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What We Read Today 29 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:

  • House Price Increases have been Less than You Think

  • Deutcshe Bank Doubles U.S. Growth Rate Estimates under Trump

  • How Buy and Hold Could Have Turned $10k into $1.3 million

  • Iran and Saudi Arabia Can't Agree on Oil Production Limits

  • Oil Prices Plummeting

  • Did 3 Million Undocumented Residents Vote?

  • GOP Lightning Strike Against Obamacare

  • Trump Nominee for CMS Expert in State Medicaid Systems

  • Renewable Energy Reaching Big Numbers in the U.S.

  • Zika Hits Texas

  • GOP Concentrating on Border Security, Not Deportation

  • Trump Tantrum for Treasuries

  • Snow Tires Needed in Saudi Arabia

  • Cuba's Allies Arrive in Havana for Castro Funeral, But U.S. Stays Home

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Iran Says It Won’t Cut Oil Production as Talks Remain Deadlocked (Bloomberg)  An OPEC deal to curtail oil production appeared in jeopardy as Iran said it won’t make cuts while Saudi Arabia insisted Tehran must be willing to play a meaningful role in any agreement.  Ministers gathering in Vienna before Wednesday’s crucial OPEC meeting are attempting to resolve differences obstructing an accord.


  • Fact-check: Did 3 million undocumented immigrants vote in this year's election? (Politifact)  Were there 3 million illegal votes from undocumented immigrants in this year’s presidential election? Well, that’s what some websites are saying.  The articles point back to tweets from Gregg Phillips, who has worked for the Republican Party and has a voter fraud reporting app. But Phillips will not provide any evidence to support his claim, which happens to be undermined by publicly available information.

  • GOP Eyes Lightning Strike on Obamacare to Kick Off Trump Era (Bloomberg)  Econintersect:  This looks like a process that will turn a problem into a disaster.  To be more exact, this looks like the lack of a plan.

Congressional Republicans are considering a lightning-strike rollback of Obamacare early next year to kick off the Donald Trump era, but first they have to agree on a plan limited enough to hold their caucus together.

Republicans won’t have much room for error to successfully repeal Obamacare, a top campaign promise of Trump and congressional Republicans. Even if they delay the repeal to allow more time to come up with a replacement, there will be pressure to use the legislative maneuver to push through other top GOP priorities, such as defunding Planned Parenthood.

But Senate Republicans would have to keep unified the 52 senators they expect to have when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3.

The Republican plan would take advantage of reconciliation, a budget-related mechanism to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and prevent Democrats from being able to block legislation on their own. By striking early, the GOP could set itself up to invoke the same procedure again later in the year on a broader range of targets, including tax cuts.

The quick-strike bill, like one vetoed earlier this year by President Barack Obama, H.R. 3762, would likely set what amounts to an expiration date for the law’s financial underpinnings, leaving Congress to act at a later date on any replacement plan. That’s because more than six years after the law’s passage, Republicans still don’t have a consensus on how to replace Obamacare.

  • Trump Taps Seema Verma, Medicaid Expansion Architect, for CMS (Medscape)  (Free membership required to read.)  President-elect Donald Trump today announced that Seema Verma, MPH, an architect of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Indiana, is his choice to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  As part of Trump's team to repeal and replace the ACA and overhaul Medicaid, Verma is well versed on how to shift healthcare policy decisions from Washington, DC, to state capitals. If confirmed by the Senate, she presumably would answer to Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-Ga), Trump's nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and a staunch opponent of a large federal footprint in healthcare.

  • US Renewable Electricity Generation Reached 13.8% In 2015, Says NREL (Clean Technica)  Hat tip to Ignacio Mesalles.  In 2015, renewable energy accounted for 64% of energy capacity additions in the U.S., up from 52% in 2014.  See 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book (U.S. Dept. of Energy).

  • Texas Reports Local Zika Case, First Outside Florida (Medscape)  (Free membership required to read.)  The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) today announced the first case of a person infected with the Zika virus likely spread by a bite from a mosquito in the state, making it the first reported instance of local Zika transmission in the United States outside of Florida.  Through November 23, 253 people in Texas have been diagnosed with Zika, but all of them acquired the virus either by traveling in a region where the virus is mosquito-borne or through sex with an infected traveler, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In the case announced today, the patient is an unidentified woman — not pregnant — who lives in Cameron County, Texas, which borders Mexico along the Gulf Coast.

  • GOP in Congress Seeks Action on Border Security, Not Immigrants (Bloomberg)  Republican leaders in Congress say they want to advance legislation next year to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, but they don’t favor addressing the status of 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Tuesday that last year’s border-security proposal by House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul is a “good place to start” in talks with President-elect Donald Trump. The McCaul measure wouldn’t build a wall on the border as Trump insisted he would do during his campaign.  Instead, it would require the Department of Homeland Security to achieve operational control of the Southwest border in five years, while authorizing $1 billion a year over 10 years to meet various security goal. 

