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What We Read Today 14 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.

  • US and Russia trade blows at the UN in clash over Ukraine (Geoff Dyer, Roman Olearchyk and Andrew Jack, Financial Times) Russia called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Sunday evening (13 April 2014) claiming that "aggressive" actions by Ukrainian forces were jeopardizing four-way talks scheduled for this week. Russia said that Ukraine's orders for their military to regain control of government buildings in the country was "a criminal order". Samantha Powers, U.S. ambassador to the UN, said that the instability was "written and choreographed in and by Russia".
  • More Than Half of Ukrainians Want to Join EU, Poll Shows (The Moscow Times) A poll taken last month found that more than 50% of Ukrainians favored alignment with the European Union while 31% chose Russia. When counting only those who said they would actually vote in such a referendum the results were 62% EU and 38% Russia.
  • 10 Rights You Should Have as a Taxpayer (Dan Ritter, Wall St. Cheat Sheet) The "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" is over 150 pages long. Here is the list more the way the amendments to the constitution would have represented them.
  • India's Industrial Output Fell in February (Anant Vijay and Mukesh Jagota, The Wall Street Journal) Manufacturing output fell by 3.7% in February from the January level and was 1.9% down year-over-year. Economists had expected a gain. India still appears mired in an economic slowdown.

Today there are 11 more articles discussed 'behind the wall'.

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  • In Their Own Words: The Fed Heads Were Dead Wrong In 2008. Deja Vu Anyone?(Jeffrey Snyder, David Stockman's Contra Corner) Hat tip to John O'Donnell. Using quotes from 2008 Fed meetings minutes and discussions, Snyder shows the exceptionally bad judgments of the members of the Board of Governors as the Great Financial Crisis fell upon the world. He describes the process that failed these people as linear thinking fed by regression based statistics which led them to self-reinforcing bias. Snyder says that "applied knowledge" should have held sway over "math-based knowledge". Econintersect believes that Snyder has missed the key short-coming of the Fed process: extrapolating from a small data set to a broad conclusion. Fed governors are repeatedly looking at 1, 2 and 3 months of recent data and making a forward extrapolation. We have described that process akin to "looking at one atom and trying to describe the universe". Snyder criticizes "math-based knowledge". He misses the point that what was going on was "math-based nonsense". The math was not at fault - the way it was misused was the problem.
  • China’s property trusts slow sharply (Houses and Holes, Macro Business) A source of real estate financing from "the shadows", property trusts, funded by China's wealthy, are drying up. In the first quarter new money was down by 49%. One of these trusts, Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co., collapsed in February.


  • Tech insiders dumped shares ahead of slide (Richard Waters, Financial Times) The FT should be sued for misrepresentation. Most of what is discussed in the article are parts of long-term planning sales and many fo the shares were sold well below current prices.




  • The Great Moderation, Version 2.0 (Gavyn Davies, Financial Times) It is hard to image a scarier title than this one. Yet it is being bandied about among the neoclassical crowd. Data such as the following graphic is encouraging them.


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