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What We Read Today 21 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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Topics today include:

  • Making Failure Feasible - A New Chapter for Bankruptcy Law

  • A six-figure income may not shield consumers from a shock

  • Sick of Asset Class Investing

  • U.S. Dollar Continues Decline

  • For the first time since the election, Trump optimism is showing signs of cracking

  • How the White House got James Comey Wrong

  • CBO Has Overestimated the Impact of AHCA on Emploer Health Plans

  • Freedom Caucus May Sink GOP Health Bill

  • GOP's ObamaCare replacement would make opioid crisis worse 

  • Former Lobbyist With For-Profit Colleges Quits Education Department

  • New US In-Flight Device Ban Is Discriminatory And Makes No Sense 

  • Wales May Get World’s First Tidal Lagoon Power Plant 

  • Nearly Half Of Canadians Oppose The Influx Of Migrants From U.S.

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • For the first time since the election, Trump optimism is showing signs of cracking (CNBC)  For the first time since the election, markets are doubting they will get the pro-growth policies of tax reform and stimulus promised by President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress.  The repeal of Obamacare appears to have hit some snags and the GOP brought out Trump earlier Tuesday to serve as pitchman to House Republicans who may have been wavering ahead of Thursday's vote. Whether he won votes or not is unclear, but markets certainly took the lack of clear majority support as a negative.

Early on Monday morning, a couple of hours before the start of the first House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s involvement in the Presidential election, one of Donald Trump’s closest White House advisers made a startling—and completely erroneous—prediction: James Comey, the F.B.I. director, would testify that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. “The Russian collusion thing has always been bullshit,” the official said. “I think Comey will come down and say there absolutely was no contact, collusion, or anything like that with the campaign.”

  • CBO estimate of AHCA impact on employer-sponsored benefits is off the mark (Employee Benefit News)  The CBO predicted that Obamacare would greatly reduce employer provided healthcare plans.  It didn't.  This article suggests they are making a similar error again.

  • Freedom Caucus threatens formal opposition to Obamacare replacement bill barring dramatic changes by Wednesday night (CNBC)  See also next article.  A key group of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives is threatening to issue a formal statement of opposition to the Obamacare replacement bill — potentially crippling its chances of being passed in its current form Thursday during a scheduled vote by the full House.  The Freedom Caucus is poised to issue that negative statement — which likely would cause the bill's vote to be delayed — unless the language in the legislation changes dramatically by Wednesday night.  The bill, as currently written, is "going down as of now," said a source familiar with the situation.

There are 25 "hard" no votes against the bill in the Freedom Caucus, and two more members are leaning toward voting against it, the source said. Republicans hold just 230 seats in the House, so they cannot afford that many no votes if they hope to pass the bill, given the fact that most if not all Democrats will oppose it.

Conservative opposition to the bill stems from a belief that it does not go far enough to repeal Obamacare.

  • Key conservative: GOP doesn't have votes on healthcare repeal (The Hill)  See also preceding article.  The leader of the House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday said there are still enough holdouts among conservatives to prevent the GOP's ObamaCare repeal plan from winning passage on the floor.  When asked if there remained at least 21 Freedom Caucus members opposed to the legislation, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) replied “yes”. That’s the maximum number of defections House GOP leaders can afford to clinch passage of the bill in a vote planned for Thursday.

  • Former Lobbyist With For-Profit Colleges Quits Education Department (ProPublica)  The swamp is being drained ... of recently added predators.  A former lobbyist for an association of for-profit colleges resigned last Friday from the Department of Education, where he had worked for about a month.

As ProPublica reported last week, the Trump administration had hired Taylor Hansen to join the department’s “beachhead” team, a group of temporary hires who do not require approval from the U.S. Senate for their appointments.

On the day Hansen resigned, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, citing ProPublica’s reporting and requesting more information on Hansen’s role.

Faced with alarming rates of drug use and overdose deaths, President Trump has vowed to take decisive action, telling Congress that as a result of his administration's efforts, "our terrible drug epidemic will slow down, and ultimately stop."

