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What We Read Today 08 December 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:

  • Special Offer for Free Book Autographed by the Author (for GEI Readers Only)

  • Republicans are 'High on Hopium'

  • Market Indicator Hits Extreme for the Fourth Time in Last 100 Years

  • Standing Rock Sioux Ask for Withdrawal of Protesters

  • ECB Has a Seemingly Not Credible Inflation Forecast

  • First Quarter 2017 May See UK Brexit Turmoil

  • Russia Seeks Compliance Guarantees for Oil Cuts

  • Vietnam Challenges China with Dredging in Spratley Islands

  • New Reverse Mortgage Calculator

  • Minimum Wage Foes Face Some Troubling Data

  • Trump's Plans Might Not Blow Up the Budget

  • And More

Special Notice

This is a special promotion for GEI readers only for Frank Li's new book (American Democracy):

(1) Buy the e-book ($3.99) by 12/15/2016.

(2) Post a book review (~150 words) at by 12/31/2016, with "Verified Purchase" checked.

(3) Email me ( the reviewer ID, with a ship-to address (US only).

(4) Get a paperback ($19.95), autographed (worth $1M soon), FREE.

This applies to the 1st 10 takers only.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • Market indicator hits extreme levels last seen before plunges in 1929, 2000 and 2008 (CNBC)  While the S&P 500 is reaching all-time highs on optimism over Donald Trump's economic agenda, some Wall Street strategists are increasingly worried about a widely followed valuation measure that's reached levels that preceded most of the major market crashes of the last 100 years.  Alan Newman wrote in his Stock Market Crosscurrents letter at the end of November:

"The cyclically adjusted P/E (CAPE), a valuation measure created by economist Robert Shiller now stands over 27 and has been exceeded only in the 1929 mania, the 2000 tech mania and the 2007 housing and stock bubble." 

  • Scenes From the Last Days at Standing Rock (The New York Times)  Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, sent a message to tribal members and protesters who have raised tents, teepees, yurts and bunkhouses in a sprawling camp here to fight against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. After months of protest, prayer and violent clashes with law enforcement, he was calling for a withdrawal from the snowpacked prairie.  But will the protesters stay, or will they go?  The 1,170-mile pipeline is hardly dead. President-elect Donald J. Trump supports finishing the project, and his administration could act to undo the decision handed down this week by the Department of the Army. It is largely already built, and the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, has denounced the latest move from Washington and vowed to press on. 





  • Russia Said to Seek Compliance Talks at Saturday’s OPEC Meeting (Bloomberg)  Russia will seek discussions at a planned meeting with OPEC on Saturday about how the group will fully comply with production cuts, following an increase in its November oil output, said a government official.  Russia will fulfill its pledge to cut production by as much as 300,000 barrels a day, if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries follows through on its commitment to curb output to 32.5 million barrels a day from January, the official said, asking not to be identified in line with government policy.  OPEC is holding talks on Dec. 10 in Vienna in an effort to secure as much as 600,000 barrels a day in production cuts from non-members, to complement the organization’s own 1.2 million-barrel reduction. Russia sees a higher risk that OPEC might fall short of this commitment after the November output increase, the official said.  OPEC crude production rose to a record 34.16 million barrels a day in November, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts, oil companies and ship-tracking data. That’s up from a revised 33.96 million barrels a day in October.


  • Exclusive: Risking Beijing's ire, Vietnam begins dredging on South China Sea reef (Reuters)  Vietnam has begun dredging work on a disputed reef in the South China Sea, satellite imagery shows, the latest move by the Communist state to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway.  Activity visible on Ladd Reef in the Spratly Islands could anger Hanoi's main South China Sea rival, Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the group and most of the resource-rich sea.  Ladd Reef, on the south-western fringe of the Spratlys, is completely submerged at high tide but has a lighthouse and an outpost housing a small contingent of Vietnamese soldiers. The reef is also claimed by Taiwan.

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

  • New Reverse Mortgage Calculator: How to Assess Your Suitability for these Loans (New Retirement)  A reverse mortgage is a loan.  You are borrowing against your home equity.  However, unlike traditional mortgages, with a reverse mortgage you do not have to pay back the money borrowed as long as you are living in the home.  For many senior households, housing is usually the most costly expense as well as the most valuable asset.  A reverse mortgage takes advantage of both of these facts.  The loan enables you to eliminate ongoing mortgage payments, and for borrowers with sufficient home equity, you can also access cash to use however you want or need. However, the decision to secure the loan can be complicated and confusing.  Many reverse mortgage calculators exist to help you estimate your loan amount or to assess whether you qualify for the loan or not, but – until now – nothing has helped you assess your suitability for a reverse mortgage.  NewRetirement is proud to introduce the Reverse Mortgage Suitability Test.  This calculator takes you through five questions and assesses whether the loan is something you should consider or not.

  • Minimum-Wage Foes Tripped Up by Facts (Bloomberg)  Econintersect:  This is a case where in theory something is a bad practice, but in practice it turns out to be a bad theory.  The theory is that if minimum wages are raised employers will cut back on numbers of workers to try to contain costs, unemployment will increase, and the economy will slow.  Empirical data over the years indicates real-life situations are more comolex.  Studies are plentiful.  The modern minimum-wage debate traces back to the seminal 1993 research by Alan Krueger and David Card. The two economists looked at employment in the fast-food industry when minimum wages were raised in one market but not in the adjacent market. Their studies found no reduction in job growth in the market where pay was increased, and in fact, the opposite occurred. Many subsequent studies confirmed their findings -- modest increases in minimum wages don’t lead to job losses.  Barry Ritholtz writes in this column:

As one of my colleagues wrote last week, the “unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%.” Meanwhile, a University of Washington study on the minimum wage law found little or no evidence of job losses or business closings.

Although you can never declare a game over until the final whistle, this experiment is starting to look like a rout.

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