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What We Read Today 23 June 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 for today include:

  • SEC Fines Merrill Lynch Half a Billion Dollars - Others Next

  • The Great Extraction from American Corporations

  • Little Social Security COLA Projected for 2017

  • Hunger Strike by French Chronic Lyme Sufferer

  • DOL Fiduciary Rule Reversal Fails Veto Override

  • Opinions on Immigration Reflect Political and Demographic Biases

  • The Immigration Problem Does Not Go Away with Courts' Actions

  • 4,500 Migrants Rescued from Mediterranean Today

  • No Results Yet in Brexit Vote

  • China is Rebalancing, But Not in the Way Expected

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • House Override Vote to Kill DOL Fiduciary Rule Fails (ThinkAdvisor)  After hours of delay due to a house sit-in by House Democrats, the House of Representatives failed late Wednesday night to override a presidential veto on a resolution to nullify the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.  House democrats began their sit-in before noon Wednesday to force a vote on gun control legislation. House Republicans managed to break the sit-in long enough to vote on the override, which passed on a party-line vote of 239-180, but fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to override the president’s veto.  See next article.

  • Message to Paul Ryan (Twitter)  John Lounsbury responded to a Paul Ryan tweet.  No answer has yet appeared.


  • Chapter 4: U.S. Public Has Mixed Views of Immigrants and Immigration (Pew Research Center)  The most negative view of immigrants is among the uneducated and Republicans, with whites and the 50-64 demographic close behind - see first graphic below.  The biggest problems seen with immigrants are the (perceived) negative affect on the economy and crime - see seconf graphic below.  Econintersect:  Had there been opinion polls 100-125 years ago would the results have been much different?  Our guess is they would have been similar with respect to economic affects and crime.. 

  • Wall Street banks score good grades on stress test (CNBC)   Wall Street banks have enough cash on hand to keep the Fed happy, this year, at least.  The 33 banks met or exceeded regulators' required capital cushions they would need to offset losses, according to the Federal Reserve, which on Thursday released the first portion of its annual stress test results.  Banks had to project greater losses this time around, including $113 billion in trading losses for the eight biggest firms.  The tests require banks to calculate how their holdings would fare in the event of various scenarios, including rising unemployment and a "severe global recession".  Still, the banks' stress test headaches may be back with a vengeance next year. Some Federal Reserve governors reportedly said they expect to raise capital requirements, which would add to the burden those financial institutions face as they prepare responses to the annual regulatory exams.  Econintersect:  So this year's tests were insufficiently demanding?  That is what this sounds like.

  • U.S. Supreme Court upholds race-based college admissions (Reuters)  The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the consideration of race in college admissions, rejecting a white woman's challenge to a University of Texas program designed to boost the enrollment of minority students.  The court, in a 4-3 ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, decided in favor of the university and turned aside the conservative challenge to a policy intended to bring racial and ethnic diversity to campus.

  • Obama's Immigration Problem Will Become Someone Else's Business (Bloomberg)  The Supreme Court’s one-sentence decision today on President Barack Obama’s immigration policy resolves nothing. That’s unfortunate -- usually (though not always) the court is a little more helpful -- but it’s also oddly appropriate: This is a political problem, not a legal one.  The case itself resulted from a cascade of political failures. The House failed to follow the Senate’s lead and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which would have resolved the status of millions of long-resident undocumented immigrants among other goals. Obama failed to work with Republicans after the 2014 elections and instead responded with aggressive executive actions to achieve, temporarily, what Congress had not -- shielding some 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and making them eligible for work permits.  An appeals court ruled that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority and th SCOTUS refused to change that. The ruling:

The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.


  • Migrant crisis: 4,500 rescued in Mediterranean in one day (BBC News)  The Italian navy and coastguard say they have rescued about 4,500 migrants from dozens of small, unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean during the course of Thursday.  Many were within 25 miles of the Libyan coast.  A woman's body was recovered from one of the vessels.  More favorable weather conditions have resulted in a major increase in the number of people leaving north Africa.


10:27 pm - British Electoral Commission Chair Jenny Watson says the first stages of the vote counting process are now underway in Britain's referendum on membership in the European Union.  Polling station workers were seen rushing ballot boxes to be counted.


