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What We Read Today 27 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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Topics today include:

  • Negating 1984: Michael Hudson’s antidote to doublespeak vocabulary in economics

  • Ransomware virus hits computer servers across the globe

  • Next global financial crisis to hit with a 'vengeance', warns BIS

  • U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership

  • A damning new IMF report pours cold water on the entire Trump agenda

  • Justice Gorsuch Wastes No Time Stirring Up Trouble

  • Facing revolt on healthcare bill, Senate Republicans delay vote

  • Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical

  • Federal Work-Study: Past its prime, or ripe for renewal?

  • Google faces years of EU oversight on top of record antitrust fine

  • More than three quarters of homes are selling below asking price

  • Is Britain in the grip of another sub-prime bubble?

  • Could Plastic Bottles Made by Ancient Americans be the Cause of their Health Decline?

  • Yellowstone Grizzly Bears No Longer Endangered

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

  • Ransomware virus hits computer servers across the globe (Reuters)  A ransomware attack hit computers across the world on Tuesday, taking out servers at Russia's biggest oil company, disrupting operations at Ukrainian banks, and shutting down computers at multinational shipping and advertising firms.  Cyber security experts said those behind the attack appeared to have exploited the same type of hacking tool used in the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers in May before a British researcher created a kill-switch.

  • Next global financial crisis to hit with a 'vengeance', warns BIS (The Telegraph)  he global economy is caught in a permanent trap of boom-bust financial cycles. This deformed structure is becoming ever more corrosive and dangerous as debt ratios rise to vertiginous levels, the world's top monetary watchdog has warned.

  • U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership (Pew Research Center)  Let this sink in for a minute:  People around the world have more confidence in Vladimr Putin and Xi Jinping than they do in Donald Trump.

U.S.

  • A damning new IMF report pours cold water on the entire Trump agenda (Business Insider)  The International Monetary Fund released on Tuesday what amounts to an updated assessment of Donald Trump's economic agenda, and it's not a pretty picture.  Instructively, the IMF is now giving the United States the sort of social-policy advice it once reserved for emerging-market economies.  The IMF has downgraded US growth forecasts for this year and next: to 2.1% from 2.3% for 2017, and to 2.1% from 2.5% in 2018. But that's just one of the IMF's many red flags.  Nigel Chalk, the US mission chief for the IMF, said during a press conference in Washington:

"There are constraints being put on this economy by income polarization and high levels of poverty.  [There is] significant scope to upgrade federal and state-level social programs to better help the most vulnerable, [and that] the cost and availability of childcare is a constraint to labor force participation. It is also of concern that one-in-four single parent households are living in poverty."

  • Justice Gorsuch Wastes No Time Stirring Up Trouble (Bloomberg View)  It’s customary for new Supreme Court justices to ease into the job. Not so Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has flung himself into his truncated first term like a whirlwind. Now that the dust has settled, it’s clear that Gorsuch wants to establish himself as the new leader of the court’s conservative wing -- fast. No opinion is a better indicator than his dissentfrom the court’s summary reversal in the Arkansas gay adoption case, Pavan v. Smith.

The case involved a legal holdover from before the court’s landmark 2015 gay-marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges. Arkansas law generally requires the name of a married mother’s husband to appear on her child’s birth certificate, whether he’s the biological father or not. This rule meant, among other things, that couples who conceived using a sperm donor could nonetheless have the names of the two birth parents on the certificate.

  • Facing revolt on healthcare bill, Senate Republicans delay vote (Reuters)   Facing a potentially disastrous defeat by members of his own party, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided on Tuesday to delay a vote on healthcare legislation in order to get more support from Republican senators.  President Donald Trump summoned all 52 Republican senators to the White House on Tuesday afternoon to discuss how to proceed.

McConnell had been pushing for a vote ahead of the July 4 recess that starts at the end of the week. The legislation would advance a repeal of major elements of Obamacare and replace it with a new federal healthcare program.

The delay showed McConnell and Trump have failed so far to attract enough votes amid a solid block of Democratic opposition and attacks from both moderate and conservative Republican senators.

  • Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical (Pew Research Center)  Two years after the Supreme Court decision that required states to recognize same-sex marriages nationwide, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is at its highest point in over 20 years of Pew Research Center polling on the issue.  By a margin of nearly two-to-one (62% to 32%), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed.  Ten years ago the percentages were nearly reversed.

  • Federal Work-Study: Past its prime, or ripe for renewal? (Brookings Institute)  The Federal Work Study program has been diluted over the years (graph below) and now President Trump wants to cut its budget in half.  The author says that the cut makes no sense but that revampnig the program (also requested by the president) certainly does.

EU

  • Google faces years of EU oversight on top of record antitrust fine (Reuters)  Beyond a headline-grabbing 2.4 billion euro ($2.7 billion) fine EU antitrust regulators have leveled against Google, the internet giant is likely to be shackled for years by Tuesday's precedent-setting decision defining the company as a monopoly.  The ruling opens the door for further regulatory actions against more crucial parts of Google's business – mobile phones, online ad buying and specialized search categories like travel - while easing the standard of proof for rivals to mount civil lawsuits showing Google has harmed them.  So far, investors have shrugged off the EU's threatened crackdown, with Google's holding company Alphabet's shares down 1.8% in early U.S. trade amid a continued selloff in technology stocks. The stock has doubled in the two years since European authorities vigorously stepped up investigations of it.

UK

  • More than three quarters of homes are selling below asking price (City A.M.)  Some 3% of properties sold for more than asking price in May, a report by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) showed, down from 7% in April and the lowest figure since October.  Meanwhile, 77% of homes sold at below asking price, up from 72% in April.  All this has happened as the number of homes for sale has risen and prospective buyers registering with estate agents has declined.

  • Is Britain in the grip of another sub-prime bubble? (The Telegraph)  Usurous rates for low-quality credit, known as 'doorstep lending, has been booming in recent years and threatens to create another bursting bubble, according to this article.

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

Some conservationists say the decision came too soon and that removing federal protection could put the bears and their habitat at risk. The grizzlies are now hunting targets if they wander beyond park boundaries. However, if populations fall below 600, hunting will be banned again.

The Western Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm, plans to sue to stop the change. In the meantime, the federal protection of the grizzlies could be lifted in the coming months.

For Hudson, the driving intention of classical political economy was to free markets from exploitative rent extraction, whilst today free market ideology, theory and policy consequences have become ways to facilitate that extraction. Hudson in general essentially justifies and contextualises J is for Junk as applied sociology of knowledge, and does so by initial reference to Orwell’s 1984. Economics now seems to have become a Ministry of Truth producing doublespeak and newspeak that reverse, invert, occlude or obfuscate regarding actual states of affairs. According to Hudson, this is not purposeless, it serves the interests of a minority and enables the perpetuation of caused inequality. There is a real and continuing problem here that maintains the relevance of J is for junk even though the project was initially mooted more than 10 years ago. This is easily demonstrated (see also 2017: p. 179). For example, one can track the decline in labour share of national income over the neoliberal period: 

labor.share.1970.2013


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