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What We Read Today 28 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.

  • Foreclosures Surging in New York-New Jersey Market (Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg) This is what Keith Jurow has been warning about for years (here and here). New Jersey has passed Florida to have the highest percentage of homes seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. New York has climbed up to third place.

  • China Steel Overcapacity "Beyond Imagination": Official (Caijing) When a government official says something is good its probably fair to middling. When they say it is bad it is probably disastrous. What should we think when they say is is bad beyond imagination? See discussion of the data 'behind the wall'.
  • Scientists Demonstrate First Contagious Airborne WiFi Virus (University of Liverpool,, A new form of computer virus has been demonstrated by scientists at the University of Liverpool. It behaves like human infectious viruses in that it is airborne and spreads more rapidly through densely configured populations. Such viruses avoid detection by conventional security systems because they can "live" in the "air" (the WiFi network) and not require a control point on any particular computer (host). The virus produced no operational impact on infected computers thus avoiding security software detection. It only collected and reported credentials of users connected to the same WiFi point. Open access hot spots such as coffee shops and airports are especially attractive for the virus.

Today there are 12 articles discussed 'behind the wall'.

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  • Explainer: Understanding fiscal multipliers (Mark Thoma, CBS MoneyWatch) Mark Thoma has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. The short summary is that some dollars that are spent end up being respent and then part respent again. Thoma argues that the stimulative effect of government spending is greater than for tax cuts for this reason. Of course there are those who disagree. See the next article.
  • Barack Obama's Stimulus Didn't Work (James R. Harrigan and Antony Davies, U.S. News & World Report) The argument is that the economy has performed far below the early 2009 projections of the new Obama administration. Here is a summary of the philosophical basis of the authors' arguments:
The unfalsifiable hypothesis of the pro-government camp is that "when markets fail it is because markets are doing too much, but when government fails it is because government is doing too little." Of course, this is inevitably couched in terms of creating jobs, which, despite all evidence to the contrary, this administration thinks it can do by executive order.
  • Study Finds SEC Staff Sold Shares Before Cases Made Public (Dave Michaels, Bloomberg) For all investors in companies that received SEC endorsement actions 50% sold stock in the months preceding to announcement. For SEC staff 62% sold. And you thought that the "C' in SEC stood for commission?


  • The Yuchi Community and the Human Genome Diversity Project: Historic and Contemporary Ironies (Richard A. Grounds, Cultural Survival) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. The Yuchi people are culturally, linguistically and genetically distinct from the other natives of what is now the southeastern U.S. According to Wikipedia these people were documented from the 1500s by DeSoto to the 1700s by naturalist William Bartram and others. Bartram characterized the Yuchi as as living in "the largest and most compact Indian town he had ever encountered, with large, well-built houses" (Wikipedia). Another 18th century observer called the Yuchi "more orderly and industrious" than neighboring tribes. This article by Grounds recounts the simultaneous research interest in studying these unique people while they were being denied recognition as an independent political entity (tribe) by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.


  • China is caught in a steel trap (Peter Cai, China Spectator) Excess capacity is like the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the Chinese steel industry, which is under siege on multiple fronts. Profit margins have been squeezed to razor-thin, from around 7.5 per cent before the global financial crisis to less than one per cent last year. China is sitting on excess of used steel production in 2013 of 300 million tons, more than the total steel production of all of Europe. And production plans for 2014 are to increase steel production an additional 3%. Did the sword of Damocles weigh several million tons?
  • Revising Adam Smith (J.D. Alt, New Economic Perspectives) J.D. Alt has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. Alt revises the words of Adam Smith to include recognition of the collaborative (collective) interactions between individuals to increase the summation of individual efforts to produce greater wealth of the individuals and society as a whole.
  • California slaughterhouse allegedly sold beef with cancer (PressTV) Inside sources say that the nearly 9 million pounds of beef recalled from a California Slaughterhouse earlier this month may come from cows sick with cancer. Although unhealthy meat product can cause serious and adverse health consequences, no illnesses have so far been reported in relation to the beefs, according to the PressTV article.
  • Consumers Seeing More Jobs (Ed Yardini, Dr. Ed's Blog) There is no surpise here: Consumer Confidence (present Situation component) and availability of jobs have a strong correlation.


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