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What We Read Today 28 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".).


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.  Today is a particular example:  The editor responsible for today's WWRT spent 4 hours not planned for in northeastern U.S. metropolitan traffic jams.  Thus the post is very late and very much abbreviated.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Surface of Mars (Reuters, MSN News)  Captivating slide show.


Why Syrian Refugees Aren't A Threat To America: The Numbers (Forbes)

Here are a few powerful statistics. Only 2 percent of Syrian refugees admitted to America are males of military age. 50 percent are children, and 25 percent are above the age of 65, according to the the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 

There are very few Syrian refugees in the United States. Since Oct. 1 2012, a total of 2,128 of the world’s four million Syrian refugees have been resettled across the United States, with 4,900 more in the pipeline. That’s hardly the unmanageable torrent some Republicans are fearfully describing. Six of the states that are refusing to accept refugees have not had a single refugee settle there since 2012.

For comparison, the U.S. State Department issues visas to tens of thousands of tourists and students each year. They go through some security checks, but they avoid the stringent refugee screening process.

It takes at least four years for refugees to be approved to enter the U.S.. The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) puts refugees through its own two-year screening process before referring them to the U.S.. The American screening process takes about another two years as well.



Another Sign ofSlowing Markets -New Home Sales are Down (Michael Yardley's Property Update)

New Home sales

Two in Three Adults Worldwide Are Financially Illiterate (Gallup)  Women fall short of the dismal record for men.  See first graph below.  In results from Standard & Poor's Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey of more than 150,000 adults in 148 countries in 2014, respondents were considered financially literate if they were able to correctly answer questions about three of four concepts.   Adults were tested on their knowledge of four basic financial concepts: risk diversification, inflation, numeracy and compound interest.  Among the world's largest economies with democratic systems of government, also known as the G7, Italy had the lowest financial literacy rate (37%), while Canadians were the most literate (68%).  Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adults overall are financially literate, with the U.S. ranking 14th in the world in financial literacy. U.S. adults have a relatively weak understanding of compound interest, the survey found. Even among those who have a credit card or who finance their homes, one-third of respondents could not correctly answer the compound interest questions.  The gender gap is pronounced in the U.S., for example, where men's financial literacy is 10 points higher than American women's. In addition to these divides, the U.S. also suffers from large financial literacy gaps by income and education.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Meal Kit Start-Ups Have The Economics All Wrong (Forbes)  Adam Ozimek doesn't think a new idea in meal delivery will work.  Econintersect:  Our own shopper/homemaker/gourmet cook reference guesses Prof. Ozimek may not do much shopping and meal preparation.  The "grocery" delivery service of companies like Blue Apron and Purple Carrot provide delivery of pre-apportioned ingredients for gourmet meals at a lower price than obtainable from local groceries, with much less waste and with a range of specialty seasonings and ingredients often not readily obtainable locally.  But here is Adam Ozimek's take:  

One of the more interesting business models coming out of Silicon Valley is “meal kit deliveries”. This is where companies like Blue Apron and Plated come up with a meal idea, pre-measure all the ingredients, and mail it to you as a subscription service. There seems to be a general demand for this kind of service, so I think it succeeds in that regard. But I think the economics of it won’t work in the long-run.

The short explanation is this: incumbent grocery stores and restaurants have huge competitive advantages in being the providers of meal kits. The problem a start-up needs to solve is creating the platform for these providers.

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