U.S. Mass Shootings Have Gone Up, Particularly During the Summer

Quartz: “There was another mass shooting in Florida this week. It seems like this is happening more and more, that this is shaping up to be an awfully bloody summer in the US. What is it? Does the oppressive summer heat bring this on? Are things really worse or is everything just more heightened after a spate of bad news?”

“So how does this summer compare to the last few? As of July 25, 574 people in the US were killed or wounded during a mass shooting. This time last year, there were 432. Last summer in total: 639. No matter how you count, it’s not looking good.”

This Time, Post-War Iraq Needs a Real Plan With Real Money

Defense One: “Military triumphs are unlikely to lead to an enduring peace without an essential component that isn’t as impossible as it sounds: reconciliation.”

“The U.S., the counter-ISIS coalition and international civilian agencies supporting Iraq have an opportunity to bolster that element of the strategy when they meet in Washington, DC, starting Wednesday.”

“While it’s obviously critical to provide electricity and water, and to build health clinics and schools, it also is essential that the conflicts underlying the destruction be understood and addressed.”

“Yet, the reconciliation component of the U.N. stabilization fund has received only $1.55 million from donors. Given the significant U.S. military investment of roughly $11.2 million a day to fight ISIS, it seems only prudent as part of the overall strategy to invest in a low-cost approach that gives military action the greatest chance for a lasting success, so that American forces don’t have to engage in combat again later.”

What If Brexit Was Only the Beginning?

A must-read piece from the Boston Consulting Group:

“In polls, sizable majorities in the United States and key European countries now demand a reorientation around narrow national interests, proclaiming, ‘Let other countries deal with their own problems.’ As more people feel left behind by economic progress, this sentiment could grow and percolate into politics and then policy. And such policies could prove to be contagious across nations.”

“Firms could soon find themselves in an environment of escalating political risk in terms of trade, access to talent, regulatory rules and constraints, and restrictions on new technologies. Political uncertainty could become the major business risk, compromising firms’ ability to innovate, to access markets and talent, and to invest and create wealth.”

“In short, it appears that many are so dissatisfied with the current game that they are threatening to end it, even at significant cost to themselves, thereby jeopardizing two major drivers of global economic prosperity: globalization and technological progress.”

Majority of Americans Support Expanded Trade

The Hill: “A majority of Americans support expanding trade and say the United States must engage globally to grow the economy, a view that runs counter to the anti-trade sentiment in the presidential campaigns, according to a new poll.”

“The Third Way poll found that voters favor by a two-to-one margin ‘expanding exports of American products to other countries’ (60 percent) to those who want to limit imports, despite negative trade rhetoric from the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.”

“The poll showed that 56 percent of voters agree with the statement ‘the U.S. economy cannot succeed if we limit trade with other countries.'”

“Even among Trump voters, 50 percent said the United States can’t succeed if trade is limited.”

Wealth Bubble In ‘Scary Graph’ Flashes Warning About Future U.S. Downturn

Bloomberg: “Americans are about as wealthy as they’ve ever been—and that’s a worry?”

“Yup, say veteran economists Daniel Thornton and Joe Carson. They’re concerned that the swelling of wealth could prove unsustainable because it’s far outstripped the growth of the economy since the recession’s end in 2009.”

“The problem, he said, is that ‘the financial cycle is way ahead of the economic cycle.’ That’s a worry given that the past two downturns were driven by asset-price deflation.”

“‘Nobody knows what’s going to happen,’ Thornton said. ‘But there’s plenty of reason to think that’s a scary graph.'”

Misconceptions about the State of Higher Education

Vox: “Commentators, politicians, and journalists have thrown themselves — and, in turn, the public — into a state of persistent panic about the future of higher education with scary talk about spiraling student-loan debt, worthless degrees, and reckless spending by colleges.”

“Here are four myths that often recur in commentary about American higher education…”

“1) Most college graduates are not being crushed by a mountain of debt. Forty percent of public-college students owe nothing when they graduate, and the vast majority of people with six-figure borrowing for higher education have gone to graduate or professional school…”

“2) Free tuition is no solution to the most serious problems we face. Tuition-free college is way less help than some people need and way more than others require.”

“3) College students are not ending up working as baristas. College degrees, and bachelor’s degrees especially, pay off big-time.”

“4) It’s not ‘academic bloat’ that has been pushing public-college tuition up. It’s the failure of state government funding to keep up with enrollment growth. In most of public higher education, the number of non-faculty staff has actually fallen modestly in recent decades, while the faculty-to-student ratio has actually grown a bit.”

 

Affordable Care Act Premiums Are Lower Than You Think

Brookings Institution: “Since the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance marketplaces first took effect in 2014, news story after story has focused on premium increases for certain plans, in certain cities, or for certain individuals. Based on preliminary reports, premiums now appear set to rise by a substantial amount in 2017.”

“What these individual data points miss, however, is that average premiums in the individual market actually dropped significantly upon implementation of the ACA, according to our new analysis, even while consumers got better coverage. In other words, people are getting more for less under the ACA.”

 

Obama Administration Will Fight to Block Health Insurance Mega-Mergers

Vox: “The Obama administration wants to block two health insurance mega-mergers. The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would file lawsuits against the proposed merger of Cigna and Anthem, and of Humana and Aetna.”

“Right now there are five major health insurers in the United States — and if these mergers went through, that would drop to three. Taken together, those three companies would cover around 132 million Americans — about half the population under age 65.”

“‘These mergers would restrict competition for health insurance products sold in markets across the country and would give tremendous power over the nation’s health insurance industry to just three large companies,’ US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement Thursday. ‘Our actions seek to preserve competition that keeps premiums down.'”

 

Trump’s NATO Comments Reaffirm His Popularity in Russia

New York Times: “Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have ‘fulfilled their obligations to us.'”

“The United States created the 28-nation alliance, and Article 5 of the NATO treaty, signed by President Truman, requires any member to come to the aid of another that NATO declares was attacked.”

Though the Kremlin’s Dmitry Peskov publicly denounced Trump’s comments, saying that it is “not the best formulation” to “unnecessarily talk about a hypothetical Russian attack on someone,” Politico reports that “the most passionate dreamers here [in Russia] imagine an almighty Trump ordering an American exit from NATO, just as the United Kingdom voted to exit the EU…”

“For Putin, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving.”

 

It’s Getting Too Hot to Work, and It Could Cost the Global Economy Trillions

Quartz: “The heat is rising, and it could cost the global economy $2 trillion by 2030.”

“New research suggests that climbing temperatures will make it harder for workers to do their jobs, particularly in the world’s poorest economies. The situation is worst for those in the lowest paid and most heat-exposed professions, such as construction and farming.”

“India and China together stand to lose $450 billion in output by 2030. The economies of richer nations, such as Japan and the UK, were unaffected by heat stress—only the US saw a modest dip of 0.2% of GDP.”