Economics and Investing:

Italian banks are being squeezed at the margins. Some analysts anticipate more turbulence. “Analysts say stimulus measures by the European Central Bank have helped an economic recovery but have the side effect of putting bank margins under pressure.” 2 Italy Bank Stocks Plunge, Brokers Say Prepare for Tough 2016 – T.A.

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China to spark financial ICE AGE with depression, says Societe Generale bear analyst – B.B.

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Items from Professor Preponomics:

US News

Is Eating a Cinnamon Roll Irrational? (Mises) Who knows what’s best for you? Excerpt: “…in criticizing information asymmetry in markets, they are criticizing all exchange. Akerlof and Shiller habitually succumb to this Nirvana Fallacy, holding up the utopian ideal of perfect information as their (unreachable) model, and then when markets fail to reach this ideal, assume that this justifies government intervention, never giving us a reason why these systemic cognitive biases and information asymmetries can be avoided by bureaucrats more than they can by the average consumer.”

Find Out How Much Obamacare Rates Increased in Your State (The Daily Signal) Spoiler Alert: The pain of increasing health insurance costs were felt across the country although Alaska, Minnesota, and Tennessee were hit especially hard. Excerpt: ” Premiums under the Affordable Care Act will rise in nearly every state this year, spiking health insurance costs for nearly all Americans…”

Obamacare’s Enrollment Increase: Mainly Due to Medicaid Expansion (Heritage) Yet another example illustrating the importance of understanding the information behind the numbers. Excerpt: “Medicaid enrollment increased by almost 6.1 million—principally as a result of Obamacare expanding eligibility to able-bodied, working-age adults.”

International News

Buckle Your Seatbelts: China Could Rock Markets Next Week (Contra Corner) Excerpt: “The first important economic release that could move markets will be China’s fourth-quarter GDP number late Monday night New York time. Analysts are calling for 6.9 percent year over year for the fourth quarter. However, it is widely seen by China watchers as inaccurate and propped up by the government.”

Saudi Arabia Buying Up Farmland in US to Export Alfalfa Hay (CNBC) Spoiler Alert: What they are really exporting out of the U.S. is water. Excerpt: “But not everyone likes the trend. The alfalfa exports are tantamount to ‘exporting water,’ because in Saudi Arabia, ‘they have decided that it’s better to bring feed in rather than to empty their water reserves’…”

Brazil’s Economy Hasn’t Been This Bad Since 1930 (Forbes) Excerpt: “The country is facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in the United States. This year will be another year of contraction.”

Personal Economics and Household Finance

Identity Thieves Using Call Centers to Carry Out Scams (Clark Howard) Excerpt: “You probably aren’t surprised anymore when you figure out that a customer service representative you’re talking to is actually half-way across the world somewhere in a call center. But what may surprise you is that there are call centers that actually specialize in helping identity thieves carry out scams and various types of cyber fraud.”

How We Broke Our Eating Out Habit in 9 Steps (Frugalwoods) Excerpt: “I don’t want to sound like a broken frugal record, but, every single line item counts when you’re trying to attain sky-high savings rates and reach financial independence in short order.”

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