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What We Read Today 06 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:

  • Wind and Solar are Crushing Fossil Fuels

  • Is Trump's Recession Warning Wrong?

  • How Money Dominates Activity of Congress

  • World Obesity Headed to 20%

  • What Does Wisconsin Mean?

  • Sanders Says 'Don't Underestimate Trump'

  • Intelligence Whistleblowers Forced Out

  • Panama Papers Threaten U.S. Pension Funds

  • European Football Offices Raided in Panama Papers Investigation

  • Panama Papers Reveals How Money Leaves China

  • Brazil May Impeach Rouseff Using a Fallacy of Composition

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • World's Obese Population Hits 641 Million (Scientific American)  There are now more overweight than underweight people globally, a study in The Lancet medical journal finds.  If current trends continue the total number of obese people will more than double over the next 9 years.  Among the world's developed countries, the U.S. has the highest obesity rate and Japan has the lowest.

U.S.

  • 5 takeaways from Wisconsin (The Hill)  Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders were the big winners on Tuesday night, easily carrying the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively, in Wisconsin.  This article says that the likelihood that Trump can gain 1,237 delegates required before the convention went down drastically after last night, not because he lost Wisconsin per se, but because of the crushing defeat.  In future primaries there may be stronger opposition sentiment among voters because of Wisconsin,  This article doesn't say that Bernie Sanders' chance of gaining the nomination improved with this victory ("Sanders lags her by more than 200 pledged delegates and his deficit among superdelegates is even greater. Absent some unprecedented political earthquake, Sanders will not be able to overcome that.") but that Hillary's prospects for the general election went down as her "achilles heel" is becoming more and more apparent:  She has limited support outside of the older age Democratic Party core.  Sanders won 29 and under with 82% and 30-44 by more than 2 to 1.  Also, independents voting in the Wisconsin Democratic primary went 70% to Sanders.  Econintersect:  If Sanders is to have a chance he will need some things that are not presently expected like winning both New York and California.  But remember that Clinton had 20 point leads in both Michigan and Wisconsin a few weeks before those primaries won by Sanders.  The unexpected has happened a number of times.

  • Clinton shifts media tactics to take on Sanders, Trump (The Hill)  Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is adopting a more aggressive media strategy as she readies for a primary showdown in New York with rival Bernie Sanders and a possible general election battle with Republican front-runner Donald Trump.   The new approach was taking shape before Clinton’s loss to Sanders in Wisconsin — the Vermont senator's sixth win in the last seven state races — and was highlighted in a round of calls Clinton made on Wednesday morning to cable news shows.

  • Sanders on Trump: 'Don't underestimate him' (The Hill)   Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Donald Trump will not be elected president, but urged people not to "underestimate" the Republican front-runner.  "He is an entertainer by and large. He did very well on television; he knows the media very, very well," Sanders said in an interview with movie director Spike Lee published in The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.  "Don't underestimate him."   Sanders said Trump knows how to manipulate the media "very effectively".

  • Flush With Cash Running on Empty - A Series of Posts on the Defense Budget (Chuck Spinney, The Blaster)  CS has contributed to GEI.  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the nightmare identified by President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address (17 Jan 1961) to the nation has arrived.  The U.S. government and every president in recent decades has been captured by the Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC).  Chuck Spinney is a former pentagon assigned military official who reveals all the backroom secrets and puts them together with what is announced to the media.

  • Intel Analysts: We Were Forced Out for Telling the Truth About Obama’s ISIS War (The Daily Beast)  Two senior intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command say the military has forced them out of their jobs because of their skeptical reporting on U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria, three sources with knowledge of their claim told The Daily Beast. It’s the first known instance of possible reprisals against CENTCOM personnel after analysts accused their bosses of manipulating intelligence reports about the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in order to paint a rosier picture of progress in the war.

  • Panama Papers Should Scare U.S. State and Local Public Pensions (Forbes)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.

Unbeknownst to most American taxpayers, U.S. state and local public pensions today are also very much at risk as a result of investing in secretive offshore companies based in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and other tax havens.

