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What We Read Today 01 August 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


  • Malaysia, Vietnam just saying no to parts of TPP (Nikkei Asian Review)  With hours to go before ministerial-level talks are to wrap up at a resort hotel here Friday at noon, negotiators are scurrying between meeting rooms to finalize a deal and tie up differences over intellectual property protections, market access and other matters.  Meetings are being held bilaterally and collectively at both official and ministerial levels among trade representatives of the 12 TPP countries. The goal is to finalize an agreement this week (which ends today, unless talks carry over into Sunday).


  • Sam Adams Could Turn Benedict Arnold Because of Taxes (Bloomberg)  Even a company that named its top beer after a hero of the American Revolution may eventually forsake its home country.  Founder and CEO Jim Koch told a Senate committee on Thursday that he regularly gets pitches from investment bankers looking to strike a sale which would move the company offshore to lower taxes. He says he’s been turning them down - for now.
  • Skin Cancer in the U.S. (MSN News)  None of the top ten states for incidence of melanoma (skin cancer) are in the sunniest states in the deep south.  Click on map image for slide show for top ten states.


  • Germans are unironically nostalgic for the golden days of 1950s debt forgiveness (Quartz)  The German city of Wettenberg is celebrating the “Golden Oldies” festival, a tribute to “the lifestyle and luxury” of the 1950s and 1960s.  This is viewed as a golden age that followed West Germany’s wartime devastation and the massive war debt foregiveness that followed.
  • Germany suspends treason probe against blog (AFPArab News)  The blog Netzpolitik (Net politics)  published documents on plans to step up Internet surveillance by Germany’s domestic security agency, whose chief Hans-Georg Maassen then filed a criminal complaint.  The German Journalists Association, legal associations and other groups condemned the investigation for treason, which carries between one year and life in jail, as an “impermissible attempt to silence two critical colleagues.”  Germany’s chief prosecutor Harald Range said Friday that he had suspended the treason probe of  Writers of Netzpolitik, which focuses on “digital civil rights” and was in 2014 awarded Germany’s Grimme Online Award.


  • Why Greece’s Lenders Need to Suffer (The New York Times)  This column argues that the Greek debt crisis is largely the fault of lenders (bond buyers) who were either stupid, arrogant or both.  Greek bonds were bid up by these buyers when no rational person would have touched them.  Greece did not force these actions; these gross errors were made voluntarily, and for that reason these bond holders should pay the piper, not the Greek people.


  • How to deal with the war in Syria (Daily Sabah)  This Op Ed column from a Turkish newspaper details the Turkish view of actions against the PKK insurgency coming from the Kurdish rebels situated primarily in northern Iraq.  It concludes:

The Turkish Air Force has bombed ISIS positions in northern Syria but the aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace. On the other hand, the PKK headquarters in northern Iraq, where they have stayed totally unmolested for decades, have been heavily attacked by the air force. This assymmetry in Turkish military operations has only one reason, the U.S. is in charge of the Syrian operations, where they have dependable information and the means to overcome the air defense system established at the time of the alliance between the defunct Soviet Union and former Syrian President Hafez Assad. The transportation of airplanes and ground troops to İncirlik Air Base in Turkey is being carried out swiftly by U.S. forces. It is only a matter of time for the U.S. and Turkey to organize joint air raids against ISIS and help Syrians recover their territory, or at least a part of it. In the coming days and weeks, we will see the first results of the Turkey-U.S. joint plans.  

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia Racing to Move Beyond Oil Dependency (Bloomberg Business)  Saudi Arabia relies on oil exports for around half its revenues, but as low oil prices raise the country's deficit, non-oil economic growth has been slowing too. Bloomberg's Willem Marx reports on efforts by some Saudis to diversify the Kingdom's economy to deal with the current situation and the eventual decline in oil usage around the globe.


