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What We Read Today 07 March 2015

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.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Are Hillary and the GOP self-destructing?

Hillary’s Secret Email Was a Cyberspy’s Dream Weapon (Shane Harris, The Daily Beast)  There is the appearance here of putting self above country.

Democrats Benefit From GOP's Internal Struggles (David Espo, Associated Press, Huffington Post)  The Republicans are wounding themselves with failures on immigration, healthcare, and the Keystone Pipelne.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world











Dear Janet Yellen: We’re nowhere close to full employment (Rex Nutting, MarketWatch"Nearly 22 million people want a job, or are working part-time involuntarily."

The Troika Tale of Irish Debt (Constantin Gurdgiev, true economics)  Constantin Gurdgiev contributes to GEI.  He marvels at all the talk about Irish deleveraging and shows this graph from McKinsey to demonstrate why.

Obesity Is Hurting the U.S. Economy in Surprising Ways (Victoria Stilwell, Bloomberg Business)  The economic damage caused by obesity range from the obvious (healthcare costs, lost work time, reduced productivity when at work) to the sublime (increased tarnsportation costs).  What makes the problem even more pressing is the fact that, even though the rate of obesity has has nearly tripled over the last 40 years, it is still increasing, currently at a rate of about 1% increase in the number of obese people a year.  That this is a correctable situation is certain because for most obese people the condition results from personal choices.  Only 1% to 2% of Americans are genetically predisposed to obesity.


What's Killing White Women? (Bloomberg Business)  The mortality rate for white women in the prime of life (ages 15-54) in the U.S. has surged, even as the rates for black and Hispanic women have declined.  The reason for this is a mystery:

Part of the jump in the death rate for whites is explained by the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse and overdoses that disproportionately affected whites. But that accounts for only half the total increase, according to the report. Other causes of death on the rise include suicide and respiratory disease. Some declined, including traffic deaths, homicides, and the cancers most closely linked to smoking.

The mortality rates for black women are much higher but have declined by 23% over the same 14 years that white women's death rate rose by 12%. Hispanic women have much lower mortality rates and have declined by about 16%.

One factor reported is that "other research has shown that longevity is decreasing for poorer and less-educated white women".

From the above graph Econintersect calculates that the death rate for white women age 15-54 is approximately 75% greater than for Hispanic women, while the death rate for black women of the same demographic is nearly 40% greater than for white women.  These are huge differences.

Since we have been discussing obesity in a previous article and we know that obesity has been increasing over time, perhaps that is a factor.  See next article.

Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012 (Journal of the American Mediacl Association)  The question of obesity influencing ethnic variations in death rates was raised in the last discussion.  This cannot be proven by looking at correlations, but a connection can be disproven by a lack of correlation.  In this case the contribution of obesity to higher death rates for balck women cannot be disproven because they have the highest obesity rate and the highest death rate:  the two are correlated.  But in the comparison of white women and Hispanic women there is a justification for saying the higher death rate for white women vs. Hispanic women is not likely related to obesity as an important factor because white women have a lower obesity rate.  There is a negative correlation.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Americans Not Taking Vacations Are a $224 Billion Problem for Employers (MSN Travel)

Introducing Fracklog, the New-Fangled Oil Storage System: Energy (Bloomberg Business)  Drilled fracking wells not pumped are de facto storage.

The Conservative Case Against Enforcing Immigration Law (The Atlantic)  The right-leaning American Action Forum finds the cost of deporting 11 million people makes no economic sense.

U.K. Consumers Expect Inflation to Slip Further  (The Wall Street Journal)

Complex Societies Evolved without Belief in All-Powerful Deity (Scientific American)  Analysis of Austnesia archaeology and cultural evolution found complex societies were formed from which developed the concept of an "all-powerful, punitive deity".

Was Marijuana Really Less Potent in the 1960s? (The Atlantic)

NASA 'exhilarated' as Dawn orbits mini-planet Ceres (USA TodayEconintersect will continue to follow this story.  The asteroids and larger bodies in the asteroid belt contain enough mineral resources to provide for Earth long after we deplete those on the home planet.

The Threat of Bubbles, Not Inflation, Should Guide Fed Policy (The New Yorker)

Scientists See Same Star Explode Four Times (Scientific American)  Observations consistent with a gravitational lens warp of space-time "fabric".  Econintersect:  Einstein must be smiling.

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