Coincidentally, certain U.S. elected politicians and politically influential Americans are known to be current and former investment managers to, as well as investors in, these offshore funds.

How much money is involved? Today approximately 25 percent of the over $5 trillion in government defined benefit plans is invested in “alternative” investments, including hedge, private equity and venture funds—many of which are organized offshore.

The additional risks related to investing in funds established, regulated and custodied in tax havens are real—indeed prominently disclosed in fund private placement offering documents. Why then have U.S. public pension officials throughout the country refused to provide these PPMs to the public, when requested under state public records laws?

Answer: because they have been persuaded by the managers of these funds that investing public retirement funds and secrecy (oil and water) somehow mix.

EU

Germany

  • Turkey, Germany herald progress as migrant flow to Greece slows (Reuters)   Turkey and Germany said on Wednesday an agreement between Ankara and the EU meant to stem the flow of migrants to the Greek islands was showing signs of success, but many were still trying to cross the sea and the route remained far from sealed off.  The accord, which came into force on Monday, aims to help end the chaotic arrival of migrants and refugees, most fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, after more than a million reached Europe last year.  The influx has threatened the EU's system of passport-free travel and prompted its executive on Wednesday to propose strengthening common asylum rules.

Switzerland

  • Panama Papers: Uefa offices searched by Swiss police (BBC News)   The offices of European football's governing body Uefa have been searched by Swiss police.  It follows the naming of ex-secretary general Gianni Infantino - now president of world governing body Fifa - in papers leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.  Meanwhile, a Fifa official also named in the papers - Juan Pedro Damiani - has resigned.  Infantino has denied wrongdoing while Uefa says it is helping police.

China

  • Panama Papers: How China's wealth is sneaked abroad (BBC News)   The leaked Mossack Fonseca documents have revealed to us how the families of China's leaders keep money offshore.  And now, a full analysis of the files by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shows that nearly one third of the firm's business came from its offices in Hong Kong and China - making China the firm's biggest market and Hong Kong the company's busiest office.

Brazil

  • Is there a solution to Brazil’s crises? (New Economic Perspectives) The political crisis has two main pillars: a) a vast corruption scandal (with evidence of a kickback scheme funneling billions of dollars from state-run firms and, more recently, in a massive data leak over possible tax evasion, Brazil politicians linked to offshore companies in Panama leaks); and b) impeachment proceedings to move forward against President Dilma Rousseff.  The argument is that the federal government borrowed money from public banks (which is forbidden by the fiscal responsibility law) to pay for social programs and  hide a growing fiscal deficit during her  campaign for re-election. . So, they argued she allegedly committed an administrative crime.  The analysis in this article concludes that the Brazilian administrative law is illogical:

The message is the following: the federal government can only borrow from private banks by issuing bonds (though technically an overdraft is not allowed even if extended by private banks).

But even in this case, they fail to recognize what a loan is, if a loan is a claim on the borrower’s assets then how is that, operationally, different from government bonds held by private or public banks? In both cases, they represent a claim on the federal government. They are promises to pay. But promises to pay what? The government’s sovereign currency. Who is the monopoly supplier of the currency? The federal government… Though there is a law that says that the federal government cannot borrow “money” from public banks, this is another example of a self-imposed constraint, it does not make sense when it is applied to a sovereign governmentlike Brazil (Rezende 2009). The root cause of this misconception is based on the fallacy of composition, that is, the failure to distinguish federal government from other units such as state and local governments, firms, and an individual household.


Wind and Solar Are Crushing Fossil Fuels (Bloomberg)   Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable.  While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.  One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).  

There are some amazing graphics in this article, a few reproduced below.

energy.new.investment

solar.prices.installations.1975.2015

solar.wind.doublings.2000.2015

coal.power.GB.1850.2015

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

  • 5 Best Small- And Mid-Cap Stocks To Buy For 2nd Quarter (Ky Trang Ho, Forbes) KTH has contributed to GEI.  Five financial advisors provide their top small- and mid-cap stock picks for the coming quarter.  The picks are in travel, medical software technology, leisure/recreation and housewares.

  • From Facebook

Calif.prisons.univ


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