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What We Read Today 04 October 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:

  • Hormonal Contraceptives have Strong Link to Depression

  • Nobel Prize in Physics

  • Hospital Charged Woman for Letting Her Hold Her baby after Giving Birth

  • Education Bubble

  • How to Retire with $4 million?  Don't Go to Harvard

  • Earth is at Temperatures not Seen for Last 115,000 Years

  • Atmospheric Carbon at Levels not Seen for 3 Million Years

  • U.S. Cannot Meet 2025 Commitments

  • Legal Battles Add to U.S. Climate Control Headwinds

  • Chrystie and Cuomo:  Bipartisan Lying

  • October Surprise Seekers Got 'Wiki Rolled'

  • Assange Promises Documents Before U.S. Election, but Not Designed to Damage Hillary

  • Bill Clinton Calls Obamacare 'Crazy'

  • ECB Starting to 'Talk Taper'

  • Pound Hits 31-Year Low

  • Deutsche Bank Received $354 Billion U.S. Bailout in Financial Crisis

  • Russian Inflation Plunges

  • India Cuts Rates

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say (The Guardian)  Global warming is said to be bringing temperatures last seen during an interglacial era, when sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.  Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that carbon dioxide levels will not drop below the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) mark in our lifetimes – the highest concentration of CO2 since the Pliocene era 3 million years ago.  A new paper submitted by James Hansen (but not yet peer-reviewed), a former senior NASA climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.  The paper suggests that only massive CO2 removal from the atmosphere (sequestering) can enable climate targets to be met - and those processes might not be doable in time and are prohibitively expensive.  See also next article (under U.S. section).


  • Christie, Cuomo Agreed on False Bridge Report, Witness Says (Bloomberg)  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on a plan to issue a report that falsely blamed a communications failure at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for politically motivated lane closings that tied up traffic near the George Washington Bridge in 2013, according to testimony in a New Jersey trial.  Cuomo agreed to back the fake report because he didn’t want the gridlock at the bridge to escalate into a political problem for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who also approved the plan, according to testimony from David Wildstein, a key government witness at the trial of two of Christie’s former allies.  Econintersect:  We have been looking for bipartisanship and now we have it:  Bipartisan lying.

  • WikiLeaks' Assange signals release of documents before U.S. election (Reuters)  The October surprise from WikiLeaks did not happen today but Julian Assange promises there are some things coming before November 8.  The WikiLeaks founder said on Tuesday the group would publish about one million documents related to the U.S. election and three governments in coming weeks, but denied the release was aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton.

  • What Hillary Clinton’s leaked audio teaches us about Hillary Clinton (Vox)  Clinton does not — contrary to Politico’s initial, and quickly deleted, headline — mock Sanders’s supporters or Sanders himself. And before a room of wealthy donors, she doesn’t attack Sanders from the right — she doesn’t argue that she’s the only candidate who will save capitalism, or that a Denmark-style welfare state will crush America’s entrepreneurial grit.  She reveals that she feels what can be done is limited.  Compare what she says with what an earlier Democrat Bobby Kennedy said ("There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"):

“It is difficult when you’re running to be president, and you understand how hard the job is.  I don’t want to overpromise. I don’t want to tell people things that I know we cannot do.”

  • Bill Clinton calls Obamacare 'the craziest thing in the world' (CNN)  Bill Clinton criticized President Barack Obama's signature policy reform while on the stump for his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, calling Obamacare "the craziest thing in the world".  Speaking Monday at a Democratic rally in Flint, Michigan, the former president ripped into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for flooding the health care insurance market and causing premiums to rise for middle-class Americans who do not qualify for subsidies.  (Econintersect:  Some say Bill 'went off the campaign script' but we suggest that Hillary is just trying to cover all the bases for all constituencies.)

  • Public views on climate change and climate scientists (Pew Research Center)  Almost half of Americans think human activity is causing climate change and nearly 1/3 think it is from natural patterns (first graphic below).  But members of both groups think that climate change will produce major changes in their way of life over the next 50 years (second graph below).


  • ECB Said to Build Taper Consensus as QE Decision Time Nears (Bloomberg)  The European Central Bank will probably gradually wind down bond purchases before the conclusion of quantitative easing, and may do so in steps of €10 billion ($11.2 billion) a month, according to euro-zone central-bank officials.  An informal consensus has built among policy makers in the past month that asset buying will have to be tapered once a decision is taken to end the program, the officials said, asking not to be identified because their deliberations are confidential. They didn’t exclude that QE could still be extended past the current end-date of March 2017 at the full pace of €80 billion ($90 billion) a month.


