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What We Read Today 17 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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Topics today include:

  • How Toshiba Lost $6 Billion

  • Student Loans and Auto Loans Drive U.S. Households Close to the Housing Bubble Debt Peak

  • Trump's China trademark looks like a quid pro quo

  • 'Buy America' Push Could Dampen U.S. Infrastructure Plans

  • GOP Moving to Restrict Legal Immigration

  • Border Adjustment Tax is in Trouble

  • Why American Dams are Often a Local Problem

  • Trump Tweet:  Media is the Enemy of the People

  • Marine Le Pen Could Blow Up the EU

  • North Korea is a Major Threat to China

  • China's Military is Nearing Parity With the West

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Dem: Trump's China trademark looks like a quid pro quo (The Hill)   Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Friday expressed concern about China's decision to give President Trump a new business trademark just days after after Trump announced his support for a pro-China policy.   Feinstein said in a statement:

“China’s decision to award President Trump with a new trademark allowing him to profit from the use of his name is a clear conflict of interest and deeply troubling.  If this isn’t a violation of the Emoluments Clause, I don’t know what is.”

  • ‘Buy America’ Push Tests Steel Industry (The Wall Street Journal)  In his plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure, President Donald Trump promises the job will be done with materials made in U.S.  But with global supply chains this could mean long delays and much higher costs for materials.  See also Lawmakers eye 'Buy America' push under Trump (The Hill

  • GOP shifting on immigration (The Hill)   Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), two of President Trump's strongest allies in the Senate, want to dramatically cut the number of green cards issued every year by the United States.  The Raise Act, sponsored by Cotton and Perdue, would cut legal immigration annually over the next decade from 1.05 million (the annual level measured in 2015) to 539,000.  It would prioritize skilled workers and the spouses and minor children of citizens and legal permanent residents over people who want to enter the country based on extended family links.  The two senators say this would bring immigration "more in line with historical averages" and raise wages by "tightening the labor market".

  • Border adjustment tax is on 'life support,' and tax reform may come later ... and with less punch (CNBC)  A controversial tax plan that has divided politicians, corporations and economists may be veering toward its end before it comes to a vote.  The so-called border adjustment tax would tax all imports coming into the United States, but would exclude exports from taxation. The hope is that the plan would allow Washington to make a big, corporate tax cut across the board, while still generating enough tax revenue to reduce the new budget deficits that will be created.

  • Oroville Dam, a reminder that infrastructure challenges go far beyond Washington (Brookings)  The threat of a major dam failure tragedy in California brings to light the key role that states and local govenrments play in water resource infrastructure.  About 35% of such expenditures come from Washington; the remaining 35% are funded by states and localities.  The federal government owns only about 3.7% of the nation's nearly 90,000 dams.



  • Marine Le Pen could 'blow up' the European Union, and the fear's starting to show (CNBC)  French bond yields rose today (Friday).  Changes in the French presidential race injected a little fear into markets there Friday.  France's left-wing politicians are gearing up for what promises to be a tough campaign against right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen.  Socialist Benoit Hamon and hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon held talks Friday about possibly joining forces to beat Le Pen and her Front National party. Opinion polls put support for the two men at levels which, if combined, could be enough to reach a May 7 runoff election between the two top-scoring candidates.

North Korea


  • China's military is approaching 'near parity' with the West (Business Insider)  In its 2017 Military Balance report, which focuses on global military capabilities and defense spending, IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) experts say that China has made significant progress in research and development and improved its military capabilities, putting it close to on par with the US and other allies.  See The Military Balance 2017.

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

  • How Toshiba Lost $6 Billion (Bloomberg)  Surviving since 1873 as a leading Japanese company, a nuclear bet made with the purchase of Westinghouse Electric has brought the giant close to ruin with four nuclear power plants under construction in the American South. Blown deadlines and budgets at the reactors in Georgia and South Carolina overseen by Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric subsidiary resulted in the resignation of Toshiba Chairman Shigenori Shiga on Feb. 14 and a 712.5 billion yen ($6.3 billion) writedown on its nuclear reactor business.

  • Americans have $12.58 trillion of debt — here's what it looks like (Business Insider)  Increases in Student Loans and Auto Loans have carried U.S. household debt close to the housing bubble peak.

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