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What We Read Today 22 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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Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Notice:  Because of staff vacations (1/2 of our regular staff will be on vacation from now through 02 December) the content of WWRT may vary in quantity from day to day, publication times will vary and some days may be skipped.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Emerging Markets Step Back From Abyss as Goldman Turns Bullish (Bloomberg)  Strategists at banks from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Bank of America Corp. say that developing-nation assets are bottoming out following three years of losses in currencies and stocks.  It’s not that they are likely to embark on a rally. Rather, that the mood among investors has become so depressed, even a marginal improvement in the economic outlook will be enough to shift sentiment and drive up assets such as the Mexican peso, Russian ruble bonds and Indian stocks, the analysts say.

  • Despite the terror attacks on Paris we are safer travelling now than ever before (The Independent)  Hat tip to Alun Hill.  With the disappearance of MH370, the shooting down of MH17 and the AirAsia jet that crashed in the Java Sea, wasn't 2014 the worst year ever for aviation? In fact, it was the safest.  

U.S.

  • In Wake of Terror Attacks, Trump Surges While Carson Stalls (Bloomberg)  In a slew of new polls, Trump is on top.  Trump has reclaimed the outright lead in Iowa, according to a CBS/YouGov poll released Sunday, with 30 percent support among registered Republican voters in the state. Ben Carson, who was tied with Trump in the same poll a month ago, has fallen to third place with 19 percent support, behind Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who earned 21 percent support.  And Trump is up to 32% in New Hampshire.

  • The Largest Employer in Each State (24/7 Wall St.) Wal-Mart leads in the most states(19) and the rest of the list is dominated by state university systems and health care operations.

  • Gold miners sue western states over ban of dredging equipment (Al Jazeera)  The General Mining Law of 1872 promised Americans who went west that whatever gold or other precious minerals they found would be theirs for the keeping — the main driver of the California Gold Rush that fueled the nation’s great westward expansion.  Almost 150 years later, gold miners in the west, who now prospect mostly as a hobby, are invoking the same law to sue states over moratoriums on the use of suction dredge mining equipment.  Driven by environmental concerns that these motorized vacuums disrupt salmon habitat and affect water quality, California banned the practice in 2009. Oregon will do the same starting Jan. 1, 2016.  Miners are suing both states, arguing that their moratoriums on suction dredges to sift through gravel for specks of gold violate the federal mining law.

  • Rooftop Solar Brings Higher Home Appraisals (Green Tech Media)  New research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory backs up earlier findings. The latest piece of research furthers those findings by assessing appraisals for PV homes in six markets within Oregon, California, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  The appraisal premium ranged from about 3 percent to 6 percent based on the region, with a price boost of about $10,000 to $22,000. The valuations were based upon PV homes compared against comparable non-PV homes by local appraisers.

solar.home.premiums

EU

  • EU economics commissioner says Paris attacks will not derail recovery (Reuters)  EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Saturday that last week's Islamic State attacks in Paris were unlikely to hamper an economic recovery in France and Europe, as previous attacks in Spain and Britain had not had a lasting impact.  His comments stood in contrast to those by European Central Bank Governing Council member Ignazio Visco, who said on Thursday that the Paris attacks that killed 130 people, threatened an already fragile euro zone recovery.  Econintersect:  Neither seer speaks from a base of knowledge, simply beliefs.

  • Belgium extends top threat alert for Brussels to Monday (Reuters)  Belgium said it faced a serious and imminent threat of a Paris-style attack, and kept Brussels on maximum alert on Monday as security forces searched for militants thought to be at large in the capital.  Prime Minister Charles Michel, speaking after a meeting of security chiefs called to review the threat status, said the capital's metro, universities and schools would be closed on Monday.

UK

  • Cameron to push for war with case for joining Syria air strikes (Reuters)  Prime Minister David Cameron will this week set out the case for joining air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, his finance minister said on Sunday, in a bid to persuade a parliament loath to embark on another war in the Middle East.  Britain is already bombing IS in Iraq but Cameron has said he believes Britain should be doing more to fight the militants, who claimed responsibility for this month's attacks in Paris in which 130 people died.

Germany

  • More of Tesla’s Top People in Germany Defect to Sonnenbatterie (Green Tech Media)  Last month, Tesla's head of operations in Germany, Philipp Schröder, left for competitor Sonnenbatterie to help lead that company's global expansion. And this month, Sonnenbatterie has picked up seven more leaders of Tesla's team in Germany.  Sonnenbatterie has shceduled a mayor announcement for Wednesday (25 November).  Note:  In the past Tesla has hired people away from Sonnenbatterie.

