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What We Read Today 17 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

Global

  • The most neglected fact in immigration economics (Vox)  Immigration adds significantly to GDP.  For the U.S. it has been calculated by George Borjas that the U.S. GDP is $1.6 trillion more today than it would be "in a zero-immigration universe".  Almost all of this goes to the income of the immigrants so the direct benefit to the non-immigrant population is limited.  But the pie does get bigger, as the politicians like to say.  Econintersect:  It is important to ask if the pie got smaller wherever the immigrants came from. by less than it grew in the new country.  Immigrants move for a better life.  If they were not making more in the new country they would soon stop coming, as they did during and right after the Great Recession.  For more see Immigration and the American Worker (George Borjas, Center for Immigration Studies at Harvard University)

U.S.

  • Shell allowed to drill in Arctic Ocean off Alaska (Al Jazeera)  Federal agency approves drilling below ocean floor after Shell provides 'capping stack' in case of well blowout to reduce liklihood of a disaster like that of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
  • Air Force Botches Bomber’s 10-Year Costs in Reports to Congress (Bloomberg)  The Air Force gave estimates for the costs of its new long-range bomber that differed between 2014 and 2015 by more than 75%.  Econintersect:  So how did they try to recover?  With double talk.  We are left with the conclusion they have no idea what the cost will be.  Sounds like most weapons programs.
  • Atlanta Fed GDPNow gauge takes a tumble to 0.7% (CNBC)  The drumbeat of disappointment is continuing for the U.S. economy, with the latest numbers showing the third quarter looking a lot like the first quarter.  The Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDPNow tracking tool, which has been a pretty reliable rule of thumb lately, indicates third-quarter advancement of just 0.7 percent, with the momentum to the downside.  The latest blow to the outlook is the disappointing manufacturing report from the New York Fed.  For more see GEI Feature:  August 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Index Crashes.

Syria

Ukraine

Thailand

  • Bangkok bomb: Deadly blast rocks Thailand capital (BBC News)  The latest reports from bomb explosion at Bangkok's crowded  Erawan Shrine are at least 19 people killed and more than 120 injured.  Some of the casualties are foreigners, including Chinese.  There is no word yet whether westerners were among those killed and injured.  See also next article.
  • US State Dept: Too soon to call Thailand blast terrorism (CNBC)  A bomb planted at one of the Thai capital's most renowned shrines on Monday killed 16 people, including three foreign tourists, and wounded scores in an attack the government called a bid to destroy the economy.  There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast at the Erawan shrine at a major city-centre intersection. Thai forces are fighting a low-level Muslim insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country's south, but those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their heartland.

Brazil

  • Despite protests, slog more likely than radical change in Brazil (Reuters)  Protestors have massed against the government of Brazil, calling for changes in the entrenched corruption and the end of the economic recession gripping the country.  But, despite protests by hundreds of thousands of Brazilians against President Dilma Rousseff and ongoing calls for her impeachment, little suggests radical change in Brazil anytime soon.

Junk is Selling Off Hard (Walter Kurtz,The Daily Shot)  This type of action has not been seen since late 2011. The worst selling is in the lowest credit rated high-yield issues:

junk.stress


Commercial Real Estate:  It's Like the Great Recession Never Happened (Walter Kurtz, The Daily Shot)

comm.re


Why gas prices are rising despite oil's plunge (CNBC)  See the latest weekly gasoline report from GEI within the hour.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Bond Market’s $2.46 Trillion Dilemma Isn’t So Bad After All (Bloomberg Business)  The Fed plans to reduce its debt holdings sometime after it starts raising interest rates, and the concern is that the Fed’s attempt to reverse its unprecedented easy-money policies will trigger a jump in borrowing costs.  But even if the Fed doesn’t buy any bonds to replace the $216 billion in Treasuries coming due next year, yields would hardly budge, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co., which looked at how much they moved during the Fed’s debt-purchase program.  JPM analysts say the effect of not buying replacement Treasuries in 2016 would amount to an increase of 0.05% for the 10-year bond.  Note:  There are other analysts who advise a significant rate push will occur.
  • Mutual Funds Are (Mostly) Getting Better (Morningstar)  Mutual funds are returning to what they used to be (for the most part):  Transparent, managed for long-term results, low expenses and increasingly passively indexed.  Some examples of past travesties are mentioned in the article.
  • Open houses:  Powerful or Pointless (RISMedia) For realtors, 56% say open houses are of no use in selling, while 44% are in favor of using them.  But, perhaps because many sellers seem to expect it, 72% of realtors say they hold at least one open house each month. 
  • Cassini Makes Final Close Flyby of Saturn Moon Dione (Scientific American)  The spacecraft makes one last close flyby of Saturn's pockmarked moon Dione August 17, in search of direct evidence that the moon is geologically alive and active.
  • Astronomers discover the biggest thing in the Universe (Giz Mag)  Scientists have discovered that nine large GRBs (gamma ray bursts) come from the largest regular formation in the Universe, a ring of nine galaxies 7 billion light years away and 5 billion light years wide. The newly discovered feature covers a third of our sky but is so distant that it is not visible from earth.
  • Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace (The New York Times)  The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.  This article is based on interviews with more than 100 current and former employees who describe what they consider very difficult conditions within the company.  See also next article.

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