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What We Read Today 22 March 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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Topics today include:

  • Shortage of U.S. Starter Homes in New Construction

  • ISIS Goes Global

  • Brussels Mayhem

  • New Information Curtain in Europe

  • Syrian Hackers

  • Muslim Problems in Mormon Country

  • Peaks in Real Profits Mean What?

  • Google Wants to Shed Robotics Arm

  • 15 Worst States for Retirement

  • 15 Best States for Retirement

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • ISIS goes global: 75 attacks in 20 countries have killed 1,280 people (CNN)   Since declaring its caliphate in June 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has conducted or inspired nearly 75 terrorist attacks in 20 countries other than Iraq and Syria, where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll; those attacks outside Iraq and Syria have killed at least 1,280 people and injured more than 1,770 others.  It can be difficult to divine the precise role that international terrorists play in this or that attack. The person who killed four U.S. Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July 2015, for example, was "motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda".  FBI Director James Comey says, though he added that it's hard to say which terrorist group motivated the killer.  Regardless, it is clear the deadly tentacles of ISIS have spread quickly, from the terrorist group's epicenter in Iraq and Syria to points around the globe.

Click for large image.


  • Morgan Stanley penalized for advisor fraud, ducks huge fine (CNBC)  Morgan Stanley faces a $35 million charge after wealth advisors were found to have engaged in fraud and breached fiduciary duty to an elderly client, according to an arbitration panel appointed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  Lawyers for Lynnda Speer, widow of Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy Speer, said Florida Morgan Stanley wealth advisors Terry McCoy and Ami Forte were responsible for unauthorized trades on Roy Speer's account. A FINRA panel on Monday determined that McCoy and Forte were guilty of elder exploitation, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, negligence and negligent supervision.  Lawyers for Speer's widow alleged that Forte manipulated the account during a yearslong affair she had with Roy Speer, who died in 2012.  The FINRA panel found for damages of more than $32.8 million and costs of more than $1.5 million, in addition to legal fees in the case, which have yet to be determined.

  • 15 Worst States for Retirement: 2016 (ThinkAdvisor)  'Worst' is in the eye of the beholder, but these states present some challenges to retirees.  WalletHub rated states based on 24 metrics in three key areas: affordability, quality of life and health care.  The northeast is the clear loser here with 7 of the 15 states, including all New England states except Maine.  Only the Southwest is absent from the list.  The three worst:  (1) Rhode Island, (2) Washington DC and (3) Hawaii.  See also next article.

  • 15 Best States for Retirement: 2016 (ThinkAdvisor)  WalletHub rated states based on 24 metrics in three key areas: affordability, quality of life and health care.  The Plains and Mountain West is the big winner with 6 of the 15, but every one of the 7 major regions of the U.S. is represented.  The top three:  (1) Florida, (2) Wyoming and (3) South Dakota. 


  • Belgium's Worst Terror Attack Ever Leaves 31 Dead in Brussels (Bloomberg)  Brussels became the latest European city to be targeted in a terrorist attack as three coordinated blasts killed at least 31, injured more than 230 and deepened the sense of crisis across the continent.  The Islamic State (ISIS) claims responsibility for the assaults, as Belgium goes back on high alert.


  • New Polish historical policy could silence Holocaust debates (Associated Press)  Poland's governing party is seeking to shape the country's future by controlling perceptions of the past.  The conservative Law and Justice party's strategy includes the use of museums, film, public television and other tools to promote certain episodes in Poland's history, like the anti-communist resistance after World War II. More controversial, though, are attempts to suppress discussion and research into painful topics, primarily Polish violence against Jews during the Nazi occupation.  Law and Justice, which since last year has wielded more power than any party in post-communist times, sees the moves as harnessing history in a mission to build a stronger nation state. President Andrzej Duda said the nation's new "historical policy offensive" aims to create a new generation of patriots and "to build up the country's position in the international space".  Econintersect:  Could we see a new curtain descend across Europe?  An information curtain?


  • Syrians Accused of Computer Hack That Prompted Stock Drop (Bloomberg)  Three Syrian men have been charged with launching high-profile cyber-attacks on U.S. institutions, including one incident that caused a more than 140-point drop on a U.S. stock market.  The trio, allegedly part of a group known as the Syrian Electronic Army, are accused of hacking into computer systems operated by Harvard University and news outlets such as the Associated Press and Thomson Reuters Corp. over a two-year period starting in 2011, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.  Econintersect:  The events reviewed here should not be considered within the current context.  These events could just be experiments that are precursors to crashing the west's entire social and economic structure via coordinated hacking.


  • Obama invokes 'future of hope' for Cuban people (BBC News)   US President Barack Obama has invoked "a future of hope" for Cuba in an unprecedented live TV address delivered from the Grand Theatre in Havana.  Mr Obama said he had come to Cuba "to bury the last remnants of the Cold War" after decades of conflict.  He told Cuban President Raul Castro that he did not need to fear a threat from the US nor from "the voice of the Cuban people".

Lawler: “Shortfall” in Single-Family Production Almost All in Moderately Sized Homes
(Bill McBride, Calculated Risk)  Multi-family housing construction has staged a healthy recovery following The Great Recession - but single-family construction has continually lagged expectations.  McBride offers two telling graphics along with data tables to drill down into the data.  The first graph shows that after a sharp dip for the recession, the average size of new houses has returned to the 45-year growth trend.  The second shows that, while large (3000 sq. ft and up) have grown significantly in number since 2010, an important factor also come from the continued decline in the number of starter (and also retirement) homes under 1600 sq. ft.



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

  • A Middle Eastern Tension Point: Pocatello, Idaho (The New York Times, MSN News)  American Universities are experiencing difficulties with Middle Eastern students.  Idaho State is a case study of how mnany of these students fail to assimilate into the campus culture, have a high incidence of cheating and experience wild lifestyles once free from "the strict cultural mores of their home countries", incompatible with the conservative Mormon community.

  • Why Alphabet Is Looking to Sell Its Robotics Unit (GOOG) (Investopedia)  Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), the parent of search giant Google, is planning to sell Boston Dynamics, its robotics subsidiary, according to a report from Bloomberg.  See Why Google Wants to Sell Its Robots: Reality Is Hard (Bloomberg).  The problem is long-term directions with no near-term revenue and Google is revising its business strategy.  

  • Peaks in Real Profit Margins (Lance Roberts, Twitter)  There can be a significant lag (when there is a bubble in stocks, for example) but the resolution of this divergence is usually (if not always) ugly.

Wisdom submitted by Steve Griffin (Pinterest)


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