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What We Read Today 08 July 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:

  • Movement of Gold Price has Tracked Inverse uf Bond Yield for over a Decade

  • Amazon is Enraging Its Vendors

  • All about Automation and Job Losses

  • Bond Yields Continue to Plummet and the Fed is Clueless

  • US Continues to Add Oil Drilling Rigs

  • U.S. Employment in Oil & Gas Industry

  • Brent Crude Has Biggest Weekly Decline in 6 Months

  • Dallas Shooting Was a Hate Crime

  • Ten States with Persistent Foreclosure Problems

  • Philippines Makes Overtures to China about South China Sea

  • Class War in China

  • Taiwan Investigates Missile Fired at China

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Oil steady in choppy trade; biggest weekly drop in Brent since January (Reuters)  Crude prices steadied in choppy trading on Friday, with Brent on track to its largest weekly drop in six months, as strong U.S. jobs data and bargain hunting by investors pitted against seasonally weak consumption of oil.  The oil market initially rose about 1% or more after the U.S. economy posted the largest job gains in eight months in June and on worries about fresh militant attacks on Nigerian oil infrastructure. But the gains faded after concerns over supplies later returned.  See news for U.S. oil rig count under U.S. below

U.S.

  • U.S. oil drillers add rigs for 5th week in six -Baker Hughes (Reuters)   U.S. drillers this week added oil rigs for a fifth week in six, according to a closely followed report Friday, prompting analysts to predict the rig count has bottomed and production will start to edge up early next year. Drillers added 10 oil rigs in the week to July 8, bringing the total rig count up to 351, compared with 645 a year ago.  Before this week, drillers added oil rigs in only five out of 26 weeks this year, cutting on average eight rigs per week for a total of 195. Last year, they cut 18 rigs per week on average for a total of 963, the biggest decline since at least 1988. After slumping from 1,609 rigs in October 2014 amid the biggest oil price rout in a generation, the rig count started to inch up in June as U.S. crude futures hovered around the key $50-a-barrel level that analysts said would trigger a return to the well pad. U.S. crude futures this week however were on track to fall nearly 8 percent to around $45 a barrel in their worst weekly decline in five-months on global economic worries. But looking forward, prices were expected to rise with futures for the balance of the year trading below $47 and calendar 2017 fetching $50.

  • 'Well-planned, well-thought-out, evil tragedy': Dallas police chief (Reuters)  The Dallas shooting of 11 police officers which killed five, was a hate crime.  The sniper was identified as Micah Johnson, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve who served in Afghanistan. He wanted to kill white people, especially white officers, the Dallas police chief said.

  • Employment in US oil & gas industry (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look, Twitter)  Econintersect:  Can the employment in this sector stay above the previous peak in early 2009?  At $50 possibly yes; at $40 very doubtful.

employment.us.gas.and.oil.2007.2016

  • U.S. Representative Brown charged with fraud: Justice Department (Reuters)  U.S. Representative Corrine Brown (D, FL) and her chief of staff were indicted on Friday for their roles in a scheme involving a fraudulent education charity, the U.S. Justice Department said.  The department said Brown and Elias Simmons were charged in a 24-count indictment with participating in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, theft of government property, filing false tax returns and other crimes.

  • 10 States With Foreclosure Problems That Just Won't Quit (Credit.com, MSN News)  A huge financial and emotional nightmare continues to threaten tens of thousands of American homeowners, with more than 100,000 U.S. residential properties in some state of foreclosure in May. That figure remained nearly unchanged from April, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac, but it’s better than last year — foreclosure activity in May 2016 was down 20.52% from May 2015.  Even states with persistently high foreclosure rates followed the trend. However, in one state, as many as 1 in every 559 homes reported a foreclosure filing — defined as a notice of default, scheduled auction or bank repossession — well above the May national average of 1 in every 1,316 homes.  Two of the states at the epicenter of the mortgage crisis in 2008, Arizona and California, are not on the top ten list, but other states are (Illinois, Ohio, Nevada, Florida and several northeastern states.

EU

  • EU will not help UK out of ‘black hole’, Belgian premier warns (Financial Times)  Britain’s vote to leave the EU has opened a political “black hole” in Westminster and Europe’s leaders will not bend to help it out, Belgium’s prime minister has warned.  Econintersect:  And who will help the EU out of its even bigger black hole?

