syriza on one side, or Golden Dawn on the other, might handle power, should consider a far more sinister force that has conspired to keep Greece away from recovery for years – the international markets.
It is well-known that Hungarian households financed their homes via loans in Swiss Francs, which led to big problems when during the crisis the Hungarian forint depreciated against the Swiss Franc. Probably debtors where delighted by the decision of the Swiss National Bank to stop the rise of the CHF, and now have been surprised by a decision to let the exchange rate be determined on the markets again.
One of the most striking things about the testimony in the AIG bailout trial is the degree to which Fed officials play fast and loose with the truth. And I don't mean the normal CEO version of having no memory of events that are inconvenient and very detailed recollections of things that boost their case. I mean statements that are flat out false.
The law of consent to medical procedures is (to paraphrase legal philosopher HLA Hart) “tantalisingly obscure”. Narrowly interpreted, the law sets out a professional standard regarding the risks a medical professional must disclose to a patient when carrying out a procedure. Astonishingly, the idea of what is considered informed consent primarily comes from case law, defined by decisions made in specific court challenges. It doesn’t really focus on the patient, but on the medical profession – something that is out of step with how most of us likely see the idea of consent.
Last night, President Obama gave a great speech. He almost always does. And to that ever-shrinking group of die-hards who continue to insist that somehow, and in someway, President Obama will validate the hope kindled by his 2008 presidential campaign, it was a moment of triumph. Yes, they are saying, in his heart - very deep down, perhaps - Obama does in fact share our values and concerns, etc., he just has a hard time finding ways to express it, etc.
What on earth is going on in the oil market? Does the recent 60% collapse in oil prices in six months really reflect shifts in underlying supply and demand for crude oil? I’m afraid not, as I have been predicting for more than three years. Here’s what has really been happening.