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What We Read Today 10 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".).


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Topics today include:

  • U.S. Has Gutted Independent Research

  • Privatization of Public Interests

  • All About Carfentanil

  • Fentanyl is Deadlier than Heroin

  • Keynes' Did Not Have Deficit Spending in His Theory

  • 20% of Republicans Want Trump to Drop Out

  • Did the Secret Service Talk to Trump About His Remarks?

  • More Clinton Email Problems - This Time Regarding Clinton Foundation

  • Ben Bernanke Say Fed Will Not Raise Rates Soon

  • Cost of Obama's 600 Regulations - No Mention of Any Benefits

  • Bank of England Exempts Excess Reserves from Capital Requirements

  • Turkish Admiral Seeks Asylum in U.S.

  • Russia Accuses Ukraine of 'Incursions' in Crimea

  • When Will Australian Mortgage Debt Growth End?

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • One-in-five U.S. Republicans want Trump to drop out: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Reuters)  Nearly one-fifth of registered Republicans want Donald Trump to drop out of the race for the White House, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday, reflecting the turmoil his candidacy has sown within his party.  Some 19% think the New York real estate magnate should drop out, 70% think he should stay in and 10% say they "don't know," according to the Aug. 5-8 poll of 396 registered Republicans. The poll has a confidence interval of six percentage points.  See also Anti-Trump Republicans struggle with how to best reject nominee (Reuters).

  • Secret Service spoke to Trump about ‘Second Amendment’ remark: report (The Hill)  The Secret Service has spoken to Donald Trump’s campaign about the candidate’s remark that gun owners might take action against Hillary Clinton, according to CNN.  The agency has had “more than one conversation” with Trump aides about his rhetoric, the network reported Wednesday. Trump aides reportedly told the Secret Service that the GOP nominee did not intend to incite violence.  See next article (published later than this one).

  • JUST IN: Secret Service never formally spoke to Trump campaign: Official (Reuters)  Reuters has collected Twitter chatter.  Who knows the truth?

  • Critics see signs of improper ties in new Clinton emails (The Hill)  Republicans are seizing on a new collection of emails from senior aides to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, which they say show signs of corruption between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.  At least three of the 44 new email exchanges released by conservative group Judicial Watch this week show a potentially inappropriate connection between senior State Department officials and people with ties to the Clinton family.

  • Ben Bernanke: The Fed's not going to be raising rates for a while (CNBC)  Ben Bernanke thinks his former colleagues at the Federal Reserve will be reluctant to raise interest rates anytime soon.  Chastened over forecasting errors, Fed officials will be less likely to tip their hands on how they see the future.

  • 600 Major Regulations (American Action Forum)  The chart below captures the major rules published from 2005 to 2015. During President Obama’s tenure, the nation has averaged roughly 81 major rules annually.  What will the final tally be for major regulations? To date, the administration’s major rules have cost, on average, $1.4 billion. With the possibility of 50 more rules, the lame duck tally could push this regulatory cost figure to $813 billion ($743 billion base plus $70 billion in future rules).  Econintersect:  This is terrible, right?  Truth is we simply do not know.  This foundation, led by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, should know better than publish such meaningless drivel.  What is the value of these regulations?  There must be something in this equation besides cost estimates. 




  • Turkish admiral 'claims asylum in US' after failed coup (BBC News)  A high-ranking Turkish military officer has reportedly claimed asylum in the United States after authorities in Turkey linked him to the failed coup.  Mustafa Ugurlu had been on a posting to a NATO base in Virginia at the time of the 15 July botched coup.  Turkey has purged its military ranks of some 100 generals accused of being part of a shadowy movement that follows a US-based Turkish preacher.  Rear Adm Ugurlu disappeared on 22 July, a week after the coup.


  • Russia accuses Ukraine of attempted Crimea 'incursions' (BBC News)  Russia has accused Ukraine of trying to carry out armed incursions into Crimea - the territory annexed by Russia in 2014 after an unrecognized referendum.  The FSB intelligence agency said two attempted incursions had taken place over the weekend and a Russian soldier and an FSB employee had been killed.  President Vladimir Putin vowed "further security measures" in response to Ukraine's "stupid and criminal" acts.  Ukraine's president described the accusations as "preposterous".


