Master Financial Education

Financial and Economic Daily Commentary 2018
The  most intensive and extensive on the Web

E. F. Moody Jr.

click above for bio


USA Today- "This is a high-powered personal bookmark list that spans the spectrum of the truly useful."

FORBES- "You'll find some great information."

BUSINESS WEEK: "For an Expert, Click here"  

SP 500
World Statistical data

From an adviser: It is a daily read for me. Clearly biased towards the client. Great perspectives and links to thought provoking material. Greatly appreciated.

Investor/Investing Risk of Loss: Identify, Manage and Limit Investment
Risk of Loss on Mutual Funds and ETFs

Four Phase Process that will change the investment dichotomy for 75% of Middle and Lower Income investors overall and up to 90% for 401k Investors 

Losses limited to about 12% for recessions

Patent Pending

Morality, Sexism, Ethics, Corrupt Equilibrium

Critical reference to the limited fiduciary capabilities in the planning industry (and more) and why they may/will remain as such given sophomoric DOL rules and flaccid organizational enforcement. Specific commentary to sexism and ethical and moral lapses of society impacting women. Not the standard drivel

Analysis for investors and advisers. The economic changes from the Great Recession caused major adjustments in investing. One of the major issues is the flip flop of the correlations in bond funds versus equities  coupled with a truly lower return and an increased overall risk. It will take a lot more effort to provide adequate return for those in need and the discussion will address pros and cons particularly for retirement purpose Emphasis on risk, Click for full article.
Great overview- see if something fits Trump. Very illuminating article easily understood


    UK consumer spending over Christmas dropped the most since June 2016, leading to dramatic share price falls and profit warnings from several high street retailers, and even complaints of a price war from one of the country’s leading funeral directors.

EFM- is it due to Brexit or just a bad economy? Too soon to tell

But dying is cheaper- Funeral directors would knock 25 per cent off the cost of the discounted “simple funeral” it offers to bereaved families who are flexible about when, and in what type of coffin, their loved ones are buried.

Bottle Return


"Recent Manufacturing Employment Growth: The Exception that Proves the Rule" Fee Download
NBER Working Paper No. w24151

ROBERT Z. LAWRENCE, Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

This Paper challenges two widely held views: first that trade performance has been the primary reason for the declining share of manufacturing employment in the United States and other industrial economies, and second that recent productivity growth in manufacturing has actually been quite rapid but is not accurately measured. The paper shows that for many decades, relatively faster productivity growth interacting with unresponsive demand has been the dominant force behind the declining share of employment in manufacturing in the United States and other industrial economies. It also shows that since 2010, however, the relationship has been reversed and slower productivity growth in manufacturing has been associated with more robust performance in manufacturing employment. These contrasting experiences suggest a tradeoff between the ability of the manufacturing sector to contribute to productivity growth and its ability to provide employment opportunities.While some blame measurement errors for the recently recorded slowdown in manufacturing productivity growth, spending patterns in the United States and elsewhere suggest that the productivity slowdown is real and that thus far fears about robots and other technological advances in manufacturing displacing large numbers of jobs appear misplaced.

EFM- long the rallying cry of the Jewish it became a slogan globally. But it has been happening in Myaonmar. This is an atrocity od ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people who have lost thousands upon thousands already. No help for the future either.

Human civilization has a long long way to go.

But it won't make it. We will die out before then

1/20:"Poverty from Space: Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery for Estimating Economic Well-Being" Free Download

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8284

RYAN ENGSTROM, George Washington University - Department of Geography
Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics
World Bank

Can features extracted from high spatial resolution satellite imagery accurately estimate poverty and economic well-being? This paper investigates this question by extracting object and texture features from satellite images of Sri Lanka, which are used to estimate poverty rates and average log consumption for 1,291 administrative units (Grama Niladhari divisions). The features that were extracted include the number and density of buildings, prevalence of shadows, number of cars, density and length of roads, type of agriculture, roof material, and a suite of texture and spectral features calculated using a nonoverlapping box approach. A simple linear regression model, using only these inputs as explanatory variables, explains nearly 60 percent of poverty headcount rates and average log consumption. In comparison, models built using night-time lights explain only 15 percent of the variation in poverty or income. The predictions remain accurate when restricting the sample to poorer Gram Niladhari divisions. Two sample applications, extrapolating predictions into adjacent areas and estimating local area poverty using an artificially reduced census, confirm the out-of-sample predictive capabilities.


"Sticky Expectations and the Profitability Anomaly" Fee Download
CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12528

JEAN-PHILIPPE BOUCHAUD, Capital Fund Management
University of Geneva, University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute, Swiss Finance Institute
Toulouse School of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA)

We propose a theory of one of the most economically significant stock market anomalies, i.e. the "profitability" anomaly. In our model, investors forecast future profits using a signal and sticky belief dynamics. In this model, past profits forecast future returns (the profitability anomaly). Using analyst forecast data, we measure expectation stickiness at the firm level and find strong support for three additional predictions of the model: (1) analysts are on average too pessimistic regarding the future profits of high profit firms, (2) the profitability anomaly is stronger for stocks which are followed by stickier analysts, and (3) it is also stronger for stocks with more persistent profits.

  1. The Cross-Section of Risk and Return




Kent Daniel ; Lira Mota ; Simon Rottke ; Tano Santos

In the finance literature, a common practice is to create factor-portfolios by sorting on characteristics (such as book-to-market, profitability or investment) associated with average returns. The goal of this exercise is to create a parsimonious set of factor-portfolios that explain the cross-section of average returns, in the sense that the returns of these factor-portfolios span the mean-variance efficient portfolio. We argue that this is unlikely to be the case, as factor-portfolios constructed in this way fail to incorporate information about the covariance structure of returns. By using a high statistical power methodology to forecast future covariances, we are able to construct a set of portfolios which maintains the expected return, but hedges out much of the unpriced risk. We apply our methodology to hedge out unpriced risk in the Fama and French (2015) five-factors. We find that the squared Sharpe ratio of the optimal combination of the resulting hedged factor-portfolios is 2.29, compared with 1.31 for the unhedged portfolios, and is highly statistically significant.


Number of uninsured Americans increased in 2017

By Marlene Y. Satter

At the end of 2017 12.2 percent of U.S. adults were uninsured; that’s up from 10.9 percent at the end of 2016Read More »


I left it in very bold print.because this will not change for at least several decades. I think no real progress up to 2050. Unless women get in power and hopefully drop the ego gratification of men, we will not survive the century.

The year was the second-hottest in recorded history, NASA said, while scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 2017 was the third-warmest they have ever recorded.

The renewed evidence of climate change, driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, comes as the Trump administration moves to open new areas for oil drilling and rolls back regulations that sought to reduce global warming, most prominently by moving to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The administration said it would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last year.

