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What We Read Today 04 August 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:

  • How to buy an electric car

  • Tesla Moves to Sooth Worries About Model 3 Output Targets

  • Counting Fish by Their Calls

  • Don't Try to Predict the Next Recession

  • This Is the Wrong Way to Fight Inequality

  • How West Virginia got to 3 percent GDP growth

  • America is not as divided as you might think — here's the proof

  • Mueller Plunges Across Trump's Red Line

  • Trump turns on GOP Congress

  • How a plan to resettle 100 Syrian refugees ripped apart a small Vermont town

  • Ken Starr on Mueller: We Don’t Want Investigators ‘Out on a Fishing Expedition’

  • There's been no Trump boost in the US jobs market

  • July 2017 BLS Jobs Situation Interesting This Month

  • Israeli Police: Netanyahu Is Suspect in Fraud Investigation

  • RBI slashes rate to 6%, lowest since Nov 2010: Do we expect more cuts? Will it boost realty? Experts decode

  • Sikkim standoff: China warns India against military buildup, says its restraint has bottom line

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

U.S.

  • How West Virginia got to 3 percent GDP growth (The Hill)  After years of economic stagnation, West Virginia has strung together two positive quarters in a row: In the last quarter of 2016, the state’s economy expanded at a 1.9% annual rate. In the first quarter of 2017, the gross domestic product grew at a 3% annual rate, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

At the same time, West Virginia’s unemployment rate has tumbled, from 6 percent last June to 4.6 percent this June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only two states — Wyoming and Indiana — have experienced a faster decline in their unemployment rates.

... three factors are working in West Virginia’s favor right now: A global infrastructure boom, the rising price of natural gas, and the legacy of a recession that hit the Mountaineer State harder than most.

  • Mueller Plunges Across Trump's Red Line (The Atlantic)  Special Counsel Robert Mueller has begun to issue subpoenas in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to several reports, the latest sign his investigation is moving quickly.  The Wall Street Journal first reported the story, saying Mueller was using a Washington, D.C.-based grand jury. Reuters confirmed the Journal report, and also said grand-jury subpoenas have been issued related to a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a woman they were told was a “Russian government lawyer” offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton. It was not immediately clear if the subpoenas came from the Washington grand jury.

  • Trump turns on GOP Congress (The Hill)  President Trump is firing pointed criticism at the GOP Congress, ripping lawmakers for sending him a Russian sanctions bill he opposes while failing to negotiate an ObamaCare repeal bill.  While tensions between the president and GOP lawmakers have been simmering for months, the latest exchanges suggest a turn in the relationship.  Trump lamented Thursday that the U.S.-Russia relationship is “at an all-time and very dangerous low.”  He tweeted:

“You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us [healthcare]!” 

  • How a plan to resettle 100 Syrian refugees ripped apart a small Vermont town (Business Insider)  Rutland Vermont has been torn apart by a plan to resettle 25 refugee families.  Now neighbors scream and shout at each other at town meetings.

  • Ken Starr on Mueller: We Don’t Want Investigators ‘Out on a Fishing Expedition’ (Daily Beast)  Econintersect:  This is a 'pot and kettle' story.  Ken Starr—famous for his role as independent counsel investigating President Clinton’s Whitewater deal and eventually his Lewinsky affair—told CNN on Friday that “we do not want investigators and prosecutors out on a fishing expedition.” Starr, who took substantial criticism during the Clinton years for his extensive probe, often seen as overreaching the scope of his initial investigation, expressed his concerns that Special Counsel Bob Mueller might be doing the same in his investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. 

  • There's been no Trump boost in the US jobs market (Business Insider)  President Donald Trump took the time to trumpet Friday's jobs report numbers on Twitter.  Trump called the addition of 209,000 workers in July "Excellent Jobs Numbers" and said the job gains were only beginning, claiming deregulation undertaken by his administration will help boost the labor market.  The thing is, the job gains seen since Trump's inauguration are similar to the trend that began years ago. The jobs report numbers that came in over the first seven months of Trump's presidency don't paint a picture of any so-called "Trump bump."  For complete employment report, see July 2017 BLS Jobs Situation Interesting This Month.

Israel

  • Israeli Police: Netanyahu Is Suspect in Fraud Investigation (Daily Beast)  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the subject of an investigation into allegations of “fraud, breach of trust, and bribes,” Israeli police have confirmed. Meanwhile, news broke early Friday that Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, reached a deal with prosecutors to become a state’s witness in the corruption cases against Netanyahu. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. The accusations were confirmed in police documents provided to a court by detectives Thursday. It marks the first time Netanyahu has been publicly confirmed as a suspect in such a case.

