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What We Read Today 13 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.

  • China’s Alibaba Enters into a Deal to Purchase Mapping Firm AutoNavi (Lindsay Taylor, FX Empire) The Chinese global storefront company is expected to go public in the U.S. later this year with a valuation estimated at $140 billion, about 40% higher valuation than Facebook at its IPO is 2012. Alibaba is building its portfolio of companies and this week acquired AutoNavi (NASDAQ:AMAP) a Chinese mobile map service provider with 31% of the global market.


This is a Hubble image of the most massive cluster of galaxies ever seen to exist when the universe was just half its current age of 13.8 billion years. The cluster contains several hundred galaxies. Courtesy of NASA, ESA, and J. Jee (University of California, Davis)
  • A Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment Threatens Great Economic Damage (Robert Greenstein and Richard Kogan, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) Hat tip to Sig Silber. (1) The basic principle in this paper is a "Duh!" to those who understand sector balance accounting, although the specific policy implementation details may be debated among that cohort. And the arguments are over simplified because of lack of discussion of international trade which imposes constraints on other sectors. (2) The basic proposition in this paper is an obvious fallacy to those who would run their country according to household or business accounting principles. (Those who say the country should be run like a household or a business.)
  • Peace Talks in the Land of Make-Believe (Uri Avery, Counterpunch) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. It is a 'through the looking glass', 'down the rabbit hole', 'follow the yellow brick road' and 'enter the wardrobe' world.

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  • Shifting bottlenecks in US energy markets (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) Stocks of crude at Cushing, OK are falling as more oil is "piling up" on the Gulf Coast. Refineries there are operating at new post recession highs as the U,S. prepares to beef up petroleum product exports. See also EconMatters article in GEI Analysis.

  • 8 Unforeseen Consequences of Russian Sanctions (Marlene Y. Satter, ThinkAdvisor) Globalization of finance and commerce has created some complex relationships. This article reveals just 8 relationships out of the many that involve Russia.
  • Why REIT ETFs Are Beating The Stock Market This Year (Investor's Business Daily, Vanguard REIT Index ( VNQ ), the largest in its category with $22 billion in assets, has jumped 11% year -to-date, far surpassing the SPDR S&P 500's ( SPY ) 1% gain. It's a remarkable turnaround after adding only 2% when SPY popped 32% in 2013. If interest rates rise this year (many "experts" think they will) REITs could turn around and have another very poor year, even negative returns. But if interest rate decline this year (a very few "experts" think they will) and there is no recession, then REITs could be a top performing sector for the entire year.
  • What Do the Koch Brothers Want? (Sen. Bernie Sanders, website) Hat tip to Rob Carter. David Koch was the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980. Sen. Sanders posts excerpts from the party platform from that year.
  • Buy These Dips and Breakouts from Depressed Prices? (Chris Kimble, Advisor Perspectives Chris Kimble has contributed to Global Economic Intersection) Chris says if you buy dips and breakouts from depressed levels he wonders what you are waiting for. In the chart linked to the graphic below he has plotted the inverse of three U.S. indexes.

Click on graphic for large 3-chart ensemble at Advisor Perspectives

  • 5 Biggest Scams of the Year (Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture) Ever had someone posing as the police say they have a warrant for your arrest unless you pay a fine? It's one of the top five scams of 2013 listed by The Council of Better Business Bureaus. MarketWatch's Jim Jelter reports. Americans lose over $1 billion each year to scams.
  • Update: The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Tax Break (Bill McBride, Calculated Risk) Apparently an IRS opinion letter exempting some foreclosed underwater mortgages from having the unpaid balance at closing taxed as ordinary income (the forgiven debt classification) will only apply in a few states ("non-recourse" states). Congress has allowed a law that exempted all such foreclosure situations to expire at the end of 2013. It is unclear if there will be any further action on this by our "energetic" lawmakers. See also for further discussion on "non-recourse" mortgages: Distressed homeowners seeking mortgage relief could get stuck with a big tax bill (Dina ElBoghdady, The Washington Post)


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