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What We Read Today 24 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".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Topics today include:

  • Bank CEOs Unloaded Stock Just Before the Great Financial Crisis

  • Highest Paying U.S. Jobs for 2016

  • What Causes the U.S. Gender pay Gap and How to Address It

  • Verizon to Bid For Yahoo! Core Business

  • Class Warfare

  • "We Hang the Petty Thieves and ..." (Aesop)

  • Al Qaeda Chief Calls for Western Kidnappings for Prisoner Swaps

  • Latest Problems for Trump and Clinton

  • Trump is "Ahead" in Battleground States

  • Why the U.S. Has Always Been Dis-united and What is Different This Time

  • Man Faces Prison for Returning Used Bottles

  • Jon Stewart's Latest 'Shout Out'

  • Turkey's Turmoil May Send More Refugees to Europe

  • Afghan Forces on Offense Against the Islamic State

  • IOC Refuses to Ban Russians

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Al Qaeda chief urges kidnappings of Westerners for prisoner swaps: SITE (Reuters)  Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared in an audio interview calling on fighters to take Western hostages and exchange them for jailed jihadists, the monitoring service SITE Intelligence Group said on Sunday.  In recording posted online, Al-Zawahiri called on the global militant network to kidnap Westerners "until they liberate the last Muslim male prisoner and last Muslim female prisoner in the prisons of the Crusaders, apostates, and enemies of Islam," according to SITE.


  • Email controversy dogs Clinton to convention (The Hill)   The biggest impediment to Hillary's run for the White House is the controversy that has dogged her presidential campaign from the start: her use of a private email server as secretary of State.  Republicans have hammered Clinton over the issue, and the persistence has taken a terrible toll on her poll numbers.  Only 28% of Americans view her as honest, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll earlier this month. Two-thirds (67%) view her as untrustworthy, a 5-point spike since just last month. That’s a big change from the spring of 2015, when only 45% of Americans judged her as untrustworthy.

  • Dismayed by Trump, Bloomberg Will Endorse Clinton (The New York Times, MSN News)  Michael R. Bloomberg, who bypassed his own run for the presidency this election cycle, will endorse Hillary Clinton in a prime-time address at the Democratic convention and make the case for Mrs. Clinton as the best choice for moderate voters in 2016, an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg said.  The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent.

  • Trump's support among white Protestant Republicans ticks up (The Hill)  Donald Trump's support among white Protestant Republicans is up one month after becoming the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, to nearly 2/3 of those voters.  Trump is now supported by 66% of self-identified "highly religious" white Protestant Republicans in Gallup's June tracking poll, compared to 57% in February and May.  This is even higher than the best support level for Ted Cruz when Cruz was still in hte race.  Trump support is about the same for all white Republican protestants as it is among "highly religious".  Still, highly religious white Protestant Republicans are no more likely to support Trump than are those who identify as "moderately religious" or "not religious."

  • Trump up in battleground states after convention, leads Clinton (The Hill)  Donald Trump now has 42%  support across the 11 battleground states surveyed — up from the 40% he had last week before the convention. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has 41% support, unchanged from last week's poll.  The numbers are from the CBS News Battleground Tracker Poll.   Econintersect:  These polls are meaningless this far from the election and because difference of 4% (or more) are required to be outside the measurement error.  See Why National Polls Mean Little In U.S. Presidential Elections.

  • The Un-United State of America (Reader Supported News)  Hat tip to Rob Carter.  The author says the GOP convention scene last week witnessed a country being torn apart at the seams by … Americans.  He writes: Divisions on the right and the left were on display. People with the same long-term goals were arguing about how to achieve them. Yes, I did say the left too. There was no one unifying event that sent a strong message to the Republicans convening in the city, and they too did not have an event that showed any unity.

    Econintersect:  While this column does present an accurate description of the divided condition of the USA, it fails to discuss that such a condition has been a feature of this country since its founding.  Starting with Jeffersonian democratic republicans vs. the federalists (1780s to 1820s); then the Jacksonian states rightists and decentralized banking proponents against a new breed of federalists and monetarists (1820s to 1840s); then the great divide over slavery (late 1840s to 1865); then the rise of labor as a political force, often with violence, against the monied elite (late 1800s to early 1900s; then the strong divisions over war and laissez-faire vs. controlled economy (1914 to 1941); the civil rights era from 1950s to 1960s; then the Vietnam War era with much dissension and violence (1960s to mid-1970s); and now the current era with financialized globalization forces opposed by an oppressed (former?) middle class and lower income groups.  What is perhaps different this time is that the non-elite opposition is very fragmented and some groups don't even understand what their opponent(s) is (are).  This ignorance is recognized by the author in his essay.

  • Man faces prison after allegedly trying to deposit 10,000 bottles in Michigan (The Guardian)  Brian Everidge, who is accused of attempting to “return” more than 10,000 bottles from other states, faces up to five years in prison for one felony count of beverage return of non-refundable bottles.  Michigan has a 10-cent bottle deposit whereas many other states have only 5 cents.

