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What We Read Today 28 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


  • NOAA Issues Its Forecast for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season (abc News)   The coming hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin is expected to be calmer than normal, but that doesn't mean the East Coast is off the hook, according to a forecast issued today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.  There's a 70% chance that the hurricane season in the Atlantic will spawn six to 11 named storms between June 1 through Nov. 30, and of those named storms, three to six could become hurricanes, including up to two major hurricanes of categories 3 to 5 during the season, forecasters said.  Follow GEI weekly weather and climate reviews by climate economist Sig Silber every Monday evening.
  • The Tanker Market Is Sending a Big Warning to Oil Bulls (Bloomberg)  A sudden surge in demand for supertankers drove benchmark charter rates 57 percent higher in the two weeks through May 20. OPEC will have almost half a billion barrels of oil in transit to buyers at the start of June, the most this year, while analysts say about 20 million barrels is being stored on ships in another indication the glut has yet to dissipate.
  • The 10 Safest Countries to Visit (The Fiscal Times)  None are in the western hemisphere, Africa or continental Asia outside of the Middle East.  Curiously, three of these 10 safest countries are not on the list of the 20 most peaceful countries - see next article.
  • 20 Most Peaceful Countries in the World (Amerikanki)  This list is from the rankings of the  Global Peace Index.  South America is the only continent not represented on this list.



  • FIFA scandal: Putin accuses U.S. of 'illegally persecuting people' (CNN)  The investigation will include the World Cup bid won by Russia for 2018.  There is speculation that the Russian bid (as well as 2022 for Qatar) may be withdrawn because of corruption in the bidding process.  Econintersect:  Is Putin trying to protect the Russian bid and any Russians (including his own government) who paid bribes to get the World Cup?
  • Putin declares Russian troop deaths in peacetime a secret (BBC News)  Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to make losses of Russian troops in peacetime a secret. The amendment bans information about the deaths of Russian forces "during special operations" in peacetime. The Kremlin has consistently denied sending regular troops and armour to help rebels in eastern Ukraine.
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin's War in Ukraine and Boris Nemtsov's Putin. War.  (Atlantic Council)  Russia is at war with Ukraine. Russian citizens and soldiers are fighting and dying in a war of their government's own making. Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to deny Russian involvement in the fighting, but the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable. Drawing upon open source information, Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin's War in Ukraine provides irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine.



Renminbi tops currency usage table for China’s trade with Asia (Financial Times)  China’s yuan renminbi has become the main currency for payments between China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, more than tripling in use over the past three years and outstripping the Japanese yen, the US dollar and the Hong Kong dollar.  This article indicates that the increase in the use of the renminbi is investment rather than trade driven.

Waste not, harm not (The Economist)  This article asserts that energy subsidies are "among the worst" mistakes made in economic policy.  "They stoke waste, squeeze other spending, enrich middlemen and help the comfortably-off more than the poor, who use little energy."  The global cost of energy is subsidized to the extent of $5.3 trillion (6% of GDP).  No, this is not about subsidies for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.  That is only about $120 billion and should be diminishing over time as the direct costs are rapidly moving below the costs for fossil fuels. This is especially true for solar photovoltaic energy which Econintersect continues to follow with a series of articles by GEI Associate Andrea Rangel.   See Will Rooftop Solar Energy Ruin The Electric Utility Business? and Solar Energy May Lead a New Suburban and Rural Revival.  Her latest report should be ready to be published within a few days.

Global Energy Subsidies:  An Update (IMF)  See also next article.  The following is the introduction to this report, followed by a graphic display of types of subsidized costs and global fidtibution of costs.

How Large Are Global Energy Subsidies?  (David Coady, Ian Parry, Louis Sears, and Baoping Shang, IMF Working Paper)  Subsidies for energy are overwhelmingly on the "post-tax" side, dominated by pollution, climate change and environmental damage in general.  The worst "offender" is coal with more than half of total global energy subsidies (and growing), while petroleum is second with approximately 1/4 of the total (and shrinking).

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Apple eyes the car as ‘ultimate mobile device’ (Financial Times)  Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice-president of operations, dropped the biggest hint yet about the iPhone maker’s ambitions to transform the automotive industry during an onstage interview on Wednesday.
  • Gross Says Bund 'Lifetime' Short Well-Timed, Poorly Executed (NewsMax)  On April 21 Bill Gross recommended shorting the the German 10-year bund.  At the time it was yielding 0.10%. The yield is now 0.64%.  From 21 April to 12 May the bund declined in price from 159.19 to 152.70 from 21 April to 12 May. That's 4.14% (72% annualized).  Gross's problem was timing:  He didn't pull the trigger on 21 April but instead positioned his holding for a narrow price range.  He admits the suddenness of the move surprised him.  Econintersect:  The price shift was essentially a covering move as thre market was heavily over-committed to long positions for bunds and once the price drop started a lot of rebalancing occurred, much like short covering of a heavily shorted stock when there is a price rally.  
  • You've met Hillarynomics. Now meet left-of-Hillarynomics. (Vox)  Hillary Clinton has yet to lay out a detailed economic platform, but knowing the people she listens to on the matter, and judging from her 2008 campaign, it's not too hard to guess what it'll be. She'll call for a bigger safety net for working parents: more child care subsidies, paid leave for new mothers and fathers. She might call for a slight increase in taxes for the rich. But she's always been a fan of markets.  There is a group to the left of Hillary - see next article.

Inequality is not inevitable: it is a choice we make with the rules we create to structure our economy. Over the last 35 years, America’s policy choices have been grounded in false assumptions, and the result is a weakened economy in which most Americans struggle to achieve or maintain a middle-class lifestyle while a small percentage enjoy an increasingly large share of the nation’s wealth.

  • Hey Coffee Drinkers, There's Something You Should Know (Huffington Post)  Your DNA influences how and how much coffee affects you.  But for all people one general rule applies:  Wait at least an hour after getting out of bed to get your cup of joe and your body will be optimally ready to go.

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