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What We Read Today 25 September 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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The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here

Topics today include:

  • Breakthrough Material for More Efficient Solar Cells

  • Company Law in U.S. and UK Fails to Recognize Taxpayer Bail-ins

  • Tech Dominates the Leaderboard

  • What is One of the Biggest Gainers in 2016 Investments?  Coal

  • Uranium Has a Dimming Glow

  • Russia Decries Cheap Money

  • Stanley Fisher:  The Problem is Productivity

  • Energy Drives Productivity

  • No Two Countries Have Dominated the Global Economy the Way India and China Did for 1800 Years

  • The Theory of Central Bank Balance Sheets and Currency Valuations is Broken

  • 18 Most Underrated Cities in the U.S.

  • 6 Best Big Cities in the U.S. - and 2 are Underrated!

  • Tech IPOs Shrink in Number - Like in the Financial Crisis

  • The Biggest Landholder in Syria is the Kurds

  • Iraq's Recapture of Mosul May Be the Start of a Bigger Problem

  • Philippines - U.S. War games to Start

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Global ‘Cheap Money’ Stirs Russian Dissent, Call for Caution (Bloomberg)  Russia’s central bank governor isn’t sure if the unprecedented monetary easing around the world is a killer or a cure for the global economy.  With the world awash in cash thanks to the stimulus programs of central banks from Europe to Japan, investors have poured money into projects that are damaging productivity while doing nothing to ease market volatility, Governor Elvira Nabiullina said in an interview with CNBC broadcast on Friday.  The Fed's Stanley Fisher says the problem is productivity - see graphic below.  Gail Tverberg says productivity is driven by energy issues - see Energy and Falling Productivity.


  • Central Bank Balance Sheets (Twitter)  Econintersect:  If central bank balance sheets were to correlate with currency debasement, how come the yen and the Swiss france are so strong?  In this apparent case of theory not being supported by facts, are we supposed to think the facts are wrong?


 “To thoroughly and honestly analyze [former CIA director] Allen Dulles’s legacy is to analyze the current state of national security in America and how it undermines democracy.  “To really grapple with what is in my book is not just to grapple with history. It is to grapple with our current problems.”

  • The 18 Most Underrated Cities in the U.S. (Conde Nast Traveler)  One disqualifying feature is for a city to have its own TV show, which rules out Philadelphia and Portland, OR.  That makes room for the "other Portland".  See also the next article, where 2 of the most underrated also make a list for the 6 best cities.

  • The 6 Best Big Cities (Money Magazine)  Both Raleigh, NC and Columbus, OH make the list of 18 most underrated above and the list for 6 best big cities.  Let's see, one of the 6 best and still underrated?  That's true exceptionalism!

  • Tech IPOs Go From Frozen to Overheated (Bloomberg)  There have been so few tech IPOs this year that some valuations are blowing up like balloons.



  • Trump tells Netanyahu he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital (Reuters)  Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Sunday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if elected, the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the campaign said, marking a potential dramatic shift in U.S. policy on the issue.  Israel calls Jerusalem its capital but few other nations recognize that.


  • Syria's Battered Wheat Crop (Twitter)  The focus of thsi post is the decline of wheat production in Syria.  But equally important is the map's display of land control in Syria.  The Kurds now occupy the largest land area, more than either the Asaad government or ISIS.


  • In battle for Iraq's Mosul, many forces with many motives (Associated Press)  The tacit alliance - Iraqi troops alongside Shiite militiamen, Sunni Arab tribesmen, Kurdish fighters and U.S special forces - underscores the importance of this battle. Retaking Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, would effectively break the back of the militant group, ending their self-declared "caliphate", at least in Iraq.  But the wide-ranging coalition is not likely to live happily ever after.   In a post-Islamic State Iraq, the enmities and rivalries among the players in the anti-IS coalition could easily erupt, complicated by 1.6 million displaced people resulting from two years of conflict, plus another 1 million more from the residue of Mosul.


  • Philippines to Host U.S. War Games After Duterte Softens Stance (Bloomberg)   The Philippines and the U.S. have scheduled military drills next month in the Southeast Asian nation, the U.S. embassy in Manila said, days after President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged that his country did need American troops in the South China Sea.  About 1,400 U.S. servicemen based in Okinawa, Japan, and 500 Philippine Armed Forces personnel will conduct an amphibious-landing exercise and live-fire training in multiple locations on the main island of Luzon and in Palawan, according to a statement on the embassy’s on Saturday. The drills, aimed at making troops better prepared to operate together during a natural disaster or armed conflict, are set for Oct. 4-12.

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

  • Chemists Find Key to Manufacturing More Efficient Solar Cells (R&D)  Columbia University chemists have discovered a new class of solar cell ingredients known as Hybrid Organic Inorganic Perovskites (HOIPs). Their results, reported in the prestigious journal Science, also explain why these new materials are so much more efficient than traditional solar cells—solving a mystery that will likely prompt scientists and engineers to begin inventing new solar materials with similar properties in the years ahead.

  • Ethics vs. Ethos in US and UK Megabanking (INET)  Company law in the US and UK fails to acknowledge that authorities’ propensity to rescue giant banks from the consequences of insolvency assigns taxpayers a coerced and badly structured equity stake in too-big-to-fail institutions.

  • Top Five Companies (Twitter)

  • VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (KOL) (Yahoo! Finace)  What if someone told you to "bet the farm" on coal in January this year, if you wanted to get rich?  Would you have done it?  Well the ETF NYSE:KOL has done very well, up 85% YTD and 116% from January lows.  Plus you would have collected a dividend yield near 5% annualized on your intitial investment.  The first chart below shows the 2016 prices and the second shows the 5-year performance, with the current price down more than 70% from the late 2011 peak.



  • Uranium's Glow Dims as Nuclear Fuel Drops to 11-Year Low: Chart (Bloomberg)   Uranium prices have gone from bad to worse, slumping to an 11-year low as brimming global inventories weigh on a market that hasn’t recovered from the Fukushima disaster in Japan.  Spot uranium declined 1.4% to $24.40 a pound on Thursday, the lowest since April 2005, according to data from Ux Consulting Co. Prices have slumped 29% this year, making it the worst performing energy commodity in 2016. The fuel has more than halved since hitting $73 the month before the Fukushima meltdown in 2011.


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