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What We Read Today 02 October 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 economy loses steam as Chinese, European factories falter (Reuters)  World economic growth lost momentum in September, with China's factory output shrinking again, euro zone manufacturing growth slowing, and U.S. activity steady.  The latest business surveys across Asia, Europe and the Americas paint a gloomier picture and are likely to prompt more calls for central banks to loosen monetary policy even further.




  • 'Sense of regret' in Vatican over pope meeting with gay marriage opponent (Reuters)  Pope Francis' meeting last week with an American woman at the center of a row over gay marriage was not something he had sought and should not be seen as an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said on Friday.  One Vatican official said there was "a sense of regret" that the pope had ever seen Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who went to jail in September for refusing to honor a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and issue same-sex marriage licenses.


  • Volkswagen scandal may cost up to $87 billion (CNN Money)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) estimates that the total cost to the company could hit 78 billion euros ($87 billion) in a worst case scenario. That's about 60% more than the cost of the Deepwater Horizon spill to BP (NYSE:BP).  Elliott Morss estimated early monday am that the maximum potential liablity for VW could be more that 6-times larger than the Credit Suisse estimate.  See Can Volkswagen Survive the Cheating Scandal? (GEI Investing).


  • Syria Says Air Strikes Not Enough Against Islamic State (Bloomberg)  A loyalist of the Assad regime said "terrorism cannot only be fought from the air," making an appeal for more military involvement to defeat Islamic State.  In a defiant speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem criticized the current approach to fighting the group that has conquered swathes of territory and was encroaching on President Bashar al-Assad’s coastal stronghold in Latakia. Those gains triggered Russian intervention.  Syria’s main opposition group accuses Russia of attacking non-extremist groups as means to prop al-Assad, who the UN blames for carrying out atrocities against his own people. Iranian military, including Revolutionary Guards and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have been active in Syria in support of Assad.  See also next article.
  • Russia kills US-backed Syrian rebels in second day of air strikes as Iran prepares for ground offensive (The Telegram)  Sources in Lebanon told Reuters that Iran, which is the main sponsor and tactical adviser to Hizbollah, was sending in hundreds of its own troops to reinforce them. Iran made no comment on the claims but Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said the move would be an "apt and powerful illustration" that Russia's military actions had worsened the conflict.  Econintersect:  This is shaping up as a potential 'world war' with Russia, Syria, Iran and Shi'te Arabs against Sunni Arabs, Europe and the U.S.  All that remains for a true global conflagration is for China to take a side.


  • Syrian crisis: Russia air strikes 'strengthen IS' (BBC News)  US President Barack Obama has said the Russian bombing campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad is driving moderate opposition underground and "only strengthening" Islamic State.


MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest Weekly Survey, Purchase Applications up 20% YoY (Bill McBride, Calculated Risk)  Headlines tout the recent increase in mortgage purchase applications but the number is at levels last seen 17 years ago.  Corrected for population growth the number is equivalent to those seen in 1995.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Is Donald Trump the New Thomas Jefferson? (Sarasota Magazine)  The author says that if the Founding Fathers were around today, Donald Trump would be one of them. And not necessarily because he was invited. He’d just bully his way in.  What this article points out is what a maverick Thomas Jeffereson was, politically, personally and in business.

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