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 dayin the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).
Battery power is about to deliver an electric shock to the old system: utilities will have to see the sunny side if they are to survive.
World's Most-Battered Currencies See Glimmer of Hope in 2016 (Bloomberg) The outlook is improving for some of the world’s most-battered currencies after a plunge in raw materials spurred routs from the Colombian peso to Russia’s ruble in 2015. Analysts are forecasting gains for the currencies most linked to oil even as they see more declines in store for those with stronger ties to industrial metals, such as Chile’s peso and Peru’s sol. After its worst year in more than a decade, Canada’s dollar may bounce back with crude, while the Australian and New Zealand dollars are poised for tumbles as policy makers consider interest-rate cuts to spur growth, forecasts for next year show. See also next article.
The Fed interest rate that came with the winter chill (Hurriyet Daily News) This article from Turkey says that the global collapse of capital demand and currency devaluations is not a product of Fed actions alone. The author says that, obviously, the rate hike in the U.S. will cause global resources and funds to further flow to the dollar and the U.S. This means that the dollar will again gain value against other currencies. Political and geopolitcal risks (think commodities) have reduced the attractiveness of foreign investment in many countries, which is largely independent of reaction to higher U.S. interest rates.
White officer won't face charges in killing of Cleveland boy (Associated Press) A grand jury declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was shot to death while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun, a prosecutor said Monday. Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was "indisputable" that the boy was drawing the pistol from his waistband when he was gunned down — either to hand it over to police or to show them that it wasn't real. But McGinty said there was no way for the officers on the scene to know that. Tamir was shot by Loehmann within two seconds of the officer's police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy outside a city recreation center in November 2014. Loehmann and his training partner, Frank Garmback, were responding to a 911 call about a man waving a gun. Prosecutor McGinty said Timothy Loehmann was justified in opening fire:
"Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police. He had reason to fear for his life."
The California Ranch That Takes Jerry Brown Off the Grid (The New York Times) It's been in his family for almost 150 years but California Governor Jerry Brown says: "Nobody likes the place but me." But this 2,514 northern California ranch, which is completely off the grid, may become Brown's retirement residence.
Boko Haram attacks kill scores across northeastern Nigeria (Al Jazeera) Last week Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's declared that Boko Haram has been "technically" defeated, capable of no more than suicide bombings on soft targets. In what appears to be a response, at least 50 people have been killed in northeastern Nigeria by multiple attacks involving rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bombers.
Saudi Arabia budget deficit swells on oil price fall (BBC News) Saudi Arabia's budget deficit soared to $98bn (£65.7bn) this year as the world's biggest oil exporter counted the cost of falling crude prices and rising domestic spending. In the first budget under King Salman, the kingdom said revenues reached 608bn riyals (£108.7bn; $162bn), down 15% on official expectations. Spending for the year hit 975bn riyals, some 13% more than forecast. To help make up the shortfall, the country's finance ministry said it would cut subsidies for fuel. Petrol prices could in some cases increase by as much as 50%, authorities said, although they will remain low by international standards. Diesel, electricity and water prices will also increase.
U.S. sees bearable costs, key goals met for Russia in Syria so far (Reuters) Three months into his military intervention in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved his central goal of stabilizing the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain military operations at this level for years, U.S. officials and military analysts say. That assessment comes despite public assertions by President Barack Obama and top aides that Putin has embarked on an ill-conceived mission in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it will struggle to afford and that will likely fail.
Iran Hands Over Stockpile of Enriched Uranium to Russia (The New York Times) A Russian ship left Iran on Monday carrying almost all of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium, fulfilling a major step in the nuclear deal struck last summer and, for the first time in nearly a decade, apparently leaving Iran with too little fuel to manufacture a nuclear weapon.
India Is on a Quest to Recreate a Mystical Hindu River (Bloomberg) India has an ambitious project to recreate a mystical Hindu river about 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of New Delhi. They’re digging a canal in Haryana state that will, the thinking goes, eventually run hundreds of miles through three water-parched states to the Arabian Sea. The nascent waterway has been given the green light from district development bosses, but is yet to get final environmental or planning approval. A detailed government report is being prepared and, a spokesman says, he expects clearance, and the deployment of heavy machinery, in 2016. Econintersect: It should be remembered that if one puts water where it is not it must be taken from where it once was. Ask the people around the Aral Sea. See Aral Sea's Eastern Basin Is Dry for First Time in 600 Years (National Geographic).
2015: A Banner Year for Solar Energy (EcoWatch) This year will go down as a banner year for solar energy. We expect new solarinstallations to reach a record-breaking 7.4 gigawatts (GW) by year’s end. And yet, the 2015 record is already looking like a distant memory compared to what is to come. America’s solar boom is far from busting. In fact, solar will more than triple in size from just more than 24 GW of total capacity to nearly 100 GW by 2020. By that point, there will be enough solar installed to power 20 million American homes. The more rapid growth is projected because solar companies have received and will continue to receive reliable and supportive federal policies with the extension of current 30% federal subsidies for solar installations. These allow the technology to mature, employ hundreds of thousands of American workers and pump billions of dollars in new investments into the American economy along the way.
Feeling a little warm this year? 2015 will set a record (CNBC) It'll be a few more days before it's official, but 2015 will go down in the record books as the warmest year since those books were first kept 135 years ago. CNBC supplies some excellent, data-rich interactive graphics:
Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea
Meet This Third-Generation Farmer Who Converted His 1,400 Acres to Growing Organic Food (EcoWatch) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. Klaas Martens, a third generation farmer working huge swathes of land near Penn Yan, New York, has converted his 1,400 acre farm to growing organic grains and vegetables. He is successfully countering the "Big Ag" argument that: "The only way we can produce enough food to feed the world is with artificial genetic tinkering and copious amounts of chemical inputs." He is growing what he personally would (and does) personally want to eat. Martens says:
“I really take issue with the line that so many American farmers regularly repeat about feeding the world. I always want to ask Corn Belt farmers whether they or anybody they know has ever eaten anything that they grow on their farm. The answer is almost invariably no.”
The strong economics of wind energy (The Guardian) Critics of the economy of renewable energy usually ignore the unfunded cost of pollution by fossil fuels, according to this author. He reports that wind energy and fossil fuel generated electricity have approximately the same cost without adding charges to fossil fuels for environmental damage.
Our political divisions are not simply a result of political differences. They also result from variations in the way we form our judgments.
If your uncle is a crazy political extremist, the mindset that contributes to his extremism probably influences more than just his politics.
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