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 dayin the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).
Is the U.S. fight over fiduciary rule really about the little guy? (Reuters) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants you to believe it is looking out for the little guy in its fight against new government regulation of the retirement investment advice industry. But that is a facade - as one consumer advocacy group found out when it checked the Chamber’s claims of grassroots support for its battle to stop the U.S. Department of Labor’s new “best interest” standard for retirement advice. This fight is really about something else - $19 billion in potential lost revenue now controlled by stock brokerage, life insurance and other companies that do not want to make drastic changes in their business models. That is the amount of money up for grabs, according to Morningstar, in the wake of the new DoL rule. The so-called fiduciary standard requires any adviser working with retirement accounts to avoid conflicts and act in the best interest of clients in the products they recommend. Econintersect: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is seldom about the small business people.
The Orlando Shooting. Many things are just not right with this story, including the father of the alleged shooter Omar Mateen, an Afghan-American, Seddique Mateen, who is closely linked to some of the most powerful leaders and agencies in Washington DC.
If it wasn’t strange enough to discover that the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, worked as a contractor for the US Department of Homeland Security, then we learned that the elder Mateen is also standing to run for President of Afghanistan and is allied with the Taliban leadership – an absolutely ideal profile for a Washington-managed, CIA controlled-opposition political candidate.Seddique sates: “I order national army, national police and intelligence department to immediately imprison Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, Zalmay Khalilzad, Atmar, and Sayyaf.”
“They are against our countrymen, and against our homeland,” he added.
The great rebalancing? (The Economist) At the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the top 1% of American families earned 25% of the national income. Work by two respected economists, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, has showed that this proportion declined steadily, to a trough of around 7% in the late 1970s as the US enjoyed a prolonged economic boom that benefited the majority of the population. However, over the past three decades, the country has become less equal, with the proportion of wealth held by the 1% rising steadily, and breaching the 20% threshold again in 2010. Middle-class incomes stagnated. This column suggests the pendulum may be about to turn the other way as labor may be starting to gain some leverage against capital.
Brexit could revitalize EU, says Commissioner Günther Oettinger (Politico) The European Union would “develop a new perspective” and “gather new dynamics” if the United Kingdom quits, Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger said Tuesday. Recent events like the terror attacks in Brussels and Paris have shown a need for more powers at EU level, and “my expectation would be that the European project would gather new dynamics,” he told POLITICO’s Morgen Europa event in Brussels. The EU could develop its security policy, foreign policy or anti-terrorism policy following a vote for Brexit in June 23’s U.K. referendum, according to the Commissioner.
British lawmaker shot dead, EU referendum campaigns suspended (Reuters) Jo Cox, 41, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party and a vocal advocate for Britain remaining in the European Union, was attacked while preparing to meet constituents in Birstall near Leeds in northern England. Media reports said she had been shot and stabbed. West Yorkshire regional police said a 52-year-old man was arrested by officers nearby and weapons including a firearm recovered. Photo below taken in May. (From Reuters)
London Housing Market Facing ‘Major Shock’ After Tax Rises (Bloomberg) London’s housing market is facing a “major shock” as private landlords offload properties because tax increases will reduce returns on their investments to near zero, according to analysts at Deutsche Bank AG. New lending rules will also severely restrict the ability of investors, who have accounted for about 40 percent of purchases in recent years, to fund property purchases with debt, Deutsche Bank analysts Oliver Reiff and Markus Scheufler wrote in a report Wednesday. Landlords selling homes may create an excess of properties on the market, damping prices.
German Doubts on Deutsche Boerse Deal Grow as Brexit Fears Mount (Bloomberg) German lawmakers are increasingly reluctant to see the merger of Deutsche Boerse AG and London Stock Exchange Group Plc go ahead as planned if Britain decides to leave the European Union. The plan for a London headquarters would be untenable if Britain decides in a June 23 referendum to leave the EU, and the complex regulatory issues would mean the whole merger proposal will have to be re-assessed, according to legislators interviewed by Bloomberg. Five of the last six published polls have shown the “Leave” camp ahead of those favoring to stay.
