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

Knowledge makes obsolete the inequities that ignorance and prejudice justify
Errold. 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"  

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

 Target Date and Bond Funds

 Retirement Fiduciary Breach

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.


“It’s not the Fed’s job to stop people from losing money.”

Jay Powell- head of the Federal Reserve


6/21: Why people who are disabled give up on careers
Niamh Ní Hoireabhaird, has written a stirring piece on the everyday struggles of living with a disability. “Each day brings low-level difficulties that add up to an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and defeat,” she says. “It’s no wonder so many of us give up on our ambitions.”

EFM- If you have ever been disabled (26 years). give them the benefit of a doubt if they don't quite look the part,The old saying, 'whatever does not kill you makes you stronger;  Get real. You will be angry, frustrated, anxious. Sometimes you will not feel anything because the disability has left you numb, A lot of your life can get lost

6/21: How Many People Are Left From the Year You Were Born

Just scroll to your year and see the stats

6/21: Paul Tudor Jones- the next U.S. recession will be “frightening,” that “prices in stocks, real estate, anything” will revert to the mean, and we’ll have “to get back to a sustainable fiscal policy and that probably means the price of assets goes down in the very long run.”

6/21: I lived close to San Francisco for a long time.  For a tourist, a short stay is OK but a longer one will show some of the holes in society. .There are homeless at every major corner  begging for change. But this is really how bad the drugs have become. The BART system has installed a kiosk at the Civic Center station where addicts throw away their dirty needles. I doubt this will be in the travel brochures

6/21:Among all plan sizes, 73.7% offer a match, down from 74.7% the year before. There is a spread of 17 points between micro and mega plans when it comes to matches: 67.9% of micro plans offer them and 85.0% of mega plans do so.


Health care could account for 38 percent of state spending by 2025

By Marlene Satter

More money spent on health care will mean less spent on priorities such as education, transportation and public safety

EFM- We will still have mucho money for the military. And by 2025, there should be a beginning for flood control on almost all states bordering the ocean. This will cost trillions. We should have two more major huricane floods that will decimate large area that then should be "put out to pasture";. Somewhere in that time line, we might lose New Orleans so go in the next five years.

6/21: Opiods and more wilil be a main part of the problem. Marijuana issues will complicate the problem


6/21: That is a LOT of money.

$775 per kid, per night: Separating families at the border costs millions more than keeping them together

The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created "tent cities" is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings.

At those prices, the additional cost to operate a 400-bed temporary structure for one month at capacity would be more than $5 million. The average stay for separated kids is nearly two months.

6/21: Great stat

Manufacturing confidence is through the roof. The National Association of Manufacturers quarterly outlook published Tuesday showed 95.1% of manufacturers surveyed said they had a positive outlook for their companies, the highest in 20 years.

EFM- I bet it changes soon as a trade war is eminent.

6/21:Indexed Universal Life Sales rose by 8% in 2017 and represented 59% of all universal life sales.    

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy

Just like Merrill Lynch going back to commissions.

Admittedly things will not go back the way they were but it will be next to impossible to know what suitability and best interests really are. Will these rules work in the real world. They haven't so far.

6/21: Study this- there will be a quiz later. Pure technical analysis



by Gary D. Halbert

Our national debt has swelled to a record $21.16 trillion as of this writing. That includes debt held by the public ($15.4 trillion) and intra-governmental debt ($5.7 trillion). At $21+ trillion, our national debt is well above 100% of our Gross Domestic Product of $19.97 trillion.

EFM- you ain't seen nothin' yet

6/21: There are more guns than people in the United States,

6/20: S&P 500 Return Calculator, with Dividend Reinvestment

Pick any month to begin and end

6/19: Men not working:   (Bears repeating)

 The percentage of men who are neither working nor looking for work has risen substantially over the past several decades.

 every adult is put into one of three categories. Those who have a job are employed. Those who are not working but are searching for a job are unemployed. Those who are neither working nor looking for work are counted as out of the labor force.   This last group is ignored when calculating the unemployment rate

Among women, the share out of the labor force has fallen from 66 percent in 1950 to 43 percent today.

In 1950, 14 percent of men were out of the labor force. Today, that figure stands at 31 percent.

the tendency for advances in technology to enhance the productivity and wages of workers who have certain skills while reducing the demand for those who don’t. Unskilled workers are left with the choice of accepting lower wages or leaving the labor force. This hypothesis is consistent with the fact that labor force participation has fallen more for workers with lower levels of educational attainment.

