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What We Read Today 05 September 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:

  • Moving Averages: August Month-End Update

  • most benign year, ever?

  • Rot: the private sector angle

  • Massive Antarctic volcanic eruptions linked to abrupt Southern hemisphere climate changes

  • Irma Tops Storm Scale, Florida Preps for Catastrophic Strike

  • Tracking Irma while also Assessing Harvey Impacts

  • No. 2 Senate Republican: Debt limit will be attached to Harvey aid

  • What ‘Dreamers’ Gained From DACA, and Stand to Lose

  • Weak Wages Only Worsen U.S. Political Volatility

  • Dem whip asks Ryan to allow floor votes on DACA this week

  • Fact Check:  Sessions on DACA

  • Immigrants Don't Steal From Americans' Paychecks

  • Putin calls tougher North Korea sanctions senseless, warns of 'global catastrophe'

  • Putin twists the knife on Trump

  • India's Book-Buying Habits Say A Lot About The Country's Economy

  • Canada is Treating the U.S. as a Failed State 

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Massive Antarctic volcanic eruptions linked to abrupt Southern hemisphere climate changes (Geology Page)  New findings published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) by Desert Research Institute (DRI) Professor Joseph R. McConnell, Ph.D., and colleagues document a 192-year series of volcanic eruptions in Antarctica that coincided with accelerated deglaciation about 17,700 years ago.  According to McConnell, who leads DRI’s ultra-trace chemical ice core analytical laboratory:

“Detailed chemical measurements in Antarctic ice cores show that massive, halogen-rich eruptions from the West Antarctic Mt. Takahe volcano coincided exactly with the onset of the most rapid, widespread climate change in the Southern Hemisphere during the end of the last ice age and the start of increasing global greenhouse gas concentrations.” 


“Irma is an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.”

Click for larger image.

  • No. 2 Senate Republican: Debt limit will be attached to Harvey aid (The Hill)  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Tuesday that Senate Republicans are preparing to attach relief aid for Hurricane Harvey to an increase in the debt ceiling, with a vote as soon as this week.  Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said it was his "understanding" that the increase in the debt ceiling would be "clean" (meaning it won't be tied to spending cuts) a move that could irk conservatives.  Cornyn, whose state was hit hard by the hurricane, told reporters:

"It's imperative that we get that supplemental passed. And the leader has made the decision to attach the debt limit to that, and I support that." 

  • Weak Wages Only Worsen U.S. Political Volatility (Bloomberg)  On Labor Day, some Americans could celebrate the long economic expansion. Many more of them could not.  Ffor many working- and middle-class families across America, good economic tidings are overshadowed by a sobering reality: Wages and their purchasing power remain flat.

  • Dem whip asks Ryan to allow floor votes on DACA this week (The Hill)   The second-ranking House Democrat urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on Tuesday to allow votes on Democratic proposals to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation after President Trump moved to halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.  More than 900 amendments have been filed to a government spending package the House is slated to begin considering on Wednesday.  Several of those amendments were authored by Democrats to prohibit the use of funds to deport DACA recipients.

  • Fact Check:  Sessions on DACA (Twitter)  (See also next article.)  Noah Smith totally loses his cool:


  • Immigrants Don't Steal From Americans' Paychecks (Bloomberg)  Refugees in the Mariel boatlift from Cuba were supposed to drive down wages for locals. They didn’t.  A famous paper claiming otherwise was based on too small a data set to have statistical meaning.  Yet the famous paper is still cited today, years after it was debunked.


  • Putin calls tougher North Korea sanctions senseless, warns of 'global catastrophe' (Reuters)  Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile programme would be counter-productive and said threats of military action could trigger “a global catastrophe”.  Putin, speaking after a BRICs summit in China, criticised U.S. diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying Pyongyang would not halt its missile testing programme until it felt secure.  For more of Putin's remarks, see next item.

  • Putin twists the knife on Trump (Twitter)



  • India's Book-Buying Habits Say A Lot About The Country's Economy (Bloomberg)  Nielsen estimates the publishing sector in India is now worth $6.76 billion. Led by educational books, the sector is set to grow at an average compound annual growth rate of 19.3% until 2020.  That compares to compounded growth of less than 2% for global book publishing over the next five years, according to PwC.  


Click to read letter.

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

  • Moving Averages: August Month-End Update (Jill Mislinski, Advisor Perspectives)  JM contributes to GEI.  The S&P 500 closed August with a fractional monthly gain of 0.05% after a monthly gain in July of 1.93%. All three S&P 500 MAs are signaling "invested" and four of the five Ivy Portfolio ETFs — Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU), iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treasury (IEF), and Vanguard REIT Index ETF (VNQ) — are signaling "invested". In the table, monthly closes that are within 2% of a signal are highlighted in yellow.

Click for large image.

  • most benign year, ever? (Salil Mehta, Statistical Ideas)  SM has contributed to GEI.  The worst monthly loss so far this year was -0.04% in March 2017.  If that holds, this would be an all-time record, per chart below.  Note that we rounded -0.04% to -0% in the chart, for viewing ease.  Also what's this chatter recently about "years ending in 7"?  Seeing down this column, there is nothing unusual, but for my birthday in 1987 (Black Monday, October 19.)  For other extreme risk measures, and small samples sizes see hereherehereherehere.

Click for large image.

  • Rot: the private sector angle (LBO News from Doug Henwood)  Hat tip to Marshall Auerback who opines:  "So much for the idea that the private sector takes up the slack when the government gets out of the way."  This from the article:

The graph below shows net private nonresidential fixed investment as a percent of GDP. Net means less depreciation (the declining monetary value of existing assets over time, as they wear out and grow obsolete); private means not-government; nonresidential should be self-explanatory; and fixed means sticking around, as opposed to inventories, which are considered a form of investment, since businesses accumulate them for later sale.

Several things stand out from the graph. First, the declining trendlines on both total investment and investment in equipment, and the slow rise in intellectual property investment. Investment in equipment and software—machinery, computers, telecommunications equipment, etc.—is particularly crucial to long-term productivity growth. Although the fruits of productivity growth can be distributed in any number of ways, like higher profits and/or higher wages, the growth in productivity (meaning the dollar value of an hour of labor) puts an upper limit on income growth over the long term.


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