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What We Read Today 27 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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Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz declared 'unfit to work,' officials say (CNN)  Doctor's note stated co-pilot "unfit for work".  This could expose Lufthansa, Germanwings parent, to unlimited liabilty for negligence, according to Bloomberg.  But pilot negligence should be covered by insurance, at least partially, because the negligence was apparently not knowingly entered by Lufthansa officials.

Why the jobs report could decide the dollar's fate (CNBC)  A strong jobs report next week could push the dollar higher because it would put a June rate hike back on the table again.

Proof that Russia and Iran Want War: Look How Close They Put Their Countries To Our Military Bases! (Washington's BlogThe Onion couldn;t have done better.  Very revealing maps are included.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world




  • Sustaining the Unsustainable Eurozone (Project SyndicateEconintersect:  There is nothing mystical about it - it's called a "fiscal union" - like the U.S.  The U.S. has shown that this type of union can work even when governed by fiscal incompetents.





  • Japan’s Zero Inflation a Setback for Abenomics (The Wall Street Journal)  Price growth stalls in February after nearly two years of BOJ easing.  Econintersect:  Could yanking 3% of the cash out of the economy with the consumption tax increase have anything to do with this?




The Billion Prices Project Thinks Inflation May Have Turned a Sharp Corner (Josh Zumbrun, The Wall Street Journal)  The State Street Price Stats (SSPS) inflation indicator at times leads the official CPI from the Labor Department and the Commerce Department and it has turned up.  Will the CPI follow and turn up as well?  Note:  SSPS is based on current market prices so the data is 1 month or more fresher than the government data.  SSPS uses the process developed at MIT called the Billion Prices Project.


Atlanta Fed’s Forecast for 2015 Q1 (Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture)  The Atlanta Fed has a real time data tracking model that predicts the likely GDP growth for each quarter as the data unflods throughout the quarter.  Well Q1 2015 is almost over and the Atlanta Fed projection is not pretty.  And it gets worse - see next article.


GDP Growth Estimates Tumble, Again (The Wall Street Journal) News out after the preceding article:  Atlanta Fed model ticked down again to 0.2% GDP growth for this quarter.  Other analysts are also revising lower:

  • Morgan Stanley down to 0.9% (had been 1.2%).
  • Barclay's now 1.2% (down from 1.3%).
  • Macroeconomic Advisors down to 1.2% (was 1.5%)
  • JP Morgan Chase revised to 1.5% (from 2.0%)

The "Real" Goods on the Latest Durable Goods Data (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives  This shows "peak consumption" occurred in 2000 with a clear down trend since then.

Click for larger image at Advisor Perspectives

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

What's the relationship between the economics blogosphere and academic economics? (Quora)  Hat trip to Ajay Shah.

The Real Cost of Coal (The New York Times)  Coal is without much argument the dirtiest form of energy used in quantity on the planet.  There are costs associated with burning coal that are not reflected in the cost paid by the user:  air pollution, toxic waste, acid rain, miner health issues and CO2 emissions to name some big ones.  This column points out that the for all the coal mined on federal land (about 40% of U.S. total) there is a payment of 12.5% of the 1976 price paid to the government as royalty.  The argument is that this constitutes a major subsidy to support a low price for coal and stick the taxpayer with the bill for dealing with the consequences.

No more physics and maths, Finland to stop teaching individual subjects (Science Alert)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Econintersect:  Will this system teach students how to do things rather than how to think?  Is this another step into the "Brave New World"?  It would seem that this idea migth better be implemented in a two path system, vocational (Path 1) and intellectual (Path 2).  90% may go on Path 1 but there will still be some "thinkers in training" in the other 10%.  See also next article.

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system (The Independent)  See previous article.

How Often Does an App Share Your Location? You May Be Surprised (Fox News)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Studies have found that typical users have their locations reported hundreds of times on an average day.  Econintersect:  Big Brother watching you?  No, Big Brother is with you.

Why Doesn’t the Intelligence Community Care Whether Its Surveillance Programs Work? (The D Brief)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson. "The new cybersecurity bill joins a long list of efforts launched without adequate thought."

Regulatory Capture, Captured on Video (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone)  Taibbi says that the regulator Andrew Bowden of the SEC, addressing a group at a private equity conference panel discussion "goes on to grovel before his audience".

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