  • Iraqi Kurds warn PKK amid Turkey air strikes (BBC News)  Iraq's Kurdistan region has urged Turkish Kurd separatist forces of the PKK to leave civilian areas amid continuing Turkish air strikes.  The call follows reports that civilians have been killed in Turkish raids on PKK targets which resumed a week ago.  Turkey's official news agency says about 260 Kurdish fighters have been killed in strikes in northern Iraq and Turkey itself since then.  Turkey has carried out hundreds of raids on the rebel group's bases on both sides of the Iraq-Turkey border.  At the same time Turkey has carried out a smaller number of bombing attacks against the Islamic State (ISIS) near it's border in northern Syria.


  • New Taliban leader calls for unity in ranks in first audio message (AFP, MSN News)  New Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor called for unity in the movement in his first audio message released Saturday amid reports of rifts in their ranks following the announcement of the death of former chief Mullah Omar.  The new Taliban chief also says the insurgency will continue and advises his followers not to pay attention to rumours spread about the Taliban campaign.  Mansoor replaced Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar, whose death was confirmed by the militants on Thursday.  It is not clear from his comments whether Mansoor supports continuing talks with Afghanistan.  Talks scheduled for Friday (yesterday) were cancelled following the confirmation of Omar's death.  See next article.
  • Mullah Omar: Taliban leader 'died in Pakistan in 2013' (BBC News)  This was in the news Wednesday:  Taliban leader Mullah Omar died two years ago in Pakistan, according to Abdul Hassib Seddiqia, a spokesman for Afghanistan's security services.  Mullah Omar had died of health problems at a hospital in Pakistan.  Afghanistan's government says information on his death is "credible".  The Taliban confirmed that Omar was dead Thursday and named a new leader Friday - see preceding arcticle.

China's slowdown follows pattern traced earlier by US, Japan (Nikkei Asian Review)  China's structural economic slowdown and highly volatile asset prices are being driven by a decline in the working-age population ratio, which also resulted in burst economic bubbles in Spain, Japan and the U.S. If the pattern holds, Beijing may face a tough long-run environment.

An encouraging historical parallel to China’s stock bubble? (FT Alphaville)  Have you seen one of the comparisons of Shanghai 2015 to New York 1929?  Well here is a different comparison:  Tokyo 1960 (LHS below) to Shanghai 2015 (RHS below).  What happened after the Japanese stoick bubble back then?  Almost 30 years of well above "normal" economic growth.


Plenty of Labor Market Slack Left (Matt Yglesias, Twitter)  See also next article.

Alan Greenspan: This is 'extremely dangerous' (CNBC)  What is dangerous?  Government spending and tight labor markets, according to the former Fed Chairman.  Econintersect:  Huh? See preceding article.  And also see Lee Adler at GEI Analysis:  The Tightening US Labor Market Lie 

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Avenue’s Lasry Says $50 Crude Means Time to Buy Oil Company Debt (Bloomberg Business)  Marc Lasry, the billionaire co-founder of Avenue Capital Group, says with crude trading around $50 a barrel, it’s the right time to buy oil company debt because it is selling at a big discount.  He specifically mentions junk-rated debt and bonds financing the shale boom.
  • How Rich People Raise Rich Kids (The Atlantic)  It seems that every new study about social mobility further corrodes the story Americans tell themselves about meritocracy; each one provides more evidence that comfortable lives are reserved for the winners of what sociologists call the birth lottery.  But it isn't DNA.  Even when they’re adopted, the children of the wealthy grow up to be just as well-off as their parents.  And other studies have shown that when poor children move into wealthy neighborhoods their economic standing as adults is greatly improved. Econintersect:  It's the environment, stupid.  You might say "it takes a village" (plagarizing Hillary).
  • Stunning Video of Dwarf Planet Veres (Wired)  Ceres is an asteroid/dwarf planet about 40% the size of Pluto.  Wired has posted some of the latest video released by NASA from the recent approach to Ceres by the spacecraft probe Dawn.

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