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What We Read Today 20 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.

Too Big to Tax: Settlements Are Tax Write-Offs for Banks (Lynnley Browning, Newsweek)  Hat tip to Rob Carter.  The settlements agreed to by the big banks in compensation for fraud they have committed are not what they seem.  The are,in fact, tax deductions.  They are treated very much as would business expenses, deducted from taxable income.  So the assertion that banks are treating the settlements as a cost of doing business is in fact, well, a fact.

Facebook’s Popularity Among Teens Dips Again (Sarah Frier, Bloomberg)  In 2012 95% of 13-27 year-olds using social media were Facebook members,  In 2013 it was 94% and this year down to 88%.  What is gaining?  Twitter and messaging apps.


Superiority or Elitism? The Standing of Economics in the Social Sciences (Alan Harvey, Institute for Dynamic Economic Analysis)  Alan Harvey has contributed to GEI.  See also the next article. Here are two excerpts from his conclusion:

The summary image is of an insular profession, guarded by a tribal hierarchy, dominated by a few schools, which adheres to a narrow ideology, and teaches largely the same material. Economists have achieved a place of prominence and influence in the world unmatched by other social sciences, and in this position of superiority have declined to engage in a wider discussion. Many will recognize this image as applying also within economics, where devastating critiques go unacknowledged, bad practices go unchanged and self-confidence is unchecked. 
 
The final irony is that a whole institutional structure – from newspapers through congressional committees to international policy circles – looks to economists for answers in crisis, even when they have been proven wrong.

....

When compensation, prestige and tribal discipline replace results and intellectual debate, we have a reform that cannot be won on scientific terms. 

The Superiority of Economists (Marion Fourcade, Etienne Ollion, and Yann Algan, Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies)  This is a research study with real data.  For example, a table on interdisciplinary attitudes of social scientists is shown below.  But the most interesting (and insightful) part of the entire paper is the conclusion:

If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid!,” Keynes (1963[1932]: 373) famously wrote. Most modern economists have a strong practical bent. They believe in the ideal of an expert-advised democracy, in which their competence would be utilized and on display in high profile, non-elective positions in government and other institutions. But democratic societies are deeply suspicious of (non-democratic) expertise, and economic advice, unlike dentistry, can never be humble. The fact is that – in some ways true to its philosophical origins – economics is a very moral science after all. Unlike atoms and molecules, the “objects” upon which economists seek to act have a perspective on the world, too. Human life is messy, never to be grasped in its full complexity or shaped according to a plan: people act in unanticipated ways, politics makes its own demands, cultures (which economists do not understand well) resist. Thus the very real success of economists in establishing their professional dominion also inevitably throws them into the rough and tumble of democratic politics, forcing them to try to manage a hazardous intimacy with economic, political, and administrative power. It takes a lot of self-confidence to put forward decisive expert claims in that context. That confidence is perhaps the greatest achievement of the economics profession – but it is also its most vulnerable trait, its Achilles heel.

interdisiplinary-attitudes-social-science


Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Ferguson and Related News

NSA / CIA

Ebola

Turkey

Iraq

Ukraine

Belarus

Russia

Pakistan

North Korea

Cuba

The World's Biggest Car Company Wants to Get Rid of Gasoline ( Brian Bremner, Craig Trudell, and Yuki Hagiwara (Bloomberg Businessweek)  Toyota is starting to sell cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells this month in Japan.  Roll outs are planned for Europe and the U.S. is about one year.  The first model offered is a $62,000 four-door family sedan, the Mirai.  It has a driving range of 300 miles between refuelings and can double as an emergency electrical supply for a typical Japanese home for about one week.  Toyota says its goal is to create the first mass-produced hydrogen car from the Mirai. 

hydrogen-fuel-cells-ops


Hydrogen and Fuel Cells: European bus manufacturers and leading mayors sign fuel cell electric buses LoU (21.11.2014) (Press Release, ITM Power GmbH, netinform.net)  A volume rollout of hydrogen powered busses is underway in Europe.

"... representatives of five major European bus manufacturers (Daimler Buses (EvoBus), MAN, Solaris, Van Hool and VDL Bus & Coach) signed a joint Letter of Understanding at the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking's (FCH JU) Stakeholders Forum in Brussels.
This commercialization initiative for fuel cell buses launched by the FCH JU and supported by the signing manufacturers and bus operators from major European cities such as Hamburg and London, aims at deploying a total volume of 500 – 1,000 fuel cell buses in Europe until 2020
."

Hydrogen Fuel Cell (DriveClean.ca.gov)  This is a comprehensive summary of the state of fuel cell development and use for automotive applications.  This article states that hydrogen fuel costs will be comparable to the current level of gasoline fuels costs.

hydrogen-fuel-cellperformance

hydrogen-fuel-cell-elec-gasoline-compare


Hydrogen Fueling Stations in North America (Google)  This map is outdated, at last for California.  See next article.  For worldwide hydrogen filling station status go to Hydrogen Filling Stations Worldwide (H2Stations.org, netinform.net)

Click for large map image and legend at Google.
hydrogenfueling-stations-us


Station Map (California Fuel Cell Partnership)  California has 9 hydrogen fueling stations in operation, two only for buses and seven open to the public.  Another 11 public stations are scheduled to be open by the rnd of this month (December 2014).  In 2015 an additional 38 stations will open and so far two more are planned for 2016.

Click for full listing of all 60 California hydrogen fueling stations.
hyrdogen-fuel-station-california


Don’t Buy a Car Until 2017 (Stephen Petranek, Daily Reckoning)  Stephen Petranek has contributed to GEI.  Petranek says that by 2017 we will have choices of cars that will use gasoline but get 100 mpg or more, longer range electric cars and hydrogen powered cars using fuel cells.  He says we are about to see a "real revolution" coming in cars that is "about two years away".  See also next article.


Why Fuel Cells Are the Biggest Threat to the U.S. Oil Industry (Stephen Petranek, Daily Reckoning)  Stephen Petranek has contributed to GEI.  Petranek writes about a car expected to be available on the market in two years:  The Honda FCEV.

honda-fuel-cell-car


Other references to check:


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Consensus Builds Against Eurozone’s ‘Hardball’ Strategy (The Wall Street Journal)

Russian Ruble Crashes To Historic Low (HuffPost Live) Video.

24th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference (Levy Economics Institute)

Texas Could Be Headed for an Oil-Fueled Recession, J.P. Morgan Economist Says (The Wall Street Journal)

The Comics Economics Of Star Wars #1 (Bleeding Cool)

Alan Black on soccer: Sex appeal and economics of soccer (SF Gate)

Fed’s Kocherlakota: Fed Policy Creating Downside Risks For Inflation (The Wall Street Journal)

No Sign Yet of Labor Cost Inflation in U.S. or U.K. (The Wall Street Journal)

Air Travelers Aren’t Getting a Break From Lower Oil Prices (The Wall Street Journal)


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