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What We Read Today 17 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:

  • Should the Environment be Part of Economics?

  • Ethics in Economics

  • What Resources a Actually Limited?

  • Cost of Long Term Care Caries Greatly by State

  • Some Surprising Behavioral Factors in Simple Economic Activities

  • Personal Profit Rules Bank CEO Behaviors

  • Treasury Curve Flattens to Extent Last Seen in 2007

  • Hedge Funds Unwind Bets on Falling Dollar

  • German Village Surprised with Success of Big Refugee Camp

  • Russia Builds Military Camp Near Palmyra

  • More Bombings in Baghdad

  • IMF Visiting Iran

  • China Uber Rival Plans U.S. IPO

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The surprising reason bank CEOs won’t do any deals (CNBC)  There's a good reason CEOs on Wall Street don't want to break up the banks: It's also likely to crimp their pay.  Econintersect:  The word "surprising" in the headline damages CNBC's credibility.

  • Verizon, unions set to return to bargaining table (The Washington Post)  Verizon and union officials representing about 39,000 striking landline and cable workers in nine eastern states and Washington, D.C., agreed to restart negotiations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.   Workers walked off the job on April 13. They had been working without a contract since August.  The unions have said they’re striking because Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers.  The telecom giant has said there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown.

  • Treasury curve (10y - 2y) flattest since 2007 (Sober Look, Twitter)


  • Dollar Holds Near Six-Week High Spurred by Optimism Over Economy (Bloomberg)   The dollar held near a six-week high versus its major peers as improved economic data in the U.S. prompted speculation that a boost to interest rates this year, and possibly even as soon as next month, just became more likely.  The greenback rose against the yen after a report Friday showed the biggest increase in U.S. consumer spending in a year. While the odds of a rate increase priced in the futures market didn’t budge from 4% for June and 53% for December, investors will scour the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, due Wednesday, for clues on the policy path.



  • German village with big refugee camp defies fears of trouble (Associated Press)  When state authorities called Mayor Grit Richter in October to tell her they planned to temporarily house up to 1,000 people from Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere in a former office complex in the tiny village of Sumte, she couldn't imagine how it would work. The area is short on jobs, public transport and other facilities, and residents were anxious about the new arrivals.  Six months after the first arrivals, not only have fears of violence and overtaxed utilities not materialized, but the shelter has brought benefits including dozens of jobs to the sleepy village of 102 people and the isolated rural region of northern Germany where it is located.  There are few signs of friction, and if people still have concerns, they're not willing to talk to reporters about them. Residents have better lighting and more police, and some even hope the facility will remain after its planned one-year life span ends.


  • We know which states supply arms to terror: Erdoğan (Hurriyet Daily News)  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused states with powerful arms industries of providing weapons to terror groups while criticizing Western countries of adopting a “hypocritical approach” in their responses to attacks in different parts of the world.  Erdoğan also alleged that some countries with powerful arms industries knowingly sell arms to terrorist groups.


  • Russia builds military camp near ancient site in Palmyra (Associated Press)   Russia has built a military encampment inside a zone that holds the UNESCO world heritage site in the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, where Islamic State militants were driven out recently by pro-government forces.  The Russian military described the camp Tuesday as "temporary," saying its few housing units were being used by explosives experts who are removing mines left behind by the militants, and that the Syrian government had given approval to build the camp.  The head of Syria's Antiquities and Museums department, who noted the town's priceless antiquities are safer thanks to the Russian presence, nonetheless said he would not have granted Russia permission to build the camp if he had been asked.


  • Iraq violence: Blasts in Baghdad kill dozens (BBC News)   Four bomb blasts in Baghdad have killed at least 69 people, medics say, in the latest in a series of recent attacks in the Iraqi capital.  Three of the bombings targeted mainly Shia Muslim districts, while another hit a mixed Shia-Sunni area.  So-called Islamic State (IS) said it carried out two of the attacks.  The Sunni jihadist group, which controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq, has frequently targeted Shia, whom it considers apostates.  Medics said more than 100 civilians altogether were injured in Tuesday's bombings, which hit three markets and a restaurant.


