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What We Read Today 22 February 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 included.

Productivity keeps growing, as do corporate profits. But jobs and wages are not growing. Unless we figure out how to bring all of them back into line - or spread the gains more widely - our economy cannot generate enough demand to sustain itself, and our society cannot maintain enough cohesion to keep us together.


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  • SEC Starts Exam Sweep of Never-Examined Advisors (Melanie Waddell, Think Advisor) About 4,000 registered investment advisors (RIAs) have never been examined by the SEC. The agency indicates they will start reviewing this group in 2014, starting with those who have been registered for three or more years. Disclosure: Econintersect Managing Editor was a SEC registered RIA for several years in the 1990s but has not been an RIA (SEC or state registered) during the past ten years.


France's core prices have been dropping for months, even if the core CPI index is still just positive at 0.1pc on a year-to-year basis.

This outcome is exactly what the Observatoire Economique predicted a year ago would happen under the eurozone's contractionary policy structure, that is to say under a triple squeeze of fiscal austerity, passive monetary tightening, and draconian bank deleveraging.

Surprise, surprise, the eurozone M3 money supply has been contracting since March.

People laughed at the Observatoire. Nobody is laughing any more. As the IMF said last night, Europe is one external shock away from a lurch into outright deflation.

  • Governor: Colorado Pot Market Exceeds Tax Hopes (Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press) Hat tip to John O'Donnell. Colorado is going to pot and the state coffers are swelling. It now appears the first year of taxes from marijuana sales will be at least $98 million, far above the $70 million estimated last year.


  • Japanese tax hikes loom large for Abenomics (Shino Takayama, The Conversation) Hat tip to Macro Business. This is a rather confused discussion which fails to mention a major problem for Japan, its big energy import bills, while emphasizing the size of Japan's sovereign debt. Doesn't Takayama realize that every yen of government debt reduction is a yen removed from the economy? It doesn't seem so. She says:
Japan's government needs to act rapidly to reduce this huge debt. More tax revenues are sorely needed to avoid a financial crisis.
  • A Way Out for Ukraine (Vadim Nikitin, agence global) Hat tips to Chuck Spinney and Roger Erickson. Can Russia get past the western betrayal following the breakup of the Soviet Union and its satellite block (the NATO expansion) and move toward a status for Ukraine similar to that of Finland
  • Requiem for a Bernank (David Howden, Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada) Howden suggests the U.S. is close to insolvency. Loss of solvency requires insufficiency of money. Doesn't the Fed create money? There must be a better term to use than 'solvency'.
Bernanke has continued leveraging the Fed, and the broader economy, to the point where a 1% loss on its assets will endanger the solvency of the world's premier central bank.


The most recent industry to use the weather-related get-out-of-jail-free excuse is the housing market. I mentioned recently that the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said its monthly housing market sentiment index experienced its largest drop in history, from 56 in January to 46 in February. A score above 50 indicates positive sentiment; below that, it's negative. (Source: "Poor Weather Puts a Damper on Builder Confidence in February," National Association of Home Builders web site, February 18, 2014.)

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