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What We Read Today 23 April 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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Iowa Man Found Not Guilty of Sexually Abusing Wife With Alzheimer’s (Pam Belluck, The New York Times)  The case ignited intense national discussion of an issue that will only gain importance as more Americans get older: whether and when people with dementia are capable of indicating if they desire intimacy.  Exactly who initiated the prosecution is not clear from this article but if it was initiated by the state Econintersect would suggest it was an overreach.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world





  • On the Gredge (The Economist)  A Greek exit from the euro may soon become inevitable.



  • Syria agrees to return highly enriched uranium to China (Al Monitor)  Syria is willing to give up a small amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and to convert a nuclear research reactor near Damascus that uses this dangerous material to one that is fueled by low enriched uranium (LEU), nuclear experts say. Syria has asked for technical assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).



  • Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos (Nature)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Rumors of germline modification prove true — and look set to reignite an ethical debate.  Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos.  The facts that the embryos were non-viable and the results were not successful does not diminish the larger debate about ethics, which is raging full force.
  • China May Announce Its Gold Reserves Are 2nd Largest In World (Seeking Alpha)  According to Bloomberg Intelligence, China’s gold bullion reserves may have tripled since its last official report in 2009. Bloomberg estimates that the People’s Bank of China could now own as much as 3,510 metric tons of the metal. If true, China now has the second largest store of gold in the world, following the United States with 8,133 tons.


  • Foreign direct investment in Canada: mixed messages (John West, Asia Century Institute)  John West contributes to GEI.  Canada’s share of global foreign direct investment (FDI) is decreasing, with government policy and a sense of unpredictability pervading the investment landscape.  Canada is a country that was built on the back of inward FDI and that may be changing as the age of commodity exploitation growth is slowing.

Battery Stocks: The Best Way to Invest in the “Holy Grail” of Energy Storage (Dr. Kent Moors, Oil & Energy Investor)  Kent Moors has contributed to GEI.  In this article he review all kinds of new and novel efforts to develiop battery storage for electricity that is produced  at time variance with usage demand.  This is becoming a more and more important area of activity as solar and wind energy production is growing rapidly and the sun doesn't shine nor does the wind blow only when there is a call for electricity.  Dr. Moors has provided by email the following renewable energy growth data for 2014:  

See-Through Solar Is Tomorrow’s Threat to Oil (Sam Grobatt, Bloomberg Business)  Solar cells will be able to be installed anywhere and everywhere there is light, even your cell phone screen, greatly extending battery charge life.


The Solar Price Revolution (Klaus Topfer, Project Syndicate)  Why is Dubai building a solar panel farm to genrate electricity?  After all they are sitting on top of the world's most extensiive oil reserevs on th Arabian Peninsula.  Because solar is cheaper than oil, gas or coal at $0.06 per kilowatt hour.  Indeed, hardly a week seems to pass without news of a major deal to construct a solar power plant. In February alone, there were announcements of new solar power projects in Nigeria (1,000 megawatts), Australia (2,000 MW), and India (10,000 MW).

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Here's Why This Fed President Thinks Inflation's About to Rebound (Bloomberg Business)  William Dudley, New Yor Fed president, feels the impact of lower oil prices on inflation is just about over.  With oil prices firming he projects inflation will be rising in the second half of the year.

It's time to stop reducing taxes on the wealthy (Brookings)  Currently, the estate tax doesn't touch the first $5.43 million of an individual’s assets and the first $10.86 million of couples’ assets. The tax affects anything after that amount, eventually rising to a top marginal rate of 40 percent after $1 million above the initial exemption.  This affects a very small number of tax payers, about 5,400 estates this year.  This article argues that the attempts to reduced this tax further are misguided.

It’s Time to Go to Europa (Scientific American)  A mission to Jupiter's icy moon is our best shot at finding extraterrestrial life in our solar system.

Real estate funds receiving record investment post-crash (The Real Deal)  Real estate funds are receiving more investment from pension funds, endowments and institutional investors than at any point since the property bust, with a few large firms collecting most of the spoils.  Blackstone, Starwood and other bigwigs getting lion's share of money.

Parsing Chris Christie’s Pension Math (ProPublica)  A tale of financial creativity and political couble talk.  We would be posting the series by ProPublica on New Jersey's finances were it not for an appearance of being too partisan for our policy in such manners.  However, we are reminded, at least superficially, of what Greece was doing financially in the early 2000s to appear qualified for EU membership.  The picture is not pretty, in our opinion.

Here’s How Uber’s Co-Founder Is Going to Take on Amazon and eBay (Bloomberg Business)  Garrett Camp's new app, Operator, takes aim at e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay.  Operator, a company that aims to synthesize navigation of the digital and physical worlds. Its app uses a combination of algorithms and human assistants to connect consumers with retail workers who can help them shop.  Think of it as a way to turn your cell phone into a tool that turns stores and sales people (or anyone else who capitalizes on using the app) into personal shoppers.  It is to shopping what Uber is to conventional taxi service.

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