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What We Read Today 18 May 2017

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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The rest of this post is available only the GEI Members.  Membership is FREE -  click here

Topics today include:

  • Bitcoin is an Asset, Not a Currency

  • History of Bitcoin Value

  • Opinion: The stock market sell-off is as much about earnings as it is about Trump

  • Are Any Sectors of the U.S. Stock Market Undervalued?

  • Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources

  • Trump: Where Was Special Counsel for Hillary and Obama? 

  • Trump says appointment of special counsel 'hurts our country terribly'

  • Donald Trump Talked Michael Flynn Into White House Job

  • Trump Denies Asking Comey to Drop Investigation of Michael Flynn

  • Treasury's Mnuchin: 'We do not support breaking up banks' 

  • House May Be Forced to Vote Again on GOP's Obamacare Repeal Bill

  • Man who called Dow 20,000 says stock market could see 1,000-point surge if Trump resigns

  • Brazil Stocks Erase Gains for the Year in One Hour

  • Brazil stocks lower at close of trade; Bovespa down 8.80%

  • Brazil Sinks Deeper Into Political Crisis

  • Mexican Media Go Dark, Demand an End to the Slaughter of Journalists

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

  • Trump: Where Was Special Counsel for Hillary and Obama? (The Daily Beast)  President Trump fired off a series of tweets in which he called the investigation into his campaign’s links with Russia “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” He posted, “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed!” His furious response overturned the White House’s spin effort, which claimed that he was reacting calmly to the announcement of a special counsel.

  • Trump says appointment of special counsel 'hurts our country terribly' (MarketWatch)  President Donald Trump said the appointment of a special counsel to probe ties between his campaign and Russian officials "hurts our country terribly" and is a "pure excuse" by Democrats after having lost the election. In remarks to network anchors a day after the appointment by Trump's own deputy attorney general of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel, Trump said "this shows a very divided country." In a tweet earlier Thursday, Trump said "this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician" in U.S. history.

  • Donald Trump Talked Michael Flynn Into White House Job (The Daily Beast)  President Donald Trump pressured a “reluctant” Michael Flynn into accepting a job as the White House’s top national security official even after Flynn warned the president that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

  • Trump Denies Asking Comey to Drop Investigation of Michael Flynn (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump denied asking FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation targeting his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  During a news conference at the White House Thursday, Trump rejected any suggestions that he tried to interfere with the investigation. He assailed the FBI probe, saying that it unfairly targets him.  Trump said:

“The entire thing has been a witch hunt.  I think it divides the country."

  • Treasury's Mnuchin: 'We do not support breaking up banks' (   U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on Thursday that the Trump administration does not support separating investment and commercial banks.  The administration has previously expressed support for some return of the Glass-Steagall Act, which established a firewall between investment and commercial banking. But Mnuchin was explicit before the Senate Banking Committee that that vision did not include breaking up large banks that engage in both.  The administration's exact position on Glass-Steagall's potential return has been unclear. A call to reinstate the 1933 law was included as part of the official Republican Party platform during the 2016 presidential campaign. And the administration has repeatedly said it supports its return when asked since winning the White House.  The current statement contradicts previous statements by both Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) executive who now leads President Donald Trump's National Economic Council:

Gary Cohn [...] expressed openness to the idea in a private April meeting with senators. And Mnuchin himself said he support a modernized version of that law during his confirmation hearing before senators in January.

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority.

Republicans had rushed to vote on the health bill so the Senate could get a quick start on it, even before the CBO had finished analyzing a series of last-minute changes. The CBO is expected to release an updated estimate next week.

  • Man who called Dow 20,000 says stock market could see 1,000-point surge if Trump resigns (MarketWatch)  On Wednesday, Jeremy Siegel (a prominent stock-market bull and University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business professor) said equity markets, specifically the Dow, would spike by 1,000 points if Trump announced his resignation from the U.S. presidency.

  • Ex-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Dead at 77 (The Daily Beast)  Roger Ailes passed away Thursday morning, according to his family.  The Fox News founder and former CEO was 77 years old and had publicly battled multiple illnesses for some time—including hemophilia since childhood—before his ouster from the cable-TV network last summer.


Click for large image.

"I will not resign.  I know what I did. I know my actions were correct."


  • Mexican Media Go Dark, Demand an End to the Slaughter of Journalists (The Daily Beast)  On Monday afternoon, award-winning Mexican journalist and author Javier Valdez was pulled from his vehicle and gunned down mercilessly just moments after leaving his office in Culiacán, Sinaloa.He was shot at least 12 times and his corpse left sprawled on the pavement in the middle of the afternoon, mere blocks from the news organization, Ríodoce, that he founded. His car was left abandoned with the engine still running.

His murder comes mere weeks after the assassination of Cecilio Pineda in Guerrero, Maximiliano Rodríguez in Baja California, Miroslava Breach in Chihuahua, Filiberto Alvarez in Morelos, and Ricardo Monlui in Veracruz.

They join the dark list of at least 11 journalists murdered last year, whose deaths made 2016 the most violent year for Mexican journalists since 2006—the official start of the brutal, militarized drug war in Mexico.

So far, not a single person has been arrested over the recent murders. But this staggering impunity is nothing new. In fact, of the more than 125 journalists whose deaths have been officially recognized in Mexico since 2000, less than three percent have resulted in arrests.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • Bitcoin Is An Asset, Not A Currency (Forbes)  Hat tip to Neil Peters,  GEI Discussion Group, LinkedIn.  Over the past year and a half Bitcoin has been on a spectacular run, rising in value 140% in 2016 and now an additional 49% in just the past month. This surge in value has invigorated Bitcoin backers convinced this boost in value makes Bitcoin a more credible currency, that it is a sign of the cryptocurrency’s strength. Yet the wild swings, both up and down, in the value of Bitcoin do not make it a more plausible substitute currency; they make it a speculative asset, a get-rich-quick scheme.  Is Bitcoin the currency of the future? No. There are two big problems with bitcoin as a currency: its value is unstable and its transaction processing is too slow.  See also next item.

  • History of Bitcoin Value ( is a content sharing partner of GEI.  The monthly candlestick chart for bitcoin shows that in its five year life it has ranged in value between $4.22 in January 2012 and the recent high of $1885.


  • Opinion: The stock market sell-off is as much about earnings as it is about Trump (MarketWatch) The sell-off came in the wake of a bombshell report in The New York Times that notes from fired FBI Director James Comey revealed President Donald Trump had asked Comey to stop the FBI’s investigation into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.  But something else was also at work: earnings. Although the first quarter of 2017 looked great and estimates for all of 2017 are solid, share prices are way ahead of projected earnings growth, making stocks, particularly certain sectors, vulnerable.  A fairly valued stock is one that has a PEG ratio around 1.  (PEG is the ratio of a stock's price to earnings ratio (PE) divided by its earnings growth rate, G.)  The following table shows that some sectors are well above PEG = 1.  Only financials (PEG = 1.1) and energy (PEG = 0.1) are fairly valued (or undervalued) by this measure.


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