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What We Read Today 10 May 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.

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Topics today include:

  • 50 Secrets Nurses Wish They Could Tell You

  • Scientists Measure Wind Around a Black Hole

  • "Little" Stephan Curry the First Unanimous MVP in NBA History

  • Life Expectancy Up, Health Inequality Down

  • Space-X Lands Another One

  • Do We Really Need to Know Who Satoshi Nakamoto Is?

  • Goldman Sachs:  Dollar Headed 15% Higher

  • West Virginia and Nebraska Try to Prove Primary Season is Not All Over

  • Another Think Tank Says Brexit Would Cost Brits

  • French Government Plans to Force Through Labor "Reforms"

  • Germany Hit a New High Current Account Surplus and That's a Bad Thing

  • Rousseff Goes to Court Again

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The Bank for International Settlements is unconvinced that ending the dominance of the US dollar will protect the world economic order (City A.M.)   Ending the dominance of the US dollar will not be enough to promote stability in the international monetary and financial system, a top official at the Bank for International Settlements has argued (BIS).  The BIS, often called the central bank for central banks, questioned the prevailing theory that when one currency becomes the world’s effective reserve currency - as the dollar has been for most of the 20th century - it creates inherent problems for the world’s financial order.  But the BIS says global financial instability problems are not caused by the dollar.  Moving to a basket of currencies would change little, according to Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the BIS.

  • We Need to Know Who Satoshi Nakamoto Is (The New Yorker)  The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the computer programmer who created the virtual currency bitcoin, is one of the most compelling stories in technology. In 2008, Nakamoto launched bitcoin with a white paper; in 2011, he vanished, just as the project was hitting its stride, his frequent forum posts and e-mails tapering off to silence.  Why is this important?  A bitcoin entrepreneur named Jason Weinstein told Slate:

 “At the end of the day, knowing the identity of Satoshi is about as important as knowing who created HTTP or HTML.  Every day people communicate, socialize, get information, move money, and transact business over the Internet using these protocols without knowing how they work or who created them.”


  • Goldman Calls Dollar Bottom Saying Traders Misprice Fed Resolve (Bloomberg)  Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says the dollar slump is over.   The greenback has rallied almost 1% from a one-year low reached last week, extending gains even after April payrolls data showed the weakest job growth in seven months. Goldman Sachs says the post-payrolls rally shows that market expectations for economic growth and Federal Reserve interest-rate increases have fallen too far, too fast, positioning the currency for a rebound. Strategists at Societe Generale SA and Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. are less bullish, saying a broader dollar recovery will depend on further economic data.


  • West Virginia: 5 things to watch (The Hill)   Primary voters going to the polls in West Virginia on Tuesday have a chance to send a message to the two Democratic candidates for president and help set the stage for November’s general election.  Republican Donald Trump has already knocked out his competitors, but that doesn’t mean West Virginia’s primary is meaningless to him. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is still being challenged by Bernie Sanders' outsider candidacy. Good polls are hard to come by in West Virginia this primary season, but the state’s demographics are a good fit for Sanders. Nebraska Republicans also cast their votes on Tuesday and John Kasich and Ted Cruz, have already dropped out, but they will remain on both West Virginia’s and Nebraska’s ballots, along with other former candidates including Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, all of whom are also on the ballot in West Virginia.

  • Head of the Class (The New Yorker)  Trump has grasped what Republican élites are still struggling to fathom: the ideology that has gripped their Party since the late nineteen-seventies—anti-government, pro-business, nominally pious—has little appeal for millions of ordinary Republicans. The base of the Party, the middle-aged white working class, has suffered at least as much as any demographic group because of globalization, low-wage immigrant labor, and free trade. Trump sensed the rage that flared from this pain and made it the fuel of his campaign.

Conservative orthodoxy, already weakened by its own extremism—the latest, least appealing standard-bearer was Ted Cruz—has suffered a stunning defeat from within. And Trump has replaced it with something more dangerous: white identity politics.


  • EU's Schulz wouldn't favor a Trump White House (Reuters)  Hat tip to Laurentiu Nicolae.   European Parliament President Martin Schulz said on Saturday that neither Europe nor the United States was prepared for a Donald Trump presidency as the likely Republican candidate had no international experience and was a populist.  See next article.  Schulz told French television i-Tele:

"Trump belongs to these people that we also have here in Europe, who have a scapegoat for all issues but never have a concrete solution." 

Schulz was born in Hehlrath, a district of Eschweiler in western Rhineland as one of five children. His father was a local policeman. After four years at primary school, from 1962 to 1966, Schulz attended the Heilig-Geist (Holy Spirit) grammar school, a private Roman Catholic school run by the Holy Ghost Fathers (or Spiritans),[2] in Broich (now Würselen), a district of the town ofBroichweiden, for nine years, leaving without his A-levels.

In 1974, at the age of 19, Schulz joined the SPD, became involved with the Young Socialists and in 1984 was elected to the Würselen Municipal Council, remaining a member for just over two electoral terms, to 1998, from 1987 onwards as mayor. At 31, he was then the youngest mayor in North Rhine-Westphalia. He held that office until 1998. As a municipal counselior he initiated the twinning of Würselen with the city of Morlaix in French Brittany, where he became friends with Marylise Lebranchu, who was the mayor and is now the French Minister for Public Services.



