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What We Read Today 16 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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Today we have multiple articles on shorting stocks and why the prospects for the Fed to raise interest rates are problematic.





  • Merkel Says She’s Confident IMF Will Join Greek Bailout (Bloomberg)  Will Germany actually restructure Greece's unsutainable debt?  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she’s confident the International Monetary Fund will join Greece’s third bailout and signaled willingness to consider debt relief to help make it happen.  IMF (International Monetary Fund) has said it will not participate unless some of Greece's debt is written down.


  • Air strikes near Damascus kill at least 80 people: activists (Reuters)  A Syrian government air strike northeast of Damascus killed at least 80 people in a marketplace on Sunday, rescue workers in the rebel-held area and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  At least 200 more people were wounded in the attack on Douma, about 15 km (10 miles) northeast of Damascus, according to the British-based Observatory and the local arm of Syrian Civil Defense, a rescue service operating in rebel areas.


  • Rebel-held Ukraine overhauls education system as it aligns itself with Russia (The Guardian)  The West is being censored from school materials.  History and geography syllabuses altered with greater Russian bias as part of systematic campaign to rid breakaway territories of western influences.
  • Poll finds majority of Ukrainians favour joining NATO (Ukraine Today)  Ukrainian opinion is shifting.  In a poll conducted by the Kyiv-based Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center, 35.7% of respondents in 2015 cited joining NATO as the best security option for Ukraine. 28.8% said they supported the country's non-aligned status. 22.9% of the respondents sould not make up their mind on the issue.  The majority of Ukrainians three years ago believed that neutral status is Ukraine's security guarantee (42% in April 2012). A substantial part of the population saw the military alliance with Russia as the security solution (in 2012 - 26%).  Other polls Econintersect has reported on recently showed more one-sided NATA support than the latest one here.


  • Iraq ex-PM Nouri Maliki blamed for Mosul fall to IS (BBC News)   An Iraqi parliamentary panel has called for former PM Nouri Maliki to face trial over the fall of the northern city of Mosul to Islamic State.  More than 30 other officials including former Mosul governor Athil al-Nujaifi were also blamed in the report.  The militants seized Mosul in a sweep across north and west Iraq last year.  Mr Maliki, a Shia, is seen as having fanned sectarian tensions, leading to a growth of discontent in those mainly Sunni Arab areas captured by IS.


  • Iran meets key deadline in sanctions relief deal (Al Jazeera)  Iran on Saturday gave the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) documents linked to the agency's probe of allegations that Tehran tried to develop atomic arms.


  • Tianjin explosions: sodium cyanide on site may have been 70 times allowed amount (The Guardian)  Fears are growing for nearly 100 Chinese firefighters still missing after being sent to tackle the deadly explosions in Tianjin last week, amid reports that 70 times the permitted quantity of sodium cyanide had been stored at a warehouse near the blasts.  With the official death toll raised to 112 and the number of missing people at 95, rescue workers wearing gas masks and hazard suits were racing to clear the area before the weather changes because of concerns that wind could spread the toxins and rain could cause a dangerous reaction with chemicals at the site.
  • China Central Bank Says Yuan Should not Fall Further (i Free Press)  Econintersect note:  This article repeats a common error in media and calls the revaluation of the yuan renminbi last week a move "up".  It was a move "down".  The reminbi was devalued from 6.2 to the dollar to 6.4 to the dollar - a move down in value.

On Tuesday, the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, made a significant shift in how it manages the yuan by allowing markets to play a bigger role in valuing the currency. Still, it was up 1.6 per cent on the week, as the dollar has been hit by speculation that the US too may not want a strong dollar if China pushes down the yuan. It sparked fears of a global “currency war” and accusations thatBeijing was unfairly supporting its exporters, but the central bank on Wednesday sought to reassure financial markets that it was not embarking on a steady depreciation.

The spot rate is now allowed to trade within a range of percent above or below the official fixing on any given day, and had been consistently trading over 1 percent weaker than the midpoint since March.

The Fed Is on Thinner Ice Than It Realizes, and It May Be Setting Us Up for Recession (Timothy A. Duy, Bloomberg Business)  Prof. Duy says the soft landing has already happened for the U.S., and raising rates could make things worse.  Can the Fed grasp defeat out of the jaws of victory?





Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

With an average decline of 6.44% (median: -5.74%), stocks with the highest short interest have been getting absolutely crushed this month and are down more than six times the decline of the broader market (-0.82%). With that kind of underperformance, the first reaction is to think that Energy stocks are dragging down the overall performance, but the complete opposite has been the case. Of the 25 names listed below, eight are from the Energy sector and their average decline is just 0.21% with half of them in the green. Of the remaining 17 stocks listed, the average decline is 9.36%, and only five are up. This is one (and probably the only) case where the rest of the market is dragging down the Energy sector!


  • 10 Things You Must Know Before Shorting a Stock (Trading Markets)  While brokers are able to handle most short selling requests, shorting a stock is more complicated than going long or buying options. In fact, there are some major issues involved with short selling that you must understand before you attempt it. So don’t even think about short selling before you’ve read this.

Investors stayed bearish on gold before its biggest rally since June, missing out on what some analysts predict could be the last of the good times for bulls.

Bullion jumped last week after China unexpectedly devalued its currency, roiling global markets and boosting the appeal of haven assets. Still, some of the metal’s best forecasters see the price gains fading. Billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson disclosed on Friday that he cut his holdings in the world’s biggest gold exchange-traded product for the first time in two years last quarter.

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