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What We Read Today 13 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




  • Ouch! Gasoline prices are spiking in these states (CNBC)  Crude oil prices have just moved to a new cycle low.  So why are gasoline prices rising in some states?  It is an outage at a key Indiana refinery that has gasoline prices up by 8% overnight.  This will quickly be reflected in retail prices in the Great Lakes states from Ohio to Wisconsin.
  • Tesla’s Supercharger-Scofflaw Note Irks Some Model S Owners (Bloomberg)  Tesla Motors Inc. annoyed some owners of its Model S cars with an e-mail requesting that they stop hogging the free fast-charging stations the electric-vehicle maker provides to ease long-distance travel.
  • Chinese pollution is coming to America (CNBC)  A new study finds ozone-forming chemicals produced in eastern China have been drifting across the Pacific to the western United States. The pollution has combined with ozone released by natural processes to cancel out many of the gains from stricter pollution controls enacted in the United States since 2005.  It seems deflation (see article below under China) is not the only new Chinese export.  See Rapid increases in troposheric ozone production and export from China (Nature Geosciences).
  • Will a Democrat Win the White House in 2016? (Frank Holmes, U.S. Global Investors) FH has contributed to GEI.  Since 1980, Moody’s Analytics has been predicting presidential election results, and for each of the nine contests, it’s been on the money. It manages to do this by using a sophisticated model that measures the economic health of each state leading up to the election. Some of the factors it captures are household income growth, house price growth and percent change in gasoline prices. It also looks at political preference county-by-county.  The model has become scarily precise. In 2012, it accurately predicted each states election outcome and nailed the Electoral College vote. Econintersect:  Either who are the candidates matters little or the current projections are likely to change.  Perhaps it is the former?  Considering how close the projection is to a tie, tiny shifts could swing the election to an electoral landslide.



Under Mr Xi, the logic of history goes something like this. China played such an important role in vanquishing Japanese imperialism that not only does it deserve belated recognition for past valour and suffering, but also a greater say in how Asia is run today. Also, Japan is still dangerous. Chinese schools, museums and TV programmes constantly warn that the spirit of aggression still lurks across the water. A Chinese diplomat has implied that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is a new Voldemort, the epitome of evil in the “Harry Potter” series. At any moment Japan could menace Asia once more, party newspapers intone. China, again, is standing up to the threat. 



MBA: Mortgage Applications "Flat" in Latest Weekly Survey, Purchase Index up 20% YoY (Bill McBride, Calculated Risk)  Mortgage refinancing activity is at very low levels for the 21st century (first graph) while purchase mortgage applications are up significantly from a year ago but still at late 20th century levels, far below 1998-2009.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Oil stocks have done something extraordinary: Trader (CNBC)  Big oil has lost big money for investors.  In the past year, as crude prices have fallen more than 55 percent, the nine biggest Western oil companies have shed a combined $400 billion in market cap.  There is disagreement whether these stocks are now a buy.

  • From alpha to omega (The Economist)  From the old Bershire Hathaway to the brand new Google parent Alphabet, conglomerates are back in fashion. But only the best will thrive, according to this article, and the rest will find a future home in the dust bin of history.

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