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What We Read Today 03 January 2018

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:‚Äč

  • 10 Charts That Show Why Gold Is Undervalued Right Now

  • Non-Electric Batteries Could Store Solar Energy

  • The most common lies people tell on their CVs

  • The 50 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods In The Supermarket

  • Wealth Recovery in the U.S.

  • The World is Running Out of a Resource, and It's Not Oil

  • Trump: Bannon has 'lost his mind'

  • Read President Donald Trump's full statement on Steve Bannon — 'he lost his mind'

  • Steve Bannon says he's certain that Trump met with Russians who were at Trump Tower in 2016

  • Lessons from an Umseemly Presidential Transition - from Hoover to Roosevelt

  • White House surprised, frustrated by Trump's New York Times interview: report

  • The Distrust that Trump Relies On

  • Trump's tax law creates new challenges for IRS

  • The Misguided GOP Attack on Government Bureaucrats

  • Donald Trump can save 600,000 lives — How many can you save?

  • America's Superstar Companies Are a Drag on Growth

  • ECB's Coeure sees 'reasonable chance' bond buys will not be extended

  • December 2017 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area

  • China's Dollar Bond Boom

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • The World is Running Out of a Resource, and It's Not Oil (South China Morning Post)  A looming shortage of sand – a crucial resource once thought endless – could sink infrastructure projects, including those in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  And sand extraction is causing countless environmental problems as well.


  • Steve Bannon said there's "zero" chance that Donald Trump Jr. didn't bring the attendees of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting to see his father, according to NBC.

  • "The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these Jumos up to his father's office of the 26th floor is zero," Bannon told Michael Wolff in an interview for Wolff's new book.

  • Bannon also said the meeting was "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

  • In a statement, President Trump says Bannon "lost his mind."

  • Lessons from an Umseemly Presidential Transition - from Hoover to Roosevelt (The New Yorker)  Telegrams have been released that show the animosity between the outgoing Hoover and the incoming Roosevelt in 1933.  The article contrasts the positions taken by Roosevelt with the possible actions taken by Trump before his election and again bfore innauguration.  A summary of the situation in 1933:

The fundamental oddity of the Roosevelt-Hoover imbroglio has to do with how deeply unpopular Hoover was: he had failed to act when much of the nation was facing desperate, Depression-driven poverty, and he lost the election by some seven million votes. As Freidel noted, Hoover thought that Americans had made a mistake, and he felt that Roosevelt should let him make use of his popularity so that he, Hoover, could take the necessary steps to protect the country from Roosevelt and his New Deal. It didn’t make any sense, unless you thought, as one member of Hoover’s Cabinet put it, that F.D.R. had only “a most laughable, if it were not so lamentable, ignorance of the situation.” The voters thought otherwise.

  • White House surprised, frustrated by Trump's New York Times interview: report (The Hill)  Various White House officials were taken off guard and frustrated by President Trump's impromptu Florida interview with The New York Times, according to a Friday report from The Washington Post.  The Post said that NYT reporter Michael Schmidt gained access to the president at his Mar-a-Lago resort last Thursday, after club member Christopher Ruddy introduced the president and the reporter. No aides were present during the on-the-record session.  The newspaper quoted one official who was not aware of the interview and another who referred to it as “embarrassing”. 

  • The Distrust that Trump Relies On (The New Yorker)  As much as any other factor, America’s disillusionment with its institutions enabled his election.

  • Trump's tax law creates new challenges for IRS (The Hill)  The Republican tax bill is the law of the land — but for federal officials, the work is just beginning.  The Treasury Department and the IRS now have a mammoth task on their hands as they seek to turn the sweeping tax provisions passed by Congress into new rules and regulations.  The tax law, which President Trump signed the Friday before Christmas, generally takes effect in January and includes significant changes to the tax code, including to deductions and pass-through income. Guidance from the IRS will be crucial in helping taxpayers and tax preparers navigate the changes.

  • The Misguided GOP Attack on Government Bureaucrats (The Washington Monthly)  The government really is wasting taxpayers’ money, just not on bureaucrats. It’s the contractors that people should be pissed about.

  • Donald Trump can save 600,000 lives — How many can you save? (The Hill)  A single billionaire, like President Donald Trump, could sell his assets and save over half a million people - 600,000 lives.  What about you?  From this article:

For a $1,650 donation to Helen Keller International, you can be reasonably assured of saving a life — according to Catherine Hollander, spokesperson for the evidence-based charity evaluator, GiveWell. HKI distributes vitamin A supplements for infants, which not only protect against night blindness, but more importantly lead to reduced death from childhood illnesses in developing countries.

  • America's Superstar Companies Are a Drag on Growth (Bloomberg)  Lack of competition for dominant companies lets them gouge consumers, underpay workers and invest too little.   Since the 1980s, antitrust enforcement has gotten weaker. As a result, a few big companies have managed to capture a much bigger share of the market in various industries. Technology may have helped too, by letting big companies spread their geographic reach, and by creating network effects that keep customers locked in to platforms like Facebook.




  • December 2017 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area (European Central Bank)  The economic expansion in the euro area is projected to remain robust, with growth stronger than previously expected and significantly above potential. Real GDP growth is projected to slow gradually, from 2.4% in 2017 to 1.7% in 2020, as the effects of a number of factors supporting growth slowly fade away. HICP (Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices) inflation is expected to be broadly stable in the coming quarters before picking up to 1.7% in 2020, supported by rising underlying inflation as capacity constraints become more binding. HICP inflation is revised up somewhat in the short term owing to higher oil and food prices.


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

  • 10 Charts That Show Why Gold Is Undervalued Right Now (U.S. Global InvestorsEconintersect:  Two of the interesting charts in this article are below.  The second has been annotated by Econintersect to show that gold price changes sometimes are negatively correlated to stocks and other times positively correlated.



  • Non-Electric Batteries Could Store Solar Energy (R&D)  A new polymer chain clears a major hurdle for the future of energy storage.  A team of chemists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has developed the polymer-based system that can yield energy storage density—the amount of energy stored—more than two times higher than previous systems.  The new system is able to reach an average of 510 Joules per gram with a maximum of 690, while the previous high-energy storage density achieved in a polymeric system was in the range of 200 Joules per gram.  Econintersect:  As a comparison, water can store 293 joules per gram in being heated from 25°C (77°F) to near boiling at 95°C (203°F).  Of course, the cost of making the new plastic must be relatively low not to offset the benefit of the greater heat capacity.

  • The most common lies people tell on their CVs (YouGov UK)  A new YouGov Omnibus research finds 10% of Brits admitting to having lied on their CV (as well as 2% who told us they would “prefer not to say”).  The results show that, first and foremost, education and qualifications are the most likely parts of a CV to be embellished, with four in ten (40%) résumé embellishers having fibbed about this.

  • The 50 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods In The Supermarket (Readers' Digest, MSN)  Flip through this 50-slide presentation.  You may find some things you will add to yoyur shopping list.

  • Wealth Recovery in the U.S. (The Daily Shot)  Overall, American’s net-worth has been climbing, but the improvements have been highly uneven. (First graphic below.)  A big part of the disconnect has to do with the ownership rates of stocks and houses being sharply lower for the less-wealthy groups. (Second graphic below.)

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