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What We Read Today 16 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".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

To become a GEI Member simply subscribe to our FREE daily newsletter.

Topics today include:

  • What Might Happen Tomoorow at OPEC Meeting in Doha?

  • Latest on Mounting Death, Injury and Destruction from Multiple Earthquakes in Southern Japan 

  • How to Minimize State and Local Taxes

  • The American Prophet Who Predicted Trump

  • Trump's Path to Clinch Nomination Before Convention

  • Damaging Economics of School Choice

  • Research Needed on Economics of Climate Change

  • TripAdvisor Does Increase Travel, Report Says

  • G-20 Threatens Action Against Tax Havens

  • Investment Banks Keep Cutting and Losing Revenue

  • Everybody Ganging Up on Donald Trump

  • Iran Wants its Money

  • South Africa Needs New Economic Curriculum

  • Americans Happy at Home, Unhappy with Washington

  • And More

NOTICE:  Due to a processing timing error, What We Read Today did not appear in yesterday's newsletter.  Content from that post has been added to today's article.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • G-20 Threatens Penalties on Tax Havens After Panama Papers(Bloomberg)   Group of 20 economies threatened to penalize havens that don’t share information on their banking clients after the leak of the Panama Papers provoked a global uproar over tax evasion.  The G-20 will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and jurisdictions that don’t commit to an international standard requiring the exchange of information about account holders, the group’s finance ministers and central bankers said Friday in a statement after meeting in Washington.  The group said it would work with the OECD to come up with criteria for identifying “non-cooperative jurisdictions” by July, adding that improving the transparency on who controls legal tax entities is vital to the international financial system.


  • The American Prophet Who Predicted Trump (The Daily Beast)  Whether or not Donald Trump knows it, he’s running his presidential campaign out of Eric Hoffer’s playbook.  That would be The True Believer, published 65 years ago this spring, a book about mass movements. Hoffer’s big insight was that the followers of Nazism and Communism were essentially the same sort of true believers, the most zealous acolytes of religious, nationalist, and other mass movements throughout history. In 1951, it was stunning to Americans to be told that ultra-right-wing Nazis and ultra-left-wing Communists—their recent enemies of World War II and current enemies in the Cold War—were, according to Hoffer, cut from the same cloth.  Hofler explained:

“All mass movements irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance.”

  • Hope Springs From Goldman Sachs Cuts (Bloomberg)  Goldman Sachs continues to try to "cut" its way to a better future with cutting more deeply.  And as the cuts accumulate, the results are reflected in the weakness afflicting investment banking, with analysts estimating first-quarter revenue between a fifth and a quarter lower than last year.

  • Former TV 'Apprentices' say Trump unfit for White House (Reuters)  A group of former contestants on Donald Trump's reality television show "The Apprentice" put their old boss in the hot seat on Friday, saying the U.S. Republican front-runner had widened racial divisions and should not be president.  Trump's one-time admirers, most from racial minorities, urged the New York billionaire to tamp down his divisive rhetoric as he campaigns to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama in a Nov. 8 election.

  • Ted Cruz Says He Can Woo Trump's Supporters (Bloomberg)  Ted Cruz has a message for Republican delegates: I can win over Donald Trump's supporters even if I don't win over Trump himself.

  • How Trump can lock up GOP nomination before the convention (Associated Press)  This article outlines the path that make it still possible for Donald Trump to clinch the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7. His path is narrow and perilous. But it's plausible and starts with a big victory Tuesday in his home state New York primary.  Trump is the only candidate with a realistic chance of reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the July convention in Cleveland. His rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, can only hope to stop him.  If Cruz and Kasich are successful, politicos across the country will have the summer of their dreams — a convention with an uncertain outcome. But Trump can put an end to those dreams, and he can do it without any of the 150 or so delegates who will go to the convention free to support the candidate of their choice.

  • Poll: Americans happy at home, upset with federal government (Associated Press)  An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that most Americans are happy with their friends and family, feel good about their finances and are more or less content at work. It's government, particularly the federal government, that's making them see red.


  • Migrant crisis: Pope returns from Greece with 12 migrants (BBC News)  Pope Francis has taken 12 Syrian migrants back with him to the Vatican after visiting a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.  The three families, including six children, are all Muslim and had their homes bombed during the Syrian war.  The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis wanted to "make a gesture of welcome'' to the refugees.  Thousands of migrants are now stuck on Lesbos after last month's EU-Turkey deal to try to ease the flow.  Comment from Twitter, below.



  • Iran Seeks Access to Its $100 Billion Via U.S. Financial System(Bloomberg)  Three months after a nuclear deal was implemented between Iran and western powers, the Islamic Republic has been unable to tap about $100 billion held abroad and is seeking access to the U.S. financial system to help pay its bills, Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif said.  While Iranian deposits held abroad are supposed to be accessible, Seif said Friday that European banks are worried about running afoul of U.S. regulations. He wants the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to issue guidelines encouraging European banks to be more receptive to Iran. Seif met Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Thursday on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Washington to discuss his concerns.

