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What We Read Today 23 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


  • Investors Race to Escape Risk in Once-Booming Emerging-Market Bonds (The New York Times)  The big role played by retail and institutional investor mutual funds and ETFs (electronically traded funds) for the growth of ionvestments in bonds of emerging economy countries is now being played in reverse.  As the currencies of these countries nose dive, investors are trying to avoid lrge exchange rate losses by getting out of their investments before the currencies depreciate any more.  The selling puts further pressure on the currencies creating a downward spiral.  Should all investors decide to sell at the same time the outcome could be very disorderly - like a run on a bank.



  • Palmyra's Baalshamin temple 'blown up by IS' (BBC News)  Islamic State militants have destroyed Palmyra's ancient temple of Baalshamin, Syrian officials and activists say.  But just when it happened is not clear.  Syria's head of antiquities was quoted as saying the temple was blown up on Sunday. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it happened one month ago. IS took control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears the group might demolish the Unesco World Heritage site.  The group has destroyed several ancient sites in Iraq.


  • One Year After War, People of Gaza Still Sit Among the Ruins (The New York Times)  The men of Shejaiya district of Gaza near the border with Israel still come daily to sit vigil in the desolate ruins of their neighborhood, drinking tea and playing chess. But these days, there are also clusters of construction workers on Shejaiya’s dirt paths, finally pouring a few cement foundations and hammering together wood planks.  One year after the 2014 war ended there are only a few signs of rebuilding for the 18,000 homes destroyed.


China did not devalue its currency sharply, and it has not embraced a currency war, at least not so far. What it has done is make very modest adjustments both in the value of its currency and in the manner in which it trades. Those moves continue an agonizingly slow process that has been underway for more than 35 years. They are a small but important part of China’s transformation into a modern nation.

North Korea

  • With Force Deployments, North Korea Raises Stakes of Talks With South (The New York Times)   North Korea has deployed twice as many artillery pieces as usual along the border with South Korea as of today (Sunday) Sunday, and most of its submarines had departed from their bases, as the two Koreas held a second day of talks to try to break a tense military standoff, officials said.  The North calls broadcasts by 11 batteries of propaganda loudspeakers along its border with the South, which include criticism of its political system and its leader, Kim Jong-un, an “act of war.”  Econintersect:  In other words, if you don't stop "shooting words" we will "shoot bullets and missiles".

The evolution of American energy consumption since 1776 (Elena Holodny, Business Insider)  Econintersect:  Burning wood (a renewable) was almost the exclusive source of energy before 1850.  Could we ever get to that ;evel of renewable energy in the future?  Without a breakdown of society and a return to primitive life?

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • What does a world without full-time jobs look like? (CNN Money)  Technology is evolving to replace more and more  human jobs.  One example is the possibility of eliminating most human drivers (the U.S. biggest occupation) with self-driving vehicles.  Automation may also replace the jobs of many retail salespeople, cashiers, office clerks and food and beverage workers.  For more see A World Without Work (The Atlantic).  See also next article.
  • The jobs that are most threatened by technology (CNN Money)  (See next article for jobs not being replaced - yet.)  Researchers Ian Stewart, Debapratim De and Alex Cole found that jobs that require a routine have declined the most because they can be easily substituted by technology.  Among them:

-- Footwear and leather working jobs, which have declined 82% since 1992.

-- Weavers and knitters (-79%)

-- Metal making and treating process operators (-70%)

-- Typists and related keyboard occupations (-57%)

-- Secretaries (-52%)

-- Energy plant workers (-51%)

-- Farm workers (-50%)

-- Metal machine setters and setter-operators (-44%)

Specifically, the independent study found that the number of nursing jobs skyrocketed 909% since 1992. Teaching jobs ballooned 580%.

Other industries that have benefited significantly:

-- Management consultants and business analysts (+365%)

-- I.T. managers (+195%)

-- Welfare, housing, youth and community workers (+183%)

-- Care workers and home carers (+168%)

-- Actors, dancers, entertainment hosts, producers and directors (+156%)

-- Financial managers (+132%)

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