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What We Read Today 18 June 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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Topic today include:

  • Rental Housing Has Been the Best RE Investment

  • How the cost of light has fallen by a factor of 500,000

  • Tesla's Model X is the safest SUV ever tested

  • The glaring resemblance between 2017 and 1999, in five charts

  • How to turn waste into gold — The Circular Economy

  • Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

  • ObamaCare: Six key parts of the Senate bill

  • Trump lawyer says president not informed he is under investigation

  • Does EITC gives money to lazy black people who game the system?

  • Who Knows about the Earned Income Tax Credit?

  • Has social security Redistributed to Whites from People of Color?

  • Macron wins strong parliamentary majority, estimates show

  • Russia Renewed Unused Trump Trademarks in 2016

  • Trump Awarded a New Chinese Trademark, This Time for Catering

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start (National Geographic)  Hat tip to @AssaadRazzouk.  The massive iceberg poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf may be a harbinger of a continent-wide collapse that would swamp coastal cities around the world.  On the Antarctic Peninsula, the warming has been far greater than the average for the planet, nearly five degrees on average.

Click for large image.

U.S.

  • ObamaCare: Six key parts of the Senate bill (The Hill)  While Senate Republicans are drafting their healthcare plan behind closed doors, they’ve given reporters a general idea of what might be in it.  The bill is shaping up to have a similar structure as the House’s bill, while more reflecting the principles of centrist Republicans in both chambers:

  1. It will slow down the phase-out of the Medicaid expansion

  2. Tax credits will be beefed up

  3. It will keep some ObamaCare taxes

  4. It will include more funding to combat the opioid crisis

  5. It will try to stabilize the ObamaCare exchanges

  6. It will include more funding to handle preexisting conditions

There have been multiple news reports and a tweet from Trump himself on Friday that began with: "I am being investigated."

Challenged on "Fox News Sunday" about the issue, Sekulow said he could not be certain Trump was not under investigation but that no one had notified the legal team if that was the case.

trump.fans.ssa.noah.smith.twitter

eitc.by.race

  • Has social security Redistributed to Whites from People of Color? (Urban Institute)  From its beginning, Social Security was designed to be redistributive. Its designers aimed to replace a higher share of preretirement income for those with lower earnings histories and to provide a near-universal base of protection against poverty in old age. The program has succeeded considerably on both those fronts. However, throughout much of its history, less attention has been paid to the many other forms of redistribution within Social Security. Some have been regressive, others progressive, and many tend to violate such norms and principles as equal justice for those equally situated.

When considered across many decades—historically, currently, and in the near future—Social Security redistributes from people of color to whites.

ssa.benefit.to.tax.ratio.by.race

France

  • Macron wins strong parliamentary majority, estimates show (Reuters)  President Emmanuel Macron won a commanding majority in France's parliamentary election on Sunday, pollsters' estimates showed, sweeping aside mainstream parties and securing a powerful mandate to push through his pro-business reforms.

france.vote.outlook

Russia

  • Russia Renewed Unused Trump Trademarks in 2016 (The New York Times)  Amid a broadening investigation of Russian contacts with his associates and his own role in trying to stop it, President Trump fired off another angry tweet this past week repeating his assertion that he has no business interests in Russia.  But while no Trump Tower graces the Moscow skyline, the Russian authorities recently made sure that another piece of valuable property — the intellectual kind — bearing the same name remained safely in Mr. Trump’s portfolio.  See also next article about 2017 activity in China.

China

  • Trump Awarded a New Chinese Trademark, This Time for Catering (The New York Times)  President Trump and his daughter Ivanka could sell jewelry and wedding dresses and provide catering services in China under new trademarks granted in recent days by Beijing.  The new trademarks expand the president’s business interests in the world’s second-largest economy after the United States’, which have already stirred complaints over a possible conflict of interest.

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

  • Rental Housing (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University)  For the last 7 years rental housing has been by far the best real estate investment.

real.estate.investing.2005.2017

 As the BBC recently pointed out, our prehistoric ancestors needed to gather and chop “wood 10 hours a day for six days… [in order to] produce 1,000 lumen hours of light… That is the equivalent of one modern light bulb shining for just 54 minutes, although what you would actually get is many more hours of dim, flickering light instead.”

Even when better alternatives, such as candles, became available, it was still prohibitively expensive to light the house for the common person. Further, the first candles were produced from animal fat and not from the clean burning paraffin wax we use today, producing a flickering smelly flame.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that spermaceti candles, which were made from a waxy substance found in the head cavities of sperm whales, and were much less time-consuming to produce, became more readily available. But even then, reading light remained very expensive (not to mention terminal for the whales). George Washington calculated that five hours of reading per night cost him £8 yearly - well over $1,000 in today's dollars.

The light bulb changed everything.

The amount of labor that once bought 54 minutes of light now buys 52 years of light. The cost has fallen by a factor of 500,000 and the quality of that light has transformed from unstable and risky to clean, safe, and controllable.

Like a myriad of other products we take for granted today, light has turned from something too precious to use into something everyone can afford.

Hundreds of other SUV models have been given five stars overall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But in each case, the SUV received only four stars on one of the component ratings, typically rollover risk. SUVs have a higher center of gravity and are more prone to roll over than a typical family sedan.

But the electric-powered Model X has a heavy lithium battery pack on the bottom of the car that provides the power, and thus has a much lower center of gravity than the typical SUV. So it was the first in its class to get five stars across the board.

  • The glaring resemblance between 2017 and 1999, in five charts (CNBC)  This year is resembling 1999, the thick of the "dot-com bubble" in which hot technology stocks soared before tumbling in the early 2000s, according to Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial.  McMillan wrote in a new report that the two years, both within periods of economic growth, have blatant parallels by five different measures and indexes — consumer confidence, business confidence, the 10-year-to-3-month Treasury yield spread, private sector job growth and the S&P 500.

    All of these economic areas "look very much like they did in 1999. It's remarkable," McMillan said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "We're at the end of a long boom. People don't see it that way, but it really has been."

     Econintersect:  In three of the graphs below there are misrepresentations.  This is especially egregious for the last graph.  For 1992-1999 data (blue, lhs) the axis increases 6x; for 2010-2017 data (orange, ehs) the axis increases only 2.5x.  Asid e from the fact that both 7-year periods saw the market go up, there is no comparison between the magnitudes of increase.  The other two graphs with inconsistent y-axis scales are the first and the fourth, but these differences do not create grossly misleading impressions as with the S&P 500 graph. 


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