Early Bird Headlines 22 July 2015
Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.
- Armadillos cause spike in leprosy cases in Florida (CNN) Hat tip to Alun Hill. There are an unusually high number of leprosy cases cropping up in Florida. Experts said they believe the spike is because of people coming into contact with armadillos. Florida typically sees two to 12 cases of leprosy a year, but so far there have been nine cases in 2015. Armadillos are one of the only known animals to carry leprosy, an age-old disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, that causes skin and nerve damage. The CDC says it is possible to contract leprosy through contact with armadillos, but it is usually unlikely. Leprosy is a rare disease, and there are on average 50 to 100 cases in the United States every year.
- Facebook market cap now larger than GE (Seeking Alpha) Facebook market capitalization has climbed to $275 billion, higher than GE’s $273 billion. Some are expressing concerns. GE racked up $149B in sales last year and employed more than 300,000 people. Facebook reported $12.5B in sales and employed roughly 9,200.
- Europe’s Vindictive Privatization Plan for Greece (Yanis Varoufakis, Project Syndicate) Terms have been softened a little from the original terms but Varoufakis still argues that this is not supportive policy, but vindictive as has been seen in the past in some European war surrender treaty terms.
Eurozone leaders demanded that Greek public assets be transferred to a Treuhand-like fund – a fire-sale vehicle similar to the one used after the fall of the Berlin Wall to privatize quickly, at great financial loss, and with devastating effects on employment all of the vanishing East German state’s public property.
This Greek Treuhand would be based in – wait for it – Luxembourg, and would be run by an outfit overseen by Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, the author of the scheme. It would complete the fire sales within three years. But, whereas the work of the original Treuhand was accompanied by massive West German investment in infrastructure and large-scale social transfers to the East German population, the people of Greece would receive no corresponding benefit of any sort.
- Is Tsipras the New Lula? (Jeffrey Frankel, Project Syndicate) JF has contributed to GEI. Prof. Frankel suggests that the Greek prime minister may have to opportunity to recover from the missteps of his negotiations regarding handling of Greek debt.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has the chance to become to his country what South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were to theirs: a man of the left who moves toward fiscal responsibility and freer markets. Like Tsipras, both were elected in the midst of an economic crisis. Both immediately confronted the international financial constraints that opposition politicians can afford to ignore.
On assuming power, Kim and Lula were able to adjust, politically and mentally, to the new realities that confronted them, launching much-needed reforms. Some reforms were “conservative” (or “neo-liberal”) and might not have been possible under politicians of the right. But others were consistent with their lifetime commitments. South Korea under Kim began to rein in the chaebols, the country’s huge family-owned conglomerates. Brazil under Lula implemented Bolsa Familia, a system of direct cash payments to households that is credited with lifting millions out of poverty.
- Turkey bombing risks further unrest in a country already living on the edge (The Conversation) Islamic State appears to have stepped up its war with the Kurds by bombing a meeting of socialist activists as they gathered in the town of Suruç. The incident is not only a terrible blow to the Kurds, but threatens further unrest in Turkey, where a failure to act over Islamic State has already caused significant tension. The activists belonged to the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations. Most were university students en route to Kobanê. There, they planned to deliver books to local children and help rebuilding efforts. The explosion killed 32 activists and injured another 100.
- Nuclear deal could transform Iran (CNN) The deal is a repudiation of the nuclear strategy of Iran’s Supreme Leader, embodied in his “resistance” approach to international relations. Indeed, whatever gloss official statements from President Hassan Rouhani try to put on the deal, Iran has effectively capitulated to the demands of the West and effectively removed the possibility of developing a bomb over the next decade. But Iran has potentially big pluses from the deal as well. This author says that the big winner in removal of sanctions that result from the deal will be a strengthening of Iranian pro-democracy forces. And that has created other reactions – see next article.
- Iranian nuclear deal won’t change policy toward US, says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (The Guardian) Supreme leader says in televised speech that US policy in the Middle East not in line with Tehran’s strategy, but says further talks may be possible in future. Econintersect: But the nuclear deal could not have been concluded without last minute concessions from Khamenei – see next article. His latest remarks may be attributable to another step in his reconciliation with the changes and may be modified in the near future. However, his remarks will create difficulties (probably not insurmountable) in the Senate ratification process as not-so-humble U.S. Senators will be affronted by the lack of humility in Teheran.
- Behind Ayatollah Khamenei’s Support for a Nuclear Deal He Previously Disavowed (The Huffington Post) Just three weeks before the deal Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued comprehensive red lines for a possible nuclear deal. Those red line were largely crossed when the negotiations were completed. This author says that there is confusion among Iranian conservatives and the military about what has just happened.
- China’s market medicine will have long-term side effects (China Spectator) As a result of the “draconian” intervention to halt the stock market crash, Beijing has to deal with a stagnant economy, a badly rattled stock market and an ever worsening relationship with the US. And the worst side-effect is probably the set-back to reforms aimed at creating freer markets in China.
- As US relations thaw, hopes grow in Cuba for a faster, freer internet (The Conversation)
Cuba was first connected to the internet in 1996 through a Sprint link funded by the US National Science Foundation. A year later the Cuban government decided to contain and control the internet, leading to decades of stagnation and under-investment. A sub-sea link to Venezuela opened in 2012. Now the government says the internet is a priority.
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