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What We Read Today 05 April 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:

  • Medicare and Medicaid is Not the Largest Government Healthcare Cost for People under 65

  • Wireless Chargers for EVs

  • Tesla Model 3

  • Iceland Government Falls over Panama Papers

  • More About the Panama Papers Hidden Wealth Story

  • California and New York Approve $15 Minimum Wage

  • Germans Told:  Don't Wave at Obama

  • How Trump Would Make Mexico Pay for the Wall

  • Cutting Food Stamps Encourages Unemployment

  • Time to Sell Stocks?

  • U.S. Kills Another Jihad Leader

  • Suicide Bombers Across Iraq

  • High Pollution from Tesla Autos?

  • McDonald's "Explodes" into China

  • And More

Note:  Due to a technical problem this column was not published yesterday.  Content from yesterday's unpublished column, which was not time sensitive, has been included today.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

“[T]he leak is not likely to significantly impact the offshore wealth management sector. Offshore wealth managers have been dealing with the decline in client anonymity for quite some time, and the Panama Papers are simply the biggest leak to date. Ever since automatic disclosure became the standard in the wake of the financial crisis, the industry has been transitioning away from client anonymity as an impetus for investing offshore.”

  • The Panama Papers and the Virtual Berlin Wall (Dave Gonigan, 5 Min. Forecast)  11 mil​lion documents have been leaked from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca — spilling the beans on offshore tax evasion worldwide from the 1970s up to the present day. The identity of the leaker, for now, is a secret.  According to the BBC, “The documents show 12 current or former heads of state and at least 60 people linked to current or former world leaders in the data.”  While this may appear have been motivated by a desire to expose corruption, this piece suggests a different motive, to remove all money transactions to electronic form:

We can’t prove it — not yet anyway — but we suspect the “Panama Papers” are the work of someone in the global power structure firing an intercontinental ballistic missile in the war on cash.

U.S.

  • California, New York enact US-highest $15 minimum wages (Associated Press)   California and New York acted Monday to gradually push their statewide minimum wages to $15 an hour — the highest in the nation — as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders again seized on wage disparity and the plight of the working poor as a defining issue in the presidential race.  Clinton joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he signed the law that will gradually boost that state's pay rate and she predicted the movement will "sweep our country".  In a statement, Sanders said his campaign is about building on the steps in California and New York "so that everyone in this country can enjoy the dignity and basic economic security that comes from a living wage".

  • Mississippi Guv Signs Anti-LGBT Bill (The Daily Beast)  Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill into law Tuesday that will allow for discriminaton against LGBT residents. Under the guise of “religious liberty”, the law would allow business and government workers to deny services if providing them would violate their personal religious beliefs. “The bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state state under federal or state laws,” Bryant said. The Mississippi Economic Council has already condemned the bill:

As the State Chamber of Commerce for a state that has proven its hospitable and business-friendly approach, MEC opposes efforts that would intentionally or unintentionally prevent Mississippi businesses from implementing and enforcing non-discrimination policies or that would limit diversity and inclusion impacting their customers and employees.”

  • Director/ Treasurer of Non-Profits Admits to Stealing over $2 Million (The United States Attorney's Office District of Maryland)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Michael Parry, age 58, of Windermere, Florida pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering.  He fabricated documents to conceal fraudulent transfers of money from the American Registry of Pathology over a four year period.  Econintersect:  We believe this sort of thing happens all too frequently.  Other schemes we have observed include residential construction paid for by a non-profit employer and tuition paid for in the disguise of non-profit donation to a college. 

  • The “let ’em starve” solution to poverty (Roger Malcolm Mitchell, Monetary Sovereignty)  RMM contributes to GEI.  This article explains why the stringent income limits (below the poverty line) for food stamp eligibility not only create food shortages for the needy but also serve as a strong disincentive to work, train for getting a job or even looking for a job.

  • One of the best signals in the stock market is saying it may be time to sell (Business Insider)  An indicator that has been quite accurate recently is flashing "sell" again.

time-to-sell

Germany

  • Germans asked not to wave at Barack Obama during his visit to Hannover trade show (The Independent, MSN News)  People in Germany have been warned to stay away from their windows and to refrain from waving during Barack Obama’s visit later this month.  Along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the US President will be in Germany to open Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology, at a ceremony on the evening of 24 April at the Hannover Congress Centrum (HCC).  People in windows are considered a security risk with the current high alert state in Europe.

Iceland

  • Panama Papers Bring Down Iceland’s Gov’t (The Daly Beast)  Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigned from office Tuesday, two days after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm that handles offshore financial accounts showed his previously undisclosed investments. The documents allegedly show that he and his wife own a tax haven-based company with millions in holdings on some of the country’s collapsed banks. The new head of Gunnlaugsson’s party announced the news in a hastily arranged press conference in Reykjavik a day after 22,000 protesters (3% of the county's population) gathered outside parliament to call for the prime minister to step down.