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

  • Government Has Gutted Its Independent Research (The New York Times)  Cuts to research agencies have left Congress outsourcing policy analysis to privately funded institutions.  Matt Stoller says that there is an inherent conflict posed in the financing of policy ideas. On the one hand, money is required to assemble the data and narratives necessary to present policy options. On the other hand, money can also, in and of itself, corrupt those ideas. This is the think tank analogue to the problem presented by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

    One traditional answer is publicly financed research institutions. Since 1800, the Library of Congress has helped Congress formulate policy. The Congressional Research Service was set up by the progressive Senator Robert LaFollette. Herbert Hoover established the General Accounting Office. For 40 years, House Democrats ran an internal think tank known as the Democratic Study Committee that was so influential even Republicans relied on its unbiased analysis of legislation. In the 1970s, the Office of Technology Assessment was established to help Congress work through technical and scientific problems. It did pioneering policy research on such diverse topics as railroads, H.I.V., climate change and industrial policy. The government also financed research within private institutions, across universities and at think tanks.

    In 1995, Newt Gingrich, the newly selected speaker of the House, created a new system of private governance. He eliminated the Democratic study group and the O.T.A.; the budgets of Congressional committees, the G.A.O., and C.R.S. stagnated. The result was an outsourcing of policy analysis to privately funded institutions. Congress increasingly retained ceremonial aspects of democracy, with the policy work done elsewhere.

    Econintersect:  Private institutions' research will reflect the wishes of their financial backers.  Privatization of public interest is a non sequitur.

  • Everything You Should Know About Carfentanil, the Drug Even Deadlier Than Fentanyl (Vice)  The Canadian Border Services Agency announced that earlier this summer a dangerous drug called carfentanil was seized in a package from China destined for Calgary. A potent synthetic drug more powerful than fentanyl, carfentanil is known for being a large animal tranquilizer and for its alleged use as a chemical weapon by the Russian military.  This is not the first time carfentanil destined for the illicit drug market has been found in North America. In July, health officials in Ohio issued a warning about the drug after a string of mass overdoses where the substance was found in the heroin supply. Over just three days, 25 overdoses were reported in Akron, Ohio—four of which were fatal; and in Columbus, ten overdoses occurred in a nine-hour window, including two fatal ones. A man in Ohio was charged in connection to a death and a number of overdoses following the incidents.  See next article.

  • Fentanyl: The Drug Deadlier than Heroin (Vice)  This is an immersive and personal feature film about the fentanyl crisis in Canada told from the perspective of a community of drug users.  This video has been edited from its original version due to privacy concerns surrounding one of its subjects.

  • Fiscal fallacies (1): Keynes wanted ‘Government loan-expenditures’, NOT deficit spending (Touch Stone)  Hat tip to Ann Pettifor.  For decades Keynes’ approach to public spending has been understood as ‘deficit spending’. But this reflects a serious misunderstanding of his practical initiatives and the associated theoretical reasoning and justification. Undoubtedly choosing his language with great care, Keynes consistently championed ‘government loan-expenditures’.  (Econintersect:  The argument against Keynes approach is that "the governemnt has a budget just like a household", which is mentioned in this essay.)  From this article:

For Keynes, any such government spending was not deficit spending, because he understood the spending as the most sensible means to reduce the deficit: ‘deficit-reduction spending’ might be more apt, but rather contorted. The same is true for ideas that more debt should be tolerated – debt as a share of income should fall not rise under a judicious programme of government loan-expenditures.  The obvious comparison is between the 1930s, when (from 1934) the government was finally persuaded to address the unemployment crisis with increased expenditure, and outcomes over the past five years under George Osborne’s policies. (The exception is when expansion proceeds faster than the private sector can cope, most obviously in war.)

UK Debt to GPD Ratio

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