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What We Read Today 17 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.

The "WWRT" discussion is abbreviated and late today due to technical difficulties.

  • Russia and Ukraine Agree on Steps to End Crisis (NBC News) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said today that Ukraine and Russia have agreed that militants must stop violence, lay down illegal weapons and return seized buildings to rightful owners. Ukraine will offer amnesty to protesters (except for those accused of capital crimes). The agreement followed meetings in Geneva involving Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU.

  • How Finance Gutted Manufacturing (Suzanne Berger, Boston Review) Hat tip to Marvin Clark. A provocative analysis and discussion of the role of optimized financial returns (short-term gains) in the destruction of vision driven enterprise (long-term gains). There are ten accompanying response articles including one from GEI contributor Dean Baker.

Today there are 8 articles discussed 'behind the wall'.

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  • A Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road (Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners, Advisor Perspectives) The Taylor Ruke suggests negative rates would be appropriate for the ECB (European Central Bank) - QE coming? See also previous article.

  • Get Ready: It’s Time For Wall Street’s Quarterly Shell Game (Shah Gilani, Wall Street Insights & Indictments) Shah Gilani has contributed to Global Economic Intersection. Gilani says that the earnings announcements are just another "rigged game", akin to HFT (high frequency trading and other "institutionalized games" that are "sucking the life out of other people's dreams". The game is "manipulation". And it is not illegal.
"It's a dirty game. It should be cleaned up."
  • Nearly 2 million homeowners no longer 'seriously' underwater (Les Christie, CNN Money) In the first quarter the number of homeowners seriously underwater on their mortgages fell over the past year from 10.9 million to "only" 9.1 million. If you owe 25% or more on your mortgage than your house is worth you are classified as seriously underwater.
  • Report: A Third of Home Owners in Foreclosure Have Equity (Realtor Mag) Some home owners in foreclosure actually have positive equity today, but many do not realize that. Several major metro markets have more than half of foreclosure properties with positive equity. Some of these are now in a position to avoid foreclosure.
  • 3 reasons the economy has some spring in its step (Christopher Matthews, CNN Money) One of the three reasons is rising retail sales. Caution: the "huge" rise in 2014 is actually on 1.7%. That is significant but less than May and June of last year. See also GEI Analysis.


  • Dangerous Space Incidents (Micah Zenko, Council on Foreign Relations) The exposure to risks of conflict in space are escalating as China becomes a space power and positions military capabilities there. This article lists three potential incidents or activities that could lead to conflict:

Crisis-related, where a country could use anti-satellite (ASAT) operations during a crisis with the United States or an ally in order to deter hostile acts, disrupt U.S. surveillance or communications, or for defensive reasons.
Intentional peacetime, such as a demonstration of ASAT capabilities, which would limit U.S. space systems or intelligence abilities during non-crisis situations.
Inadvertent peacetime, which might include ASAT tests or acts of negligence that cause unintentional harm by creating orbital space debris and threatening access to space.

  • Has inflation in the US bottomed out? (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) The chart below suggests a support level, PPI (Producer Price Index) has just had a strong bounce and recent commodity index reports have shown some life; all reasons to think that CPI (Consumer Price Index) for the U.S. will strengthen. But inflation expectations are still very low so if the U.S. CPI does turn up there should be strong market reactions.

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