But the healthcare policies he is proposing would do exactly the opposite, with potentially devastating consequences for communities in rural counties that form the backbone of his support.

  • New US In-Flight Device Ban Is Discriminatory And Makes No Sense (Vocatic)  Experts and customers are baffled by the ban, which mysteriously blocks some electronic devices on some US-bound flights.  The ban on some personal electronic devices targets flights to the U.S. on airlines from at least eight Muslim-majority countries.

The reasoning behind the policy is unclear, especially given the government’s vague definition of which devices should be prevented from entering the passenger cabin. Officials have told reporters that the action is meant to address “gaps” in foreign airport security, but did not cite any specific or credible threat.


  • Wales May Get World’s First Tidal Lagoon Power Plant (Vocativ)  The world’s first tidal lagoon power plant is planned to start soon in Wales.   The project, which is awaiting final approval from the British government, will use the Atlantic Ocean’s tidal waves to create renewable energy. Its turbines turn when water enters the lagoon, and turn again when it’s released, generating thousands of megawatts of power. That’s enough for more than a 150,000 homes a year.  Six larger lagoons are also planned around the United Kingdom. The estimated cost of the project, including a six-mile sea wall, is $1.6 billion.


  • Nearly Half Of Canadians Oppose The Influx Of Migrants From U.S. (Vocativ)  More refugees are crossing the border from the U.S. into Canada to escape President Donald Trump’s hostile immigration policies, but new data suggests that Canadians may be equally unwelcoming.  Almost half (48%) of Canadians think border crossers should be sent back to the U.S., according to the results of a survey released on Monday by Reuters and Ipsos. Of the 1001 people surveyed, 36% said Canada should let them stay and “seek refugee status”.  Since Trump’s election, refugees, primarily from Africa and the Middle East, have been jumping the border into Canada from the U.S. in increasing numbers. Last month, the number of refugees coming from the U.S. who claimed asylum in Canada nearly tripled compared with February 2016, according to data obtained by the The Washington Post from the Canada Border Services agency. The increase has become a contentious subject in Canada. 

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

In 2012, building off work first published in 2010, the Resolution Project proposed that a new Chapter 14 be added to the Bankruptcy Code, exclusively designed to deal with the reorganization or liquidation of the nation's large financial institutions. In Making Failure Feasible, the contributors expand on their proposal to improve the prospect that our largest financial institutions-particularly with prebankruptcy planning-could be successfully reorganized or liquidated pursuant to the rule of law and, in doing so, both make resolution planning pursuant to Title I of Dodd-Frank more fruitful and make reliance on administrative proceedings pursuant to Title II of Dodd-Frank largely unnecessary.

  • A six-figure income may not shield consumers from a shock (LifeHealthPro)  What many people don't recognize is that volatility in monthly expenses poses a bigger risk than they might think.  For many families, if the biggest monthly upswing in expenses occurred in the same month as the largest income dip, there would be a problem, even at higher incomes near $100k.  These results were determined by research at JP Morgen Chase.  People need to keep a larger liquid cash reserve than many have.

  • Macro-Roni: Why I Am Sick Of Asset Class Investing (Rob Isbetts, Forbes)  RI has contributed to GEI.  Isbetts says that asset class investing is a good idea that "has gone too far".  One part of the problem is that diversification among different classes of stock indexes (large cap, mid cap, emerging markets, etc.) does not offer the expected affects in a bear market - all classes of stocks suddenly go down together when the bottom drops out and customary correlation variations disappear.  Another part of the problem is that bonds no longer offer their historical allocation benefits:

"... bond yields are washed out, too low to provide much cushion and in danger of reversing due to potential inflation pressures, central bank missteps or a number of other risks. I would not count on bonds bailing out your stocks next time around."

  • U.S. Dollar Continues Decline (  The U.S. Dollar Index is sitting at recent support levels - first chart as of 2 Pm 17 March 2017.  Second chart shows next support levels are around 93-94 if 99 is penetrated.



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