  • Senior IMF official visits Iran (Hurriyet Daily News)  The International Monetary Fund said May 15 that its second in command was on a two-day visit to Iran for discussions on economic developments.  The Washington-based lender said First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton would meet with senior Iranian government officials, private sector representatives and bankers, as well as academics and students.  The visit follows the lifting of sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear program in the wake of a landmark deal between Tehran and world powers signed in July.   The IMF currently does not have an economic program underway in Iran aside from statistical and technical assistance, according to a spokesman.


  • Uber China Rival Didi to Consider U.S. IPO as Soon as 2017 (Bloomberg)  Apple Inc. may not need to wait that long before it reaps the benefits of investing $1 billion in Chinese car-hailing service Didi Chuxing.  Didi is targeting an initial public offering in New York next year, according to people familiar with the matter. The timing will depend on how its battle with Uber Technologies Inc. in China plays out.

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

  • Don’t ditch the environment for economics (The Boston Globe)  Econintersect:  There is a problem with the title (obviously supplied by an editor and not the author).. The author clearly identifies that the environment is part of economics, albeit ignored in some economic assessments.  This brief note has some cutting points:

    Endless growth within a fixed system defies the laws of physics. The Earth is that fixed system, and our continued exponential economic growth paradigm is causing the degradation of the biosphere at an ever accelerating pace.

    An economic system that immediately fails if growth stops is inherently not sustainable. And before globalization consumes all the rest of what remains of our irreplaceable natural resources, it’s beyond time to find a better way to run the world, before it’s too late.

    Econintersect:  The author mistakenly assumes resources are limited.  That is not the case, at least in the current context.  Energy is virtually undeveloped (sun, wind, tides, wave, thorium fusion, nuclear fusion, for some examples - although development of fusion clearly is a bigger challenge than the others).  Mineral resources of the planet may be limited but the resources of the solar system are relatively unbounded.  What is limited for this author is imagination.

  • Top 15 Cheapest States for Long-Term Care: 2016  (ThinkAdvisor)   Below are the numbers for the 15th least expensive state anf the most inexpensive state.  Data has been reported by Genworth Financial, a leading provider of LTC (Long Term Care) insurance.  Click through to article to see #2 through #14.

15. Kentucky

Average Annual Cost: $46,052

Adult day care: $17,940

Licensed home care: $42,900

Assisted living: $39,600

Nursing home (private room): $83,768


1. Louisiana

Average Annual Cost: $38,583

Adult day care: $18,200

Licensed home care: $36,608

Assisted living: $37,860

Nursing home (private room): $61,663

  • Economics fails to factor in role of ethics (BD Live)  Human rights violations and lapses in ethical conduct have created an uncomfortable relationship between society and business. This discomfort highlights an absence of adoption of codes of conduct and the enforcement of legal norms that would help us overcome the supposed incompatibility of ethics and economics.  This is, in fact, a narrow understanding of economic activity, which is, in turn, the result of ossified ideological beliefs and values, as well as the usual externalizing approach of economics. It is necessary, therefore, that ethics is integrated firmly in economics and business.

  • The Behavioural Economics of Things (Mumbrella)  The term ‘behavioural economics’ has come to be associated with a seemingly counter-intuitive understanding and application of psychology into diverse disciplines for improved efficiencies.  It presently embodies a range of labels: behaviourally-informed intervention, marketing sciences, law and emotion, prospect theory, homo reciprocans, nudging, freakonomics, predictable irrationality, lateral thinking, and so on.   In an attempt to convey this broad church, here it is interpreted through 10 things.  (Click on title for discussion of 10 fascinating things.)

  • Economic Insights (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)  The quarterly Economic Insights features nontechnical articles on monetary policy, banking, and national, regional, and international economics, all written for a wide audience.  Articles are listed for both Q1 and Q2 2016.

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