South Africa

  • South Africa: Economics - Time to Design a New Curriculum (All Africa)  A good essay which concludes with questions about the relevance of mainstream economics to some of the greatest challenges in South Africa, and the author would add, the world. The call to change economics curricula is a global one.


  • Death Toll From Southern Japan's Two Earthquakes Rises to 41 (Bloomberg)  The death toll from earthquakes in southern Japan reached 41 after a series of temblors struck Kyushu island overnight, including one more powerful than the quake that hit Kumamoto a day earlier.  A magnitude-7.3 quake occurred at a depth of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) at 1:25 a.m. local time Saturday in Kumamoto, causing strong vibrations across the island with a population of 13 million people. Almost 2,000 people were injured in the most recent quake, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.  Search and rescue operations are underway with about 20,000 personnel mobilized by the national government.  Evacuation has been ordered for 170,000 and 200,000 homes are without power.  Nuclear power plants in the area, recently reactivated after review and bolstering of earthquake safety, were undamaged.


  • Brazil's Rousseff: Impeachment backers 'protecting the corrupt' (BBC News)   Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has accused those backing her impeachment of condemning the innocent to protect the corrupt.  Writing in Folha de Sao Paulo, she said this was an attempted coup to replace the legitimate government.  Several lawmakers supporting her impeachment face corruption charges.  On Sunday, MPs in the lower house will vote on whether to impeach Ms Rousseff on charges of manipulating government accounts ahead of her 2014 re-election.

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

  • The Best—and Worst—States to Avoid Income Taxes (Bloomberg)  The most progressive state income tax structures are at the top of the table below.  The least progressive (most flat tax) state are at the bottom.  Note that Alabama is actually regressive, taxing the highest incomes at a lower rate than lower incomes.  So the best and worse states for income taxes depend to some extent on whether you have low or high income, although states like Hawaii and Oregon look bad for everyone and North Dakota looks good for all.  Of course the best states for income tax burden are the seven that do not have a state income tax of any kind and the two states which tax only interest and dividends.  So to minimize state and local taxes requires planning and strategy.  An example would by to take your high earned income to New Hampshire, invest only in growth stocks (or other growth ventures) that do not pay interest and dividends and live in a shack (to avoid high real estate taxes).  

Table below has two sections (upper and lower).  Each section has click to enlarge capability.


  • The Economics of Public Education in the Marketplace (Nonprofit Quarterly)  Giving parents the power to choose the schools their children attend is a key element of the nationwide effort to radically change the nature of American public education. Theoretically, a vibrant market would result in better schools replacing struggling ones, to the benefit of every child, and schools that compete will drive for efficiencies and operate at lower costs. For more than two decades, state legislatures and the U.S. government have fueled the growth of charter schools and tuition voucher programs in order to create local educational marketplaces to provide a wide range of educational options for parents to consider.  But, this author points out, there appear to be negatives not recognized in the general statement above.  See next article.

  • The Great Diversion (American Prospect)  Charter schools may or may not improve student outcomes—but they divert funds from other public schools.  This article says that the overall quality of education, at least for an extended period, is diminished as funding for elite schools diminishes funding for all other schools, based on the data derived from the Massachusetts experience.  Econintersect:  We suggest that there are two types of unregulated free markets:  (1) a laissez-faire free market with true competition; and (2) a "real" free market with information and opportunity asymmetry which often leads to the "rich get richer and the poor get poorer" outcomes.  The successful track between these two unregulated markets involves some sort of intelligent regulation. 

  • Society needs to better understand the economics of climate change, Stanford researchers say (Stanford News)  Scientists have made huge strides in understanding the physical and biological dimensions of climate change, from deciphering why climate has changed in the past to predicting how it might change in the future.  As the body of knowledge on the physical science of climate grows, a missing link is emerging: What are the economic and social consequences of changes in the climate and efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases?  In a new paper in the journal Science, a team led by Stanford professors Charles Kolstadand Marshall Burke argues that relatively low funding for social science research has contributed to a knowledge gap about what climate change means for human society. This knowledge gap, they argue, renders the large advances in natural science less useful than they could be for policymakers.  The big roadblock to conducting this research, the authors say, is lack of funding.

  • The TripAdvisor effect: Online reviews generate £2BILLION in visitor spending and influence nine million trips to UK, study claims (The Daily Mail)   TripAdvisor reviews of tourist attractions, hotels and other sites have generated £2 billion ($2.9 billion) in visitor spending in the UK, new research has claimed.  Reviews written by previous visitors to places such as London, York and Edinburgh have influenced 8.7million trips by tourists, the study said.  It claimed the £2 billion in visitor spending has helped to sustain 55,000 jobs in the travel industry.  The study analyzed 2014 domestic and international travel data from TripAdvisor.  The US-based travel website, which has repeatedly denied allegations that fake reviews can easily slip through, commissioned Oxford Economics, a global research company based in Oxford, to conduct the study on its behalf.

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