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What We Read Today 16 March 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:

  • All About the Trump Budget Proposal

  • GOP Healthcare Bill Advances in Committees

  • The Defeat of the Far Right in the Netherlands

  • Why Did the Fed Raise Rates?

  • India's New Plan for Healthcare

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Click for LARGE image.

  • White House defends proposed cuts to programs for elderly, minorities and poor (The Hill)  The White House on Thursday went on defense against claims its proposed budget would harm the elderly, the poor and minority groups.  The White House budget requests a $6 billion cut to Housing and Urban Development, which MSNBC reporter Peter Alexander said went against Trump’s promise to urban black voters that he would rebuild the nation’s inner cities.  White House budget director Mick Mulvaney beat back allegations from reporters at a press briefing that President Trump’s proposed budget is “hard-hearted,” as CNN reporter Jim Acosta described it.  Mulvaney shot back:

“We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the people who give us the money in the first place.  I think it’s compassionate to say we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore, single mom of two in Detroit … We’re not going to do that anymore unless we can guarantee to you that money is being used in a proper function. That’s about as compassionate as you can get.”

  • Surprising revelation: Janet Yellen reveals why the Fed is raising rates! (Fabius Maximus)  FM has contributed to GEI.  See also 15 March 2017 FOMC Meeting Statement: Federal Funds Rate Raised.  FM says that Yellen revealed in an interview with Kathleen Hayes of Bloomberg that the Fed is a tool of "corporate rulers".  While the Fed's tracking tools show that inflation which has been rising recently (reflecting a doubling of oil prices over the past 12 months), forward projections from the Fed's own models indicate a drastic reduction in inflation going forward.  See graphic below.  The "inflation" that the fed is concerned about now is "wage inflation", according to excerpts by FM from what Yellen told Hayes.  FM observes:

"... “wage inflation” — aka workers sharing benefits of America’s rising productivity."


  • Dutch election: European relief as mainstream triumphs (BBC News)   European leaders have welcomed the result of the Netherlands election, which saw the anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders fail to become the largest in parliament.  Prime Minister Mark Rutte's centre-right VVD won by some margin.  For Francois Hollande of France it was a "clear victory against extremism", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed a "good day for democracy".  The vote was closely watched ahead of elections in France and Germany.  The Netherlands was seen by many as a bellwether for how populist parties will perform in those polls.


  • Dutch election: Europe's far-right populists fail first test (CNN)  Far-right populism in Europe failed its first test of 2017 when thenationalist firebrand Geert Wilders came a distant second in the closely-watched Dutch election.  Conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte claimed victory in The Hague Wednesday night, amid wild cheering and whistling from his jubilant supporters.  With 94% of the votes counted, Rutte's Party for Freedom and Democracy, the VVD, was projected to win 33 seats in the national parliament out of a total of 150. Wilders' Freedom Party, the PVV, was on course to win 20 seats, only one more than the mainstream Christian Democratic Appeal and D66 parties.


Let’s face it. The stunning verdict of the assembly elections has signalled a new phase in national politics. The BJP is now not just a ruling party at the Centre and in some states, it is the pole around which national politics is organised. It is the hegemonic party in national politics. Narendra Modi now takes the position last occupied by Indira Gandhi.

It is a hard reality to swallow. Those who are opposed to Modi’s vision of ‘new India’ find this very disturbing. I belong to this category. I have maintained that Modi stands in opposition to the very idea of India. But it is one thing to like or dislike his politics, quite another to assess where he stands today. Here Modi’s critics are guilty of living in denial. For the last two years, they were hoping that his regime would collapse under its own weight. They had taken great solace in the BJP’s crushing defeat in Delhi in 2015 and Bihar in 2016.  They had predicted that demonetisation was to prove his nemesis. That, clearly, did not happen. Any serious opposition to the BJP must begin by acknowledging this truth.

The government’s final version of the National Health Policy has made substantial reversals on some of the stands of the Draft National Health Policy, 2015. The new policy no longer proposes that health be considered a fundamental right. Capping years of discussion, it has also finally agreed to propose that the health budget be increased, but asks for an increase of up to 2.5% of GDP only by 2025. It has also reversed the earlier proposal of using taxation, including a special health cess, to finance the increased budget.

The previous versions of this policy were written in 1983 and 2002. Outlining some of the big differences between the 2017 policy and the 2002 one, Nadda said that there is a new focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – which, at 39.1%,  make up the bulk of India’s disease burden – and a focus on wellness, including prevention and promotion of health, rather than focusing on “sick care.” Previous health policies did not fix firm targets for elimination of diseases like kala-azar and filariasis, but the new policy does, he said.

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

  • Can hydrogen fuel-cell autos compete with EVs? Nope. (It's Burning)  Tom Gray argues that the convenience of recharging at home will be the deciding factor in favor of electric vehicles over those powered by hydrogen fuel cells.  Econintersect:  We suggest there may be other considerations that are not discussed in this post:

  1. Efficiency and costs of energy storage (H2/ fuel cell is in essence the equivalent of a chemical battery).

  2. Driving range

  3. Energy distribution efficiency and costs

  • Full Emploment:  Are We there Yet? (Levy Instittute)  The authors calculate that the slow recovery from the Great Recession is due more from lack of investment and lower labor force participation than from labor productivity growth slowing down.

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