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What We Read Today 01 February 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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The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here

Topics today include:

  • Supreme Court Vacancy 2017:  An Overview

  • "We cannot possibly confirm Judge Gorsuch before the election"

  • Trump Tells Senate to "Go Nuclear"

  • House Votes to Strike Down Two Obama-era Environmental Rules

  • Bannon's Power Puts Republicans on Edge

  • Global Trade Carnage from U.S. Border Tax

  • Dollar Index Falls Below 100 and Fails in Attempt to Recover

  • U.S. Primary Energy Sources and Using Sectors

  • Germany Manufacturing Growth Hits 3 Year High

  • Italy Continues Its 'Great Depression' for 12th Year

  • Trump Takes a Dangerous First Step with Russia

  • Indian Government Moves to 'Buy Votes' with Tax Cuts

  • China 'Grabs' Billionaire from Hong Kong

  • Turnbull Warns Aussies of Tough Times Ahead

  • U.S. Single Women are Buying Homes at 2.5X Rate for Single Men

  • Should You Represent Yourself in an IRS Audit?

  • Beware of Reverse Mortgage Scams

  • Can Silver Keep Rallying?

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Here's a Glimpse of the Global Trade Carnage From a U.S. Border Tax (Bloomberg)  Whether or not a border tax proposed by Republican congressional leaders helps U.S. President Donald Trump pay for his Mexico border wall, it would have a radical impact on global trade patterns.  Deutsche Bank AG economists Robin Winkler and George Saravelos have calculated the amount of trade with the U.S. that countries stand to lose if they face a 20% penalty at the border. Mexico is the obvious biggest loser, but Canada and Asian manufacturing economies including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand would also be in line for a big hit.  The proposed tax should narrow the U.S. trade deficit, but at the expense of serious damage to U.S. exporters as well as an increase in the value of the dollar - both affects counter to President Trump's stated objectives.


  • Bannon’s power puts Republicans on edge (The Hill)  Republicans on Capitol Hill are on edge over what they view as Stephen Bannon’s growing influence inside President Trump’s White House.  The White House counselor’s elevation to being a permanent member of the National Security Council has deepened the debate, as has the furor surrounding Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration.

  • Trump Urges Senate to ‘Go Nuclear’ If Needed to Confirm Gorsuch (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump urged the Senate majority leader Wednesday to "go nuclear" if needed to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch over Democratic opposition.  Current Senate rules can require 60 votes to advance a Supreme Court nomination, meaning the 52 Republicans would need support from at least eight Democrats. Republicans have refused to say whether they would change the rule to let a justice be confirmed with a simple majority -- an action known as the "nuclear option".  Trump noted that Gorsuch, whom he nominated Tuesday to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to a federal appeals court in 2006.

  • Supreme Court vacancy, 2017: An overview (Ballotpedia)  If you want 'just the facts, ma'am', this is it.  See also:

Click to read on Twitter.

  • House votes to strike down two Obama-era rules (The Hill)  Lawmakers took the first step Wednesday toward repealing environmental regulations issued late in the Obama administration.  The House passed two Congressional Review Act challenges against Obama-era rules that Republicans have called a burden for fossil fuel companies: 

  • One of the regulations — the Stream Protection Rule that was finalized by the Interior Department in December — has been a longtime target of Republicans. The party tried multiple times to block the Office of Surface from issuing the rule under Obama but never succeeded; with majorities in the House and Senate and President Trump in the White House, they’re now likely to strip the rule from the books. 

  • The House also approved a CRA resolution undoing a Securities and Exchange Commission rule issued under the Dodd-Frank Act that requires oil, natural gas and mineral developers to file more detailed financial information. Fossil fuel companies have said the rule would put them at disadvantage against foreign competitors who don’t have to make such filings.





  • Italy's Depression (Twitter)  Italy is enterint the 12th year of its 'great depression'.

Click for large image.


In a recent interview with the the London TimesDonald Trump suggested that he would offer to lift U.S. sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as part of a nuclear arms control agreement.

At a time when tensions between the two countries are growing, a verifiable and stabilizing new arms control agreement would be genuinely welcome. But a bad deal would only make matters worse.

The comments about sanctions relief raise real questions about whether the incoming administration is willing to pay any price to improve relations with Russia (and why).



  • Missing Billionaire Stokes Fears of China Meddling in Hong Kong (Bloomberg)  Where is billionaire Xiao Jianhua?  That depends on whom you ask, and the answer may further inflame Hong Kongers worried that China is increasingly meddling in the city’s affairs.  Xiao, a student leader at the time of 1989 pro-democracy protests in China who now runs the Tomorrow Group investment conglomerate, hasn’t been seen around Hong Kong since last week. He’s a long-time resident of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel fronting Victoria Harbor.  The South China Morning Post reported that Xiao left the hotel Friday accompanied by a group of unknown people. He then crossed into mainland China, where he remains, the paper reported Wednesday, citing sources it didn’t identify. Xiao can communicate with his family, one person told the paper, which didn’t say why he was in China. Hong Kong police, when asked about Xiao, said “the subject” entered China on Jan. 27 but didn’t explain.


  • Turnbull Warns of Tougher Economic Times for Australians (Bloomberg)  (Econintersect:  Fiscal austerity and failure to reign in a private debt explosion are factors coming home to roost in Oz.)  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that tougher economic times loom for the nation, even as voters signal their discontent with his government.  Just seven months after leading his Liberal-National coalition government to a razor-thin election victory, Turnbull’s bid to gain political momentum is being hampered by mounting signs of fiscal weakness. Third-quarter gross domestic product fell 0.5% -- the first decline in more than five years -- jobless figures are on the rise and a budget deficit that’s threatening the nation’s AAA rating is proving hard to budge.  Turnbull said in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday:

“We have had a good run over the last 25 years of continued economic growth.  But the truth is that there are many parts of Australia where times are not so good, where jobs are scarce and prospects look less promising than they were.”

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

Click for larger image.

  • Should You Represent Yourself vs. the IRS? (Investopedia)  Before you do anything, read Taxpayer Bill of Rights.  Audited taxpayers may benefit significantly from securing professional representation before the IRS. While the taxpayer doesn’t always win, a tax expert can often reduce – if not eliminate – the additional tax the IRS wants to levy. In some cases he or she can even secure an unexpected refund by finding unclaimed credits and deductions after examining previous years’ returns. (For more, see How Do IRS Audits Work?) Representation can also help you in several ways, some of which you might not have thought of:

  • Avoid incriminating yourself

  • Avoid expanding the scope of your audit

  • Keep your emotions out of it

  • Save time

  • Improve your chances of winning

  • Silver is attempting to close above the crucial resistance zone of $17.20-$17.40.

  • Dollar continues to drop.

  • Silver should aim for $18+ in the coming weeks.

  • Beware of These Reverse Mortgage Scams (Investopedia)  Of all financial con artists, reverse mortgage scammers are arguably the worst. They abuse their standing as trusted advisors or lenders – or supposedly professional contractors – to take advantage of elderly folks who need funds. They convince them to sign up for a financial product that’s complicated even for well-educated, fully cognizant people to wrap their heads around, much less someone whose mental capability may have diminished with age. Then they steal the proceeds, leaving the borrower with little but new debt on his home, and even – worst-case scenario – the loss of it.  But can you even benefit from a reverse mortgage?  See Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For You? and 5 Top Alternatives To A Reverse Mortgage.  The current article discusses how some fraudulent reverse mortgage schemes have been perpetrated on unsuspecting seniors. 

  • U.S. Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector (U.S. Energy Information Agency) 

Click for larger image.

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