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What We Read Today 20 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.

  • A breakthrough in Chinese climate policy? Not likely (Julian Snelder, China Spectator) The manufacture of syngas from coal has been touted as a green energy initiative. Problems with that, though. It is not really green and the economics of the process are not good.

Articles about Ferguson:

Holder takes on Ferguson: AG ‘flooding the zone’ with investigators, heads to Missouri (Fox News)

Obama Sends Holder to Ferguson With Limited Legal Tools (Mike Dorning, Bloomberg)

After Brown autopsy, mom wants officer arrested (Yamiche Alcindor and John Bacon, USA Today)

Ferguson Probe Will Take Time (David Von Drehle, Time)

Articles about wars elsewhere:

Gaza cease-fire broken as militants’ rocket attacks spark retaliatory Israeli airstrikes (William Booth, The Washington Post)

The Tunnels of Gaza (James Verini, National Geographic)

Isis claims to behead US journalist (Richard McGregor and Sam Jones, Financial Times)

Isis captures tanks after Iraqi offensive fails to retake Tikrit (James Starkley, The Times)

Ukraine convoy attack: 'Bodies recovered' in Luhansk (BBC)

Advancing Ukraine troops take fight to heart of pro-Moscow rebellion (Maria Tsvetkova and Noah Barkin, Reuters)

There are 13 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'.

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  • Trends in Hospitalizations and Outcomes for Acute Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke: 1999-2011 (Harlan M. Krumholz, Sharon-Lise T. Normand and Yun Wang, Circulation) This study used national Medicare data to identify all Fee-For-Service patients aged ≥65 years hospitalized with unstable angina, myocardial infarction, heart failure, ischemic stroke, and all other conditions from 1999 through 2011. Dramatic reduction in hospitalizations, readmissions and mortality were found over the 13-year period. Full PDF of article is available (free). Incidence of stroke maps are one of several map pairs for various cardio vascular conditions.

Click on graphic for larger image.



  • Here's How All 50 State Economies Are Doing, Ranked From Slowest To Fastest (Andy Kiersz and Elena Holodny, Business Insider) Slowest growing state economy is Alaska, followed by Vermont and New Mexico. Fastest growing is Colorado, followed by California and Texas. Click on title for 50-state slide show. GDP growth was only one of eight parameters included in calculating the rankings. North Dakota had the fastest growing GDP in 2013 (9.7%). It also led in two other categories (employment growth and population growth). But over all eight categories North Dakota was ranked 13th.
  • A fight without a hero (H.C., The Economist) Hat tip[ to Rob Carter. The efforts of hedge fund NML Capital to receive full payment for their holdings of Argentine government debt, while all other holders of the same issue take an agreed to haircut, may ultimately come down to recovery of monies embezzled from the Argentina government. Recent U.S. court rulings have granted NML authority to investigate 123 shell companies believed to be associated with the embezzlement scheme. The companies are reportedly associated with Lazaro Baez a "close confidant of Nestor Kirchner, the former president and late husband of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner".

Click on graphic for larger image at The Washington Post.

  • Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost (Timothy Williams, The New York Times) The astounding story about how the government (through the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 - WIA) aids and abets the scamming of the unemployed at their time of greatest vulnerability. The 15-year old program provides for a small government grant toward enrollment in a "government certified job training course". These courses are often offered by for-profit colleges which advertize very high rates of graduate placements. The NYT finds that many gradates of these programs were successful in finding jobs at places like McDonalds and AutoZone for low wages and as much as $20,000 or $25,000 in debt for the "government certified job training course". Course are also offered by traditional non-profit colleges, universities and junior colleges. The NYT does not characterize the success or lack thereof for those institutions. A research paper from the University of Texas, Targeting Workforce Development Programs: Who Should Receive What Services? And How Much?, criticizes the government for lack of evaluation of WIA until quite recently. That paper says (dated November 2013) that results of government evaluation are not available yet.

  • A Major Test is Underway for the S&P 500 - Yes, It's That Important: Part III (Jonathan Beck, JBeckInvestmentsBlog) The rally from October 2012 has been an exceptionally well behaved advance of nearly 80%. But that uptrend has been confined by a rising wedge and it must eventually leave that wedge, at the latest when it comes to the point that support and resistance meet. Such wedge patterns are usually broken before the "point" is actually reached and such occasions can involve outsized moves. Following a long advance these moves are often down.

Click on chart for larger image at J. Beck Investments Blog.

  • Estate Planning: Smart Roth Conversion Trick (Donald Jay Korn, Financial Planning) When children are doing very well financially and in to top marginal income bracket, and the parent (IRA owner) is in a lower bracket, Roth conversions by the parent can save income tax burden for the family. The Roth conversion has an additional benefit in that it removes the required minimum distribution (RMD) for the parent and results in a larger bequest to the children from that source as well. The third advantage is for estates that are close to the tax-exempt limit. Conversion may keep the estate below that limit whereas bequest of the larger, yet to be taxed IRA can create an estate tax liability. These are all obvious things to put in the planning equation but sometimes people don't think of the obvious.


  • Tax Burden in U.S. Not as Heavy as It Looks, Report Says (Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times) The article is making the case that U.S. taxes paid by multinational corporations are competitive with the rest of the world and lowering taxes might not have the effect that proponents have been suggesting. Caveat: Econintersect found the article confusing. Maybe a reader will submit a comment or send an e-mail to help us out.
  • What Beijing fears most: Intra-Asian balancing (Dhruva Jaishanker, The Interpreter) What if all the rest of Asia/Pacific aligned against China? Jaishanker suggests that this is the biggest worry for China and could explain why it is dabbling in pot stirring.


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