Further stirring the climate debate, 2017 was a year of record breaking disasters affecting the United States, including devastating California wildfires and a trio of hurricanes that cost over $200 billion — events of the sort many experts fear may worsen as the planet warms.

2017 achieved a temperature of 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 degrees Celsius), above the average temperature seen in the 20th century, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

NASA found that 2017 was 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (.9 degrees Celsius) above the average temperature from 1951 through 1980. 2016 was .99 degrees Celsius higher, and 2015 just .86 degrees Celsius higher, according to the agency.

2017 was unequivocally the warmest year on record that was not substantially influenced by the periodic El Niño phenomenon, which releases added warmth from the Pacific Ocean and was present in the record warm years of 2015 and 2016.

1/18:China’s growth spurt

China’s economy grew at 6.9 per cent in 2017, the fastest pace in two years, despite policymakers making headway towards curbing financial risk from excessive debt. The country’s 6.8 per cent growth for the fourth quarter locked in China’s first yearly gross domestic product acceleration since 2010. (FT, Nikkei Asian Review)

Black families in America earn just $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. For every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04

Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites, the psychologists reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Americans believe that blacks and whites are more equal today than they truly are on measures of income, wealth, wages and health benefits. And they believe more historical progress has occurred than is the case, suggesting “a profound misperception of and unfounded optimism” regarding racial equality.It seems that we’ve convinced ourselves – and by ‘we’ I mean Americans writ large – that racial discrimination is a thing of the past,” (EFM- well that is wrong)

— that even college-educated black workers earn about 20 percent less than college-educated white ones, for example — is uncomfortable for both blacks who’ve been harmed by that unfairness and whites who’ve benefited from it.

1/16: A primer

Small Business Entity Selection (2018, New Tax Law)

Posted: 15 Jan 2018 05:00 AM PST

A reader writes in, asking:

“How does the new tax law affect the decision of how a small business should choose to be taxed?”

As a bit of background, for a business with one owner, the three taxation options are:

§ Sole proprietorship (or LLC taxed as such),

§ C-corporation (or LLC taxed as such), or

§ S-corporation (or LLC taxed as such).

And for a business with multiple owners, the taxation options are:

§ Partnership (or LLC taxed as such),

§ C-corporation (or LLC taxed as such), or

§ S-corporation (or LLC taxed as such).

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership Taxation

As before:

§ Income from a sole proprietorship or partnership is taxed at normal individual income tax rates, and

§ Sole proprietorship income (as well as partnership income if the partner is active in the business) is subject to self-employment tax (i.e., a tax of roughly 15%, to replace the Social Security and Medicare taxes that would be paid by the employee and employer if this were wage income instead).

What’s new is that those individual income tax rates are now, in most cases, lower for a given level of income than they would have been prior to the new law.

In addition, income from such businesses will also qualify for the new deduction for pass-through business income (subject to phaseouts), which makes sole proprietorship/partnership taxation somewhat more advantageous than previously.

C-Corporation Taxation

C-corporations are taxed at their own rate (now a flat rate of 21%, whereas before they had progressive tax brackets like individuals). Then, when they distribute income to shareholders in the form of a dividend, the dividend is taxed at 0%, 15%, or 20% tax rates depending on the taxpayer’s level of taxable income. The dividend may also be subject to the 3.8% tax on net investment income.

Previously, C-corporation tax treatment was not usually advantageous because of this double taxation (i.e., taxation of income at the corporate level, plus taxation of the dividend paid to the shareholders). While the new flat 21% tax rate means that C-corporation income over $50,000 will now be taxed at a lower rate than previously, the overall concept of double taxation still applies. And the net result is that C-corporation tax treatment will still be undesirable for most small business owners.

S-Corporation Taxation

Profit from an S-corporation:

§ Is taxed at individual income tax rates,

§ Qualifies for the new deduction for pass-through business income (subject to phaseouts), and

§ Is not subject to self-employment tax.

In other words, it’s the same as income from a sole proprietorship or partnership, but without self-employment tax.

However, S-corporations are required to pay their owner-employees a “reasonable” level of compensation (i.e., wages/salary) before there can be any profits. And such wages:

§ Are taxed at normal income tax rates,

§ Are subject to regular payroll taxes (i.e., Social Security and Medicare taxes that are essentially the same thing as paying self-employment tax), and

§ Do not qualify as pass-through income for the new deduction.

In other words, the wages themselves are not very tax-efficient. So the savings from S-corporation taxation only kick in once there is enough income from the business to pay a reasonable level of compensation to owner-employees and still have a sizable profit left over.

So, in short, for people whose income level is such that they would be in or below the 24% tax bracket (and therefore unaffected by the phaseouts for the new deduction for pass-through income) sole proprietorship/partnership taxation is now somewhat more appealing relative to S-corporation taxation, because all of the sole proprietorship/partnership income would qualify for the deduction, whereas the wages that the S-corporation would have to pay to the owner-employee(s) would not qualify for the deduction.

Of note, however, is that the opposite conclusion may apply for people in the phaseout range (as well as for non-service business owners who are past the phaseout range). That is, S-corporation taxation may be relatively more advantageous, because it would be advantageous to have the business pay wages to somebody (i.e., the owner-employee), to minimize the impact of the wage-related limit for the deduction.

More than ever, discussing the matter with a qualified tax professional is likely to be advantageous.

CPS now offers a proprietary Disability Income product through Lloyd’s of London – which will continue payments dictated by a divorce decree (i.e. spousal support, child support, children’s medical insurance premiums, tuition, activity fees/expenses, business buy-outs, equalization payments, etc) if the Payor becomes disabled.

Look! Up in the sky. It's a bird, it's a plane,'s a Nissan!!!!

1/15: Annuity Rates Rise in January, AnnuityAdvantage Survey Shows
Fixed-Rate Annuities Yield Up to 0.9 Percent More than Bank CD of Same Term
MEDFORD, OR / ACCESSWIRE / January 9, 2018 / Rates on a number of fixed-rate annuities went up slightly with the turn of the year, according to AnnuityAdvantage's constantly updated database of 290 fixed-rate annuities.
The highest-paying five-year annuity now yields 3.40 percent, up 0.1 percent. Other top payers come in at 3.70 percent for a 10-year guarantee, 3.60 for seven years, 3.50 for six years, and 2.65 for four years.
Fixed-rate deferred annuities are also called multi-year guarantee annuities or CD-type annuities. Like CDs, they provide a set, guaranteed interest rate for a stated period of time, usually three to 10 years, says Ken Nuss, CEO of AnnuityAdvantage, an online annuity marketplace.
But annuities, which are tax-deferred, usually pay more than comparable CDs. For instance, the 3.40 percent rate on the top five-year annuity easily beats the highest-paying five-year CD, recently yielding 2.50 percent.
"That's a whopping 36 percent more,"

1/15: Always look at holiday spending. It was great/ (Doesn't always work- think Dotcom 1999)

  • Retail stocks are up, some over 3%, on solid numbers from the National Retail Federation. 
  • Sales rose 5.5% last November and December compared to the previous year.

state's net domestic migration between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, adjusted for the state's 2016 population:

1/14: On Forbes: How Much of Your Savings Can You Spend Each Year in Retirement?
"...William Bengen’s study in the October 1994 Journal of Financial Planning helped usher in the modern area of retirement withdrawal rate research by codifying the importance of sequence-of-returns risk. The problem he set up is simple: a newly retired couple plans to withdraw an inflation-adjusted amount from their savings at the end of every year for a thirty-year retirement period. What is the highest annual sustainable percentage of retirement date assets that can be withdrawn with inflation adjustments for a full thirty years?"

