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What We Read Today 11 May 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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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world




  • Why so many children are fighting in Yemen’s civil war (The Washington Post)  Hundreds and possibly thousands of boys are fighting in Yemen’s conflict, according to rights groups and aid workers. Many are between the ages of 13 and 16, the groups say. Experts cite worsening poverty in the Arabian Peninsula country as a major reason children are joining armed groups.

Saudi Arabia




  • 1,600 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants land in Indonesia, Malaysia (Al Jazeera)  Authorities in Langkawi detain hundreds of boat people they said arrived 'illegally' in the Malaysian resort.  Migrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand are trying to reach Malaysia, some landing, apparently in error, in Indonesia.  Ethnically the people seem to be predominantly Bangladeshi and Rohingyas.  See also next article.
  • 'Thousands' of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stranded at sea (BBC News)  As many as 8,000 people are believed to be stuck on boats as a Thai crackdown on recent arrivals meant many smugglers were now reluctant to land.  Bangladeshi migrants, and ethnic Rohingyas who face persecution in Myanmar, are normally brought by people smugglers to Thailand where they are effectively held ransom until they can raise money for their onward journey to Malaysia and beyond.

  • There's been a stunning development in corporate America (Akin Oyedele, Business Insider)  After more than 3 months of numbers indicating an earningscontraction for the S&P 500 in the first quarter, as earningsreports are coming toan end there is actually a small increase ion earnings.  What is the biggest factor?  Positive earnings surprises from the energy sector.



  • The Projected Improvement in Life Expectancy  (Bill McBride, Calculated Risk)  Bill has used the data from the CDC United States Life Tables, 2010 by Elizabeth Arias.  That data indicates that the "peak age" for year of death remained pretty much the same for those born 1902 to 1950 (although the distribution of age of death changed significantly) the projection for those born in 2010 is ten years older than those born in the first half of the 20th century.  That corresponds to s future world with many more centenarians than we have today.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • This $9 computer could change the economics of building hardware (Fortune)  A group of entrepreneurs in an Oakland, CA garage has built a $9 computer called Chip that could end up reducing the cost of building smart devices to less than $100 per gadget.
  • How To Use Economics & Not Be Used By Economists (The Real News Network)  In trying to make economics very logical and scientific,Neoclassical economists have adopted this very narrow view of individuals.  This narrow view is very unrealistic because it is assumed that people are basically very rational and very self-seeking.  Econintersect:  And what is worse, this assumption is embraced as an economic "law".  How can you argue with someone who will tell (falsely) you that their analysis is objective, scientific analysis, and therefore you cannot question it?
  • Volvo factory to bring 4,000 jobs to South Carolina (CNN Money)  The Berkeley County factory will be operationalby 2018, creating 2,000 jobs by 2025 and 4,000 by 2030.  See next article.

Volvo has few U.S. sales, non-descript products, a paltry number of dealers, and a brand reputation in this country that most charitably can be described as dormant. So there aren’t a lot of reasons to believe Volvo’s fortunes in America will change much, especially over the short term. Yet the company seems determined to erect a plant in the United States anyway.

  • Uber looking to raise up to $2 billion (MarketWatch)  Uber Technologies Inc., the  San Francisco-based ride-sharing company which is the world’s most highly capitalized startup, plans to raise another large round of funding between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.  This would value the company at $50 billion or higher.
  • Uber Update: $50 Billion-Plus Valuation? (Michael Haltman, LinkedIn)  Michael Haltman has contributed to GEI.  With private equity funding imputing an IPO valuation higher than $50 billion,  Haltman asks if this makes sense.  This makes the pre-IPO valuation of Uber even higher than Facebook at the same stage.  He points out there is ine glaring difference between the two:  Facebook was making a profit of $600 million at this stage while Uber has been and still is unprofitable.


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