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What We Read Today 03 November 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.

  • Germany's PMI Rises To 51.4 (Dina Spector, Business Insider) The Markit "Flash" Manufacturing PMI for Germany rebounded significantly in October to 51.4. It had registered a 15-month low of 49.9 in September. Readings above 50 indicate an expanding sector. Employment and production growth accelerated but there is some concern that new orders declined slightly.

  • Exclusive: U.S. probing Standard Chartered over Dubai banking - sources (Karen Freifeld, Reuters) The London bank Standard Charter, which has offices in the U.S., is being investigated by U.S. authorities due to alleged violations of sanctions against Iran. Facts which came to light in the BNP Paribus investigation of such activities are the basis of the Standard Charter probe. BNP paid a settlement this summer of $8.9 billion. This is the third investigation of Standard Charter in the past three years. The first two led to settlements totaling $967 million (2012 and 2014).
  • China October services growth slips to nine-month low, property weighs (Kevin Yao, Reuters) China's non-manufacturing sectors passed the formerly leading sector, manufacturing and construction, last year (for the first time), reaching 46.1% of GDP. But now non-manufacturing businesses are showing slower growth, as some of the steam is coming out of the Chinese economy. For October the official PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index) for non-manufacturing registered 53.8, down from 54.0 in September. Earlier this year there were two months with readings 55 and above May and June). Readings above 50 indicate a growing economy.
"Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."


  • Articles about conflicts and disease around the world


Ebola in Sierra Leone 'spreading quickly' - campaign group (BBC News)

NBC/WSJ Poll: 71% Back Mandatory Quarantines for Ebola Health Workers (NBC News)


Boko Haram leader says kidnapped schoolgirls were 'married off' (Al Jazeera)

Burkina Faso

Compaoré is gone, but Burkina Faso is gripped by uncertainty (Al Jazeera)

Burkina Faso’s Army Warns Opposition Amid Power Dispute (Bloomberg)


Libya near ‘point of no return’: UN envoy (CNBC)


Iraqi Kurdish reinforcements arrive to defend Kobane (Al Jazeera)


Canada conducts first airstrikes on IS targets in Iraq (AFP, Yahoo! News)

Islamic State 'kills 322' from single Sunni tribe (BBC News)


Yemeni factions agree to form government (Al Jazeera)


Ukraine's Revolutionary No. 1 Goes to Parliament (Bloomberg)


Dozens killed in Pakistan-India border blast (Al Jazeera)


Missing students force Mexico's forgotten crimes to surface (Al Jazeera)

There are 10 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'. All articles today are about the status of Obamacare.

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

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The following seven "articles" are sections of a New York Times report, numbered 1-7. The links are to the table of contents at the NYT with links from there to each section.

  • 1. Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced? (Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times) The number of uninsured Americans has been reduced by about 25% in the first year of Obamacare. Various measurement sources vary widely from 28% to 10%. Curiously the low measurement comes from the government via the CDC (Center for Disease Control). See note at bottom of graphic below.


  • 2. Has insurance under the law been affordable? (Abby Goodnough, Reed Abelson and Anemona Hartocollis, The New York Times) The article claims that for millions it has. But for some insurance is more expensive, particularly for those who had very minimal plans that did not qualify under the ACA. Premiums will rise in 2015 in 8.5 times as many markets as they will decline. See graphic below.
For now, dire warnings that the law would cause premiums for most people to rise sharply have proved unfounded. The law has spurred competition, with new companies entering the market. And early indications are that premium increases next year will be relatively modest. One analysis of early regulatory filings by the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform found that insurers are proposing a median increase of 4 percent in 21 states for silver plans, although people should consider switching plans to find the lowest price.


  • 3. Did the Affordable Care Act improve health outcomes? (Sabrina Travernise, The New York Times) There is very incomplete data because health outcomes are difficult to assess until many years have passed. However, survey reports have found that health among young adults 18-25 are self-assessed to be improved.
  • 4. Will the online exchanges work better this year than last? (Abby Goodnough, The New York Times) Things may be improved over last year, but that's not much of compliment. Sounds like we are just going to have to wait and see. The biggest question marks are for state exchanges in Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Vermont.
  • 5. Has the health care industry been helped or hurt by the law? (Reed Abelson, The New York Times) The health care sector has seen robust earnings increases because of the greater number of people with access to their products and services. The article says that "analysts and policy experts" think the nation's health care system has benefited.
"From the beginning, opponents of the Affordable Care Act have warned that it represented a "government takeover" of the health care system that would lead to crippling regulations on both for-profit companies and nonprofit players. But to the contrary, Wall Street analysts and health care experts say, the industry appears to be largely flourishing, in part because of the additional business the law created."
  • 6. How has the expansion of Medicaid fared? (Robert Pear, The New York Times) Medicaid has expanded by only 1.2 million in 23 states and by 7.5 million in the other 28 states (includes the District of Columbia). The 23 states were those which declined to participate in the expanded Medicaid program that was part of ACA. (See graphic below.) The number of people added to Medicaid (8.7 million) is actually larger than the number buying coverage through the exchanges (7.3 million). That is a total of 16 million covered in the first year by Obamacare. It is not known how many of those were previously uninsured. But a rough estimate by Econintersect is that somewhere around 10-12 million were previously uninsured. This is estimated from the consensus that the number of uninsured declined by 25% in the past year and that estimates of the uninsured in 2012 and 2013 (before Obamacare enrollment started) ranged from 41 million to 48 million. The implication from this estimate is that substantially more than half of the exchange enrollments were by people who were previously insured, since all (or nearly all) of the medicaid expansion added enrollments were probably not covered previously.


  • 7. Has the law contributed to a slowdown in health care spending? (Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times) Growth of healthcare costs have lessened but there is no basis for attributing that the Obamacare. It will require several years of data into the future to start to make a cost (or savings) assessment of the new program.


  • If You Thought the Legal Challenges to the Affordable Care Act Were Over, You'd Be Wrong (Ariane DeVogue, abc News) The latest challenges center on the wording of the law that states subsidies are to be provided for policies purchased on state exchanges and that subsidies for policies purchased on the federal exchange are therefore illegal. That is obviously not the intent of those who drafted the law, who specified the federal exchange was a default for those states that elected not to operate state exchanges. But they did not clearly state their intent in the actual wording as enacted and that has led to suits on lower courts, two of which have been through the highest appeals level with a split decision. One appeals court ruled 3-0 that the intent of the law was to include as a state exchange default and the other ruled 2-1 that the wording of the law did not allow subsidies for policies not obtained through an exchange operated by a state. The Supreme Court is not likely to consider this case until more lower court cases have been heard and ruled on.
  • 4 holes in PPACA exchange data security safeguards (Allison Bell, Life Health Pro) The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has found that state exchanges still have some personal data security exposures. In some cases TIGTA found there was not even a written security plan.
  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

A New Macroeconomic Strategy (Project Syndicate)

Bonds So Distressed Even Panic-Stricken Junk Outperforms Them (Bloomberg)

5 Facts About Taxes That Might Make You Angry (Wall St. Cheat Sheet)

Australia’s Tale of 3 Cities Show New Two-Speed Economy (Bloomberg)

Why is time (minutes and seconds) written in base 60? (Quora)

Economic Development and Financial Instability (Anthem Press)

Record Short VIX Notes Is Sounding Alarm to Deutsche Bank (Bloomberg)

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