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What We Read Today 17 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

Global

  • Scorching Year Continues With Hottest Summer on Record (Bloomberg)  Last month was the hottest August on record, topping out the hottest summer on record, according to data released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was the sixth month this year to set a new record: February, March, May, June, July, and August. This has been the hottest start to a year on record and the hottest 12 months on record. It follows the hottest calendar year (2014), and the hottest decade.  In 136 years of global temperature data, we are in uncharted territory. And this year's extremes are likely to continue as a strong El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean continues to rip more heat into the atmosphere.  Click on graphic to go to Bloomberg for an anuimated version.

global.temps.bloomberg

U.S.

  • Fed holds rates steady in nod to global economic weakness (Reuters)  The U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Thursday in a nod to concerns about a weak world economy, but left open the possibility of a modest policy tightening later this year.  In what amounted to a tactical retreat, the U.S. central bank said an array of global risks and other factors had convinced it to delay what would have been the first rate hike in nearly a decade.
  • Republican 2016 debate: Who were the winners and losers? (BBC News)  This is one of many attempts to "grade" last night's debate.  But winners and losers will not be identified until another week of public opinion polling takes place.

Croatia

  • Croatia overwhelmed by flood of migrants, EU calls summit (Reuters)  More than 7,300 people entered Croatia from Serbia in the 24 hours after Wednesday's clashes between Hungarian riot police and stone-throwing refugees at its Balkan neighbor's frontier.  At the eastern border town of Tovarnik, Croatian riot police struggled to keep crowds of men, women and children back from rail tracks after long queues formed in baking heat for buses bound for reception centers elsewhere in Croatia.  Police were also deployed in a suburb of the capital Zagreb, taking up positions around a hotel housing hundreds of migrants, some of them on balconies shouting "Freedom! Freedom!". Others threw rolls of toilet paper from the balconies and windows.  "Croatia will not be able to receive more people," Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic told reporters in Tovarnik.

Serbia

China

  • China’s Coal Consumption 14% Higher Than Previously Thought (The Wall Street Journal)  The U.S. Energy Information Administration has found over the past decade-plus, China consumed as much as 14% more coal on an energy-content basis than previously reported. Its domestic coal production meanwhile was as much as 7% higher between 2000 and 2013.  The EIA’s analysis also supports those who say China’s coal consumption has peaked, at least for the time being. It estimates China’s coal consumption dropped 2% last year.  See also the next two articles.

The upward revisions are also a reminder of just how unreliable Chinese government data can be – a fact that makes project planning a vastly difficult task for commodity producers and other businesses that sell to China. Concern over China’s economy has played a big part in driving a bust in commodity prices, which contributed to impairment losses industrywide.

Questions over China’s coal demand are nothing new. Among other issues related to China’s statistics, the EIA says, are national totals that frequently don’t match the sum of provincial totals. Accurate data-keeping is one topic routinely discussed between Chinese and U.S. officials.

china.energy.coal.2000.2014

Chile

chile.tsunami.waves.2015.sep.16


Seven Things That ZIRP Did for the Corporate Bond Market (Bloomberg)  There have been many changes in corporate credit markest during ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) but none more dramatic than the increase of investment grade bond issuance.  What is astounding is that this great increase in credit has been accompanied by a reduction in liquidity.  This article attributed that to the search for yield keeping investors locked into older, higher coupon bonds that would normally be more available to the market.

corporate.bonds.1992.2015

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Non-Recycled Plastics: A New Energy Resource (R&D)  Nearly 27 million tons of plastics are not recycled each year in the U.S.  Emerging technologies offer solutions that divert non-recycled plastics from landfills and “recycle” them into feedstocks, valuable energy resources and other plastic products. In fact, if the U.S. took all the paper, wood, plastics, old clothes and other garbage that goes into landfills and converted them into useable energy, the U.S. could power nearly 14 million homes every year, according to the American Chemistry Council.  Additionally, the American Chemistry Council reported making synthetic crude oil from plastics reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 70% compared to conventional extraction of crude oil.  Econintersect:  No mention is made of the cost per barrel of the synthetic oil.
  • Ray Dalio Is Worried About Next Downturn as Fed Prepares Move (Bloomberg)  Ray Dalio, founder of $154 billion Bridgewater Associates, said he’s worried about the next economic slowdown because monetary policy will be less effective than in the past.  He also is pessimistic about overall investment returns over the next decade, predicting an average 3% or 4% per year.  Here's why he sees big risk in the next cyclical downturn:

“I don’t care whether they raise 25 basis points.  What scares me, or what worries me, is what the next downturn in the economy looks like, with asset prices where they are and a lesser ability of central banks to ease monetary policy.”

dalio.bloomberg.video

  • Siberian Traps likely culprit for end-Permian extinction (R&D)  Around 252 million years ago, life on Earth collapsed in spectacular and unprecedented fashion, as more than 96% of marine species and 70% of land species disappeared in a geological instant. The so-called end-Permian mass extinction—or more commonly, the “Great Dying”—remains the most severe extinction event in Earth’s history.  Scientists suspect that massive volcanic activity, in a large igneous province called the Siberian Traps, may have had a role in the global die-off, raising air and sea temperatures and releasing toxic amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over a very short period of time. However, it’s unclear whether magmatism was the main culprit, or simply an accessory to the mass extinction.

  • New Horizons: Foggy haze seen in Pluto images (BBC News)  New images of Pluto from Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft have captured a fog-like haze near the surface.  The pictures also offer stunning views of the dwarf planet's rugged mountains and its sweeping plains.  Scientists say the "fog" provides further evidence for the equivalent on Pluto of Earth's water-cycle, but involving exotic types of ice.

pluto.atmosphere


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