  • Treasuries Having Worst Month Since 2009 on Trump Ripple Effect (Bloomberg)  Treasuries are having their worst month since 2009 after investors pulled money from the U.S. bond market on speculation Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election will pave the way for increased fiscal stimulus.  A Bloomberg Barclays index that tracks the Treasuries market has lost 2.5% this month through Nov. 28. Meanwhile, benchmark 10-year yields have soared the most in back-to-back months since the 2013 taper tantrum as investors shifted into assets such as stocks, which they expect to benefit should Trump succeed in pushing through his proposals.  Econintersect:  Some are calling this market the "Trump tantrum".

Saudi Arabia


  • Assad, allies aim to seize all Aleppo before Trump takes power: official (Reuters)  Syria and its allies aim to drive rebels from Aleppo before Donald Trump takes office as U.S. President, a senior official in the pro-Damascus military alliance said, as pro-government forces surged to their biggest victories in the city for years.  Rebels face one of their gravest moments of the war after pro-government forces routed fighters over the past few days from more than a third of the territory they controlled in the city. Thousands of civilians have fled for safety.  The pro-government official, who declined to be identified in order to speak freely, nevertheless indicated that the next phase of the campaign could be more difficult as the army and its allies seek to capture more densely populated areas.


  • Cuba's allies arrive in Havana for Castro tribute; Obama stays away (Reuters)  Leaders of Cuba's leftist allies and a U.S. delegation including Washington's top diplomat in Havana were to join Cubans at a rally on Tuesday commemorating Fidel Castro, the man who built a Communist state on the doorstep of the United States.  Castro died on Friday at age 90, a decade after ceding control to his younger brother Raul Castro, 85.  With Raul Castro at his side, the charismatic Fidel Castro led the bearded rebels who seized power in a 1959 revolution and ruled the island in the face of U.S. opposition that endured until President Barack Obama reversed course in 2014 and set out to restore diplomatic relations.  For many, especially in Latin America and Africa, Castro was a symbol of resistance to imperialism, having ousted a U.S.-backed dictator, and a champion of the poor. Others, including many in the large Cuban exile community in Miami, have condemned him as a tyrant who jailed opponents and ruined the economy through socialism.

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

  • Housing Price Increases have been Less Than You Think (Keith Jurow, Advisor Perspectives)  KJ has contributed to GEI.  Jurow points out that national averages for residential real estate can be misleading.  (Econintersect:  In real estate, it is said that all markets are local.)  Here is an excerpt from Keith's introduction and a pertinent graphic:

Over the last 7.5 years, the Case-Shiller national home price index has increased 24.9% on a cumulative basis. But I have argued in numerous articles that that figure is grossly overstated. A new RealtyTrac report supports my claim, and shows the actual number is only 16%. Let's take a good look at this report to find out what has really occurred in major housing markets around the country.

  • Deutsche Bank sharply lifts US growth outlook under Trump presidency (Financial Times)  Donald Trump’s surprise election victory in November has sent analysts scrambling to reassess their global economic forecasts.  At first glance, most signs seem to point to a better year ahead, but there are still plenty of political surprises – including Brexit negotiations and the upcoming Italian referendum – that could cloud the picture, according to a report from Deutsche Bank’s Global Strategy Group.  Mr Trump’s victory – backed by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate – prompted the group to raise its projections for real GDP growth in the U.S. “substantially,” from 1.7% next year and 1.9% in 2018, to 2.3% in 2017 and 3.5% the following year (emphasis ours).Indeed, during his campaign, Mr Trump had promised to boost growth to 3.5% per year on average.

  • How a $60 Billion Fund With Four-Decade Alpha Prepares for Trump (Bloomberg)   Capital Group Cos.’ $60 billion stock fund is near the most optimistic this century as it prepares for Donald Trump to take over as U.S. president.  The New Perspective Fund, which picks companies set to benefit from changing patterns in global trade, has cut cash levels close to the lowest in two decades, said David Polak, an investment director at the $1.4 trillion money manager. The fund’s seven stock pickers stayed calm even after some top holdings, such as Inc., extended declines in a rising market, deciding to wait to see if the selloff in technology stocks and other trends after Trump’s election would stick.  The fund has trounced the market since 1973 with a long-term, no-star approach to investing, posting an annualized return of more than 12%. Its managers are debating whether Trump’s win means it’s time to move away from so-called secular growth companies that gain even in tough economic times and prepare for a new era of inflation. While they’re increasing holdings of miners and other cyclical shares “at the margin”, the fund isn’t rushing to make a decision.  Econintersect:  A 12 % return for 43 years means that $10,000 invested in the New Perspective Fund when it opened would be worth today more than $1.3 million (before taxes).  But even a most successful fund like this one takes some lumps:  Second largest holding Novo Nordisk is down 43% in 2016, but up 650% since acquired in 2000.

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