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What We Read Today 19 January 2014

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 of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number accepted.

  • The many tragedies of Edward Teller (Ashutosh Jogalekar, Scientific American) One of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, if not of all time, Edward Teller's memory is tarnished by personality flaws.

"The robots are coming, and they'll going to take jobs as well as create them. But we'll manage."
  • Energy is gradually decoupling from economic growth (Izabella Kaminska, FT Alphaville) Since the 1970s GRD has grown approximately 125% while energy consumption has grown by less than 45%. That is almost a tripling of energy efficiency for a unit of economic production. And the growth of share of energy production since the 197s has been only for nuclear, natural gas and renewables. Of those only gas and renewables have continued to gain share since 2000.


Cash flow analysis shows Greece is in serious trouble again in spite of having a current account surplus. Specifically, Greece needs a change in payback terms or another bailout or it will default in August, if not May. I use the words "will default" imprecisely. The only way Greece is making loan payments now is with money from the Troika.
  • Obamacare Enrollments Show Low Uptake by Uninsured, Hoisting Insurers on Their Own Petard (Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism) Yves Smith has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. It appears that enrollees in Obamacare thus far are disproportionately those with pre-existing conditions. The premium schedules have been based on on a broader base of insureds, including those who are healthy. Econintersect comment: Given a continuation of this deviation from plan someone is going to have to pay, and it is not likely to be all absorbed by the insurance companies. How about higher premiums costs to insureds and/or higher government costs?
  • A Few Reasons to Consider Annaly Capital (Christopher F. Davis, Wall St. Cheat Sheet) Would you invest in a stock that has cut dividends like NYSE:NLY? After reading this discussion also see the next article on the list, below.


Seeking Alpha's Alan Saltzman has recommended selling twice and buying twice in the last year. He has shared his SA posts in discussions at the John Lounsbury sponsored Global Economic Intersection Group at LinkedIn. After the latest dividend cut he changed to a buy recommendation. Disclosure: John Lounsbury has been accumulating Annaly Capital with purchases in February, August and end of December 2013. Average cost is $11.53 and the stock is trading at$10.16 as this is written. Adjusting for dividends received (before taxes), average cost is $10.65. Either way calculated this is a losing position so far.

  • The Safety Net: Don't Count on This 11% Yield (Marc Lichtenfeld, Wealthy Retirement) Marc Lichtenfeld, Chief Income Strategist for Wealthy Retirement, points out that income has been less than the current dividend for several quarters.




  • Why Scientists Should Embrace the Liberal Arts (David J. Skorton, Scientific American) The president of Cornell University writes that liberal arts as well as science are needed to understand and address society's problems. He also says that the basic numeracy of non-scientists needs to improve and the nature of the scientific method must be better understood by the general population. Econintersect comment: Science is a process composed of incremental development and does not come out of the box with completed devices that will not undergo continuing evolution.
  • Texas Public Schools Are Teaching Creationism (Zack Kopplin, Slate) These are actually charter schools and so, pressumably, the parents sending their children to them are supportive of the curriculum. Therefore, this cannot be considered indoctrination of children that would not receive similar opinion directly from their parents. The only question remaining is whether public tax dollars should support these schools. If the answer is yes, then why aren't parochial schools supported the same way as public schools?


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