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.
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Topics today include:
Researchers Find Students Fail to Judge Credibility of Information
An Economist Proves He is Immortal Using Standard Economic Modelling Techniques
Invisible Hand in Biology and Evolution is Logical, In Economics Not
Is the Euro Heade for a Breakout?
Will the Euro Go Below One Dollar?
Switzerland is the Wealthiest Country on Earth
U.S. Has One of the World's Worst Wealth Inequality Problems
The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election was One of the Most Out-of-Whack in History
Lack of Communication Created the Dakota Pipeline Protest
The Trump Taxcut vs. Basic Universal Income
Finland is about to Become the First Country to Ban Coal
Syrian Army Takes part of East Aleppo
Libya's Army Struggles with ISIS in Sirte
Australian Government Tries to Sustain Housing Bubble
Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world
Switzerland is by far the wealthiest country on earth — these 5 charts show why (Business Insider) This article compares the sixth wealthiest countries in the world with the total for Europe, China and the total for the world. The data can also be used to obtain a measure of wealth inequality from the ratio of average wealth/median wealth. The higher the ratio, the greater the inequality. Not only are the Swiss the wealthiest people on the planet, they also enjoy the lowest level of wealth inequality among the data measured here. See also next article. The wealth equality ranking (most unequal at the bottom):
Switzerland - Ratio = 2.3
France - Ratio = 2.4
UK - Ratio = 2.7
Germany - Ratio = 4.3
China - Ratio = 4.7
Sweden - Ratio = 6.7
U.S. - Ratio = 7.7
Europe - Ratio = 11.1
World - Ratio = 24
Distribution of wealth (Wikipedia) The ranking of wealth inequality by Gini coefficient is different than that suggested in the preceding article. For example, Switzerland has much more inequality. The table below is the top of the wealth inequality list - go to Wikipedia for the complete table.
Was the 2016 Election the Most Out of Whack in U.S. History? (Washington Monthly) Did 2016 represent the biggest gulf between the popular vote results and the electoral college verdict in history? The answer to this doesn’t affect the outcome. Either way, Democrats will claim that their popular vote victory should be considered when assessing Trump’s mandate. Trump will say he would have won the popular vote too if he’d tried. This article asserts that when the strength of the electoral college win and the magnitude of the popular vote deficit are both considered, the 2016 election is the most out of whack of the 4 where the popular vote winner lost in the electoral college, edging out Rutherford B. Hayes victory over Samuel Tilden in 1876.
Clinton team to take part in U.S. state vote recount, Trump blasts effort (Reuters) Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign will take part in a recount of Wisconsin votes in the U.S. presidential race, an effort Republican winner Donald Trump called "ridiculous" on Saturday. Wisconsin's election board on Friday approved the recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. She has said she wants "to guarantee the integrity of the U.S. voting system since computer hacking had marked the Nov. 8 election". Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign counsel, said the campaign would take part in the recount in Wisconsin as well as in the other battleground states of Pennsylvania and Michigan if recounts were mounted there. Elias said in a statement on the Medium website that the Clinton campaign had not planned to seek a recount since its own investigation had failed to turn up any sign of hacking of voting systems. Elias said:
"But now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides."
Why Sacred Sites Were Destroyed for the Dakota Access Pipeline (EcoWatch) This summer, Tim Mentz Sr. told the world via a YouTube video, which has now been removed by the user, about the destruction of his cultural heritage. A former tribal historic preservation officer of the Standing Rock Sioux, Mentz wore a baseball cap, rimless glasses and two thin braids of graying hair. He was upset and spoke rapidly about the area behind him, an expanse of the Great Plains cut by a new 150-foot-wide road. This article suggests that the biggest problem causing the Standing Rock protest comes from lack of consultation with the native indigenous people.
The Trump Tax Cut versus Universal Basic Income (Economics) This author argues that the election outcome again placed the fate of America in the hands of a neoliberal supply-side philosophy that has led the country to the current state of extreme inequality. Instead of tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the very wealthy, the author argues for a demand-side program via universal basic income.