Philippines

  • Philippine government indicates it would be willing to share South China Sea resources with Beijing (South China Morning Post)  The Philippines is willing to share natural resources with Beijing in contested South China Sea areas even if it wins a legal challenge next week, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said on Friday.  Yasay said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration hoped to quickly begin direct talks with China following Tuesday’s verdict, with the negotiations to cover jointly exploiting natural gas reserves and fishing grounds within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

south.china.sea.territorial.limits

China

The new class war (The Economist)  The rising middle class presents a threat to the ruling elite in China.  More and more they do what they want, not what they are told.  And the tide is rising fast.

china.middle.class.2015.202

What will guide China’s response to the South China Sea tribunal ruling? (South China Morning Post)   Next week, a tribunal in The Hague hearing the arbitration case that the Philippines brought against China will deliver its verdict. It is likely to rule in favor of the Philippines on at least some of the submissions before it. Despite its commitments under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, China has refused to participate or recognize the legitimacy of the arbitration process.  How Beijing will respond to any adverse ruling animates conversations in Washington, DC and capitals around Asia. The mainstream view is that China is likely to undertake some significant action, to demonstrate that it rejects the tribunal’s decision as well as to punish the Philippines and deter other states from pursuing similar cases. The two most discussed actions include initiating land reclamation at Scarborough Shoal or declaring an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea.

south.china.sea.territorial.limits

Taiwan

Taiwan launches investigation into deadly navy anti-ship missile misfire (South China Morning Post)  Taiwan’s security and military authorities have launched an investigation into how a missile was misfired into the Taiwan Strait on Friday, killing a local fisherman and further straining already tense ties with the mainland.  The navy said seven officers including the petty officer who fired the missile, and navy commander Huang Shu-kuang would be disciplined.  Taiwan authorities say petty officer who fired missile was unsupervised at the time, and he set weapon to ‘attack’ mode.  Two minutes after firing, the missile landed in waters off the Penghu islands.  It reportedly hit a fishing boat operating nearby, killing the captain.  See also next article.

Taiwan’s president orders investigation into navy’s missile misfire (South China Morning Post)  This incident should never have happened, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said upon returning from first her state visit (to Panama), with in-transit stops in the U.S. 

Taiwanese police identify bomb blast suspect (South China Morning Post)   aiwanese authorities on Friday identified a 55-year-old man as the suspect behind a blast which wounded 25 people, including himself, on a commuter train the previous night.  Lin Ying-chang, who was critically injured in the explosion, was allegedly carrying a steel pipe containing explosive powder in the train compartment.

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

  • Gold And TIPS, Joined At The Hip (Seeking Alpha)  It's rare that the prices of two different asset classes should track each other over the years as well as TIPS and gold have.

gold.vs.real.yield

  • Amazon's counterfeit problem is getting worse, and sellers are enraged (CNBC, MSN News)  Always a problem, the counterfeiting issue has exploded this year, sellers say, following Amazon's effort to openly court Chinese manufacturers, weaving them intimately into the company's expansive logistics operation. Merchants are perpetually unsure of who or what may kill their sales on any given day and how much time they'll have to spend hunting down fakers. Some of the fakes of legitimate products are actually unsafe and can harm consumers.  Amazon is being criticized for not being sufficiently vigilant in removing counterfeit products.

  • Automation and anxiety (The Economists)  (See also next article.)  In a widely noted study published in 2013, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne examined the probability of computerization for 702 occupations and found that 47% of workers in America had jobs at high risk of potential automation.  Subsequent studies put the equivalent figure at 35% of the workforce for Britain and 49% for Japan.

So who is right: the pessimists (many of them techie types), who say this time is different and machines really will take all the jobs, or the optimists (mostly economists and historians), who insist that in the end technology always creates more jobs than it destroys? The truth probably lies somewhere in between. AI will not cause mass unemployment, but it will speed up the existing trend of computer-related automation, disrupting labour markets just as technological change has done before, and requiring workers to learn new skills more quickly than in the past. Mr Bessen predicts a “difficult transition” rather than a “sharp break with history”. But despite the wide range of views expressed, pretty much everyone agrees on the prescription: that companies and governments will need to make it easier for workers to acquire new skills and switch jobs as needed. That would provide the best defense in the event that the pessimists are right and the impact of artificial intelligence proves to be more rapid and more dramatic than the optimists expect.

employment.type.work.1983.2015

probability.job.automation.2013

robots.replace.humans

  • 10-Year Yield Continues To Plummet (Seeking Alpha)  The 10-year treasury is now below where the Fed projected last year the funds rate to be now.  See first graphic.  Interest rates have been in a down trend since those projections were made.  See second graphic below.

fed.rate.projections.2015.jun

10year.us.sincejan.2015.2016.jul.06


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