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What We Read Today 30 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.

  • US poised to become world’s leading liquid petroleum producer (Ed Crooks and Anjli Raval, Financial Times) Sometime in September the U.S. passed Saudi Arabia as the world's leading liquid petroleum producer. (Or possibly when all the numbers are final it will have happened in October). By the end of this year crude production will be increased 80% over what was pumped in 2008. The U.S. is also a leading producer of biofuels and natural gas (Saudi Arabia is not) - so the U.S. has already surpassed Saudi Arabia in energy production some time ago.

  • Science graduates are not that hot at maths – but why? (Kelley E. Matthews, The Conversation) A study of 210 graduating bioscience majors found a distressingly low competency in basic math, proportionality, arithmetic and statistical concepts skills. Four of the questions that got relatively low success rates are available for self-testing. Using the success fractions for each question Econintersect calculates that only one in 20 of the graduating scientists answered all four questions correctly.
  • Recent articles about Independence Votes :

Spain to block referendum, after Catalonia signs decree (EU Observer) Hat tip to Ian R. Campbell, GEI Discussion Group, LinkedIn.

David Cameron: I got it right on Scotland referendum (BBC News)

  • Articles about conflicts elsewhere in the world:

Hong Kong protesters defy Beijing with calls for democracy (Reuters)

China’s biggest political challenge since Tiananmen in 1989 (Financial Times)

Economics plays large role in Hong Kong protests (CNBC)

Protests a warning to China of dangers posed by Hong Kong wealth gap (The Conversation)

Ebola outbreak: Liberia's newest, largest treatment clinic already at capacity (CBC News)

Will Gaza be the global jihadists' next 'ground zero'? (Haaretz)

Somalis 'feeling safer' in Mogadishu, survey says (BBC News)

Increase in oil output defies political chaos (Libya Herald)

Turkey sends tanks to border as Islamic State closes on Kurdish city (McClatchy)

Poll: 70% of troops say no boots on ground in Iraq (USA Today)

Iran executes man for heresy (The Guardian)

Iran set to execute woman accused of killing attempted rapist (Fox News)

12 killed in worst east Ukraine shelling in a week (Laura Mills, Associated Press, MSN News)

There are 14 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'.

Do not miss "Other Economics and Business Items of Note", the final section every day.

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  • Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it (Brad Plummer, Vox) Solar power is still less than 1/2 of 1% of total electric, but it is growing so fast that traditional utilities are worried it could ruin their businesses. Utilities are installing centralized solar electricity production facilities; that is not a concern for them, It is the distributed power generation facilities at homes and businesses that gives the utilities heartburn. The reason that solar is growing so fast is rapid cost declines: cost is down 75% over 15 years and cut in half over the past five.


  • Over Half a Million Solar Installations Now Online in U.S. (Solar Energy Industries Association) Photovoltaic (PV) solar is in a growth boom and the fastest growth is utility company installations. From 2Q 2010 to 2Q 2014 utility PV installations have grown approximately 10-fold. Over the same time period residential rooftop installations are up about 5-fold.


  • Book review: Naomi Klein finds kernels of hope amid climate change and untamed capitalism (Mike Berners-Lee, The Conversation) Naomi Klein's third attack on capitalism, "This Changes Everything", puts the spotlight on climate change. As ever for Klein, unrestrained capitalism is the root problem, propped up by much money and power and supported by corruption, underhand practices and deliberate bullshit which she puts under the microscope at every turn. But underneath it all Klein does find reason to offer hope for a positive outcome. She does say that slavery was an oppression on our society and we found a way to overcome that and prosper. She likens fossil fuel addiction to slavery.



  • Another Eurozone plan or two that skate around the edges (Bill Mitchell, billy blog) Prof. Mitchell seems to enjoy dissecting the illogical use of terminology of those who do not understand that the euro problem exists primarily for reasons of fiscal disunity. He also points out the lack of understanding of money and banking by those who presumably should know better, as well.
  • Bank of America Settles S.E.C. Case on $4 Billion Accounting Error (Michale Corkery, The New York Times) The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) has discovered that Bank of America has systematically overstated the value of financial instruments it acquired when Merrill Lynch was purchased in 2009. The result was that the bank has been understating capital reserves required by about $4 billion. The most recent stress tests have had to be recalculated and the bank has canceled plans to buy back $4 billion of stock. To settle the the charges the bank will pay the SEC a $7.65 million penalty. See GEI News for complete story from the SEC.


  • Want to Be Stinking Rich? Major in Economics. (Jordan Weissman, Slate) There are no surprises when looking at median incomes for various majors. But when we segregate lifetime incomes onto percentiles, economics degrees really clean up in the top percentiles, leaving engineers and everyone else in the dust.


  • Update: Congressional Reaction, Goldman Changes Conflicts Policy (ProPublica) It is reported that Goldman Sachs is changing policy to prohibit their investment banker employees from trading in stocks or hedge funds related to any of their banking activities. We have been following the story of regulator Carmen Segarra, fired by the New York Fed after she refused to change a report charging that Goldman Sachs had inadequate conflict of interest policies for employees. Segarra had a wrongful termination suit dismissed earlier this year and is appealing. For background see here and here and here and here. For more details on the rumored Goldman policy change see Goldman Sachs Said to Prohibit Bankers From Buying Stocks (Michael J. Moore, Bloomberg)
  • The Head-Scratching Case of the Vanishing Bees (Clyde Haberman, The New York Times) Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is still afflicting large numbers of bees but a combination of research and widespread amateur beekeeping activity are keeping the problem from seriously diminishing the food-critical honey bee population. The causes of bee mortality are still not understood but the fear of just a few years ago that the food supply would be threatened has not come to pass. It is not a case that the bees have adapted, but rather that people have adapted.


  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Who do you vote for? Your reasons may not be as rational as you think (The Conversation)

Why Rumors Outrace the Truth Online (The New York Times)

Bill Clinton: 3 reasons incomes are stagnant (MSN Money)

Biologists find early sign of cancer (R&D)

Employers should lobby for repeal of COBRA (Employee Benefit News)

Health Check: what do my blood pressure numbers mean? (The Conversation)

5 ways to make your lousy 401k stellar (MSN Money)

Why is the Right Soft on Education? (Library of Economics and Liberty)

On Principles and Taboos (Economics by IESE Economics Department Professors)

Atlas is Getting Tired of Holding up the World Economy (Armstrong Economics)

10 ways to keep your car from being stolen (MSN Money)

‘Wait and see’ on climate? No, the science is clear: act now (The Conversation)

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