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What We Read Today 09 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 Free Book Offer (with Author Autograph) for GEI Readers Only

  • Why is Trump Focused on 300 Jobs in Indiana?  2 Million Americans Leave their Jobs Every Month

  • Auto Industry Worried about Trump

  • Tesla's Biggest Shortage May Not be Lithium, But Cobalt

  • Ritholtz Challenged on Minimum Wage Statements

  • Automation is a Bigger Problem for Manufacturing Employment than China

  • Legal Recount Quagmire Continues

  • Obama Orders Intelligence Review of Election Cyberattacks

  • Why Did Trump Outperform Romney in Counties with Biggest Drug and Suicide Problems?

  • Is Trump Readying an Energy Department Inquisition?

  • What Trump's Cabinet Appointments Reveal

  • The Euro's Brief Rally

  • Germany and France Parted Ways Economically with the 2010 Euro Crisis

  • China's Statistic Chief Says There is a Problem with Bad Data

  • U.S. Interest Rate Increases Pose a Problem for China

  • 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


  • Judge refuses to stop Wisconsin recount; Michigan judges recuse themselves from Stein appeal (PBS News Hour)  A federal judge refused to halt Wisconsin’s presidential recount Friday, telling President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters that the recount probably won’t change anything anyway.  Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by more than 22,000 votes in the state. With the recount more than 82 percent complete as of Wednesday, Clinton had gained only 61 votes.  Stein's hopes of restarting the Michigan recount seem slim after a judge halted the effort last week.  A PA judge was scheduled to hold a meeting today to consider if the recount can even begin with a Pennsylvania recount decision expected Monday.

  • White House orders intelligence report of election cyberattacks (The Hill)  President Obama has directed the intelligence community to conduct “a full review” of the 2016 election in light of reports of Russian interference, homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco said Friday.  The report is expected to be completed and transmitted to Congress before he leaves office Jan. 20.

  • The Daily 202: Trump over performed the most in counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates (The Washington Post)  A new study from Penn State University suggests a relationship between the opioid epidemic and support for Donald Trump.  The president-elect performed better than Mitt Romney in many places, but he fared best compared to the Republican nominee four years ago in the counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates.  The inference is not that the GOP candidate was favored by substance abusers, but that the economic distress associated with these areas fueled an upwelling of support.

  • Energy Department workers sent detailed questionnaire by Trump transition team (PBS News Hour)  President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is asking Energy Department employees detailed questions about the agency’s operations and personnel, including a list of employees and contractors who attended international meetings on climate change over the past five years.  The questionnaire also seeks a list of all political appointees and senior executives and asks workers to offer their opinions on who “owns” the department’s clean energy mission and other policy goals.  One Energy Department official, who asked not to be named, expressed concern about the 74 questions and said it appears Trump’s transition team is targeting officials who have helped implement Obama administration policies on issues from the Iran nuclear deal to the operations of national energy labs.

  • What Trump's Cabinet picks reveal (The Hill)  As President-elect Donald Trump fills out his Cabinet, a few things are becoming clear: He loves generals, he prizes loyalty and he especially values the loyalty of those who funded his presidential campaign. 


  • The Euro Fade (Walter Kurtz, Sober LookThe Daily Shot)  Following the 3% spike in the euro when the ECB announced a reduction in bond purchases, the Euro fell once it become clear there really was no end in sight for the ECB's quantitative easing program.

Click for large image.


  • France Balance of Trade (Trading Economics)  France has had persistent trade deficits, which increased following the euro crisis of 2010.  In 2011-2012 the deficits averaged around €6 billion per month ($100 billion a year) and decreased to an average around €4 billion per month ($55 billion a year) 2015-2016.


  • Germany Balance of Trade (Trading Economics)  Germany has had persistent trade surpluses, rising from an average of less than €15 billion per month (<$1.3 trillion per year) 2011-2012 to more than €20 billion per month (>$2.3 trillion per year) 2015-2016. 


