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What We Read Today 28 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:

  • How Much Would Single Payer Reduce U.S. Health Care Costs?

  • Kaiser Poll:  Health Care Priorities for 2017

  • Republican Health Care Agenda is Getting Wobbly

  • What Donald Trump is Expected to Say in His Speech to Congress

  • What Americans Hope to Hear from the President Tonight

  • Why the Fiduciary Rule Should Go Ahead

  • American Soft Power, the Paris Agreement, and Climate Finance Under Trump

  • The Hot Summer This February in Oklahoma

  • Energy Inflation is Not Increasing European Core CPI

  • Energy Inflation is Up, German Interest Rates are Down

  • German 2-Year Bund is Paying Close to MINUS 1%

  • The Coming Italian Bond Explosion

  • Russia and China Veto Syrian Chemical Weapons Sanctions

  • Cambodian Government Cites Trump in Threatening Foreign News Outlets

  • Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Leader, Is Indicted on Bribery Charges

  • China is Increasing Investment in U.S. Manufacturing

  • Trump is Right to Criticize NAFTA, But Wrong About the Reasons

  • Prepare for a Gold Pullback

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Spending varies widely — from $731 to $3,037 per state resident in 2015. Federal grants vary from $1 for each dollar spent in 14 states to more than $2 in 13 states. A large cut in Medicaid spending would force most states to take less. The question is, how much less?

To see the problem, consider two not-randomly-chosen states — Kentucky, represented by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Utah, represented by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.

Compared to Utah, Kentucky spends three times more per resident and devotes twice as large a share of its budget to Medicaid. The reason for the difference is that a larger portion of Kentucky citizens have low incomes and bad health than do Utah residents. In addition, Kentucky expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, and Utah did not.

Not all financial advisors act contrary to their clients’ interests. Some already apply a fiduciary standard, to earn their clients’ trust, even though the law does not yet require them to do it. Truly ethical advisors tend to want the Obama rule to go into effect in April as planned, because the removal of unscrupulous competitors is good for their business. It is like an auto dealer who favors the laws preventing salesmen from turning back the odometer on a used car, because he would not do that anyway but knows that some others are not as ethical. How foolish it would be to oppose such laws because they “deprive consumers of their free choice” to buy a used car under fraudulent terms!

  • American soft power, the Paris Agreement, and climate finance under Trump (Brookings)  The Trump administration might think that the United States can’t afford to maintain our pledged contribution to climate aid, but what we really can’t afford is to walk back on that commitment. The real costs of retreating from the Paris climate treaty—the geopolitical, humanitarian, and domestic economic costs—far outweigh the relatively small amount of aid that the U.S. has previously agreed to contribute. To renege on our commitments to climate finance made in support of the Paris Agreement would weaken America’s ability to muster enthusiastic support on important international policies we might care about. 

  • Oklahoma hits 100° in the dead of winter, because climate change is real (Think Progress)  Hot summer this February in Oklahoma, with temepratures up to 45 degrees above normal.


  • The Coming Italian Bond Explosion (Seeking Alpha)  Econintersect:  The only inflation in Europe is from higher energy prices. In fact, without the doubling of energy prices over the past year, core inflation would likely be sinking.



  • The Coming Italian Bond Explosion (Seeking Alpha)  With inflation rising (see CPI chart under EU, above), German bond yields should be rising.  Yet they are sinking - see 10-year rates and 2-year rates (now about -0.95%) in the graphics below.


  • We think there are many reasons why Italian bond yields are likely to go higher, like eurozone tensions, a rising yield global environment, ECB tapering, political uncertainty, etc.

  • Unfortunately, for US-based investors, the pickings are basically very slim. One has to have access to European markets, where there is only one ETF listed.

  • There are more exotic, derivative products called Turbos or Sprinters which are well designed for this situation, but again, only in Europe, unfortunately.


  • Syria war: Russia and China veto sanctions (BBC News)   Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.  It is the seventh time Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to protect the Syrian government.  China has also vetoed six security council resolutions on Syria since the civil war began in 2011.  Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under an agreement negotiated between Russia and the US.


  • Cambodian Government Cites Trump in Threatening Foreign News Outlets (The New York Times)  In a sign that President Trump’s criticism of the news media may be having a ripple effect overseas, a government spokesman in Cambodia has cited the American leader in threatening to shutter foreign news outlets, including some that receive money from Washington.  The spokesman, Phay Siphan, said that foreign news groups, including the United States-financed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, should “reconsider” how they broadcast — or risk a government response if their reports are deemed to spread disinformation or threaten peace and stability.

South Korea

  • Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Leader, Is Indicted on Bribery Charges (The New York Times)  The head of Samsung, one of the world’s largest conglomerates, was indicted on bribery and embezzlement charges on Tuesday, becoming one of the most prominent business tycoons ever to face trial in South Korea.  The indictment of Lee Jae-yong, the company’s de facto leader, came at the end of a special prosecutor’s 90-day investigation of a corruption scandal that has already led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.


While the White House pushes American companies to restore manufacturing in the U.S., the country’s factory sector is getting a boost from a seemingly unlikely source: China. Investments by Chinese companies in the U.S. have grown over the past decade, the WSJ’s Nina Trentmann reports, as rising labor costs at home, saturated local markets and prospects for new trade barriers push China’s manufacturers to consider extending their supply chains to North America. A research group says Chinese firms plowed $8.6 billion into the U.S. from 2000 to 2016, with companies offsetting higher labor costs with more automation and lower electricity and transportation expenses. They also can get around some trade barriers and more easily reach U.S. consumers. A maker of kitchen cabinets that has started assembly in the U.S. says the workers “are not cheap,” for instance, but the company saves on logistics spending—an economic calculation that may change still more if the U.S. imposes new import taxes.


The problem for American workers is not international trade, per se. America has been a trading nation since its beginning. The problem is, rather, the radical new rules for trade imposed by NAFTA—and copied in the myriad trade deals signed by the US ever since—that shifted the benefits of expanding trade to investors and the costs to workers.

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

The ACA has helped millions. However, our health care system remains deeply flawed. Nine percent of persons in the United States are uninsured, deductibles are rising and networks narrowing, costs are again on the upswing, the pursuit of profit too often displaces medical goals, and physicians are increasingly demoralized. Reforms that move forward from the ACA are urgently needed and widely supported. Even two fifths of Republicans (and 53% of those favoring repeal of the ACA) would opt for single-payer reform (10). Yet, the current Washington regime seems intent on moving backward, threatening to replace the ACA with something far worse.

Click for larger image.

  • Gold price broke out last week.

  • But gold price faces a strong hurdle to make a further run.

  • Both gold and gold miners may move down in near term.

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