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What We Read Today 30 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



  • Mastermind of online Silk Road bazaar given life sentence (Al Jazeera)  A San Francisco man who created the online marketplace Silk Road was sentenced Friday to life in prison by a judge who cited six deaths that resulted from drugs bought on his website and five people he tried to have killed.
  • American Express President Ed Gilligan dies (The Washington Post)  American Express president, Ed Gilligan, 55, died suddenly Friday after falling ill while flying on a corporate plane to New York.  He was returningfrom a business trip.



  • Japan earthquake: Large but very deep temblor strikes offshore (CNBC)  A powerful and extremely deep earthquake struck near remote Japanese islands and shook Tokyo on Saturday, but officials said there was no danger of a tsunami, and no injuries or damage were immediately reported.  The magnitude-8.5 offshore earthquake struck off the Ogasawara islands at 8:24 p.m. at a depth of 370 miles, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.8 and a depth of 421 miles.


  • Most of us are looking at China all wrong (Business Insider)  Collapse of Beijing is not in the cards.  Beijing's economic model is "probably sustainable" - and it's imprudent for the US to make policy decisions based on the assumption that China will collapse, argue former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer.
  • For American pundits, China isn’t a country. It’s a fantasyland. (The Washington Post)  China is corrupt, polluted and has lying as a national pastime but it is far better than many western pundits portray.  And China is always "beating America at something, whether it’s clean energy, high-speed rail, education or even the military".


  • Ancient and modern mix in endangered Amazon village (Al Jazeera)  Brazil's democratic constitution, passed in 1988, recognized the rights of of just under 900,000 Indians and protected traditional territories and indigenous lands — which are currently estimated at 412,000 square miles, 12.5 percent of Brazil’s territory.  But under President Dilma Rousseff, this approval process has slowed to a trickle.  Now natives along the Tapajos River in northern Brazil are seeing their homeland threatened by a massive hydroelectric project.  See We Will Fight to the End.
  • Brazilian blogger found decapitated in Minas Gerais state (Committee to Protect Journalists)  Hat tip to Michael Hudson.  The decapitated body of Evany José Metzker was found on Monday in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.  He wrote a blog called Coruja Do Vale, which focused on general political news and official wrongdoing in the impoverished north and eastern parts of Minas Gerais, one of Brazil's biggest states. The blog reported news such as arrests made at police roadblocks, parking violations by local authorities, and community interest stories.  Metzker had been investigating a child prostitution ring that was active in the area.  See also another journalist killing: Second journalist killed in Brazil in less than a week.

The 24/7 Work Culture’s Toll on Families and Gender Equality (Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times)  The pressure of a round-the-clock work culture — in which people are expected to answer emails at 11 p.m. and take cellphone calls on Sunday morning — is particularly acute in highly skilled, highly paid professional services jobs like law, finance, consulting and accounting.  But the number of hours worked per year is also up strongly for the bottom twenty percentile as well.  Econintersect: Isn't it about time we got a life?


Not Buying a Home Could Cost You $65,000 a Year (Patrick Clark, Bloomberg Business)  Actually, the $65,000 refers just to the next year, not every year after that.  Not buying a home right now will cost you, because home prices and interest rates are going to rise. Many renters would like to own, but they can’t afford down payments or don't qualify for mortgages. Those two conclusions, drawn from separate reports released this week, sum up the housing market dilemma for many young professionals: Buyers get more for their money than renters—but most renters can’t afford to enter the homebuying market.  The financial benefit for owning a home vs. renting is largely a metro environment phenomenon and does not apply as much to rural areas.  But even across metro areas the benefits are widely variable:

Robert Shiller: Unlike 1929 This Time Everything - Stocks, Bonds And Housing - Is Overvalued (Zero Hedge)  A key graph is displayed from Shiller which tracks hostorical levels of confidence by in stock valuations by both institutional investors and individuals.  The importance of the lower confidence by individuals is muted by the dominance of institutions in the market.  But investor confidence is not always a leading indicator.  Note that the bottom for institutional confidence came almost coincidentally with the bottom of an 18-month bear market.


Tight Labor Market in U.S.? (Alyssa Davis,Twitter)

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Steve Case: Get ready, the Internet is about to change again. Here’s how. (The Washington Post)  The early days of AOL, from 1985 to 2000, was part of the first wave of the Internet. This was the period of building the infrastructure, connections and awareness that ushered in a connected world. During this time, companies such as Cisco, WorldCom, IBM, Microsoft, Netscape and AOL were constructing the on-ramps to the information superhighway (remember that term?).  The second wave - from the turn of the century until now - involved a shift from building the Internet to building on top of the Internet. The focus moved from connecting people to creating new ways for them to access information and one another.  The third wave of the Internet is about to break. The opportunity is now shifting to integrating it into everyday life, in increasingly seamless and ubiquitous ways. These third-wave companies will take on some of the economy’s largest sectors: health care, education, transportation, energy, financial services, food and government services and will be involved with more than half of the U.S. economy.
  • How To Invest In The Stock Market As Interest Rates Rise (Ky Trang Ho)  Trang Ho has contributed to GEI.  There seems to be an undercurrent among some investors that an increase in the Federal Funds Rate will spell trouble for the capital markets this year. But history suggests that’s not necessarily the case. It could maybe even be flat out wrong.
  • Economic signals still flashing green despite first-quarter slump (USA Today)  Economists said Friday that the U.S. economy has a sound engine. It just keeps running into potholes.  They were referring to the government downward revision down of its estimate of first quarter GDP growth to a 0.7% contraction.  These are, of course, the same who predominantly said the "fundamentals are strong" in 2008.

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