EFM- Is this how it works? No

1/14:Leading indicators

1/14:2018 contributions

401(k) contribution limits: $18,500


  • In 2018 the maximum contribution limit for 401(k)s rises to $18,500 (up from 2017's $18,000)

  • Catch-up contributions for ages 50 and over: $6,000 (no change from 2017)

Roth IRA income limits: $135,000/$199,000


Those who contribute to Roth IRAs aren’t allowed to do so if their income exceeds a certain level. Last year the income limit for contributing was $133,000 for single or head of household.

And while the amount you can contribute to the account hasn’t gone up ($5,500 for those under 50, $6,500 for those 50 and older), the income limits that keep you from doing so have:

  • In 2018, the ability to contribute to a Roth will be phased out over the annual income range of $120,000–$135,000 for 2018. Based on where your income falls within that range, you’ll only be able to make a partial contribution.

  • Married taxpayers filing jointly -- $189,000–$199,000 in income.

  • Married taxpayers filing separately -- still $0–$10,000.

IRA deduction limits: $73,000/$121,000/$199,000


  • Single taxpayers with a workplace retirement plan get phased out of IRAs if they make $63,000–$73,000 (up from $62,000–$72,000).

  • Married couples who file jointly, where the IRA contributor is covered by a workplace plan, get phased out at $101,000–$121,000 (up from $99,000–$119,000).

  • Couples in which the individual contributor is not covered by a plan but their spouse is will see the income phaseout range rise to $189,000–$199,000 (up from $186,000–$196,000).

Saver’s Credit income limits: $63,000/$47,250/$31,500


The Saver’s Credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, may be claimed for making retirement savings contributions if you’re below certain income limits for the year.

This year those income limits have risen:

  • $63,000 for married-filing-jointly taxpayers (up from $61,500)

  • $47,250 for heads of household (up from $46,125)

  • $31,500 for single and married-filing-separately taxpayers (up from $30,750) 

HSA contribution limits: $3,450/$6,900


Although people still don’t think of health savings accounts as potential retirement savings accounts, their triple-tax advantage makes them even better than 401(k)s and IRAs.

HSA contributions are tax deductible, there’s no tax on capital gains or dividends for money in the account and it’s tax-free on withdrawal if spent on qualified medical expenses.

And once you hit 65, that medical expense thing goes away and you can spend it on anything you want—although you’ll have to pay taxes on the withdrawals.

Here are the new HSA contribution limits for 2018:

  • $3,450 for self-only HSAs (up from $3,400)

  • $6,900 for family-coverage HSAs (up from $6,750)

  • Catch-up contributions for ages 55 and over: No increase

1/14:The Philly Fed's Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (hereafter the ADS index) is a fascinating but relatively little known real-time indicator of business conditions for the U.S. economy, not just the Third Federal Reserve District,

The index is based on six underlying data series:

  • Weekly initial jobless claims
  • Monthly payroll employment
  • Industrial production
  • Personal income less transfer payments
  • Manufacturing and trade sales
  • Quarterly real GDP

The accompanying commentary goes on to explain that "The average value of the ADS index is zero. Progressively bigger positive values indicate progressively better-than-average conditions, whereas progressively more negative values indicate progressively worse-than-average conditions."

EFM- used this for years but the last few simply went back and forth (or over and under) without much else happening

U.S bonds are in a bear market that started in July 2016 when the 10-year Treasury note “double-bottomed at 1.45%,” says Bill Gross,

The July bottoms signified the end of a bull market that began 35 years earlier, but they weren't recognized as such at the time,

Gross expects the 10-year Treasury will end this year with a yield above 2.7%, capping a "mild bear market total return of zero to -1% for most bond portfolios."

"We have begun a bear market although not a dangerous one for bond investors," writes Gross. "Annual returns should still likely be positive, although marginally so."

1/14:Disasters in 2017
Disasters Affected 8% of U.S. Population in 2017, FEMA Notes in Review of Historic Year. The cost to the economy and insurance companies is high as 2017 ‘One of Worst’ for U.S. Weather with 15 Events Costing $1 Billion or More. Insurance companies have had extra capacity due to an influx of capital. However, it is almost certain there will immediate increases in insurance rates eventually followed by higher deductibles and limitations on coverage. Here’s a look at the Impact of Recent Natural Catastrophes on Insurance Market

1/12 Caregiver support groups

When it was suggested to me that I might benefit from an Alzheimer’s support group for caregivers, I remember smiling politely and thanking the well-meaning party. I also remember my exact thought as I turned away. “ Oh you think so, do you? You don’t even know me! I certainly don’t need to emotionally dump on strangers who, like me, are barely keeping it together. Why would I do that to them? Why would I do that to myself?”

To say that I was resistant to the idea would have been an understatement. I could not accept that I deserved, let alone needed, any help. My mother was the one who was sick. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years prior to being moved to Pittsburgh, where I was her primary caregiver. I believed, therefore, that my entire focus should be on her care. I did not understand that I could become sick as well - sick with the stress of caregiving.

The progression of my isolation had been insidious. I had not noticed that I had begun to cancel social engagements because “Mom might need me.” I could not see that there was a connection between my inability to concentrate and my obsessive wondering about Mom’s condition and care. I had also failed to notice that friends had stopped calling. No one knew what to say to me anymore. There was only one topic, as far as I was concerned. I had, in fact, created my own little world, with my mother and myself as the only inhabitants. Everyone else had minor roles to play. No wonder I thought I was all alone, that my situation was unique and, therefore, that no one could fully understand how I was feeling. Having cut myself off from anyone or anything that might have helped me to gain some perspective, I became overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness.

It was out of desperation that I finally “gave in” and agreed to try a support group. At the meeting, I found myself blurting out that I had had a terrible interaction with Mom that day. Not only had my mother not recognized me but, for the first time, she had swung at me defensively. It wasn’t the action that had rattled me. I understood it - intellectually. It was how it affected me emotionally that had left me completely unnerved. I was so angry, I told the group, I was ready to, “spit bullets.” And I was ashamed of myself. I had to admit that, even though I knew it was irrational, I was angry at the disease and, yes, for a split second, angry at my mother. It was horrifying to make that admission. I felt like an abandoned child, I told them. If I was going to have that kind of response, was I even emotionally fit to be around Mom?