Norway receives access to most of the bloc’s internal market through membership of the European Economic Area. That means goods, services and labor flow freely between Norway and the EU. In return, however, Norway has to adopt a large number of EU laws without having a formal say in how they are shaped. Norway also has to pay about the same amount of money into the EU budget on a per capita basis as the U.K., according to OpenEurope, a think tank that has declared itself neutral in the debate.
Switzerland Withdraws Application to Join the European Union. Impacts on Brexit Campaign? (Global Research) The upper house of the Swiss parliament on Wednesday voted to invalidate its 1992 application to join the European Union, backing an earlier decision by the lower house. The vote comes just a week before Britain decides whether to leave the EU in a referendum. Twenty-seven members of the upper house, the Council of States, voted to cancel Switzerland’s longstanding EU application, versus just 13 senators against. Two abstained. In the aftermath of the vote, Switzerland will give formal notice to the EU to consider its application withdrawn. Econintersect: Don't board a ship when you see a rat scampering down a mooring line.
The use of proxy forces to destroy the secular government of Syria is now starting to give way to stealth methods of direct ground deployment of Western Special Forces and ground troops under the guise of assistance and coordination with “moderate” terrorists.
With a wide variety of Western-backed terrorist groups ranging from “extremist” terrorists like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and al-Nusra to the “moderate” terrorists of the FSA and the loose collection of terrorists, Kurds, and Arabs like the SDF, the West has a kaleidoscope of proxy forces on the ground already. This is, of course, in addition to the SAA, NDF, Iraqi paramilitary forces/militias, Iranian military forces, and Hezbollah fighters working with the Syrian government.
Why Iran still doesn’t trust Russia on Syria (Al Monitor) Iran supports the al- Assad government in Syria. Several important political and field developments over the past two months have made Iran more suspicious of its Russian strategic partner. These developments include a reported secret agreement between Russia and the United States regarding the Free Syrian Army, Russia accepting the cease-fires without informing Iran and Lebanon and a temporary halt in Russian airstrikes against the moderate Syria opposition and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
Machines Beat Humans in Hedge Fund Quest to Time Market Bottom (Bloomberg) In a historically bad year for hedge funds, one of their close relatives is thriving. Computer-driven quants, which pick shares based on factors like momentum and size, have been the only hedge fund category to buy additional stock in 2016, data from Credit Suisse Group AG show. The move paid off as the S&P 500 Index crept within striking distance of all-time highs, while hedge fund managers were busy unloading shares.
What Do We Mean by Sound Money? (Foundation for Financial Education) As a matter of history, sound money is associated with commodity money. This article asks if there can be such a thing as sound fiat currency? The author clearly doubts that a fiat currency can be "sound" (i.e. operate without inflation) but cannot reject the idea outright. He concludes:
Is there a way to avoid arbitrariness in monetary matters in a fiat money system? debate over monetary rules.
Does Capitalism Make Us Fat? (Foundation for Financial Education) The author correlates government regulations and guidelines with an increase in obesity:
In “The Sugar Conspiracy," the Guardian’s Ian Leslie tells the story of how, in 1980, the United States Department of Agriculture, together with Department of Health and Human Services, published its first “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The recommendations carried a lot of weight: doctors based their own guidelines on them, consumers trusted them, and companies complied with them in order not to be viewed as unhealthy.
Within a few years, obesity rates began to skyrocket. In 1970, the obesity rate was 14.5 percent in the United States. In 1980, it was 15 percent. By 1990 — after a decade of the government’s guidelines — it had the obesity rate jumped to 23.2 percent. How much of this is causation as opposed to coincidence isn't clear, but what is clear is that, at the very least, the government's guidelines failed to prevent skyrocketing obesity.
2016’s Best & Worst States for Military Retirees (WalletHub) WalletHub’s analysts sought to help ease the burden on our nation’s military community by identifying those among the 50 states and the District of Columbia that are most conducive to a comfortable military retirement. Our data set of 20 key metrics ranges from “number of veterans per capita” to “number of VA health facilities per 10,000 veterans” to “job opportunities for veterans”.
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