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What We Read Today 15 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.

  • Ukraine pleads with U.N. for peacekeepers (Olga Rudenko, USA Today) Ukraine wants UN peacekeeping forces to control separatist militants occupying government buildings. Ukraine claims the militants are being directed by Russian special operations troops.

  • China New Credit Declines as Money-Supply Growth Decelerates (Xin Zhou, Bloomberg) China's broadest measure of credit fell 19% year-over-year in March. The money supply grew at the slowest rate in 13 years. But the money supply still grew at a 12.1% rate vs. a year ago. Excesses are being wrung out of the Chinese financial system but the government is still targeting a 7.5% growth objective for 2014. That may be a tough order to fill. Real estate over development will be one problem as office space vacancies of 30-50% are reported for many towns and cities.

Today there are 11 articles discussed 'behind the wall'. The final three are about Thomas Piketty's new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

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  • This Chart Is A True Picture Of How QE “Solved” The Unemployment Crisis In America (Wolfgang Richter, Testosterone Pit) The ultimate in "trickle-down" strategy, QE monetary policy has created a spectacular expansion of asset values and has also corresponded to an increase in part-time employment (billions) and a decrease in the labor force (billions). So the Fed is claiming it has solved the employment crisis. This is only true if one accepts the increase in misery of the working class as part of the solution.


  • Millennials in Adulthood (Pew Research) Millenials are the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Pew Research has examined data on millenials between the ages of 18 and 33 (born 1980 to 1996) and compared them to previous generations. Among the significant differences are the large increase in networks of friends and a detachment from institutions, such as marriage.


  • The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Pee in the Pool (Kara, selected from Mother Nature Network) Uric acid (from urine) reacts with chlorine to produce toxic chemicals: cyangen chloride and trichloramine. Both chemicals have been linked to chronic health problems among swimmers.
  • Appeals Court Overturns Conviction of AT&T Hacker Known as ‘Weev’ (Nick Bilton, The New York Times) In 2010 Weev stole the personal data of 114,000 Apple iPod users, some of them high profile people. His conviction was overruled on a technicality: The prosecution failed to identify the state(s) in which the AT&T servers were located. They assumed New Jersey. They assumed wrong. They were in Georgia and Texas. Almost an afterthought at the end of this article is the information that Weev's co-conspirator tried to notify AT&T of their security hole and was ignored.
  • The Next America (Pew Research) One astounding result of this Pew Research poll is that only 27% consider President Obama to be black. Mixed race is the response from 52%. No information was given about the remaining 21%. One reason for changing attitudes may be the rapid rise in mixed-race marriages.


  • World must end 'dirty' fuel use - UN (Matt McGrath, BBC) The latest IPCC report finds that the rapid implementation for renewables for energy must continue to slow a rapid progression of global temperature in the coming century. To stay below a 2 degree temperature rise by 2100 will require carbon emissions to be 40-70% lower in 2050 than they were in 2010. That may sound impossible but it is not. Renewable energy sources accounted for more than half of all new generation facilities in 2012. That is a dramatic increase so far in this century and could continue.


  • Who Spends Extra Cash? (Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, House of Debt) Rich households have a lower marginal propensity to spend than do poor households. This is consistent with the struggles of a consumer based economy when income distribution becomes more polarized.


  • R vs. g (Noah Smith, Noahpinion) Smith focuses on two interpretations on the return to capital rise and decline of the return to labor. In one case he says the attribution is to globalization and will eventually right itself when all the third world is "filled up with capital". He identifies this view as the "liberal" view. The other view (he labels as "conservative") is that the world is progressing down a path to full automation and the return to labor will tend toward zero as labor will no longer be part of the equation. In the "liberal" view, all we have to do is wait and all will be well. In the "conservative" view we are faced with decisions about how wealth and income should be distributed since labor will no longer have a claim through production. Whatever happened to the link between "conservative" and "laissez-faire". Smith has been discussing this in the context of Thomas Piketty's book (see next two articles) which proposes the ascendancy of robots as the driving force behind inequality.
  • Capital and Destiny (Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist) This is the most critical of the reviews we have read but, even so, Coyle finds much to praise about the book.

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