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Remarkable!

January 17th, 2014 · No Comments

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

At a pilot plant in Menlo Park, California, a technician pours white pellets into a steel tube and then taps it with a wrench to make sure they settle together. He closes the tube, and oxygen and methane—the main ingredient of natural gas—flow in. Seconds later, water and ethylene, the world’s largest commodity chemical, flow out. Another simple step converts the ethylene into gasoline. Siluria says, the company could produce gasoline from natural gas at about half the cost of making it from crude oil—at least at today’s cheap natural-gas prices.

Siluria Promises Half-Price Gasoline from Natural Gas | MIT Technology Review

First, the economic, financial, intellectual and political elites mostly misunderstood the consequences of headlong financial liberalisation. Lulled by fantasies of self-stabilising financial markets, they not only permitted but encouraged a huge and, for the financial sector, profitable bet on the expansion of debt. The policy making elite failed to appreciate the incentives at work and, above all, the risks of a systemic breakdown.

Failing elites threaten our future – FT.com

In this [post], I review the key papers on the topic of minimum wages and [poverty] based on U.S. data, and discuss their findings and limitations. My primary goal here is to provide a quantitative summary of the existing evidence, focusing on the [official] poverty rate elasticity as the most commonly estimated distributional statistic. [A poverty rate elasticity with respect to the minimum wage of, say, -0.2 means that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces the poverty rate by 2 percent. Note that this is different from a 2 percentage point reduction in the poverty rate.]

Separating signal from noise: a review of 12 major studies on minimum wages and poverty | Arindrajit Dube

The friendship paradox is the empirical observation that your friends have more friends than you do. Now network scientists say your friends are probably wealthier and happier, too.

How the Friendship Paradox Makes Your Friends Better Than You Are | MIT Technology Review

SolarWorld Industries filed a new antidumping/countervailing duty petition before the U.S. International Trade Commission. This petition seeks to close the so-called “loophole” from SolarWorld’s initial petition filed in October 2011 wherein Chinese module manufacturers can produce solar wafers in China, ship them to Taiwan for cell manufacturing and then back to China for module assembly, and therefore avoid a 30 percent U.S. import tariff.

How the New US-China Trade Case Could Change the American Solar Market : Greentech Media

Last week, while I was going over the history of macroeconomic thought in class, I briefly discussed the concept of Rational Expectations and the place it occupied in the development of modern macroeconomics. In truth, I don’t spend a lot of time talking formally about rational expectations because it is simply part of the standard backdrop. That is to say, rational expectations (RE) models are not contentious anymore. This was not always the case.

When rational expectations models were being developed in the 1960’s and early 1970’s it was a very foreign concept and was met with skepticism by mainstream macroeconomists. Today, rational expectations are the norm and are rarely discussed as a controversial part of the field. Outside of the economics profession, the idea that people possess something called rational expectations in the real world is often assumed to be wholly unrealistic and prima facie evidence that economic reasoning is useless and out of touch.

Rational Expectations and Reality | Orderstatistic

When custom Android ROM maker Cyanogen announced its plans to start a full-fledged company, the announcement was big news for its open-source operating system, CyanogenMod. The tightly-knit group of ten developers who worked hard on creating their own version of a “better Android” finally had a chance to deliver on that promise on a large scale.

How Cyanogen plans to make Android even more open | TechHive

The U.S. four-year higher education system has gone largely unchanged for generations: There is a core (often liberal-arts based) curriculum followed by a deeper focus in a major or concentration. Students remain on or near campus for their tenure at the school with the possibility of a semester abroad. Ben Nelson, the former President of Snapfish and CEO of Community Ventures, wants to change all that.

Watch your back Harvard, this tech titan is coming for your students | Daily Ticker – Yahoo Finance

A surge in Sweden’s housing market cooled toward the end of last year, giving policy makers some respite in their fight to contain a potential real estate bubble in the largest Nordic economy.

Sweden’s Efforts to Fight Housing Bubble Pay Off as Rally Slows – Bloomberg

China warned people in northern regions to stay indoors today as air pollution in Beijing averaged 18 times World Health Organization-recommended levels.

