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What We Read Today 01 September 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




  • Obama now just one vote shy of securing Iran deal (The Washington Post)  President Obama is within one vote of securing the biggest diplomatic victory of his presidency, now that Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) have committed themselves to support the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
  • 10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans Struggles With Jobs  (The Wall Street Journal)  New Orleans has spent the past decade clawing its way back to normality after Hurricane Katrina decimated much of the city, causing residents and businesses to flee. But as of late, it’s struggling to hold onto jobs.  It was the only major metropolitan area to have lost jobs in July compared with a year earlier.  The unemployment rate in New Orleans is more than 1% higher than for the nation.
  • In Hawaii, rooftop solar panels threaten ‘utility death spiral’ (Al Jazeera)  Hawaii’s electricity prices are higher than anywhere else in the nation. The burdensome cost of power, paired with the island state’s plentiful sunshine, has led to an unparalleled adoption of residential rooftop solar energy. On the island of Oahu, where 80 percent of the state’s population lives, more than 12% of Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) customers have rooftop solar systems.  The loss of sales is pushing the costs for non-solar cusatomers even higher.  Econintersect: The solution is simple.  Solar farms produce electricity more cheaply than do rooftop installations.  Why isn't HECO building solar farms? 
  • Kentucky clerk ordered to court after refusing to issue gay-marriage licenses (The Washington Post)  A raucous scene unfolded at the county courthouse here Tuesday as a clerk defied a judge’s order to start issuing marriage licenses, citing her religious objections to same-sex marriage.  U.S. District Judge David Bunning has set a hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday to determine whether to hold Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt, a charge that could carry with it a fine or jail time.  The action unfolded in northeast Kentucky the morning after the Supreme Court ruled against Davis’s request to be excused from issuing gay-marriage marriage licenses.


  • Europe’s circular-economy opportunity (McKinsey)  Adopting circular-economy principles could not only benefit Europe environmentally and socially but could also generate a net economic benefit of €1.8 trillion by 2030.  Key elements of a circular economy are retaining of materials now being discarded (recycling) and reducing lost energy waste. 


  • Hungary halts rail traffic in bid to stop migrants (The Washington Post)  Overwhelmed by thousands of asylum-seekers, Hungarian authorities Tuesday briefly halted rail traffic from their nation’s main train station, the latest blow to a borderless movement in Europe.  Police authorities triggered chaos when they shuttered Budapest’s grand fin-de-siecle train station for hours on Tuesday, stopping rail traffic for all passengers while they worked to clear crowds of hundreds of migrants who had gathered at the station. The move prompted angry chanting from asylum-seekers desperate to move onward to Austria and Germany, many of whom had already purchased tickets for hundreds of euros.

South Korea


Restaurant Performance Index increased in July (Bill McBride, Calculated Risk)  The Restauarant Performance Index, which is downtrending in 2015, took its largest bounce up for the year in July.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Economics Has a Math Problem (Bloomberg)  Popluar economist blogger Noah Smith.  He concludes that math is not a problem for economics; rather economics is a problem for math.  In most applied math disciplines data evidence is the basis for hypothesis.  But in economics, in many (most?) cases the approach to problems starts with philosophy and data evidence is sought to support.  When evidence does not support, the data is often discarded. 

Traditionally, economists have put the facts in a subordinate role and theory in the driver’s seat. Plausible-sounding theories are believed to be true unless proven false, while empirical facts are often dismissed if they don’t make sense in the context of leading theories. This isn’t a problem with math -- it was just as true back when economics theories were written out in long literary volumes. Econ developed as a form of philosophy and then added math later, becoming basically a form of mathematical philosophy. 

  • The economics of secession (The Washington Post) Secession movements and their supporters often claim that separation will create an economic bonanza for the newly independent region. By contrast, opponents routinely predict that secession will lead to economic disaster. This article suggests the evidence is mixed.  For more on this see The Secession Question (Richmond Fed) and The Nation of New Mexico (Sig Silber, GEI Opinion).
  • Lefty Economics and Paper Towels (Richocet)  We thought the title had great promise.  Unfortunately the article does relate to a case study with paper towels but has nothing to do with the left.
  • Economics of living long lives (PhilStar Business)  This is an interesting discussion about the traditional concepts of life cycle economics:  Cared for and not producing as children, producing and caring for others as adults and cared for but not producing in old age.  The author questions if the value of the elderly are being understated.  He also raises questions about those adults not counted in the "producing" category because they perform work that receives no reported remuneration (mothers raising children, for example).
  • The economics of the stock market is simple really: buy and hold (The Independent)  A discussion of the futility of selling after big declines.  The author describes the value of buy and hold investing:

 But by and large the stock markets in the developed world – despite all the lurid “trillions wiped off” headlines – have been more like a cash machine for the patient, long-term and sensible investor.

  • Is the GOP falling out of love with supply-side economics? (American Enterprise Institute)  James Pethokoukis says the GOP is not "falling out of love with supply-side economcs" as much as it is broadening into other issues not traditionally in the supply-side portfolio, such as higher education and healthcare.

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