  • Jon Stewart comes out of retirement to unload on Trump supporters (The Hill)  Stewart said in an appearance on the "Late Show" (statement at 11:00 minutes in the video):

"You feel that you’re this country’s rightful owners.  There’s only one problem with that: This country isn’t yours. You don’t own it. It never was.”


"...we are deeply worried about the developments in our neighboring country. Anything that disturbs the Europe-Turkey agreement on refugees may increase the migration flows. We hope that this agreement will be respected.,"


  • After Obama's green light, Afghan forces on the offensive (Associated Press)   After two years of heavy casualties, the Afghan military is trying to retake the initiative in the war against militants with a new offensive against Islamic State group loyalists, an assault that will see American troops back on the battlefield working more closely with Afghan soldiers.  Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently announced a major assault against fighters loyal to the Islamic State group, who over the past year captured positions along Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, mainly in Nangarhar province. That goal to uproot IS from Afghanistan has taken on new urgency in the wake of a deadly suicide bombing of a protest march Saturday in Kabul that killed at least 80 people.


  • IOC declines to issue blanket ban of Russian athletes (USA Today)  In the face of calls to ban Russia from competing in the upcoming Rio Olympics, the International Olympic Committee on Sunday deferred decisions about the eligibility of the country’s athletes to the international federations that govern each sport.  The decision now moves the heavy lifting of determining whether individual athletes can meet the criteria set out by the IOC to demonstrate sufficient anti-doping records, a challenge for the international federations (IFs) as the IOC has advised reversing the presumption of innocence.  The IOC’s executive board made the decision that will certainly be unpopular in sport and anti-doping communities. The World Anti-Doping Agency, a group of 14 leaders of national anti-doping organizations and athletes worldwide had called for a collective ban.  See next article.

  • Russia orchestrated state-sponsored doping cover-up, says Wada report (The Guardian)  A devastating and damning report into Russian sport has found that the country’s government, security services and sporting authorities colluded to hide widespread doping across “a vast majority” of winter and summer sports.  The review, led by the highly respected Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, found widespread state action to hide cheating among Russian athletes in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, as well as a comprehensive cover up of doping during the World Championships in Moscow and the World University Games in Kazan in 2013 and the Winter Olympics in Sochi a year later.  In light of Monday’s report, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has now explicitly urged the IOC to consider banning Russia from the Olympics altogether while also suggesting Russia’s government officials should be denied access to Rio 2016.  For IOC action, see preceding article.

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

  • Was the Financial Crisis Anticipated? (Institute for New Economic Thinking)  Hat tip to Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism.  A research paper has found that the top executives’ ex-ante sale of their own bank shares predicts worse bank returns during the crisis; interestingly, effects are insignificant for independent directors’ and other officers’ sales of shares.  The effect is seen for the top five executives, with impact stronger for banks with higher ex-ante exposure to the real estate bubble.  In these cases where an increase of one standard deviation of insider sales is associated with a 13.33% point drop in stock returns during the crisis period.  For details see Anticipating the Financial Crisis: Evidence from Insider Trading in Banks (London, Centre for Economic Policy Research).

  • The highest paying jobs of 2016! (MSN News)  The short list (with median base pay):

  1. Physician ($180k median)

  2. Lawyer ($144.5k median)

  3. IT Manager ($120k median)

Women are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to men—despite the fact that over the last several decades millions more women have joined the workforce and made huge gains in their educational attainment. Too often it is assumed that this pay gap is not evidence of discrimination, but is instead a statistical artifact of failing to adjust for factors that could drive earnings differences between men and women. However, these factors—particularly occupational differences between women and men—are themselves often affected by gender bias. For example, by the time a woman earns her first dollar, her occupational choice is the culmination of years of education, guidance by mentors, expectations set by those who raised her, hiring practices of firms, and widespread norms and expectations about work–family balance held by employers, co-workers, and society. In other words, even though women disproportionately enter lower-paid, female-dominated occupations, this decision is shaped by discrimination, societal norms, and other forces beyond women’s control.

  • Verizon Said to Announce $4.8 Billion Yahoo Takeover Monday (Bloomberg)  Verizon Communications Inc. will announce plans to buy Yahoo! Inc.’s core assets for about $4.8 billion on Monday, a move that would finally seal the fate of the iconic web pioneer after months of speculation and pressure from investors.  This is a continuation of a trend for service providers to also become content providers.  (Econintersect:  We suggest there are significant anti-trust issues in this trend which are not being addressed.  What compromises are forced on open internet access when the providers are also majpr content porviders?)  This purchase is slightly more than 10% of Yahoo!  - the company will be left with its stakes in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan Corp., with a combined market value of about $40 billion.

  • Two Illustrations  Forwarded by Roger Erickson without links to source(s):



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