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What We Read Today 07 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".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Special notice:  Due to staff travel there will be no 'What We Read Today' columns Tuesday 08 August and Wednesday 09 August.  There will also be no 'Early Bird Headlines' either of those days as well.

  • If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef

  • Storm Advisory—What You Need to Know Now

  • The Market Is Fracturing

  • Getting Past the Globalization Bogeyman

  • Lithium processors prepare to meet demand in era of electric car

  • GLD: A Pause Before Moving Higher, Or Major Downturn Ahead?

  • The Emergence of a Post-Fact World

  • World changes in inequality: an overview of facts, causes, consequences and policies

  • Trump fumes as presidency hits 200 days

  • The Chinese Are About to Take Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to the Cleaners

  • The Marshall Plan and “America First”

  • As America Comes Apart, Robert Mueller’s Closing In on Donald Trump

  • Does Mueller's Russia Probe Threaten Trump?

  • This is how much the UK really paid the EU each week last year

  • Pollution-Absorbing Roadway Tents Studied in England

  • House prices fall for fourth successive quarter

  • BMW's Indentity Crisis

  • After military shake-up, Erdogan says Turkey to tackle Kurds in Syria

  • Democrats Help Trump Sabotage Iran Nuclear Deal

  • 'I'm your humble friend', Philippines' anti-U.S. leader tells Tillerson

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The Emergence of a Post-Fact World (Project Syndicate)  Francis Fukuyama decries the new political terrain in The West and sees a wilderness of uprooted institutional landmarks.  His summary intro:

One of the more striking developments of 2016 was the emergence of a “post-fact” world, in which virtually all authoritative information sources are challenged by contrary facts of dubious quality and provenance. In a world without gatekeepers, there is no reason to think that good information will win out over bad.

This paper reviews various issues linked to the rise of inequality observed particularly in developed countries over the last quarter century. Various data on the time profile of inequality are examined, which do not always fit the common view that inequality is everywhere trending upwards. Overall, changes in inequality appear to be very country-specific. The same conclusion obtains when examining the causes of these changes. There is little doubt that common forces affected the distribution of income in most countries, but idiosyncratic factors have amplified their effects in some cases and offset them in others. Country-specificity also holds with regard to policies aimed at correcting inequality, even though globalisation imposes constraints on some key redistribution tools such as taxation and the regulation of financial markets. International coordination and, in particular, more transparency in cross-border financial operations are needed if governments are to recover some autonomy in these matters. 




  • Trump fumes as presidency hits 200 days (The Hill)  President Trump went on an early morning tirade over Twitter on Monday, lashing out at the press and his Democratic enemies from his golf club in New Jersey.

Trump kicked off his 200th day in office from Bedminster, where he’ll be for the next two weeks, with a string of nine tweets defending his work ethic against allegations he spends too much time vacationing, touting his popularity on the right, calling the Russia investigation a “hoax” and attacking the “fake news” media.

The messages came after a weekend in which the White House reacted angrily to a report in The New York Times about a shadow campaign Republicans are forming in case the president does not run for reelection in 2020.

  • The Chinese Are About to Take Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to the Cleaners (The Daily Beast)  This article that criticizes the "quasi-monarchy" that characterizes the Trump presidency.  The specific example discusses is the trip by Jared and Ivanka Trump Kushner to Shina this fall "to lay the groundwork for a subsequent visit by the president himself".  The author points out this would normally be done by a professional, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, one of the many State Department positions that Trump has left vacant.

  • The Marshall Plan and “America First” (Benn Steil, Project Syndicate)  BS has contributed to GEI.  Benn Steil argues that isolation will never make America great.  His summary intro:

Over the years 1948-1952, the US devoted the equivalent of $800 billion in today’s dollars to the reconstruction of western Europe. But whereas the Marshall Plan is widely regarded as the largest and most effective foreign-aid program in history, it is less widely appreciated for being the most successful example of an “America First” foreign policy.

A special prosecutor’s mission is to find something. That’s how an Arkansas land deal led to a blue dress led to perjury. Now it’s happening to an old Atlantic City casino magnate.

  • Does Mueller's Russia Probe Threaten Trump? (The Real News Network)  Marcy Wheeler of and TRNN's Aaron Mate discuss the significance and scope of Robert Mueller's Russia probe, which is apparently focusing on Trump's financial dealings.


  • This is how much the UK really paid the EU each week last year (City A.M.)  It was a critical part of the Leave campaign, but new figures confirm the UK doesn't pay £350 million ($460 million) a week to be a member of the European Union - in fact, the sum is less than half that.  The UK made a net payment of roughly £156 mollopn a week for the last financial year - which included the EU referendum last June - Treasury data shows.  The total amount for the 12 months to March 2017 was £8.1 billion, the lowest in five years, and down more than a quarter on the previous period when adjusted for inflation.

  • Pollution-Absorbing Roadway Tents Studied in England (Wards Auto)  Highways England says it is conducting trials using a barrier incorporating a new polymer material with the potential to absorb nitrogen dioxide produced by diesel engines.  Highways England, which operates, maintains and improves England’s motorways and major roads, previously has tested paint that absorbs oxides of nitrogen alongside the network.  They have a £100 million ($131 million) government-provided fund to be used to improve air quality on the highways network by 2021.  They are currently looking at covering freeways with pollution-absorbing tents to protect nearby homes from exhaust fumes.

