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What We Read Today 30 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:

  • This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them.

  • Small Corporate Loans Hace Low Default Rates

  • We need to nationalise Google, Facebook and Amazon. Here’s why

  • Tesla's Gigafactory Will Not Manufacture Better Or Cheaper Batteries

  • Potential GDP And Harvey

  • Hundreds feared cut off by floods as Harvey pushes east into Louisiana

  • Harvey Continual Update and Damage Assessment.

  • Moscow Court Rejects Bid To End House Arrest Of Ex-Economics Minister Ulyukayev

  • And More

Due to technical difficulties most of today's "What We Read Today" content has been lost.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Hurricane Harvey offers an example of how economists use judgment and intuition to gauge the impact on the national GDP, even as only two states are feeling its enormous impact. IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport told U.S. World News and World Report that although many homes were destroyed, causing a drag on their local economies, repairing them will cause a burst of activity that will boost GDP.

  • Hundreds feared cut off by floods as Harvey pushes east into Louisiana (The Guardian)  Hundreds of people were feared cut off by flood waters on Wednesday as tropical storm Harvey spared Houston overnight but moved east, inundating the industrial Texas cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur and making landfall again, coming to shore in south-west Louisiana.  On Wednesday morning, the Harris County sheriff’s office confirmed two drowning deaths north of Houston, bringing the official death toll to 20 though there were reports by local officials of as many as 30 deaths.  The toll was expected to rise.  For cpntinuing updates see Harvey Continual Update and Damage Assessment.

  • Govt Workers Surpassed Those Working In Manufacturing Circa 1990 (Frank Holmes, ValueWalk)  FH has contributed to GEI.  For the past 50 years, the number of government workers relative to the entire U.S. workforce has remained virtually the same. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans employed in manufacturing has steadily plummeted.


  • Moscow Court Rejects Bid To End House Arrest Of Ex-Economics Minister Ulyukayev (Radio Free Europe)  A Moscow court has rejected an appeal to end the house arrest of former Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, who is facing bribery charges.  Uyukayev, whose arrest in November 2016 send shock waves through the business and political circles surrounding President Vladimir Putin, has been ordered to be held under house arrest through January 27, 2018.  Prosecutors say Ulyukayev was caught red-handed receiving a $2-million bribe in exchange for his ministry's approval for state oil giant Rosneft to acquire a majority stake in regional oil company Bashneft from the government.  The state-run Interfax news agency reported an unidentified judge as saying on August 30:

"The ruling of the Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow remains unchanged, and the appeal filed by defense lawyers is dismissed."

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

  • This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them. (The Washington Post)  The dicamba system, approved for use for the first time this spring, was supposed to break the cycle and guarantee weed control in soybeans and cotton. The herbicide — used in combination with a genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybean — promises better control of unwanted plants such as pigweed, which has become resistant to common weed killers.

The problem, farmers and weed scientists say, is that dicamba has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of unprotected soybeans and other crops in what some are calling a man-made disaster. Critics say that the herbicide was approved by federal officials without enough data, particularly on the critical question of whether it could drift off target.

  • Small Corporate Loans Hace Low Default Rates (The Daily Shot)  Small corporate loans (under $100mm) have been experiencing lower default rates. This is partially due to smaller firms having limited access to leverage.

The platform – an infrastructure that connects two or more groups and enables them to interact – is crucial to these companies’ power. None of them focuses on making things in the way that traditional companies once did. Instead, Facebook connects users, advertisers, and developers; Uber, riders and drivers; Amazon, buyers and sellers.

Reaching a critical mass of users is what makes these businesses successful: the more users, the more useful to users – and the more entrenched – they become. 

  • Batteries are chemistry in a can and changing the size of the can does not change the energy density or cost of the chemistry inside the can.

  • According to the “Tesla Battery Report” from Total Battery Consulting, 2170 cells from Tesla’s Gigafactory will not have more energy density or cost less than 18650 cells from Panasonic.

  • Under optimal conditions, Gigafactory cells will cost $140 per kWh but that figure will be much higher if Model 3 and Powerwall sales don’t keep it running at capacity.

  • A cost increase of at least $10 per kWh is a virtual certainty when nickel prices recover to levels that are marginally profitable for nickel miners.

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