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What We Read Today 12 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.

US lawmakers in narrow $1tn spending deal (Megan Murphy, Financial Times) The U.S. House of Representatives passed the omnibus appropriations bill that will fund most government operations through the end of the fiscal year 2015 (30 September 2015).  The vote was closer than had been expected earlier in the week, 219-206.  The major appropriation that was given only temporary funding (through February) was the Department of Homeland Security.  Republicans are hoping to be able to curtail immigration reform actions initiated by the president through executive order as a part of completing that part of the appropriations for 2015.


Some of the expected Democratic support for the bill was withdrawn when Republicans made modifications that overturned some provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act which had limited the trading of derivatives by banks.  Some members of both parties withdrew support when the limits on political donations by individuals was opened up to a maximum of $324,000.  The final vote had 167 Republicans and 57 Democrats voting "Yea" and 67 Republicans and 139 Democrats voting "Nay".  The Senate will take its final vote within days.  President Obama has already indicated he will sign the bill into law.  See What’s in the spending bill? We skim it so you don’t have to (Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post) for more details on the package that was passed.

Click to watch brief 1 minute 28 second summary review video.

In Its Defense, The U.S. Is 'Awesome' (Mauro Whiteman, National Journal)  Our inspirational patriotic offering of the day to proud Americans (and its many admirers around the world).

Click to watch 2 minutes and 19 seconds containing several moving tributes.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Ferguson and Related News




  • Isis: the inside story (The Guardian)  If there had been no U.S. prison at Camp Bucca in Southern Iraq, there would be no ISIS today.



Hong Kong



Sales At Gas Stations Are Tumbling (Myles Udland, Business Insider)  Retail sales are up for November (by 0.7%, see GEI Analysis for dissection of the data) but gasoline is down by 0.8% for the month and 2.1% year-over-year.  The average year-over-year decline for the past six months has been -2.0% (-2.5% over the most recent 4 months and -2.8% over the last 3 months).  Note:  Follow the latest on gasoline prices weekly at GEI News.


First Six months of Declining Gasoline Sales Since 1998 (Bespoke, Twitter)


Gasoline Volume Sales, Demographics and our Changing Culture (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives  Doug Short contributes to GEI.  Data published by Doug Short answers the questions on Twitter (above).  The Bespoke graphic is for price volume.  From the graph below we can estimate the gallon volumes (Bespoke volumes for comparison):  May = -1.4% gallons (+1.1%); June = +0.3% gallons (-0.8%); July = -1.4% gallons (-0.9%); and August = -0.6% gallons (-1.6%).

Click for large image at Advisor Perspectives

Google is changing global operations in reaction to national conditions in a number of situations around the world.  The following five articles cover some of those situations.

Google Shutting Down Google News in Spain (Brina Womack, Bloomberg)  Google is closing its news portal in Spain following the passage of a new law int hat country that will let publishers charge internet companies for use of their content on other websites.  The sponsors of the legislation feel that publishers have the right to be paid for the use of their material.  Google feels that it is providing a promotional service for the publisher and it will not pay for doing that.

Google Reported To Be Closing Down Engineering Operations In Russia Due To Data Law (John Anon, Android Headlines)  It is being reported that Google is shutting down its engineering operations in Russia.  The action is taking place in response to a Russian law passed earlier this year requiring all tech companies to house data obtained about Russian Citizens physically within the country.  It is expected that Google services will continue to be available in Russia.

European Antitrust Regulators Ask for More Information in Google Investigation (James Kantler, The New York Times)  The European Union antitrust authority is continuing its investigation into possible anti-competitive practices by Google.  The latest area of inquiry is online mapping and travel.  The four-year investigation concerns whether Google's search responses favor Google's own service offerings over others.  If such were found to be true the EU might insist on breaking up the company or banning its search services in Europe.  Both those outcomes are considered unlikely.  However, strong interests are backing the challenge to Google, including Microsoft and Yelp!, along with a consortium of European publishers backing a lobbying group called the "Open Internet Project".

Google and Europe come to blows, but will they break up? (Jason Whalley, The Conversation)  Adding to Google's woes are the proposals of taxes aimed specifically at the company in the UK.

Google China (Wikipedia)  Google has had several years of operating difficulties in China which are detailed in this 3,000 word article.

Keeping Warm This Winter (Walter Kurtz, The Daily Shot email, no url)  Falling oil prices are providing some good news to northern U.S. heating oil consumers:  The price of heat this winter has fallen by 1/3 since July.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

House GOP Rejects IMF Governance Changes, Again (The Wall Street Journal)  Without U.S. support the IMF may cease to have a role in the world.

G-20 Economic Growth Picked Up in Third Quarter (The Wall Street Journal)

Economics and politics of oil prices (live mint)

Roubini sees iron ore under $60 (Macro Business)

Home-Builder Results Provide Muddled, Sober Outlook For 2015  (The Wall Street Journal)

Australia Adds Most Jobs in 2 Years as More Seek Work: Economy (Bloomberg)

Corporate Spinoffs Expected to Grow Next Year, Study Finds (The New York Times)

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