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What We Read Today 27 December 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

  • 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is the fastest movie to earn $1 billion at the box office (Business Insider)  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" just keeps making money and breaking records.  After nabbing the Christmas Day box-office record with $49.3 million, shattering the previous record of $24.6 million held by 2009's "Sherlock Holmes," with the weekend coming to the close "The Force Awakens" has grabbed another honor — becoming the record holder for the fastest movie ever to gross $1 billion globally.  The film earned $153 million this weekend, according to The Wrap. That puts it comfortably over the mark one day quicker than "Jurassic World," which did the feat in 13 days in June.

  • Here's one of the most interesting predictions for the future of bitcoin (Business Insider)  The technology underpinning bitcoin is taking on a life of its own and could soon leave the crypto-currency behind.  The crucial element in understanding all this is that while bitcoin's blockchain is the best known, it's not the only one. Blockchain is shorthand for the complex cryptography-based software underpinning the network. It regulates transactions and records who owns which bitcoins. It's faster, cheaper, and quicker than traditional payment methods.

U.S.

India

  • Economics define surprise India-Pakistan rapprochement (Kashmir Images)  Since the Mumbai attacks in 2008 several attempts to restart the stalled repprochement process have come to naught.  Relations between India and Pakistan have been dogged by the dispute over the Kashmir region, which dates back to the partition of India in 1947 after the British decided to leave. Pakistan has a long-running claim over the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. The two countries have fought three wars since independence, two of which were over Kashmir.  Nearly 1.4 billion people inhabit the two traditional South Asian rival countries alone, and with their growing economies and energy needs, and the need for newer, more diverse markets and trading opportunities, the future of the troubled region once defined by conflict may well be defined by common economic interests.  And that is the apparent basis of the new thaw between the two countries.


World Markets Weekend Update: A Holiday Rally for Most Indexes (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives dshort.com)  DS is a regular contributor to GEI.  Seven of the eight indexes on Doug's world market watch list posted gains for the holiday-shortened week, the average of the eight a respectable 1.41%. The UK's FTSE was the top performer with its 3.34% advance in four sessions. The S&P 500 finished in the second spot, up 2.76%. Japan's Nikkei was the sole loser, down 1.15%.  Here is an overlay of the eight for a sense of their comparative performance so far in 2015.

world.markets.2015.dec.25

world.markets.table.2015.dec.25

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

If federal regulators allow the proposed merger between chemical giants Dow and DuPont, it will underscore the fact that economic efficiency is not a high priority for either of the two major political parties right now. Just as with similar anti-competitive mergers in airlines, health care technology, insurance, beer brewing and many other sectors, the Dow-DuPont merger would hurt consumers in the form of higher prices.

This would not be readily apparent to many households, as much of the output of both companies is in the form of "intermediate goods," manufactured products that are sold as an input to other companies that produce "final goods" in the form they ultimately are used. Higher input prices from less competition in the chemical industry would become incorporated in higher prices of other products.

It doesn't stop here, however. Regardless of what specific products they buy, all households are hurt when monopolies are not controlled, because monopolized markets inherently use economic resources such as land, labor and capital less efficiently than competitive markets. For the same use of resources, society gets fewer goods and services to meet people's needs and wants. From the point of view of most economists, inefficiency, rather than unfairness, is the primary harm from monopolized markets.

  • Economics of solar power (Rutland Herald)  The author discusses the development of solar energy, both distributed at user sites (homes, businesses) and utility scale (solar farms) in Vermont, not the sunniest corner of the U.S.

  • Notice: We found the office cat imitating the editor responsible for today's column a little while ago.  Now we know why the column is shorter than usual.


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