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What We Read Today 24 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 today include:

  • Why You Can't Win an Argument with Economics, No Matter What Flavor

  • Massive Ancient Naval Shipyards in Greece

  • Why Did Merrill Lynch Pay Nearly a Half Billion Dollars in Sanctions?

  • Employers Can Get in Trouble 'Uberizing' Their Workforce

  • Brexit Throws Icewater on Global Move to Openness

  • Investor Preferences the Next Tree Months (Before Brexit)

  • Sanders Tries to maintain a Movement

  • Statistics on U.S. Foreign Born

  • Brexit's Big Winners

  • Beijing Land is Sinking 4 Inches a Year

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Brexit Casts Dark Shadow on World’s Great Move to Openness (Bloomberg)   Britain’s departure from the European Union dealt what may be the biggest blow yet to globalization, challenging a decades-long embrace of freer movement of goods, services and people.  While the ultimate economic implications will take months, or years, to be quantified, central bankers didn’t have the luxury of time in the aftermath of the U.K. referendum result on Friday. From London to Mumbai to Tokyo, they pledged -- and in some cases acted -- to assure liquidity amid turmoil.  Econintersect:  Perhaps the most important message is that, no matter what the ultimate benefit to society, success may not be achieved if more people are hurt than helped along the way.

  • Investor Preferences for the Next Three Months (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look, Talk Markets)  Barclays investor survey asks: "Which asset class do you think will provide the best return in the next three months?". It shows investor preferences to rotate out of US equities into emerging markets and commodities.  Econintersect:  This was written before Brexit.



  • Worried About “Stigmatizing” Cluster Bombs, House Approves More Sales to Saudi Arabia (The Intercept)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly defeated a measure that would have banned the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, but the closeness of the vote was an indication of growing congressional opposition to the conduct of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing coalition in Yemen.  The vote was mostly along party lines, with 200 Republicans – and only 16 Democrats – heeding the Obama administration’s urging to vote against the measure. The vote was 204-216.

  • Defiant Sanders tells supporters: 'You can beat the establishment' (The Hill)  Sanders said a recently launched website had received 20,000 commitments from progressives who pledged to either run for office or help other liberals get elected.  Sanders highlighted two stops he had planned in the coming days — one in New York and another in California — where he plans to stump for a progressive House candidate and another candidate who is running for state Senate.  Thursday’s speech is the first in what looks like a prolonged effort by Sanders to stay in the spotlight, even as Clinton has turned her attention to defeating Donald Trump in the general election.  Sanders is technically still running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, although he has acknowledged that the race is all but over, admitting this week that he will likely not be the nominee.  And, even though he has not formally endorsed her, Sanders says he will vote for Clinton.

  • Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States (Pew Research Center)  There were a record 42.2 million immigrants living in the U.S. in 2014, making up 13.2% of the nation’s population. This represents a fourfold increase since 1960, when only 9.7 million immigrants lived in the U.S., accounting for just 5.4% of the total U.S. population.  Click on any of the bold headings below in the summary table to see detailed tables for each at Pew Research Center.  Hit back arrow there to return to this page..



  • EU without England? Not funny (Dirk Ehnts, econoblog101)  DE is a frequent contributor to GEI.  Rowan Atkinson (as Robert Bennington) performing the European Anthem in German...until he runs out of words at the end of the first verse.


  • Boris Johnson, MP and ex-mayor of London, leading candidate for new Conservative Prime Minister

  • Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party

  • Tim Martin, pub mogul 

  • Marine Le Pen, French right-wing leader

  • Donald Trump, U.S presidential candidate


  • Beijing has fallen: China's capital sinking by 11cm a year, satellite study warns (The Guardian) Excessive pumping of groundwater is causing the geology under China's capital city to collapse, according to a new study using satellite imagery that reveals parts of Beijing – particularly its central business district – are subsiding each year by as much as 11 centimetres, or more than four inches.  The authors of the study warn that continued subsidence poses a safety threat to the city of more than 2o million, with “a strong impact on train operations” one of the predictions.

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

Brexit is over, as we all know, and while the referendum is non-binding, it still comes as something of a shock. Why would the majority of voters in the UK decide to leave the EU? Why vote against self-interest?

The Remain faction made a rhetorical mistake early on, and stuck by it. They appealed to economic efficiency. By joining and remaining in the EU, the UK (and its neighbors) would, they argued, benefit from lower transaction costs of all sorts. Life would be easier and better because of the economic efficiencies – the movement of goods and people around the EU, for instance, and the managing of cross-border business deals would encounter far fewer frictions if the UK remained than if it exited. Case closed.

For many, though, that argument clearly fell flat. It not only ignores history, social institutions, and heritage, it diminishes and often dismisses them. Arguments rooted in economic efficiency cannot trump (if you’ll pardon our using that term) appeals to emotion.

  • Archaeologists Uncover Massive Naval Bases of the Ancient Athenians (The Smithsonian)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Archaeologists are learning just how formidable Athens’ naval war machine really was after excavating parts of two of the three militarized harbors built in Piraeus.  The naval fortifications at one time housed about 400 fast and maneuverable ships called triremes. These vessels were tended to by 80,000 sailors and soldiers in the 5th century B.C..


  • What's behind the record sanctions against Merrill Lynch? (Financial Planning)  Merrill Lynch was hit by over $400 million in penalties from regulators this week.  The firm's record-breaking punishment may be serving to put other brokerage firms on notice, experts and industry observers say.  Merrill Lynch is due to pay $430 million to FINRA and the SEC, which has accused the wirehouse of misusing clients' cash for years, misrepresenting the cost of complex investments and dissuading whistleblowers from coming forward, among other misconduct.  Other broker-dealers are being examined for similar behavior.

  • The hidden dangers of ‘Uberizing’ a workforce (Employee Benefit Adviser)  Turning employees into "on-demand" contractors may seem an attractive move for employers.  But there downsides.  Recent legal challenges highlight potential conflicts between the technology-enabled on-demand economy and existing legal frameworks. Misclassifying workers can result in significant costs to a business, including government audits, class action lawsuits, back wage and overtime awards, fines, as well as a possible public relations nightmare.  If workers are found to be employees, they may also be entitled to employee benefits, unemployment and social security contributions.  To avoid misclassification, carefully examine the differences between employees and independent contractors in the United States.

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