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What We Read Today 31 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.

  • Health Care prices Jump as Use of Services Fall (Mary Shaub and Allison Bell, LifeHealthPro) A three-page infographic from health insurance organization, Health Care Cost Institute, provides data details on how health care usage and costs have changed for the first year of Obamacare start-up, 2013.

  • Shadow banking nears pre-crisis peak (Sam Fleming, Financial Times) Last year shadow banking comprised 24.5% of financial assets. This was the highest percentage since 2007 for 20 countries plus the 18-country Eurozone as tracked by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Basel. Read the full press release from the FSB. The total assets in the shadow banking system reached to more than $75 trillion in 2013, 120% of the 38-nation GDP. This was less than 2.8% below the 2007 peak. As regulation of banks increases financial activity moves into unregulated areas.
  • Articles about conflicts and disease around the world


Ebola: Mapping the outbreak (BBC News)

Defiant Nurse Breaks Ebola Quarantine, Takes Bike Ride (Sandra Rose)

Ebola update: Maine can't reach deal with nurse Kaci Hickox (CNN Health)

New York City doctor with Ebola reportedly lied about his movements in city (Fox News)

After a Family Trip to Africa, a Connecticut Girl, 7, Is Unwelcome at School (The New York Times)


Israel Reopens Contested Holy Site in Jerusalem (The New York Times)

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso declares state of emergency (Al Jazeera)


Setback for Tunisia’s Islamists portends a partisan political turn (Al Jazeera)


Airstrikes against Islamic State do not seen to have affected flow of fighters to Syria (The Washington Post) See graphic below (after Mexico).


Iraq IS: Scores found dead in mass graves in Anbar (BBC News)

Defense Asks for New Judge in Iraq War Crime Case (abc News)


Yemen's Houthis capture strategic city (Al Jazeera)


The Slow-Motion Dismemberment of Ukraine Continues (Slate)


Ukraine, Russia, EU agree to natural gas supply deal (Alastair MacDonald and Philip Blenkinsop, Reuters)


American Drone Strike Kills 6 in Pakistani Tribal Areas (The New York Times)


Enslaved Abroad, Oppressed at Home (The New York Times)


India's Imperatives in Sri Lanka (


Mexico president meets with relatives of missing students, one month later: Family members of 43 missing students say they left Mexico City 'empty-handed' (Al Jazeera)

Click for full graphic page at The Washington Post.

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  • Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability (Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times) Because the U.S. has chosen to contract internet infrastructure to the private sector and given monopoly powers as part of the incentives in the agreements, America has entered third world internet status. In examples given in this article some areas in the world offer HD movie downloads in 7 seconds at a cost as little as $30 per month. In the U.S. the same service can take more than ten times as long (1.4 minutes) and cost ten times as much ($300). The graphic below is for much lower bandwidth (about 1/10 the download speed and is representative of much of the service available in the U.S. Some American cities are starting to address infrastructure improvement (fiber optic network systems) that could create the information grid on which private service providers could compete based on price and service. See also next article.


  • The Cost of Connectivity 2914 (Nick Russo, Robert Morris, Sarah Morris and Danielle Kehl, Open Technology Institute) This is the research report on which the NYT article preceding is based. Perhaps no better demonstration of the inferior internet service in the U.S. is [resented than the graphic below. The month cost ($50) represents a typical mid-level of home-service cost available in many U.S. locations.


QE, despite its faults, has helped the U.S. economy recover gradually. In comparison, the Eurozone economy is facing a second downturn, Japan's recovery seems to be short-lived and the Chinese economy is preparing for downward pressure ...


  • Spanish recovery lays bare a social crisis (Tobias Buck, Financial Times) Spain has an employment depression that remains untouched by a GDP "recovery". The country has had 25% unemployment or more for the past three years and the rate is just a whisper below that today. That's not youth unemployment (estimated to be above 50% at the end of 2013) - that is for the entire adult population of the country. The number of people being fed by food banks has doubled since 2009 to 1.5 million people (3.2% of the population). The severity of the situation can be emphasized by two things: (1) More than 1/3 of the nearly 6 million unemployed have been so for more than two years; and (2) if the U.S. had the same unemployment rate the corresponding number would be about 40 million unemployed (vs. an official BLS number 9.2 million, or 19 million if the employment/population ratio of 0.63 from before the Great Financial Crisis were assumed applicable).


  • Oil -- A Question of Economics (Luay Al Khatteeb, Brookings Doha Center, Huffington Post) The author argues at length that the U.S. has long-term economic interests which are furthered more by lower oil prices for the near-term future than they would by protecting domestic high cost production of crude.
  • Economics Progresses One Funeral at a Time (Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg View) It is an old point but cannot be repeated too often: A bad idea (fallacy) in economics often doesn't die until the key economist connected to it goes on to his great reward. Will Europe remain in a depression until the current generation has passed on?


  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Yellen: Awareness of Economists' Diversity Needed (abc News)

CORRECTED-Percentage of Fed Board women economists tracks U.S. average (Reuters)

Core Econ: a free economics textbook (Math Babe)

Is (teaching) Economics doing more harm than good? (The Irish Economy)

Why the US midterms matter – and why Democrats see a silver lining (The Conversation)

Exploring the economics of suffering in This War of Mine (Eurogamer)

What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast (Freakonomics)

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