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What We Read Today 05 January 2017

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:

  • Maybe There Was No Global Warming Pause After All

  • 17 Years of Global Terrorism Deaths

  • Trump Has Debt Held by 150 Financial Institutions, Posing Big Conflict of Interest

  • Trump's Systematic Attack on U.S. Institutions

  • There is no T-E-A-M in "I"

  • GOP Plans States' Preemption of Liberal City Laws

  • 8 Years of Obama Numbers

  • Theresa May Plans Visit to Trump

  • Is Brexit Like the 1846 Repeal of the Corn Laws?

  • Bombings Continue in Baghdad

  • Is Alleged Plot to Overthrow Philippine president Duterte a Hoax?

  • Epic Short Squeeze is Crushing Yuan Bears

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Click for larger image.


  • Trump's debt held by Wall Street could reportedly pose conflicts for new administration (CNBC)  Wall Street holds hundreds of millions of dollars of Donald Trump's debt, widening the number of potential conflicts the president-elect's businesses could pose for the incoming White House, The Wall Street Journal reported.  Trump's debt from his businesses and other properties is held by more than 150 financial institutions, according to the newspaper's analysis of legal and property documents. The debt is packaged as securities and has been sold to investors over the past five years, The Journal said.  Trevor Potter, a general counsel to the presidential campaigns of Republicans George H.W. Bush and John McCain, told The Journal.

"The problem with any of this debt is if something goes wrong, and if there is a situation where the president is suddenly personally beholden or vulnerable to threats from the lenders." 

  • Trump's Systematic Attack on U.S. Institutions (Bloomberg)  Trump is ridiculing the U.S. intelligence agencies, nominating opponents of agencies to head them, calling the Federal Reserve "political", etc.  Even the Republican Party is not immune from his attacks. Here is the start of this editorial:

There is no T-E-A-M in “I.”

This was the obvious lesson as Donald Trump sold out House Republicans this week. GOP members had sought to quietly defang an anti-corruption watchdog office. After angry constituents phoned House offices, Trump saw the Republicans’ position eroding, and slipped them a banana peel, tweeting that they should focus on tax reform and health care instead. He didn’t object to their goal; ethics are not exactly a Trump priority. He was simply taking an opportunity to enhance his image while sullying that of Congress.

  • GOP aims to rein in liberal cities (The Hill)  After consolidating power in Washington, D.C., and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas.  Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues.  Republican legislators around the country say liberal cities and counties vastly overstepped their bounds by implementing new taxes on sodas and sugary beverages, by raising local minimum wages or through strict new environmental regulations.  Here is the state-level reaction:

Preemption laws are nothing new in American history. The Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution makes clear that federal law supersedes state law, and similar clauses in state constitutions give state laws precedence over local laws. 

In recent decades, tobacco companies have used preemption laws to overcome local smoking bans, and the National Rifle Association turned to preemption to block cities from implementing new gun control measures. 

But in the last four years, after Republicans swept to power in legislatures across the country, the number of issues on which states are asserting their rights has skyrocketed, said Mark Pertschuk, director of the Oakland-based Grassroots Change, which keeps close tabs on preemption legislation.

The tension has grown as cities experiment with measures to raise revenue, keep their citizens healthy or add new protections for workers — and as Republicans have won control of states where Democrats still run large cities.


  • May to visit Trump 'in the spring' (BBC News)  Theresa May is to visit US President-elect Donald Trump in the spring, Downing Street has said.  In December the PM's joint chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, travelled to the US to build links with the incoming president's team.  A source said Mrs May "looks forward to visiting the new president in the spring".  The meeting is expected to take place at the White House and could be as early as next month, it is understood.

  • Brexit Is Like Repealing the Corn Laws All Over Again (The Foundation for Economic Education)  The author draws an interesting parallel between the EU of today and the Corn Laws of the first half of the 19th century.  By his analysis, Brexit will lead to a new era of prosperity for the UK.  This essay suggests similarities between Germany of today and Prussia of the 1820-1850 period.


