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What We Read Today 19 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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Topics today include:

  • NYT: Trump brags to Russians about firing 'nut job' Comey

  • Approval of President Trump drops to lowest since inauguration: Reuters/Ipsos poll 

  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defends Comey memo

  • How Much Does a Politician Cost?

  • Russians Are Laughing at the U.S., Not Just at Trump

  • Exclusive: Putin's ex-wife linked to multi-million-dollar property business

  • Amid industry pushback, China offers changes to cyber rules: sources

  • In Corruption-Hardened Brazil, Some Bombshells Still Pack Punch

  • Seeing a Debt Crisis That Isn't Really There

  • U.S. Yield Curve Flattens, Financials Decline

  • Trannies in Trouble

  • Repeat foreclosures in New York City have reached an all-time high

  • Fat, Fit and Healthy Obesity Bubble Bursts - New UK BMI Study

  • Komodo Dragon Blood May Hold the Secret to Killing Superbugs

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job.  I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."

  • Approval of President Trump drops to lowest since inauguration: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Reuters)  Public approval of President Donald Trump has dropped to its lowest level since his inauguration, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, after Trump was accused of mishandling classified information and meddling with an FBI investigation.  The May 14-18 opinion poll found that 38% of adults approved of Trump while 56% disapproved. The remaining 6% had "mixed feelings". 



  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defends Comey memo (CNN)   Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday defended the now-famous memo he wrote to President Donald Trump, which the President initially cited as a recommendation to fire FBI Director James Comey earlier this month.  Rosenstein, according to his a copy of his prepared remarks at a briefing before the US House of Representatives, said that he learned on May 8 that Trump intended to fire Comey and that Trump sought Rosenstein's "advice and input" that same day.  The next day Rosenstein issued the memo to Trump, and Comey was swiftly dismissed.  While Rosenstein said he "chose the issues to include in my memorandum" and believed it was time for new leadership at the FBI, he also said his memo was "not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination."   Rosenstein's statement said:

"I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it." 

Click for larger image.

  • Seeing a Debt Crisis That Isn't Really There (Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg)  Yes, household borrowing has topped the old record reached right before the financial crisis. But that doesn't mean a meltdown is coming.  As the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported, total household debt stood at $12.73 trillion as of March 31, a $149 billion increase, or 1.2 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2016. That put overall household debt $50 billion higher than its previous peak in the third quarter of 2008.  The new peak has been driven by stucent loan debt, while other categories are all lower than 2008.  (See first graphic below.)   Also, low interest rates mean that debt is a much lower burden than previously.  (Second graphic below.)



  • Russians Are Laughing at the U.S., Not Just at Trump (Bloomberg)  President Donald Trump was only half wrong when he tweeted last week that "Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart." Russian officials are laughing quite openly.  To many Americans, this is Trump's mess. But to outsiders, it's about America's weakness.

  • Exclusive: Putin's ex-wife linked to multi-million-dollar property business (Reuters)  The former wife of Russian president Vladimir Putin helped create and now supports a foundation that owns a historic Moscow property generating millions of dollars from tenants, a Reuters examination of property records has found.  The building was renovated with help from associates of Putin, and the rental income is paid to a private company owned by a person whose name is the same as the maiden name of Putin's former wife, corporate records show.


  • Amid industry pushback, China offers changes to cyber rules: sources (  China may delay full implementation of controversial new cyber security rules, giving companies more time to prepare, two people who attended a meeting on Friday between the country's internet regulator, businesses and diplomats told Reuters.  The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) called the meeting - with around 100 participants, including representatives from global technology firms - to present last-minute changes to implementation rules for China's new Cyber Security Law which is due to come into effect on June 1.  One of those changes was a new 18-month phase-in period from June, two attendees said, suggesting the law would not be fully implemented until the end of 2018.  The new law aims to meet growing threats such as terrorism and hacking. Chinese officials say the law applies equally to both domestic and foreign companies.


  • In Corruption-Hardened Brazil, Some Bombshells Still Pack Punch (Bloomberg)  In the three years since Brazil’s sweeping corruption scandal exploded, there’s been plenty of jaw-dropping moments. But even in a nation hardened to allegations of crooked politicians and businessmen on the take, the latest crisis came as a shock.  Now still another presodent faces possible impeachment.

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

  • Fat, Fit and Healthy Obesity Bubble Bursts - New UK BMI Study (The Market Oracle)  A new study by researchers at the University of Birmingham contradicts most of the fitness gurus out there on the internet by stating that being fit and obese does NOT protect people in later life from ill health i.e. it does not matter that your fitness program helps keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels normal whilst being obese, as the study found they were at far higher risk, over 50% higher risk of developing heart disease, strokes when compared to people of normal weight.  (Note:  Article describes how to calulate your BMI.)

What the study implies that heart disease / attacks and strokes are far more a function of being obese than having high blood pressure / sugar levels.

This should act as a wake up call to everyone who is obese, as it is very easy for people to delude themselves that they are fine, especially if they keep fit and active. The only way to reduce risks of ill health in later life is for obese people to LOSE FAT! Which means to trend towards getting ones BMI to under 30.

  • How Much Does a Politician Cost? (The Intercept)  Hat tip to Roger Erickson.  There is an "ingenious new Roosevelt Institute study" on the influence of money on politics. The amount of money necessary to control an agenda in Washington is very small.

  • Komodo Dragon Blood May Hold the Secret to Killing Superbugs (Bloomberg)  The blood of the endangered Komodo dragon is known for its toxicity, but the world’s largest lizard also appears impervious to disease and infection. A team of researchers who spent the past four years analyzing Komodo blood discovered it’s loaded with compounds that could be used as antibiotics. They say they’re hoping to turn those compounds into drugs that may be worth billions of dollars and save millions of lives.

New York homeowners are in default mode — again.

The city leads the nation in repeat foreclosure filings

The number of repeat foreclosure filings in New York City far outstrips that of other major cities like Los Angeles, while New York state is No. 1 for repeat foreclosures, outpacing every other state and the US as a whole.

In a report prepared exclusively for The Post, Attom Data Solutions found that in New York City last year, roughly 4,900 — or more than half of all new foreclosures filed — were repeats, up from just 5 percent in 2008.

Statewide, 73 percent of the 49,200 new foreclosure cases — or roughly 35,916 foreclosures — over the past 12 months were repeats, up from 20 percent in 2007, according to Black Knight, which collects data reported by servicers.

Refilings, which occur when borrowers land in foreclosure more than once for the same property, can happen for a host of reasons, from a failed loan modification to a foreclosure being dismissed when the servicer can’t prove it owns the loan and later refiles the case.

  • Trannies in Trouble (Twitter)  The Dow Transportation Index is not confirming the Industrials and the Utilities.  Econintersect:  Don't get taken for a ride.

Click for large image.

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