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What We Read Today 28 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".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Topics today include:

  • Michigan Declares Trump Victor by 10,704 votes

  • Green Party Files for Pennsylvania Recount

  • The Safest States in America

  • The Most Dangerous States in America

  • Low Poverty Does Not Correlate Strongly with Low Crime Rate

  • High Poverty Does Correlate with High Crime Rate

  • Inequality Derives from the Way We Manage Capitalism, Not from Globalization

  • Corporations Will Continue to Extract Money from the Economy Rather than Investing

  • Trump Victory Brings 'Alt-Right' into Full View

  • Trump Disavowal of White Supremacists Doesn't Quiet Concerns

  • Shiller:  Trump Will Not Be Able to Deliver on Promises to the Working Class

  • Trump Played to Two Opposed Constituencies:  Big Oil and Big Corn

  • U.S. Prepares for Space War

  • Donald Trump had a 'Tweet' Weekend

  • Capital is Fleeing Italy

  • Aleppo:  A Third of Rebel-Held Area Falls to Government

  • Iraq Military Weakness Revealed in Mosul

  • How Russia Propaganda Works in the West

  • Trump Threatens to Terminate U.S.-Cuba Deal

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Michigan certifies Trump win (The Hill)  Donald Trump on Monday was named the winner in Michigan, the last state to be awarded in the presidential election.  The Michigan Board of Canvassers certified its 16 electoral votes to Trump even as an expected recount looms. The Associated Press and NBC News both called the state for the real estate mogul.  Trump, who leads Hillary Clinton  by more than 10,704 votes in the state, is the first Republican to carry Michigan since 1988. He swept the Rust Belt states that have traditionally trended blue in a stunning victory on Nov. 8.  Green Party nominee Jill Stein has already filed for recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and plans a similar effort in Michigan. She has raised $6.5 million, largely through small donations.  Clinton’s campaign said it will participate in recounts requested by Stein.

  • Trump victory brings 'alt-right' into full view (Associated Press)  Donald Trump's election is bringing to the fore a strain of race-based politics once so far out of the mainstream few had even heard of it.  With an ideology that's a mix of racism, white nationalism, and old-fashioned populism, the "alt-right" has burst into the collective consciousness since members showed up at the Republican National Convention to celebrate Trump's nomination last summer.  See also  Documentary Of The Week: Richard Spencer Addresses The Alt-Right Conference.

  • Trump disavowal of white supremacists doesn't quiet concerns (Associated Press)  Donald Trump's disavowal last week of white supremacists who have cheered his election as president hasn't quieted concerns about the movement's impact on his White House or whether more acts of hate will be carried out in his name.  Members of the self-declared "alt-right" have exulted over the Nov. 8 results with public cries of "Hail Trump!" and reprises of the Nazi salute. The Ku Klux Klan plans to mark Trump's victory with a parade next month in North Carolina. Civil rights advocates have recoiled, citing an uptick in harassment and incidents of hate crimes affecting blacks, Jews, Muslims, Latinos, gays, lesbians and other minority groups since the vote.  The president-elect has drawn repeated criticism for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign.

  • Donald Trump and the Sense of Power (Robert Shiller, Project Syndicate)  Prof. Shiller doubts that it will be possible for Trump to deliver on his promises to the working class.  He starts:

US President-elect Donald Trump campaigned in part on a proposal to cut taxes dramatically for those with high incomes, a group whose members often have elite educations as well. And yet his most enthusiastic support tended to come from those with average and stagnating incomes and low levels of education. What gives? 

  • Trump faces dilemma as U.S. oil reels from record biofuels targets (Reuters)  The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, is one of the country's most controversial energy policies. It requires energy firms to blend ethanol and biodiesel into gasoline and diesel.  The policy was designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports and boost rural economies that provide the crops for biofuels.  It has pitted two of Trump's support bases against each other: Big Oil and Big Corn. The farming sector has lobbied hard for the maximum biofuel volumes laid out in the law to be blended into gasoline motor fuels, while the oil industry argues that the program creates additional costs.

  • US military prepares for the next frontier: Space war (CNN)  Since man first explored space, it has been a largely peaceful environment. But now US adversaries are deploying weapons beyond Earth's atmosphere, leading the US military to prepare for the frightening prospect of war in space. 

  • Donald Trump's Tweets for the Weekend (Twitter)  Se also Why a weekend of raging Trump tweets should give us pause (CNBC)


  • Fleeing from Italy (Carmen Reinhart, Project Syndicate)  Italy’s referendum on December 4 will give voters the opportunity to approve or reject what some have described as the country’s most extensive constitutional reforms since the abolition of the monarchy at the end of World War II. Yet it may be the fact that Italy’s three opposition parties all favor exiting the euro that explains why Prime Minster Matteo Renzi has promised to resign if voters reject the reforms.  One of the biggest problems facing Italy's fragile financial system (besides more non-performing loans than capital) is capital flight from the country which has created continuing reservs losses which require further government borrowing to cover.


  • Aleppo siege: Third of rebel-held Syria city taken by forces (BBC News)  Syrian government forces have captured more than a third of rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo.  The advance, after heavy bombing from the air, is a major blow for the armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.  State TV said government troops were dismantling mines and explosives and continuing their advance.  Thousands of civilians have fled the besieged districts after a weekend of heavy fighting. Hundreds of families have been displaced.

