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What We Read Today 02 April 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:

  • Lessons from Trump’s Health-Care Debacle

  • The myth of the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist

  • Discussing the limits of artificial intelligence

  • Why Michael Hudson is the World’s Best Economist

  • Managed Investments are Good for managers, Bad for Investors

  • Global Housing Bubbles Compared

  • Trump will deal with Dems on healthcare 'if we don’t get what we want'

  • Freedom Caucus poised for pivotal role in infrastructure fight

  • US heroin use has increased almost fivefold in a decade

  • The Link between Misuse of Opioid Prescriptions and Heroin Abuse

  • There is a New Wave of Kennedys Cresting Across the Country

  • Leading Democrat alleges joint effort to distract from Trump-Russia inquiry

  • Graham booed at town hall after saying he will vote for Gorsuch

  • Donnelly becomes third Democrat to back Gorsuch

  • Criminal Immigrants

  • Correlations of Education with Criminality

  • Europe’s Illiberal Establishment

  • A World Without Retirement

  • From Great Britain to Little England

  • Trump Advisers Are All Wrong about South Korea Trade Deal

  • Donald Trump says US will act alone on North Korea if China fails to help

  • Banks Make a Killing Every Time You Swipe Your Card

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world




“If we don’t get what we want, we will make a deal with the Democrats and we will have — in my opinion — not as good a form of healthcare, but we are going to have a very good form of healthcare and it will be a bipartisan form of healthcare.” 

  • Freedom Caucus poised for pivotal role in infrastructure fight (The Hill)  President Trump is escalating his feud with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, with his $1 trillion infrastructure package hanging in the balance.  The conservative caucus is sure to play a role in the legislative fight over rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges and highways, something Trump promised to deliver during his campaign.

Massive federal spending on transportation has long given fiscal conservatives heartburn.

And Freedom Caucus lawmakers who support Trump's infrastructure push may have to work extra hard now to convince fellow members to support the president’s proposal, especially after Trump stepped up his attacks on some lawmakers in the group this week.

Researchers found that just after the turn of the millennium, 0.33% of the adult population reported having used heroin at some point in their life, but 10 years later it had risen to 1.6% – a figure corresponding to about 3.8m Americans. 

... the study reveals that the rise is steeper for particular groups. Among them, white individuals showed a greater increase than non-white, with an almost six-fold increase in heroin use, rising from 0.34% to 1.9% over the decade.

The study also highlights the link between misuse of prescription opioids and heroin abuse.

Legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Our numbers do not represent the total number of immigrants who can be deported under current law or the complete number of convicted immigrant criminals who are in the United States, but merely those incarcerated. This report provides numbers and demographic characteristics to better inform the public policy debate over immigration and crime. 


  • Characteristics of Prisoners by Education and Nativity (Cato Institute)  Econintersect:  One possible conclusion from this data would be that criminality among illegal immigrants reduces more dramatically with education levels from high school graduate through college graduate than for the other two categories.  The implication is that an important part of qualifying for citizenship would be education level.  (Note that the advantage for less crime does not carry through to illegal immigrants compared to native-born for college degrees and post-graduate degrees.)  These comments were not found in the paper, which said:  

Prisoners in every group are more likely to have less education (see Table 5). Very few more highly educated illegal immigrants and natives are in prison. A full 56.4 percent of all natives have some college education or above compared to 18.1 percent of native prisoners. Although 38.9 percent of illegal immigrants have at least some college education, only 13.2 of illegal immigrant prisoners have at least some college.19 More highly educated people in every immigration category tend to avoid incarceration.


Now that the so-called liberal establishment is feeling the nationalist, bigoted backlash that its own illiberalism brought about, it is responding a little like the proverbial parricide who appeals to the court for leniency on the grounds that he is now an orphan. It is time to tell Europe’s elites that they have only themselves to blame. And it is time for progressives to join forces and reclaim European democracy from an establishment that has lost its way and endangered European unity. 


  • A world without retirement (The Guardian)  We are entering the age of no retirement. The journey into that chilling reality is not a long one: the first generation who will experience it are now in their 40s and 50s. They grew up assuming they could expect the kind of retirement their parents enjoyed – stopping work in their mid-60s on a generous income, with time and good health enough to fulfil long-held dreams. For them, it may already be too late to make the changes necessary to retire at all.  The author says that after two months of talking to people around Britain about retirement, it is clear that old age is an increasingly scary prospect.

