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What We Read Today 30 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:

  • Now Many are Homeless in the U.S.?

  • What is the Economic Cost of Having Homeless People?

  • Hackers Target Election Systems

  • Is There Any Hope for U.S. to Approve Trade Deals?

  • Stock Purchases by the ECB?

  • EU Official Wants Bank Rules Relaxed

  • Rumored U.S. Settlement Figure of $5.4 Billion for DB, Stock Jumps

  • Spain Peaks Out of Deflation for First Time in Over 2 Years

  • More than 80% of UN Aid Convoys Blocked in Syria

  • Russia Ships More War Planes to Syria

  • Foreigners Selling Japanese Stocks

  • Japanese Retail Continue to Decline

  • Singapore Warns China on South China Sea

  • China is Buying Up the World's Donkeys

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • US official: Hackers targeted election systems of 20 states (Associated Press)  Hackers have targeted the voter registration systems of more than 20 states in recent months, a Homeland Security Department official said Friday.  The disclosure comes amid heightened concerns that foreign hackers might undermine voter confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections. Federal officials and many cybersecurity experts have said it would be nearly impossible for hackers to alter an election's outcome because election systems are very decentralized and generally not connected to the internet.  The official who described detecting the hacker activity was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. It was unclear, the official said, whether the hackers were foreign or domestic, or what their motives might be. ABC News earlier reported that more than 20 states were targeted.  The FBI last month warned state officials of the need to improve their election security after hackers targeted systems in Illinois and Arizona. FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers this week that the agency is looking "very, very hard" at Russian hackers who may try to disrupt the U.S. election.

  • McConnell Holds Out Hope For Trade Deals (The Huffington Post)  Trade reform activists worried about Congress passing a massive trade deal in the lame-duck session after the elections can probably relax — it’s the next president they have to concern themselves with, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested Thursday.


  • Jazbec Says Too Early to Discuss Stock Buying as ECB Reviews QE (Bloomberg)  There is pushback against the idea that the European Central Bank (ECB) should follow the lead of the BoJ (Bank of Japan) and start buying equities.  It’s “definitely too early” for the European Central Bank to consider buying shares as it reviews its 1.7 trillion-euro ($1.9 trillion) asset-purchase program, Governing Council member Bostjan Jazbec said on Thursday.

  • Planned global banking rules not balanced, need changes: EU's Dombrovskis (Reuters)  A planned reform of global banking rules being discussed by the United States, Europe, Japan and other major economies risks negatively affecting European banks and needs to be changed, the EU financial services commissioner said on Thursday.  The Basel Committee, a body of banking supervisors from nearly 30 countries, set the year-end as deadline to conclude an overhaul of banking rules - known as Basel III - meant to make the sector safer.  But opponents, mostly in Europe and Japan, feel the review goes too far. They fear it disproportionately increases how much capital banks must hold against risk.


  • Deutsche Bank Jumps on Report of $5.4 Billion DOJ Settlement (Bloomberg)  Deutsche Bank AG jumped the most in almost six months after a media report that the lender is nearing a $5.4 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, less than half the amount initially requested.  The shares closed at 11.57 euros, up 6.4%, the biggest gain since April. Agence France-Presse reported that the lender is nearing a settlement with the DOJ in a probe tied to residential mortgage-backed securities, citing an unidentified person familiar. Spokesmen for the Frankfurt-based lender and the DOJ declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.




  • More than 80% of UN aid convoys in Syria blocked or delayed (The Guardian)  More than 80% of the UN’s Syrian aid convoys have been blocked or delayed this month, denying millions of people essential supplies in some of the country’s hardest-hit areas, the Guardian can reveal.  Only six convoys have so far reached their destinations, and from some that did get through Syrian authorities had removed substantial amounts of medicine and surgical equipment before the vehicles were loaded.


  • Russia sends more warplanes to Syria amid world anger at 'barbarous' strikes (Reuters)  Russia is sending more warplanes to Syria to ramp up its campaign of air strikes, a Russian newspaper reported on Friday, as Moscow defied global censure over an escalation that Western countries say has torpedoed diplomacy.  U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the Russian and Syrian bombing of the city of Aleppo as "barbarous", the White House said after the two leaders spoke by telephone.  Fighting intensified a week into a new Russian-backed government offensive to capture all of Syria's largest city and crush the last remaining urban stronghold of the rebellion.  Moscow and its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, spurned a ceasefire agreed this month to launch the offensive, potentially the biggest and most decisive battle in the Syrian civil war which is now in its sixth year


  • Foreigners take big step back from Japanese stocks (Nikkei Asian Review)  Overseas investors sold ¥5.99 trillion  ($59 billion) more in Japanese shares than they bought from Jan. 1 to Sept. 23, with that figure poised to overtake the record set during the run-up to Black Monday nearly three decades ago.  Foreign investors sold 4.1 trillion yen in Japanese equities on a net basis during the first nine months of 1987. Wall Street later collapsed, in October of that year, triggering a global stock market crash. Foreign investors ended up net-selling ¥7.19 trillion worth of stocks in Tokyo for the full year. The Tokyo Stock Exchange first began tracking such data in 1982.  The reason for foreigners leaving Japanese stocks in 2016 is the strong appreciation of the yen, leading to losses in their own currencies.

  • Japan Retail Continues Slump (Walter Kurtz, Sober LookThe Daily Shot)  Part of these declines is due to deflation.




  • Why is China buying up the global supply of donkeys? (CNN)  Gelatin produced from donkey hide is a key ingredient of one of China's favorite traditional remedies, known as ejiao, which is used to treat a range of ailments from colds to insomnia.  But as the rising power shifts towards advanced industry and away from traditional agriculture, donkeys are in decline. State statistics show the population has fallen from 11 million to six million over the last 20 years.  China is now increasingly looking to Africa to boost its stocks, and imports donkeys from countries across the continent.

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

  • HUD secretary says a homeless person costs taxpayers $40,000 a year (Politifact)  This 2012 review gives the research supported cost per year per each homeless person between $35k and $150k.  Econintersect:  A brief attempt to find more definitive data on the cost to the economy of homeless persons has not been successful.

  • More than 500,000 people homeless in the United States: report (Reuters)  More than 500,000 people - a quarter of them children - were homeless in the United States this year amid scarce affordable housing across much of the nation in 2015, according to this article.  This was based on a one-night national survey of homeless shelters and other selected locations by HUD in January 2015.  The actual survey numbers are almost certainly low because the survey was not exhaustive, not including all those sheltered under bridges, etc. and those spending the night even more exposed.  And it also misses those who have found shelter in places not usually used and not surveyed - see How many homeless people are there in America? (The Economist).  See The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress

  • Homelessness in the United States (Wikipedia)  This is an exhaustive review of the literature on homelessness in th U.S.  This contains much higher estimates of homelessness than in the articles above, because it includes those who are "temporarily" homeless.  The number of homeless children in 2010, for example is more than 1.5 million, with higher numbers in more recent years:

Homeless children in the United States.[194] The number of homeless children reached record highs in 2011,[195] 2012,[63] and 2013[196] at about three times their number in 1983.[63]

  • Econintersect comment:  This is a much studied problem but we find the results are far from definitive of what the problem really is (statistically) and what the economic cost.

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