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What We Read Today 21 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.

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  • Greece crisis: PM Alexis Tsipras quits and calls early polls (BBC News)  Hat tip to Rob Carter.  Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has announced he is resigning and has called an early election.  Mr Tsipras, who was only elected in January, said he had a moral duty to go to the polls now a third bailout had been secured with European creditors.  See also next article.
  • Rebels From Greece’s Syriza Party Split Off After Tsipras Resigns (The Wall Street Journal)  Greece’s governing Syriza party split on Friday as rebels who oppose Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s bailout deal with Europe decided to form a new movement to fight elections expected in September.  The breakaway by 25 of Syriza’s 149 members of parliament completes a divorce that has been under discussion since July, when Mr. Tsipras agreed to the austerity-heavy terms of Greece’s European creditors, despite his party’s long-standing campaign to end austerity.  The new party, called Popular Unity, will run against Syriza in next month’s elections.


Islamic State


South Korea

Vehicle Miles Traveled: A Look at Our Evolving Behavior (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives  Estimated vehicle mileage for Americans has reached a new high.  However, when adjusted for increasing population mileage is still far below the 2005 peak.


Historical Treasury Rates (U.S. Department of the Treasury)  With the 10-year Treasury yield dropping down to 2.05% it has returned near the middle of the range for the last 12 months.  The 2-10 year spread (gray line) has narrowed (yield curve has flattened) ever so slightly over the past 12 months but the yield curve has steepened a smidge since the first of the year.  However since July 1 the trend has been moving toward no change for the year and we are almost there.  Interest rates are very low indicating not much growth or inflation pressure on the U.S. economy, but the slope of the yield curve is maintaining a positive slope, indicating  no recession is anticipated.  Generally the yield curve flattens (or inverts - long-term yields higher than short-term) just before a recession starts.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

The End of the 401(k)? (Investment Advisor)  

  • There’s plenty of blame to go around for who is responsible for cutting the efficacy of 401(k) plans
  • It’s not just the fees, investors aren’t getting the right service
  • Investors’ decisions are driven more by inertia than sound investment practices... 

How Wall Street’s Bankers Stayed Out of Jail (The Atlantic)  The probes into bank fraud leading up to the financial industry’s crash have been quietly closed. Is this justice?  U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch and her predecessor, Eric Holder, appear to have turned the page on a significant vein of wrongdoing: the profligate and dishonest behavior of Wall Street bankers, traders, and executives in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. How we arrived at a place where Wall Street misdeeds go virtually unpunished while soccer executives in Switzerland get arrested is murky at best. But the legal window for punishing Wall Street bankers for fraudulent actions that contributed to the 2008 crash has just about closed.   Econintersect:  Is this committing murder of an economy and getting away with it?  Has the practice of fining big financial institutions (nearly $190 billion from 49 financial institutions, according to this article) turned the U.S. DoJ (Department of Justice) into a protection racket extortionist?  We will run the early 2013 Frontline documentary "The Untouchables" as Documentsry of the Week this weekend.  In that program it was represented that top banking executives expected criminal prosecutions when the financial system collapsed in the fall of 2008.  The inference is that they new what they had done and what they had allowed to go on in their institutions.

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