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What We Read Today 10 June 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.

  • Model exchange faces security breach (Allison Bell, Life Health Pro) Connecticut may have one of the best run HIX (health insurance exchange) in the country but that hasn't prevented an employee of a contractor involved in running the exchange from accidentally leaving a backpack containing hundreds of users' names and personal data in a Hartford deli.

  • Marijuana playing larger role in fatal crashes (Matt Schmitz and Cris Woodyard, USA Today) Columbia University, examining the toxicology reports from almost 24,000 cases, found that marijuana contributed to 12 percent of traffic fatalities in 2010, triple the percentage from a decade earlier. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found 4 percent of drivers are high during the day and more than 6 percent are high at night.
  • Male faces 'buttressed against punches' by evolution (Jonathan Webb, BBC) It has long been a hypothesis that human facial structure evolved for efficiency in eating a hunter-gatherer diet. But new research suggests that the differences between facial structure for men and women are derived from evolutionary development in men to favor faces that could better withstand being hit. Violence could have been a factor guiding our appearance today.

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  • Wall Street Yield Trade: Another Explanation For Low Inflation (EconMatters) EconMatters contributes to GEI. EconMatters argues that low interest rates are deflationary. Of course, this is contrary to the stated assumptions of central banks. This article suggests that this has occurred because banks prefer to buy assets rather than lend money, depressing the non-financial economy. The solution proposed is to raise interest rates to "get ahead of the inflation curve" and also to "push the liquidity out of the 'risk free' Yield Trade, into more productive economic and business activity". The increase is personal savings is offered in support of this hypothesis.


  • Eight mantras to control spending and start saving (The Electronic Times) May not be much here for experienced investors but a great article to pass on to the young and inexperienced. (As is the next article, as well, which may have something for the experienced investor as well.)
  • Warehouse “Rats” Could Ignite Chinese Credit Crisis (Shah Gilani, Wall Street Insights & Indictments) Shah Gilani has contributed to GEI. More details on the Chinese warehousing/credit scandal involving copper inventories which was mentioned in WWRT (public section) yesterday. What is being investigated is whether or not the same copper inventory was pledged as security for multiple loans. Imagine if the loans were used to buy more copper which was again used as security for multiple loans. This could be a Copper Ponzi Mountain. Calls for deliveries of more copper than actually exist could precipitate not only a credit crisis but a commodity crisis to boot. Econintersect observes that this is another example of how "free markets" need no outside control. (Hope you can detect sarcasm.) Isn't it time for the world to get real about accounting control fraud?
  • Daily Slot E-mail Newsletter (No link available) Here is an astonishing comparison. Is this a rational condition?


  • $GM – General Motors (Rick Ackerman, Rick's Picks) Rick Ackerman has contributed to GEI. Will legal woes kill GM for a second time? Ackerman says that if GM moves below 31.12 it would be a "likely death spiral".

Click on chart for larger image at Rick's Picks.

  • Fed's Bullard says macroeconomy much closer to normal (Michael Flaherty, Reuters) Labor markets are still weak and inflation has yet to reach the Fed's 2% target, but Bullard says the economy is getting much closer to a "normal state". He sees interest rates beginning to rise in less than 12 months and "back to normal" by the end of 2016.


Actually, the story of people leaving the labor force is not primarily one of older workers who are near retirement age, it is primarily a story of prime age workers. According to data from the OECD, the employment to population ratio for workers between the ages of 25-54 is down by 3.5 percentage points from its pre-recession level. For workers between the ages of 55-64 it is only down by 0.9 percentage points.

It is difficult to envision any obvious reason why people in their prime working years would suddenly decide that they did not want to work other than the weakness of the labor market. Most of these workers will presumably come back into the labor market if they see opportunities for employment.

Click on graph for larger image.


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