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What We Read Today 21 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".).

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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • 8,000 Years Ago, 17 Women Reproduced for Every One Man (Pacific Standard) About the time humans advanced from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, a strange thing happened for a period of a few thousand years:  There were 17 times as many women reproducing as men, determined from modern DNA analysis.

U.S.

EU

  • Fed’s Fischer Calls for Greater European Fiscal Integration (The Wall Street Journal)  The Fed vice chairman says that the EU and Eurozone will “very likely” survive its current crisis, but greater fiscal integration is needed for the eurozone’s future.  Econintersect:  Many have said this for the past 20 + years, but a combination of citizenry nationalism and leadership economic ignorance has prevented any serious actions being proposed.

UK



U.S. Foreclosure Activity Increases 3 Percent in April to 18-Month High Driven by Rising Bank Repossessions (Realty Trac) For the first time in a decade the number of foreclosure actions completed is approaching the number of foreclosures started.  If this gap is about to close then the overhang of foreclosures "in process" will stop growing.  Once completions exceed starts then the number of foreclosure actions "in process" will start to decline and a big headwind for the housing market will start to fade.

foreclosure.starts.completions


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Busted Metals Traders Distract from Larger Manipulation Problem (Seth Mason, Solidus.Center)  Seth Mason has contributed to GEI.

... for nearly a half a century, there’s been a HUGE negative price bias when Western markets have been open–particularly during the hours in which the CME has been operating–, and the bias has remained consistent regardless of the price of gold or price trends. This suggests that the CFTC has allowed tremendous collusion to suppress the price of gold during the CME’s hours of operation.

Mary Hayden Hall: Market economics won’t overcome climate change (Daily Hampshire GazetteEconintersect would add to the Op Ed excerpted below.  There is nothing in the theory of markets which supports the idea that short-term profits by individuals and firms will be sacrificed for the very long-term benefit of society as a whole.  That would violate the very fundamental precept of a free market:  Rational behavior leads to individual profit maximization which optimizes benefits for society through competition.

There exists the strange claim that market economics is going to overcome the realities of the natural world. There is an effort to make that happen by making war on climate scientists and those who listen to them. Marc Morano, a conservative publisher who runs a website called Climate Depot, tells readers to send hate messages to climate scientists by email.

There have also been congressional efforts to disable the specialized work on climate. Free markets, to work rationally, must allow the free flow of accurate information.

A perverted form of capitalism and a rabidly anti-communist agenda are being used today to preclude our country’s coming together to address the dangers before us.

What's Wrong With 'Mathiness' in Economics? (Bloomberg View)  Good essay.  Econintersect:  There is nothing wrong with 'mathiness' in Economics; the problems, when they arise, are with the competence of those trying to use it.

Martin Feldstein on how GDP accounting underestimates growth and improvements in economic well-being (Mark J. Perry, American Enterprise Institute)  See following article.

As I concluded in my related post, perhaps all of the discussions about GDP being below potential GDP and fretting about sub-par economic (GDP) growth are really simply a reflection of the fact that GDP is really no longer the best measure of economic performance, economic growth and economic well-being in the Information Age.

The U.S. Underestimates Growth (Martin Feldstein, The Wall Street Journal)  On the plus side, Feldstein says Americans are enjoying faster real income growth and standard of living than the official statistics indicate.  On the negative side he criticizes current tax laws as hurting capital accumulation.  Econintersect:  The rationale expressed is pure trickle down philosophy.  It does not square with the empirical facts that for 35 years or more economic gains have accrued to returns to capital and not to wage earners.  See Private Investment: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (John Lounsbury, GEI Analysis)



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