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What We Read Today 08 October 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:

  • Eight Things Cryptocurrency Enthusiasts Probably Won’t Tell You

  • Obama’s Final Numbers

  • How fake data goes viral

  • Insanely Concentrated Wealth Is Strangling Our Prosperity

  • Trump vents to wealthy donors about failure to repeal Obamacare

  • Trump takes his opponents’ evils to staggering new heights

  • Trump feud with Corker gets personal

  • Dems hope to exploit GOP's internal divisions

  • DeVos champions online charter schools, but the results are poor

  • White nationalists return to Charlottesville

  • The U.S. Wage Gap

  • The Ideological Divide is Widening

  • In 2017, No More than Five Days Without a Mass Shooting

  • Growth and Inflation in the EU

  • ‘Two-thirds’ of Hammond’s £26bn Budget war chest faces wipeout

  • Huge Spain unity rally held in Barcelona

  • Catalonia referendum: Does the region want to leave Spain?

  • North Korea: Kim Jong-un promotes sister to politburo

  • In pictures: Solar challenge race begins in Australia

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


At a time of widespread frustration in the party about its repeated failure to repeal Obamacare, the president said he wanted to restart the talks. But, according to two people present for the remarks, he underscored the challenges of getting a majority of support for any legislation in the Senate, noting that there was a small group of GOP holdouts who had opposed the repeal efforts.

  • Trump takes his opponents’ evils to staggering new heights (The Washington Post)   During the campaign, Team Trump cast itself as the antidote to nearly every scandal and shortcoming (real or imagined) of the Obama administration. Now, according to this OpEd, 10 months in, the Trump administration has instead taken those sins to imaginative new heights:

Trump’s cures are not just worse than the diseases he diagnosed during the campaign; they’re deadlier strains of the exact same diseases.

The question, then, is why Americans bought into his quackery in the first place.

Maybe voters are just gullible and genuinely believed he’d fix all the systemic problems they cared about. Maybe the Trump camp thought it could do better than earlier presidents, and only belatedly determined it needed to go native to succeed in the swamp.

  • Dems hope to exploit GOP's internal divisions (The Hill)  Democrats are looking to capitalize on former White House strategist Stephen Bannon's war on establishment Republicans.  The Democrats hope to exploit the GOP infighting, which they believe could make it harder for the party to move legislation forward in Congress and give Democrats new opportunities in the midterms.

Bannon's threats to primary GOP members of Congress he sees as too close to the party leadership are music to Democrats' ears.

They see Bannon’s attacks on the GOP establishment, which are expected to be bolstered by donors and voters unhappy with Republicans’ legislative malaise, as a way to sap voter enthusiasm for the party’s incumbents. 

  • DeVos champions online charter schools, but the results are poor (Politico)  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has touted online learning as a school-choice solution for rural America, saying that virtual charter schools provide educational options that wouldn’t otherwise exist.  But in Pennsylvania, an early adopter where more than 30,000 kids log into virtual charter schools from home most days, the graduation rate is a dismal 48%. Not one virtual charter school meets the state’s “passing” benchmark. And the founder of one of the state’s largest virtual schools pleaded guilty to a tax crime last year.

  • Trump feud with Corker gets personal (The Hill)  President Trump’s feud with a retiring GOP senator became heated on Sunday when the two exchanged increasingly personal insults on Twitter.  The back and forth demonstrated a deteriorating relationship between two Republicans who once considered running on the same presidential ticket.  The clash may also herald an impasse for the GOP’s legislative push on tax reform, due to Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) key vote.  The president in his Sunday morning attack on the senator also accused Corker of not having “the guts to run” for reelection.  Corker quickly fired back, describing the White House as “an adult day care center”.  See also Trump asked Corker not to retire: report.

  • White nationalists return to Charlottesville (BBC News)  White nationalist protesters have returned to the US town Charlottesville, Virginia two months after violent clashes there saw a woman killed.  The town's mayor said the small group's appearance at the statue of a Confederate general was "another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards".  The brief torch-lit rally was organised by far-right figure Richard Spencer.  In videos he posted protesters can be heard chanting "You will not replace us" and "we will be back".

