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What We Read Today 12 January 2016

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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The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here

Today’s topics include:

  • Peak Energy and the Debt Supercycle

  • Oil Price Steadies then Falls

  • Capitalism as an Extension of Feudalism

  • UK Industrial Output Falls Sharply

  • Germany to Speed Deportations

  • Turkey Suicide Bomber

  • Best and Worst Mutual Funds of 2015

  • Stocks in Bubbles

  • Olive Oil Fraud

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Oil steadies around $32 as investors book profits (Reuters)   This was a morning report - see next article.   Crude oil steadied at around $32 per barrel on Tuesday morning, recovering slightly as investors booked profits after it fell to a near 12-year low on concerns about oversupply and fragile demand from China.  Analysts at Barclays, Macquarie, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale all cut their 2016 oil forecasts this week, with Standard Chartered saying oil could fall as low as $10 per barrel.  Oil has been dragged lower by a glut, China's weakening economy and stock market turmoil, as well as the strong dollar, which makes it more expensive for those using other currencies to buy oil.  Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 fell to a low of $30.43 per barrel, a level last seen in April 2004, before recovering to $32.05.  Analysts said the bounce was likely to be short lived as investors booked profits.  Follow oil and all market news three times daily at GEI Live Market Commentary by Gary.

  • Crude Falls Below $30 a Barrel for the First Time in 12 Years (Bloomberg)

  • The New Nature (Boston Review)   Jedediah Purdy has a question:  Today, in the Anthropocene epoch, it is impossible to divorce nature from human influence. But can that influence be made democratic?  He is skeptical.  For one reason he sees nature as "not egalitarian, peaceful, or loving in any of the ways we care about".  And for another, he thinks that "capitalism, in allowing for large scale private ownership, is a continuation of feudalism" and not organized for democratic action.  This is a very well written essay - a definite must read.


  • The Big Thing Obama Probably Won't Do In His Last SOTU Speech (The Huffington Post)  Every year since 2012, campaign finance reform advocates have cautiously anticipated whether President Barack Obama would use his State of the Union address to announce an executive order requiring the disclosure of some of the “dark money” funding campaigns. Each time, he has declined to do so.  This year should prove no exception.


  • UK industrial output suffers sharpest fall since early 2013 (Reuters)  British industrial output suffered its sharpest fall in almost two years in November and retail spending disappointed over Christmas, denting hopes that the economy bounced back from a mid-year slowdown at the end of 2015.  Sterling fell to a 5-1/2-year low against the dollar after industrial production dropped unexpectedly as unusually mild weather curbed demand for heating gas and factory output contracted for a second month in a row.  The 0.7% month-on-month fall in production was the steepest since January 2013, official statisticians said.


  • Germany to speed up deportations after Cologne attacks (Reuters)   German ministers outlined plans on Tuesday to speed up the deportation of foreigners who commit crimes, responding to sexual attacks on women by migrants in Cologne which have deepened doubts about the country's open-door refugee policy.  The assaults on New Year's Eve, which are the subject of an ongoing investigation, have emboldened right-wing groups and unsettled members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, raising pressure on her to crack down forcefully on migrants who commit crimes.  Under plans unveiled by conservative Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Social Democrat (SPD) Justice Minister Heiko Maas, foreigners who are found guilty of committing physical and sexual assaults, resisting police or damaging property, could be deported.  Under current law, most of these crimes carry probationary sentences and do not trigger expulsion.


  • Suicide bomber kills 10 people, mainly Germans, in Istanbul (Reuters)   A suicide bomber thought to have crossed recently from Syria killed at least 10 people, most of them German tourists, in Istanbul's historic heart on Tuesday, in an attack Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed on Islamic State.  All of those killed in Sultanahmet square, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia - major tourist sites in the centre of one of the world's most visited cities - were foreigners, Davutoglu said. A senior Turkish official said nine were German, while Peru's foreign ministry said a Peruvian man also died.

2016: Oil Limits And The End Of The Debt Supercycle (Gail Tverberg, Oil Pro)  GT has contributed to GEI.  Gail says that most people do not recognize the close linkage between seven factors:

  1. Growth in debt

  2. Growth in the economy

  3. Growth in cheap-to-extract energy supplies

  4. Inflation in the cost of producing commodities

  5. Growth in asset prices, such as the price of shares of stock and of farmland

  6. Growth in wages of non-elite workers

  7. Population growth

She sees this linkage about to cause a very substantial economic disruption.  Here are some of her great illustratuve charts:






Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • The 10 Best and Worst Performing Funds of 2015 (Wealth Management)   You hear time and time again that investors shouldn’t chase performance. But a recent Morningstar study found that top performing funds in the previous year do, in fact, continue to benefit over the next year.  So which mutual funds did the best or the worst in 2015?  Here are the ten best and the ten worst,  The very best?  ProFunds UltraShort Latin America Fund (+87%).  The very worst?  ProFunds UltraLatin America Fund (-62%).  Second best and worse?   Catalyst Macro Strategy Fund (+50%) and Direxion Monthly Latin America Bull 2x Fund (-58%).

  • Stocks With Bubbles That Could Burst in 2016 (Investopedia)  One is a 50-bagger (up about 50x in the past three years):  Anacor Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ANAC), which was just above $3 in early 2013 and hit a high above $150 in July 2015.  It is trading near $91 today.  So $20,000 invested in early 2013 could have made you a one-stock millionaire.  And holding on to the stock until now could have lost more than 1/3 of that million.


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