  • China’s statistics chief admits some economic data are false (Financial Times)  China’s top statistician has acknowledged the country’s problems with falsification of economic data, pledging severe punishment for perpetrators in a nod to widespread suspicion that official numbers often fail to reflect true economic conditions.  Ning Jizhe, director of the National Bureau of Statistics, wrote in a column for Communist party mouthpiece the People’s Daily on Thursday:

“Currently, some local statistics are falsified, and fraud and deception happen from time to time, in violation of statistics laws and regulations.  Seriously punishing statistical falsification and fraudulent behaviour benefits the rule of law and the upholding the credibility of the party and the government.”  

  • US interest rate rises set to expose China’s frailties (Financial Times)  As Washington steels itself for the arrival of Donald Trump and a rise in interest rates, China could be forgiven for feeling itself besieged.  The country is home to the world’s most leveraged corporate sector, a notoriously volatile property sector and a swath of banks that depend on borrowing on the money markets to fund loans.  That makes the Chinese economy particularly sensitive to expectations of increasing interest rates, which together with the strong US dollar since Mr Trump’s election, have already sparked a rush to sell emerging market bonds and stocks.

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

  • What about the other 2 million Americans who will lose their jobs this month? (Mad About Trade)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  In a typical month since 2011, the U.S. economy has added a net 200,000 jobs. But this net growth springs from a dynamic churning of the U.S. labor market that is an integral part of a free-market economy.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a quarterly series called Business Employment Dynamics, those net monthly employment gains are the result of an average of 2.4 million employment positions being created each month and 2.2 million being destroyed. Of the more than 2 million workers who see their jobs disappear each month, about half, or 1 million, apply for unemployment benefits.  The author questions the fuss Donald Trump is making about 300 jobs that would be lost in Indianapolis if Rexnord moves production of industrial bearings to Mexico:

Why do those 300 workers at Rexnord deserve the extraordinary intervention of President-elect Trump, when on an ordinary workday, 50,000 Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own are applying for unemployment insurance?

If the U.S. government, either through law or presidential threats, forbids U.S. companies from eliminating certain jobs, it will make it more difficult and costly to create jobs. The dynamism of the U.S. economy will be diminished, reducing our long-term prospects for growth in productivity, output, and employment.

  • Worried Auto Industry Braces for Change Under Trump (The New York Times)  The changes under the Trump administration could include possible tariffs that will raise prices on imported vehicles and parts, fewer subsidies for electric cars and policies that discourage automakers from moving products from American factories to Mexico.

  • Tesla's Evolving Cobalt Nightmare (Seeking Alpha)  The most efficient (highest energy density) lithium-ion chemistries (NMC, LCO and NCA in graphic below) all use cobalt in their cathodes.  The need for ever more powerful batteries to extend electric vehicle (EV) driving ranges not only will require increased production of lithium but also cobalt as volumes of EVs increase.  The author goes through analysis leading to the conclusion that the material limiting the production of high efficiency lithium-ion batteries will be cobalt and not lithium itself.

  • An Open Letter to Barry Ritholtz (Cafe Hayek)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  Prof. Donald Boudreaux, George Mason University, has forwarded to Barry Ritholtz a list of "more prominent, recent scholarly empirical studies whose authors that find that even modest hikes in minimum wages destroy some jobs".  The work of nine economists is listed.  Prof. Boudreaux says that this work "belies your assertion that it is “well-established” that modest minimum-wage hikes destroy no jobs".  The article by Ritholtz being criticized (was in 'What We Read Today' yesterday) is Minimum-Wage Foes Tripped Up by Facts.

  • China isn't the only reason Americans are losing manufacturing jobs (Business Insider)  Protectionism has grown quite popular as American workers continue to worry about losing jobs to other countries.  Although there is empirical evidence suggesting that increased trade with China actually did cause some big problems for American workers, it's not the only factor that has affected the manufacturing sector. Automation has also been a contributor.   Since 1985, manufacturing output has doubled while manufacturing employment has been reduced by 1/3.

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