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What We Read Today 15 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

  • Economics of the Water Crisis (water.org)  Article makes some interesting assertions (with references).  Two of them are:  Every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides a $4 economic return; and $260 billion is lost globally each year due to lack of safe water and sanitation.

U.S.

  • Obama scraps Afghan troop withdrawal, passing war on to next president (Al Jazeera)  Policy reversal extends US military presence in Afghanistan past 2016 to guard against Al-Qaeda, ISIL and Taliban.

  • How Congressional Chaos Could Make It Harder to Measure Economic Growth (The Wall Street Journal)  A legislative delay may cause a key government economic survey to be scrapped for the quarter, depriving a half dozen agencies, including the Commerce Department and Federal Reserve, of data that they use to build some of the nation’s main economic indicators, including the gross domestic product and the nation’s flow of funds.  At the heart of this potential mishap is a little known and uncontroversial program from the Census Bureau that surveys U.S. businesses. The survey required reauthorization at the end of September, but with lawmakers confronting a potential government shutdown and disarray in the House of Representatives, the required legislation to keep the survey alive floundered.  Few have ever heard of the survey, known as the Quarterly Financial Report program, because it collects data from companies, not households. And the report, though it is released by itself, is not closely followed by financial markets or the media. The report’s importance comes because it’s used to build other key reports that are widely followed: measures of gross domestic income, corporate profits and the Federal Reserve’s financial accounts of the U.S.  Steve Landefeld, the former director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency charged with, among other things, producing the GDP report commented:

“The problem here is we’re at a pretty critical juncture for the economy,”  “If you’re the Federal Reserve Board or any type of policy makers, the economic outlook is pretty unclear right now.”

EU

  • Migrant crisis: Merkel says EU must secure external borders (BBC News)  All EU countries must be prepared to send security staff to the bloc's external borders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.  She said it would be unfair to ask EU countries seeing the majority of initial migrant entries to secure borders as well.

Afghanistan

  • APNewsBreak: US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital (Associated Press)   American special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on an Afghan hospital days before it was destroyed by a U.S. military attack because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity.  It's unclear whether commanders who unleashed the AC-130 gunship on the hospital — killing at least 22 patients and hospital staff — were aware that the site was a hospital or knew about the allegations of possible enemy activity. The Pentagon initially said the attack was to protect U.S. troops engaged in a firefight and has since said it was a mistake.


The "1%" Own Half The World's Assets: The Stunning Chart (Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Talk Markets)  The chart shown below from this article shows the global weath distribution divided into seven regions.  We have added two vertical lones to divide the perscentiles into three equal groups.  The absence of a middle class in North America is astounding,

global.wealth.distribution.2015.thirds

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • A Stimulus Junkie’s Lament (Social Europe)   What is the unusual feature of this recovery compared to previous recessions?  It is fiscal austerity. In the past governments have not generally cut spending or increased taxes just as recoveries have begun, but this time they did. Now perhaps the slow recovery and fiscal austerity are not related. But textbook macroeconomics, a large majority of economists, and all the macro models I know say they are. If German officials and economists continue to ignore this fact, they will lose international credibility.

  • Rocking the establishment: Thomas Piketty’s challenge to orthodox economics (euronews)  From the interview below:

"The drama of Europe over the past 10 years is that we've had a lost decade. We're going to end up in 2017 with a GDP level which is barely the level of 2007."

 


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