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What We Read Today 10 March 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.


Today we have 15 articles discussed 'Behind the Wall'. The final six are about hydrogen fuel cells and cars that will use them.


  • When will payroll employment exceed the pre-recession peak? (Bill McBride at Calculated Risk) Bill points out that the famous graph below does not reflect the increased population over the past seven years and the changes in the labor force participation rate. But, nonetheless, a milestone is approaching.

Click on graph for large image at Calculated Risk.

  • China's credit markets under pressure (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) Interest rates are calming but there are signs that bank lending is being cut back and corporate bond markets are slowing after China's first private sector bond default occurred. Slack industrial demand is also a problem for China with steel production being cut back sharply.


  • Business Isn’t Capitalism (Benjamin Weingarten, The Blaze) Hat tip to Mark Thornton. Benjamin Weingarten has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. Benjamin says there is not much business that satisfies his definition of capitalism:
Capitalism means free enterprise. It is a wholly voluntary system in which buyers and sellers, consumers and producers freely negotiate and trade, to their mutual benefit. It is a democratic system in which he who gets the most votes in the form of revenues and profits wins, but is constantly forced to provide better products at lower prices if he is to survive, all to the benefit of the consumer. It requires in its purest form the protection of individual liberty, the sanctity of the contract, enforcement of private property rights, a stable currency, consistency in the spirit and application of the laws and a culture imbued with a belief in merit, work ethic and virtue.
  • A truly hilarious article that also makes a point (Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, Monetary Sovereignty) Rodger Malcolm Mitchell contributes to Global Economic Intersection. A microcosm of American politics. Rodger says the article is hilarious but it is not very funny at all.
  • Mortgage Equity Withdrawal Still Negative in Q4 (Bill McBride, Calculated Risk) This is impacted by shrinking mortgage debt which only recently returned to positive, but not by much. The decades long tradition of tapping the home equity piggy bank is still out of vogue, which it has been for six years. Not surprising after trillions of home equity evapoated 2006-2009.

Click on graph for larger image at Calculated Risk.

  • Wrong lesson from Adam Smith’s pin factory (Rumplestatskin, Macro Business) How many "truths" in economics ahve cause and effect backwards? Here is a look at Adam Smith's pin factory story which has long been held as a example of divisi0on of labor increasing productivity. The author suggests that division of labor is a result of productivity improvement through the accumulation of capital.
  • Let the sun shine (The Economist) The future is bright for solar power, even as subsidies are withdrawn. The major thing limiting solar energy going forward is storage. The move toward hydrogen fuel cell powered cars may become one of the storage process that will increase the use of solar.


  • Fuel Cell Vehicles And Critical Metals: Supply And Demand (Jack Lifton, Seeking Alpha) Metals technology and markets expert Jack Lifton says that there are fundamental limitations on hydrogen fuel cells for cars and one of them is the limited availability of platinum or palladium required for the catalyst upon the surface of which hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce water and release electrons which power the electric drive in the fuel cell car.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Is Not Dead (John Lounsbury, AltEnergy Stocks) A 4 1/2 year old article covering technology of production issues, economics of production and distribution, safety questions and general considerations of hydrogen as an energy storage system compared to electrolytic batteries.

  • Hyundai Introduces Hydrogen Fuel Cell SUV (Bloomberg) Hyundai already has a hydrogen fuel cell car in Europe but expects it will take ten years to bring the technology on line globally. (Note: A year ago, Nissan, Daimler and Ford announced a partnership to mass-produce and market hydrogen powered vehicles by 2017. There is no news from those companies in recent weeks as others have been coming forward with announcements. See GEI News.)

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