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What We Read Today 27 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".).


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Topics today include:

  • Education Isn't the Key to a Good Income

  • When intra-governmental relations became absurd – the US-Fed Accord

  • Asset Class Performance

  • US Provides Military Aid To More Than 70 Percent Of World’s Dictatorships

  • Five Asian countries contribute to 60pc of all plastic waste in the ocean

  • Global Bond Selloff

  • Global Trade is Increasing

  • GOP senator: Russian trolls using NFL spat to 'push divisiveness' in US

  • Trump proposal slashes taxes on businesses, the rich; fuels deficit worries

  • U.S. Child Poverty

  • Russia's Influence in Catalonia

  • Very dangerous escalation in Syria

  • Militants attack Kabul airport during Mattis visit, U.S. strike kills civilians

  • Top US General Says China To Be “Greatest Threat” By 2025

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • US Provides Military Aid To More Than 70 Percent Of World’s Dictatorships (Mint Press News)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  Almost three-quarters of the world’s dictatorships currently receive military assistance from the United States. This is a strange record for a nation that consistently justifies its sweeping foreign interventions as aimed at “promoting democracy” and “thwarting evil dictatorships”.

In the Cold War it was “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Current analysis shows the U.S. militarily assisting dictators the world over, calling it “promoting democracy,” and disingenuously wondering why it’s all going so badly.

  • Five Asian countries contribute to 60pc of all plastic waste in the ocean (Malay Mail Online)   According to a study from Ocean Conservancy called Stemming the Tide, 55-60% of plastic polluting the oceans comes from five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam.   Uncollected and mismanaged waste on land accounts for about 80R of the 8 million metric tons of trash that flow into the oceans each year.  Environmental organisation Greenpeace claims corporations are also at fault for selling products in single-use plastic packaging, especially in so-called ‘sachet economies’ like the Philippines.

  • Global Bond Selloff (Twitter)

Click for larger image.

  • Global Trade is Increasing (The Daily Shot)  Several indicators point to strengthening global trade volumes despite the rise in protectionist measures.


  • GOP senator: Russian trolls using NFL spat to 'push divisiveness' in US (The Hill)  A Republican senator said Wednesday that Russian trolls are taking advantage of the spat between President Trump and the NFL to “push divisiveness” in the United States.  Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said trolls are “taking both sides of the argument” by employing hash tags including “take a knee” and “boycott NFL” on social media.  Lankford said during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee:

“They were taking both sides of the argument this past weekend and pushing them out from their troll farms as much as they could to try to just raise the noise level in America and to make a big issue seem like an even bigger issue as they’re trying to push divisiveness in the country.” 

The proposal, which the Republican president said was aimed at helping working people, creating jobs and making the tax code more simple and fair, faces an uphill battle in Congress with Trump’s own party divided and Democrats hostile.

The plan would lower corporate income tax rates, cut taxes for small businesses, reduce the top income tax rate for individuals and scrap some widely used tax breaks including one that benefits people in high-tax states dominated by Democrats.

President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership suffered a series of humiliating losses Tuesday, starting with the collapse of their Obamacare repeal efforts and culminating in the victory of Roy Moore—a pistol-waving Christian “theocrat” who believes communities in the United States are being overtaken by Sharia law—over the Trump- and McConnell-backed candidate Luther Strange in Alabama’s special election primary.

So humiliating was Moore’s victory that Trump swiftly began deleting tweets he had sent over the past several days urging his supporters to turn out for Strange, who the president had taken to calling “Big Luther.”

Click for large image.




By now many of you must have heard the news: a Russian Lieutenant-General, Valery Asapov, and two Colonels have been killed in what appears to be a very precisely targeted mortar attack.  Just as in the case of the Russian military police unit recently attacked near Deir ez-Zor, the Russians are accusing the Americans of being behind this attack.  To make things even worse, the Russians are now also officially accusing the Americans of actively collaborating with ISIS


  • Militants attack Kabul airport during Mattis visit, U.S. strike kills civilians (Reuters)  Suicide bombers and militants firing mortars attacked Kabul’s airport during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday, prompting a U.S. air strike that accidentally killed civilians, officials said.  The clashes and casualties overshadowed a visit intended to demonstrate U.S. support for the Afghan government and provided a sharp reminder of the risks associated with a more aggressive U.S. policy that is expected to increase the number of air strikes.


  • Top US General Says China To Be “Greatest Threat” By 2025 (Mint Press News)  A  top U.S. military official has said that the U.S. needs to increase its military budget, already the largest in the world, to keep an “advantage” over China.  A top U.S. military official, General Joseph Dunford, said on Tuesday that China is going to be the U.S.’s supposed “greatest threat” in several years, surpassing Russia, CNN reported.

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

  • Education Isn't the Key to a Good Income (The Atlantic)  A growing body of research debunks the idea that school quality is the main determinant of economic mobility.  Only 28% of factors contributing to economic opportunity are related to education.

"The cry for independence is nothing more than a claim that monetary policy should work in the interests of the banks rather than the broader community goals."

  • Asset Class Performance (The Daily Shot)  Here is the year-to-date risk-return scatter plot for major asset classes. REITs continue to look terrible.

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