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January 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

Remarkable stories from the web in a new, easier format.

Greek yields fell sharply following the PSI agreement in March 2012, a de facto default that ended up reducing the value of Greek’s debt by 20%. But as a result of ongoing deficits and plunging GDP, the ratio of debt to GDP for Greece is now almost back up to where it was in at the end of 2011. In the mean time, debt/GDP has continued its uninterrupted climb for Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.

Econbrowser: All quiet on the southern front

39 Test Answers That Are 100% Wrong But Totally Genius At The Same Time

39 Test Answers That Are 100% Wrong But Totally Genius At The Same Time | Distractify

Japanese employers will fail in the next fiscal year to heed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of wage increases that outpace inflation, highlighting risks that the nation’s recovery will stall, surveys of economists show.

Japan Consumer Prices Seen Rising Five Times as Fast as Wages – Bloomberg

What would you look at if you could pull down high definition images and video (!!) from space? A few years ago that question was pretty far out, but now anyone willing to shell out some bucks can pull down 1080P video from Skybox Imaging’s network of 24 satellites.

High-definition video from space is available for purchase. Finally. | Plugged In, Scientific American Blog Network

Despite the introduction of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in Apple’s latest iPhone, biometric security technologies have danced around the fringe of consumer gadgets for years. Passwords still predominate. Bionym, Inc., is hoping to change this with its Nymi biometric wristband, which the company claims can recognize its wearer via cardiac rhythm recognition. The Nymi features an electrocardiogram, or ECG, sensor with two electrodes—one touching the wrist and other located on the dorsal side. The wristband captures ECG data when the user touches the topside electrode with the opposite hand’s index finger. Once the Nymi has confirmed the identity of the person wearing it, the idea is for the bracelet to communicate wirelessly with any device or Web site that person needs to access, eliminating the need for PINs and passwords.

7 Gadgets to Watch for in 2014 [Slide Show]: Scientific American Slideshows

Chinese total government debt, including contingent debt which is guaranteed by the government, climbed to 30.3 trillion renminbi (approx $5 trillion) as of mid-2013, according to the latest data from the National Auditing Office.

China’s Government Debt Is Ballooning — Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Say It’s Out Of Control – Yahoo Finance

“I never truly understood how much healthcare in the US costs until I got appendicitis in October,” wrote Reddit user zcypher, identifying himself as “a 20 year old guy.” He posted the hospital bill to Reddit after he was shocked by the price.

Redditor’s Appendectomy Cost $55,029.31 – Business Insider

The year has been one where everyone in the euro zone breathed a little easier. True, unemployment is worryingly high and businesses and families still seem reluctant to spend their way out of the doldrums, but the 17-country group of countries that use the single currency no longer appears on the brink of the abyss.

Fewer worries but big problems remain for Europe

Until now, the main worry in the US has been that demand would be inadequate to generate an acceptable rate of GDP growth, given the 1.5 per cent of GDP tightening in American fiscal policy in 2013. But now this seems to be changing. The US fiscal stance will tighten by only 0.4 per cent of GDP this year, and GDP growth is widely expected to exceed 3 percent, well above the current CBO estimate of about 2 per cent for the growth in potential output.

Three big macro questions for 2014 | Gavyn Davies

Many have been earning less, full stop. Seen over a period of three or four decades, the trend is striking. Take a look at the chart below of the decline in real earnings for U.S. men in three age groups — 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54.

For U.S. Men, 40 Years of Falling Income – The Market Now

Faced with a plunging peso, rich Argentines are selling their dollars on the black market at 9.8 pesos to the dollar, then turning around and buying luxury cars at the official exchange rate of 6 to the dollar. That locks in a price close to what they’d spend in the U.S.

The Argentine Curse Strikes Again – The Market Now

Betting on US stocks wasn’t the only way investors made money in 2013. One of the big trades of 2013 was buying the US dollar versus the Japanese yen. That yielded a 21% gain in the year that just ended.

Is one of the best trades of 2013 also good for 2014? | Talking Numbers – Yahoo Finance

Nearly 85% of the stocks in the S&P 500 index paid a dividend in the third quarter; that’s a 17-year high according to FactSet. And payers aren’t scrimping. The $339 billion paid out in the 12 months through September is more than double the level of dividend payouts 10 years ago.

Big Dividends, Small PEs: Tech Stocks Evaluated

When middle-income “emerging markets” encounter a financial crisis because of dysfunctional incentives in the banking system, the obvious reaction is to adopt reforms that make banks safer. The people who run those local banks may well oppose such changes – no one wants to see the end of a great money-making scheme – but even the most influential of those people do not have much power immediately after a crisis. Prominent people in other sectors are deeply annoyed at the collateral damage caused by excessive risk-taking by bankers.

The Rich Country Trap – NYTimes.com

Economist Nouriel Roubini, renowned for his foretelling of doom and gloom in financial markets, has turned bullish in his 2014 outlook, expecting economic performance to “pick up modestly” in both advanced economies and emerging markets.

‘Dr. Doom’ Roubini gets bullish on global economy

When Congress reconvenes on Jan. 6, one of the first issues it will take up is whether to renew an emergency federal unemployment program that expired on Dec. 28, cutting off 1.3 million jobless workers.

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Ended Dec. 28 – Businessweek

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