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What We Read Today 24 May 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:

  • Republican Lawmakers Aren’t in Love With Trump’s Budget

  • Estimated 23 million would lose health insurance under Republican bill: CBO

  • Cash Flow Summary for AHCA

  • U.S. House Democrats seek info from Deutsche Bank on Trump accounts

  • The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory

  • Father and Brother of Manchester Bomber Arrested in Libya

  • Brazilian Ministry Building Set on Fire as Protests Turn Violent 

  • Toronto Homeowners Are Suddenly in a Rush to Sell

  • The Obscure Rule Change That Added $5.7 Billion to Pemex's Books

  • NATO’s Image Improves on Both Sides of Atlantic

  • He plowed his field; now he faces a $2.8M fine

  • San Francisco Goes From First to Worst in U.S. Home-Price Gauge

  • The many lessons of The Man Who Knew

  • What Was That Glowing Orb Trump Touched in Saudi Arabia?

  • Centrism Takes On the Extremes

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • NATO’s Image Improves on Both Sides of Atlantic (Pew Research Center)  European faith in American military support is largely unchanged over many years but over the last year views of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have generally improved in both North America and Europe.


  • Republican Lawmakers Aren’t in Love With Trump’s Budget (Bloomberg)  Republican lawmakers are lining up in opposition to big portions of President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which was unveiled this week. Some Republicans in the House and Senate say cuts to certain programs go too far. Even increased spending to typical Republican priorities like defense drew criticism for falling short. Listed in this article are the parts of Trump’s plan Republican lawmakers have been most vocal about.

  • Estimated 23 million would lose health insurance under Republican bill: CBO (Reuters)  An estimated 23 million people would lose health coverage by 2026 under Republican legislation aimed at repealing Obamacare, a nonpartisan congressional agency said on Wednesday in the first calculation of the new bill's potential impact.  The report from the Congressional Budget Office also said federal deficits would fall by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026 under the Republican bill. (Econintersect: If the $119 billion savings is per year, then the cost per added uninsured person is $5.174 per year.  Can someone figure out what the cost to the conomy is for this government savings?) The CBO score raises the stakes for Republican senators working on their own version of legislation passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month.  Graphic below from The Washington Post.

Click for large image.

  • U.S. House Democrats seek info from Deutsche Bank on Trump accounts (Reuters)   Democrats on a U.S. of House of Representatives panel have asked Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to provide information on whether any accounts connected to President Donald Trump have ties to Russia, adding another dimension to probes into connections between Moscow and Trump.  Democrats on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee said on Wednesday they had sent a letter the previous day to Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer John Cryan seeking details of internal reviews to determine if Trump's loans for his real estate business were backed by the Russian government.  The congressional inquiry also seeks information about a Russian "mirror trading" scheme that allowed $10 billion to flow out of Russia.

  • The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory (The Washington Post)  When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off.  Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C. police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery attempt.

According to experts and Rich’s family, the emailed invitation from appeared to be an attempt to gain access to Rich’s email. Joel Rich, who maintains his late son’s Gmail account, did not click the link. Meanwhile, Dotcom was promising on Twitter to prove that the younger Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks — and Fox News host Sean Hannity was telling his 2.37 million Twitter followers to be ready for a revelation.

Hannity had invited Dotcom to appear on his show for what he said on Twitter would be a “#GameChanger” interview. The implication: that Dotcom would finally offer evidence of his claim that Rich had sent internal DNC documents to WikiLeaks before his death.

All that began to unravel Tuesday afternoon, when Fox News retracted a story that had claimed the same Rich-WikiLeaks connection, telling readers that the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Dotcom wrote on his website that he would not speak further about his allegations.

The latest revelation — that a hacker from New Zealand may have been trying as recently as this week to hack into Rich’s email — offered fresh evidence that the conspiracy theory is false. Dotcom, it seemed, may have been willing to create a fake archive of emails from Rich to “prove” his role in the DNC hack.


