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What We Read Today 04 December 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.

  • U.S. healthcare spending growth hit 53-year low in 2013, report shows (Melanie Evans, Modern Healthcare) Hat tip to Dean Baker. The U.S. spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare last year, an increase of 3.6% from the prior year. This was the weakest growth since 1960. The new number was the result of federal actuaries and economists revising recent estimates. U.S. health spending growth fell below 4% in 2009 with the recession that stripped private health insurance from millions of individuals. But the newly revised numbers show an acceleration in 2012 to 4.1% before a slump last year.

  • A macro earthquake is building (Houses and Holes, Macro Business) A doom and gloom list from down under. Is the land of Oz about to have an encounter with the Wicked Witch?
  • Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Ferguson

Michael Brown's stepfather sorry for outburst in Ferguson protests (CNN)

No Indictment in Eric Garner Chokehold Case for N.Y.P.D. Officer (The New York Times)

Ebola

Ebola crisis: Australian aid worker on how Liberian survivors deal with disease's aftermath (abc.net.au)

American possibly exposed to Ebola being transferred to Atlanta hospital (Reuters)

Nigeria

Boko Haram crisis: Among the vigilantes of north-east Nigeria (BBC News)

Syria

Syria death toll now exceeds 200,000: monitor (Al Arabiya)

Syria "systematically" using chemical weapons (CBS News)

Iran

U.S. and Iran Both Attack ISIS, but Try Not to Look Like Allies (The New York Times)

Iran jets bomb Islamic State targets in Iraq - Pentagon (BBC News)

Ukraine

Ukraine parliament approves foreigners as government ministers (euronews)

How can the West solve its Ukraine problem? (BBC News)

Russia

Russia’s borders: Georgia is still haunted by 2008 invasion (The Conversation)


There are 13 articles discussed today 'behind the wall'.

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  • Gold futures rise above $1,200 ahead of U.S. data (Investing.com) After Swiss voters rejected increasing the gold reserves at their central bank, the knee-jerk reaction in the gold market drove the price as low as $1,141.70 on Monday morning. But since then the yellow metal has seen a rebound of 5.5%. This bounce has occurred even as the dollar firmed to a 5 1/2 year high, with the dollar index hitting 88.76, up almost 12% in the past 8 months, almost all of that in the past 5 months.

gold-2014-dec-03

...strong ties to a place, especially a place with limited economic opportunities such as New Orleans, have adverse economic consequences. When forced by an exogenous shock to migrate, people are able to choose from a wide range of possible locations to move to, and they seem to choose places that offer them better economic opportunities.
  • Debunking four myths about the Chinese economy (Nicholas R. Lardy, China Spectator) Myth (1): China is dominated by state owned firms. Actually only 20% of the economy remains in government hands, only 10% of manufacturing, employment and exports. Myth (2): China has a large bureaucracy. Actually it has a small bureaucracy, about 40% the size of the U.S, adjusted for population. Myth (3): State owned enterprises are powerful drivers of the economy. Actually state owned enterprises have been a drag on GDP growth for several years. Myth (4): Private sector companies have little access to credit. According to the accounts of the PBoC (People's Bank of China) private firms received 52% of all commercial credit 2010-2012 while state firms received 32%.
  • What Are The Best Sectors In America? (JC Parets, StockTwits) Hat tip to Rob Carter. By far the strongest sector over the past two years has been health care (chart below). The article has nine other sector charts.

health-care-sp500-stockTwit

Public money for private benefit? I examined a selection of development projects in New York City, and evaluated the economic benefits given to encourage development. There are 10s of billions in privatized rent that ought to be going to the city, for value created by all of us! Instead it is going to private owners of land who did nothing to create the value from location.
  • $CLG15 – February Crude (Last:67.75) (Rick Ackerman, Rick's Picks) Rcik Ackerman contributes to GEI. Some time ago (when oil was in the 80s) Rick Ackerman projected a bottom for oil before a significant bounce would come around 58.45. Now the price is in the 60s and 58.45 still looks good to him.

Click for large chart at Rick's Picks.
crude-price-est.-ricks-picks-2014-dec-03

  • What Black Friday and Cyber Monday Don’t Tell You About the Economy (Kathleen Madigan, The Wall Street Journal) The structure of the retail economy si changing and comparisons to past years are distorted. Gift cards are becoming more and more a form of gifting and as online commerce grows the importance of special store sales days is diminished.

cyber-santa

  • Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time (Sue Schellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal) E-mail and meetings are rivals for top position on the productivity killer list.
  • These 14 Wall Street Experts Got The 2014 Interest Rate Story Dead Wrong (Akin Oyedele, Business Insider) The conventional wisdom at the end of 2013 was for higher yields in 2014. That was conventionally wrong. Read the article to see some predictions for 10-year treasury yields of 3.5% t0 3.75% in 2014. and then look at the current yield below 2.30%. Many are predicting higher rates fior 2015. Will it be the "same old, same old"?

10-year-yield-2014

  • Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Defiant Takata Puts Onus on Carmakers for U.S.-Demanded Recall (Bloomberg)

Social Choice and Social Welfare (Amartya Sen, Project Syndicate)

Nazism Is Back (Washington's Blog)

Morning Plum: GOP to double down on ‘voodoo’ economics? (The Washington Post)


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