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What We Read Today 24 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".).


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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world







  • Poland bars Russia's Night Wolves bikers over security (BBC News) The Polish foreign ministry has banned a biker gang linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin from entering the country, calling it a provocation which could raise safety issues for the bikers. The Night Wolves had planned to enter next week as part of a ride across Europe to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War II.  The U.S. has identified the Night Wolves as an organization involved in the Russian take-over of Crimea and for recruiting Russian fighters action in Ukraine.  The Night Wolves say they still intend to make the trip.



  • Can Ecuador bring Chevron to justice? (Al Jazeera)  Can Ecuador prevail in U.S. courts?  A U.S. appeals court may decide fate of a $9.5 billion fine imposed on the company for environmental damage. 


  • These U.S. Companies Are Hurting From Venezuela Hyperinflation (Bloomberg)  There are four exchange rates for the Venezuelan bolivar into U.S. dollars, three officially designated by the government and the fourth a blackmarket rate. Talk about confusion:  There is a very high valuation rate for the bolivar for business done with the government and for government authorized transactions for priority goods such as food, medicine and car parts.  These are "Cencoex" and "Sicad".  Then there are "street" rates for everything else, an official rate "Sicad" and a black market rate.  The black market street rate is nearly double  the official street rate and the black market is more than 50x inflated (bolivars worth 1/50 as many U.S. dollars) vs. the government's official Cencoex rate.  By the way, whenever you read this the data below will not be applicable for the black market rate, which sometimes changes by the hour. 

Survey Says...Real Estate Is The Best Long-Term Investment! (Michael Haltman, LinkedIn)  From 2011 to 2015 gold and real estate esentially switched places on the preference list for long-term investment by Americans.  A sub-current in these surveys was the decline in preference for bonds and an increase in a preference for stocks.  The strong position for asset protection is exemplified by the position of savings and CDs as most preferred by 14% - 19% of Americans during a time when there was nearly zero return.


Share of Seriously Underwater Homes Increases in First Quarter For First Time Since Second Quarter 2012 (Jennifer Von Pohlmann, Realty Trac)  The share of seriously underwater homeowners increased 0.4% from Q4 2014 — the first quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2012 — but still down more than 4% from a year ago.

Click for large image at Realty Trac.

U.S. Shale Oil: A Grand Parade Of Cost Improvements (Richard Zeits, Seeking Alpha)  Shale drilling costs have been falling like a rock as technology efficiency has shot up.  This author says that operating costs have also fallen, but these are less significant factors to profitability than are the upfront drilling costs.  Zeit estimates that drillers and operators in U.S. shale basins now have fat margins for oil as low as $60.  He says:

... if $75 per barrel is not the new $100, it certainly is the new $95. This relationship may not last once the cycle begins to turn, but it certainly should be helping for the time being.

Zeit says that well costs have come down almost 50% in one drilling area he has researched (Catarina block in the Eagle Ford oil field).

Click for large image.

The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts (Rick Noack and Lazaro Gamio, The Washington Post)  Of the more than 7,000 languages currently used in the world, nearly 2/3 of the planets inhabitants have one of 12 languages as primary.


Asian languages top the list as being the primary languages for the most people, but when it comes to geographic diversity English and Arabic are spoken in the most countries.  It is projected that about half of the lesser used languages will disappear by the end of this century.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Woman’s brain tumor turns out to be ‘evil twin’ complete with bone, hair and teeth (The Washington Post)  You have to read this story about an intracranial teratoma in order to believe it and even then you may wonder how it can be.

Too fast, too furious: How the TPP allowed economics to trump politics (The Week)

The economics of genocide (Hurriyet Daily News)

Do Strong Religious Beliefs Stifle Innovation?  (The Wall Street Journal)

Is a PhD degree really worth the whole effort? (The Economic Times)

In Three to Five Years Gold Will Be Priceless (The Gold and Oil Guy) Market any of thise years (2018-2020) on your calendar and see what this guy has to say then.  This is what he says now:

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