  • French labour reforms: Government to force plan through (BBC News)   The French cabinet has given the go-ahead for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to force through highly controversial labour reforms.  An extraordinary cabinet meeting invoked the French constitution's rarely used Article 49.3, allowing the government to bypass parliament.  It came after rebel MPs from the governing Socialist party had vowed to vote down the bill.  The reforms will make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers.  Opponents, however, say the bill will allow employers to bypass workers' rights on pay, overtime and breaks.  Later on Tuesday, opposition right-wing parties filed a motion of no confidence in the government, to be debated on Thursday.  Mr Valls said he was "not afraid" of the vote, which would need the support of left-wing MPs to bring the government down.


  • Germany's current account just hit a record high - but not everybody is celebrating (City A.M.)  Germany recorded its largest ever monthly current account surplus in March, as exports of Germany goods held steady in the face of global turmoil and imports dipped.  However, it appears you can have too much of a good thing.  Current account deficits or surpluses indicate economic imbalances one way or another.  EU rules limit member states from running surpluses of more than 6% of GDP. Germany's is set to be 8.5% this year, according to the European Commission, raising fears across the continent that Germany is sucking in cash from the rest of the single currency bloc.  Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund called on Germany to create a more "dynamic" economy to help "benefit the still fragile economic recovery in the Eurozone." It believes the large current account surplus is a symptom of a lack of creativity from policymakers and a reluctance to invest in much-needed infrastructure projects.


  • Eager to heal old wounds, Obama to visit Hiroshima (Associated Press)   Eager to heal old wounds and galvanize new generations, President Barack Obama this month will become the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, where seven decades ago the U.S. dropped the devastating atomic bomb that ushered in the nuclear age.  By visiting the peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 attack, the president hopes to reinvigorate efforts worldwide to eliminate nuclear weapons. But in a sign of the extraordinary political sensitivities attached to the gesture, the White House is going out of its way to stress Obama will not come bearing an apology.


  • Rousseff Mounts New Effort to Halt Impeachment in Court Appeal (Bloomberg)   Brazil’s government is making a last-minute effort to salvage President Dilma Rousseff’s mandate by asking the Supreme Court to annul the impeachment process on the eve of a Senate vote that’s expected to result in her ouster.  Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo filed the request on Tuesday, saying that Eduardo Cunha shouldn’t have been able to open impeachment proceedings last year because he was unfit to serve as lower house speaker. The attorney general cited the high court’s decision last week to suspend Cunha as speaker and legislator on grounds that he may have used his position of power to intimidate legislators and defendants in a corruption probe against him. Cunha has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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

  • 50 Secrets Nurses Wish They Could Tell You (Reader's Digest, MSN Health & Fitness)  Nurses are a lot more fundamental to correct diagnosis and treatment than you may think.  Econintersect:  Some of the 50 things discussed may be things you "sort-of" knew but hadn't thought much about.

  • Scientists Detect Wind Around a Black Hole (R&D)   Publishing in Nature, an international team of astrophysicists has reported its detection of x-ray winds traveling at a velocity of 3,000 km/sec near the black hole V404 Cygni, 8,000 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation.  The wind, which originates in the black hole’s outer accretion disk, “is unlike any seen hitherto,” according to the researchers and is associated with an outburst of high-energy light.  These observations add to the understanding of how black holes accumulate dust and other materials in a disk before spiraling the material into the black hole center. 

  • Stephen Curry Is The First Unanimous MVP In NBA History (Huffington Sports)  He was considered too small for the big time and attended tiny Davidson University in North Carolina.  But now he is considered by far the best shooter ever to have played the game.  After an astonishing regular season that included 402 threes made at a 45 percent clip, Stephen Curry has been named the NBA’s 2015-2016 most valuable player, becoming the first player ever to notch the honor in unanimous fashion.  The 402 threes broke the existing record by Curry of 286 set in 2014-15.  Curry holds 4 of the top 7 most threes in a season.  The other three are 276 and less.  And was Curry really valuable?  His team had the all-time best winning record this year,  73-9.

  • Life Expectancy Is Up, and Health Inequality Is Down (Foundation for Economic Education)  We have heard a great deal about increases in mortality among white, non-Hispanic, middle-aged Americans (especially women), but to state the case is also to note that this is one group among many. In an excellent new paper, Currie and Schwandt discuss the good news — overall life expectancy is up, and health inequality is down, in some cases dramatically. Below, for example, is life expectancy at birth by gender and year - the improvement over the last 25 years has been dramatic.  See also Black Americans See Gains in Life Expectancy (The New York Times)  

  • SpaceX Rocket Achieves Second Successful Ocean Landing (R&D)  The space exploration company owned by billionaire executive Elon Musk, SpaceX, accomplished another impressive goal on Friday by making its second consecutive landing at sea.  Econintersect:  Why is this important?  A key to economically feasible commercial space flight is reuse of launch rockets, similar to the way airplanes are used for repeated flights.  Space-X is developing this technology.

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