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What We Read Today 15 January 2015

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.

start

World Bank Wednesday – Global GDP Outlook Cut By 10% (Phil Davis, Phil's Stock World) The World bank just downgraded the estimate for global GDP for 2015 to 3%, down from the previous estimate of 3.4% seven months ago.  This new report dampens any enthusiasm for an output boost from lower oil prices.  Rather than a stimulus, lower oil prices seem rather to be a reflection of lack of economic activity.  Risks to the global recovery are significantly "tilted to the downside".


Phil has a number of investment strategy suggestions (with specific tickers).

Click to view infographic at the World Bank.
global-outlook-wb-2015-jan


BlackBerry bats away Samsung purchase report (Reuters - with CNBC video)  Hat tip to Marvin Clark.  It is reported that Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) has approached Blackberry (NASDAQ:BBRY) with an offer as high as $7.5 billion. Blackberry refused to comment on the reports while the market was still open.  Blackberry stock traded up almost 30% to $12.60 at the market close and continued briefly to reach $13 in early after-hours trading.  Passions have cooled since as Blackberry eventually did issues a statement denying negotiations were underway.  At 5:45 pm the after-hours price was down to $10.80 and by 6:20 pm to $10.52.


Tomgram: Ann Jones, Answering for America (Ann Jones, Tom Dispatch)  Hat tip to Chuck Spinney who writes:

Food for thought.  Since 9-11, the United States has been violating all five criteria for a sensible grand strategy.  Left unchecked, it will eventually generate the mother of blow backs.  Ann Jones has written a personal vignette to goes to the heart of our growing grand strategic crisis on a deeply personal level — most of it has to do with dysfunction at home.

Ann Jones describes how she, as an American living abroad, is constantly asked to explain and justify the "behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of step with the rest of the world".  This is a troubling expose of how the rest of the world sees America, told by an American who has to interact with those perceptions on a daily basis.  Her summary:

Europeans understand, as it seems Americans do not, the intimate connection between a country’s domestic and foreign policies. They often trace America’s reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order.  They’ve watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace its decaying infrastructure, disempower most of its organized labor, diminish its schools, bring its national legislature to a standstill, and create the greatest degree of economic and social inequality in almost a century. They understand why Americans, who have ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, are becoming more anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a government that has done so little new for them over the past three decades or more, except for Obama’s endlessly embattled health care effort, which seems to most Europeans a pathetically modest proposal.

What baffles so many of them, though, is how ordinary Americans in startling numbers have been persuaded to dislike “big government” and yet support its new representatives, bought and paid for by the rich. How to explain that? In Norway’s capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them. Struggling Americans, having forgotten all that, take aim at unknown enemies far away -- or on the far side of their own towns. 

It’s hard to know why we are the way we are, and -- believe me -- even harder to explain it to others. Crazy may be too strong a word, too broad and vague to pin down the problem. Some people who question me say that the U.S. is “paranoid,” “backward,” “behind the times,” “vain,” “greedy,” “self-absorbed,” or simply “dumb.”  Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely “ill-informed,” “misguided,” “misled,” or “asleep,” and could still recover sanity.  But wherever I travel, the questions follow, suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others. It’s past time to wake up, America, and look around.  There’s another world out here, an old and friendly one across the ocean, and it’s full of good ideas, tried and true.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

AirAsia Flight 8501

France

Germany

Greece

Ebola

Yemen

Saudi Arabia

Turkey

Syria

Iran

Russia

South Korea

North Korea

Mexico


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