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What We Read Today 26 February 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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Topics today include:

  • Christie Endorses Trump

  • The Trump Tax Policy and Economy

  • New Global Soccer Head

  • Electric Cars Could Decimate Oil

  • Germany Loses Track of 130k Asylum Seekers

  • Syria Cease Fire

  • Swat Teams in America

  • Economics is not a Moral Subject

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Soccer's world body elects Gianni Infantino as president (Associated Press)  Gianni Infantino, a 45-year-old potential reformer Swiss-Italian,  is the new president of soccer's corruption-scarred world governing body, winning election after promising national leaders of the sport that he would share the wealth from FIFA's $5 billion World Cup revenues.  Infantino was chosen on the second-ballot Friday to fill the unexpired term of longtime FIFA leader Sepp Blatter, who was forced out by the pressure of U.S. and Swiss investigations of bribery and corruption that emerged two days before the previous vote in May 2015.

  • Here’s How Electric Cars Will Cause the Next Oil Crisis (Bloomberg)  This was discussed in Early Bird today.  But it's here again because of the Tweet below:


  • Christie endorses Trump in stunning blow to remaining hopefuls (The Washington Post)  The endorsement could potentially recast the GOP nominating contest yet again, giving Donald Trump — already the undisputed front-runner — the weight and validation of a respected Republican executive officeholder.

  • Donald Trump Economics: Will His Presidency Make The American Economy Great Again? (International Business Times)  At Thursday's Republican debate, Donald Trump faced a rare question about the economic consequences of his policy proposals. How would he balance the books, given the massive tax cuts (see graph below) he has put forward?  This article argues that what Trump says he wants (a balanced budget) and what his professed economic plans would produce simply do not add up.  Econintersect:  If Trump seriously wants a balanced budget he doesn't understand some basic economics. Except after World War II when there was an excess build-up of private savings, balanced budgets have produced prolonged economic downturns.  That is the nature of the monetary system we have had from the inception of the country.

  • These congressional candidates got inspiration from Sanders – but little else (The Washington Post)  Sen. Bernie Sanders says his “political revolution” is about more than winning the White House. It is also about transforming Congress — which, in the past, has been happy to ignore Sanders’s proposals for universal health insurance and free college tuition.  But, in campaigns for the House and Senate, the revolution is not going well.  Of the at least 380 Sanders supporter running for Congress, very few have any chance of election.  And the Sanders campaign has endorsed some of their opponents.


  • Germany reports disappearance of 130,000 asylum seekers (BBCNews)  Germany does not know the whereabouts of 130,000 asylum seekers who were registered last year, officials say.  The migrants did not appear at reception centres to which they had been directed, the government said in a written reply to a question.  This may be because they have moved to a different country, gone underground or registered several times.  Those missing represent about 13% of about 1.1 million asylum seekers registered in Germany in 2015.


  • Russia Ramps Up Military Shipments In Syria As US Shows Signs Of Backing Down (International Business Times)  As the conflict in Syria approaches the five-year mark, the U.S. and Russia have agreed to implement a ceasefire that is set to begin Saturday morning, local time. The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Friday that backs the deal, effectively ensuring its implementation — at least on paper. It remains unclear if the ceasefire will hold, with the U.S. wary of the Kremlin’s moves and promises since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.  What is the U.S. Plan B?


  • Millions vote in Iran to shape post-sanctions era (Reuters)  Millions of Iranians voted today in high stake elections that could shift the balance of power by ushering in a comeback of reformists or help conservatives tighten their grip on power.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • WhatsApp: Facebook's Next Platinum Mine? (Facebook)   The WhatsApp acquisition was a significant milestone for Facebook because of its fast-growing mobile user base.  Now, however, the company's sights are on WhatsApp's ability to be monetized the way Facebook is.  Can this billion-user app bring in the kind of revenue that Facebook expects it to, and how?

  • The Fifth Circuit And The First Rule (Simple Justice)  Econintersect:  This story is about what we call the "swatting of America".  Read here about how a warrant for records search at a business led to the shooting death of one of the owners by a SWAT team member executing the warrant.  For more see the video below about the use of a SWAT team to carry out an eviction that was protested by 24 demonstrators - this was not in an urban ghetto but in a bucolic rural mountain town.  And the second video below about another American getting "swatted".  (Remember when swatted used to mean killing a fly?)  And, oh yes, a suit for damages by the business owner's family has been dismissed - hit the title link above for details.  See also next article.

  • The troubling rise of SWAT teams (This Week)  SWAT team use has spiked from around 3,000 strikes per year in 1980 to as many as 80,000 raids a year now. A battering ram or other forced-entry device is used in two-thirds of these raids, nearly 80 percent of which target private homes..... The great bulk of SWAT raids are in service of the drug war, though nearly four out of 10 find no contraband at all.  Econintersect:  That is an average of nearly 220 military combat raids a day on U.S. citizens and 60% find no evidence to justify them?  WTF - American exceptionalism?  Yes, but clearly the wrong way to stand out. 

  • Don’t Panic Over Falling Inflation Expectations (The Wall Street Journal)   ​Alarms are ringing over how much expected inflation has fallen in recent months. Bond markets are betting that five to 10 years from now, inflation will be roughly half the Fed’s 2% target. The University of Michigan reports on household expectations today; its last survey found long-term expectations hit an all-time low earlier this month.  This has unsettled some Federal Reserve policy makers and many outside analysts, because low expectations can be self-fulfilling. It’s fueled calls for the Fed to stop raising rates, or even cut them.  But the drop may be misleading: It is heavily driven by falling oil and gasoline prices. While inflation is too low, the reality is not nearly as bad some in the market think, and they could be in for an unpleasant surprise if oil prices stabilize or head higher.

  • Black Money – “Economics is not a moral subject” (NewsGram)  Back in 2008, when the whole world was in a financial ruckus, India was not as affected as rather seems to be the fact. Altogether the country was extraordinarily afloat throughout the whole incident and started recovering just in a year.  And all of that was the blessing of ‘black money’.  Yes, that is what the chief economist of the World Bank and former head adviser to the Indian government, Kaushik Basu claims in his new book, An Economist in the Real world.  The deal is simply that when all the nations and their banks were busy tackling the overburden of subprime loans (one that is given to people who have a previous record of difficulty in maintaining the repayment schedule) crisis. Indian almost suffered from none.  Some time back, Mr. Basu famously advised the government to criminalize the bribe-takers instead of the givers.  Econintersect:  From one narrow perspective this might be called:  Greed Graft is good.

  • Trump Wants to Undermine First Amendment (The Daily Beast)  Presidential candidate Donald Trump said Friday during a rally in Texas that he wants to "open up our libel laws so when [reporters] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money".  The GOP frontrunner suggested that when he becomes president, places like The New York Times and The Washington Post, "the most dishonest media outlets I've ever seen in my life", will pay for their unfavorable coverage of his campaign. He continued, "I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I've ever met. They're terrible."  Econintersect:  Would "The Donald" care to specify the other dishonest groups of people?  What is the difference between "dishonestesty" and "incompetence"?  Maybe we should add "ignorance" to the two characteristics just mentioned.

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