India

  • RBI slashes rate to 6%, lowest since Nov 2010: Do we expect more cuts? Will it boost realty? Experts decode (First Post)  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut its policy rate on Wednesday by 25 basis points to 6 percent, the lowest since November 2010, as slumping inflation allowed the central bank to focus on boosting an economy growing at the slowest pace in over two years.  Four members of the monetary policy committee voted to cut rates by 25 bps, while one voted for a 50 bps cut and one voted for leaving rates unchanged.  A number of "expert" opinions are quoted in this article.

China

  • Sikkim standoff: China warns India against military buildup, says its restraint has bottom line (First Post)   China has said that it has shown "utmost goodwill" over the prolonged military standoff with India in the Sikkim sector but warned that its "restraint" has a "bottom line".  The reaction from the Chinese defence ministry on Thursday night came a day after the Indian external affairs ministry in a statement said that the peace and tranquillity of the India-China boundary constitute the important prerequisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last month made clear India's position on the over-a-month-long standoff in the Doka La area, saying both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place, favouring a peaceful resolution.

The standoff began on 16 June after Chinese troops began constructing a road near the tri-junction with Bhutan, which India says was a unilateral action by Beijing to change the status quo in the area.

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

  • How to buy an electric car (The Verge)   This article discusses a number of things that should concern all-electric car buyers.  Tesla’s Model 3 is supposed to be the electric car that changes everything. Beautiful, high-tech, affordable: this is the car that is supposed to bring electric cars into the mainstream. But don’t expect to be driving one anytime soon. If you’re not already on the 500,000-person reservation list, you won’t be driving one this year. Or next. Or probably the year after.

Thankfully, there are dozens of electric and plug-in hybrid cars that are available right now. And more are on the way. To be sure, electric cars are still very much in their infancy. Sales of electric cars represent just 1 percent of the record 17.55 million cars sold last year in the US. And a recent survey of 2,500 American found that 60 percent were still “unaware of electric cars,” eclipsing concerns such as range or charging station availability. That’s a huge hurdle to overcome.

  • Tesla Moves to Sooth Worries About Model 3 Output Targets (U.S. News & World Report)  Electric car maker Tesla Inc. calmed jittery investors Wednesday, assuring them it can meet aggressive production targets for its new lower-cost Model 3 sedan.  CEO Elon Musk said investors should have "zero concern" about whether Tesla will be able to make 10,000 Model 3s per week by next year. Tesla just delivered the first 30 Model 3s to employees last week.  The Tesla Model 3 is pictured below.

  • Counting Fish by Their Calls (Hakai Magazine)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Who knew fish make communication sounds audible to the human ear?  Fisherman have followed the sounds for many years to locate fish.  No scientists are using sounds as a means of taking a fish census.  This article discusses the Corvina of the Sea of Cortez between Baja California and Mexico.

  • Don't Try to Predict the Next Recession (Bloomberg)  Predicting a bear market can make you famous in financial market circles, but it’s certainly not an easy feat. Markets never follow the same script more than once, so trying to predict a peak in stocks is more about forecasting human emotions and sentiment than figuring out a precise formula or equation to follow. And people are unpredictable, to say the least.

There are a number of variables that could cause stocks to tumble, but the highest-probability event is simply an economic contraction. Stocks don’t need a recession to go into a bear market, but a recession increases the probability of seeing a bear market if we’re using history as a guide.  So everyone wants to predcit the next recession.  But that is problematic.  What makes this even more difficult is the fact that many people don’t even know we’re in a recession when it’s going on.

  • This Is the Wrong Way to Fight Inequality (The New Republic)  A new book proposes Americans should compete against each other for wellbeing—so long as it's a "fair" contest.  The book is Dream Hoardersa book by Brookings senior fellow Richard Reeves.  This article argues that Reeves is wrong because: 

  • Pressuring the one percent is essential for any serious agenda to lessen inequality; this can’t be breezily dismissed, as Reeves too often attempts. 

  • When you’re committed, as Reeves is, to a vision of society as a zero-sum battle for economic advancement, then self-betterment and bruising competition for resources look one and the same.

  • Americans shouldn’t have to compete their way to economic security.


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