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What We Read Today 18 September 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.

  • Billionaire's house arrest sends stocks crashing (Nataliya Vasilyeva, Associated Press, MSN News) Russia appears to be moving further along a path of nationalization of major industries with the arrest of the head of the a conglomerate which owns the largest oil company still in private hands.

  • Can you pass the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test? Seven states may soon require it to graduate from high school. (Reid Wilson, The Washington Post) Is there a problem? Econintersect would suggest there is: A 2011 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found just 15 percent of Americans could correctly identify the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, while 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol. Only 13 percent knew the Constitution was signed in 1787. And just 38 percent were able to name all three branches of government. See next article.


  • Recent articles about Scotland Independence Vote :

Brass Balls or Marshmallows: What’s Beneath a Scottish Kilt? (Doomstead Diner)

Beauty and terror divide Scots (Financial Times)

Scottish independence: Three new polls show narrow lead for No campaign (City A.M.) Hat tip to Ian R. Campbell.

The Economics of Scotland’s Choice (The New York Times)

Ten Things to Know About Scotland's Independence Referendum (NBC News) Hat tip to Ian R. Campbell.

  • Articles about wars elsewhere in the world:

Boko Haram: Nigeria teacher training college attacked (BBC News)

Somali PM: Amnesty for al-Shabab militants 'is working' (BBC News)

Iran's Rouhani Blasts ISIS and 'Ridiculous' U.S.-Led Coalition (NBC News)

US approves plan to arm Syrian rebels (Financial Times)

Mapping Obama's Strategy to Defeat ISIS in Iraq (abc News)

Russia Praises Ukraine's Autonomy Law for Rebel Areas (The Wall Street Journal)

There are 10 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'.

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  • PBoC joins other major central banks with unconventional monetary policy action (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) Kurtz thinks that the latest announcement from the People's Bank of China (PBoC) is jsut the first step in an aggressive monetary policy initiative to forestall a serious economic slowdown. But, rather than asset purchases (QE) which other central banks have pursued, the PBoC is using helicopters to drop money directly into the banks. The steepening negative slope for the SHIBOR interest rate swap curve indicates the market conviction that economic activity will continue to slow and that the PBoC will be undertaking a prolonged monetary easing initiative.


  • China Real Estate Bubble (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) This is part of the same article as the PBoC article preceding. This graph is as good an illustration of the Chines property bubble and start of the collapse as we have seen.


  • Poverty rates down, but still higher than at recession’s depths (Reid Wilson, The Washington Post) More children are living in poverty than adults. The 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds 20% of children in the U.S. are living in poverty, down from 22% in 2012. As shown in the map below 46 of the 50 states have overall poverty levels less than 20% and the national average for all age groups is 14.5%. See GEI News for details. See also next article.


  • Cuts to food stamps will only hit 4 states (Mary Clarke Jalonick, Associated Press, MSN News) When compromise farm bill was passed Republican food stamp opponents thought they had finally significantly reduced this benefit for the poor. But 46 states have found a loophole that has enabled them to continue food stamps without the cuts actually taking effect.
  • Comparing Valuations: U.S. vs. International Stocks (Donald Jay Korn, Financial Planning) Korn cites Doug Ramsey, chief investment officer at the Leuthold Group, who says that looking at major global markets, U.S. stocks are more overvalued than European stocks or emerging markets. For PE (price-earnings ratio) the U.S. is at 24, Europe is 17 and emerging markets as a group are 14. For price to book ratio, the U.S. is 2.8, Europe 1.8 and emerging markets 1.6.
  • Does raising the minimum wage really benefit low-wage workers? (Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, Monetary Sovereignty) Rodger Malcolm Mitchell has contributed to GEI. Mitchell doesn't really try to answer the question in his title. But he does offer the following graphic with data he says doesn't support the claim that raising minimum wage hurts employment numbers.


  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note

Record S&P 500 Masks 47% of Nasdaq Mired in Bear Market (Lu Wang and Joseph Ciolli, Bloomberg) Hat tip to John O'Donnell.

US warns of further insider trading charges (Financial Times)

State Street asks top forex trader to stay away from office (Financial Times)

6 Years Ago: The Week that Changed the World (Better Markets)

How the Vikings Saved Europe and Got a Terrible Reputation (The Daily Beast)

Gundlach: Inflation Worries ‘5 Years Too Early’ (ThinkAdvisor)

New algorithms lets owners swap, recharge battery modules in electric cars (R&D)

Wall Street's Too-Big-To-Fail Banks Still Trying to Get Taxpayer Bailouts (Better Markets)

Cuomo challenger teaches Democratic bosses economics (Delaware Online)

People As Dollars (Roger Erickson, Mike Norman Economcs)

Toward optical chips (R&D)

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