 “75 percent of inactive prime-age men are in a household that received some form of government transfer payment.”

6/19: The one percenter holds most of the money

6/19:     Real Estate Worth Billions at Risk of Chronic Flooding   

More than 150,000 homes and businesses could face frequent high-tide flooding within 15 years. That could double by 2045.

Property losses in the United States could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars unless rapid action is taken to bring climate change under control, (not gonna happen)

Interactive graph Click to see other years 

If sea level rises more than 6 feet by the end of the century, UCS estimated that the homes of more than 4.7 million people will be at risk of chronic flooding. With commercial properties included, that's more than $1 trillion in value, and it doesn't take into account future development or rising property values.

Even with 4 feet of sea level rise, the homes of more than 2 million people, plus many commercial properties, are likely to face chronic flooding.

Climate change will increase the risk of simultaneous crop failures across the world's biggest corn-growing regions and lead to less of the nutritionally critical vegetables that health experts say people aren't getting enough of already.
the prospects of food shocks and malnutrition with unchecked global warming. While developing tropical countries would likely be hardest hit, the destabilizing financial effects could reach all corners of the globe,

Much of the world's corn goes into feeding livestock and making biofuels, and swings in production can ripple through global markets, leading to price spikes and food shortages, particularly for the 800 million people living in extreme poverty.  

With an increase of 4 degrees Celsius—close to where the current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory would take us by the end of this century—could cut U.S. corn production by nearly half.

Chart: Global warming increases risks to corn yields

When the researchers looked at the four biggest corn exporters—the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine—they found that the likelihood of all four suffering yield losses of 10 percent or more at the same time rises from about 7 percent at 2°C warming to 86 percent at 4°C warming.

Such simultaneous shocks in the top-producing regions, which are rare now, could have significant impacts on global markets and drive up the price of food.

People Lose Key Sources of Nutrition

Globally, about 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies linked to a lack of vegetable and legume consumption, while worldwide per capita consumption of vegetables and fruits is between 20 and 50 percent below recommended levels.

"Vegetables and legumes are vital components of a healthy, balanced and sustainable diet and nutritional guidelines consistently advise people to incorporate more vegetables and legumes into their diet," said Pauline Scheelbeek, the lead author of the study. "Our new analysis suggests, however, that this advice conflicts with the potential impacts of environmental changes that will decrease the availability of these important crops unless action is taken."

EFM- Life will become far more stressful as life simply gets tougher. Life expectancy should drop

This is an interactive chart   click to go to site

6/18:Social Security Strategy Calculator               FREE     Great Stuff

§ The calculator now reflects withholding (and eventual benefit adjustment) for the earnings test (i.e., for people receiving benefits and working while under full retirement age).

§ The default mortality table has been updated for the newly-released 2015 SSA period table. (It previously used the 2014 table, as that was the newest available until this month.)

§ The calculator now allows for the selection of a specific “I will die at” age rather than using a mortality table.

§ The calculator now allows for situations in which one of two spouses has already filed, in order to get a suggestion for the other spouse. (Important caveat: It does not currently have “voluntary suspension” functionality, so if the ideal solution is for the spouse who has already filed to suspend benefits at/after full retirement age, the calculator won’t know to suggest that.)

§ Now, when you load the page, the calculator automatically looks up the yield on 20-year TIPS to use as the default discount rate.

In the last two weeks, a common question about the calculator has been why it uses mortality tables (to calculate a probability of being alive in each given year) rather than simply assuming the user will die precisely at their life expectancy. The answer has to do with survivor benefits for married couples.

Specifically, assuming that each person will die at their expected date often results in an underestimation of the total amount of survivor benefits that are likely to be received — and that could cause the calculator to suggest a suboptimal strategy.

As one quick example, consider a husband and wife, each born 4/15/1960. The husband has PIA of $1,800, and the wife has PIA of $1,000. And let’s assume that they are in average health.

The calculator as it’s written now suggests that the husband files at 70 and the wife files at 62 and 3 months. The total present value of this strategy (i.e., the total amount of spending it can be expected to fund over their lifetimes) is $549,164, of which $102,742 comes from survivor benefits.

Now what if we instead do the analysis using fixed “death date” assumptions?