Severe Smog in North China Prompts Warnings to Stay Inside – Bloomberg

Even as the U.S. churns out more fossil fuels, evidence abounds that alternative energy in general—and solar in particular—is staging a comeback of sorts. And the halo effect has spread to solar stocks.

Solar stocks rise as renewable energy surges

On January 5, 2014, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a segment titled “The Cleantech Crash” that grossly misrepresented the state of the sustainable energy industry.

Vinod Khosla’s Open Letter to 60 Minutes and CBS : Greentech Media

Economists disagree, however, on exactly how much demographics are responsible for the current fall in the participation rate. The Chicago Fed estimated in 2012 that retirements accounted for one-fourth of the drop in labor force participation since the recession began. Other analysts, including Barclays, have suggested that aging Boomers could account for more than half the drop.

The biggest question facing the U.S. economy: Why are people dropping out of the workforce?

Then there was our position, the position that Stuart Holland, Jamie Galbraith and I are putting forward (we call it The Modest Proposal for the Resolution of the Euro Crisis), that the present path on which the eurozone finds itself is inexorably leading to a disintegration of the eurozone part of the European Union, but that nevertheless there are things we can do to prevent that

The Modest Proposal for Resolving the Euro Crisis explained: An interview with Roger Strassburg and Jens Berger of NachDenkSeiten | Yanis Varoufakis

When we sought to impose a large fine on the Bridgestone-Firestone Tire Company for flagrantly disregarding workplace safety rules and causing workers at one of its plants in Oklahoma to be maimed and killed, for example, the community was solidly behind us — that is, until Bridgestone-Firestone threatened to close the plant if we didn’t back down.

Robert Reich (Fear is Why Workers in Red States Vote Against Their Economic Self-Interest)

Some conservatives are beginning to develop more realistic approaches to joblessness and poverty. In the latest issue of the journal National Affairs, Michael Strain, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, lays out a compelling agenda for any Republican politician brave enough to pick it up.

To Fight Poverty, Conservatives Will Have to Spend – Bloomberg

Outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday dismissed concerns that the central bank’s extraordinary stimulus program is taking a growing toll on the economy, such as by raising the risk of future high inflation.

Bernanke downplays cost of economic stimulus

European car sales rose 13.3 percent in December 2013 from a year earlier, according to the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA), but in terms of annual volumes car sales are still declining in Europe.

European car sales in sixth consecutive year of decline

only about a dozen customers showed up to buy iPhones at the opening of a store in Beijing — despite the presence of a special guest, the Apple chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.”

“Only A Dozen Customers Showed Up To Buy iPhones” – Apple’s China Expansion Already A Flop? | Zero Hedge

Strikingly, however, even before 1914 adjustment in many cases did not follow this textbook picture. Leave aside the fact that interest-rate-setters did not in general follow the “rules of the game”, and recall that many countries adhered to the gold standard only sporadically, if at all. This meant that nominal exchange rates did a lot of the heavy lifting in real-exchange adjustment even during this period

Deflation in the euro zone: The euro zone needs a history lesson | The Economist

The world’s tallest man has saved two dolphins by using his long arms to reach into their stomachs and pull out dangerous plastic shards.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | World’s tallest man saves dolphin

Stem – a company that has created and implemented an on-site storage solution that switches between the grid and on-site batteries – recently completed a $15 million funding round. Aquion Energy, another storage company, announced a successful $55 million round for grid-scale battery applications in the first week of January. Meanwhile, Ambri – also focusing on grid scale storage, launched a $15 million funding round late last year. And these companies are by no means the only ones playing in that arena.

Solar Grid Storage: Finding Value In Grid Frequency Regulation – Forbes

Kenya has identified nine sites to build solar power plants that could provide more than half the country’s electricity by 2016. Construction of the plants, expected to cost $1.2bn (£73m), is set to begin this year and initial design stages are almost complete. The partnership between government and private companies will see the state contributing about 50% of the cost.

Kenya to generate over half of its electricity through solar power by 2016 | Environment | theguardian.com

JinkoSolar Holding Co. (JKS), the second-best performing solar manufacturer in the past year, agreed to assume control of a struggling rival’s production assets to boost capacity as global demand for photovoltaic panels climbs.

JinkoSolar to Take Over Rival Plants Under Reorganization – Bloomberg

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