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What We Read Today 30 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


European nations need to do more to “fight traffickers, protect victims and put in place a system to allow refugees to apply for asylum legally,” the head of the U.N. refu­gee agency, António Guterres, said . But Europe, with its economic challenges, can’t be expected to solve on its own a problem that is originating in Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya and — above all — Syria. As Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state, and David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary, noted in a Post op-ed last month, more than 11 million Syrians have been made homeless by four-plus years of civil war — and the United States so far has admitted fewer than 1,000. That’s unacceptable.

Of course most displaced Syrians are not going to make their way to the United States or Germany, which is why it’s also crucial for developed nations to help refugees where they are. About 4 million Syrians have been forced out of their country (with about twice as many displaced inside), and they have taken refuge in Turkey (1.9 million), Lebanon (1.1 million) and Jordan (more than 600,000). The burden on the host nations is immense — refugees comprise about a quarter of Lebanon’s population — and the conditions for many are miserable, with a generation of children going unschooled. Yet U.N. member nations have met only 33 percent of the funding target to provide for these people’s basic needs.



  • Saudi-led coalition air strike kills 36 Yemeni civilians: residents (Reuters)   An air strike by warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition, which said it targeted a bomb-making factory, killed 36 civilians working at a bottling plant in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah on Sunday, residents said.  In another air raid on the capital Sanaa, residents said four civilians were killed when a bomb hit their house near a military base in the south of the city.  The attacks were the latest in an air campaign launched in March by an alliance made up mainly of Gulf Arab states in support of the exiled government in its fight against Houthi forces allied to Iran.



  • If the Options Market Is Right, China's Stock Rescue Is Doomed (Bloomberg Business)   Options traders have never been so pessimistic on China’s stock market, betting the government’s renewed effort to prop up share prices is doomed to fail.  The cost of bearish contracts on the China 50 exchange-traded fund surged to the highest level versus bullish ones since they started trading in Shanghai six months ago. The so-called skew also climbed to a record for a similar ETF in the U.S., even as government buying drove China’s benchmark index to a 10 percent rally in the final two days of last week.
  • Behind Tianjin Tragedy, a Company That Flouted Regulations and Reaped Profits (The New York Times)  Rui Hai offered lower prices, a no-hassle approach to paperwork and quick government approvals for the shipment of hazardous materials.  Business was brisk. It seemed like another success story for the Binhai New Area, a thriving economic development zone established here by the ruling Communist Party around one of China’s busiest seaports.  But now Rui Hai has become a symbol of something else for many Chinese: the high cost of rapid industrialization in a closed political system rife with corruption.
  • Xi's Military Parade Fans Unease in Region Already Wary of China (Bloomberg)  As Xi Jinping presides over thousands of goose-stepping troops marching down Beijing’s Changan Avenue -- or “Eternal Peace Street” -- this coming Thursday, the Chinese president will also proclaim his commitment to the world’s peaceful development.  It’s a message China’s neighbors may find hard to swallow as it flexes its military muscle from the East China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

World Markets Weekend Update: The Global Selloff Decelerates (Advisor Perspectives  Doug Short is a regualr contribuor to GEI.  Four of the eight indexes on the world watch finished in the red this week, an improvement over the previous when all eight posted substantial losses. However, the skew remains negative, with the average of the eight at -1.49%. Note also that we had an East-West divide, with the four advances in the Western indexes and the four declines in the East. Germany's DAX was the top performer, with a respectable 1.72% gain. China's Shanghai Composite posted another dismal week, down 7.85%.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

Charlie Munger’s record as Warren Buffett’s partner at Berkshire Hathaway is well known and can be seen in the rise of Berkshire’s market capitalization. Less well-known is Munger’s record at the investment partnership that he ran from 1962 to 1975. In an article entitled The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville, published in 1984, Warren Buffett revealed that Munger’s investment partnership generated compounded annual returns of 19.8% during the 1962–75 period.  The comparable annual rate of appreciation for the Dow during that period was 5%.

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