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What We Read Today 29 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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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.  TGoday the post is abbreviated due to an unanticipated two hours delay on I-95 in Virginia - a 5 hour trip took 7 hours.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Is there an economic case for tackling climate change? (BBC News)   What is the economic case for tackling climate change? And if that case can be made, what's the best way of going about it?  And, yes, this is all based on the assumptions that policy makers are taking with them to the Paris conference: that the climate is warming due at least partly to human activity and it is possible to slow or halt that process.  Economists have been wrestling with the question since at least the early 1980s.  The approach most often adopted is to treat the problem rather like an investment appraisal, to do a cost-benefit analysis - though this method has its critics even among economists.

  • Economics of climate change (The Financial Express)  The underlying question is: what can economists do in this global debate about climate change and how to deal with it?  One approach, the process of reducing emissions, is known as mitigation - implying taking actions to reduce emission of CO2 or other GHG emissions.  This essentially means two things: a) reducing economic activities so that we use less energy or b) switching to cleaner energy to produce goods and services.  There is another process which is called adaptation. It is strongly advocated by activists who work with the poor people throughout the world in order to reduce poverty.  They realize that it is the poor people who are mostly dependent on nature or who cannot take sufficient preventive measures to control the environment surrounding them. So the poor are affected by any abrupt changes in the climate.  They become victims of a perpetual cycle of poverty.   They, therefore, need additional support.  This is known as adaptation.  This is where economists can make meaningful contributions as to the relative merits of the two approaches or possibly combinations of the two.


  • Clicks Defeat Bricks During U.S. Retailers' Black Friday Weekend (Bloomberg)   Online shoppers outnumbered their brick-and-mortar counterparts during U.S. retailers’ pivotal Black Friday weekend, underscoring the challenges facing American malls this holiday season.  More than 103 million people shopped online over the four-day weekend, which started Thursday on Thanksgiving, according to an annual survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation. That compares with fewer than 102 million who ventured into traditional stores, the trade group said.



The Economics of Solar, Storage and Solar-Plus-Storage (Micah Sussman and Josh Lutton, Green Tech Media)  Exploring the value and economics of solar-plus-storage in commercial buildings in California, New York and Hawaii reveals that solar and storage are strongly synergistic in all three markets.  In both our office building and factory cases, paired solar and storage more effectively reduce demand than either solar or storage alone. How is this possible? Figures 6A through 6D explain.  Econintersect Notes:  There is no graph for solar plus storge on a sunny day, for which the benefit of supply-demand leveling is obvious without the need for graphical illustration.  BTW, solar panels work on cloudy days, just at a lower output - compare Fig. 6A with 6B.  The final graph below shows the NPV (net present value) and IRR (internal rate of return) calculated for both factory and office building installations in New York.  The factory calculations include no utility or tax credit factors, while the office buiding calculations include the current federal tax credit for solar installations.  The double digit internal rates of return are extremely attractive.




Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Months ago, Rupert Murdoch bought National Geographic and fired most of writers. This just hit the stands. (Historical Pics, Twitter)  Hat tip to rjs.  Has the world come to an end?

  • Real World Economics: Let's give thanks for a history of growth (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)  Our nation has a long history of rising living standards due both to greater use of economic resources -- land, labor and capital -- and to increases in the efficiency with which basic resources are combined. Yes, the current rate of increase of levels of living is less than it was in such high-growth periods as the last third of the 1800s, the 1920s, the three decades immediately after World War II -- or even the 1990s. It is better, however, to have some economic growth than none at all.

  • 1936 And All That — Hayek’s Copernican Revolution in Economics (Taking Hayek Seriously)  When Hayek was working on the problem of integrating the logic of marginal valuation into the explanation of business cycle fluctuations, while at the same time vindicating the scientific status of this endeavor, what Hayek ran into was the fact that deviations from economic coordination seem by necessity to be the produce of systematically misleading price signals, patterns outside of a perfectly coordinated system of marginal valuation mapped by a pure logic of choice. 

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