Click for large image.

  • The U.S. Wage Gap (Twitter)  (Econintersect:  This post needs full disclosure - the average annual CPI inflation 2008-2016 was 1.82% and for the years 1999-2007 it was 2.80%.  So nearly 1/3 of the wage gap is not real, but accounted for by lower inflation.)  Before the Great Financial Crisis nominal wage growth was 3.5% annually.  The following graphic shows actual wage growth compared to the extrapolation of 3.5%:

  • In 2017, No More than Five Days Without a Mass Shooting (Flowing Data)  The mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1 was the worst in modern history. Unfortunately, while of varying magnitude, mass shootings are somewhat regular in the United States.  Based on data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, there was another shooting in Lawrence, Kansas on the same day. As of writing this, three more mass shootings took place since Las Vegas.  The chart below shows the number of days we’ve gone this year without a mass shooting. As a nation, our longest streak ends at only five days.  Tthe Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as a an incident where four or more people are shot or killed in the same location, not including the shooter.  As other sources, you might also look to the Stanford Mass Shootings of America data project and the Mother Jones dataset.  Click on article title to see graphic an an animated GIF.

Click for large image.



The Office for Budget Responsibility will publish on Tuesday a new analysis suggesting it has persistently over-estimated Britain’s productivity over the past seven years and will give a broad hint that it will rectify the situation with a more pessimistic Budget forecast. Slower growth in the forecast will limit deficit reduction and cut the size of the war chest that Mr Hammond put aside to smooth the Brexit transition. This leaves him in an awkward position politically, because he is under increasing pressure to end the austerity cap on public pay, lower the burden of debt on students and build houses. The situation will dismay the Treasury and surprise economists, who have been encouraged by a steady improvement in Britain’s monthly public finances figures, even as economic growth has slowed this year. In August, the UK posted its lowest budget deficit since before the financial crisis, borrowing a net £5.7bn, well below the consensus estimate of £7.1bn.


North Korea

  • North Korea: Kim Jong-un promotes sister to politburo (BBC News)  North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has given his sister more power by promoting her to the nation's top decision-making body.  Kim Yo-jong, the youngest daughter of late leader Kim Jong-il, will be replacing her aunt as a member of the Workers Party's Politburo.  Ms Kim, 30, was referred to as a senior party official three years ago.  The Kim family has ruled North Korea since the country was established following the Second World War in 1948.

Ms Kim, who has frequently appeared alongside her brother in public and is thought to have been responsible for his public image, was already influential as vice-director of the propaganda and agitation department.

She is blacklisted by the US over alleged links to human rights abuses in North Korea.


  • In pictures: Solar challenge race begins in Australia (BBC News)  Solar-powered cars from more than 30 countries around the world have begun a biannual 3,000km (1,865-mile) race from Darwin to Adelaide, north to south across the centre of Australia. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the competition.

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

  • How fake data goes viral (Flowing Data)  A bogus article on The Daily Mail with over 211,000 "interactions" led to millions of "interactions" as it circulated among other websites.  Here is what Flowing Data guru Nathan Yau has to say about this:

BuzzFeed describes how an article on Daily Mail — that falsely reported claims and data about climate change — went viral. Seven months since publishing, the British site finally admitted they were wrong, long after they got all their clickbait traffic I am sure.

This doesn’t surprise me, as I had poor experiences with Daily Mail, but it does surprise me that such a large site is allowed to keep chugging along as if they’ve done nothing wrong.

  • Insanely Concentrated Wealth Is Strangling Our Prosperity (Economics)  In 1976 the richest people had $35 million each (in 2014 dollars). In 2014 they had $420 million each — a twelvefold increase. You can be sure it’s gotten even more extreme since then.  To show just how insane the concentration of extreme wealth has become see the second graph below where the bottom (visible) pink line is the top 10%.  The moonshot red line is the income for the approcimately top 15,000 +/- households.

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