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What We Read Today 12 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:

  • Scrapping the Clean Power Plan Won't Bring Back Coal

  • Mnuchin: We can't have federal government keep subsidizing the states

  • A New Report Proves Republican Governed Red States Are Economic Parasites

  • 2017’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States

  • Americans’ online news use is closing in on TV news use

  • Americans’ online news use is closing in on TV news use

  • Powell odds-on favorite for Fed chair amid report Mnuchin is pushing for him

  • Steve Bannon targets reliable Trump supporters in revolt against Mitch McConnell

  • Ex-Treasury Secretary Summers: White House tax plan 'indefensible'

  • Whiffs of Doubt Appear in Fed's View of Inflation

  • Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare

  • Trump's executive order would mean cheaper insurance premiums for healthy Obamacare customers

  • Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package

  • Voters flunk Trump on Puerto Rico response — most say he doesn't care about the island's problems

  • U.S. Voter Support For Gun Control At All-Time High, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Trump Helped Texas, Florida, Not Puerto Rico, Voters Say

  • PM’s advisory council acknowledges India slowdown

  • PM Narendra Modi facing backlash as discontent over India's slowdown deepens

  • Indian government not doing enough to tackle sale of unapproved antibiotics

  • Trump is giving up a crucial part of American power to China, think tank says

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

U.S.

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has privately recommended Powell to President Trump, Politico reported on Wednesday.

  • Powell is viewed as more hawkish than current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, meaning he could move to raise interest rates more quickly.

  • Trump said in late September a decision on who the next Fed chairman will be could come in two to three weeks.

  • Steve Bannon targets reliable Trump supporters in revolt against Mitch McConnell (Washington Examiner)  Nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon is mobilizing a revolt against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, even if it costs President Trump some of his most loyal foot soldiers on Capitol Hill.  Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, is raising resources and recruiting primary challengers to take on Republicans who vote for the president's legislative agenda more than 90% of the time — some more than 95% of the time.

Their sin isn't insufficient fealty to Trump or even ideological differences, but rather supporting McConnell, R-Ky., for majority leader.

  • Larry Summers, former key economic advisor to President Barack Obama, ripped the Trump administration for "real sacrifices of seriousness and credibility" about its tax reform proposal.

  • Earlier this year, Summers, who led the Treasury under President Bill Clinton, said he would have resigned had he been asked to champion such a plan.

  • Whiffs of Doubt Appear in Fed's View of Inflation (Bloomberg)  Doubt is creeping into the Federal Reserve's inflation deliberations. Just not enough to deter officials from the course they are on.  That course is another rate increase in December and a few more next year. Minutes of last month's Federal Open Market Committee meeting offer a kind of prequel to Chair Janet Yellen's big Sept. 26 speech on inflation and interest rates. Some policy makers are prepared to countenance they might be wrong, but the majority aren't there yet.

So what is this debate within the Fed, and raging outside the central bank, all about? It's about why inflation, which textbooks say is supposed to rise when unemployment is this low, just doesn't have the expected mojo.

  • Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare (The New York Times)  President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.  But most of the changes will not come until federal agencies adopt regulations, after an opportunity for public comments — a process that could take months.  Econintersect:  Trump is giving the option of buying insurance that doesn't cover much for those who think they have little need for insurance which will raise the cost for those who do need more comprehensive coverage.   The outcome for those with preexisting conditions is likely to be simialr to the pre-Obamacare era - they will not be able to get coverage at an affordable price.  This action moves healthcare farther away from an insurance model and more toward a pay-as-you-go model.  An analogy to home fire insurance is a system that you would buy a policy for $10 a year until your house burns down and then collect a benefit if 1% of the house value.  See also next article.

  • Trump's executive order would mean cheaper insurance premiums for healthy Obamacare customers (Washington Examiner)  President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Obamacare this week that would allow people to buy cheaper health insurance with fewer regulations, targeting healthcare goals that eluded congressional Republicans all year. The order will particularly benefit younger and healthier people. The reverse side of this will be an offsetting increase in premium costs for older, sicker and those with pre-existing conditions.

  • Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package (Associated Press)  President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Thursday, insisting that federal help will be limited and blaming the U.S. territory for its financial struggles. The broadside came as the House headed toward passage of a $36.5 billion disaster aid package, including assistance for Puerto Rico.  Econintersect:  We can only imagine the consternation of the president when he learned that Puerto Rico was part of the U.S.  See also Voters flunk Trump on Puerto Rico response — most say he doesn't care about the island's problems (CNBC) and next article.

  • October 12, 2017 - U.S. Voter Support For Gun Control At All-Time High, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Trump Helped Texas, Florida, Not Puerto Rico, Voters Say (Quinnipiac Poll)

American voters say 57 - 27 percent President Donald Trump and his administration have done enough to help Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Voters also say 57 - 26 percent the president and his administration have done enough to help Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. 