Syrian army captures part of rebel-held east Aleppo (Reuters) The Syrian army said it had taken control of an important district in rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Saturday after fierce fighting, with rebels blaming intense air strikes and lack of hospitals for their collapsing frontline. Government forces advanced with a ground and air assault on the edge of the besieged eastern half of the city, a move the rebels say is designed to split their most important urban stronghold in two. Aleppo, which was Syria's biggest city before the start of a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, is divided between the government-held west and rebel-held east, where U.N. officials say at least 250,000 people are under siege.
Libyan forces face deadly Islamic State defense in Sirte holdout (Reuters) Libyan forces faced fierce resistance on Saturday from Islamic State militants defending a final strip of land in their former stronghold of Sirte, losing at least five men, officials said. Forces led by fighters from the city of Misrata and backed by U.S. air strikes have taken all but a few dozen houses near Sirte's Mediterranean seafront since they began their campaign to recapture the city in May. As the battle has worn on they have advanced more cautiously, trying to limit casualties among their fighters and among civilians and captives trapped with the militants. Islamic State militants have defended their positions using snipers, tunnels, and hidden explosives.
Scott Morrison eases limits on foreign buyers as apartment glut looms (AFR Weekend) The federal government has announced it will make it easier for foreigners to buy new apartments amid concerns of a looming glut that will drive down prices. Treasurer Scott Morrison said the government will make changes to the foreign investment framework to allow foreign buyers to buy an off-the-plan dwelling that another foreign buyer has failed to settle as a new dwelling. Previously, on-sale of a purchased off the plan apartment was regarded as a second-hand sale, which is not open to foreign buyers. Foreign buyers can only buy new dwellings. The move effectively opens up the pool of buyers who can soak a potential flood of apartments hitting the residential markets due to failed settlements. Steve Keen comment says it all (click on image for full Twitter stream):
Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea
Researchers find students have trouble judging the credibility of information online (phys.org) Hat tip to Sig Silber. Education scholars say youth are duped by sponsored content and don't always recognize political bias of social messages. When it comes to evaluating information that flows across social channels or pops up in a Google search, young and otherwise digital-savvy students can easily be duped, finds a new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education. The report, released this week by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), shows a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where the information came from. Econintersect: Three comments - (1) This is not new. Learning abstract critical thinking has always been less common and more difficult for students than learning numerically based (or digital) logic, at least for most of the last century. (2) The difficulty with abstract logic is not limited to students but exists at all ages. As people age, earlier 'beliefs' which were 'learned' using inadequate discrimination contribute confirmation bias to the consideration of new information, even when blatantly 'fake news'. (3) A minority of the population can go to go to the opposite extreme and find any new information easily rejected without considered examination because they overreact to their recognition of their previous lack of discrimination.
I am immortal (Riccardo Trezzi, Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Google Docs) Hat tip to Roger Erickson. This paper, written as a joke, is actually most informative and fundamentally important. It shows how a completely impossible conclusion can be logically drawn from the formalisms and types of assumptions commonly used in economic theory. This paper is so ingeniously presented that no text can be copied and pasted - if attempted only random characters are displayed. (A wise safeguard against the propagation of this defective analysis via cut and paste distribution.) One essential feature of the model is the assumption that what is measured in an electrocardiogram can be extrapolated indefinitely in time. The result is that, for infinite time, the electrocardiogram pattern is repeated and the subject is, therefore, immortal. Of course, this idiocy is masqueraded by mathematical formulation which is quite rigorous. The defect in the treatment is in the assumptions.
Why the Invisible Hand from Biology is Better Than the Invisible Hand from Economics (Evonomics) The notion that economics and business are all about competition and self-interest is alluring but wrong, according to this Evolutionary, Work and Organizational psychology professor from the Netherlands. Mark van Vugt argues that the 'invisible hand' is a valid concept in biology and evolution, but human-derived asymmetries make it invalid in economic systems.
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