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What We Read Today 07 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.

  • Russia and U.S. Waging Financial War? (Julian DW Phillips, The Market Oracle) Hat tip to Rob Carter. The primary source of threats of financial war have come from Russia, to a lesser extent from the EU and the U.S. says Phillips. He thinks that the damage to both sides in such a war would be too horrible to contemplate and describes some of the details. Therefore he doubts the likelihood of follow through. But he says he cannot dismiss it and wants to sell you some gold.

  • Vice (Bob Lefsetz, The Big Picture) Good review of the great new investigative journalism TV show.
  • Europe votes for a ‘neutral net’ … but what does that mean? (Angela Day, The Conversation) The EU Parliament has passed a strict net-neutrality act which prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating between different types of internet traffic and from restricting (legal) content, sites or platforms. Internet service providers (ISPs) had wanted the ability to charge different users based on the speed and reliability of service each user desired and possibly block certain types of traffic outright. The act will not become law, however, until the Council of the European Union also approves. ISPs are expected to lobby hard for modifications.

Today there are 13 more articles discussed behind the wall.

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  • Property groups’ bank stakes stir unease among Chinese regulators (Simon Rabinovitch and Josh Noble, Financial Times) Heavily indebted large Chinese developers have been increasing stakes in banks as smaller developers have been going bankrupt. China seems to be trending toward "friends and family" deals, reminiscent of Japan's keiretsu.
  • Citizenship-for-Cash Program in Malta Stirs Security Concerns in European Union (Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times) Officials fear the citizenship sale program could open a back door into Europe and the United States for swindlers, criminals or terrorists who can afford the price tag of up to $1.57 million. Hundreds have applied since the program was announced in February, including Chinese billionaires, wealthy Russians and executives from countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Libya.
  • The Lions in Europe (John Mauldin, Thoughts from the Frontline) Banks have delevered but sovereign and non-financial debt overhang remains. See also Jim Welsh focus this month on the same subject in GEI Investing: . Mauldin points out "modest bank deleveraging across the Eurozone since early 2012" and follows with a caveat:

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  • Under Revised Quake Estimates, Dozens of Nuclear Reactors Face Costly Safety Analyses (Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times) U.S. nuclear plants are located in newly upgraded earthquake zones and need expensive safety risk assessments. If deficiencies are found repairs may be prohibitive as many of the plants are old. Some of the plants are located near major east coast population centers including Washington, DC, Boston and New York City.
  • Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality (IMF Policy Paper) The IMF says fiscal policy is the primary tool for governments to affect income distribution. Examples are discussed but no specific goals or policy instruments are advocated

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  • I had my DNA analyzed, and all I got was this lousy story (Cyrus Fariver, ars technica) While DNA testing can help identify disease risks (some specifics discussed in this article), Econintersect's managing editor and family have foound the most useful aspect for us has been establishing connections with second and third cousins giving us information about branches of our family tree we had been missing.

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  • The Front-Runners of Wall Street (Nancy Folbre, Economix, The New York Times) Econintersect has repeatedly noted that possibly the most important aspect of Michael Lewis' new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt is the focus on front-running which is embedded in the HFT (high frequency trading) playbook. Folbre takes the front-running discussion head on, point by point.

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