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What We Read Today 23 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:

  • The New Right-Wing Extremism: Unified, Tech-Savvy and Emboldened

  • Corporate Bond Traders Play Chicken

  • A Thorium-Salt Reactor Has Fired Up for the First Time in Four Decades

  • Bear Market Approaches for Airline Stocks

  • Fixed Income News

  • Housing Prices Increasing in 2 of the 3 Top Global Economies

  • Investment Inflows for International ETFs is Slowing

  • Sex Education Based on Abstinence? There’s a Real Absence of Evidence

  • There Are 11,518 Robert Lees in America

  • Donald Trump threatens US government shutdown

  • California’s Top Judge Tells ICE To Leave Courthouses As State Readies Sanctuary Law

  • FOMC is Blinking (Again)

  • Harvey Could Be First Hurricane to Strike Texas Since 2008

  • German Economic Expectations are Slipping

  • Turkey insists Kurdish referendum a “wrong decision”

  • As Syria Nears Victory Against Rebels, Israel Begins To Panic

  • Updated: Wide regions liberated, invaded as troops make advances in Tal Afar

  • The Strategic Truth About The War In Afghanistan

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world



  • Sex Education Based on Abstinence? There’s a Real Absence of Evidence (The New York Times)  Sex education has long occupied an ideological fault line in American life. Religious conservatives worry that teaching teenagers about birth control will encourage premarital sex. Liberals argue that failing to teach about it ensures more unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. So it was a welcome development when, a few years ago, Congress began to shift funding for sex education to focus on evidence-based outcomes, letting effectiveness determine which programs would get money.  But facts don't matter to Trump.

  • There Are 11,518 Robert Lees in America (The Atlantic)   Both Robert and Lee are extremely common names. According to the website, which searches a database of U.S. Census data, there are 5,128,282 Roberts in the United States, 731,046 people with the last name Lee, and a whopping 11,518 Robert Lees.  Econintersect:  Dpes that give us az lot of leeway?  #sarcasm

  • Donald Trump threatens US government shutdown (Financial Times)  (Econintersect:  The president has gone from saying that Mexico would pay for the wall to threatening to shut down the government if Americans won't pay for it.)  A bombastic Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Tuesday, vowing to shut down the government if Congress did not pay for his proposed border wall and accusing his critics of trying to erase history. Back in Phoenix, Arizona, the site of his first major campaign speech on immigration, Mr Trump delivered a starkly different speech to his remarks on US military strategy in Afghanistan, made the previous night:

 “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.  We’re going to have our wall.”

  • California’s Top Judge Tells ICE To Leave Courthouses As State Readies Sanctuary Law (The Daily Caller)   California’s highest ranking judicial officer has waded once again into the politically fraught debate over the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policy.  State Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who has previously condemned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations at court facilities, said Tuesday she has a duty to call out federal agents who arrest illegal immigrants in or near the California’s courthouses.  Cantil-Sakauye said at a panel discussion hosted by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, according to the Sacramento Bee:

“If no one ever speaks out, then we can never be the land of the free and the home of the brave.” 

  • FOMC is Blinking (Again) (The Daily Shot)  FOMC officials have become less concerned about upside risks to inflation and growth as fiscal stimulus legislation gets delayed.

Harvey Could Be First Hurricane to Strike Texas Since 2008 (Bloomberg)  Harvey, which could strengthen into the first hurricane to strike Texas since 2008 this week, has forced workers to be evacuated from Gulf of Mexico platforms and sent cotton rallying.

Currently a tropical depression, Harvey was 470 miles (756 kilometers) southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, with top winds of 35 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 11 a.m. New York time. It could develop into a hurricane just before landfall.




  • Turkey insists Kurdish referendum a “wrong decision” (Iraqi News)  Turkey has reiterated its rejection of a planned referendum by Kurdistan Region on independence from Iraq, with its foreign minister deeming the plans a “wrong decision”.  A large area of sputheast Turkey has a predominant Kurdish population which is contiguous with the Kurdish region in neighboring Iraq.  Ankara’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for meetings with top state officials, said during a meeting with Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari:

“We have said, several times, that the referendum of Kurdistan is a wrong decision, and today when I will visit Arbil (capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan), I will repeat what I said that the referendum is wrong decision which will create problems and a new crisis.  We hope that Arbil would retreat and cancel the referendum, as it is for the interest of the Kurds to preserve Iraq’s unity.”



  • Updated: Wide regions liberated, invaded as troops make advances in Tal Afar (Iraqi News)  Hat tip to Sig Silber.  The pro-government paramilitary troops along with security forces have resumed advance in several directions in Tal Afar town, the last Islamic State bastion in Nineveh province.  Statements by the media service of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said joint troops invaded al-Tenek district, east of the town and started invasion on al-Jazeera district, in the northeast.  The town, with more than 1400 Islamic State militants with Arab and foreign nationalities estimated entrenched there, has been held by the militants since 2014.


  • The Strategic Truth About The War In Afghanistan (The Daily Caller)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  The U.S. is actually fighting Pakistan in Afghanistan and, ultimately, the outcome will be determined by the Chinese.  The author, a retired colonel fron the U.S. Army Reserve, says:

The so-called U.S. “alliance” with Pakistan in the fight against radical Islam is a farce because, long ago, Pakistan decided to use radical Islam as one pillar of its security policy, the others being nuclear weapons and China as its chief geopolitical patron.

The Taliban are simply Pashtun cannon fodder that Pakistan uses to maintain Afghanistan as a client state. President Trump’s 4,000-man troop increase is matched by a greater number of potential Jihadis currently being brainwashed in Pakistani-sponsored Deobandi madrasas and awaiting deployment to Afghanistan.

Islam, especially its radical manifestation, is the “glue” that holds Pakistan together, an otherwise artificial state composed of ethnic groups that never interacted in any significant way.

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

  • A Thorium-Salt Reactor Has Fired Up for the First Time in Four Decades (Technology Review)  The road to cleaner, meltdown-proof nuclear power has taken a big step forward. Researchers at NRG, a Dutch nuclear materials firm, have begun the first tests of nuclear fission using thorium salts since experiments ended at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the early 1970s.  

Thorium has several advantages over uranium, the fuel that powers most nuclear reactors in service today. First, it's much harder to weaponize. Second, as we pointed out last year in a long read on thorium-salt reactors, designs that call for using it in a liquid form are, essentially, self-regulating and fail-safe. 


A calm before the yield storm? Investment grade corporate bond issuance has topped the $1 trillion mark already for 2017 (the fastest pace EVER and on pace to shatter last year’s tally) as the selling of debt continues its torrid pace. August would normally be a quiet month for financing activity but with the speculation of Fed balance sheet unwinding and tighter rates leading to higher benchmark yields, companies are coming to market now while funding remains cheap. Fund flows data is even showing that investment grade bond funds have recorded 11 consecutive weeks of money inflows. For those counting, the average investment grade bond is yielding 3.12% (not far from the all-time low) --- so we have tons of supply and very low rates. One only wonders how long this trend continues.


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