What We Read Today 10 October 2014

October 10th, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

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.

  • Investors snub Goldman’s ‘Figsco’ debt (Tracy Alloway, Financial Times) Goldman Sachs is finding that investors are no longer interested in the black magic that produced toxic CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) that went belly-up in large numbers in the Great Financial Crisis (GFC).

Follow up:

What the FT refers to as "a controversial new type of debt", Fixed Income Global Structured Obligation (Figsco 2014-01) has found no takers since being introduced over three months ago. Goldman's sales pitch included the promise of "top credit ratings combined with the chance to earn additional returns, or spread". The FT article mentions other failed efforts with similar products from Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. There may be a new "sucker born every minute" (attributed to carnival showman David Hannum) but the suckers born since 2008 are not old enough yet to buy these new wonders.

  • Nobel Prize 2014: Inventor of the red LED hits out at committee for 'overlooking' his seminal 1960s work (Paul Gallagher, The Independent) For years there have been critics of the Nobel Committee for overlooking the pioneering work of Prof. Nick Holonyak (University of Illinois) who invented the first visible spectrum LED (light emitting diode) in 1962 while working at General Electric. (The color was red.) Now the 85-year old has finally expressed his opinion on the subject and he is not happy to have been overlooked.

Between the first red LED and the 1990s green was added to the LED spectrum but blue remained illusive. Then Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura, recognized that gallium nitride would lead to a blue color and discovered a way to produce the light in an efficient way by adding in aluminum and indium. This work was the basis for the LED light bulbs which are on their way to becoming ubiquitous low-energy, long-life lighting devices by completing the color spectrum of LED emissions enabling the production of white light. That work led to the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. Read Inventors of blue LEDs win 2014 Nobel Prize for physics (Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge).

Holonyak finds the actions of the Nobel Committee "insulting". Of course they may have the opportunity to recognize his work with a future award, but time is short. Holonyak lives in a nursing home and Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously. It may be hoped that he will not join the list of deserving physicists to have never won the Nobel, a list which Econintersect heads with Satyendra Nath Bose.

Bose developed the fundamental field of nuclear physics known as Bose-Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose-Einstein condensate. This led to the study of a class of elementary particles called "bosons" (named after him), the most famous being the Higgs boson (nicknamed the 'God particle' because of its central role in what is called the 'Standard Model' of physics). Peter Higgs and Francois Englert won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2013 for their pioneering theoretical work on the particle, which was defined theoretically in the 1960s but not first detected until 2012.

Note: The economics of low cost lighting (low energy consumption) made available with LED lighting is discussed 'behind the wall'.

  • Recent articles about Scotland Independence and Similar Movements

Scottish Budget: Boost for first-time buyers (BBC News)

Why Catalonia Isn’t Scotland as Nationalists Demand Vote (Bloomberg)

  • Articles about conflicts and disease around the world


The ominous math of the Ebola epidemic (The Washington Post)

Ebola spreads slower, kills more than other diseases (The Washington Post) Animated graphic.

Ebola Screening Will Start in 5 US Airports (Yahoo! News)

Ebola: Are US airport screenings more about controlling fear than disease? (Christian Science Monitor)

UK Ebola screening for arrivals from affected countries (BBC News)

Ebola-hit states say world response is slow (Al Jazeera)

Live updates / Lawmakers want U.S. to bar entry of West Africans over Ebola fears (Haaretz)


Mr. Erdogan’s Dangerous Game: Turkey’s Refusal to Fight ISIS Hurts the Kurds (The New York Times)

Turkish action against IS in Syria 'unrealistic' (BBC News)

While Kobane Burns; The reluctance to strike IS may redound on Turkey’s president (The Economist)


Obama’s Syria choices go from bad to worse; The world’s most powerful leader has a blind spot about the exercise of power (The Financial Times)

Kobane: Air strikes 'stall IS advance' on Syrian border town (BBC News) Reports are that ISIS has had to pull back although fighting is still heavy within the town making confirmation of reports impossible.


Poll: 72% Believe U.S. Will Use American Combat Troops Against ISIS (NBC News)

Islamic State: no-one wants to talk to terrorists, but we always do – and sometimes it works (The Conversation)


MH17 crash: Dutch minister says passenger 'wore oxygen mask' (BBC News)

Battles rages for Donetsk airport despite Ukraine ceasefire (euronews)

‘Almost lynching’: Radicals attack Ukrainian officials, throw into trash bins (RT)


OSCE monitoring of Russia-Ukraine border 'too weak', says US (BBC News)

Hard Evidence: who will reap rewards from Russia farm sanctions? (The Conversations)

Hong Kong

Economics, Tensions With Mainlanders Fuel Hong Kong's Protests (KALW San Fransisco)

Hong Kong students call for protests as talks cancelled by government (BBC News)

North Korea

North Korea leader Kim is still in charge, has injured leg: source (Reuters)

What’s Up With North Korea’s Kim? It’s a Mystery to CIA (Bloomberg)

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