  • Police shoot dead gunman who took hostages in German cinema (Reuters, MSN News)  A masked man took hostages at a cinema in western Germany on Thursday before police stormed the complex and shot him dead, police said.  No other people were injured, a police spokesman said.  The attacker, who carried a rifle or "long gun", acted alone and appeared to have been a "disturbed man", the interior minister of Hesse state, Peter Beuth, told the regional parliament.


  • Stealth China Stimulus Means Fiscal Gap Over 10%, Economists Say (Bloomberg)  China is stepping up stimulus by stealth in its efforts to ensure hitting the leadership’s growth target this year, with moves that will enhance the role of the state even as policy makers say they want a bigger role for the market.  The fiscal deficit when taking off-budget spending into account will exceed 10 percent of gross domestic product this year -- more than triple the government’s stated ratio of 3 percent, according to economists at UBS Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co.  Econintersect:  China is rebalancing, just toward the state instead of away from it,as was expected.

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

  • SEC Deals Merrill a $425M Wallop; Other Firms Could Be Next (ThinkAdvisor)  The Securities and Exchange Commission said early Thursday that Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay $415 million and to admit wrongdoing in the abuse of customer cash used to generate profits for the firm and for its failure to safeguard customer securities from creditors’ claims.  In addition, the regulator says it will conduct a sweep of broker-dealers regarding their compliance with the Customer Protection Rule broken by Merrill Lynch, Rule 15c3-3, and that BDs can self-report noncompliance by Nov. 1.  Econintersect:  It has been a long-standing but not specified criticism that brokerages use clients' cash in accounts for generating profits for the firm.

  • The Great Extraction (Twitter)  Money is being sucked out of corporations instead of being invested. For more details on corporate earnings and distributions, see FactSet.  


  • Social Security Trustees Project Only 0.2% COLA in 2017 (ThinkAdvisor)   The trustees of the combined Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance trust funds reported to Congress today that they project the funds will be depleted by 2034 (the same as projected last year), with the disability fund depleted by 2023, six years later than last year’s projection. “Social Security’s total income is projected to exceed its total cost through 2019, as it has since 1982,” the report said.  In addition, the trustees’ current estimate for a Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment will be 0.2% for 2017, followed by a 2.9% increase in 2018 and a 2.6% increase in 2019.

  • Sixth day of hunger strike by Frenchman with chronic Lyme (

Matthias Lecoste, a  33-year-old French father of two who has chronic Lyme disease, is in the sixth day of a hunger strike.

He says he’s doing this to call attention to how the French health system ignores Lyme patients, leaving them sick and without resources to help themselves.

According to translated postings on the Facebook page “Le droit de guerir” (the right to be cured), Lecoste was hospitalized last night after suffering a seizure. “He is weak but he asked us to not worry about him.”

In support of Lecoste’s mission, the advocacy organization France Lyme sent an open letter to the health minister (It is in French, of course. What follows is courtesy of Google Translate.):

We dared to prepare ourselves, but we knew that one day this would happen … a sick man, braver than the thousands of others (but equally desperate), has begun a hunger strike. Not someone who is psychologically unstable or suicidal … no. A good father with a family, honest, kind and hardworking, who dreamed of opening his own bakery.

For too many years, the authorities, the CPAM [health insurer] and major infectious disease experts of
our beautiful country, ignore or even despise patients with tick-borne diseases. We call “Lyme disease” anything that brings a cocktail of infectious agents transmitted by ticks.

Why deny the problem and return the chronically ill home with analgesic/anti-inflammatory drugs or antidepressants ? Do you not see that physicians who prescribe anti-infective drugs (antibiotics, antifungal, antiparasitic) as well as natural therapies, get better results? These are the patients themselves
that show! Hundreds.

Why harass these doctors and prevent them from practicing? How can a medical board of the CPAM decide for a sick person whether he is fit or not to return to work? Are they in that person’s body to have an idea of the pain and fatigue that disables them every day?

Lyme patients are not lazy, nor hysterical … they want to heal and return to work like everyone else. Resuming work and a social life are the most beautiful victories for a patient who has experienced years of misery.

Matthias Lacoste has been on a hunger strike since 18 June.  This is his sixth day; he is so tired he cannot even make the 15-minute live video he did every morning on his Facebook page.

Minister, what will you do to prevent this man from leaving his skin? Thousands of people are behind him, waiting for a reaction on your part.

Be quick ! We are at your disposal to engage in dialogue.

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