Syria

  • U.S. behind strike that killed Nusra Front's Abu Firas: officials (Reuters)  The United States has carried out an air strike in Syria that killed a prominent leader of al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front, Abu Firas al-Suri, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday.  Islamist rebel sources said Abu Firas, who was a former Syrian army officer discharged in the late 1970s because of his Islamist leanings, was a founding member of the militant group and had fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s.  He was a senior member of Nusra Front's policy-making Shura Council.

Iraq

  • Iraq: Bomb attacks 'kill at least 25' across the country (BBC News)   At least 25 people have been killed and dozens wounded in bomb attacks across Iraq.  As many as 10 suicide bombers carried out the attacks, which reportedly targeted members of the security forces and allied Shia Muslim militias.  The Islamic State (IS) group, which holds territory in the north and west, said it was behind some of the attacks carried out in the southern city of Basra, Baghdad and Mashada, north of the capital.  In the deadliest attack, at least 14 people were killed when a bomber blew himself up in a restaurant.

Singapore

  • Questioning electric vehicles' green cred (BBC News)  a Tesla owner got a rude shock when he went to import his vehicle into Singapore — the first person to do so. Instead of an expected rebate of around S$15,000 (US$10,800) he received a fine of the same amount for being a gross polluter. The Tesla Model S is a 100% electric vehicle. It does not have an exhaust to emit from.  Singapore taxed the vehicle based on the pollution produced to generate the electricity used by the car when generated by the city-state's fossil fuel plants.  The tax is questioned,however, because the government used a fuel consumption per km more than 240% of the Tesla spec for the vehicle.

China

  • McDonald's Hits Record High, Expands in China (MCD) (Investopedia)  McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD) shares changed hands for $126.94 last Thursday, an all-time high for the stock. Before this week, the stock's record high was $125.25, reached on May 30, 1972. (According to Yahoo! Finance, the stock closed at a mere $0.80 cents that day, adjusting for splits and dividends.)  Thursday also marked a geographic transition for the company, with China becoming the fast food giant's second-largest market. The Wall Street Journal reports that McDonald's plans to open over 1,000 locations in the country over the next five years.

mcd.1970.2016.apr.01

Mexico

  • Donald Trump would 'cut off cash to Mexico' to pay for border wall (BBC News) Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump has said he would stop cash sent home by Mexicans based in the US, until the country pays for a border wall.  The prospect of losing a vital source of income would force Mexico into a "one-time payment" of $5-10 billion, says Mr Trump.  U.S. President Barack Obama said the plan was "half-baked" and unworkable.

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

  • How To Invest Your Money In 2nd Quarter: 9 Top Blue-Chip Stock Buys From The Pros (Ky Trang Ho, Forbes)  KTH has contributed to GEI.  A panel of 9 financial analysts and advisors each give their read on the stock market and share their top blue-chip buy recommendation.  Among the picks:  Perrigo Company (NASDAQ:PRGO), Cerner (NASDAQ:CERN) and CME Group (NYSE:CME).

  • Consumer-ready wireless charger for EVs inches closer (gizmag)  Electric cars may nit need a plug.  Even if we can't quite expect every manhole or green lane to extend our range just yet, a team at Oak Ridge Laboratories believes it has come close to creating a wireless car charging system efficient enough to broaden the appeal of electric vehicles.  At the very least you will be able to park your car over a charging pad and come back later (maybe quite soon, like a few minutes) to a fully recharged vehicle.  At the best you will charge while driving on specially equipped lanes on streets and highways.  And payment for recharging may be automatic, as well, like toll payments with EZ-Pass.

  • Employer-sponsored health insurance to cost the U.S. $266 billion in 2016 (Employee Benefit Adviser)  What is the largest government cost for healthcare for people under age 65?  Most will guess Medicare and Medicaid.  But that is not true.  According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the largest cost is the tax benefits for employer provided healthcare coverage.

The report estimates that in 2016 the federal subsides, taxes and penalties associated with health insurance coverage will result in a net subsidy of $660 billion, or 3.6% of the United States’ gross domestic product. The amount is expected to rise at an annual rate of 5.4%, reaching $1.1 trillion, or 4.1% of GDP, by 2026. Between 2017 and 2026, the CBO expects the government to subsidize the under-65 group to the tune of $8.9 trillion.

Most premiums for employer-based coverage are excluded from income and payroll taxes, and these tax breaks will amount to a total of $3.6 trillion or 40% of the total net subsidy.

us.health.coverage

  • Capitalism will eat democracy -- unless we speak up (YouTube)  Ted Talk by Yanis Varoufakis asserts that the growing conflicts arising from increasing income and wealth inequality have two possible resolutions, one dystopian and the other utopian.  Which outcome results will be determined by the political direction of major world governments.  Varoufakis says the dystopian outcome will result from a continuation of the trend toward autocracy; the utopian can result from a strengthening of democracy.

  


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