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What We Read Today 17 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.

To become a GEI Member simply subscribe to our FREE daily newsletter.

The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Conflicting Reports on Object Striking Derailed Train Probed (abc News)  An assistant conductor has testified she heard a conversation between her engineer and one on another train nearby, which is not found on the dispatch tape and neither engineer can recall, about objects hitting their trains.  But an unexplained impact area exists on the windshield  of the wrecked train.  And the train accelerated from 70 to 106 mph during the 1-2 minutes it should have been slowing to 50 mph, while the engineer cannot recall anything about the last 3 minutes befoere the crash.  This sounds like the creation of a Hollywood script writer.  Unfortunately it is all too real.
  • Here's how Rand Paul wants to change the economy (Business Insider)  A review of Rand Paul's economic platform reflects his libertarian views, from a flat tax on income, elimination of FICA taxes for lower incomes and cutbacks in "entitlement" programs like food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, child nutrition, etc.  He parts ways with some liberatrians with a proposal to increase defense spending.
  • Large GOP field has party leaders anxious about their chances in ’16 (The Washington Post)  Will too many cooks spoil the broth?



  • Would leaving euro be more of a catastrophe for Greece than staying? (The Guardian)  Leaving the single currency will have all sorts of economic and political costs for Athens, but Iceland’s experience after the banking crisis could prove illuminating.  Finance Minister Janis Varoufakis says "[d]eep down, he says, all 18 countries using the single currency wish that the idea had been strangled at birth". 




  • Russia’s Indefensible Military Budget (Project Syndicate)  The 2015 budget that Russia developed last summer was based on the assumption that oil prices would remain at $100 per barrel, with annual GDP growth and inflation at about 2% and 5%, respectively. Then oil prices plummeted, the economy contracted, and inflation reached double digits. Russia’s government was slow to accept reality.
  • New Putin Invasion Coming This Summer (The Daily Beast)  This article says Russia is not through with aggression in Ukraine.  Moscow says it’s sticking to a ceasefire agreement. Meanwhile, it’s piling up troops and weapons for something that doesn’t look so peaceful. 

Is This the Chart of a Healthy Stock Market? (Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds)  CHM contributes to GEI.  Charles asks if this is tha chart of a market consolidating ahead of the next GDP growth spurt or a distribution pattern where only greater fools are buying.  He suggests the second option is more likely.


Brent Market Oil Production Costs Will Break Most producers (Sober Look, Twitter)  What is all the talk recently about Saudi Arabia winning the oil war?  Not according to this chart which reflects production costs plus national budget requirements.  See next article.

Saudi Arabia Drilling More (Walter Kurtz, The Daily Shot)  Kurtz says the increased drilling is to try to recapture market share.  We would suggest it may be to try to build market share to fill in for the budget shortfalls revealed in the chart above. 


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • An Economics to Fit the Facts (Project Syndicate)  Hat tip to Carl Bilt.  Barry Eichengreen (who has contributed to GEI) argues that there is a difference between the intellectual pursuit of illustative models and practical understanding needed by policy makers in a crisis.  He infers that this is not understood by many economists.  But then he points out that there are some economists now focused on (1) using modern compilation techniques to extract and organize real "big data" information from the economy in real time; (2) analyzing "new data" by "using automated information-retrieval routines, or “bots,” to scrape bits of novel information about economic decisions from the World Wide Web"; and (3) a renewed interest in extracting the lessons formerly forgotten from economic history.

When you think you are too stupid to understand what they are saying and want to give up, trust me, it isn’t you.

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