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What We Read Today 20 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".).

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Topics today include:

  • Dow Chemical Donates $1 Million to Trump, Asks Administration to Ignore Pesticide Study 

  • What's Become of All Your Social Security Funds?

  • Gasoline Prices Around the World: The Real Cost of Filling Up 

  • Mnuchin Says Tax Overhaul Plan Will Happen by Year's End 

  • GOP under pressure as tax reform deadline slips

  • The GOP’s biggest health care achievement has been making Obamacare more popular

  • Kuroda Says Current Purchase Pace to Continue for Some Time

  • South Korea Tells Trump It's Actually Never Been a Part of China

  • Mongol invasions of Korea 

  • Trump Orders Steel Imports Probe as American Company Fights China

  • China's Stocks Refuse to Drop More Than 1%

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Gasoline Prices Around the World: The Real Cost of Filling Up (Bloomberg)  Global gas prices are on the rise—about 1.4 percent, on average, in the last three months. Behind that modest increase is a wide range of price swings felt differently around the world. This article ranks 61 countries by three economic measures to see which has the most affordable gas and who feels the most pain at the pump.

Click for large image.

U.S.

  • Trump on ObamaCare repeal and preventing shutdown: 'I want to get both' (The Hill)  President Trump voiced optimism on Thursday that Congress will move to repeal and replace ObamaCare and prevent a government shutdown as early as next week, brushing aside doubts emanating from Capitol Hill.  Trump did not commit to a vote on ObamaCare repeal legislation next week, but said he would like to see that happen.

  • Mnuchin Says Tax Overhaul Plan Will Happen by Year's End (Bloomberg)  The Trump administration is aiming to complete the biggest overhaul of the tax code since President Ronald Reagan by the end of the year, even if a second attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act fails, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  Mnuchin said Thursday at a conference in Washington:

    “Whether health care gets done or doesn’t get done, we’re going to get tax reform done.  We’re pretty close to being able to bring forward what is going to be major tax reform.”

    The dollar and U.S. stocks rose after Mnuchin’s comments, which came as the White House and congressional Republicans are at odds over whether to try for another vote on replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, next week. President Donald Trump has said he wants to get a health-care bill completed first before moving onto taxes.

  • GOP under pressure as tax reform deadline slips (The Hill)   With the deadline for tax reform slipping, some prominent conservatives are pressing President Trump and congressional Republicans to change course.  Trump and the GOP have been pushing forward with efforts to make tax changes to both the individual and corporate tax systems in a single bill, with a goal of enacting them by August.

But the late summer target looks increasingly unlikely, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin admitting this week that the timeline has become “highly aggressive to not realistic.”

With Republicans are desperate to notch a big legislative win under Trump, several voices in the conservative world are pushing for a new approach.

...the GOP’s refusal to take public opinion even mildly into account has put them in a disastrous position.

Japan

  • Kuroda Says Current Purchase Pace to Continue for Some Time (Bloomberg)  The Bank of Japan will continue with very accommodative monetary policy and maintain the current pace of asset purchases for some time, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said in an interview.  While Japan’s economy is doing better than thought a few months ago, the inflation rate is still quite sluggish, Kuroda said in New York on Thursday.

South Korea

  • South Korea Tells Trump It's Actually Never Been a Part of China (Bloomberg)   South Korea’s government wants to know whether Chinese President Xi Jinping gave alternative facts on the nation’s history to Donald Trump.  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week, Trump said Xi told him during a recent summit that “Korea actually used to be a part of China.” The comments sparked outrage in Seoul and became an issue in South Korea’s presidential race, prompting the foreign ministry to seek to verify what Xi actually said.  Foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said at a briefing in Seoul on Thursday:

“It’s a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years in history, Korea has never been part of China.”

  • Mongol invasions of Korea (Wikipedia)  There have been historical occupations of Korea, but none of great duration.  The Monguls conquered the peninsula and established a vasal state which lasted for 80 years from the mid 13th century.  More recently, Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945.

China

  • Trump Orders Steel Imports Probe as American Company Fights China (Bloomberg)  The Trump administration began an investigation of steel imports as U.S. Steel Corp. asked a trade agency to investigate its claims that rival Chinese manufacturers colluded to fix prices and undercut American competitors.  President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Thursday encouraging the Commerce Department probe, which had already started and will explore whether steel imports hinder national security under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act.

  • China's Stocks Refuse to Drop More Than 1% (Bloomberg)  The Shanghai Composite Index has longest stretch without a 1% fall since 1992.  In a Chinese stock market where superstition and government intervention often count for more than economic fundamentals, unusual trading patterns are par for the course.  But even by China’s standards, the latest market anomaly to grab the attention of local investors stands out.  For some investors, it’s a sign that state-directed funds are putting a floor under daily market swings -- a development that presents short-term buying opportunities when the Shanghai Composite dips more than 1% during intraday trading.  Today was a good example:  The index recovered from down 1.6% in the last 90 minutes of trading.  It has been almost 4 months since the market closed down more than 1%.

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

  • Dow Chemical Donates $1 Million to Trump, Asks Administration to Ignore Pesticide Study (Vanity Fair)  According to the AP, lawyers representing Dow Chemical and two other companies that manufacture the pesticides known as organophosphates have sent letters to the heads of the E.P.A, the Department of Commerce, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, asking them to “set aside” the results of studies which found that organophosphates such as chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion manufactured by Dow are harmful to almost 1,800 “critically threatened or endangered species.”  The lawyers are claiming that the studies are “fundamentally flawed.” Not surprisingly, the scientists hired by Dow “to produce a lengthy rebuttal to the government studies” have come up with diverging results.

  • You’ll Never Believe What’s Become of All Your Social Security Funds (The Wall Street Examiner)  Econintersect:  There is one flaw in this article - the author fails to recognize that money almost exclusively exists as debt in our financial system.

About 60 million people, or more than one in every six U.S. residents, relied on Social Security benefits just last year alone, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

You see, the Social Security Trust Fund is more than just a retirement program. It provides important life insurance and disability insurance protection as well.

But the fund every retiree is relying on is not what most Americans believe it is…

The brutal truth is this $2.85 trillion fund, which is supposed to keep the Social Security program solvent until the year 2033, has no money in it whatsoever.

 


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