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What We Read Today 03 April 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.

  • Supreme Court strikes down limits on federal campaign donations (Robert Barnes, The Washington Post) Wednesday (02 April 2014) The SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) struck down limits on aggregated federal campaign donations by any individual to all campaigns. The $2,600 limit to any individual candidate was not changed. The decision was 5-4, liberals in the minority. The SCOTUS has now decreed that talk is not defined by words but by dollars, at least in aggregate. Free speech is a thousand times "freer" for a billionaire than for a millionaire. And a billion paupers' "words" count for less than an individual worth $1.01 billion. Econintersect suggests that the SCOTUS needs to issue an ancillary statement: The use of the terminology "Talk is cheap." is henceforth forbidden.

In the past four years, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has made it far easier to buy an election and far harder to vote in one.


  • Weather, climate change, the risk to our expensive infrastructure and our lives (Fabius Maximus) Fabius Maximus has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. This continues a topic that we have been reading and posting here. The connection between extreme weather and climate change is tenuous and should only be considered in a statistical manner, not event-by-event. This is a very good climate change discussion article, as are most of the writings on this topic at this site. There is more about the economic costs of climate change 'behind the wall'.
  • Fly Me to the Minimoon: Tiny Asteroids Near Earth Touted for Human Exploration (Leonard David, NASA is drawing up bold plans to capture a near-Earth asteroid and drag it back to a stable lunar orbit, where astronauts could visit it in the future. But some scientists say that small space rocks called "minimoons" already cruise near our planet and could be visited directly just as they are. But private enterprise is already in this race with a corporation formed a couple of years ago, Planetary Resources, which is developing a program to commercially mine asteroids. Planetary Resources is backed by some big name billionaires. See GEI News coverage here and here and here.

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


  • John Bogle, Index Icon, Accused of Timing Market (Gil Weinrich, ThinkAdvisor) John Bogle, the long-time head of Vanguard and considered the father of "index it and invest in it forever" has suggested that changing asset allocations for "tactical reasons" is a good idea. This article discusses the criticism that this amounts to good old fashioned market timing.
  • Inside the (Smaller) Bank Branch of the Future (Jessica Silver-Greenberg, DealBook, The New York Times) Hat tip to Rob Carter. If virtual currency is not imminent (see previous article) then we will have banking offices for some time to come. This article discusses how those might develop.
  • From Ignorance Comes Certainty (Dave Gonigam, 5 Min. Forecast) This is a pretty good graph once you get by the 1990 typo as 1900. Gallup asks people when they think it's a good time to invest. More say "yes" at market tops and more "no" at market bottoms.


Click on graphic to see larger image at the Bangor Daily News.


  • Senate Report Says Caterpillar Used Swiss Subsidiary to Reduce Taxes (Mary Williams Walsh, The New York Times) Caterpillar "avoided" $2.4 billion in taxes by running a bogus "on paper" only operation in Switzerland for work that was actually done elsewhere. That allowed to company to transfer billions of dollars to Switzerland where a sweetheart tax deal was arranged with payments at 4-6%. Econintersect believes the correct work is "evaded".
  • US job market healing (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) There are a number of encouraging data points. One of them is a very robust permanent placement number from the ISI (International Strategy and Investment Group) survey of recruiting firms.


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