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What We Read Today 05 October 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.

  • The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever (Nathaniel Rich, The New York Times) When you have 20-30 minutes read this documentary of the 85-year destruction of 7,000 years of building. See also next article. In the next article the loss of Louisiana coastal land was attributed to flood control projects along the Mississippi. In this article it is reported that the oil and gas industry has an estimate that they are responsible for 36% of the land loss through subsidence from drilling. An unspecified amount has been lost from carving of shipping channels as well.
  • Losing Ground (ProPublica and The Lens) Repeated from WWRT 30 August 2014. The Mississippi Delta is disappearing. An unintended consequence of flood control along the Mississippi River is that sediment required to maintain the land in the Mississippi Delta has not been arriving for the last 90 years the way it had for millennia before the 1920s.

Click on map for interactive version at ProPublica.

  • Recent article about Scotland Independence and Other Movements

Police probe claims pro-UK campaigners took illegal postal vote 'tallies' (BBC News)

  • Articles about conflicts and disease around the world:

North Korean officials pay rare and surprising visit to the South (The Washington Post)

'No problem at all' for North Korea leader Kim's health, says official (Reuters) Hat tip to Rob Carter.

Hong Kong protesters stage massive, defiant rally (Associated Press, MSN News)

Large Protest Follows Hong Kong Leader’s New Warning (The New York Times)

100 Possible Ebola Cases Reported in U.S., but All Save 1 Are Ruled Out (The New York Times)

What Texas can learn from Nigeria when it comes to containing Ebola (The Washington Post)

Ebola scare at Newark: CDC officials rush to airport in full hazmat suits and detain passengers after Liberian man traveling with his daughter began vomiting on flight (Mail Online)

Israel general: We know to do in Lebanon what we did in Gaza (The Daily Star Lebanon)

Dozens of Libyan troops killed in Benghazi violence (Yahoo! News)

Kurds clash with Turkish security forces on Syria border (BBC News)

Obama team circles wagons as Panetta hits White House on Iraq, Syria and more (Fox News)

Iran 'not ready' to replace Russian gas supplies to EU – Rouhani (RT)

Keeping the Pressure on Mr. Putin To Give Ukraine a Chance, Sanctions on Russia Must Continue (Editorial, The New York Times)

Petro rubles? (Real Economics) Hat tip to Rob Carter.

There are 12 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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  • How close are the US labor markets to normalization? (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look) Kurtz thinks we may be closer to a "new normal" employment level than many think. One reason is th apparent stabilization of the participation rate once it is adjusted for higher retirement numbers. See next article which suggests that because of high levels of part-time employment we may be farther from "normal" than many think.


  • Part-Time Work Is Up Even Among the Self-Employed (Adam Ozimek, Moody's Analytics) Hat tip to Ian R. Campbell, GEI Discussion Group, LinkedIn. It may appear that employment levels are within 1-2 million of what is normally considered full employment, but there are another 7+ million working part-time for economic reasons (ie, they would like to work full time but can't find that work). Before the Great Recession that number was around 4 million. That would suggest far more slack in the labor market than would otherwise exist.


  • A Scramble to Acquire for Drug Companies (David Gelles, The New York Times) The M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity in the pharmaceutical and medical supplies space is booming. Many of the deals have been driven by the opportunity to reorganize corporate activity to lower corporate taxes. This "tax inversion" activity has been criticized by the Obama administration which has said it will try to prevent some of the "tax deals" from being completed going forward.
  • Bonds: What to Do Now (Jason Zweig and Liz Moyer, The Wall Street Journal) The turmoil in bond funds is possibly largest for PIMCO Total Return (PTR), the fund managed by Bill Gross, who just left PIMCO to go to Janus. That fund has seen approximately $100 billion over the past 18 months, nearly 1/4 of that leaving last month (September) when Gross made his move. Among the several considerations that people will have when deciding what to do (with respect to PTR or any other bond fund) would be the tax consequences of selling. If you are going to change bond funds these authors have some suggestions of funds they recommend.


The Great Depression was 80 years ago, and people are still debating the causes and response. Perhaps the 2008 crisis is destined to be the same. To the question we began with - were the financial leaders heroes, benefactors of Wall Street or vindictive decision-makers, the answer that is coming into focus is this: all three.
  • Why the Fed Is So Wimpy (Justin Fox, Harvard Business Review) The wimpiness is a result of regulatory capture, according to Fox. and that is why the Carmen Segarra story is so central to the problem. (See GEI News for details.) Fox says that:
for the last two decades or so, not having a substantive conflict of interest policy has been Goldman’s business model. Representing both sides in mergers, betting alongside and against clients, and exploiting its informational edge wherever possible is simply how the firm makes its money. Forcing it to sharply reduce these conflicts would be potentially devastating.


  • Draghi’s Trillion-Euro Pump Finds Blockage: Euro Credit (Macarena Munoz and Angeline Benoit, Bloomberg) Mario Draghi's plan for the ECB (European Central Bank) to push as much as $1.3 trillion into the eurozone's economy may have a serious problem: companies in the countries most seriously afflicted by the debt crisis don't want to take on more debt.

Click for large image at Armstrong Economics.

  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Community College Students Face a Very Long Road to Graduation (The New York Times)

Video: Mobileye Cruises On Safe, Self-Driving Cars (Investors Business Daily)

Shakespeare’s Invisible Hand in Economics (Big Think)

Hackers’ Attack Cracked 10 Financial Firms in Major Assault (The New York Times)

Economist sees positive trends fueling retail sales in 2015 (The Wichita Eagle)

Investors’ Worries Over Brazil’s Election Outcome Could Be Exaggerated (The Wall Street Journal)

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