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What We Read Today 11 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".).

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Topics today include:

  • A Quarter of the World's GDP is Undergoing Big Experiments

  • Methane Emissions from Oil Production Much Higher than Feared

  • Rumor:  Russia is Considering Returning Snowden to Curry Favor with Trump

  • Net Neutrality Change Faces a Hard Sell

  • Ivanka Trump's Merchandise Suffered Major Sales Declines

  • Muslim Woman Who Won Olympic Medal for U.S. Detained by U.S. Customs

  • Trump Says He Will Bring Down the Price of the Wall

  • What Trump Got Wrong on Twitter this Week

  • European Commission President Says UK May Divide EU Over Brexit

  • Greek Default Could Produce the Next Global Crisis

  • Fiscal Spending in the Four Most Recent Recoveries

  • Employment Recoveries After Recent Recessions

  • GDP Recoveries After Last 7 Recessions

  • Real Time with Bill Maher 10 February

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • A Quarter of the World’s GDP Is Undergoing Big Experiments (Bloomberg)  India, China and Japan are each pursuing radical economic policies. This is an overview of how things are going in these important countries.

  • Methane Emissions From Oil Production Are Higher Than Feared (truth dig)  Global methane emissions from oil production between 1980 and 2012 were far higher than previously thought—in some cases, as much as double the amount previously estimated, according to a new scientific study.  The reason for the discrepancy is simple. The author of the study—which also includes emissions of another gas, ethane—says it is the first to take into account different production management systems and geological conditions around the world.  Lena Höglund-Isaksson, senior research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, describes the old figures, which were based on arguing that what happened in North American oilfields applied equally to the rest of the world, as “rather simplistic”.  The IIASA study, published in Environmental Research Letters journal, is another reminder that climate science—like all science—is only as dependable as the data on which it relies.

U.S.

  • Russia Considers Returning Snowden to U.S. to ‘Curry Favor’ With Trump: Official (NBC News)  U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump — who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.  That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.  Snowden's ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner, told NBC News they are unaware of any plans that would send him back to the United States.

  • Net neutrality fix faces hard sell (The Hill)  Two key Senate Republicans say they are open to a bipartisan legislative compromise on net neutrality, but their effort faces skepticism from both parties.  Since the election, Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the chairman of a Commerce subcommittee on the internet, have said they are willing to work on a measure that keeps the core of the controversial internet rules but also allows Congress to limit the Federal Communications Commission's powers.   Net neutrality requires service providers to treat all internet traffic equally and bars "paid prioritization", where content providers pay more to get higher internet speeds.

  • Online sales of Ivanka Trump's brand fell 26 percent in January (CNN)  While Nordstrom (JWN) dropping Ivanka Trump merchandise got a lot of headlines, it's not the top online retail partner for the brand.  According to an analysis of email receipts by Slice Intelligence, online, Nordstrom sells the most by revenue, followed by Macy's.com (M), third is Zappos.com (owned by Amazon (AMZN)), Amazon (where most is sold by third-party sellers) is fourth, and Bloomingdale's.com (owned by Macy's) rounds out the top five. (Slice Intelligence analysis comes from a panel of 4.4 million online shoppers.)   Slice Intelligence said sales declines of Ivanka Trump goods online were evident after the election, and beyond. Ivanka Trump's online sales fell 26% in January compared to January 2016.  Sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise on Nordstrom.com fell 63% in the fourth quarter, dropped 43% on Zappos.com and 31% at Amazon.com compared to the previous year.  Nordstrom said its decision wasn't political, it was business. The Slice Intelligence data appears to back up that claim, with Ivanka Trump merchandise sales down, at least online, for Nordstrom.

  • US Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad Reveals She was Detained by US Customs (bleacher report)  United States Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad revealed Tuesday afternoon that she was recently detained at the airport by U.S. Customs for undisclosed reasons.  Speaking to Popsugar's Lindsay Miller at the Makers Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Muhammad explained why she believes she was briefly detained: 

"Well, I personally was held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago.  I don't know why. I can't tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I'm Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn't change how you look and how people perceive you."

ibtihaj.muhammad

trump.tweets.number.5.2017.feb.10

EU

  • Juncker says Britain may divide EU over Brexit talks (Reuters)  European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he fears Britain will divide the European Union's 27 remaining members by making different promises to each country during its Brexit negotiations.  Juncker told Deutschlandfunk radio:

"The other EU 27 don't know it yet, but the Brits know very well how they can tackle this.  They could promise country A this, country B that and country C something else and the end game is that there is not a united European front."

Greece

  • US must understand that Greek default could lead to global crisis (The Hill)   One has to hope that the new administration is not complacent about the latest episode in Greece's ongoing economic crisis. Unlike earlier episodes, there is every reason to think that this episode will not easily be resolved.  There is also reason to fear that this crisis is occurring at a very awkward moment for the European political economy. This heightens the risk that, well before this year is out, trouble in Greece could spill over to the rest of the eurozone economy, which could pose a serious economic challenge for President Trump.  At the heart of the latest Greek crisis, which has seen yields on two-year Greek bonds soar to over 10%, is a fundamental policy disagreement between the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Germany and Greece.

Over the past two years, the IMF has made clear the conditions that would need to be met for the IMF to participate in another Greek bailout package. It has taken the position that there is a limit to how much further budget belt-tightening a battered Greek economy can reasonably be expected to undertake.

At the same time, however, the IMF insists that Greece must get serious about making deep structural economic reforms to put the economy on a better growth path. The IMF is also pushing Greece's European partners to provide Greece with sufficient debt reduction to allow the country to be less draconian than it would otherwise need to be in terms of the additional budget belt-tightening required to allow Greece to service its debt.

Both the German and Greek governments disagree with the IMF, albeit for different reasons.

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

  • Fiscal Spending in the Four Most Recent Recoveries (Economic Policy Institute)  This item asserts that austerity explains why the recovery from the Great Recession has been so subdued.  Econintersect:  We posit that there is no such "explaination".  Yes there is a correlation but the data data set is far too meager to posit causation.  And, if there was a simple causation relationship, then how would you explain that the recovery starting 4Q2001 when there was more government spending) was weaker that the one starting in 1Q1991?  See next two articles. 

austerity.comp.1982.1991.2001.2009

employment.recovery.1981.1990.2001.2007

  • Mr. Trump will Inherit a Robust Economy (U.S. Economic Snapshot)  GDP shows a better correlation to government spending during the four most recent recoveries than is the case for employment data.  Yet there is an anomaly in the data series too:  For the first five years both 1990 and 2001 cycle recoveries are nearly identical, but governemnt spending was much stronger for the 2001 cycle.

  • Real Time with Bill Maher 2017-02-10 (HBO, YouTube)  Bill's interview guests are Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken and Australian comedian Jim Jeffreys. Bill's roundtable includes Mail Online editor-at-large Piers Morgan, Karine Jean-Pierre of MoveOn.org and filmmaker John Waters.


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