The 8 Most Fascinating Things I Read This Week

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There are more good news articles, commentaries, and analyst reports on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are the eight most fascinating ones I read this week.

Pulling away
This is data from the Social Security Administration. Those with higher incomes are gaining much more ground in terms of life expectancy than those of lesser means:

From the BBC:

The US will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer "by around 2020", an International Energy Agency (IEA) report has said.

The IEA said the reason for this was the big growth and development in the US of extracting oil from shale rock.

This has enabled the US to gain significantly more extractable oil resources.

As a result, the IEA predicts the US will become "all but self-sufficient" in its energy needs by around 2035.

Enough about uncertainty
Dan Primack of Fortune makes a good point about uncertainty: 

To be sure, we don't have complete clarity. But the point is that we never do. And if CEO's cite "uncertainty" over the fiscal cliff as their reason for not moving forward, then they might as well close up shop. Because after the fiscal cliff will be some other macro economic crisis, and then another and then another election.

Looking good
Barron's makes a bullish pitch for Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B  ) :

Berkshire looks appealing because the stock's price/book ratio is near the bottom of its 10-year range and just above a threshold of 1.1 times book at which Buffett has said the company stands ready to repurchase shares. Berkshire is sitting on $42 billion of cash -- $11.5 billion in the holding company and the rest in its insurance affiliates.

The blog Calculated Risk gives a historic perspective of top tax rates (click here for larger).


Depends on who you ask
Barry Ritholtz gives a smart explanation of people's reactions to market moves in the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI  ) and S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) :

Changes in market action send all scurrying back to the comfort of their discipline; each describes what they "see" in relationship to their school of thought:

The Fundamentalist sees the market in terms of earnings and perhaps guidance; Technicians sees trend line breaks and H&S patterns. All of the Macro guys see global economic activity, including recession in Europe and slowing in Asia. Value Investors sees stocks as relatively cheap, with moderate P/Es and dividend yields. Monetarists cannot see anything but Fed intervention and currency action. Behavioralists watch the VIX, Put/Call ratio, percentage of stocks over their 200 day moving average, among other indicia of fear and panic. Political economists cannot see past taxes and the fiscal cliff. The analysts who prefer a fusion of schools of thought runs into the possibility of information overload and false signals.

Of all places
North Dakota is becoming America's next great boom, complete with severe housing shortage:

KKR (NYSE: KKR  ) is expected to announce Wednesday that it will develop a sprawling master-planned community that could become a modern-day Levittown on the North Dakota plains. The project in Williston is expected to serve some of the thousands of workers pouring into the region who are searching for jobs but facing inadequate housing.

"The population is going to double or triple over the next handful of years," said Ralph Rosenberg, head of KKR's real-estate team.

Nailed it
Stephen Colbert explains high-frequency trading:

Enjoy your weekend. 

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  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2012, at 3:11 PM, Apacheman15 wrote:

    The article that Krugmans wrote on life expectancy demonstrates perfectly how someone can massage numbers to support their belief. Here are the real facts.... Currently, the average life expectancy of a US citizen age 65 is 21 years. That number has actually been increasing pretty quickly in recent years as advances in medicine continue to benefit Americans of all ages. Not to mention that we have a baby boom generation that is going to be retiring soon, so the number of people dependent on social security is going to SWELL. When social security was originally created, a much much much higher percentage of people who paid into the system would never receive any of the money paid in because they never reached retirement age. That left more money for those lucky enough to reach retirement age. The argument that the top half of earners have had their life expectancy increase faster than the lower half may or may not be true. However, much much much more than half of those receiving social security benefits are veeeery dependent on those benefits. It amazes me that some people continue to bury their head in the sand about the aging of our population.

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