Finally, I took a breath. I waited for the appalled silence and judgemental looks that I assumed would follow. Neither happened. Instead, the group assured me that every person there had had similar feelings at one time or another. This was a revelation to me. It was also a tremendous relief.

From that point on, I opened my mind and heart to what the support group had to offer. I learned that, although I might FEEL overwhelmed sometimes, that was not the same thing as actually BEING overwhelmed. I learned that Mom was not the only person affected by her diagnosis. I was going through something profoundly difficult, too. Acknowledging this was neither selfish nor self-centered. I learned that, since there was no instruction book for going through this experience, no emotion I felt would be considered weird or inappropriate by anyone else on the same journey. I learned that we, the family members, were all coping as best we could and that no two ways of doing this would look exactly the same.

I learned that all of us had similar questions as well as similar emotions. Was it wise to take our loved ones out to a restaurant? Should they be told about the death of a dear, childhood friend, or should we just not mention it? How were we to live with ourselves if we didn’t tell them? Wasn’t that lying?

As we discussed each issue, possible solutions emerged. I learned that it was alright to laugh together when a “strategy” went very differently than anticipated. Laughing at ourselves made it possible for us to feel safe, accepted and not judged. I learned how it felt to trust a group of strangers, solely on the basis of our common choice to be with our loved ones on their journey with dementia.

There is a saying that, “a burdened shared is a burden halved.” For me, the support group experience proved this to be true, but it also gave me so much more. There is a healing power in not only receiving help, but in giving it. Perhaps the support group’s strength was simply its ability to generate hope. The hope that, together, we family members could do this - walk with our loved ones to the very end. The hope that, when this significant, precious time with our loved ones was over, we would be the better for it, that our lives would reflect everything we had learned from this experience.

The support group helped me be the kind of daughter that I had always wanted to be. For that, I would always be grateful. My hope is that anyone with a loved one who is living with dementia would take the opportunity to join a support group and receive the same understanding, compassion and help that was made available to me.

1/12:Cyber criminals have become increasingly sophisticated, and all financial services firms are ripe targets for frauds. In 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 300,000 complaints for almost $1.3 billion in losses. Read more by clicking the link

"We are in a land of pure imagination," when it comes to US equities
“We have been on an escalator up and will be taking an elevator down.”

f you are the caregiver of someone with Parkinson’s disease (PD), you are likely well aware of the common motor symptoms associated with the condition, like tremors. However, you may not be aware that non-motor symptoms (those unrelated to physical movement), such as psychosis, commonly develop as the disease progresses. These symptoms should not be overlooked.

What is Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis?

As PD progresses, up to 40 percent of the approximately one million Americans living with the illness will develop psychotic symptoms, primarily hallucinations, but also delusions. These symptoms can be an indication of Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP), but unfortunately, many patients are not diagnosed. Sometimes, the symptoms of PDP are misdiagnosed as a co-morbid condition. Other times, patients and their families may not be comfortable sharing the symptoms with their physician team.

What Causes PDP?

Though definitions can vary, the term psychosis generally means “loss of reality testing.” Psychotic symptoms may be brought on by infections, typically bladder or pneumonia, but are often caused by medications. These are usually the ones used in treating PD, but other medications, particularly narcotic pain medications and many of the drugs used to treat an overactive bladder, may cause symptoms as well. When infections have been ruled out and no other medication has been identified as causing the psychosis, then the most likely culprits are the PD medications. It’s also possible that PDP might be a naturally occurring complication as the disease progresses.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. One is that the symptoms may begin even though PD medications have been constant over several months, or even years. The problem may not necessarily be triggered by an increase in PD medications. The reason that a stable medication regimen can begin causing hallucinations is that the PD is always progressing, making patients more sensitive to possible drug side effects. The second principle to keep in mind is that it may not be one drug that is the cause, but the combination of all the PD medications.


Many PD patients have occasional, or not so occasional, symptoms that are often seen in people who lose their ability to separate reality from fantasy. These are most commonly hallucinations, which are false perceptions in one of our special senses (vision, hearing, taste and touch). For example, it’s quite common for patients to report seeing other people, often children, who are sitting or standing in the room, ignoring them. Another commonly cited experience is that a patient who is watching TV or reading a book notices two strangers sitting on a sofa talking to each other, but they make no noise. The patient talks to them, and they ignore him. When he gets up to approach them, they disappear. A few days later, this happens again, and after one or two episodes, the patient no longer pays attention or tries to contact them. These types of hallucinations tend to occur more at night than during the day and are usually the same each time.

Some of the images may be entertaining, but usually are just a little bit annoying. The hallucinations may look real, appear to be black and white, fuzzy or sharp and sometimes, the people may look somewhat odd, like cartoons.

Auditory hallucinations, or hearing things that are not there, are about half as common as visual hallucinations, and they tend to be less distinct than the visual hallucinations. Patients may hear a radio in another room, a party going on across the street or voices talking in the hallway. Less common are tactile hallucinations (e.g., feeling things on the skin), olfactory (e.g., smelling an aroma not detectable to others) and taste hallucinations.

Other Types of Hallucinations

In addition to persistent or repeated visual hallucinations, a PD patient might also see a fleeting image out of the corner of their eyes, like a cat or a shadow passing by, but when they turn to look, there isn’t anything there. Sometimes they see slight flashes of light, which are very much like reflections off their eyeglasses.

Another type of experience is called a “presence hallucination,” which is not really a hallucination. With a presence hallucination, patients have a strong feeling of another person, or an animal, being behind them or to the side, but when they turn around, there isn’t anything. This feeling usually isn’t scary, as the patient doesn’t feel they’re about to be attacked. However, this is a strong feeling – something most people have experienced on occasion – but in this case, it’s experienced more frequently and more strongly.


Delusions are false, irrational beliefs. In PDP, delusions are more bothersome, but less common. Also, in PDP, the delusions tend to be fairly similar from one patient to the next and are usually paranoid in nature. For example, a patient might be positive that his spouse has been attacked and is in need of assistance. Or, a spouse may be irrationally convinced that their partner is committing adultery.

Susan’s Story

Sadly, after a 20-year battle with PD, Susan’s father, Gary, passed away in April 2014 at the age of 74. Because Susan resides in Las Vegas, her mother, Marjorie, was her father’s primary caregiver in Iowa. Susan stayed actively involved by providing her mom with emotional support, particularly in later years when her father developed PDP.

