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What We Read Today 24 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

  • A melting Arctic: The world is skating on thin ice (Bloomberg)  The global costs associated with the melting of the Arctic Ocean ice cap is estimate is estimated at $43 billion, nearly 2.5x the value estimated for oil and gas reserves in the region.  Five countries are the primary players in the region:  Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the U.S.

 

U.S.

  • Yellen Says She Still Expects Rate Increase This Year (Bloomberg)  Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. central bank is on track to raise interest rates this year, even as she acknowledged that economic “surprises” could lead them to change that plan.
  • Pope delivers political message on immigration, tolerance to Congress (CNN)  Pope Francis has emerged as a global political leader -- rather than a moral or spiritual voice alone.  The Pope challenged America Thursday to embrace millions of undocumented immigrants and join a global campaign against climate change and poverty, wading undaunted into the nation's volatile politics in a historic address to Congress.  Francis also called for a fairer world economy, the abolition of the death penalty, the protection of ethnic and religious minorities, the outlawing of the global "blood" trade in arms and the protection of the family in a speech sure to please liberals.  This article includes a number of short video clips of parts of the Pope's address.  Video of full speech from NPR:  'I Am Convinced That We Can Make A Difference,' Pope Tells Congress.

  • The Latest: Pope's best lines? Answer falls on party lines (Associated Press)  Lawmakers known for feuding bitterly oozed civility and decorum when they came together to hear the pope — but their partisan differences occasionally showed through.  Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, let out a whoop when Pope Francis called for abolishing the death penalty.  Other Democrats rose to applaud when the pope urged action on climate change.  Some Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, stood when the pope cited his opposition to abortion.
  • Senate stops bill defunding Planned Parenthood (Reuters)  Democrats in the U.S. Senate, joined by some Republicans, on Thursday blocked an effort denying federal funds for the women's healthcare group Planned Parenthood in a move that could help avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.  Most Senate Republicans had supported the plan to attach the Planned Parenthood defunding to a bill keeping government operating with the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.  But 42 Democrats, two independents and eight Republicans banded together to stop the anti-abortion effort on a procedural vote, 11 more than the 41 needed to block the legislation.

UK

Norway

  • FOREX-Norwegian crown sheds 2 pct to 13-yr low after surprise rate cut (Reuters)  The Norwegian crown slumped to a 13-year low against the dollar on Thursday, after the central bank surprisingly cut interest rates to record lows to boost growth in an economy struggling with the falling price of oil, its main export.  It shed over 2% to trade at 8.4842 crowns, its lowest since mid-2002. Against the euro, the Norwegian crown fell to 9.5080 crowns per euro , its weakest since August 26 and on track for its biggest one-day percentage loss in over two years.

Israel

Saudi Arabia

  • More than 700 pilgrims die in crush in worst haj disaster for 25 years (Reuters)  At least 717 pilgrims from around the world were killed on Thursday in a crush outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi authorities said, in the worst disaster to strike the annual haj pilgrimage for 25 years.  At least 863 others were injured at Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca, when two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads on their way to performing the "stoning of the devil" ritual at Jamarat.  Thursday's disaster was the worst to occur at the pilgrimage since July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims suffocated in a tunnel near Mecca.

Ukraine


Here's how much of the world would need to be covered in solar panels to power Earth (Business Insider)  If solar is 20% efficient (as it has been in lab tests) at turning solar energy into power, we'd only need to cover a land area about the size of Spain to power the entire Earth renewably in 2030.  If that area were broken up into pieces and distributed around the world the "footprints" would be small.  The map below shows an example of the distribution (although a much large number of smaller sites are likely).  How much of the earth's surface wiould be needed by 2030?  Just over 0.00001%, or approximately 1 acre out of every million.

Click for larger image.
solar.power.the.world.600x450


Using Nomimal GDP to Mislead: A Bogus Reagan Wikipedia Sentence (Calculated Risk)  Sometimes errors (or deliberate misrepresentation) are especially egregious because they are so believable after years of propoganda.  Kudos to Bill McBride for uncovering this one, in Wikipedia.  A long perpetrated myth is that Ronald Reagan recovered the U.S. from the moribund low growth years of Jimmy Carter.  The myth is derived from using numbers not adjusted for inflation.  The fact is that Carter and Reagan had exactly the same average reak GDP growth per year.

carter.reagan.gdp

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • The coming crackdown on click fraud is going to hurt your favorite indie website (Vox)  Many readers complain about the internet's "clickbait" problem, where publications seem more focused on generating clicks than on delivering quality content to readers who do click. Larger media companies that sell directly to advertisers have more reason to worry about the quality of the audience they're building, because they want repeat business and know advertisers hate clickbait as much as readers do. So if the advertising market drives consolidation in the media world, it could ultimately raise the average quality of online journalism.  But this may come at the expense of losing some high quality lower traffic websites who are not employing "click fraud".  See also next article.
  • How Much of Your Audience is Fake? (Bloomberg)  Marketers thought the Web would allow perfectly targeted ads but it hasn’t worked out that way.  Around 2010 programmatic advertising started, a typically banal industry term for what is, essentially, automation. The ideal programmatic transaction works like this: A user clicks on a website and suddenly her Internet address and browsing history are packaged and whisked off to an auction site, where software, on behalf of advertisers, scrutinizes her profile (or an anonymized version of it) and determines whether to bid to place an ad next to that article. Ford Motor could pay to put its ads on websites for car buffs, or, with the help of cookies, track car buffs wherever they may be online. Ford might want to target males age 25-40 for pickup-truck ads, or, better yet, anybody in that age group who’s even read about pickups in the past six months.  The problem is that much of what is logged as traffic isn't human: Instead of humans some of the traffic is bots (see next article).

Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli was lambasted this week by medical groups, a presidential candidate and his own industry for raising the price of a 62-year-old drug by 5,000 percent.

He reversed course under pressure Tuesday night, but not before the national attention struck fear into the hearts of biotech investors over increased scrutiny of drug prices, sending stocks plummeting.

Turing may have been an egregious example, but it's not the only one raising eyebrows for skyrocketing price tags. Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal pointed out many companies ratchet up drug prices when the market presents an opportunity.

"They take drugs that have largely been underpriced before—or that's the way they'd call it," Gal said in a telephone interview. "They buy a drug that does not have good alternatives and they raise the price sky-high. And because it's very hard to say no to those patients; because there's no alternative, people cover this."


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