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What We Read Today 25 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".).


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Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Let Coal Die. Save Coal Country. (Bloomberg)  The decline of coal as a source of electric power is inevitable and well under way. This is a good thing, because whether measured by its effect on public health or its contribution to global warming, coal is more harmful than any other widely used source of electricity.  But this editorial says that the decline of coal must be accompanied by other forms of employment for residents of coal country.




  • Here's the most worrying sign from the latest report on Russia's recession (Business Insider)   Russia's economy saw a big contraction in 2015, though the silver lining is that the data was better-than-expected.  However, analysts at Capital Economics caution that there's also something alarming about the data: there was a slowdown in December.  Preliminary GDP data showed that the Russian economy shrank 3.7% in 2015, less than expectations for a 3.8% drop.  Additionally, analysts estimate that the economy contracted by 3.5% year-over-year in Q4, shallower than the 4.1% fall in output in Q3.  All of this sounds pretty good at first. But as Capital Economics' senior emerging markets economist William Jackson writes, "Worryingly, December's activity data ... suggest that the economy deteriorated towards the end of the fourth quarter." This means things are likely to get worse before any meaningful turnaround.


  • Trader Who Made 6,200% on China Futures Says Go Short or Get Out (Bloomberg)   Huang Weimin, the hedge fund manager whose Chinese stock-index futures wagers returned more than 6,200 percent last year, has some advice for investors in 2016: Sell your shares now, before it’s too late.  The 45-year-old former worker at a state-owned company, a virtual unknown until last year, has become a star of the Chinese futures market after a slew of timely bets on the direction of share prices propelled his Yourong Fund to the top of the country’s performance rankings. He’s carried the winning streak into 2016, returning 35% through Jan. 22 after selling stock-index futures just days before the market’s worst-ever start to a year.


  • Standard & Poor's trims growth expectation for Taiwan to 2.1% (Focus Taiwan)  U.S.-based international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) revised its forecast for Taiwan's economic growth for 2016 to 2.1%, down by 0.1% from its estimate in September 2015, according to a report published Monday by Taiwan Ratings Corp., a local partner of S&P.   S&P forecast Taiwan's economy will grow by 2.1% this year and 2.3% next year, according to the report titled "2016 Taiwan Credit Outlook: Entities Face A Rising Tide Of Challenges."

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • It’s a simple rule of economics (Arab News)  Author maintains that the common assertion that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the drop in oil prices is simply wrong.  There are many producers who are still producing all they can while Saudi Arabia pumps at less than full capacity.  The simple rule the author refers to is supply and demand.

  • Economics Of Terror (Outlook India)  Underneath its much-publicized propaganda of the destruction of Assyrian and Babylonian sites, ISIS manages a remarkably well-organized trade in the artifacts.  This, combined with oil income and taxes throughout its occupied territories on income, business revenues, and even toll taxes on the highways, makes ISIS.  With "reserves" now worth billions of dollars, ISIS is the wealthiest terror organization in history.

  • The Economic Hokum of Secular Stagnation Redux (John B. Taylor, Economics One)  The inventor of the Taylor Rule is not having any part of Larry Summers' designation of "secular stagnation".  He attributes the slow economic progress to poor policies which do not promote increased employment and production.  He says:

Two years ago I published a piece in the Wall Street Journal titled The Economic Hokum of ‘Secular Stagnation.’ I wrote it after Larry Summers presented the secular stagnation view at a joint Brookings-Hoover conference. I argued that the bout of slow growth was not secular, but rather due to recent—and entirely reversible—swings away from good economic policy.   Since then economic policy has not reversed course, economic growth has not picked up, and the economic hokum has engulfed the public intellectual world. If the past two years are any guide, the longer a policy reversal is delayed, the more that secular stagnation will appear to be real.  

  • What Squeeze: Bets Oil Will Drop Below $25 Hit Record High (Zero Hedge)  Having briefly reached bull market status (ripping 20% off last week's lows), WTI crude oil is collapsing again this morning as the reality of excess supply and dwindling demand crash on the shores of manipulated futures and ETFs. However much hope was imbued into this rally as "setting the bottom" for oil, it seems the rally was used by 'investors' to hedge the downside as bets on a bearish plunge have soared to record highs.  Bloomberg reportsbets that crude oil will retreat below $25 a barrel have reached an all-time high as stockpiles continue to grow.

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