  • Two Islamic State car bombs in Baghdad kill at least 14: sources (Reuters)  Two car bombs in Baghdad claimed by Islamic State killed at least 14 people on Thursday, police and medics said, part of a surge in violence across the capital at a time when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are trying to drive the militants from Mosul in the north.  The first blast shook Baghdad's eastern al-Obeidi area during the morning rush, killing six and wounding 15. Islamic State said in an online statement it had targeted a gathering of Shi'ite Muslims, whom it considers apostates.  The second explosion hit the central district of Bab al-Moadham near a security checkpoint, killing eight. Both bombs had been left in parked vehicles.  More than 60 people have been killed in Baghdad in attacks over the past week as Islamic State intensifies its campaign of violence in the capital while a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi forces extends its advances against the group in Mosul.


  • There might be a wolf – check! (The Volatilian)  Recent remarks by Philippine National Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, are a concern. In referencing a document leaked to the Manila Times which detailed an alleged plot to remove President Rodrigo Duterte from power – ‘The Goldberg Plan’ to oust Duterte – he virtually said that it should be ignored. No need to dignify it with a response. The Volatilian™, however, takes the diametrically opposite view – that this report should not be dismissed out of hand. To state the obvious, hoaxes only become hoaxes once they’ve been proven to be – until such time, they remain live threats.


  • China’s Epic Short Squeeze Is Back as Yuan Rally Crushes Bears (Bloomberg)  As China’s currency posts a record two-day rally offshore and skyrocketing interbank rates make short positions prohibitively expensive, memories of an epic squeeze last January are rushing back to bearish traders. The abrupt market reversal almost exactly a year ago marked the beginning of a nearly 5% rally for the yuan that lasted two months.

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

  • Gone in 2.39 Seconds: Faraday Claims Tesla-Beating Supercar (Bloomberg)  Faraday Future staked its claim to the world’s fastest electric car with its FF91 production model, showing footage of it outracing Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S in a glitzy event in Las Vegas.  The startup electric-car maker backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting is counting on its debut offering to drum up support from investors, many of whom had been invited to the Las Vegas presentation. The FF91 can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.39 seconds, according to the company. That compares with 2.5 seconds for Tesla’s Model S P100D in its fastest ‘Ludicrous’ mode.  The 1,050-horsepower FF91 can travel in excess of 378 miles of adjusted EPA range, “enough to travel from L.A. to Silicon Valley with miles to spare,” Peter Savagian, Faraday Future’s vice president of propulsion engineering, said in the presentation. The car will also feature a personalized interface for every passenger and be able to find available parking space on its own.

  • How Trump's Appointees Could Make Him Even Richer (Investopedia)  This is a very cynical view of what could motivate Donald Trump in such actions as recapitalizing and reprivatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Whether this could be successfully accomplished is not clear, beacuase there is little Democratic support for the move and "Republicans in congress do not uniformly support the release of Fannie and Freddie from government control".

  • 2016 in Charts. (And Can Trump Deliver in 2017?) (The New York Times)  The Trump tax plan is a new version of trickle down economics.

  • The Vertical Farm (The New Yorker)  The new technology for crop farming in cities is growing rapidly.  This article describes how 30 acres of vegetables can be grown on just over one acre of real estate using no soil and vertical stacking of trays of planting beds.  See also what former CNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan is doing with a different technology in the same space at Helical Holdings.

  • The collision that made the moon (Johns Hopkins Magazine)   Scientists have long hypothesized that the moon formed when a massive object, something possibly as large as Mars, slammed into Earth about 4.5 billion years ago.The collision, so the idea goes, would have thrown large chunks of Earth's crust into space, where gravity pulled the fragments together to form the moon.  What's more, geomagnetic and seismic observations have suggested that Earth's liquid outer core has an unexplained stratified layer, about 200 miles thick, composed mostly of iron, oxygen, sulfur, and silicon. How did it get there? Why isn't the outer core a homogeneous molten ball surrounding the solid inner core?  JHU scientists have recreated the physical situation (at small scale) that could have existed in that massive collison and created the exact structure seen today in the Earth's outer core.


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