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What We Read Today 09 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:

  • ‚ÄčThe Era Of Complacency Is Ending

  • Electricity-free Stanford system cuts cooling costs by beaming heat into space

  • The Deficit Tango

  • The Equifax “Incident” with John O’Donnell

  • Three Hurricanes Smash the Atlantic's Single-Day Power Record

  • Irma Takes Aim at Florida With $200 Billion Damage Toll Seen

  • Trump stacks administration with climate change skeptics

  • Dem Sen: GOP ignoring 'moral responsibility' on climate change

  • THE MEMO: Trump puts the GOP on notice

  • Equifax's Insurance Is Likely Inadequate for Breach

  • Three Equifax Managers Sold Stock Before Cyber Hack Revealed

  • Greek PM vows bailout exit in 2018, help for workers, youth

  • Amid tension, Trump and Turkey's Erdogan agree to strengthen ties

  • Russia berates German defense minister for war games remarks

  • China to Ban Sale of Fossil Fuel Cars in Electric Vehicle Push

  • Mexico mourns at least 67 dead after twin punch of earthquake, hurricane

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Three Hurricanes Smash the Atlantic's Single-Day Power Record (Bloomberg)  Hurricanes are atmospheric machines that consume heat from the ocean and expel it as extraordinary wind speed. Over the last three days, Irma, Jose, and, to a lesser extent, Katia have been working overtime.  Forecasters use many metrics to describe the severity of a storm—wind speed, sea surface temperature, barometric pressure—but the most dramatic may be the accumulated cyclone energy index (ACE). The calculation is a function of wind speed measurements sampled every six hours. It provides an overall sense of a storm’s power. Tropical Storm Bret, for example, the second named storm of 2017, reached winds of 46 miles per hour and had an ACE of 0.7. Hurricane Harvey hit southeastern Texas as a Category 4 storm on the wind scale, with top winds above 130 mph, and finished with an ACE of 11.1. 

Irma, a Category 4 storm expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday morning, has an ACE of 58.09 so far, according to data from the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University. The record holder for the Atlantic, according to Phil Klotzbach, research scientist at Colorado State University, is Hurricane Ivan, which scored a 70.4 on the ACE index in September 2004.

Scientists are increasingly comfortable connecting human-driven climate change to the ocean conditions powering these storms. 


  • Irma Takes Aim at Florida With $200 Billion Damage Toll Seen (Bloomberg)  Hurricane Irma headed for an all-but-certain collision with southern Florida after devastating the Caribbean islands and swiping at Cuba as it threatens to become the most expensive storm in U.S. history.  While top winds dropped to 130 miles (209 kilometers) an hour, the life-threatening storm’s swollen size means most of Florida will face hurricane-force winds as it cuts a path through the peninsula into Georgia. Irma, still a Category 4-class storm after it raked the Camaguey archipelago in Cuba at Category 5 strength, was expected to hit the Florida Keys on Sunday morning and head to the state’s southwestern coast that afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Saturday.  For frequent updates (and reports if damage from storms) follow Sig Silber.

  • Trump stacks administration with climate change skeptics (The Hill)  See also Dem Sen: GOP ignoring 'moral responsibility' on climate change.  President Trump has stacked his administration with officials who doubt the scientific consensus behind man-made climate change, underscoring a growing divide within the Republican party.  Even as leading scientists, environmentalists and most Democrats accept research that shows climate change accelerating — and as some see it contributing to the two mammoth hurricanes that have threatened the United States this year — some in Trump’s administration have openly raised doubts.  The rise of climate change skeptics has been most pronounced in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helped lead then-President Obama’s efforts to regulate climate change-causing pollutants.  

Administrator Scott Pruitt has questioned carbon dioxide’s role as a “primary contributor” to a warming climate, something accepted by most researchers. He’s also called for a public debate over climate change science, a proposal that has caused scientists, environmentalists and former regulators to bristle.

