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What We Read Today 09 August 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 (and sometimes longer ones) 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.

  • Number of unaccompanied child migrants falls by half: US (AFP, MSN News) In June the official number of children crossing the U.S. border from Mexico was 10,628. In July it is just over half that, 5,508. The number od adults entering accompanied by children fell even more, from 16,330 in June to 7,410 in July. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the response to handle the influx of illegal immigrants has been improving but is about to hit a wall: Money is running out and Congress has recessed without addressing the problem.

  • Euro Slide Continues on ECB Commentary (Barbara Zigah, DailyForex) The euro traded as low as 1.3345 vs the U.S. dollar on Thursday before firming slightly to 1.3410 on Friday. The euro has been in a three month slide since briefly hitting 1.4000 in early May.
  • Half the country doesnít think Watergate was a real scandal!? Why? (Philip Bump, The Washington Post) Does the fact that half the current population in the U.S. wasn't born yet when Nixon resigned? Is this similar to thought process factors involved in Holocaust denial? Or is simply human nature to want to forget the unpleasant? Maybe this is the reason that so much of history seems to be repeating the past (or at least rhymes).


  • Island of safety becomes a death trap (The Washington Post) Read related story: Desperate Iraqi Yazidis flee into Syria after Kurdish forces secure escape route (Loveday Morris, The Washington Post).
    Between 10,000 and 40,000 ethnic Yazidis are trapped in the Sinjar Mountains after fleeing attacks by fighters from the Islamic State (IS). The 4,400-foot-high Sinjar range is venerated by the Yazidis. They believe it to be the place where Noah's ark settled after the biblical flood. The Sinjar Mountains are a barren ridge - four miles wide, 25 miles long and devoid of plant life, water or shade.

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  • Latest dynamics in US energy markets (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) The Cushing, OK storage glut for crude oil has been cut in half, back to the levels seen 6-10 years ago. The reason is that crude transportation to refineries in the Midwest and on the Gulf Coats has picked up again to levels of 2003-2005. See second graph.



  • Wall Street's Next Political Storm (Nicole Gelinas, ThinkAdvisor) Gelinas describes what may be sharp attacks from the left and the right against mainstream candidates for "the establishment" during the 2016 presidential primary campaigns. She says that leading candidates in both parties "rarely talk about too-big-to-fail financial institutionsí unfair advantage over the rest of the economy". She further does a smackdown of President Obama's duplicitous behavior with regard to the financial sector, saying "financial reform was never his core domestic issue" in spite of early rhetoric (since vanished) to the contrary.
  • Identifying and quantifying monetary policy: Transmission through bank balance sheets (Kaoru Hosono and Daisuke Miyakawa,
    Overall, our findings support the hypotheses that bank net worth affects loan supply and that the effect depends on monetary policy and economic growth. Moreover, this bank balance sheet channel has a significant impact on firms' financing and investment. The results imply that from a policy perspective, it is important to carefully choose the timing of the exit from expansionary monetary policy. In particular, exiting from unconventional monetary policies when bank balance sheets are weak could have a severe adverse impact on firms' activities. It should also be noted that such an adverse impact would potentially be particularly strong for firms with better investment opportunities, which are expected to be the main drivers of economic growth.
  • Are Your Delicious, Healthy Almonds Killing Bees? (Tom Philpott, Mother Jones) Insecticide manufacturers claim their products are harmless for bees, yet somehow bee die-offs in California are associated with almond groves that use those insecticides. Almond groves use 60% of the U.S. bees during pollination so this is a big deal.


  • In Fight With Hackers, We Are on Our Own (Molly Wood, The New York Times)
    Set up multifactor authentication ó that is, multiple steps like a password and a text sent to your smartphone ó where itís available. Itís worth the effort. Be careful about what data you give out online: Use fake birth dates and make up your motherís maiden name, if need be. Assume itís the Wild West out there. And be happily surprised when it is not.


  • This Is Your Brain on Fish (James Hamblin, The Atlantic) If you eat fish once a week you can expect your brain to average significantly more gray matter (thinking regions) volume than those who do not. It has also been shown that omega-3 fatty acids (fish are an important source) slow cognitive decline. Yet the amount of omega-3 in blood has not been found to correlate with increased brain volume. So there may be other factors helping those who eat fish.
  • Now that it has banned billions of dollars in food imports, how will Russia feed itself? (Jason Karaian, Quartz) See also next article.
    But this will only go so far, so even bigger deals are in the works to expand the trade in fruit with Turkey and poultry with Brazil. Brazilian chicken farmers reckon that they could boost exports to Russia four-fold. Russiaís food safety authority will fast-track licenses for a major expansion of fish imports from Chile, it said today. Beef producers in Argentina say they are keen to sell to Russia, if they can convince their own government to lift export restrictions. Intriguingly, although Japan, New Zealand, and Switzerland have imposed some sanctions on Russia, they were not named in todayís food import ban.


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