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What We Read Today 23 November 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:

  • $2 Trillion in Stock Buybacks is Wasted Money

  • Stock Buybacks are Merely Rentier Extraction from the Economy

  • Nikki Haley to be UN Ambassador

  • Private School Proponent to be Secretary of Education

  • Economy Strengthen for Trump

  • Five Potential Conflicts of Interest for Trump

  • Obama's Criminal Justice Record Likely to be Reversed

  • Clinton Lead Passes 2 Million

  • Jill Stein Seeks Recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

  • Mexican Cement Maker Ready to Help trump Build Wall

  • Australian TV Ad Banned in the U.S.

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Trump names Haley, a foreign policy novice, as envoy to U.N. (Reuters)  Donald Trump on Wednesday named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a former critic with little foreign policy experience, to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at a time of uncertainty over America's international role under his presidency.  Haley, one of two women chosen for a job in Trump's Cabinet, is "a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage," the Republican president-elect said in a statement.

  • Trump to nominate Betsy DeVos for Education secretary (The Hill)   President-elect Donald Trump is nominating Betsy DeVos for Education secretary.  Trump in a statement Wednesday called DeVos a "brilliant and passionate education advocate."   DeVos is a vocal advocate of school choice and vouchers to allow parents to send their children to alternative schools. Those policies are strongly opposed by teachers unions. She is the current chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, an education advocacy group pushing school choice policies.  Teachers unions were quick to blast her selection.  Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers said with the nomination of DeVos, Trump “makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”  Betsy Devos, a billionaire GOP donor, once served as head of the Michigan Republican Party.

  • Data shows U.S. economy strengthening on eve of Trump presidency (Reuters)  New orders for U.S. manufactured capital goods rebounded in October, driven by rising demand for machinery and a range of other equipment, the latest indication of an acceleration in economic growth early in the fourth quarter.  The brightening economic outlook received a further boost from other data on Wednesday showing a jump in consumer sentiment this month following the election of Donald Trump as the next president. Consumers embraced the business mogul's victory, which they viewed as positive for their personal finances and the economy's prospects.

  • AP Explains: 5 Trump business ties that pose conflicts (Associated Press)  This article discusses just five of aspects of the Trump business empire that pose potential conflict of interest scenarios:

  • The New Washington Hotel

  • Foreign Affairs Compromised by Foreign Real Estate Holdings

  • Banks Holding Trump Loans

  • Influence of IRS Tax Audits

  • Flurry of Lawsuits Against Trump

  • After Obama Push for Clemency, Hints of Reversal Likely to Come (The New York TimesMSN News)  President Obama is on pace to be the first president in a half-century to leave office with a federal prison population that is smaller than when he was sworn in, a reflection of eight years of liberal criminal justice policies, historically low crime rates and an aggressive use of presidential commutations.  Mr. Obama granted clemency to 79 federal prisoners on Tuesday, bringing his total to more than 1,000 inmates, most of whom were serving lengthy prison terms under strict sentences imposed at the height of the war on drugs. An additional 13,000 people have been released early by the courts, the Justice Department said.  But looming over the announcement was the fact that President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, strongly opposed Mr. Obama’s liberal approach to criminal justice. Mr. Sessions favors vigorous enforcement of drug laws and the use of mandatory minimum sentences.  Much of Obama's liberal criminal justice legacy will likely be quickly undone.

  • Clinton's popular vote lead breaks 2 million (The Hill)   Hillary Clinton's lead over President-elect Donald Trump in the popular vote has surpassed 2 million votes, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report reported Tuesday.  Clinton now has 64,223,958 votes to Trump's 62,206,395, the latest totals show.

  • Jill Stein seeks recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn (The Boston Globe)  Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is calling for a recount in three key states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — and has launched an effort to raise money to pay for the recount.  Stein said in a statement on her campaign website:

“After a divisive and painful presidential race, in which foreign agents hacked into party databases, private email servers, and voter databases in certain states, many Americans are wondering if our election results are reliable.  That’s why the unexpected results of the election and reported anomalies need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust.”


  • Mexican cement maker ready to help Trump build border wall (Reuters)  A Mexican cement maker is ready to lend its services to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to build the wall he wants to erect on the southern border of the United States to curb immigration.  Enrique Escalante, Chief Executive Officer of Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC) said in an interview:

"We can't be choosy.  We're an important producer in that area and we have to respect our clients on both sides of the border."

  • 360fly: The Wall (YouTube)  A camera company commercial shown in Australia in the first half of this year was refused access to American TV.

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

  • US companies have spent $2 trillion doing something that has absolutely no impact on their business (Business Insider)  It was actually illegal until 1982, but since then U.S. corporations have spent over $2 trillion buying back their own shares.  This does absolutely nothing to improve the business - it is simply rent-seeking profiteering and leaves a less effective company, with less growth potential, but share prices rise as the business shrinks (see IBM example below).  BI provides a restaurant business example to explain:

Imagine a restaurant that always has some empty tables.

Sales are actually OK, and it's profitable, but the restaurateur's backers are obsessed with profits per table. They think raising that number would make the restaurant seem exclusive and attractive to new investors.

But no matter how hard he tries, the restaurateur just can't get more people in the door. So he does something else: He takes away some tables.

It costs money to move and store the tables, but that very month, the same number of people visit the restaurant, and profits per table go up. Sales haven't changed, but now the investors are happy.

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