Well, if we look at the SSA 2015 period life table to find their life expectancies at age 62, we see that:

§ The husband has a life expectancy of age 82, and

§ The wife has a life expectancy of age 84.81.

If we used those as the fixed “death dates,” the calculator would be calculating for 2.81 years of survivor benefits.

If filing at 70 the husband has a retirement benefit of $2,232 per month. If filing at 62 and 3 months the wife has a retirement benefit of $712 per month. The difference between $2,232 and $712 is $1,520, which tells us that if the wife outlives the husband, she’ll get a survivor benefit of $1,520 per month — or $18,240 per year.

Multiply $18,240 by the “expected” 2.81 years, and we get a total survivor benefit of $51,254, before discounting for time value of money.

When we discount that back to age 62 with the 0.89% real rate the calculator is currently using, we get a PV of $42,399.

In other words, with this particular set of inputs, by assuming fixed dates of death, the calculator would only assign about 41% of the value ($42,399 rather than $102,742) to survivor benefits that it really should.

In some cases (depending on difference in ages, PIAs, etc) this might not matter much in terms of the suggested strategy. But in other cases it will be important. Accepting and accounting for uncertainty in death dates is, in general, useful.

Why Is There Such a Difference?

Even though each approach (year-by-year mortality, or fixed death date assumption) is using the same “expected” date at death, the year-by-year mortality approach accounts for scenarios in which there’s a long length of time where survivor benefits are relevant. For example, it accounts for a scenario in which the husband dies at 71 and the wife lives until 84. And a scenario in which the husband dies at 72 and the wife lives until 83. And a scenario in which the husband dies at 82 and the wife lives until 96, etc.

Each such scenario is unlikely, but when taken together they add up to a nontrivial probability. And in such scenarios, the payout for strategies that maximized survivor benefits is quite a bit higher than for strategies that did not do so. It would usually be a mistake not to take that into account

6/18: Another reason civilization might perish. Clean water will grow in scarcity as more and more people populate our planet. 1,5 billion more people by 2050. Where does the food come from? And the water might dry up in many areas due to the climate change. Then what???

Deadly Tensions Rise as India’s Water Supply Runs Dangerously Low

Some 600 million Indians, about half the population, face high to extreme water scarcity conditions, with about 200,000 dying every year from inadequate access to safe water,

Trump has about 3 months from meeting to see what North Korea will do in regards to the stopping of war games.
It better be significant
That said, the Nuclear Clock probably dropped back a bit. But if NK does essentially nothing, the risk goes right back up

Do not mistake the above as a meeting that should not have occurred.  I was all for it. But it needs a lot more than a photo op. Right now the US has given up a lot

6/18: For every article talking about the price of oil falling, there is another totally different article touting the fact that oil will reach $100. And it has been going on for a least several weeks

Oil hits its lowest level in over 2 months. West Texas Intermediate crude oil has touched $63.59 a barrel, its lowest since April 10, as the OPEC cartel of oil producers mulls a production hike of up to 600,000 barrels a day,

6/17: Disturbing before-and-after images show how major Wall Street banks could be flooded by 2100

You will find additional commentary on this issue below. Go to the site above and it will show just how bad it could get. By 2050 they will do the costs and I bet they will find there is no way to protect properties like this. It would take trillions.And billions for New Orleans. And billions more all over the country.. Not with several more millions of US population (a total of 1.5 billion in the world)  by/2050 and hundreds of thousands more old people needing care.  . Cannot be done. Somewhere along the line life expectancy will DROP.

Real estate values will start to really drop in the next 5 to 10 years. It will be impossible to buy something and amortize the cost over 30/40 hold with a final value of, quite possibly, zero


Oil prices crashed on Friday as markets turned their focus to the threat of over supply, with not even a supply outage in Libya able to rebalance the market

6/16: ESG investment (Environmental, Social,  Governance Investing going through the roof

ESG investment assets

6/16:As Mexico’s election day approaches, at least 100 politicians murdered
From just across the border to most of South America: graft. drugs. murder. Not worth the effort to try to invest.

