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What We Read Today 13 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:

  • Rising Heat:  Can we cool the risks of an invisible disaster?

  • FORGET BITCOIN: An $8 trillion bubble in global markets is waiting to pop

  • Black Swan Anxiety: CBOE SKEW Index Near All-time High (120 Day Moving Average)

  • FACTBOX-Obesity medical bill could "reach $1.2 trillion" a year by 2025

  • Boeing Acquires Aurora Flight Sciences For Autonomous Flights

  • Nobel Winner Thaler Is Nervous, Puzzled by Low Volatility

  • Bubble Juice? Shiller’s CAPE Ratio Now Above 1929 Black Tuesday Level With Historically Low Volatility

  • Steve Bannon’s Insurrection Might Also Be an Anti-Impeachment Strategy

  • Trump to decertify Iran nuclear deal

  • Angry San Juan Mayor Lashes Out (Again): "Big Mouth" President "Taking All His Anger Out On Puerto Rico"

  • Donald Trump's Terrible Executive Order on Health Care

  • Trump Just Took Ownership of Obamacare’s Political Risks

  • 15 states sue over Trump-halted ObamaCare payments

  • Trump's New Obamacare Killer to Cost Uncle Sam $194 Billion

  • Coal plant closures continue even as U.S. ends 'Clean Power Plan'

  • Trump Is Far Less Popular Than The Economy Suggests He Should Be

  • Americans deepest in poverty lost more ground in 2016

  • Saudi Aramco in talks to shelve international IPO: FT

  • Pakistan's hostage rescue hailed, but tensions with U.S. remain

  • Crashing Urban Fixed Investment in China

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • Rising Heat:  Can we cool the risks of an invisible disaster? (Thompson Reuters Foundation)  Over the last 30 years, increasingly broiling summer heat has claimed more American lives than flooding, tornadoes or hurricanes, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.  And the problem has not been limited to the United States. More than 35,000 people died during a European heatwave in 2003, and tens of thousands perished in Russia during extreme heat in 2010.  For changes from a century ago, see graphic below.

But experts say heat remains underestimated as a threat by governments, aid agencies, and individuals. That's both because it's an invisible, hard-to-document disaster that claims lives largely behind closed doors - and because hot weather just doesn't strike many people as a serious threat.

Visit article to find interactive graphic.


The modern Republican Party was created through purges, and it has never stopped.

  • Trump to decertify Iran nuclear deal (The Hill)  President Trump will decertify the Iran nuclear deal but not push Congress to reimpose sanctions on the country, top officials said ahead of his speech Friday. Instead, Trump will ask Congress to amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), which requires the president’s certification of the nuclear agreement every 90 days, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters late Thursday at the White House. 

  • Angry San Juan Mayor Lashes Out (Again): "Big Mouth" President "Taking All His Anger Out On Puerto Rico" (Zero Hedge)  Last night, an angry mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and CNN once again teamed up to bash President Trump for using his "big mouth" to "spread his hate all over the place."  Asked by a goading Don Lemon whether she thought "the President is treating Puerto Rico differently than Texas and Florida after the hurricanes," here is what Cruz had to say:

"Most definitely.  He's treating Puerto Rico differently than the U.S. treated Haiti.  For some reason, he's taking all of his anger out on Puerto Rico." 

"There's a big disconnect between the big heart of the volunteers and the people that are here working on the ground and frankly the big mouth of the President of the United States who continues to add insult to injury."

  • Donald Trump's Terrible Executive Order on Health Care (The New Yorker)  President Donald Trump is now trying to break the health-care system all by himself, although he has more help than he might acknowledge. On Thursday, Trump launched an assault on Obamacare from two angles. First, the White House staged a signing ceremony for an executive order designed to push people into what are known, accurately, as “junk” insurance plans—the kind, common before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that never seem to cover people when they are actually sick and that extort and abandon those with preëxisting conditions. Trump, in his remarks at the ceremony, referred to this choice as “fleeing the failing Obamacare plans.” And then, a few hours later, he did more to make Obamacare fail, by saying that he would withhold the cost-sharing subsidies that the government currently pays insurance companies in order to reduce deductibles and co-pays for many low-income people.  See also Trump Just Took Ownership of Obamacare’s Political Risks (Bloomberg).  Econintersect:  The president didn't see the 'you broke it, you own it' sign?

