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According to Bloomberg.com, Bitcoin began the week on a down note, declining as much as 8.7 percent and pushing the biggest cryptocurrency’s decline for March to about 25 percent.

Questions:
1. Who has confirmed that it will ban Bitcoin offering advertisements?
2. How is the SEC involved with Bitcoin in recent weeks?
3. Why have some called Bitcoin an investment fad and what is the composition of an investment fad?

Source:

Russo, C. (2018).Bitcoin Breaches $8,000 Level as March Slump Accelerates. Bloomberg.com, March 26 (Retrievable online at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-26/bitcoin-approaches-8-000-level-as-march-slump-accelerates)

Kharif, O. (2018). The Bitcoin Fad Is Fading—for Now. Bloomberg.com, March 14 (Retrievable online at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-14/bitcoin-pop-culture-moment-fades-as-fad-gives-way-to-regulators)

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According to Bloomberg, Facebook Inc. is heading toward its worst month since May 2013 after an analyst report warned of a temporary pullback in advertising and the FTC confirmed it’s investigating the social network’s privacy practices.

Questions:

  1. How much market value for Facebook stock has been erased in the last 10 days?
  2. What is the new probe by the FTC into Facebook privacy issues?
  3. When is Facebook is scheduled to report quarterly earnings and what is the prediction on results?

Source:

Verhage, J. (2018).Facebook Stock Heading Toward Worst Month in Over Four Years. Bloomberg.com, March 26 (Retrievable online at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-26/facebook-heading-toward-worst-month-since-august-2012)

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According to the New York Times, after many employee complaints, United Airlines said it was “pressing the pause button” on a plan to replace its modest monthly bonuses with a lottery system that would have offered large rewards to a few workers at random.

Questions:

  1. Why were the employees furious and what did they do about it?
  2. What were the qualifiers on the program?
  3. After reading the article, why do you think United wanted to go to the lottery reward system?
  4. What was the most interesting thing you learned in the article?
Source: Caron, C. (2018). United Airlines Pauses Lottery for Bonuses After Employees Rebel Online. The New York Times, March 4 
(Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/business/united-airlines-employee-bonuses-lottery.html)

 

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According to Politico, the new tax law includes a little-noticed blacklist barring people working in certain fields, and earning more than $157,500, from claiming a new 20 percent deduction for unincorporated businesses called pass-throughs.

Questions:

  1. Why did the Congressmen decide that pass-throughs should be limited?
  2. Who ultimately gets to make the decision?
  3. According to Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter, when will the new rules be released?
  4. What was the most interesting part of this article from your standpoint?

Source:

Faler, B. (2018). Hidden blacklist in GOP tax law could hit everyone from LeBron James to doctors. Politico, March 8 (Retrievable online at https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/08/hidden-blacklist-republican-tax-law-445645?lo=ap_c1)

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According to Masunaga and Peterson, four years ago, the Silicon Valley firm Theranos Inc. was valued at $9 billion and its founder and Chief Executive Elizabeth Holmes was hailed as a potentially revolutionary force in the blood-testing industry. Today, she is deemed a fraudster.

Questions:

  1. Theranos’ proprietary analyzer could only perform __________ of the 200 tests on the company’s website regarding the blood test analyzer.  How did they do the other tests?
  2. In May 2016, what did the company do regarding the results of tens of thousands of blood tests that doctors had depended on to care for patients over the previous two years?
  3. What has happened to the company since this time?
  4. When did the company’s downfall begin?
  5. Who do you think were the big losers in this story of fraud?
  6. What was Holmes’ role in the fraud?

Source:

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In a ballroom of a mountain lodge, diversity coach Miguel Joey Aviles, asked whether anyone knew how to merengue. Only two replied: Yes.

These were Branson Missouri managers, who said they’re desperate for employees and are paying $50 each for the workshop. They came from hotels, hospitals, hardware stores and banks. The goal of “Hispanics 101” is to urge Branson employers to stay champions of Puerto Rican workers that have been recruited to the town, long after their first day on the job.

