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What We Read Today 11 July 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.

  • Clean Air Protections for Hiker and Forest Health (Appalachian Mountain Club) This volunteer outdoor recreation organization has been monitoring environmental conditions in New Hampshire's White Mountains for nearly 30 years. Over that time they have observed significant decline of ozone, significant improvement in long-distance visibility on the haziest days and an 80% decline in acid rain.

There are 12 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'.

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  • Yes, Millennials Actually Are Living in Their Parents' Basements (David Dayen, New Republic) Forget the blogs that have dismissed the increase in millennials living at home because that included students in dormitories and more young people are in college because of the Great Recession. Trulia has disaggregated the data and finds that excluding those living in dormitories the percentage of 18-34 year olds living with parents continues to climb (first graph below). Also they reported that dorm residencies have been relatively flat since 2010 (second graph). Isn't it amazing how much egg gets on a face when claims are made without data?



  • Longevity annuities inside IRAs and 401(k)s (Robert Powell, USA Today) On July 1 a new provision for retirement accounts created an exclusion from the RMD (required minimum distribution) rules. Now a retiree can exclude up to $125,000 or 25%, whichever is smaller of his/her retirement accounts (401k or IRA) from RMD provided that amount is used to purchase a deferred annuity that will start payout at some advanced age, say 85. This removes some of the money from what would have been paid out in RMDs and defers that to become taxable income when the annuity starts distributions later. Some are calling this provision"old age insurance" or "longevity insurance". And, yes, the annuities can cover a beneficiary as well with a joint and survivor provision.
  • Confessions of a Computer Modeler (Robert J. Caprara, The Wall Street Journal) Hat tips to Chuck Spinney and Roger Erickson. Be suspicious of any model which does not show results for uncertainty both sides of the nominal result.
  • Private Team's Attempt to Move Vintage NASA Probe Hits Snag (Elizabeth Howell, A private group is trying to "recommission" a NASA satellite which was retired 17 years ago. The project is now touch and go because fuel for the satellite's positioning rockets is nearly gone and repositioning in order to remain in orbit has not yet been completed. The group also has not established consistent communications with the 36-year old satellite.


  • Prime Money Funds To Float Price In Plan Said Headed To SEC Vote (Bloomberg News, Financial Advisor Magazine) If this is approved several things will result: (1) Some money market funds will no longer be riskless cash equivalents; (2) Demand for short-term Treasuries from those seeking to preserve money account principal will increase dramatically and drive the rates lower (below zero?); and (3) the availability of short-term capital for corporate entities will be constrained and the rate will be driven up.

Click on graphic for larger image at Business Insider.

  • Completely uninsured have dropped from 20% to 15%.
  • A total of 58% feel they are better off and 9% worse off.
  • Most newly insured say they got access to primary care and specialists quickly.
  • For those under 250% of poverty level income, 82% were satisfied with their new coverage.
  • For those over 250% of poverty level income, 65 % were satisfied with their new coverage.
  • For those who self-declared they had health problems, 61% said they were better off with their new coverage.
  • For those who self-declared they had no health problems 54% felt they were better off with their new coverage.
  • For those who signed up for qualified health policies, 49% said they were healthy.
  • For those who enrolled in Medicaid, 36% said they were healthy.
  • Last year 18% of Democrats, 11% of Republicans and 19% of Independents said they were uninsured.
  • This year 13% of Democrats, 11% of Republicans and 14% of Independents said they were uninsured.

The U.S. shale patch is facing a shakeout as drillers struggle to keep pace with the relentless spending needed to get oil and gas out of the ground.

Shale debt has almost doubled over the last four years while revenue has gained just 5.6 percent, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of 61 shale drillers. A dozen of those wildcatters are spending at least 10 percent of their sales on interest compared with Exxon Mobil Corp.'s 0.1 percent.

"The list of companies that are financially stressed is considerable," said Benjamin Dell, managing partner of Kimmeridge Energy, a New York-based alternative asset manager focused on energy. "Not everyone is going to survive. We've seen it before."

  • Senior Bankers Warn: ĎItís Crazy, Itís a Boom, Itís a Gold Rushí (Wolf Richter, Wolf Street - formerly Testosterone Pit) Richter reports (using sources such as the Financial Times) that the acceleration in bank lending is not going into "investment" but into "speculation". He also says that vast amounts of money are being poured into fracking with an ever decreasing return on investment. (See article immediately preceding this one and the Sober Look article earlier above.) Richter says it's another credit bubble.


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