  • German coalition clash escalates as Merkel marks decade in power (Reuters)   The parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government exchanged insults at the weekend in an escalating clash over refugee policy that has left the German leader looking more vulnerable than at any time during her decade in power.  Divisions between her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) over benefits for refugees prompted coalition leaders to cancel a special cabinet meeting planned for Monday where they had hoped to agree measures to speed up the processing of asylum seekers.  But the biggest fight was within Merkel's own conservative ranks as members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lined up to condemn their Bavarian sister party for humiliating the chancellor at a congress in Munich on Friday evening.  With Merkel standing next to him, Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), openly criticised her for refusing to put a formal cap on the number of refugees entering Germany. He was cheered loudly by members of his party as Merkel stood fidgeting uncomfortably on the stage.

Syria

  • Told he must go, Syria's Assad may outlast Obama in office (Associated Press)  Bashar Assad's presidency looks likely to outlast Barack Obama's.  As the United States has turned its attention to defeating the Islamic State group, it has softened its stance on the Syrian leader. More than four years ago, Obama demanded that Assad leave power. Administration officials later said Assad did not have to step down on "Day One" of a political transition. Now, they are going further.  A peace plan agreed to last weekend by 17 nations meeting in Vienna says nothing about Assad's future, but states that "free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months."  Obama's term ends in 14 months.

China

  • China defends building projects on disputed islands (BBC News)  China has defended its construction of infrastructure on disputed islands in the South China Sea.  It said it did not intend to militarize the area and accused the US of provocations by sending a navy ship through the area last month.  The comments by a Chinese vice foreign minister came on the sidelines of the annual Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur.  China claims most of the South China Sea as its territory, but four South-East Asian states also claim parts.

 south.china.sea.territorial.limits

Argentina

  • The Latest: Exit polls project Argentine opposition vote win (Associated Press)  Exit polls are projecting that opposition candidate Mauricio Macri will win the Argentine elections.  Argentine law does not permit exit polls to release percentages until 9 p.m. local time (two hours ahead of New York time - or GMT +3). However, they are allowed to project a winner when the polls close. The exit polls are done by media companies such as C5N and Canal America.  The first initial results are not expected until later tonight.


World Markets Weekend Update: The Rally Resumes (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives)  DS is a regular contributor to GEI.  All eight indexes Doug tracks on the world markets watch list posted gains last week, some of them over three percent. This was a substantial reversal from the previous week, when only Japan's Nikkei saw a weekly gain. Germany's DAX was the top performer, up 3.84%, the UK's FTSE close behind at 3.54% and the S&P 500 at 3.27%. Even the worst performer, India's SENSEX, rose 1.01%.  Here is an overlay of the eight for a sense of their comparative performance so far in 2015.  The second chart below shows how the eight markets have fared since the turn of the century.

world.markets.2015.nov.20

world.markets.2000.2015

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Why marrying ecology and economics is essential (New Scientist)  Acknowledging the economic value of ecosystem services helps drive home that we are part of nature and have a duty to live responsibly.  Econintersect:  The environment has value (perhaps the most important value?) and any measurement of economic value that does not include global and local ecosystems is essentially valueless.  It would be like building economic models that do not include money and credit as primary variables.  Uh-oh ... that's what economists did for decades and still often try to do today.

  • The Economics of Solar, Storage and Solar-Plus-Storage (Green Tech Media)  (Econintersect Note:  We will have more on this topic in coming days.)  The NPV (net present value) of investments in solar electricity generation and energy storage investments are readily calculable.  But the systems approach can yield much better decision outcomes:

The net present values of solar-plus-storage investments are greater than the sum of the NPVs of solar investments and storage investments alone (which we looked at in an earlier post) because:

  • The combination allows for much larger demand-charge reductions than either technology can achieve on its own

  • Pairing storage with solar allows the owner of the storage system to claim the federal Investment Tax Credit on the storage system, subject to certain constraints on how the battery is charged

  • Coal economics (Lexington Herald Leader)  Last June, for the first time, natural gas generated more electricity than coal in the United States. That trend will continue, even with much higher natural gas prices, because natural gas is cheaper than coal and will remain that way.  Econintersect:  Not mentioned here is the rapidly falling price for solar electricity which will be removing demand for both gas and coal for generation going forward.

  • The naked truth about women in science (The Telegraph)  We must encourage our daughters to study traditional 'male' STEM subjects, says economist (and life model) Victoria Bateman, known as the "naked don".


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