Susan and her mother believe that Gary’s PDP started after a hospital stay resulted in changes to his medication doses. At that time, Gary began to experience strange and disturbing delusions, often in relation to his wife’s safety. For example, on several occasions, he called the police, convinced that “weirdoes” had entered the house to sexually assault Marjorie. He once even drove himself to the police station to report the perceived crime. Also disturbing, Gary would see kittens frolicking and then get upset when he thought he saw them die because he “forgot” to feed them. Other hallucinations included seeing strangers in his bed or with him in the shower. Despite telling Gary that his visions were not real, Susan and Marjorie often could not convince him of the truth.

Susan’s mother was emotionally exhausted and stressed from caring for Gary, whom she had been married to for 48 years. The idea of seeking more help for him was overwhelming, given the time she already gave to physical therapy and day-to-day care. Her life already revolved around Gary’s illness. Susan tried to encourage her mother to speak to her physicians about Gary’s visions, but her mother was embarrassed. On the other hand, both also wished the physicians had asked if these symptoms were occurring.

PDP’s Impact on Caregivers

As Susan’s story demonstrates, PDP is difficult for both the patient and their caregivers, particularly because it is impossible to convince someone who is experiencing delusions regarding the truth of their circumstances. Logic does not penetrate.

In fact, accusations of spousal infidelity are often the “last straw” and when caregivers find caring for their loved one too overwhelming. One of the major problems in dealing with PDP is that the patient and the family often try to hide the problem – the patient for fear of being thought “crazy” and the caregiver due to embarrassment. The reality is that when a PD patient has psychotic symptoms, his or her mental abilities will be otherwise normal. The patient may not be disoriented, can still balance their checkbook and recall everything they’re supposed to know. When hallucinations or delusions occur, the treating doctor should be notified. No irreversible harm will occur if treatment is delayed, but it is unlikely the problem will go away on its own.

Treating PDP

Hallucinations don’t always need to be treated. If these symptoms often don’t bother the patient, then they don’t need immediate attention, but they should always be monitored. Yet, hallucinations also indicate toxicity, hence PD medications cannot be increased without worsening of the hallucinations, and therefore, physicians may limit treatment. When the psychotic symptoms require treatment, the doctor may first reduce PD medications, and when these cannot be further reduced, they may prescribe quetiapine or clozapine, the only currently available antipsychotic drugs that do not worsen mobility in people with PD. When these drugs are successful, then the PD medications can be increased, if needed, to better control PD motor symptoms.

Support Your Loved One and Yourself

PDP is also associated with increased caregiver stress and burden, nursing home placement and increased morbidity and mortality. But, your loved one is certainly not alone in living with PDP, and an effective management plan can improve the complication. Seek out the support that he or she needs, but also make sure that you are getting the emotional care you personally need in order to be an effective advocate for your loved one.

1/12: OIL
Important Note for Energy Investors: The World Economic Forum, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the MIT Technology Review, prestigious national laboratories, and a slew of other experts are buzzing about this new element that will transform the energy industry. Early investors are already reaping the benefits. Are you in?

-    The U.S. has seen the installation of around
700 megawatts of utility-scale battery storage capacity over the last several years.
-    The total is only 0.06% of U.S. utility-scale generating capacity. But the storage market is starting to gain steam. 
-    As of now, there is another 69 MW of capacity planned for this year.  

Market Movers

announced plans to spend $1.4 billion on a new pipeline from the Rocky Mountain region. The 900-mile Elk Creek Pipeline would carry 240,000 bpd of unfractionated NGLs from Montana to Kansas, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
-    Credit Suisse
says it’s time to buy oilfield services stocks. “The oilfield services sector - after suffering the sharpest decline in history followed by the sharpest recovery - is back to what appears to be at least a three-plus year run of somewhat normal growth,” Credit Suisse analyst James Wicklund wrote. 
-    Nymex futures for natural gas fell back after the cold snap. Spot prices in New York and New England have spiked to stratospheric levels, but the problem is pipeline capacity not a shortage of natural gas. Nymex gas is still trading below $3/MMbtu.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Oil has held onto the strong gains from last week, despite some choppy trading. As of early trading on Tuesday, Brent was sitting at roughly $68 per barrel and WTI at $62. Brent is not far from the key psychological threshold of $70, a level that hasn’t been hit since 2014 during the beginning of the market downturn. 

Iran worries about oil prices moving too high. Iran’s oil minister said that OPEC does not want oil to rise any more than it already has so as not to spark a shale drilling boom. “Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are not keen on increased Brent crude prices above $60 a barrel because of shale oil," Bijan Namdar Zanganeh
said in comments on the ministry’s news agency Shana.

Oil tanker profits plunge. Earnings for supertankers that move oil around the world fell by more than half in 2017, in large part because of the OPEC cuts. Fewer shipments came at a time when the shipping industry brought new capacity online, crushing their day rates. “These cuts reduced the number of cargoes from the Middle East to Asia significantly at a time when a large amount of newly-built vessels are being delivered,” Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix GmbH, told
Bloomberg. Earnings per day fell to $17,794 on average in 2017, the lowest figure since 2009. The poor conditions for the oil tanker industry are set to continue this year, with capacity expected to expand by another 4 percent at a time when OPEC will continue to hold back supply.

FERC rejects proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear. FERC, the powerful energy regulator in the U.S.,
rejected a proposal from the Department of Energy to prop up aging coal and nuclear power plants. The logic behind the proposal was to reward power plants that provide “resilience” to the grid. That is, the proposed rule change would have led to a premium for plants that held a 90-day supply of fuel on site – a definition only met by coal and nuclear plants. FERC rejected the proposal, and instead asked grid operators to come up with ideas to improve resilience. The rejection is a blow to the coal and nuclear industry, as well as the Trump administration, which supported the proposal.

Iranian oil tanker burns for a third day. An Iranian oil tanker collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea, and the fire on the tanker raged for a third day. Poor weather hindered rescue efforts on Tuesday. The tanker has been leaking condensate, an ultra-light crude oil that is volatile, raising fears that the tanker would explode. “We can’t grasp the level of oil contamination at this moment. The cargo is still on fire, so it is hard to figure out if oil is being spilled,” Park Sung-dong, an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, told

Gasoline shortages in Nigeria. Nigeria has
suffered through several weeks of fuel shortages. Despite producing nearly 1.8 million barrels of oil per day, the poor state of Nigeria’s refining sector means that the country has to import most of its refined fuel. On top of that, regulated fuel prices mean that refiners struggle to turn a profit.

Hedge funds continued to step up bullish bets. Major investors
increased their net length on WTI and Brent futures at the start of the year, breaking new records in the extent of their bullishness. The positioning is a testament to the optimism surrounding the trajectory of oil prices, but it also continues to heighten the risk of a correction to the downside. 

Venezuelan oil production sinks again. Venezuela’s oil output
fell by another 100,000 bpd in December, dipping to just 1.7 mb/d, the lowest level since 2002, according to S&P Global Platts. The drop off is steeper than prior monthly losses, and raise fears of an accelerated decline in 2018. S&P Platts says that Venezuela "has been suffering from a spiraling economic, political and humanitarian crisis, with state oil company PDVSA short of funds, personnel and equipment, and suffering under U.S. sanctions that restrict its financing."

