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What We Read Today 01 August 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:

  • 250 People, Places and Things Donald Trump has Insulted on Twitter

  • Why Minsky Didn't Have a 'Moment'

  • Broker Squeezes $243,000 Out of Elderly Blind Widow in 3 Years

  • Elizabeth Warren's Libertarian Speech

  • Trump and Pence Divide on Statements about Muslim War Hero's Family

  • Clinton Campaign 'Computer System' Not Hacked, Just a 'Program' They Used

  • Refinance Legible Mortgages Increase in Number

  • Pre-2008 Mortgages Still Dominate Delinquencies

  • U.S. Air Strikes in Libya

  • FDI Surges in India

  • More on China Slowdown Woes

  • Rio:  Don't Go Near the Water  (The Hickory Limb May Be Okay)

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Click for larger image at Calculated Risk.


  • U.S. strikes Islamic State stronghold in Libya, expanding campaign against militant group (The Washington Post)  The United States has launched airstrikes on the Islamic State stronghold in Sirte, Libya, the Pentagon said on Monday, the first direct U.S. involvement in the fierce battle unfolding there and a significant expansion of the American campaign against the group.  In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that Libya’s Western-backed unity government had requested the air support as forces under its command battle to reclaim the coastal city of Sirte, which became an important Islamic State stronghold after militants seized it last year.


  • FDI inflows have risen 53% over last two years, says Finance Minister (Business Insider)  India has seen a 53% rise in FDI (foreign direct investment) inflows in the last two years, and the shining investment climate, which is a result of steps taken to foster growth, price stability and fiscal prudence, can be cited as the reason behind it. These said steps have also worked to improve the overall macroeconomic stability, said the government.  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Lok Sabha that nobody invests for "charity", and the government was further working on improving the ease of doing business in the country.   


  • Chinese Investors Balk at Company Bonds From Riskiest Province (Bloomberg)  China's rust belt is, well, rusting.  Investors are balking at bonds sold by companies in China’s province most vulnerable to financial risks, amid concerns the government is cutting support for troubled firms.  Right Way Real Estate Development Co., a developer based in the city of Dalian in the northeastern province of Liaoning, sold five-year AA rated notes at a yield of 7% on July 26. That was 289 basis points higher than the average on similar-maturity securities nationwide. Xinmin City Luxin Municipal Engineering Co., a local government financing vehicle also based in Liaoning, issued seven-year AA rated debentures at 6.41% in the same month, 206 basis points higher than the market yield.  Premier Li Keqiang, who served as party secretary of Liaoning from 2004 to 2007, is seeking to weed out zombie state-owned firms as China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in a quarter century. Chinese investors, who had been used to government bailouts, have seen a total of 17 onshore bond defaults nationwide this year, compared with seven in 2015, as authorities allow market forces to play a bigger role.

  • Chinese brokerages see profit declines in H1 (Xinhuanet)  All 25 listed securities firms posted sharp falls in net profits for the January-June period, according to their half-year financial reports or preliminary earnings estimate filed with stock exchanges.  Guotai Junan Securities, an industry leader, saw its profits shrink 47.91% from a year ago, while Shanxi Securities registered the biggest drop of 84.93%.  Weighed on by a market downturn, brokerage incomes from submission fees and leverage financing fell substantially.  Chinese stocks remained bearish in the first half of the year with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slumping more than 17% as market sentiment has yet to recover from a market crash last summer.


  • Six-year-old Afghan girl reportedly sold in marriage (The Washington Post)  A 6-year-old girl in rural Afghanistan was reportedly sold in marriage recently to a Muslim cleric in his 50s or 60s. She was later rescued and held in a shelter, while the man was arrested and jailed, Afghan officials said last week.  The incident, which came after several widely publicized cases of young brides being burned or stoned, highlights the enduring tribal practices of child marriage in Afghanistan,often involving abuse. The problem has persisted despite years of public education campaigns, women’s activists said, in part because poor parents need the income it brings.


  • Expert to Rio athletes: 'Don't put your head under water' (Associated Press)   Just days ahead of the Olympic Games the waterways of Rio de Janeiro are as filthy as ever, contaminated with raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria, according to a 16-month-long study commissioned by The Associated Press.  Not only are some 1,400 athletes at risk of getting violently ill in water competitions, but the AP's tests indicate that tourists also face potentially serious health risks on the golden beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.  The AP's survey of the aquatic Olympic and Paralympic venues has revealed consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses from the pollution, a major black eye on Rio's Olympic project that has set off alarm bells among sailors, rowers and open-water swimmers.  In light of the findings, biomedical expert Valerie Harwood had one piece of advice for travelers to Rio: "Don't put your head under water."

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

Having grown up during the Depression, Minsky was minded to dwell on disaster. Over the years he came back to the same fundamental problem again and again. He wanted to understand why financial crises occurred. It was an unpopular focus. The dominant belief in the latter half of the 20th century was that markets were efficient. The prospect of a full-blown calamity in developed economies sounded far-fetched. There might be the occasional stock market bust or currency crash, but modern economies had, it seemed, vanquished their worst demons.

Against those certitudes, Minsky, an owlish man with a shock of grey hair, developed his “financial-instability hypothesis”. It is an examination of how long stretches of prosperity sow the seeds of the next crisis, an important lens for understanding the tumult of the past decade. But the history of the hypothesis itself is just as important. Its trajectory from the margins of academia to a subject of mainstream debate shows how the study of economics is adapting to a much-changed reality since the global financial crisis.

  • FINRA: Broker squeezes $243K out of elderly blind widow (Financial Planning)  A broker allegedly defrauded a 77-year-old blind widow by churning her accounts and collecting more than $243,000 in commissions, FINRA says.  The fraud also cost the elderly victim almost $184,000 in net losses, according to a complaint filed by the regulator.  Hank Mark Werner of Northport, N.Y., who was registered with Legend Securities and Liberty Partners while acting as the client’s broker, allegedly engaged in a “deceptive and fraudulent scheme” by making excessive and unsuitable trades in the client’s IRA accounts over a three-year period, the regulator says.  Econintersect:  We don't need no regulation.  (Sarcasm alarm sounding.)

  • Elizabeth Warren’s Consolidation Speech Could Change the Election (Washington Monthly)  Hat tip to Rob Carter.  (Econintersect:  Here Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) argues against over-regulation in the U.S. economy.  She delivers a basically Libertarian message.)  Warren last week delivered an address at the New America’s Open Markets program entitled “Reigniting Competition in the American Economy”.  She noted that, as a result of three decades of weakened federal antitrust regulation, virtually every industrial sector today - from airlines to telecom to agriculture to retail to social media - is under the control of a handful of oligopolistic corporations. This widespread consolidation is “hiding in plain sight all across the American economy”, she said, and "threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy".

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