  • THE MEMO: Trump puts the GOP on notice (The Hill)  President Trump’s shock deal with the two top Democrats in Congress was a shot across the bows of his own party — and the after-effects are reverberating.  Some insiders forecast that Trump is headed for a definitive break with Republican leadership, seeking to forge a new political identity after a divisive first stretch in office. Others suggest the deal could be a one-off and that the president will return soon enough to mocking Democrats and catering to his base.

The deal, struck in a White House meeting and passed by Congress, funds the government and raises the debt ceiling for three months, exactly the terms sought by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Trump backed them his over the wishes of his own party, and his own Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin

The company holds a policy that would probably cover about $100 million to $150 million, with costs shared by carriers in the London market and elsewhere, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private contract. Though Equifax’s eventual expense may not be known for years, it could be multiples higher than the insurance payout, given what the company has disclosed and the costs at hacking victims like Yahoo and Target Corp., they said.


  • Greek PM vows bailout exit in 2018, help for workers, youth (Reuters)  Greece will exit successfully its bailout program in 2018 helped by strong growth, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday, vowing to support workers, young Greeks and small businesses as the economy recovers.  Addressing a Greek public worn out by austerity and skeptical after years of reform efforts have failed to fix the country’s woes, Tsipras said his leftist-led government would do whatever it takes to end lenders’ supervision next year.


  • Amid tension, Trump and Turkey's Erdogan agree to strengthen ties (Reuters)  U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan spoke on Saturday and agreed to continue to work toward stronger ties and regional security, Erdogan’s office said, a day after he lashed out at U.S. authorities for indicting one of his ex-ministers.

Ties between the United States and its NATO ally have been strained by Washington’s support for the YPG Kurdish fighters in the battle against Islamic State in Syria. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group.

Ankara has also been frustrated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to extradite the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey blames Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999, for last year’s failed coup.


  • Russia berates German defense minister for war games remarks (Reuters)  Russia’s Defence Ministry on Saturday criticized German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, saying it was bewildered by her assertion that Moscow planned to send more than 100,000 troops to war games on NATO’s eastern flank this month.  On Thursday, the German defense minister said the war games, code named Zapad or “West”, were a clear “demonstration of capabilities and power of the Russians”.  Russia has said that its joint war games with Belarus will be purely defensive in nature, rejecting what it called false allegations that it might use the drills to train for invasions of Poland, Lithuania or Ukraine.


  • China to Ban Sale of Fossil Fuel Cars in Electric Vehicle Push (Bloomberg)   China will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, a move aimed at pushing companies to speed efforts in developing electric vehicles for the world’s biggest auto market.  Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said the government is working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales. The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China’s auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday.

A ban on combustion-engine vehicles will help push both local and global automakers to shift toward electric vehicles, a carrot-and-stick approach that could boost sales of energy-efficient cars and trucks and reduce air pollution while serving the strategic goal of cutting oil imports. The government offers generous subsidies to makers of new-energy vehicles. It also plans to require automakers to earn enough credits or buy them from competitors with a surplus under a new cap-and-trade program for fuel economy and emissions.


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

The Era Of Complacency Is Ending (Zero Hedge)  We have been on a volatility holiday. Volatility is historically low and has remained so for an unusually long period of time. The sellers of volatility have been collecting “steady income,” yet this is really just a winning streak at the volatility casino.  The wheel of fortune is about to turn and luck is about to run out for the sellers.

Electricity-free Stanford system cuts cooling costs by beaming heat into space (New Atlas)  Stanford University has a prototype system which cools water by radiating heat into outer space.  This is proposed to be a system for cooling buildings (air conditioning) without use of any power or electricity.


The Deficit Tango (Project Syndicate)  Today, much of the world is fixated on current-account imbalances, with surplus countries demonized by deficit countries for supposedly hoarding demand, and deficit countries demonized by surplus countries for their supposed profligacy. But, while the preoccupation with imbalances is justified, the assumptions often underlying it are not.

The Equifax “Incident” with John O’Donnell (Power Trading RadioGEI contributors Merlin Rothfeld and John O'Donnell discuss the hack of consumer credit rater Equifax that may have exposed credit information of 143 million Americans.  Is this the biggest scandal involving hacking to date?  Listen to this great discussion.

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