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What We Read Today 03 November 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 Manufacturing PMI (Oct.) (Capital Economics)  The final Markit manufacturing PMIs for October reinforce our view that global growth is holding up much better than many seem to fear. Indeed, the headline readings for the US, China, the euro-zone and Japan all rose compared to September.  (Free trial subscription required for non-subscribers.)

  • A geo-economics-led world order (The Tribune)

A new international order seems to be emerging defined overwhelmingly by geo-economics rather than geopolitics. In this new order, the old multilateral institutions created under American auspices, or what is known as the Washington Consensus, no longer seem as effective or capable of addressing global problems as they were just a decade ago. Geo-economics has been defined by its proponents in two different ways: as the relationship between economic policy and changes in national power and geopolitics; or as the economic consequences of trends in geopolitics and national power. Both the notions that ‘trade follows the flag’ and that ‘the flag follows trade’ point to what is called geo-economics.

  • Financial Secrecy Index 2015 reveals improving global financial transparency, but USA threatens progress (Tax Justice Network)  Most countries’ secrecy scores have improved - transparency has increased. . Real action is being taken to curb financial secrecy, as the OECD rolls out a system of automatic information exchange (AIE) where countries share relevant information to tackle tax evasion. The EU is starting to crack open shell companies by creating central registers of beneficial owners and making that information available to anyone with a legitimate interest. The EU is also requiring multinationals to provide country-by-country financial data.  But the U.S. is going the other way, rising to third on the list. Higher is bad and Switzerland tops the list, followed by Hong Kong.



  • VW Emissions Issues Spread to Gasoline Cars (Bloomberg)  Things just keep getting worse for the German auto giant.  Volkswagen AG said it found faulty emissions readings for the first time in gasoline-powered vehicles, widening a scandal that so far had centered on diesel engines.  Volkswagen said an internal probe showed 800,000 cars had “unexplained inconsistencies” concerning their carbon-dioxide output.


  • Turkey completes electoral cycle, political risks persist (Hurriyet Daily News)  Fitch Ratings has expressed concern that the success of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in regaining its parliamentary majority, afters a period of heightened political uncertainty, does not necessarily mean the political stress will come to an end.  Fitch said:

“The implications for Turkey’s sovereign credit profile and rating will depend on whether the result produces a more stable and predictable political environment that is conducive to structural reform and economic rebalancing.” 


  • Russia stance on Assad suggests divergence with Iran (Reuters)  Russia does not see keeping Bashar al-Assad in power as a matter of principle, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Tuesday in comments that suggested a divergence of opinion with Iran, the Syrian president's other main international backer.  Fuelling speculation of Russian-Iranian differences over Assad, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps suggested on Monday that Tehran may be more committed to him than Moscow was.


  • Venezuelan economy in worst state since 1940 - Capital Economics  (City A.M.)  A lack of official economic data coming out of Venezuela has not stopped experts at Capital Economics from trying to quantify the crisis.  The Capital Economics Venezuelan GDP Tracker has found the collapse in oil price as over the last 12 months has meant output is now contracting by close to 10 per cent year-on-year.  The economy is now in the midst of its worst recession in over 70 years.  Once Latin America’s most wealthy country, Venezuela hasn’t published Gross domestic product figures since the third quarter of last year, and no inflation numbers since December 2014.

The international monetary and financial system: Its Achilles heel and what to do about it (Claudio Bario, The Bank fior international Settlements)  Bario, the Head of the Monetary and Economic Department at the BIS, skewers the international financial cabal for it's recurring build-up of imbalances.  Until the early 1980s the variations within the financial cycle were similar to those in the rest of the business cycle.  But over the last 30 years the magnitudes of variation in credit (the financial cycle) have grown significantly larger than those of variation in the production of goods and services (the business cycle).  And the indication for the three most recent cycles is that the fluctuations are growing increasingly larger for each succeeding cycle.  This is intuitively an unsustainable progression.  If such behavior were observed in a physical structure (such as a spring) it would be a certainty that to continue to grow in this manner would produce a broken spring as it became subjected to the limits of strength and elasticity.


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Reading Hamilton from the Left (Jacobin)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Christian Parenti, who teaches in Global Liberal Studies at New York University, has written a politically oriented analysis of the man considered the leader of the Federalists, Alexander Hamilton, and the leader of the early Democratic-Republicans, Thomas Jefferson.  An interesting review of how "big government" and "small government" were an early point of contention for the new-born country, as they remain to this day.

  • The E.R.: Do Your Generals Speak Economics? (Foreign Policy)  This article suggests that U.S. foreign policy has the wrong focus and is lacking some essential skills, especially with the military approach.  Why has the United States’ aim to do good in the world so often gone wrong? And if it has done so poorly, should it keep trying? Asking if American meddling in global affairs makes the world a better place is at the heart of this debate. But instead of debating whether the problem is that the United States uses the wrong tools or that its ambitions are too grand, maybe the question should be: What if the United States focused on creating jobs abroad rather than fighting wars?

  • American Consumers Feel Great. Europeans, Not So Much (The Wall Street Journal)  U.S. consumers are feeling pretty good about the economy. So are the Chinese. But Europeans are anxious in the wake of a migrant crisis, a new report from Nielsen shows.  U.S. consumer confidence surged in the third quarter of the year to its highest level since Nielsen began conducting its global survey a decade ago.  For more details see U.S. Consumer Confidence Soared in Q3 to a 10-Year High (Nielsen).

  • Material intensity, productivity and economic growth (Simon Baptist and Cameron Hepburn, Institute for New Economic Thinking)  Many models of economic growth exclude materials from the production function. Growing environmental pressures and resource prices suggest that this may be increasingly inappropriate. 

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