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What We Read Today 29 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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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


The whole point of the Ex-Im Bank, of course, is to have the government subsidize selected companies by giving them access to credit at below-market interest rates. This is totally at odds with free trade. It means the government is allocating credit rather than markets. It would be expected to lead to the same type of economic distortions as tariffs and quotas.


  • 'Impossible' rocket drive works and could get to Moon in four hours (The Telegraph)  The electromagnetic propulsion drive (EM Drive) was developed by the British inventor Roger Shawyer nearly 15 years ago but was ridiculed at the time as being scientifically impossible.  Well, scientists have confirmed it really does work.  It operates on solar power that generates multiple microwaves moving back and forth in an enclosed chamber. This means that until something fails or wears down, theoretically the engine could keep running forever without the need for rocket fuel.  Unless it travels deep enough into interstellar space that there is insufficient sun (star) light for operation. This article says the following:

The drive is capable of producing thrust several thousand times greater than even a photon rocket and could get to Mars within 70 days or Pluto within 18 months. A trip to Alpha Centauri, which would take tens of thousands of years to reach right now, could be reached in just 100 years.



  • MH17 crash: Russia vetoes UN resolution for criminal tribunal (BBC News)  Russia has vetoed a United Nations draft resolution seeking to set up an international criminal tribunal into the MH17 air disaster in Ukraine.  Eleven of the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted in favour of the resolution, while three abstained. 

Home Ownership Drops to a New Interim Low (Doug Short, Advisor Perspective  Doug Short is a regular contributor to GEI.  Household formation rates are reportedly recovered from the drop following the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 (see U.S. Household Formation Rate Recovered, Says USC Study - World Property Journal).  But the home ownership ratio continues to drop.  That indicates that some higher combination of former home owners and new households are renters rather than buyers compared to the decade before 2008.  The U.S. now has the lowest homeownership rate in 48 years.

Click for large image at Advisor Perspectives

Americans are losing confidence in the economy (Andy Kiersz, Business Insider)  See Gallup for full report:  U.S. Economic Confidence Index Continues Downward, at -14.  Econintersect:  Possible explanation is that confidence surged in the weeks following the fall election as Republicans took control of both houses of Congress and then reality set in (that not much was changed) and confidence started eroding back toward where it was previously.  From Business Insider:

Gallup's weekly economic confidence poll shows that more Americans see the economy as bad and getting worse than good and getting better.

Gallup noted that their economic confidence index, which combines views on current economic conditions and expectations for the future, has been on a generally downward trend since the start of this year.

Gallup also noted that the current poll, based on responses from the week ending July 26, showed that 23% of Americans said the economy was good or excellent, compared to 32% rating it as poor. As for the future, 39% said the economy is improving, while a majority 57% said things are getting worse.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Putting Congress in Charge on Trade (The Wall Street Journal)  Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX) say that ‘Fast track’ authority for negotiating the two big trade treaties (TPP - Trans Pacific Partnership - and TTIP - Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)  gives lawmakers more say over agreements that are vital for economic growth.  Unfortunately the column is filled with generalities.

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