Chew Over These On Tuesday Morning – February 17, 2015

Noted for your Tuesday morning procrastinations. Here is what I found around the net on Monday and Tuesday morning. Hope you too will find these interesting.

  1. Greek Talks With Euro-Area Finance Ministers Break Up – “As talks collapse at the Eurogroup today, Greece finds itself now closer to a new bankruptcy within the Euro and potentially” leaving the currency union, Nicholas Economides, professor of economics at Stern Business School, New York University, said in an e-mail. “Greece could run out of money in March and the European Central Bank could suspend its assistance to Greek banks after Feb. 28, leading to their collapse.”
  2. Greek crisis talks collapse in acrimony as Syriza defies EMU – Berkeley professor Barry Eichengreen, a leading currency expert, said Europe would pay a “very high price” if Greece is ejected from the euro. “I wouldn’t invest a single penny in Europe. The risks are too big,” he said. “It would engulf other countries. Once Portuguese families or Spanish businessmen see that euros have turned back into drachma, they are going to pull their money out of their accounts. That could turn into a bank run. Investors would then start to speculate on who the next exit candidate would be. It would undermine the whole euro project. Sticking to the rules is not a worthwhile concept when the rules are leading straight into catastrophe,” he told Die Welt.
  3. U.S. Embedded Spyware Overseas, Report Claims – Some of the implants burrow so deep into the computer systems, Kaspersky said, that they infect the “firmware,” the embedded software that preps the computer’s hardware before the operating system starts. It is beyond the reach of existing antivirus products and most security controls, Kaspersky reported, making it virtually impossible to wipe out.
  4. RBA Cut as China Commodity, Local Consumption Doubts Remain – The Reserve Bank of Australia said doubts about a pickup in domestic spending and China’s appetite for raw materials prompted this month’s decision to lower interest rates, and reiterated that the Aussie dollar remains too high.
  5. Motley Fool: The world’s most successful company – By unit sales, tobacco is one of the least successful Americans industries of the last 30 years. Add to it that tobacco advertising has been largely banned there for more than a decade, and legal settlements have cost the industry billions. It’s amazing tobacco has been able to produce any returns, let alone the highest in American history.
  6. Correcting China’s slowing economy and fast-rising uncertainty a daunting task – For the last 12 years, the PBOC has faced exactly the opposite problem: what to do with all the cash flooding into the country as Tokyo, Washington and Frankfurt slashed rates. That pumped up China’s money supply and required some fancy monetary footwork from Zhou, who had to introduce special securities to mop up liquidity. Now, with the dollar is rising and the yuan coming under pressure, incentives to move money out of China are growing. The government’s anti-graft crackdown is adding to the problem, as crooked cadres scramble to shift their ill-gotten gains abroad.
  7. The Drug That Is Bankrupting America – Here is the background. Sofosbuvir was developed under the leadership of Prof. Raymond Schinazi, a brilliant professor of biochemistry at Emory University. The U.S. Government heavily funded Prof. Schinazi’s research, with major grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and support from the Veterans Administration. Like many academic researchers, Schinazi has frequently parlayed his government grants into private companies to market his discoveries. He set up Pharmasset Inc. as a Delaware corporation in 2004 as his business to develop sofosbuvir and hold the patents on the new prospective drug.
  8. Bloomberg vs. The Economist: Whence the Difference of Opinion? – In fact, many sophisticated Europeans and Americans share the basic Russian view of the situation.  They see the campaign to expand NATO to Russia’s southern borders as the fundamental cause of Ukrainian civil war.  Essentially this seems to be the Bloomberg View.
  9. Have an opinion about string theory? How about macroeconomics? – Perhaps because people can immediately recognize that fields like physics and biochemistry are way over their heads, but macro looks deceptively simple. Macro uses a lot of terms like money, saving, interest rates, investment, income, demand, unemployment, inflation, exchange rates, debt, deficits, etc., that seem to correspond to things in our everyday experience. And we obviously do have opinions on things in our everyday experience. And we are entitled to those opinions. But in fact almost none of these terms mean the same thing in macro as in everyday life. Commenters are often puzzled by the S=I identity. How can it be an identity if I were to decide to put some money under my mattress and yet investment did not rise at that same moment? They don’t realize that putting money under your mattress is not what macroeconomists mean by saving.
  10. Goldman: Here’s Why Oil Crashed—and Why Lower Prices Are Here to Stay – Goldman Sachs released an intriguing analysis on Wednesday that shows what many already suspected: The big culprit in the oil crash has been an abundance of oil flooding the market. A massive supply shock in the second half of last year accounted for most of the decline. In December and January, slowing demand contributed to the continued sell-off. Goldman was able to quantify these effects.
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