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What We Read Today 30 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".).


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Topics today include:

  • Some big American companies dare to push back on Trump

  • 2˚C Scenario Possible With Renewable Energy

  • How Jeff Bezos became the second richest man on the planet

  • Two Dems announce they'll vote for Gorsuch

  • Trump Wipes Out $5 Billion of Muni Gains at Top U.S. Insurers

  • Trump, Freedom Caucus turn on each other

  • Tea Party leader ‘disgusted’ by Trump’s attack on Freedom Caucus

  • Putin says claims that Russia interfered in US elections are 'lies' 

  • South Korea Ex-Leader Park Arrested Over Bribery Scandal

  • Why Australia Hasn't Had a Recession in Over 25 Years

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Two Dems announce they'll vote for Gorsuch (The Hill)  Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Thursday became the second Senate Democrat to say she will vote for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, joining Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). 

  • Trump Wipes Out $5 Billion of Muni Gains at Top U.S. Insurers (Bloomberg)   The disruption in the municipal bond market is punishing some of the most loyal buyers of the debt.  The insurance industry has seen more than $5 billion of gains erased on state and local bonds after Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race, with American International Group Inc. and Travelers Cos. among the hardest-hit companies. While the yield on state and local debt is typically exempt from federal taxes, that advantage would be diminished if Trump follows through on plans to lower the levy on all corporate profits. Beyond that, investors are concerned that an overhaul of federal laws could end the favorable treatment on munis.

  • Trump, Freedom Caucus turn on each other (The Hill)  President Trump on Thursday used Twitter to rip into the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which quickly returned fire as Republicans turned on one another a week after the collapse of their ObamaCare repeal plan.  Trump threatened to back primary election challengers to the Freedom Caucus members who torpedoed the American Health Care Act, handing Trump a stinging legislative loss in his administration’s first 100 days.  Trump said the conservatives had “hurt the entire Republican agenda”, lumping them in with Democrats he pledged to “fight” in the 2018 midterms.

  • Tea Party leader ‘disgusted’ by Trump’s attack on Freedom Caucus (The Hill)  Tea Party leader Mark Meckler on Thursday told The Hill he is “disgusted” by President Trump’s attacks on the conservative House Freedom Caucus over the GOP’s failed healthcare bill.  Meckler, who co-founded the Tea Party Patriots and whose new group, Citizens for Self Governance, has a database of 2 million conservative activists, said:  

“The man who promised to ‘Drain the Swamp’ now appears to be the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon.  He is now on the side of the swamp monsters.” 


South Korea

  • South Korea Ex-Leader Park Arrested Over Bribery Scandal (Bloomberg)  A South Korean court has ordered the arrest of former President Park Geun-hye after prosecutors sought to detain her on suspicion of bribery and abuse of powers.  The Seoul Central District Court granted the warrant following a hearing on Thursday, it said in a text message. The court also said that the arrest warrant was approved because of concern that Park could destroy evidence. The former president, who was waiting for the court decision at the prosecutors’ office, was taken to the Seoul Detention Center where Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee and Park’s long-time friend Choi Soon-sil are being held.


While growth is being underpinned by population gains and resource exports to China, failure to spur productivity has meant stagnant living standards and electoral discontent; a property bubble fueled by record-low interest rates has driven household debt to levels that threaten financial stability; and a timid government facing political gridlock could lose the nation’s prized AAA rating as early as May because of spiraling budget deficits.

Australia’s last recession -- defined locally as two straight quarters of contraction -- occurred in 1991 and was a devastating conclusion to eight years of reform designed to create an open, flexible and competitive economy. But it also proved cathartic, paving the way for a low-inflation, productivity-driven expansion.

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

  • Some big American companies dare to push back on Trump (CNBC)   When General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt criticized President Donald Trump's climate policy on Wednesday, he made his industrial behemoth the latest American company to push back on the young administration.  In a widely reported note to employees, Immelt said that Trump's executive order to start rolling back Obama-era fossil-fuel regulations "doesn't change what GE believes" — that climate change is real and "should be addressed on a global basis".  Companies should "adjust to political volatility" and "have their own 'foreign policy'",  he wrote. 

  • IRENA, IEA Study — 2˚C Scenario Possible With Renewable Energy (Clean Technica)  At the request of the German government, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) conducted a study to determine whether global economic growth is possible while honoring the pledge made by the world community in Paris to prevent average world temperatures from rising more than 2º Celsius.  The result? The study concludes that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70% by the year 2050 and eliminated entirely by 2060 without causing the global economy to shrink.  Full report: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy System (International Energy Agency). 

Click for larger image.

  • This is how Jeff Bezos became the second richest man on the planet (CNBC)  Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is now the second richest person on the planet.  On Wednesday, his personal fortune jumped to $75.6 billion following a rise in Amazon's stock. He eclipsed legendary investor Warren Buffett and now stands just below Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.  While there's no playbook for becoming one of the world's richest individuals, Bezos' career has been marked by risk-taking and learning from failure, and sheds light on what it takes to be incredibly successful.

Click for large image.

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