6/15: Excellent 35 minute video by Ben Bernanke June 2018 discussing quantitative easing all the way up to his prognosis of the interest rate increases. Highly recommended


6/15: Regulator Jurisdiction and Investment Adviser Misconduct

The Dodd-Frank Act shifted regulatory jurisdiction of mid-size investment advisers from the SEC to state securities regulators for exogenous reasons. We find client complaints increased 60% for affected advisers relative to those continuing under federal oversight. Awarded damages doubled and denial rates dropped 10%. Complaints increased more for advisers with more past complaints and those serving older, less-educated populations. Advisers further from and under more resource-constrained regulators saw more complaints. Our results suggest an increase in actual misconduct due changes in regulatory jurisdiction and that differences across regulators is partly driven by resource constraints.


"Who Benefits from Productivity Growth? Direct and Indirect Effects of Local TFP Growth on Wages, Rents, and Inequality" Fee Download
NBER Working Paper No. w24661

RICHARD HORNBECK, University of Chicago - Booth School of Business
University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics

We estimate the local and aggregate effects of total factor productivity growth on US workers' earnings, housing costs, and purchasing power. Drawing on four alternative instrumental variables, we consistently find that when a city experiences productivity gains in manufacturing, there are substantial local increases in employment and average earnings. For renters, increased earnings are largely offset by increased cost of living; for homeowners, the benefits are substantial. Strikingly, local productivity growth reduces local inequality, as it raises earnings of local less-skilled workers more than the earnings of local more-skilled workers. This is due, in part, to lower geographic mobility of less-skilled workers.However, local productivity growth also has important general equilibrium effects through worker mobility. We estimate that 38% of the overall increase in workers' purchasing power occurs outside cities directly affected by local TFP growth. The indirect effects on worker earnings are substantially greater for more-skilled workers, due to greater geographic mobility of more-skilled workers, which increases inequality in other cities. Neglecting these general equilibrium effects would both understate the overall magnitude of benefits from productivity growth and misstate their distributional consequences.Overall, US workers benefit substantially from productivity growth. Summing direct and indirect effects, we find that TFP growth from 1980 to 1990 increased purchasing power for the average US worker by 0.5-0.6% per year from 1980 to 2000. These gains do not depend on a worker's education; rather, the benefits from productivity growth mainly depend on where workers live.

6/15: Portfolio Pumping in Mutual Fund Families

I document portfolio pumping at the fund family level, a strategy that non-star fund managers buy stocks held by star funds in the family to inflate their performance at the quarter end. Families that heavily employ the strategy show strong evidence of inflated performance after 2002, when the SEC increased regulation on portfolio pumping at the fund level. The result suggests that mutual fund families shifted the pumping strategy from fund to family level. Moreover, the strategy of family-level pumping targets stocks buried deep down in star fund portfolios and not commonly held by competitors. Furthermore, I find stock level evidence that supports the strategy of family-level pumping. Stocks pumped the most by such strategy show abnormally high returns at quarter end, following a reversal in the next trading days. Non-star fund managers pumping for star funds in the family receive 1.8% ($24 million) more inflows per quarter, conditional on the performance.


"Death by Pokémon Go: The Economic and Human Cost of Using Apps While Driving" Fee Download
NBER Working Paper No. w24308

MARA FACCIO, Purdue University - Krannert School of Management, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI), National University of Singapore (NUS) - Asian Bureau of Finance and Economic Research (ABFER)
Purdue University

Using police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and exploiting the introduction of the augmented reality game Pokémon GO as a natural experiment, we document a disproportionate increase in crashes and associated vehicular damage, injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations where users can play the game while driving. We estimate the incremental county-wide cost of users playing Pokémon GO while driving to be in the range of $5.2 to $25.5 million over the 148 days following the introduction of the game. Extrapolating these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2.0 to $7.3 billion.

6/15: Pizza potholes- and absolute brilliance

A little town back east- and thousands of others like it across the U.S. have little cash to properly maintain roads and so potholes are a BIG problem. So Dominos's comes along and offers $5,000 to help fix the roads and they put down a little picture on the pothole. Some people harped on the offer because it mixes politics and business and this and that. But I bet a LOT of other people like the idea that their front end stays more stable      , etc, etc. If corporations want to take on infrastructure repair- which we desperately need but cannot afford- I say go for it..

Best advertisement and marketing gimmick that truly helps cities.  Not too often stuff like this comes along.

6/14: This is why our civilization will end badly. Understandably the U.S. cannot police everywhere but when millions around the world are sentenced to death, the fighters keep fighting.
8 million are on the brink of starvation in Yemen.
That means the United States, which already has been supplying its two allies with intelligence, refueling and munitions, will be complicit if the result is what aid officials say it could be: starvation, epidemics and other human suffering surpassing anything the world has seen in decades.