  • Aleppo family says goodbye on Twitter (CNN)  A seven-year-old Syrian girl, who has captured international attention tweeting about daily life in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, shared a message late Sunday night that her house had been bombed.  On Monday, her mother posted an update saying the family was on the run.  Bana Alabed tweeted:



When Iraq's top generals finalized the plan to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group, they gave themselves six months to finish the job.

"It was the maximum time cap," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said last week. "We had to plan for the worst, so we don't get surprised."

Six weeks into the battle, the force made up of 50,000 troops, Shiite and Sunni tribal militias and Kurdish fighters is a long way from winning back the country's second-largest city. The fight is showing the limitations of Iraq's military and security forces, suggesting it has still not fully recovered from the collapse it suffered two years ago in the face of the militants' blitz across much of northern and western Iraq.


As expected, IS militants are tenaciously defending their last major foothold in Iraq, and the 1 million civilians who remain inside prevent the use of overwhelming firepower.

But what is alarming, according to Iraqi field commanders, is that the progress so far has been lopsided. The battle-seasoned special forces are doing most of the fighting and slowly advancing inside the city. Other military outfits are halted outside the city limits, unable to move forward because of resistance, battle fatigue, inexperience or lack of weaponry suited for urban warfare.


  • How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West (Bloomberg)  Fake news is only part of the approach for Russian propaganda.  The lack of objective reporting by western media is another opening that is exploited.  From the conclusion of this article:

That leaves private, professional media with plenty of homework to do. How did we end up more mistrusted by a large segment of Western readers and viewers than state-funded Sputnik or RT? Did we perhaps follow government narratives too closely and uncritically? These are inconvenient questions, and it's harder to ask them than to get involved in a misguided war on propaganda that ends up stigmatizing legitimate criticism and media diversity. But looking for ways to communicate with the voters of Trump, Marine Le Pen in France and the other nationalist populists is probably one of the most important tasks for the media these days.


  • Trump threatens to terminate US-Cuba deal (BBC News)  Donald Trump has said he will "terminate" the deal between the US and Cuba if the Cuban government does not improve the deal on offer.  President Barack Obama has worked to improve relations with the communist government in Havana, culminating in his historic visit in March 2016.  But the president-elect threatened in a tweet to put an end to the thaw.

  • Cuban-American millennials anticipate role in evolving Cuba (Associated Press)  For the hundreds of thousands of children born of Cuban exiles, some two and three generations removed from the island,  Fidel Castro's death potentially opens a door to a world long off-limits. Or at the least, it seems to bring it within closer reach.

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

  • The safest states in America (24/7 Wall St., MSN Money)   Interesting observation:  Low poverty does not correlate strongly with a low crime rate.  Only 5 of the 10 lowest crime rate states also are in the top 10 for low poverty, while 4 are in the top 30 for poverty (Kentucky is 5th highest for poverty).  The list:

  1. Vermont

  2. Maine

  3. Virginia

  4. New Hampshire

  5. Idaho

  6. Connecticut

  7. Kentucky

  8. Wyoming

  9. Utah

  10. North Dakota

  • The Most Dangerous States in America (24/7 Wall St.)  Violence in the United States has steadily declined for several decades. While the violent crime rate has fallen considerably — from 685 incidents reported per 100,000 Americans in 1995 to the current rate of 383 incidents per 100,000 — the national violent crime rate rose 3.0% last year.  24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates in each state from data collected through the FBI’s 2015 Uniform Crime Report Program. Violent crime includes all offenses involving force or threat of force and are broken into four categories: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. These crimes are more common in some states than in others.  Note:  Whereas low crime rates do not correlate strongly with low poverty (preceding article), high crime rate states do correlate with high poverty.  Half of the top 10 crime states are also in the top 10 for poverty, 8 are in the top half for poverty, 9 in the top 32 and only one state (Alaska) is in the bottom 10 states for poverty.  The list:

  1. Alaska

  2. Nevada

  3. New Mexico

  4. Tennessee

  5. Louisiana

  6. Arkansas

  7. South Carolina

  8. Delaware

  9. Missouri

  10. Alabama

  • Missing the Economic Big Picture (J. Bradford DeLong, Project Syndicate)  JBD has contributed to GEI.  He advocates managing market capitalism itself, rather than obsessing over globalization.  His introduction:

I recently heard former World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy paraphrasing a classic Buddhist proverb, wherein China’s Sixth Buddhist Patriarch Huineng tells the nun Wu Jincang: “When the philosopher points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.” Lamy added that, “Market capitalism is the moon. Globalization is the finger.”

  • One Chart Shows Why the Buyback Bonanza Will Keep Going Despite Rising Yields (Bloomberg)  Extraction from the economy is still an easier way to make money than investing.  The recent spike in global bond yields isn't enough to make a key source of demand for equities throughout this current bull market vanish, according to strategists at Citigroup Inc.  Companies continue to increase debt in order to reduce outstanding equity.  According to writes Chief Global Equity Strategist Robert Buckland:

"De-equitization remains a key global investment theme for the next 12-18 months.  As the cost of equity still remains high relative to the cost of debt it makes sense for companies to de-equitize – use cheap financing to buy back their own shares."

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