  • From Great Britain to Little England? (Project Syndicate)  Britain chose to leave the EU because it had an outsized opinion of itself. But it will soon have to follow a small-country model, like that of Switzerland or Norway. Forty years after leaving New Zealand in the lurch to join the European Economic Community, the UK might soon have less access to the European market than New Zealand does. Its journey from Great Britain to Little England may well be complete. 

South Korea

  • Trump Advisers Are All Wrong about South Korea Trade Deal (Cato Institute)  Hat tip to John O'Donnell.  The president's trade advisors show an astounding array of ignorance of facts.  For example, they attributed a "flood" of South Korean imports to have resulted from a 2012 free-trade deal (Korea/U.S. Free Trade Agreement aka KORUS).   The deal could not have influenced the surge because the products cited were all duty free before the deal.  There must have been some other cause.

North Korea

Donald Trump on Xi Jinping summit: ‘I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries and I hope so.’


  • The banks make a killing every time you swipe your card (The New Daily)  The banks are rubbing their hands with glee as they now get a cut of almost every purchase we make.  PayWave and PayPass are changing the way we buy things. The latest figures from the Reserve Bank of Australia saw yet another fall in ATM use and an increase in the number of Australians who don’t carry any cash.  See more about financial sector parasites later, below.

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

  • Lessons from Trump’s Health-Care Debacle (Project Syndicate)   When Trump has been able to act without Congress, his appointments and executive orders have been beyond extreme. On legislation, however, extremism will not work, owing to the need to attract some relatively centrist Republicans in order for it to pass. 

  • The myth of the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist (The Guardian)  Terrorism is not something you do by yourself, it is highly social. People become interested in ideas, ideologies and activities, even appalling ones, because other people are interested in them.

In his eulogy at the funeral of those killed in the mosque shooting in Quebec, the imam Hassan Guillet spoke of the alleged shooter. Over previous days details had emerged of the young man’s life. “Alexandre [Bissonette], before being a killer, was a victim himself,” said Hassan. “Before he planted his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head. Unfortunately, day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians, and certain reporters and certain media, poisoned our atmosphere.

“We did not want to see it …. because we love this country, we love this society. We wanted our society to be perfect. We were like some parents who, when a neighbor tells them their kid is smoking or taking drugs, answers: ‘I don’t believe it, my child is perfect.’ We don’t want to see it. And we didn’t see it, and it happened.”

“But,” he went on to say, “there was a certain malaise. Let us face it. Alexandre Bissonnette didn’t emerge from a vacuum.”

  • Why Michael Hudson is the World’s Best Economist (Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch)  PCR has contributed to GEI, and Michael Hudson is a contributor.  This article reviews Hudson's development and education as an economist which came more from his work experience as a financial analyst on Wall Street than from his Ph.D from New York University.  (See also next article for an example of parasitic predation by financial services.) This article is as interesting a review of an individual's professional history as we have read.  PCR is obviously impressed and writes:

Michael Hudson is the best economist in the world. Indeed, I could almost say that he is the only economist in the world. Almost all of the rest are neoliberals, who are not economists but shills for financial interests.

If you have not heard of Michael Hudson it merely shows the power of the Matrix. Hudson should have won several Nobel prizes in economics, but he will never get one.

Hudson’s investigations into the problems of our time took him through the history of economic thought. He discovered that 18th and 19th century economists understood the disabling power of debt far better than today’s neoliberal economists who essentially neglect it in order to better cater to the interest of the financial sector.

Hudson shows that Western economies have been financialized in a predatory way that sacrifices the public interest to the interests of the financial sector. That is why the economy no longer works for ordinary people. Finance is no longer productive. It has become a parasite on the economy. Hudson tells this story in his recent book, Killing the Host (2015).

  • A Picture Says 1.2 Trillion Words (The Irrelevant Investor)  From 2007 through 2015, $835 billion was yanked out of active mutual funds and $1.2 trillion plowed into index funds. Below is a most compelling image to explain why this secular change is taking place.  Investors as a group lost almost $1 trillion over ten years by using managed investments rahter than index funds.  See also Vanguard: The Evolution of Active Management.

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