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What We Read Today 05 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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Today's topics include:

  • 160 Years of U.S. Recessions by Decade

  • Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With the Same Risk

  • The Growing e-Waste Epidemic

  • Did Susan Rice Commit a Crime?

  • Republicans Considering Reducing Minority Power in U.S. Senate

  • GOP Healthcare Talks Stall, Again

  • Can Fed Start Reducing Its $4.5 Trillion Balance Sheet?

  • Market Thinks Trump's Corporate Tax Plan Will Fail

  • LePen Does Poorly in French Debate

  • Germany Advances Law to Combat Fake News

  • U.S. Dismisses Russian Assertion Rebels to Blame for Syria Gas Attack

  • Indian Stocks Reach New Record High

  • China has Prepped Economic Actions to React to Trump-Xi Meeting

  • China African Oil Consumption Surges

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Trump, Citing No Evidence, Suggests Susan Rice Committed Crime (The New York Times)  President Trump said on Wednesday that he thought that the former national security adviser Susan E. Rice may have committed a crime by seeking the identities of Trump associates who were swept up in the surveillance of foreign officials by American spy agencies and that other Obama administration officials may also have been involved.

The president provided no evidence to back his claim. Current and former intelligence officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations have said that nothing they have seen led them to believe that Ms. Rice’s actions were unusual or unlawful. When Americans are swept up in surveillance of foreign officials by intelligence agencies, their identities are supposed to be obscured, but they can be revealed for national security reasons, and intelligence officials say it is a regular occurrence.

The change is separate from an expected vote Thursday that would prevent Democrats from using a filibuster to block Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.

The additional change under consideration would affect hundreds of Trump nominations.

The floated change would reduce debate time after a nominee clears an initial procedural hurdle from 30 hours to eight hours, greatly reducing the amount of time the Senate would need to confirm Trump nominees.

  • GOP healthcare talks stall (The Hill)  Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a member of House GOP leadership, said Wednesday that conservatives' proposals to reach a compromise on healthcare are a "bridge too far" to win support from colleagues.  McHenry, the chief deputy whip, told reporters that calls from the conservative House Freedom Caucus to allow states to apply for waivers to repeal ObamaCare protections for people with pre-existing conditions are a "bridge too far for our members" and can't get enough votes to pass. 

  • Fed sees chance to start reducing $4.5tn balance sheet this year (Financial Times)  Most Federal Reserve policymakers expect to begin the process of reducing the size of the central bank’s balance sheet later this year if the economy stays on track, in a sign of rate-setters’ growing confidence in the strength of the recovery, minutes from the latest policy meeting showed. Members held extensive discussions of their strategy for paring back the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet in their meeting of March 14-15, concluding that their intentions on the central bank’s asset portfolio should be communicated to the public well in advance of any change.  For full report on Fed minutes see 15 March 2017 FOMC Meeting Minutes: Next Rate Increase Sooner Rather Than Later?  Econintersect:  Every dollar removed from the Fed balance sheet is done so by exchanging bonds for "cash" from the private sector.  Doing this expresses a very high confidence in economic strength or an attempt to reduce inflation.  Neither seem highly appropriate at the moment.  Maybe the Fed sinmply has a better crystal ball than the rest of us?  We suggest their track record does not so indicate.

  • The stock market doesn't think Trump will deliver on one of his biggest economic promises (Business Insider)  If the market thought President Trump would deliver on his promise to cut corporate income tax rates, one would expect companies now paying high taxes to outperform in the market in anticipation of increased after-tax earnings in the future.  Quite the opposite has occured:  low tax-paying companies have been outperforming.


  • Le Pen Ambushed in French Debate as Macron Attacks on Euro (Bloomberg)  Marine Le Pen was labeled soft on her euro exit plans during a television debate performance that failed to win over viewers.  The National Front leader’s opposition to the European Union has been a signature issue in the presidential election. Yet with all candidates granted a hearing in a four-hour discussion, Le Pen repeatedly lost her cool and was confronted by a marginal rival who tried to paint himself as the true anti-euro firebrand. Two snap polls rated her only the fourth-most-convincing candidate, with roughly half the endorsements of front-runner Emmanuel Macron.  But Le Pen remains tied with Macron on polling.  Econintersect:  Remember that the majority opinion was that Trump did not win one debate.


  • Germany advances measure to combat fake news (The Hill)  German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet on Wednesday reportedly approved a measure intended to help curb the presence of fake news on social media.  The bill would force social media companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, to promptly remove content from their websites deemed hate speech or fake news, or face fines of up to 50 million euros — about $53 million.  The measure still needs to be approved by Germany's Parliament, but the Cabinet's nod of support bodes well for its passage.  Econintersect:  Many issues here.  Two big ones for us:  (1) Who reviews?  A censorship board?; (2) How is freedomn of speech protected?  How is opinion distinguished from"news"?



  • Indian Shares Reach New Record, Boosted by Property Stock Rally (Bloomberg)   Indian shares touched a new high a day before the central bank’s monetary policy meeting, boosted by a rally in property developers. The benchmark Sensex and the NSE Nifty 50 indexes, which reopened after a holiday, extended Monday’s record levels.  The Sensex climbed 0.2% and the Nifty gained 0.3% at the close in Mumbai, while an index of 85 mid-sized companies posted a fifth straight all-time high.


  • Experts say China has been prepping its economy for Trump-Xi meeting (CNBC)  It was just last week that details of the first meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, were announced, but China has already been angling to position itself positively ahead of the encounter set for this week in Florida.  In the future, analysts say, China could adjust economic policies to hurt those states that voted for Trump.

With Trump having repeatedly suggested on the campaign trail that China manipulated its currency to the downside, experts are saying the East Asian giant has done its best to prevent the yuan from falling further against the greenback by putting in measures to stem capital flight.

In fact, the renminbi has actually gained against the dollar in 2017 — even as it has fallen against a basket of currencies.

  • China Binges on Africa Oil Like Never Before After OPEC Cuts (Bloomberg)   China will import record amounts of crude oil from West Africa this month as OPEC’s supply cuts pave the way for other nations to gain a greater foothold in the fast-growing Asian market.  West African producers led by Angola and Nigeria are set to send crude to China at the rate of 1.48 million barrels a day in April, the most since Bloomberg began compiling the data in August 2011, according to loading programs and traders. Overall Asian imports of West African crude are poised to reach 2.4 million barrels a day this month, also a record.

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

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