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What We Read Today 04 December 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 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published Monday through Friday in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


Most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Topics today include:

  • Evolutionary market competition​

  • When the Strong Outbreed the Weak: An Interview with William Muir

  • Lyme bacteria settled in North America far earlier than we thought

  • Breakthrough in clean diesel research

  • In Cities Across the Country, Driving Electric Is Cheaper Than Gasoline

  • Going From Pump to Plug (2017)

  • Never mind the 1 percent. Let’s talk about the 0.01 percent.

  • Trump's tweets have more of an effect on market volatility than North Korean missile tests, finds Goldman Sachs

  • Trump rips FBI over treatment of Flynn, Clinton

  • What happened when North Carolina cut taxes like the GOP plans to for the country

  • A tale of 2 states: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar

  • The Left uses violence to fight climate change

  • Debunking the Top 15 False Storylines About the 2016 Election

  • U.S. Manufacturing PMI Up But Lags Europe

  • November 2017 Chicago Purchasing Managers Barometer Eases. Supplier Lead Times Hit 13-Year High

  • Eurozone PMI Soars

  • The inside story of how David Cameron drove Britain to Brexit

  • Brexit: Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker confirm no deal today after DUP phone call over Irish border

  • Japan refuses to die, soon to become a 21st-century star

  • Venezuela creating digital currency amid financing crisis

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


Analysts at the investment bank noted that in a year when volatility seemed stubbornly flat, rare spikes occurred around North Korea's missile launches.

But rather than corresponding to the actual military activity, it seemed peaks in the Chicago Board of Options' Volatility Index (Vix) were more closely related to Trump's consequent tweets.


  • Trump rips FBI over treatment of Flynn, Clinton (The Hill)   President Trump on Monday defended former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying it's "very unfair" he was charged with a crime and Hillary Clinton was not.  Trump claimed that Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the presidential election last year, lied to the FBI with impunity about her private email server.  Trump told reporters:

“Well, I feel badly for Gen. Flynn.  I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life.”

  • What happened when North Carolina cut taxes like the GOP plans to for the country (Yahoo)  The tax changes in North Carolina four years ago haven’t produced the fiscal calamity that led Republican legislators in Kansas this year to reverse dramatic cuts they passed a few years earlier, but neither have they produced the kind of win-for-all economic prosperity national Republicans say their effort will spur.  Instead, North Carolina has enjoyed the same steady growth as much of the country, making it challenging to estimate the impact of the tax cut compared with the many other factors shaping the state’s economy.  And there are growing worries that the lost tax revenue - estimated at $3.5 billion this year alone - is beginning to significantly hurt core public services such as schools.

There are two important areas of “distinct difference” between Massachusetts and California, according to Tom Hunt, director of policy for U.S.-leading private sector community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC). The overall rate of compensation in Massachusetts is much higher, more easily understood and stable. And the regulations, though not easy, are “manageable and rational.”

  • The Left uses violence to fight climate change (Fabius Maximus)  The Left finds a new cause justifying political violence — climate change. Let’s examine their justifications for violence and the reasons they find it necessary. This story reveals much about 21st century America, and why our political system is in serious trouble.

Left and Right each see a different future for the world. Neither pays much attention to the IPCC. Both cherry-pick individual papers that support their biases and declare them to be Truth (the extreme version of this is what Andy Revkin calls “single-study syndrome“). People on both political extremes in America tend to be immune to logic and facts,

This makes resolution of the political debate almost impossible in the foreseeable future. There are ways to break the gridlock (such as testing the models), but that won’t happen under current conditions. This sets the stage for terrified Leftists to resort to violence, applauded by the larger population of Leftists.


  • Eurozone PMI Soars (The Daily Shot)  The euro area’s factory activity hit the highest level since 2000.  


Ahead of a critical lunch meeting between May and Jean-Claude Juncker, MEPs revealed they had been shown a draft agreement that talked of "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, avoiding the need for a hard border.


  • Japan refuses to die, soon to become a 21st-century star (Fabius Maximus)  Japan continues to prosper, defying the doomsters’ forecasts. Is this a delay of their end times, or the taxing down the runway before lift-off? Japan is in some ways further into the future than the rest of the world. We should watch and learn from them.


  • Venezuela creating digital currency amid financing crisis (Yahoo)  Hat tip to Sig Silber.  Venezuela is creating a digital currency to combat a financial blockade by the United States, President Nicolas Maduro announced Sunday.  The Petro will be backed by Venezuela's oil and gas reserves and its gold and diamond holdings, the president said in his weekly television program.  The government also announced the creation of a "blockchain observatory" -- a software platform for buying and selling virtual currency.

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

  • Evolutionary market competition (Fresh Economic Thinking)  Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.  The greatest success is obtained in an economic system when cooperation and competition are operating at different levels.  See also next article.  From this article:

The lesson here about market competition acting as a selection mechanism to favour firms that have high within-group cooperation is radically displayed in the experiments of William Muir, who bred chickens and either selected for a) the most productive individual egg-laying chicken, or b) the most productive cage of egg-laying chickens (in each cage were 9 chickens).

The results drive home the message of group selection is a process that increases the number of cooperators and total efficiency.
The first method favored the nastiest hens who achieved their productivity by suppressing the productivity of other hens. After six generations, Muir had produced a nation of psychopaths, who plucked and murdered each other in their incessant attacks. No wonder egg productivity plummeted!
In the second approach, he selected the most productive groups and because they were already a group that worked well together, they included peaceful and cooperative hens. (Source)

Egg production by the cooperative cages increase 160% over just a few generations.

  • When the Strong Outbreed the Weak: An Interview with William Muir (Evolution Institute)  Breeding only superior beings can end a social order.  See preceding article.  Fascinating interview with William Muir who conducted an experiment that showed the hazards that accompany the ignoring of the importance of "multilevel selection".

  • Lyme bacteria settled in North America far earlier than we thought (Science Line)  Lyme disease ticks have inhabited North America for at least 20,000 years.  The rising incidence of human infections in recent decades may be a result of a combination of factors including changing climate and new patterns of land use which increase habitat overlap between tick hosts (mice, deer and other animals) and humans.  Econintersect:  Not mentioned in this article, it is also possible that Lyme disease is simply being diagnosed today whereas it went unrecognized before the latter part of the last century.  There may have been Lyme disease in the Plymouth Colony and millenia before that among the native Americans.


  • Breakthrough in clean diesel research (  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  A breakthrough in catalysis research by academics at the Universities of St Andrews and Newcastle could lead to the development of clean diesel engine technology and help combat air pollution.  The research has demonstrated exhaust clean-up from diesel emissions, oxidising CO and NO simultaneously over hundreds of hours of operation. The concept represents a step change in the design of earth-abundant metal catalysts rivalling platinum for reactions of key practical importance, on a weight basis, and also at temperatures relevant to exhaust emissions at a much lower cost.  See also next article.

  • In Cities Across the Country, Driving Electric Is Cheaper Than Gasoline (EcoWatch)  It's much cheaper to charge a car than fill it with gasoline, according to a study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Tuesday. The analysis compared electricity rates and gasoline prices in 57 cities around the country. The study shows that electric vehicle (EV) drivers could save from $440 to more than $1,070 a year compared to the cost of fueling the average new gasoline-powered vehicle.  See Going From Pump to Plug (2017) (Union of Concerned Scientists).  According to David Reichmuth, senior engineer at UCS and author of the new study:

"Electric vehicles offer a lot of real benefits for drivers, but one of the most striking is how much cheaper they are to fuel.  In every city we looked at, electric drivers saved significantly by switching from gasoline."

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