Oilfield services companies plan IPO. Some oilfield services companies are planning public offerings this year after putting plans on ice in 2017. Expectations of higher oil prices and higher spending from drillers makes 2018 more opportune for going public.
Reuters reports that Liberty Oilfield Services, a fracking services company, recently filed to raise $160 million by selling 10.7 million shares. If that offering goes well, more IPOs will likely follow.

Shell plans focus on shale. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) will increasingly rely on shale production going forward, according to an
FT interview with the oil major’s CEO. Ben van Beurden told the FT that Shell will invest in chemicals, electricity and biofuels in the years ahead, a variety of sectors that will act as a hedge against a tightening regulatory regime on carbon emissions. As for oil, Shell will focus on shale development in the U.S., Canada and Argentina. Shell has been late to the shale game, but van Beurden says its declining cost of production combined with the rebound in oil prices means that “you will see a tremendous amount of growth” in cash flow.

1/12 Medical Insurance Board

When an applicant applies for life insurance, they go through the underwriting process. It is during this process the insurer determines how risky the proposed insured is to insure based on things like current health, health history, driving record, and the insureds history located in the MIB. No MIB does not stand for MEN IN BLACK, the popular movie franchise with Will Smith. Although the codes can seem as alien as some of the characters in the movie. The MIB (Medical information bureau) is just one of the many tools in an underwriter’s tool box to check the risk of the current applicant. The MIB helps the process by checking past records to uncover such things as errors, omissions or possible misrepresentations made on insurance applications. 


The MIB doesn’t look to see if you’re an undocumented extraterrestrial trying to get life insurance on Earth. (That’s the last Men in Black joke, I promise, maybe.) Instead underwriters use the MIB to verify information so that when they’re setting an insureds rate class there is a checks and balance system to make sure no essential information is missing. It also aids the underwriter in being sure that what an applicant has disclosed on a current application is consistent with previous applications. 


The MIB was founded in 1902 with a sole goal of working with life insurance companies to combat and hopefully prevent fraud. They do this by compiling information from previous applications that an insured has applied for such as life, health, disability or LTC applications.  With that said, a client will not have an MIB file if this is the first time they have applied for insurance. It’s important to note that MIB information is just one part of the larger puzzle that an underwriter puts together. Decisions are not based solely on the MIB report; instead, they use it to help develop and verify the medical history presented during the time of application.


The MIB compiles information such as (but not limited to) the date of any previous applications, medical impairments, when the impairment was diagnosed, types of treatment, and where the medical history came from. What does all this mean for an applicant? As an example, let’s say Mr. Smith applies for life insurance and through the medical exam the underwriter finds out that Mr. Smith has undergone surgery to remove a previous melanoma. The underwriter rates Mr. Smith and he decides against accepting the current application. Six months go by and Mrs. Smith demands that her husband take out a policy. Mr. Smith applies with another company in hopes of obtaining a better rate and “omits” his prior history of melanoma. The current underwriter would learn from the MIB that the surgery occurred and when it was performed, and how the information was obtained (PHI, exam or APS). The underwriter can then ask for further information so that they could rate Mr. Smith accordingly.


By utilizing tools such as the MIB the insurer can help to combat fraud that could in the future drive up rates. Moral of the story, it is best to be as honest as possible. While underwriters are not the Men in black (I know I promised, I couldn’t help myself) they can and usually will find out if the applicant has history that has not been disclosed. Properly rating an applicant helps to keep costs in check which is good for both insurers and customers alike.

The sex of a green sea turtle is a result of its environment. “They have temperature-dependent sex determination,

At what biologists call the pivot temperature, turtles hatch as a mixture of males and females. For green sea turtles, this temperature is 29.3 degrees Celsius (85 Fahrenheit). A few degrees below 29.3 C, all the sea turtles are born male. Heat up the eggs and only females are born.

“That transitional range, from 100 percent males to 100 percent females, spans a very narrow band of only a couple of degrees.

To estimate sand temperatures, study authors used historical sea and air temperatures in the breeding grounds between 1960 and 2016. By the 1990s, the sand temperature estimates were consistently higher than the pivot temperature.

EFM- that is 1990- indicating that global warming was causing problems even then, Can we fix it? No. By 2050 and another 1.5 billion people, a plague will kill most of us. Then the sea turtles take over

1/11: The fiduciary rule is in an odd sort of limbo. Despite being seemingly dead from a rule-making point-of-view, it is still very much alive as a practical rule that needs to be abided by even if it is not in full force. But is still surprising to learn, especially given all the hype over the rule’s possible dissolution, that 42% of all advisor-held US assets under management are now subject to the fiduciary rule. That figure is up from what would have been 24% in 2005 and 33% in 2010. The growth has come from the large number of firms seeking to grow their fee-based managed account programs.


1/11: An omen???

Morgan Stanley Wealth Sells All Junk Bond Holdings, Warns Of Recession Risk | Zero Hedge


Zero Hedge(Jan 4 2018)

'We recently took our remaining high yield positions to zero as we prepare for deterioration in lower-quality earnings in the U.S. led by lower operating margins.”

1/11:Another omen?????

1/11: And another from Bill Gross- "bond bear market is finally upon us after more than 25 years."


CRR Finds Those at Risk for Having Inadequate Retirement Income Dropped

Between 2013 and 2016, the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) improved modestly, dropping from 52% to 50% of working-age households, according to the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College. The NRRI measures the percentage of households at risk of having insufficient income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. The CRR says between 2013 and 2016, both equity and house prices increased sharply, serving to reduce the NRRI. According to the CRR, there were three main factors increasing the share of households at risk for inadequate income in retirement—the rise in Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (FRA), the decline in interest rates, and new reverse mortgage rules. All groups of households experienced an improvement in risk, except middle-age and middle-income households, due in part to more non-mortgage borrowing. Read more >

1/11:Comment from Paul A. Meyers on Rana Foroohar's latest column, Three trends to move markets in 2018

"At some point in the next several years, environmental risk is going to magnify in importance in asset pricing processes. Environmental risk (do we call it e*) will enter asset pricing models right alongside the interest rate. For example, rising insurance rates and the evaporation of certain types of coverage in certain regions will affect asset prices dramatically.  A lesson from the earliest days of capitalism and the rise of maritime insurance on long distance sea trade can be re-stated: no insurance, no large scale, globe-girdling capitalism.  So what insurance costs may be the largest question in the next decade. And who has it and who doesn't.  (If you can't insure Florida, just what is going to be in Florida?) The amount of insurance in force may become a companion measurement to GDP for  measuring national economic weight. Just how will the world be insured in 2030? That will also say something about banking? (Will uninsured collateral trigger the next banking crisis?) Look for footnotes in corporate financial reports describing insurance coverage and future access to coverage."

