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What We Read Today 28 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:

  • Problems from Hell:  Brewing Political Crises Globally

  • Republicans to Return to Obamacare Repeal

  • Devin Nunes rejects Democrats' calls to quit Trump-Russia investigation

  • The Mystery of Ivanka Trump

  • Republican AGs Go After Democratic AGs Who are Going After Trump

  • Trump Revokes Obama Climate Initiatives

  • France's Extraordinary Election

  • German Government Suggests Brexit Should be Staged, Not Sudden

  • Iran Imposes Reciprocal Sanctions on the U.S.

  • What's Going On with Iran, Russia and Turkey?

  • Will India Return to the Days of Temple Strife?

  • Indonesia’s Fearless Finance Minister Is Ready for Her Next Fight

  • The Real Reason China Won't Exert Economic Pressure on North Korea

  • China's Top Chipmaker Secures $22 Billion to Expand Globally

  • The U.S., Not OPEC, Controls the Price of Oil

  • Donald Trump is Deleting Arctic Data

  • Why the tide is turning against the US dollar

  • The Drop in the U.S. Dollar May Disrupt the 'Carriage Trade'

  • International Stocks have been Outperforming the U.S.

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


The political crises now brewing in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia do not just threaten to unleash enormous violence and fuel chronic instability. In the absence of effective international actors and institutions, they could also prove to be irresolvable.


  • Republicans on Obamacare repeal: 'We're going to get it done' (Reuters)  House of Representatives Republican leaders said on Tuesday they still intended to repeal and replace Obamacare after their White House-backed bill failed to get enough support and collapsed last week.  House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he would not give a timeline on any new attempt to pass healthcare legislation "because we want to get it right".

  • Devin Nunes rejects Democrats' calls to quit Trump-Russia investigation (The Guardian)  The House intelligence committee chair retains Paul Ryan’s support despite Democrats’ criticism amid allegations they see as a cover-up for the White House.

  • The mystery of Ivanka Trump (The Hill)   Ivanka Trump is a mystery, even to some people working with her in the White House.  The first daughter, who will soon occupy a second-floor office in the West Wing, has been at the epicenter of her father’s White House and played high-profile roles in several recent visits with foreign leaders.  But she’s also taken a hands-off approach on major legislative issues such as healthcare — to the dismay of Republicans and Democrats alike.  It’s been a frustration to some working at the White House.

  • Exclusive: As Democratic attorneys general target Trump, Republican AGs target them (Reuters)  For years the national political organizations of both Democratic and Republican state attorneys general observed an agreement not to target the other party's incumbent office-holders in elections.  That hands-off stance ended this month when Republican AGs voted to abandon the agreement and spend money to help unseat Democrats in other states, according to the Republican Attorneys General Association. The decision has not been previously reported.  The move comes as Democratic attorneys general in states across the country have assumed lead roles in opposing some of Republican President Donald Trump's policies.

  • Trump begins tearing up Obama's years of progress on tackling climate change (The Guardian)  See also Trump to Strike Biggest Blow Against Obama Climate Legacy (EcoWatch) and Noam Chomsky: Trump Is Sabotaging Our Chances for Survival.  Donald Trump will launch a major assault on Barack Obama’s climate change legacy on Tuesday with a series of orders that undermine America’s commitment to the Paris agreement.  He will sign executive orders and presidential memoranda that suspend, rescind or review several measures that were central to Obama’s effort to combat global warming. They include a review of the clean power plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants.  Asked by The Guardian if Trump accepted the science of manmade climate change, a senior White House official replied:

“Sure, yes, I guess, I think the president understands the disagreement over the policy response and you’ll see that in the order … We’re taking a different path.”


  • France’s Extraordinary Election (Project Syndicate)  This post is by Dominique Moisi, Senior Counselor at the Institut Montaigne, a Paris think tank.  He sees global significance for the French election:

The French people now will have their chance to go from spectators to autonomous actors. They can elect their candidate of hope, like Americans did in 2008, when they chose Barack Obama. Or they can elect their candidate of fear, like Americans did in 2016, when they chose Donald Trump. In either case, the effects of their choice – like the choices of their American counterparts – will be felt by countless others.


  • German government worried a 'hard Brexit' would cause market turbulence: report (Reuters)  The German Finance Ministry is worried there will be turbulence on the financial markets if there is a 'hard Brexit', a German newspaper reported on Monday - two days before Britain triggers divorce proceedings with the European Union.  Handelsblatt daily cited a risk analysis from the Finance Ministry as saying that if Britain and the EU do not strike a deal about Britain's exit in time, it could threaten the stability of financial markets.

The ministry is also worried that the two-year negotiation period between Britain and the EU will not suffice to conclude a free trade deal with Britain and that would mean there are "significant" risks for the financial markets, it said.

For that reason, there should be interim solutions, said the analysis, which talked about "phasing out".