  • FTSE 100 soars as pound slides (BBC News)  The FTSE 100 share index came close to an all-time high after rising above 7,000 points as the pound plunged to a new 31-year low against the dollar.  London's leading share index closed up 1.3% at 7,074.34 - just short of its record high of 7,103.98.  However, the pound fell to $1.2737 at one point - its lowest level against the US dollar since 1985.  Sterling has fallen for the past two days as traders study the Conservative Party conference for Brexit details.


  • Germany’s Deutsche Bank, Again in Trouble, Received a U.S. Bailout Twice as Big as Lehman Brothers (Pam and Russ Martens, Wall Street on Parade)  The Martens have contributed to GEI.  Most Americans would be stunned to learn that the German Deutsche Bank, which perpetually finds itself on the wrong side of the law, was bailed out in five separate U.S. emergency lending operations during the 2007-2010 financial crisis, receiving more than twice the emergency financial assistance as that received by Lehman Brothers, the failed U.S. investment bank.  According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Deutsche Bank received cumulative loans totaling $77 billion under the Federal Reserve’s Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) and $277 billion in cumulative loans under the Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF) for a total of $354 billion. Lehman Brothers received only $183 billion in Fed emergency lending programs according to the GAO report. (See GAO chart below.) These loans were made at below-market interest rates, thus constituting a bailout.


  • Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga ask UK for help against Isis chemical attack (The Guardian)  The battle for Mosul, designed to end the ISIS caliphate in Iraq, expected to begin as early as middle of this month.  Kurdish peshmerga forces preparing to join the attack on Mosul have written to the UK defense secretary, Michael Fallon, asking urgently for equipment to protect themselves from an ISIS chemical attack.



  • India’s Patel Leads New Panel to Cut Key Rate to 5-Year Low (Bloomberg)  India’s new central bank Governor Urjit Patel led the country’s new Monetary Policy Committee to cut interest rates for the first time since April, against the forecast of most private economists.  Patel began his tenure with a quarter percentage point reduction in the benchmark rate, to 6.25%, bringing it to the lowest level in more than five years. The Reserve Bank of India’s new MPC -- a signature initiative of Patel’s predecessor Raghuram Rajan -- voted 6-0 in favor of the move, after "frank, often intense, but always friendly" discussion, Patel said.


  • Philippine leader tells Obama 'go to hell', says can buy arms from Russia, China (Reuters)  Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday told U.S. President Barack Obama to "go to hell" and said the United States had refused to sell some weapons to his country but he did not care because Russia and China were willing suppliers.  In his latest salvo, Duterte said he was realigning his foreign policy because the United States had failed the Philippines and added that at some point, "I will break up with America". It was not clear what he meant by "break up".  During three tangential and fiercely worded speeches in Manila, Duterte said the United States did not want to sell missiles and other weapons, but Russia and China had told him they could provide them easily.  Econintersect:  Asia now has it's Fidel Castro?

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

  • The pill is linked to depression – and doctors can no longer ignore it (The Guardian)   A newly published study from the University of Copenhagen has confirmed a link between hormonal contraceptives and depression. The largest of its kind, with one million Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34 tracked for a total of 13 years, it’s the kind of study that women such as me, who have experienced the side-effects of birth control-induced depression first hand, have been waiting for.  Researchers found that women taking the combined oral contraceptive were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills (also known as “the mini-pill”) were 34% more likely. Teens were at the greatest risk of depression, with an 80% increase when taking the combined pill, and that risk is two-fold with the progestin-only pill. In addition, other hormone-based methods commonly offered to women seeking an alternative to the pill – such as the hormonal IUS/coil, the patch and the ring – were shown to increase depression at a rate much higher than either kind of oral contraceptives.

  • The Nobel Prize in Physics 2016 (  David Thouless (Univ. of Washington), Duncan Haldane (Princeton Univ.) and Michael Kosterlitz (Brown Univ.) will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (£718,000, $933,000) prize announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm today.  The researchers were credited for their theoretical work on “topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”. Together, their discoveries transformed how scientists think about materials.  They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films.  Scientists now look for future applications in both materials science and electronics.

  • America is obsessed with happiness — and it’s making us miserable (Vox)  A Brit in America has an interesting observation - The biggest difference between Britain and America: America is obsessed with happiness.

It seems as though happiness in America has become the overachiever's ultimate trophy.



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