1/11: Pfizer is giving up on discovering new drugs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, abandoning costly efforts to find effective treatments for the disorders.


Employees working more than 30 hours a week while also caring for an elderly relative will receive a daily stipend of up to $70 to offset elder care costs, per the new law. The money can be used on anything that helps the caregiver meet his or her responsibilities without having to sacrifice work. That can include adult day care, chore services, home-delivered meals, homemaker services, personal care, respite care or transportation.

EFM- didn't have any insight to funding or total costs but is a major step in the right direction.

1/10: China is driving the world's robot market, and suppliers in Europe and Japan who have "superior technology" are the winners

More than half the world's robots live in Asia, mostly China, (Global Robotics}. The world robot population reached nearly 300,000 in 2016, based on the most recent numbers available, and HSBC estimates their population will grow to 414,000 by 2019. Currently, robot unit growth is running at 15% per year.

"China is the world’s largest market for industrial robots, accounting for about 30% of global demand. This growth story is being driven by powerful macro forces – higher wage bills, an ageing population, and supportive government policy ... We estimate robot production in China rose by 58% in 2017 alone, including the production of lower-tier robotics automation equipment,"

The demand has cut the robot world into two halves: China is the dominant buyer of robots globally, while Japan and Europe are the superior suppliers of machines. "Our conclusion is clear – the superior technology of Japanese and European companies is the decisive factor for winning the majority of the new business, which requires ever-greater levels of precision. Chinese robot makers remain strong in the low-to-medium segment of the market – e-commerce driven logistics is a good example – but competition is increasing all the time.

1/9: High Frequency Trading  

    The rise of HFT means that ordinary investors buying or selling stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds or futures are likely to be transacting with an algorithm on the other side. But the bonanza has now ended. Trading firms are struggling to wring profits from the incremental millisecond. Subdued volumes and reduced volatility have shrunken the size of the pie. Exchanges have ratcheted up market data and technology costs for customers. In 2017, aggregate revenues for HFT companies from trading US stocks was set to fall below $1bn for the first time since at least the financial crisis, down from $7.2bn in 2009

1/9: As I was thinking- or maybe not


Why We Never Think Alone
By Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
Illustrated. 296 pp. Riverhead Books. $28.

In “The Knowledge Illusion,” the cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach hammer another nail into the coffin of the rational individual. From the 17th century to the 20th century, Western thought depicted individual human beings as independent rational agents, and consequently made these mythical creatures the basis of modern society. Democracy is founded on the idea that the voter knows best, free market capitalism believes the customer is always right, and modern education tries to teach students to think for themselves.

Over the last few decades, the ideal of the rational individual has been attacked from all sides. Postcolonial and feminist thinkers challenged it as a chauvinistic Western fantasy, glorifying the autonomy and power of white men. Behavioral economists and evolutionary psychologists have demonstrated that most human decisions are based on emotional reactions and heuristic shortcuts rather than rational analysis, and that while our emotions and heuristics were perhaps suitable for dealing with the African savanna in the Stone Age, they are woefully inadequate for dealing with the urban jungle of the silicon age.

Sloman and Fernbach take this argument further, positing that not just rationality but the very idea of individual thinking is a myth. Humans rarely think for themselves.

two reports on home hospice came out — one from Politico and one from Kaiser Health News. According to their investigations, the hospice system, which began idealistically in the 1970s, is stretched thin and falling short of its original mission.

Many of the more than 4,000 Medicare-certified hospice agencies in the United States exist within larger health care or corporate systems, which are often under pressure to keep profit margins up.

Kaiser Health News discovered there had been 3,200 complaints against hospice agencies across the country in the past five years

more than a million Medicare patients go into hospice care every year, so the complaints are in the minority. Mr. Banach told me he’s worried that drawing attention to what he called the “salacious” stories of failed hospice care means more families will turn to less holistic, less humane end-of-life care. That could be true. But then, should there be more transparency early on? Should the hospice reps explain that in most cases, someone will rush to your loved one’s side in a crisis, but sometimes the agency just doesn’t get the timing and the logistics right?

As the number of for-profit hospice providers grows, does that model provide too great an incentive to understaff nighttime and weekend shifts? The solution may have to come from consumer advocacy and better regulation from Medicare itself.

A new government-sponsored website called Hospice Compare will soon include ratings of different agencies

1/9: Another case for algorithms

Can an Algorithm Tell When Kids Are in Danger?


Child protective agencies are haunted when they fail to save kids. Pittsburgh officials believe a new data analysis program is helping them make better judgment calls

In what has become an increasingly common business arrangement, owners of nursing homes outsource a wide variety of goods and services to companies in which they have a financial interest or that they control. Nearly three-quarters of nursing homes in the United States — more than 11,000 — have such business dealings, known as related party transactions, according to an analysis of nursing home financial records by Kaiser Health News. Some homes even contract out basic functions like management or rent their own building from a sister corporation, saying it is an efficient way of running their businesses and can help minimize taxes.

These arrangements offer an additional advantage: Owners can arrange highly favorable contracts in which their nursing homes pay more than they might in a competitive market. Owners then siphon off higher profits, which are not recorded on the nursing home’s accounts.

Why exercise should not be a New Year's resolution

1/9: I find it hard to think 3% GDP can be maintained but right now we are doing it

Inflation and retail sales grab the spotlight over the next two days, with data set to show that producer prices, a key measure of industrial inflation, rose 0.2 per cent in December on the previous month. That is expected to take the year-on-year reading to 3 per cent. (FT

1/9: Global warming  I do not care if they blame humans (I don't know the percentage caused by us)  but we have to figure out a way to live in the next 30 years, Do I think we will make the inroads necessary? Not a bleeding chance.

. A new study on coral bleaching showed the phenomenon has become so frequent that reefs can no longer recover between severe cases.

It is perhaps one of the most vivid signs of the effects of global warming, which has steadily pushed up ocean temperatures. 


Depending on the state you reside in, there are two ways your assets could be divided:

1. Community property: Marital assets — and debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage — are divided 50/50. However, separate property (anything held in only one spouse's name, including property owned before marriage, given as a gift, or inherited) is not taken into account. The states that observe this law are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Residents of Alaska can opt-in to a community property agreement.

2. Equitable distribution: Marital assets (not including separate property) are divided "fairly" at a judge's discretion, taking into account each person's earning potential or income, financial needs, and personal assets.

1/5: FINRA arbitration claims

1/3:This is just a drop in the bucket. Where does the other 7 billion come from?? This is not uncommon with hundreds of other city and state budget. Then we have the Federal budget deficit which supposedly will drop to manageable levels with the new tax cut. Won't work. The government will avoid bankruptcy but more cities will have to since the 2018 market will not be as strong as 2017

Houston gets $1 billion from bond offering to ease pension underfunding

Houston has issued $1.01 billion in pension obligation bonds to help reduce the city's $8.2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

“Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.”
Sir John Templeton

1/3  1 in 10 young adults — and 1 in 30 adolescents — have experienced homelessness in the past year. Researchers say the spike is largely because of low wages, a pricier rental market and family instability.

