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What We Read Today 26 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".).


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Topics today include:

  • Mythical Places that May or May Not Have Existed

  • Cities Will Change For Driverless Cars

  • Oil Prices are in a Historically Slow Recovery

  • Oil Prices Up 3%

  • Three Spotlights on Tonight's Debate

  • Trump Roles Out Economic Strategy

  • Mysterious 'Troubled Lawyer' Carried Out Houston Shooting

  • Deutsche Bank Hits New Low

  • Banker Says Germany Must Rescue Deutsche Bank, Government Officials Say No

  • Bodies Litter Aleppo Hospital Floor

  • India's Abandoned Children When Mother's Leave for Nata Pratha

  • China Launches $52,5 Billion Restructuring Fund

  • China Has the World's Most Vulnerable Economy

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Oil ends up 3 percent as OPEC meets; volatility hits post-Doha high (Reuters)  Oil settled up 3%t on Monday as the world's largest producers gathered in Algeria to discuss ways to support prices, with nervous trade driving volatility to its highest since a similar meeting to freeze output in April in Doha which failed.  The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers led by Russia are meeting informally on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in Algeria from Sept. 26-28 to tackle a crude glut that has battered prices for two years now.  Key OPEC member Iran, the fourth largest crude exporter which is still trying to recapture output before Western sanctions in 2012, downplayed the chances of a deal while some OPEC members remained hopeful.  Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled up $1.46, or 3.2%, at $47.35 a barrel after trading between $45.74 and $47.66.  U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 rose $1.45, or 3.3%, to settle at $45.93 after a session high of $46.20 and low of $44.43.


  • Moderator Lester Holt under scrutiny during debate (Associated Press)  The spotlite may be the strongest tonight on Lester Holt.  Everyone's aware of the stakes for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the first presidential debate, but there's a third person in the equation who faces a different pressure: Lester Holt.  The NBC News veteran is moderating his first general election debate, making him solely responsible for the questions asked each candidate and for steering the conversation. His performance will be closely watched, particularly in light of a dispute over the extent to which he should call politicians out for making untrue statements.

  • ‘The whole chessboard’: A new document reveals Donald Trump’s economic strategy in detail (The Washington Post)  Donald Trump would pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization if necessary to help American companies sell more abroad. He thinks that he can close the United States’ $500 billion trade deficit within two years by renegotiating trade deals. And he sees this new approach to trade as the key complement to a bevy of traditional Republican policies — tax cuts, energy drilling and deregulation — that will supercharge the economy, according to a new campaign analysis that lays out the Republican candidate’s economic strategy in the most detail yet.  It is an unusually ideologically scattered plan for a major-party presidential nominee. It is a tapestry of supply-side conservatism and liberal populism. It promises to free American companies to compete more successfully on the world stage and to force America's top trading partners into submission.  Perhaps paradoxically, it also claims that those trading partners will be better off for bowing to Trump's demands.  The plan's guiding theory is that the U.S. economy is growing slowly because past presidents in the globalization era haven't even tried to level the free-trade playing field in America's favor.

  • Troubled lawyer shoots nine in Houston before being killed by police (Reuters)   A troubled lawyer opened fire on morning commuters in Houston on Monday, injuring at least nine people before being fatally shot by police, authorities said.  Six victims were taken to hospitals and three were treated at the scene after being shot at while inside their vehicles in the wealthy neighborhood of West University Place, acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo told reporters.  One of the victims was in critical condition and another was in serious condition.  Montalvo declined to identify the suspect but said he was a lawyer. She said the FBI was assisting with the investigation and did not mention terrorism as a motive.

  • Senate's odd couple forge unlikely alliance on environment (Associated Press)  The oddest of Senate odd couples — California Democrat Barbara Boxer and Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe — have accomplished something highly unusual in this bitter election year: significant, bipartisan legislation on the environment that has become law.  Boxer, a staunch liberal, calls climate change the "greatest challenge to hit the planet", battles against offshore drilling, rails about the dangers of nuclear power and has pushed to restrict greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.  Inhofe proudly calls himself an unabashed conservative who dismisses global warming as a hoax and famously tossed a snowball on the Senate floor to prove his point.  Yet somehow, the two have managed to become friends and political partners, working closely together to find common ground and frequently gushing about the other. Earlier this year, Inhofe and Boxer shepherded a sweeping bill to impose new regulations on tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products, from household cleaners to clothing and furniture. It was the first update of the law in 40 years.



