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What We Read Today 25 July 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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Several articles are presented today discussing obesity.  There is some good news but a lot of bad news in the data from the U.S. and globally.

  • Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Banks revolt over plan to kill $17B Fed payout (The Hill)  The banking industry is scrambling to kill a provision in the Senate highway-funding bill that would reap billions of dollars in revenue by cutting a century-old system that has reaped annual awards for banks.  Industry lobbyists say they were blindsided by the inclusion of the provision, which would help policymakers cover the bill’s cost by cutting the regular dividend the Federal Reserve pays to its member banks.  Janet Yellen has said that if the dividend payment is reduced, some banks may not want to buy into the Fed.  She specifically said that it "would likely be a significant concern to the many small banks that receive the dividend".
  • In Iraq, I raided insurgents. In Virginia, the police raided me.  (The Washington Post)  Econintersect:  One unintended consequence (at least we want to believe it was unintended) of the militarization of domestic U.S. police is the reversal of the principle 'innocent until proven guilty'.  In military operations all citizenry is considered a possible combatant until proven otherwise.  That has transposed to domestic police in many operations that all possible suspects are 'guilty until proven innocent'.  The author of this article summarizes thusly:

The culture that encourages police officers to engage their weapons before gathering information promotes the mind-set that nothing, including citizen safety, is more important than officers’ personal security. That approach has caused public trust in law enforcement to deteriorate. 


"Not only have policymakers in the eurozone insisted on repeating the blunders of the 1930s; they are poised to repeat them in a more brutal, more exaggerated, and more extended fashion. I did not see that coming."

  • Are all Eurozone GDP data "fake"? (Nick Rowe, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative)  The word 'fake' is used to emphasize that Greek GDP value is overstated (as are GDPs most eurozone countries) relative to Germany because there is no exchange rate adjustment between the two countries.  So no one is 'faking' or 'lying' or being 'dishonest' here unless you go back to the intellectual dishonesty (or incompetence) - or both - of the creators and signatories to the Maastricht Treaty.





RBA's Index of Commodity prices 1986-2015 (Idea Economics, Twitter)  Econintersect:  Another bubble collapsing.

US oil rig count (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look, Twitter)  Look how oil rig counts have started to recover - just in for the next big drop in oil prices.

Explainer: why doesn’t work always offer a safe escape route from poverty? (The Conversation)  On Monday, British lawmakers will vote on a welfare bill which reflects a widely accepted idea that paid employment provides an important route out of poverty for people of working age.  However, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that 8% of people in work in 2013 were also in in-work poverty. It has hovered around this rate since 2005, with the exception of a slight dip in the two years following the start of the financial crisis.  See first graph below.  This suggests that being in poverty while working may be relatively constant. In fact about half of all people living in poverty live in a household where at least one person is working and that has been roughly the situation for six years.  But before 2005, back to 1997 poverty was more associated with households where no one worked.  The author suggests that the change for recent years is a result of the increased proportion of work being in low pay jobs and in jobs with less security resulting in more periods of unemployment.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Why the falling price of gold may be cause for optimism (The Conversation)  The author says that the decline in commodity prices (including gold) has been a natural response to the demand for commodities as the Great Financial Crisis played out and currencies were viewed with varying degrees of suspicion.  But that artificial demand created an unnatural commodities boom and peak, followed by a collapse from that peak.  The author expects that the global economy will stabilize and a more normal demand for commodities will ensue.  So he views the four-year bear market in gold as a necessary adjustment to go through before a more normal global economy is reestablished.
  • TwelveThirtySix's Marc Weisblott on the rise of the e-mail newsletter (J-Source)  Hat tip to Ben Peterson, Newsana.  The increasing publication of high value content newsletters is extending the footprint of e-mail, according to this article from The Canadian Journalism Project.  According to former news editor Marc Weisblott, who produces a successful newsletter:

“The newsletter is the ultimate anti-clickbait.  It’s not some fleeting thing you come across in your Facebook feed; you need to go in for the full package. It’s about some degree of loyalty and connection and relationship between producer and consumer.”

  • What killed off the woolly mammoth? Climate change (The Christian Science Monitor)  New analysis of ancient DNA has found that mammoths and giant sloths succumbed to sudden, rapid warming events, a finding that has implications for wildlife in a warming world.
  • Americans Are Finally Eating Less (The New York Times)  After rising for decades, calorie onsumption has declined in recent years as public attitudes have shifted.  The biggest change has been for children who, as group, consumed 79 fewer calories each in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages each day in 2013 compared to 2004.   That is not quite half of the average calorie reduction of 186.  See also next article.

  • New CDC data show encouraging development in obesity rates among 2 to 5 year olds (Center for Disease Control)  The latest CDC obesity data, published in the February 26, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, show a significant decline in obesity among children aged 2 to 5 years. Obesity prevalence for this age group went from nearly 14% in 2003-2004 to just over 8% in 2011-2012 – a decline of 43%. 
  • Fat's Heavy Burden (Project Syndicate)  Even as U.S. children appear to have turned a corner on obesity (three articles above), the rest of the world has not.  According to this article current trends indicate half of the world's adults could be overweight by 2040.  Econintersect:  Maybe a child can lead?

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