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What We Read Today 31 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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Topic today include:

  • Charts are Looking Up for Silver and Gold

  • Has America Entered Its 'Victorian Period'?

  • Comcast is Fighting a Rear Guard Action Against Streaming Content

  • White Doctors Earn More than Blacks

  • World Markets Weekend Update

  • In U.S., Third Parties are Surging

  • Polls Indicate Trump and Clinton are Tied (Nate Silver)

  • Debbie Wasserman Schulz Now Has Problems in Her Home District

  • Would You Allow a Satanic Temple in Yout Elementary School?

  • The 11 Most Stressed Banks in Europe

  • Italy's Most Troubled Bank

  • German Utility Bond Makes 30% in One Month

  • Saudi Arabia Economy is Drying Up

  • U.S. Backed Forces Gain Against Islamic State

  • Russia Indicates Clinton Victory Will End Recent "Reset" Period

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Third-party support surging (The Hill)  Voters now confronted with the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are making something abundantly clear: they want another option.  Surveys over the last six weeks have found a steady but noticeable jump in support for third-party candidates. The biggest beneficiary has been Libertarian Gary Johnson, who has shot up from 4.5% to 7.2% in RealClearPolitics polling averages. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has also seen an uptick since June — from 2.5% to 3.5%.

  • Who will win the presidency? (FiveThirtyEight)  Today the latest assessment of the polls-only data has the race tied.  (The assessment of polls combined with comparison of today with historical data has Clinton with a comfortable lead, as does Nate Silver's assessment of the outcome should the election be held today.  Econintersect:  Our assessment is that time is on Trump's side.)



  • Wasserman Schultz’s problems aren’t over yet (The Hill)  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is facing the toughest political race of her life after ending her controversial tenure as leader of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  Her House seat is on the line in a primary race against well-funded challenger Tim Canova, and the battle is heating up amid the fallout from her resignation following the leak of hacked emails that showed DNC officials plotting to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign in the Democratic primary.  Some think the race has changed after the former chairwoman’s tough week and the challenger has moved closer to being able to defeat Wasserman Schulz.  Bernie Sanders has endorsed Canova, a college professor, and a political consulting firm run by top aides to the Sanders campaign has joined his campaign.  Canova, 56, is a professor of Law and Public Finance at Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad College of Law, specializing in banking and financial law.  See Wikipedia and Nova University bio.

  • An After School Satan Club could be coming to your kid’s elementary school (The Washington Post, MSN News)  Good News Clubs, which are sponsored by an organization founded in 1937 called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), aim to reach children as young as 5 with a fundamentalist form of evangelical Christianity.  By 2011, CEF reported 3,560 Good News Clubs, putting them in more than 5% of the nation’s public elementary schools.  This is the movement that After School Satan Club, run by an organization named Satanic Temple, wants to counter.  But the name does not represent an attempt to introduce "devil worship" or have anything to do with "satanic rights"; the objective is to introduce children to "free inquiry and rationalism" and to "give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of an everlasting other-worldly horror".   One teacher quoted in the article said that:

 the Satanic Temple’s materials say the group encourages benevolence and empathy among all people, and advocates practical common sense.



  • When Central Banks Rule the World, Utility Bonds Make 30 Percent in a Month (Bloomberg)   Investors seeking an example of the degree to which central banks are driving up asset prices need look no further than a bond sold by a German utility.  RWE AG's 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) of 2039 bonds gained nearly 30 percent in the past four weeks. That's despite the company being downgraded to one step above junk last month and battling with squeezed profit margins and wholesale electricity prices at the lowest in more than a decade.



  • After Two Bailouts, Monte Paschi Faces a Challenge Wooing Investors (Bloomberg)  Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA’s plan to turn to private investors to help bolster its balance sheet ended speculation that Italy would bail out the world’s oldest lender for a third time to help stave off another banking crisis.  Success depends in part on winning backing for a new fund that will buy the bank’s bad loans at prices that, according to at least one analyst, are higher than buyers have been willing to pay. Then Monte Paschi needs to find investors willing to provide €5 billion ($5.6 billion) of new equity to a lender worth less than €1 billion.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia Oil Demand Growth at 6-Year Low as Economy Sputters (Bloomberg)  Oil consumption in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, is expanding at the slowest pace in at least six years as low energy prices hurt economic growth.  The kingdom’s demand for oil increased by an average of 24,000 barrels a day in the first five months of 2016, the slowest growth rate for that period since at least 2010, the first year for which data are available from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative in Riyadh. The International Energy Agency is now looking for a drop in demand in Saudi Arabia for all of 2016, after forecasting an increase earlier this year.


  • U.S.-backed forces win control of most of Syria's Manbij from Islamic State: spokesman (Reuters)   U.S.-backed forces have now seized control of almost 70 percent of Manbij in northern Syria from Islamic State after making rapid advances over the past two days, a spokesman said on Sunday.  Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) have pushed back the ultra hardline Sunni militants into the old quarter after seizing most of the western, eastern and southern sectors of the city, Sharfan Darwish of the SDF-allied Manbij military council told Reuters in Beirut by telephone.


  • Russian television shows what the Kremlin thinks of Clinton  (Associated Press)  According to reports on Russia's official state television, the Russian view is that her election would indicate that "the era of the reset is over", referring to the relationship between Russia and U.S. since the end of the cold war.

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

  • An anthropologist looks at our New Victorianism: Imperialism, and Identity Politics (Fabius Maximus)  FM has contributed to GEI.  This is part 2 of 4 in a series, written by an anthropologist, which examines the parallels between Great Britain 125 years ago and the U.S. today.  Very worthwhile read.

  • Comcast: The Economics Of Offering Cheaper, Better Streaming TV Service 'Unproven' (  As cable operators consolidate and AT&T and Verizon continue to hang up on millions of unwanted DSL customers they don't want to upgrade, cable's monopoly control over the U.S. broadband market is actually stronger than ever. In most markets, cable broadband's "competition" still consists of either a cash-strapped telco incapable of offering speeds greater than 6 Mbps, or no competition at all. That's why we've seen Comcast rush to impose usage caps on many of these captive markets; an effort to protect legacy TV revenues from Internet video -- a move only made possible by a lack of competition.  Despite this lack of competition, Comcast has at least flirted with the idea of adapting to streaming competition and offering a cheaper, more flexible streaming TV option of its own.  But the company made it abundantly clear on this week's earnings call, when it effectively tried to claim that the "economics" of offering better, cheaper TV service don't work, that it's strategy is to appear innovative while milking their core legacy business to the final drop.  Econintersect:  We are spending more and more time viewing streaming services and less and less on the outmoded cable services. 

  • White doctors earn more money than black physicians, study finds (Medical Economics)  Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School teamed with researchers from Harvard and the University of Southern California to study race and employment data from two nationally representative surveys:

“The biggest takeaway from the study is that, despite the uniform education levels and credentials among all doctors, white male physicians earn substantively more than black male physicians even when one accounts for factors such as specialty, work hours, practice type, patient insurance mix, and geography.”

  • World Markets Weekend Update: The Global Rally Moderates Further (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives  The global rally in equities moderated further last week. Only three of the eight posted gains, down from six the previous week. T average gain of the eight indexes on our world watch shrank to 0.27%. The two Eurozone indexes were the top performers, the DAXK up 1.87% and the CAC up 1.34%. India's SENSEX was the third winner, up 0.89%. China's Shanghai was the biggest loser, down 1.11%.

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