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What We Read Today 05 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:

  • Is the Era of Negative Yields Coming to an End?

  • Japan 10-year Bounces Yield Up to Near Zero

  • Value of a Dollar is 36% Higher in Mississippi than in Washington, DC

  • Soaring U.S. Corporate Debt

  • Sinful Avarice Repackaged as Good Self Interest

  • Glyphosate (Round Up) Found in High Percentage of Urine Samples

  • End EU and Restructure Europe

  • EU Should Return to 771 AD

  • FIFA vs. IOC for Champion of "Scumbaggery"

  • Trump Plans to Endorse Ryan

  • Zika Closes Down Section of Miami

  • North Carolina to Appeal "Discriminatory" Voter Law to SCOTUS

  • Shale Drillers Continue to Add Rigs

  • Clinton Continues to have Trouble with Parsing

  • Chernobyl as World's Largest Solar Farm

  • China Leaders Meet about Country's Future

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • Trump, looking to right the ship, plans to endorse Ryan (Reuters)  Republican Donald Trump took steps to steer his White House campaign back into favor with his party on Friday with reported plans to endorse U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan after expressing coolness toward him earlier this week.  Fox News and CNN said Trump would endorse Ryan, the top U.S. elected Republican, in his re-election bid at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is Ryan's home state. Ryan had no plans to attend the event, in a sign of lingering frictions between them.

  • Florida Shudders as Zika Spread Forces Miami Shops to Close (Bloomberg)   Cafes and art galleries in Miami’s Wynwood Art District would normally be bustling this week, even during some of the hottest days of the year, but with Zika virus spreading in the area, businesses like Wynwood Yard and Gallery 212 are keeping their doors shut.  There were 16 cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika reported in the mainland U.S. as of Friday, and health officials have traced most to a square-mile area north of downtown Miami. Empty streets there reminded Gallery 212 owner Michael Perez of when he had to temporarily close a store in New York in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

  • North Carolina will ask Supreme Court to allow voter ID law to stand (Reuters)  North Carolina will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stay an appellate court ruling that struck down the state's voter ID law a week ago, Republican Governor Pat McCrory said on Friday.  The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday refused the state's request to put its decision on hold while North Carolina asks the Supreme Court to overturn it ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.  McCrory said the state will ask justices by early next week to stay the appeals court's ruling, which found that sweeping changes to the state's voting rules in 2013 intentionally discriminated against African-Americans.  Five votes on the eight-member Supreme Court are needed to grant a stay application.

  • Shale Drillers Add Oil Rigs for Longest Streak in a Year (Bloomberg)  U.S. oil drillers added rigs for the sixth-straight week, marking the longest period of expansion in a year as the shale patch revives from the worst downturn in a generation.  Rigs targeting crude in the U.S. rose by 7 to 381 in the past week, Baker Hughes Inc. said on its website Friday. Explorers have now added 51 rigs since June 24, expanding activity in nine of the past 10 weeks. The rise was prompted by a rebound in prices that peaked in June before falling off again.

  • Clinton says she may have 'short-circuited' statements about emails (The Guardian)  Addressing a convention of African American and Latino journalists in Washington, Clinton was put on the spot over recent statements she gave to two interviewers in which she claimed Comey had said her answers to its investigators were “truthful” and this was consistent with what she told the American people.  Critics argued that, while Comey did not assert she lied to the FBI, nor did he pass judgment on whether she told the truth to ordinary Americans. Clinton received a damning “pants on fire” verdict from the Politifact website.  Last month, Clinton was found to have been “extremely careless” but not criminal by the FBI, which did not recommend pressing charges that would almost certainly have torpedoed her run for the White House. But the controversy has continued to burn and her rare appearance on Fox News put it back on the media agenda.  Econintersect:  Clinton is suffering from her training in law, where parsing language is taught.  The American people want direct talk and open communication.


  • A Radical Proposal After Brexit: End the European Union and Begin Destructive Creation (Evonomics)  The argument here is that the EU needs to be reformulated.  The author says:  "[T]he EU is dead; long live a new and better EU."  His suggestion is that a "core Europe" is the proper starting point for a reorganized political union (and suggests that the empire of Charlemagne - map below - defines much of what today would be "core Europe").  Econintersect:  The author (Peter Turchin, Professor of Biology and Anthropology, University of Connecticut, and Vice President of the Evolution Institute) doesn't mention what we think is a historical parallel example:  The replacement of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (1781-1789) with the United States Constitution


  • Chernobyl Could Become World's Largest Solar Farm (EcoWatch)  The 1986 meltdown, which released radiation at least 100 times more powerful than the radiation released by the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, rendered roughly 2,600 square kilometers of the area unsuitable for habitation. Greenpeace found that animals living within the exclusion zone have higher mortality rates, increased genetic mutations and decreased birth rate.  But in a twist of poetic justice, the Ukrainian government has expressed ambitions to turn 6,000 hectares within Chernobyl's "exclusion zone" into a renewable energy hub. The proposed plant would generate 1-gigawatt of solar power and 400-megawatts of biogas per year. The country is pushing for a six-month construction cycle.  For more, see The Guardian.


