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What We Read Today 30 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:

  • America's Top Colleges for 2016

  • He Got an Economics Degree and the Was Jailed for Selling Fake Malaria Drugs

  • American Economic Association Awards for 2016

  • Economics of Resolving the Global Debt Crisis (Note:  This is a terrible article.)

  • Winners and Losers with the TPP

  • Trump Turns on the Kenyan

  • Supreme Court Struggles without Scalia

  • Syria is Calm Except for Raging War in Aleppo

  • Shiites Storm Parliament - State of Emergency in Baghdad

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The Economics Of Resolving The Global Debt Crisis (Seeking Alpha)  Econintersect:  This is one of the worst summaries of the economics of global debt we have ever seen.  The author fails to distinguish between "Keynesianism" and "monetarism" and seems to confuse the two.  The author is very selective in finding samples of "austerity" to praise, and in fact shows no indication that he has any understanding of sectoral accounting.  And those problems are just for starters.  When you read this article we recommend wearing a mouth guard to avoid grinding your teeth. 

  • Economics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Distributional impact (  This study attempts to define the winners and losers from the proposed  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.  Here is their conclusion:

As are all modern trade agreements, TPP is controversial. But recent opposition in the US has grown especially strong, with concerns focused on the economic effects of TPP on vulnerable groups. Our analysis is reassuring in this regard. The gains from TPP appear to be fairly distributed—labor will gain relative to capital, and cost reductions will favor low-income households. Some workers will need to change jobs, but they constitute a small fraction of normal job churn in any given year, and the national benefits argue for generous compensation for their adjustment costs. The agreement will also benefit workers in TPP’s poorest member countries.

Still, the distribution of gains and losses will be unequal, as is often the case for efficiency-enhancing policies and innovations. This is not an argument against TPP—the ratio of benefits to costs is highly favourable—but underscores the need to manage it. TPP crystallises a central challenge of contemporary economic life; various current labour market outcomes are unfair and, absent more effective policy responses, undermine support for economic integration even in traditionally market-oriented economies like the US.


  • Trump turns fire on Obama (The Hill)  Donald Trump is turning his fire to President Obama as he looks ahead to the general election campaign.  Trump’s foreign policy speech in Washington this week speech offered a preview of how he plans to attack Obama and the president’s former secretary of State in the fall, if Trump and Hillary Clinton win their respective party nominations.  Going after Obama is nothing new for Trump. He launched his political career by claiming Obama was born in Kenya and therefore ineligible to serve as president, an argument debunked by fact-checkers and the president’s own birth certificate.  Trump has never really stopped attacking Obama on the campaign trail, but the remarks this week still seemed like a shift given the GOP frontrunner’s crushing wins a day earlier in five East Coast primaries.

  • Supreme Court trying to find its way after Scalia (Associated Press)  Two months, 31 arguments and 18 decisions since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, is the Supreme Court hopelessly deadlocked or coping as a party of eight?  The answer varies with the issue, but arguments last week in the corruption case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell show there are high-profile cases on which justices from the left and the right agree more often than they don't.  There also is some indication, hazy though it may be, that the court is trying to avoid division in an era of stark political partisanship and during a rollicking presidential campaign.


  • Fighting rages in Aleppo amid calm in other parts of Syria (Associated Press)  The Syrian government launched new airstrikes Saturday on insurgent-held neighborhoods in Aleppo while rebels shelled government-held parts of the northern city, as a truce in other parts of the country appeared to be holding on its first day.  Contested Aleppo, Syria's largest city, one of the oldest permanently inhabited cities in the world and former commercial center, has been the scene of intense shelling and air raids, killing nearly 250 civilians over the past nine days, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


  • Iraq Declares State of Emergency as Protesters Storm Parliament (Bloomberg)  Iraq declared a state of emergency in Baghdad after supporters of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed parliament, the Interior Ministry said.  Mobile-phone video footage broadcast on Iraqi news channel al-Sharqiya showed hundreds of al-Sadr’s supporters inside the legislature on Saturday. Al-Sadr earlier on Saturday accused lawmakers of sectarianism in their selection of ministers and ordered his bloc to withdraw from the parliament session where members were preparing to finish voting on a new cabinet.

Dollar-Brazilian Real Headed in Opposite Directions (The Daily Shot)  With all the turmoil in Brazil, along with the serious recession in that country, one would think the currency would be suffering.  Not the case.  The real has been stronger than the dollar in 2016.  If currency strength is a reflection of the political and economic strength of a country, then the U.S. (by this comparison with Brazil) must be in terrible shape.


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

  • America's Top Colleges 2016 (Forbes)  The top 50 colleges are ranked in order by Forbes.  Go to article for an informative slide show.  The northeastern U.S. dominates the list, with 8 of the top 10 and California also has many on the list as well (2 of the top 10).  The Ivy League puts all 8 schools on the list (4 of the top 10) but none in the top three:  Stanford (3), Williams (2) and Pomona (1).

  • Economics Graduate Jailed 5 Years for Distribution of Fake Malaria Drugs (The Street Journal)   A graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Osita Paul Ely, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, for possession and distribution of fake anti-malaria drugs.  Osita who was arrested last year at his residence in Asaba, by operatives National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was arraigned on a seven-count charge bothering on possession, packaging, importation, labelling  and distribution of fake drugs and unregistered products.

  • American Economic Association Announces Award Recipients for 2016 (American Economics Association)

The American Economic Association Awards Results

John Bates Clark Medalist

Yuliy Sannikov, Princeton University

Distinguished Fellows

Richard B. Freeman, Harvard University
Glenn Loury, Brown University
Julio J. Rotemberg, Harvard University
Isabel V. Sawhill, The Brookings Institution

Foreign Honorary Members

Torsten Persson, Sweden
Guido Tabellini, Italy

American Economic Journal (AEJ) "Best Paper Prize"
Complimentary full-text articles are available at the web addresses referenced below.

AEJ: Applied Economics: "Legal Status and the Criminal Activity of Immigrants," by Giovanni Mastrobuoni, Paolo Pinotti 7(2), (pp. 175-206) April 2015

AEJ: Economic Policy: "Death by Market Power: Reform, Competition, and Patient Outcomes in the National Health Service," by Martin Gaynor, Rodrigo Moreno-Serra, and Carol Propper 5 (4), (pp. 134-66) November, 2013

AEJ: Macroeconomics: "Monetary Policy Surprises, Credit Costs, and Economic Activity," by Mark Gertler, Peter Karadi 7(1), (pp. 44-76) January 2015

AEJ: Microeconomics: "Nonlinear Pricing of Storable Goods," by Igal Hendel, Alessandro Lizzeri, and Nikita Roketskiy 6(3), (pp. 1-34) August 2014

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