  • Iran responds to US with 'reciprocal sanctions' (Al Monitor)  On the heels of the United States announcing new sanctions against companies and individuals transferring technology for Iran’s ballistic missile program, Iran responded with its own sanctions regime on US military companies involved in supporting Israeli settlements. In a March 26 statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced sanctions on “companies directly or indirectly participating in brutal Israeli crimes in occupied Palestine or that have backed terrorism by [Israel] or have violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 regarding the expansion of illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.”

  • 5 reasons to watch Rouhani’s visit to Russia (Al Monitor)  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is on an official two-day visit to Moscow, meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues. The trip is taking place during one of the most important periods in Iran and Russia's relationship, with the Syrian crisis having become a showcase of the growing partnership between the two countries. The overall cordial relationship aside, the true significance of Rouhani’s visit can best be understood by taking into account five key points.  This article suggests this is a step on the path to a new "axis":  Iran-Russia-Turkey.


  • Ram Redux:  Will India Return to the Days of Temple Strife? (South China Morning Post)  An issue that once sparked Hindu-Muslim riots and claimed the lives of thousands looks likely to stir to life once again.  Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, is returning to policies antagonostic to the Muslim minority following last week's elections.  The new chief minister has ordered a blueprint for better policing in crime-infested Uttar Pradesh and is cracking down on cow slaughter by shutting illegal abattoirs. Crime and cows – considered holy by Hindus – were among the top promises made by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent state election. So was building a contentious Hindu temple.


  • Indonesia’s Fearless Finance Minister Is Ready for Her Next Fight (Bloomberg)  Sri Mulyani Indrawati, a stylish, 54-year-old economist who combines Indonesian batik with Anne Klein kitten heels, has earned a reputation for toughness. She’d been finance minister in the 2000s and returned to the job last year, charged with a reform agenda that’s so ambitious it seems audacious.  She has vowed to clean up the tax office itself, an institution long beset by corruption. It was a challenge she took up with mixed success the first time around. She’s confronting it again: In a country of 260 million people, only about 10 million filed a tax return in 2015. Now Indrawati plans to revamp the overall taxation system and double the number of auditors to widen the tax base.


  • The Real Reason China Won't Exert Economic Pressure on North Korea (South China Morning Post)  Firstly, it is doubtful how much diplomatic influence Beijing really wields in Pyongyang. Certainly North Korea is not the obedient client state of China that US President Donald Trump’s campaign statements allege. Kim has yet to make an official visit as North Korea’s leader to Beijing, and has never met China’s President Xi Jinping (習近平).  But here is the bottom line:

As Beijing’s intemperate reaction to US plans for a missile shield in South Korea to reduce the threat of Kim’s missiles demonstrates, China’s leaders are far more suspicious of US strategic aims in Asia than they are worried about the destabilising potential of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

  • China's Top Chipmaker Secures $22 Billion to Expand Globally (Bloomberg)  Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. has clinched as much as 150 billion yuan ($22 billion) of financing from two Chinese government-backed investors, amassing a pool of funds to pursue acquisitions and build a world-class semiconductor industry.   The state-linked chip-maker will receive a total of 100 billion yuan from China Development Bank, a policy lender overseen by the country’s cabinet, in the years till 2020. It’ll get another 50 billion yuan from a national chip fund set up in 2014 to drive advances in domestic semiconductors

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


As an Arctic researcher, I’m used to gaps in data. Just over 1% of US Arctic waters have been surveyed to modern standards. In truth, some of the maps we use today haven’t been updated since the second world war. Navigating uncharted waters can prove difficult, but it comes with the territory of working in such a remote part of the world.

Over the past two months though, I’ve been navigating a different type of uncharted territory: the deleting of what little data we have by the Trump administration.

  • Why the tide is turning against the US dollar (South China Morning Post)  The usually robust US dollar, the forex market’s friend in the last few years, is starting to lose its lustre as the market begins to reassess the outlook for US Federal Reserve tightening set against a less certain future for the American economy ramped up by new president Donald Trump. The vicissitudes of Trump’s first 100 days in office have hardly been a call to arms for US dollar bulls.  And if the European elections of 2017 reject the rise of populism, the flow into the dollar as a safe haven will end.

  • The Biggest Risk From the Dollar's Drop May Not Be What You Would Guess (Bloomberg)  A high-risk corner of the $5.1 trillion-a-day currency market has become the collateral damage of the dollar selloff.  Whipsawed by the greenback and confronted by U.S. policy confusion, carry trades were supposed to be a rare bright spot for investors who want to stay away from the world’s biggest reserve currency. Under the strategy, you borrow in low-rate alternatives such as the yen, and buy high-yielding peers like the Mexican peso, benefiting from low volatility and the emerging-market rally.

  • Performance International vs. U.S. Stocks (Walter Kurtz, Sober Look, The Daily Shot)  Happy with you U.S. stocks the past 12 months?  You would have been happier overseas.

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