  • House prices fall for fourth successive quarter (City A.M.)  House prices fell by 0.2% in the last three months, the fourth quarterly fall in a row.  Prices rose 0.4% between June and July, according to Halifax's house price index, a partial turnaround from the 0.9% fall in house prices recorded between May and June.  The last time house prices dropped for four consecutive quarters was November 2012, Halifax said.  The average house price in July was £219,266 ($287,238), which was 42%(or £64,603) more expensive than the national average when prices bottomed out in April 2009.  However, Halifax said house prices would be propped up in the long term by low levels of supply. In June, new instructions for home sales fell for the 16th month in a row, and estate agents' stock levels are at an all-time low.


  • BMW's Indentity Crisis (Wards Auto)  What’s most intriguing, the blue and white roundel is doing fairly well in most overseas markets but now is suffering in two that are the most important: Germany and the U.S. For years, both have been safe shelters for increasing sales volume and profits.


  • After military shake-up, Erdogan says Turkey to tackle Kurds in Syria (Reuters)  Days after a reshuffle of Turkey's top military commanders, President Tayyip Erdogan has revived warnings of military action against Kurdish fighters in Syria that could set back the U.S.-led battle against Islamic State.  Kurdish militia are spearheading an assault against the hardline militants in their Syrian stronghold Raqqa, from where Islamic State has planned attacks around the world for the past three years.

But U.S. backing for the Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria has infuriated Turkey, which views their growing battlefield strength as a security threat due to a decades-old insurgency by the Kurdish PKK within in its borders.

There have been regular exchanges of rocket and artillery fire in recent weeks between Turkish forces and YPG fighters who control part of Syria's northwestern border.



Duterte's often profanity-laden tirades against the United States has become his trademark during his year-old presidency, but he appeared happy to meet Tillerson, who was in Manila to attend a regional security meeting dominated by North Korea's missile tests, and maritime squabbles.

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

  • If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef (The Atlantic)  With one dietary change, the U.S. could almost meet greenhouse-gas emission goals.  Recently researcher Helen Harwatt and a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. They found that if everyone were willing and able to do that—hypothetically—the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009.

  • Storm Advisory—What You Need to Know Now (Frank Holmes, U.S. Global Investors)  FH has contributed to GEI.  Thsi article reviews some softening economic data and then points out that things have never been better in some regards (as things are always better - or best, if you will - at a peak) which Frank thinks is near.  Another worrisome sign is the narrowness of the recent advance (just a few stocks dominating) - see second graphic below.  See also The Market Is Fracturing.

  • Getting Past the Globalization Bogeyman (Project Syndicate)  Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton  discusses the nuances of globalization and inequality that populist critiques have missed.  Here are some key points:

As we enter 2017, globalization has become a dirty word. Many see it as a conspiracy by elites to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. According to its critics, globalization leads to an inexorable increase in income and wealth inequality: the rich get richer, and everyone else gets nothing.

While there is a kernel of truth in this view, it gets more wrong than right. And getting it wrong has consequences: at a minimum, scapegoating; more worryingly, bad policies that are likely to make our real problems worse.

The first thing we need to understand when we think about globalization is that it has benefited an enormous number of people who are not part of the global elite. Despite continuing population growth, the number of people who are poor worldwide has fallen by more than a billion in the last 30 years. The beneficiaries include the no-longer poor in, among other countries, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, and Mexico. In the rich world, all income groups benefit, because goods – from smartphones to clothing to children’s toys – are cheaper. Policies aimed at reversing globalization will lead only to a decrease in real income as goods become more expensive.

The call to rein in globalization reflects a belief that it has eliminated jobs in the West, sending them East and South. But the biggest threat to traditional jobs is not Chinese or Mexican; it is a robot. That is why manufacturing output in the US continues to rise, even as manufacturing employment falls.

  • Lithium processors prepare to meet demand in era of electric car (Reuters)  Producers of processed lithium - an essential element for batteries used in electric cars - are agreeing long-term contracts with their customers to fund the investments needed to address a looming shortfall.  Demand for battery-grade lithium compounds is expected to skyrocket in the next decades in tandem with soaring demand for electric cars as governments and individual consumers try to reduce their carbon footprint.  Although there's plenty of lithium around, the problem is ensuring there is enough capacity to process it.  Pictured below (Reuters file photo):  An aerial view of the brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, January 10, 2013.


  • Inflation has been trending downward in recent months with a particularly low 1.63% CPI reading for June, suggesting this trend of lower inflation could continue.

  • The FED appears committed to its tightening trajectory and bond rates seem to have the necessary catalysts to continue their rise, with the 10 year trading at 2.27%.

  • The dollar has been tremendously oversold in recent weeks, but had a strong rebound following July's employment data, coinciding with crucial support at 92-92.50 level.

  • The technical image concerning GLD appears to be deteriorating somewhat and a shift towards downward momentum may be occurring.

  • Rising interest rates, higher bond yields, dollar strengthening, deteriorating technicals, coupled with a low inflationary environment are suggesting a negative short-term atmosphere for GLD/gold prices.


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