EFM- and many did not get a high school diploma. There is little upside to this. They are going to be stuck for life.

Great cartoon
 85% Probability by 2050

Older Workers Unable to Retire Cost Employers $50,000 a Year

Here are some best practices for employers to help their employees be financially secure so they may retire on time: Consider adopting retirement programs with features that help employees retire on time. Provide education to help employees proactively make informed financial decisions.

1/3:Rise in home values to slow. The Post's Kathy Orton and Aaron Gregg: "The steady increase in housing prices in many of the nation’s priciest markets, including the Washington region, is expected to slow in coming years, analysts say, as the Republican tax law begins to reshape a major part of the U.S. economy... Economists and housing experts broadly agree the changes will slow price increases in expensive housing markets — though nobody expects housing values to decline, given the overall strength of the economy and the fact that there are relatively few houses for sale in top markets."

EFM- but I wonder just what the increase will be. Our country runs on home construction. A rise in interest rates should not hurt too much since any increase in mortgage payments would be minimal. However, emotionally, it could impact buyers if they wanted/needed  a floating rate.

A classic

Brussels is preparing to call for a big increase in EU budget contributions during the 2020s in an effort to sustain the union’s post-Brexit spending power and cope with extra policy goals

EFM- Too soon to tell the impact but it will downgrade the EU

In a complex world, people fail to realize just how ignorant they are.
Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach

1/2:What is blockchain/distributed ledger technology (dlt)? 

Blockchain is a web-based distributed ledger of all transactions/datasets that have ever been executed. It is constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks are added to the blockchain in a linear, chronological order, with a new set of recordings/entries. It allows participants in a business network to see the system of record.

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) makes it easier to create cost-ef cient business networks where virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded, without requiring a central point of control. A blockchain’s integrity hinges on strong cryptography with emphasis on verifying any new information being added. Once information is added to the distributed ledger, it can no longer be changed – which is why it’s called ‘blockchain’.

The likelihood of a vital employee incurring a disability is 8 times greater than death before retirement age.

These clients need to know about Key Person Replacement Insurance for Disabilities.

The Need

Your Business Clients need a New Year’s reminder of how many ways their business could suffer from a key employee’s total disability.

  • Loss of revenue and profit generated by the key employee could be substantial
  • Disruption of the business when clients withhold or delay their business until the impact of the employee’s disability is known
  • Loss of management skill and experience, especially in a business without management depth
  • Increased expenses associated with recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement

How It Works

The employer pays the premium and is the owner of the policy insuring the key employee in the event of total disability.

If the Key Employee becomes totally disabled, the employer can receive benefits after 90 days, tax free. These benefits can be used at the discretion of the business.  Common uses usually include bridging the lost revenue gap, training a replacement, and filling temporary staffing needs. The benefits cannot be assigned to the employee. The maximum amount available is based on a calculation of 150% of the employee’s monthly income.

Benefits can be paid in either in a lump sum after 365 days or paid in monthly installments after 90 days for 12 month.

1/2: Absolute tragedy

'Massive Mental Health Crisis' Feared for Rohingya Children


"I have nightmares that the military is chasing me," says a 12-year-old who fled Myanmar. For hundreds of thousands like her, the horror isn't over

2: Quote of the year- “Alternative facts are not facts; they’re falsehoods.”“The use of ‘alternative facts,set the stage for allowing America to have two contradictory narratives to exist side by side. This only accelerated the divide in this country.”

12/31: Do you think the powers in China knew about this????

South Korea claims ship seizure as Trump denounces oil flows to Pyongyang


US president warns of action after Beijing ‘caught red-handed’ allowing shipments - EFM A mess that keeps getting bigger. I do not understand why China would take such a risk.

In his book “Why the Best-Laid Investment Plans Usually Go Wrong,” Browne wrote: “Almost nothing turns out as expected. Forecasts rarely come true,

trading systems never produce the results advertised for them, investment advisers with records of phenomenal success fail to deliver when your money is on the line,

the best investment analysis is contradicted by reality. In short, the best-laid investment plans usually go wrong. Not sometimes, not occasionally — but usually.”

12/31:VideoVideo: Do Australians Need a Sugar Intervention? Since 1990, the number of obese adults in Australia has tripled. Can a region built on the sugar industry turn down the sweets?

12/31:The Opioid Plague's Youngest Victims: Children in Foster Care


Children are pouring into the beleaguered child welfare system.

12/31: Next of CMS 2019 Actuarial Value Calculator Methodology (PDF)
25 pages. "The [Actuarial Value (AV) Calculator (XLSM)] represents an empirical estimate of the AV calculated in a manner that provides a close approximation to the actual average spending by a wide range of consumers in a standard population. This document is meant to detail the specific methodologies used in the AV calculation. This document is revised from the 2018 version to incorporate updates in the 2019 version."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

one in six Americans lives in what the group calls “economically distressed communities” that are “increasingly alienated from the benefits of the modern economy.” Such communities have high shares of poverty, many housing vacancies, a large proportion of adults without a high-school diploma, high joblessness, and a lower median income than the rest of the state in which they are located. They also lost jobs and businesses between 2011 and 2015.

“The lack of construction in coastal cities has forced people who are marginally educated and low-income to move inland,”

12/31: Look at the increase for drug costs

CMS Announces Marketplace Enrollment, Actuarial Value Calculator, and Medical Loss Ratios
"Despite all of the changes that [HHS] has proposed in its 2018 payment notice, HHS decided not to make major changes in the actuarial value calculator for 2019. It will increase claims costs projections for 2019, with a 5.4 percent increase for medical costs and an 11.5 percent increase for drug costs. The calculator also reflects increased out-of-pocket limits for 2019, which will be set finally by the payment notice but are projected for purposes of the calculator to be $8,000."

12/29:Basically, don't get sick


12/29: Say what you want about the great growth et al but recognize you CANNOT accept risk this high

The latest debt level is up 3.5% month-over-month. The November data gives us an additional sense of recent investor behavior

12/29: Also out of whack- though not bad

12/29   Introduction To Employee Stock Purchase Plans

ESPPs offer a very straightforward method of allowing employees to participate in the overall profitability of their employers.


12/28: Truck and railroad tonnage gives you an idea how good the economy may be doing

12/27: New Evidence on the Demand for Advice Within Retirement Plans
"Demand for advice on asset allocations and income planning increased four-fold among study participants after online advice tools were introduced.... Demand tends to be higher among plan contributors than non-contributors and is significantly higher among contributors with web access."


Steps to Help Seniors See the Need for Home Modifications