  • Father and Brother of Manchester Bomber Arrested in Libya (Bloomberg)  he father and a brother of suspected Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have been detained by security personnel in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, according to witnesses and officials.  Ramadan Abedi was detained hours after he described in an interview with Bloomberg his disbelief over news his 22-year-old son had carried out the U.K.’s deadliest act of terrorism in more than a decade. He said the two had last week spoke about meeting in Tripoli during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.  Separately, security forces announced they had Salman Abedi’s younger brother, Hesham, in custody. In a statement, the Special Deterrence Force said he had admitted to having links with Islamic State and being in the U.K. at the time the Manchester attack was being planned. The statement said Hesham had received money from his elder sibling.


  • Brazilian Ministry Building Set on Fire as Protests Turn Violent (Bloomberg)  Protesters in Brasilia set fire to a ministry building on Wednesday afternoon, as tens of thousands gathered outside Congress to demand the removal of President Michel Temer.  Amid frequent clashes with police, demonstrators mobilized by Brazil’s main labor unions broke into several ministries, causing widespread damage and setting fire to the agriculture ministry, according to GloboNews. All ministry buildings were subsequently evacuated and civil servants sent home.



The reversal of fortune was quietly introduced to the public when the Pemex CFO surprised listeners on a May 3 conference call by identifying the company’s first-quarter profit as the second in a row.

Petroleos Mexicanos regulatory filing offered just a hint as to what happened. For 10 months, Pemex failed to recognize the import of a government ruling designed to boost the value of its reserves, the filing shows. The Mexican oil producer only took advantage of the new rule after outside auditor Castillo Miranda & Compania S.C. reviewed its final 2016 status.

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

  • He plowed his field; now he faces a $2.8M fine (USA Today)  Where do the rights of a landowner end and the rights of the owners and stakeholders of the surroundings begin?  A federal court case this summer will adress this question.

  • San Francisco Goes From First to Worst in U.S. Home-Price Gauge (Bloomberg)  San Francisco, which in recent years had the biggest home-price gain in the U.S., was the country’s weakest market in the first quarter, with values falling for the first time since 2011.  Single-family home prices in the region that includes San Francisco and San Mateo counties dropped 2.5% from a year earlier, the worst performance among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to an index released Wednesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Grand Rapids, Michigan, a relatively affordable area where prices jumped 13.7%, had the biggest gain.

  • The many lessons of The Man Who Knew (International Finance)  Hat tip to Ben Steil.  Peter Fisher (Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth) reviews Sebastian Mallaby's biography of Alan Greenspan:  The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan.  Fisher says: "Future central bankers ignore Mallaby’s volume at their peril."  From Amazon (the blurb there calls this book "the definitive biography of the most important economic statesman of our time"):

Sebastian Mallaby's magisterial biography of Alan Greenspan, the product of over five years of research based on untrammeled access to his subject and his closest professional and personal intimates, brings into vivid focus the mysterious point where the government and the economy meet. To understand Greenspan's story is to see the economic and political landscape of the last 30 years--and the presidency from Reagan to George W. Bush--in a whole new light. As the most influential economic statesman of his age, Greenspan spent a lifetime grappling with a momentous shift: the transformation of finance from the fixed and regulated system of the post-war era to the free-for-all of the past quarter century. The story of Greenspan is also the story of the making of modern finance, for good and for ill.


  • Centrism Takes On the Extremes (Bloomberg)  A blend of free markets, regulation and redistribution turned the U.S. into the world's richest nation. Noah Smith asks:  "What's not to like?"  This column attempts to define and defend neoliberalism, "the model the U.S. has been operating under for decades", and "has had significant influence abroad as well".  Smith defines "populism" as the right and "socialism" as the left.  He says that there is justifiable pushback because neoliberal control has not resolved important issues like growing income distribution inequality and employment dislocations (graph below the infographic).  But he argues that neoliberalism will adapt and resolve these issues in ways that the two opposing extremes cannot.


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