Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 10/4 - Solving The Wage Growth Puzzle, Ocean Health Gets "D" Grade

Saturday, October 4, 2014, 11:00 AM

Economy

Jobs Report Highlights the Wage Growth Puzzle (jdargis)

The problem is that economists don’t actually know how much slack there is in the economy, because we don’t know what unemployment rate the economy can sustain without sparking inflationary pressures. The Fed’s current guess is that the natural rate is around 5¼ or 5½ percent, although really, this is just a guess based on historical patterns. But it’s a critically important guess, because while unemployment’s not yet that low, the current trajectory puts us there soon. Indeed, this is the key reason the Federal Reserve policy makers have been talking about raising interest rates.

Can Seattle Afford to Pay a Premium Minimum Wage? (Doug S.)

Nick Hanauer is concerned that widening gaps in income and wealth bode poorly for the sustainable prosperity of elites like himself. Consequently, he is working tirelessly for "middle-out"economic policies that boost the capacity of consumers to spend, thus funneling a larger net share of the economic pie to the bottom 90 percent. Since middle and working class families spend a far greater portion of their total income than do elites, sustainable economic stimulus comes from looking out for consumers, not just pumping easy money for investment banks.

Ebola Crisis Brings an Abundance of Caution Into a Dallas Community (jdargis)

The Ebola crisis that has been unfolding in Dallas has had a subtle, but distinct impact on daily life near the apartment where the Liberian man whom city officials call Patient Zero was living — the limiting, however unnecessary, of “direct contact” among strangers, neighbors, friends and classmates. People have gone about their daily affairs without widespread panic, but they have done so washing their hands more often than they typically would, using hand sanitizer at the mere mention of Ebola and being wary of casual contact that would not have merited a second thought in the past.

Last German state to do away with university tuition fees (jdargis)

The experiment with tuition fees, which began in 2006, was overturned by democratic pressure against the conservative-led state governments, all in the west of Germany, which decided to charge euros 1,000 ($A1436) a year.

They were able to do so after a constitutional court ruling that moderate fees combined with loans did not contradict the country’s commitment to universal higher education.

Why are wind farms killing so many bats? (jdargis)

What about a wind turbine might attract a bat? The authors note that the species most often killed by wind turbines nests in trees, and the bats might view the turbines as a potential place to rest once daylight arrives. In some cases, they have also been seen to hunt insects on the downwind side of a large wind break, presumably because prey tends to congregate there. There's also some speculation that the aerodynamics of flight may simply be more efficient behind a wind break. The one unifying feature of all these ideas is that the bats are simply viewing the wind turbines as really big trees.

Here's Why We Haven't Quite Figured Out How to Feed Billions More People (jdargis)

A 2012 report in Science based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data indicated that a decline in public support for agricultural research may be a factor in faltering yields and rising food prices. At the same time, investment in privately funded agricultural research—the kind that spawned patented pesticide-resistant genetically modified crops—has dominated the agricultural research landscape. The lesson: Biotechnology and better seeds provide a key piece of the puzzle in meeting future food demand, but alone cannot solve the challenge of feeding the world.

Ocean Health Gets "D" Grade in New Global Report Card (lesphelps)

"I think many people are surprised that the score is that good, because people hear all the bad news about overfishing, pollution, death of coral reefs, climate change, and so on," said Conservation International's Steve Katona, who serves as managing director of the Ocean Health Index.

"If you come home with a paper from school, your parents aren't real happy if it's a 67, but most people expected a score for the ocean that was worse," he said.

US reroutes flights around Alaska beach in attempt to avoid walrus stampede (jdargis)

The extraordinary sighting – the biggest known exodus of walruses to dry land ever observed in the Arctic under US control – arrived as the summer sea ice fell to its sixth lowest in the satellite record last month.

“Those animals have essentially run out of offshore sea ice, and have no other choice but to come ashore,” said Chadwick Jay, a research ecologist in Alaska with the US Geological Survey.

Gold & Silver

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