  • Japan government bond yields climb, nearly exiting negative territory (CNBC)  Japan's government spending plan has been panned as just not big enough, but it may have already had one big effect: Pushing deeply negative bond yields toward the zero line.  Jim Awad, managing director at wealth advisory firm Plimsoll Mark Capital, said that Japan's move to fiscal spending instead of further action from the central bank may have spurred the view that monetary policy had reached the limits of its effectiveness.  Japan government bond (JGB) yields have climbed, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising from as low as negative 0.273% shortly before the Bank of Japan (BOJ) announcement, to within a smidgen of the zero line, touching negative 0.009% on Tuesday. Bond prices move inversely to yields.  Awad told CNBC's "The Rundown":

"It is the aggressive monetary policy worldwide which has sent stock prices up and bond yields down. So the fact that they switched from more aggressive monetary policy to fiscal, I think, sort of spooked markets worldwide.  I think the markets felt that if they were going to go the fiscal route as opposed to the monetary route, they didn't do enough and therefore it's likely to fail." 


  • A secret meeting of leaders in a Chinese beach town could determine the future of the country (CNBC)   A closed-door meeting in a resort town on the Bohai Sea may be where China's future leadership begins to take shape, at a time when observers say there's tension at the top in Beijing.  President Xi Jinping is said to be hosting the very highest echelon of China's Communist Party this week in Beidaihe. No hard decisions on leadership are expected to come immediately from the annual meeting, but this year's conclave is expected to initiate those conversations among top officials.  The precise whereabouts of the meeting are not disclosed, but sources close to CNBC said the annual meeting typically takes places in four to five villas nestled in Beidaihe, a coastal town.

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

  • Soaring Corporate Debt Bets on Improving Economy (Moody's Analytics)  Since June 2011, nominal GDP, for its worst five-year performance amid a seasoned economic upturn since the 1930s, has edged higher by merely 3.6% annualized, on average. However, the persistently sluggish growth did not deter corporate borrowing. For example, nonfinancial-corporate debt advanced by a much faster 6.6% annualized, on average, since mid-2011. As inferred from the nearly 10% yearly increase for the sum of the outstanding commercial and industrial (C&I) loans plus nonfinancial-company commercial paper, Q2-2016’s annual rise by nonfinancial-corporate debt is likely to approach 6.5%, which would more than double nominal GDP’s accompanying 2.4% yearly uptick. The GDP accounts supply an estimate of corporate gross-value-added, which is a proxy for corporate net revenues. In terms of yearly percent changes, nonfinancial-corporate gross-value-added shows a very strong correlation of 0.85 with nominal GDP. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that nonfinancial-corporate gross-value-added’s 3.8% average annual increase since June 2011 nearly matched nominal GDP’s 3.6% pace.

  • The Science Behind Sprinter Usain Bolt’s Speed (The Wall Street Journal)  Sprinters who have taken on Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash often describe a moment in the second half of the race when the world’s fastest-ever human just runs away from them.  One minute they are shoulder-to-shoulder with Bolt, believing that this will be the night the legend will be toppled. The next they are staring at his back, watching him raise his hands in triumph, sometimes many meters before he crosses the finish line.  What measurements tell us is that Bolt reaches maximum speed at about 70 meters, the norm for most sprinters, but then slows ever so slightly as he proceeds to the finish line.  All other opponents he has faced have slowed more rapidly.  So he doesn't "have another gear" as is so often said; he simply holds high gear longer that others.  Econintersect:  To paraphrase:  Who are you going to believe, science or your lying eyes?

  • How the Deadly Sin of Avarice Was Rehabilitated as Self Interest (Economics)  During the Middle Ages, avarice had been considered to be among the most mortal of the seven deadly sins, a view that became more widespread with the expansion of commercial activity after the twelfth century. So it is surprising that self-interest would eventually be accepted a respectable motive, and even more surprising that this change owed little to the rise of economics, at least at first.  How this came about, you will see, is a remarkable story, one that is finally running its course.  Econintersect:  This essay is a very worthwhile read.  We would add one thought that is a basis our our own personal social philosophy:  We are told that we must learn to love ourself before we can love others.  We are NOT told that we must learn to love ourself INSTEAD of loving others.  The latter is a basis for sociopathy.

  • Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested (EcoWatch)  Glyphosate, the most used herbicide in the world, has been found in the urine of 93% of the American public during a unique testing project that started in 2015.  Glyphosate, labeled a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization's cancer agency IARC in 2015, has now been revealed to be ubiquitous in the first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America.  Econintersect:  Americans, you are being "Rounded Up".  And, just as assuredly as the Jews who were rounded up by Hitler, the train you are on will not lead to a good place.  Caution:  We find the data presented to have obvious inconsistencies.  The levels of glyphosate in each of the four regions of the U.S. are all less than the national average result reported.  Also, the 93% result was obtained from an obviously not representative sample of 131 persons.  See research summary found here.

  • The Real Value of $100 in Each State (Tax Foundation)  Econintersect:  Did you know that someone making $40,000 a year in Mississippi would need nearly $55,000 to live as well in Washington, DC?  We determined that from the following:

This map shows the real value of $100 in each state. Prices for the same goods are often much cheaper in states like Missouri or Ohio than they are in states like New York or California. As a result, the same amount of cash can buy you comparatively more in a low-price state than in a high-price state.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has been measuring this phenomenon for two years now; it recently published its data for prices in 2014. Using this data, we have adjusted the value of $100 to show how much it buys you in each state.

Click for larger iage at the Tax Foundation.

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