 

Questions:

  1. What is some of the miseducation that has spread about this movement?
  2. According to this article, since last April, how many Puerto Ricans have been recruited?
  3. What problems has Branson had with recruiting foreign workers due to the actions of the Trump administration?
  4. What was the most interesting part of this article for you?

Source:

Paquette, D. (2018). Why a white town paid for a class called ‘Hispanics 101.’ The Washington Post, March 7 (Retrievable online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/why-a-white-town-paid-for-a-class-called-hispanics-101/2018/03/07/ca37a44a-1cd1-11e8-ae5a-16e60e4605f3_story.html?utm_term=.60359ac5cc83)

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According to Douglas House, a new analysis has been released that shows patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) that are treated with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ INVOKANA (canagliflozin) experienced significantly less risk of cardiovascular (CV) death or hospitalization for heart failure (HHF).

Questions:

  1. Based on the data, what is the reduction of fatal heart failure?
  2. Where was the study published and where was it presented?
  3. Does the company have the permission to market it as a cardiovascular reduction drug?
  4. What effect do you think this will have on the stock price of (JNJ) and why?

House, D. (2017). Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana lowers risk of CV death or hospitalization in T2D. Seaking Alpha news blog, March 12 (Retrievable online at https://seekingalpha.com/news/3338393-johnson-and-johnsons-invokana-lowers-risk-cv-death-hospitalization-t2d?app=1&uprof=14&dr=1#email_link)

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Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive notorious for increasing the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent, along with mounting sneering defenses of his actions and even issuing a bounty for one of Hillary Clinton’s hairs, was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud.

 

Questions:

  1. What had prosecutors sought for a sentence?
  2. What had the defense sought for a sentence?
  3. What were his fraud convictions related to?
  4. How much fine must Mr. Shkreli pay?
  5. What was the most interesting thing that you learned by reading the article?

Source:

Clifford, S. (2018). Martin Shkreli Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Fraud. The New York Times, Mar. 9 (Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/business/martin-shkreli-sentenced.html)

 

 

 

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The agency charged with monitoring such student loan bankruptcy declarations is facing concerns that its tactics have grown ruthless. Bankruptcy experts say that the group is wasting judicial resources because it brings legal challenges to those few who are desperate enough to seek bankruptcy relief.

Questions:
1. What is the name of this agency? Which part of the federal government gave this group the power to fight student debtors who file for bankruptcy on federal loans?
2. Explain the case that caused the bankruptcy judges to accuse the agency of abuse.
3. What has been the biggest impact of the agency in shaping the bankruptcy law for relief from student debts?
4. How is forgiven debt outside of bankruptcy treated for tax purposes?

Source:
Kitroeff, N. (2014).Loan Monitor Is Accused of Ruthless Tactics on Student Debt, The New York Times, Jan. 1 (Retrievable online at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/us/loan-monitor-is-accused-of-ruthless-tactics-on-student-debt.html?hpw&rref=education&pagewanted=all&_r=0)
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Berkshire recorded a hefty windfall from the tax bill that Congress passed at the end of last year.

Questions:
1. According to the article, the 2017 tax cut was 2/3 of Berkshire Hathaway’s 2017 Earnings. How much were the earnings and how much (in dollars) was the tax cut?
2. In the past, how did Berkshire grow? In other words, what was their mechanism for growth?
3. What has Warren Buffet’s goal been for Berkshire and did he accomplish this? Explain.
4. What is Buffet’s advice about a mega-catastrophe? Why is it important for his company?
5. What was the most interesting part of this article for you?

Source:
Eavis, P. and S. Grocer. (2018). Buffett’s Annual Letter: Berkshire Records $29 Billion Gain From Tax Law. The New York Times, Feb. 24 (Retrievable online at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/24/business/dealbook/buffetts-annual-letter-berkshire.html)