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What We Read Today 13 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".).


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Topics today include:

  • In Praise of Basic Economics

  • Critical of Basis Economics

  • Change Coming for Funding Health Care:  Population Outcome Management

  • Most Polluted Cities in the World

  • Trump Pays as Little Taxes as Possible

  • Climate Change Skeptic Named Trump Energy Advisor

  • No $1 Euro?

  • German GDP Growth Surges

  • U.S. Military in Libya

  • U.S. $1 Billion to Ukraine

  • Russia Will Neutralize U.S. Missile Threat

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world




  • Trump just boasted that he pays as little in taxes as possible. Here’s why. (The Washington Post)  Trump’s claim that his tax rate is “none of your business” is generating buzz this morning. But the more important quote is his boast that he “fights very hard to pay as little tax as possible.” He deliberately repeated this, as if to make sure we would not miss it.

  • Trump taps climate change skeptic as energy adviser, pushes back on taxes (Reuters)   Trump is building out his policy proposals as he pivots from campaigning for his party's nomination to the general election, including tapping experts in various fields.  Among those he has asked for help is U.S. Republican Representative Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, one of the country's most ardent oil and gas drilling advocates and climate change skeptics.  North Dakota has been at the forefront of the U.S. shale oil and gas boom. Cramer endorsed Trump earlier this year.




  • German GDP growth picks up sharply (Market Watch)   German economic growth accelerated sharply in the first quarter, led by domestic consumption and brisk construction activity, the Federal Statistical Office said Friday.  Destatis said Germany’s gross domestic product grew at a quarterly rate of 0.7% in the first three months of the year, which translates into an annualized rate of 2.7% and is more than double the rate of 0.3% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a slightly smaller quarterly gain of 0.6%.  Germany’s pickup contrasts with slowdowns in the U.S. and the U.K. Barring any big upward surprises from Japan and Canada, which have yet to release first-quarter GDP numbers, it makes Germany the fastest-growing out of the seven leading industrialized economies.  But economists cautioned that Europe’s largest economy probably won’t be able to maintain its brisk pace in the second quarter, given lackluster global demand and stubbornly weak corporate investment.


  • U.S. establishes Libyan outposts with eye toward offensive against Islamic State (The Washington Post)  American Special Operations troops have been stationed at two outposts in eastern and western Libya since late 2015, tasked with lining up local partners in advance of a possible offensive against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said.  Two teams totaling fewer than 25 troops are operating from around the cities of Misurata and Benghazi to identify potential ­allies among local armed factions and gather intelligence on threats, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive mission overseas.


  • Biden tells Ukraine U.S. ready to OK loan guarantee: White House (Reuters)   U.S. Vice President Biden told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a call on Friday that the United States is prepared to move forward with a third loan guarantee agreement to support reforms against corruption, the White House said.  The United States promised the third $1 billion loan guarantee in November, but it was contingent on progress on reforms and fighting corruption.  Biden also welcomed the appointment of a new prosecutor general in Ukraine as "an important first step to bringing much needed reform," to the prosecutor general office. Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday appointed Yuriy Lutsenko, a close ally of Poroshenko, to the position.


  • Russia will act to neutralize U.S. missile shield threat: Putin (Reuters)   A ballistic missile defense shield which the United States has activated in Europe is a step to a new arms race, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, vowing to adjust budget spending to neutralize "emerging threats" to Russia.  The United States switched on the $800 million missile shield at a Soviet-era base in Romania on Thursday saying it was a defense against missiles from Iran and so-called rogue states.  But, speaking to top defense and military industry officials, Putin said the system was aimed at blunting Russia's nuclear arsenal.

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

  • Even economists love to hate basic economics lately. They shouldn’t.  (The Washington Post)  The author makes a case for cost benefit analysis for political and economic actions.  There should logically be a law of diminishing returns in play for any action, no matter how desirable.   What is insufficiently discussed is the question of who should calculate the costs and who the benefits.  Such calculations start with assumptions (there are few certainties in play) and the question might be asked:  How many different analyses should be run and were is the point of diminishing returns of running more analysis?  The author does point out some of the problems using employment and wages supply and demand curve arguments.  But as Econintersect readers will recognize, supply and demand curve arguments are defective because of the invocation of cetera parabus assumptions.

  • What to Do With Your Economics Textbooks (Chief Investment Officer)  What indeed!  Maybe use them under pillows in child booster seats?  The leading basic economic textbooks contain statements such as:

“... nominal interest rates cannot fall below zero: Rather than making a loan at a negative nominal interest rate, a person would just hold cash.” (Mankiew 1995)

“... nobody would ever buy a bond yielding an interest rate less than zero because holding cash would be a better alternative.”  (Krugman and Wells, 2012)

  • How to find the right tech tools for population management (Modern Medicine Network)  This is not about managing the size of a population, but managing the health thereof.  Over the next few years, value-based reimbursement is expected to replace a large portion of fee-for-service. Physician practices that aim to succeed under this new payment model—especially those that plan to take on financial risk—must learn how to manage population health.

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