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What We Read Today 12 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.

  • Kathleen Sebelius steps down as HHS secretary; OMB director will take her place (Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post) The official story line is that Sebelius felt it was a good time to leave. Water cooler scuttlebutt has it that she is a sacrificial lamb for the failed Obamacare roll out. The replacement nominee, OMB (Office of the Management of the Budget) director Sylvia Matthews Burwell, is not an expert in healthcare policy but is considered a strong manager.

  • Users’ Stark Reminder: As Web Grows, It Grows Less Secure (Farhad Manjou, The New York Times) The new security flaw is as simple as would be the misspelling of Mississippi. The bug known as Heartbleed is a trivial error in consumer data encryption and reflects the immaturity of the new electronic technology world. And the trivial error could cause major disruptions.
  • CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says (Ali Watkins, Jonathan S. Landy and Marisa Tatlor, McClatchy) A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA's use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques. The spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods.
  • Vladimir, he wrote me a letter! (Phil Flynn, Futures Magazine) A tongue-in-cheek faux letter from Russian Premier Putin from the viewpoint of energy blackmail. Further commentary from the author about Russia's expansionist ambitions and impacts on oil and gas prices.
  • Retirement Strategy: Is Boring Becoming Bubbly? (Alan Saltzman, Seeking Alpha) Saltzman points out that a "boring" portfolio of dividend paying blue chip stocks this week lost 1.6% (not including dividends) while the major averages were losing 4-6%. He says that proves "boring stocks" are not in a bubble.

Today there are 17 more articles discussed 'behind the wall'.

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  • Looking for move in crude (Gregor Horvath, Futures Magazine) A technical argument is made that the recent rally is counter trend in a bearish crude market.


  • Are You Considering Retirement Abroad? What You Need to Know (Mark Miller, Wealth Management) A discussion of such issues as currency risk, taxes, investing and health care. Medicare can impose some penalties if it is lapsed after age 65 once a returnee from abroad wants to re-enroll. The penalty is 10% of what would have been paid for coverage had it been maintained during the period abroad.
  • We're Shuffling the Cards on Our European Play (Frank Holmes, U.S. Global Investors) Frank Holmes has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. A one line summary: Greece yes, Russia no. There is a little bit of rear-view mirror influence here. The Greek stock market is up about 45% in the last year. The Russian market (see NYSE:RSX) declined 30% from 22 October 2013 to 13 March 2014, but has since rebounded almost 12%. Holmes doesn't see the Russian rebound continuing. (He disagrees on that account with William Patalon of Money Morning at GEI Investing.) One of the arguments for further Greek sucess is the fact that the country has the first positive current account balance in decades.


  • Flight 370 Search Brings Satellite Company an Unaccustomed Bit of Fame (Nicola Clark, The New York Times) Inmarsat's electronic mapping of the globe has been indispensable in locating the highest probability area for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. The 39-year old company has traded publicly on the London Stock Exchange since 2005 (LSE:ISAT.L) and is a leading provider of satellite communications services globally.
The Justice Department has successfully convicted dozens of bankers for insider trading. But the big banks did something much worse and got away with it.


  • States are spending $2,353 or 28 percent less per student on higher education, nationwide, in the current 2013 fiscal year than they did in 2008, when the recession hit.
  • Every state except for North Dakota and Wyoming is spending less per student on higher education than they did prior to the recession.[1]
  • In many states the cuts over the last five years have been remarkably deep. Eleven states have cut funding by more than one-third per student, and two states - Arizona and New Hampshire - have cut their higher education spending per student in half.




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