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".).
Deep freeze grips U.S. northeast, triggers fatal 50-car pileup (Reuters) A dangerous cold snap bringing life-threatening cold was settling in across the northeastern United States on Saturday and a snow squall triggered a pileup of dozens of vehicles on a Pennsylvania highway that left several people dead. Officials warned people to stay indoors away from what the National Weather Service described as "life threatening" cold. Wind chill advisories were in effect over parts of nine states extending from northern Pennsylvania to western Maine, with forecasters expecting gusts up to 45 miles per hour (72 kph). In Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg a brief snowsquall triggered a pileup of more than 50 cars and trucks, shutting an interstate highway.
21st Century US 'dustbowl' risk assessed (BBC News) US scientists have modelled how a 1930s-like "dustbowl" drought might impact American agriculture today, and found it to be just as damaging. But the research shows the effects to be very sensitive to temperature, meaning the potential losses would be far worse later this century if Earth's climate heats up as expected. A repeat of 1930s weather today would lead to a 40% loss in maize production. In a 2-degree warmer world, it becomes a 65% reduction, the team projects. Although the extreme low rainfall pattern of the 1930s is unlikely to be repeated, higher temperatures could offset more rainfall.
Donald Trump Might Be Able to Sue Ted Cruz, Legal Experts Say (Time) Does Trump really have grounds to sue Cruz for not being a natural born citizen? According to some legal experts, the answer is yes, but they’re divided on how a court would handle such a claim. The real estate mogul has previously raised questions about whether Cruz’s Canadian birth disqualifies him from being considered a natural born citizen, warning that Democrats might file a lawsuit to dispute Cruz’s presidential eligibility. Some voters have already filed suits against Cruz, but experts tend to agree that a suit filed by a rival candidate, such as Trump, would hold more weight.
Oklahoma hit by its third-strongest earthquake ever: USGS(Reuters) Oklahoma was struck by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on Saturday morning, the third-strongest quake ever recorded in the state, which has experienced a surge in seismic activity in recent years, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The quake at 11:07 a.m. local time (1707 GMT) was followed by several aftershocks in the next 90 minutes, including one with a magnitude of 3.9, the USGS said. The first quake was felt from Kansas City, Missouri, to Dallas, Texas, but no damages or injuries were reported. Oil fields have boomed in Oklahoma over the past decade thanks to advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, and seismologists have said the state's frequent earthquakes may be linked to disposal wells that inject saltwater, a natural byproduct of oil and gas work, into deep underground caverns. Earthquakes in Oklahoma in January led to calls for the governor to make changes to oil and gas drilling regulations. Saturday's quake was centered about 95 miles (153 km) northwest of Oklahoma City, and at an estimated depth of 4 miles (7 km), the USGS said.
Constant Tide of Migrants at Sea, and at Turkish Cemetery (The New York Times) As NATO dispatches warships to the Aegean Sea in a new effort to contain the flow of refugees coming through Turkey and on to Europe, the deaths keep piling up: at least 400 so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Already in 2016, more than 76,000 people — nearly 3,000 a day — have arrived in Greece from Turkey. Increased patrols by the Turkish coast guard, plummeting temperatures and stormy seas — all factors that officials believed would lead to fewer crossings — have seemed to have little effect on the numbers. If anything, there has been a surge in departures in recent weeks - 3,000 per day equates to almost 1.1 million for an entire year, almost as much as the nearly 1.3 million in 2015. See BBC News article under EU, above. But the flow so far in 2016 is nearly 10x the number for the same period last year.
Rescue Efforts End in Taiwanese City Struck by Quake (The New York Times) Rescue efforts ended on Saturday at the site of a 17-story apartment complex in Tainan, in southwestern Taiwan that collapsed in an earthquake a week ago, as search crews pulled the last of 114 bodies from the rubble. The magnitude 6.4 quake struck on Feb. 6; nearly all the deaths were at the Wei-Guan Golden Dragon building, only two other people died elsewhere. The police have arrested the building’s developer and two associates, and they have been charged with criminal business misconduct resulting in fatalities, a specific manslaughter charge under Taiwanese law. They have not yet entered pleas. One person, a homeless woman last seen near the collapsed apartment building, remains missing.
Pope Francis speaks out against corruption in Mexico (Al Jazeera) Pope Francis launched a broadside against endemic corruption on his first visit to Mexico as pontiff on Saturday, calling on President Enrique Peña Nieto and his government to combat it. Corruption is deeply ingrained in Mexico, and Peña Nieto, his wife and finance minister have all been embroiled in conflict-of-interest scandals involving homes purchased from government contractors. Drug-trafficking gangs have infiltrated police forces across the country, and more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug violence over the last decade. Some 26,000 are missing. The Pope said Mexico's leaders have a 'particular duty' to move past corruption and violence and work for the collective good.
Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea
Wall St. Whistle-Blowers, Often Scorned, Get New Support (The New York Times) Nice write-up about the new group, Bank Whistleblowers' United which has the objective of supporting bank whistleblowers who, until now have almost universally been ignored, hushed up with campaigns of discredit and fired. For more see GEI articles:
Hey Joe, Banks Can't Lend Out Reserves (Steve Keen, Forbes) Econintersect: This is the most important short article on Money and Banking you can read today. We will post a discussion of this as a standalone article right away.
Bernie Sanders: Keynesian on Steroids (Gary North's Specific Answers) Hat tip to John O'Donnell. This commentary by a conservative economist says that Bernie Sanders' "Democratic Socialism" is far from what he would call "socialism". Here are some of North's own words:
In other words, from what we can see from Bernie Sanders' campaign rhetoric, he is simply another version of what we have had in the United States ever since the end of World War II. I call it Keynesianism on steroids.
I realize that he calls himself a socialist. I also realize that virtually every Keynesian calls himself a capitalist.
We are not seeing a wave of socialism in the United States. We are just seeing Keynesianism on steroids. If Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama could not reverse inequality, and if Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal Congress could not do it, and if Lyndon Johnson in fact reduced top marginal tax rates, then where is there a wave of socialism in America? When are we going to see the rich put in their place?
It is all rhetoric. There is not any substance to any of it. Americans don't want socialism, and they never have. The kids may use the rhetoric, just as Bernie Sanders uses the rhetoric, but there has never been a serious socialist movement in the United States. There has never been a time when even 10% of the voters were socialists, as defined by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
It is time to stop the hand-wringing. We have bipartisan Keynesianism in this country, and we have it in all Western countries. But Keynesians rarely call themselves socialists. They think of themselves as capitalists. They just want the state to tinker at the edges of the economic order. They want marginal changes in tax rates, which they rarely get. They want marginal revisions of banking laws, which they get, but nothing much changes. They just want to be reelected. The American public is not on the verge of implementing nine of the 10 points of The Communist Manifesto. The 10th point, on public education, the voters have believed in since at least 1900. There is nothing revolutionary about this.
We need to keep things in perspective. There is no socialist wave in America. If we are talking about defenders of the government ownership of the means of production, we are shadowboxing with ghosts. They do not exist in the United States. You cannot find them in the public school systems. You never could.
Keynesianism’s Long March into History’s Dustbin (Gary North, The Tea Party Economist) Hat tip to John O'Donnell. This article makes a metaphorical connection between the fall of Babylon and the end of Keynesian economics, which Dr. North sees at hand.
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