  • 15 states sue over Trump-halted ObamaCare payments (The Hill)  A new multi-state lawsuit has been announced to stop President Trump from halting key ObamaCare payments to insurers.  Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., are signing onto the new lawsuit, which will be filed Friday, according to Sarah Lovenheim, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.  On Thursday night, Trump announced he would stop making the payments, which led to an outcry from critics saying he was sabotaging the health care law.  The complaint will seek a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction requiring the cost-sharing reduction payments be made.

  • Trump's New Obamacare Killer to Cost Uncle Sam $194 Billion (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump is halting some Obamacare subsidies. A big money saver for taxpayers, right? Wrong. The move could actually force the government to dole out almost $200 billion more on health insurance over the next decade.

Here’s why: The insurer payouts Trump cut off aren’t the only government funds financing the program. Consumers also can get help with their insurance premiums. When the insurer subsidies are discontinued, those premiums are pushed higher -- and because the consumer subsidies are far bigger than those given to insurers, that’s a costly trade.

  • Americans deepest in poverty lost more ground in 2016 (Pew Research Center)  Although the overall U.S. poverty rate declined and incomes rose rapidly for the second straight year in 2016, many poor Americans fell deeper into poverty, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.  The official poverty rate was 12.7% last year, close to its pre-Great Recession level (12.5% in 2007). This represents 40.6 million people in poverty. But categorizing people as below or above the poverty line is just one way of looking at economic well-being.

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Aramco in talks to shelve international IPO: FT (Reuters)  Saudi Aramco is considering shelving plans for an international public offering in favor of a private share sale to world sovereign funds and institutional investors, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.


  • Pakistan's hostage rescue hailed, but tensions with U.S. remain (Reuters)  The freeing of a hostage U.S.-Canadian family by Pakistan’s army has been hailed by officials as a positive step in mending ties between Washington and Islamabad, but those hoping fresh start in their fraught relationship seem likely to be disappointed.



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

Concern is building that years of record-setting gains for U.S. stocks may give way to a market plunge, according to Jim Paulsen, Leuthold Group Inc.’s chief investment strategist. In a report Monday, he cited the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s SKEW Index, which shows the perceived risk for a so-called black-swan event that’s reflected in S&P 500 Index option prices. Paulsen cited a six-month moving average, similar to the 120-day version displayed in the chart. The latter average is just below a record set in August.

  • FACTBOX-Obesity medical bill could "reach $1.2 trillion" a year by 2025 (Thompson Reuters News Foundation)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.  Obesity worldwide is escalating and without urgent action to prevent and treat it, the annual medical bill for dealing with its consequences could reach $1.2 trillion by 2025, the World Obesity Federation said ahead of World Obesity Day on Wednesday.  Here are some facts about the rising problem:

  • Obesity worldwide has doubled between 1980 and 2014, and most people live in countries where being overweight and obese kills more people than being underweight

  • At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese

  • Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century, says the World Health Organization (WHO)

  • More than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2014, and 600 million were obese. That translates to 39 percent of adults being overweight, and 13 percent obese

  • The increase is caused by people eating more foods that are high in calories and fat, and being less physically active. They are more likely to have a sedentary job, live in cities, and use transport that involves little physical activity

  • They are at greater risk of heart disease and strokes - the leading causes of death in 2012 - and diabetes, osteoarthritis, and some cancers

  • The annual cost of treating these diseases - as well as damage to joints which may result in hip and knee replacements and back pain - could reach $1.2 trillion by 2025

  • Undernutrition and obesity can exist within the same country, the same community and the same household

  • In 2014, about 41 million children under five years old were overweight or obese. In Africa, the number nearly doubled to 10.6 million in 2014, up from 5.4 million in 1990

  • The food industry can promote healthy diets by reducing fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods, ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers, restricting marketing of foods high in sugars, salt and fats, says WHO

  • Individuals can change their diets and increase exercise levels

  • Governments and all those involved in care need to invest more in preventing obesity, and treating it, campaigners say

Click to watch video.

  • Bubble Juice? Shiller’s CAPE Ratio Now Above 1929 Black Tuesday Level With Historically Low Volatility (Snake Hole Lounge) Recently-minted Nobel Laureate Richard Thaler from University of Chicago confessed his puzzlement (and nervousness) at the historically low stock market volatility.  See preceding article and second graphic below.  Adding to Thaler’s puzzlement is that another Nobel Laureate, Robert Shiller, has a cycically-adjust price-earnings (CAPE) ratio that just exceed the level found on Black Tuesday, October 29 1929, that helped ignite The Great Depression. However, the CAPE Ratio is still below its peak found during the infamous Dot-com bubble (and bust).  See first graphic below.  Third graphic below shows what happened after the peak in March 2000.

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