  • Germany Will Rescue Deutsche Bank If Necessary, Allianz Says (Bloomberg)  The German government will have to bail out Deutsche Bank AG if its financial situation gets bad enough, Allianz Global Investors AG Chief Investment Officer Andreas Utermann said.  German officials have tried to shut down talk of a potential rescue for the country’s biggest bank, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert saying Monday there are “no grounds” for speculation over state funding for the $2 trillion-asset lender. Focus magazine reported Sunday that Merkel has ruled out any state assistance for Deutsche Bank AG as she considers whether to run for a fourth term next year.


  • Aleppo: Bodies litter floor at makeshift hospital (Al Jazeera)   Hospitals are struggling to cope in Syria's Aleppo as government and Russian fighter jets continued to pound the city's rebel-held east, killing more than 200 people in under a week.  Al Jazeera's Amr al-Halabi, reporting from a makeshift hospital in the city, described a bleak situation as the hospital overflowed with dozens of dead and wounded people.  Bodies littered the ground inside and outside the facility, as volunteers and relatives carried severly wounded people inside, looking for somehere to put them down on a floor already full with air raid victims.


  • India: The children left behind by an ancient custom (Al Jazeera)  Prevalent in the Bhil tribal community, the custom of Nata Pratha allows a man to pay money to live with a woman to whom he is not married.  The custom has also found support among tribal leaders such as Bansilal Kharadi, who is a member of a panchayat, or village council, in a Bhil community and believes that the tradition can be empowering for women, allowing them to choose to leave husbands they are unhappy with in order to live with another man.  A major social problem arises when the women who choses Nata Pratha often leaves previous children behind.  They are often left with relatives and suffer from neglect and abuse.


  • China launches $52.5 billion fund to restructure state enterprises (Reuters)  China has launched a 350 billion yuan ($52.5 billion) state enterprise restructuring fund to advance its 'supply-side' reforms as the world's second-largest economy undergoes its most significant transformation in two decades.  China has made reform of its lumbering and uncompetitive state-owned enterprises (SOEs) a priority as weak global demand drags on economic growth and excess capacity and idle workers bleed what precious resources companies have at their disposal.  Earlier this year, China said it was planning to allocate 100 billion yuan to help local authorities and SOEs finance layoffs in its struggling coal and steel industries. Up to 1.8 million people in the sectors could lose their jobs, official estimates showed. The capital raised by the China State-owned Enterprises Restructuring Fund will focus on boosting the competitiveness of some SOEs and their international operations, including overseas acquisitions, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which will manage the fund, said in a document.  Econintersect:  It does not appear that privatization is part of the reform.

  • A New Measure of China's Vulnerability (Bloomberg)   Where in the world might the next financial crisis start? If you believe a new measure of credit risk, China is the leading candidate.  The 2008 financial crisis helped bring global leaders to the realization that they needed a better early-warning system. To that end, the Bank for International Settlements -- a sort of central bankers' central bank -- has been publishing more data on money flows around the world. These include an indicator called the credit-to-GDP gap, which focuses on the amount of credit being provided to households and businesses as a share of gross domestic product. The more the indicator rises above its longer-term trend in a given country, the more likely it is that borrowers are getting overextended -- a situation that tends to lead to defaults, banking troubles and broader slumps.

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

  • Mythical Destinations That Probably Don't Exist (Or Do They?) (The Daily Meal, MSN Lifestyle)  Slide show that recounts places such as Camelot and Atlantis, existing in mythology but not confirmed archaeologically, some of which may have various aspects of real ancient history at their roots. 

  • Cities Will Change When Cars Drive Themselves (Bloomberg)  Self-driving cars got a green light from the U.S. government this week, but still have their own challenges: erratic human drivers, compromised visibility, unexpected route changes. Here's one they won't face until they catch on: zoning.  As soon as self-driving cars are readily available, proponents will run into political battles over land use, a challenge familiar to urbanism advocates.  These proponents have a compelling vision to reduce traffic-related injuries and lower transportation costs. They also aim to cut car ownership and repurpose parking spaces and garages. That's where the conflict begins.  After all, transportation is a unique need. When you order a book on Amazon, you can wait a day or two for it to arrive, from a distribution center in another state. But a customer summoning a self-driving car would expect to wait only 5 to 10 minutes for it to arrive. One way that companies could meet this expectation is by stationing fleets of vehicles within a 5 to 10 minute drive of almost every residential neighborhood in the country. To neighborhood preservationists, this will represent the biggest threat to community character since the building of the interstate highways in the middle of the 20th century.

  • Oil Prices are in Historically Slow Recovery (Twitter)


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