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What We Read Today 17 July 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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Topics today include:

  • A solution to job-stealing robots is staring us right in the face

  • 102 million dead California trees 'unprecedented in our modern history,' officials say

  • Habitat For Humanity Investigated For Working Conditions After 92-Year-Old Laborer Collapses On Site

  • News From The Social Security Ponzi Scheme

  • The 2017 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds

  • A Guide To Completely Misunderstanding Social Security

  • How Healthy Is the Global Financial System?

  • Donald Trump's campaign against Isis results in nearly as many civilian deaths as during Obama's entire administration

  • Why Can’t Americans Get a Raise?

  • Trump’s Russian Laundromat

  • Trump’s Flirtation with Violence

  • Secret Service Contradicts Trump’s Lawyer: We Never Cleared Russia Meeting

  • Why Europe Will Fail - Starting with Greece

  • The Russian Dots Are Never Going to Connect

  • China's Tech Stock Index Plunges

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • How Healthy Is the Global Financial System? (Project Syndicate)  Mohamed A. El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz, says the banking system is much healthier that before the Great Financial Crisis.  But that should not create ambivalence:

To be sure, another systemic financial crisis that threatens growth and economic prosperity worldwide likely won’t originate in the banking system. But it would be premature to assert that we have put all the risks confronting the financial system behind us.

Because risks have morphed – and migrated out of the banking system – regulators and supervisors will have to step up their efforts and widen their focus to see beyond the banks. After all, as Greg Ip of the Wall Street Journal pointed out in 2015, “Squeezing risk out of the economy can be like pressing on a water bed: the risk often re-emerges elsewhere. So it goes with efforts to make the financial system safer since the financial crisis.”


  • Donald Trump's campaign against Isis results in nearly as many civilian deaths as during Obama's entire administration (Independent)  As of 13 July, more than 2,200 civilians had been killed by the US-led international coalition against Isis since Donald Trump entered the White house in January - compared with the estimated 2,300 civilians who died during similar strikes between 2014 and 2016.  Roughly 80 civilians per month died in strikes under Mr Obama but this has now risen to approximately 360 per month under Mr Trump, according to research by the military tracking organisation Airwars.

  • Why Can’t Americans Get a Raise? (Slate)  Companies have forgotten how to compensate workers fairly—and workers have forgotten what they deserve.  Wage growth does not reflect the reality of the labor marketplace.

By many measures, workers are in a good position to rate higher pay: a record 82 straight months of jobs growth, an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, and a record 146.4 million Americans with payroll jobs. There are a whopping 5.7 million job openings (well over twice the level of eight years ago). Meanwhile, baby boomers are aging out of the workforce at a rapid clip and Mexicans, many of whom crossed the border to work, have been leaving the U.S. for years. The demand for workers is high.  Given these conditions, wages should be rising sharply.


  • Trump’s Russian Laundromat (New Republic)  Trump high rises have long been a way to clean dirty money.  This article describes how to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House.

  • Trump’s Flirtation with Violence (Project Syndicate)

Some people might have dismissed Donald Trump’s recent tweet of a video clip showing him punching the face of a man with a CNN logo on his head as yet another example of the US president’s vulgar buffoonery – unseemly, perhaps, but par for the course. But others have pointed to something more sinister – and for good reason.

Trump has consistently denigrated press coverage that is critical of his administration as “fake news,” just as he has sought to undermine the authority of the independent judiciary by branding those who disoblige him as “so-called” judges. He is in the habit of tweeting these offensive epithets directly to “the people,” a type of communication he calls “modern day presidential.” In fact, the act of undermining democratic institutions by abusing them in front of braying mobs is not modern at all. It is what aspiring dictators have always done.

“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”

Mr Cobb, a partner at Hogan Lovells, has a reputation as a no-nonsense, expensive, white collar criminal lawyer who has specialised in corruption and money laundering cases. A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Mr Cobb graduated from Harvard University and earned a law degree from Georgetown. CNN said in the past Mr Cobb successfully defended beef processor Hudson Foods against charges that company officials lied to investigators after a massive recall of meat contaminated with E coli. The officials were acquitted of all charges.

He also defended Democratic Party fundraiser John Huang against charges of violating campaign finance laws, to which Huang ultimately pleaded guilty in 1999. In 2005, Mr Cobb defended CIA whistleblower Mary McCarthy, who was accused of leaking information to the Washington Post about CIA “black sites”. She was dismissed but Mr Cobb said she “categorically denied leaking classified information and having access to the information attributed to her”.


  • Why Europe Will Fail - Starting with Greece (YouTube)  Former Greek Finance Minister Janis Varoufakis (who has contributed to GEI) was interviewed in June, recording below.  The person conducting the interview is not identified.


  • The Dots Are Never Going to Connect (Slate)  This article discusses what the Russians understand about the Russia scandal that Americans don’t.  Here is a quote from a Russian journalist:

“I don’t think that Putin in his wildest dreams thought that the American people would actually inflict this upon themselves.”


Click for large image.

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

Officials said they were alarmed by the increase in dead trees, which they estimated to have risen by 36 million since the government’s last survey in May. The U.S. Forest Service, which performs such surveys of forest land, said Friday that 62 million trees have died this year alone.

Under the Trustees’ intermediate assumptions, projected OASDI cost will exceed total income by increasing amounts starting in 2022, and the dollar level of the hypothetical combined trust fund reserves declines until reserves become depleted in 2034.2 Figure II.D2 shows the implications of reserve depletion for the combined OASDI Trust Funds. Considered separately, the DI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2028 and the OASI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2035. In last year’s report, the projected reserve depletion years were 2034 for OASDI, 2023 for DI, and 2035 for OASI. 



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