But voters say 55 - 36 percent that Trump and his administration have not done enough to help Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Hispanic voters say 76 - 17 percent that the Trump Administration has not done enough. 

India

  • PM’s advisory council acknowledges slowdown (The Hindu)   Accelerating growth and employment over the next six months would be the top priority of the recently reconstituted Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC), its chairman Bibek Debroy said on Wednesday, acknowledging the slowdown in the economy.  Mr. Debroy said after the first meeting of the Council on Wednesday:

“There is consensus among us about the various reasons that have contributed to the slowdown.”

  • PM Narendra Modi facing backlash as discontent over India's slowdown deepens (The Economic Times)  Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni.  For the first time in his three-and-a-half year rule, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing sustained discontent over his economic policies as growth slows, job losses mount and distressed farmers protest.  Four senior members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have hit out at the government, emboldening the country’s weak opposition and challenging the previously unstoppable leader to find quick fixes before the 2019 national polls and a raft of state votes. And as criticism of the Modi’s economic management intensifies, the usually loud voices of his supporters are falling silent. 

India lost its "fastest-growing major economy" tag as growth slipped below 6 percent in the latest quarter. The moderation was partly the result of Modi’s boldest moves -- demonetization, as well as the chaotic introduction of the goods and services tax that continues to disrupt supply chains. As talk of a stimulus to boost growth sparked concerns of fiscal slippage, foreign investors went on selling spree and rupee started falling.

  • Indian government not doing enough to tackle sale of unapproved antibiotics (The Conversation)   Efforts to conquer antimicrobial resistance are being jeopardised in India due to the sale of huge volumes of antibiotics that combine two anti-microbial drugs in one pill, our latest analysis reveals. Many of these fixed-dose combination (FDC) formulations, as they are known, have not been approved by India’s drug regulator. Their sale is illegal.  Antibiotic resistance resulting from indiscriminant use is a global crisis, threatening to reverse the astonishing health benefits achieved with antibiotics. As bacteria adapt to survive, effective treatments, even for common infections, are diminishing.

China

  • Trump's "America First" policy is causing the U.S. to lose soft power rapidly to China, said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at think tank Center for Global Development

  • In addition to the U.S. becoming increasingly isolated, the president's protectionist stance is also harmful to Washington-based multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, Morris said

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

  • Scrapping the Clean Power Plan Won't Bring Back Coal (The Real News Network)  EPA chief Scott Pruitt declared 'the war on coal is over,' but the loss of coal jobs had nothing to do with the Clean Power Plan, and repealing it is simply a 'shameful giveaway to profit-driven polluters,' says Food & Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter:

  • Asteroid grazes past Earth in 'critical' rehearsal (The Economic Times)  A house-sized asteroid grazed past Earth Thursday, passing harmlessly inside the Moon's orbit, as predicted, to give experts a rare opportunity to rehearse for a real strike threat in future.  Dubbed 2012 TC4, the object's passing allowed scientists to practice spotting incoming objects, predicting their size and trajectory, and tracking their passage with a global network of telescopes and radars.  The asteroid was about half the size of the meteoroid that exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in central Russia in 2013 with the kinetic energy of 30 Hiroshima atom bombs.   According to Detlef Koschny of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object program:

"We pretended that this was a critical object and exercised our communication."  [The trial run was] "a big success" [despite some instruments not working as planned]. 

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tells CNBC the removal of the tax deduction for state and local taxes remains an important part of the administration's reform plan.

  • President Trump is reportedly unhappy with eliminating the "SALT" deductions on grounds it would penalize middle-class earners.

  • Mnuchin also says the administration won't budge on the proposed cut in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.

[A]nother report reveals that those same red state Republican voters who want the federal government cut to shreds are leeching substantially more assets from the federal government they want destroyed at the expense of blue states that are supporting them. This time the report is not from a liberal-leaning think tank, or any government agency; it is from a commercial organization with no political or economic stake in the study’s results. If this were the first report of its kind showing red state economies would wither and die, and the people would starve, without leaching federal funding from blue states, one may be inclined to dismiss it as an aberration. However, study after study has consistently  exposed anti-federal government Republican states as being incredibly dependent on the federal government they hate with religious passion and just voted for Republicans to fulfill their wishes and decimate it. Never, never ever, underestimate the power of stupid Republican voters in red states who are a Presidential veto away from seeing their evil dream reach fruition.

Source: WalletHub

  • Americans’ online news use is closing in on TV news use (Pew Research Center)  As of August, 43% of Americans report often getting news online, just 7 percentage points lower than the 50% who often get news on television, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August. This gap between the two news platforms was 19 points in early 2016, more than twice as large.


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