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What We Read Today 10 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


  • After 75 winners, Nobel Economics Prize still contentious (Yahoo News)  For economists, who often disagree with one another and get their forecasts wrong, the idea of a Nobel Prize for economics remains controversial after 75 years.  Econintersect:  Is it as bad as an award for astrology?


  • Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House (The New York Times)  Hat tip to Ninja Economics (Twitter).  Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.  Republican candidates overwhelmingly lead 138 to 20.  More than half of the families are from the finance and energy sectors and more than 2/3 have self-made wealth rather than inherited.

Click for larger image.

  • Court Thinks Hacking Is Worse Than Rape (The Daily Beast)  U.S. computer crimes laws are "outdated as hell".  This story discusses the case of Matthew Keys who helped others to cause $5,000 damage to the LA Times web site and could (under the law) face 25 years in prison, "more than some murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals face".  Also discussed is the 2012 case of Aaron Swartz who hung himself while awaiting trial with up to 30 years sentence proposed for violating the terms of use in downloading public documents from the MIT website, when MIT itself requested no charges, civil or criminal, be brought.
  • Obama backs away from law to access encrypted information (Reuters)  President Barack Obama's administration has backed away from seeking legislation that would give U.S. law enforcement agencies access to individuals' encrypted messages, the White House said on Saturday.



  • Fatal blasts rock Turkey peace rally (Al Jazeera)  Explosions disrupted a peace rally of leftist and Kurdish activists outside main train station in Turkish capital Ankara.  Early reports indicate at least 95 people were killed and almost 200 others were injured.  Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were "strong signs" that the attacks were suicide bombings and suggested that Kurdish rebels or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters could be behind them.






North Korea

  • North Korea 'ready to defend itself against US' (BBC News)  North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, has said his country could defend itself in any war started by the US.  He was making a rare public speech as part of mass celebrations involving troops, and military vehicles in Pyongyang to mark the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.  Thousands of soldiers - many with red banners - marched past him through the city's main square in tight formation.  An aircraft flypast forming the number 70 flew over the square.  Tanks and missile carriers rolled past the podium where Mr Kim spoke.


  • Investigators Scour Secret Tapes of the Afghan Hospital Attack (The Daily Beast)  U.S. military investigators are focusing on classified video and audio recordings taken from the gunship that carried out a lethal attack on a hospital in Afghanistan.  Among the recordings available from the AC-130 gunship involved in the attack are conversations among the gunship crew as they fired on the facility, and as they communicated with U.S. soldiers on the ground.  The recordings helped lead the U.S. military to conclude that the so-called rules of engagement—the guidelines for the use of force—were misapplied.  The Pentagon has not made any of the recordings available, even to Congress.


Will your children be better off? (Max Roser, Twitter)

Top 10 Basic Materials Dividend Dogs Yield 16.5% To 41.3% As Of October 7 (Fredrik Arnold, Seeking Alpha)  Does this study reveal great investment opportunity or great opportunity to get crushed by future dividend cuts?

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • TRIP Snap Poll VII: IR Scholar Survey on South China Sea, Refugee Crisis, and Iran Deal (Institute for the Theory & Practice of International Relations, University of William & Mary)  The 2014 TRIP survey includes IR scholars in 33 countries and 9 languages. TRIP surveys all international relations scholars employed at a college or university who have an affiliation with a political science department or school of public policy and who teach or conduct research on issues that cross international borders. A full summary of the methodology can be found in “International Relations in the U.S. Academy” (ISQ, 2011).  Econintersect will discuss the questions and survey results individually over time.  Today we discussed the South China Sea situation and the U.S. handling of the Syrian situation in the News section above.
  • New research shows raising the top income tax rate won’t reduce inequality (Brookings)  This research examines how much of a reduction in income inequality would be achieved from increasing the top individual tax rate to as much as 50% and explicitly redistributing of all new revenue to households in the bottom 20% of the income distribution. The resulting effects on overall income inequality are exceedingly modest.  Econintersect:  Making a fuss over this research is, in oru opinion, an insult to the distinguished authors,  William G. GaleMelissa S. Kearney and Peter R. Orszag. This study is worthy of being a footnote to a more meaningful examintaion of how behavior is modified by changing top bracket marginal tax rates.  The question is:  Do higher top marginal tax rates change the behavior of the wealthy and top income earners?  To higher brackets discourage extraction from the economy of huge salaries and cash bonuses and encourage the reinvestment of earnings to increase equity?  History suggests that there may be a correlation that would support such a hypothesis.  But is there a causation?  Aha!  That is where the real research is needed. 
  • ZeroHedge Throws Austrian Economics Under The Bus (Seeking Alpha)  This is an excellent critique of the shortcomings of rigorous supply side econoimic theory.  Econintersect:  Supply side ideologues have as many shortcomings as do demand side ideologues.  Economics is not composed of linear functions which can be summed up to describe reality - the world is more complicated than that.  PS:  We have nothing against Austrian economists; some of our best friends are Austrian economists.  :-)-

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