EFM- The divisiveness seen in all areas since 2000 has gotten worse. If the world  cannot get its act together- and I do not think we can, these acts of genocide will undercut human decency at many levels. One main reason why is  the projection of another 1.5 billion people by 2050. All the stresses and strains will go up exponentially- certainly when the lack of food and water makes living like a game of loaded dice. The rich will win out.

Here is a recent article on where the money is: The fifth edition of the Global Metro Monitor finds that the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies expanded faster than the global economy overall, reflecting the concentration of growth and prosperity in urban areas across all regions of the world.

6/14: Another fed raise

Borrowing costs for consumers have risen as the Federal Reserve continues to tighten monetary policy, with interest rates on home, auto and credit-card loans reaching multiyear highs in recent months.

6/14:More than 6 in 10 American children were enrolled in CHIP or Medicaid in 2017

In 2017, 46.3 million children in the United States were enrolled at one point in one of the two programs, a number that totals more than 60 percent of the more than 74 million children in the United States.

EFM- not  a clue that it was this widespread


6/14: Nevada by the Sea

Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade

Antarctica’s melting ice sheet is now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.

EFM. It was probably going to cost at least a trillion dollars by  the end of the Century to save New Orleans, New York, Florida, New Jersey from inundation. Now take that amount and squeeze it in to the next 30 years..........
We are going to lose a lot of land and have effectively no money to pay for dikes, etc considering the huge deficit we are piling on already and another big recession coming up.

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens 23% on Weak Revenue Growth

6/14:Check your policy
If you have, say, a water heater that 'busts' and sends a deluge that causes significant damage, it is probably covered by your homeowners insurance. But if you have a small leak that was not fixed when known, the damage may not be covered.

6/14: Got an annuity with a lot of taxable income?
Consider a 1035 exchange to an annuity that offers long term care coverage. Funds removed for LTC are not taxable

6/14: Kahneman says a regret minimization might be around 10%.

You will need to read the short article first.

“We had people try to imagine various scenarios, in general, bad scenarios,” Kahneman explained. “The question was, at what point do you think that you would want to bail out? That you would want to change your mind?”

It turns out, according to Kahneman, that most of the people — even very wealthy people — are extremely loss averse.

“There is a limit to how much money they’re willing to put at risk,” he said. “You ask, ‘How much fortune are you willing to lose?’ Quite frequently you get something on the order of 10%.”

My Process described above (patent pending) is 12% for recessions, It only works on mutual funds and ETFs

6/13: A reply to Journalist Melanie Waddell regarding article on Galvin against Scottstrade.

RE: Galvin/fiduciary, May 10, 2018

I have taught most of the securities and insurance courses, real estate; done personal financial planning for individuals, arbitration, expert witness, 40 years’ experience and on and on. (See and definitely check out Daily Commentary which covers the entire gamut of personal planning and economic issues.) The book I wrote in 2011, Financial Planning Fiduciary Standards under Dodd Frank, goes through a litany of subject areas that are not required for licensing.

My point is this: How can there be a rule if the SEC has never required that brokers, Registered Investment Advisers (and insurance agents) have NEVER been required to have and know how to use a personal financial calculator????? The word ‘financial adviser’ clearly implies a competency to do miscellaneous calculations that a software program does not encompass or even address. (See also which provides additional insight.)

Galvin is correct in applying elements of a fiduciary to advisors since, at the very core, you cannot be a financial advisor or any fiduciary unless you can do formulas outside the scope of the planning software. And there are nil advisers that know the inputs and calculations of planning software in any case.

What this really boils down to is that the inability with a financial calculator belies the Best Interest rule, Suitability et al. Cases can be brought simply stating the obvious- brokers cannot even try to hide by the suitability rule because without the capability herein addressed, they have very little idea what they are doing and therefore a great portion of their sales and marketing would be corrupt. And managers of a B/D do not have such capability since nothing is required for a series 24 et al.

Very Truly



6/13: ALS caregivers

Cynthia Knoche is the director of Chapter Care Services for the ALS Association. She says caregivers face both emotional and physical challenges when caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with an illness with no significant treatment or cure. “It can be devastating for the person diagnosed and their loved ones; however, many tools, techniques and therapies are available to maintain quality of life,” Knoche says.

A caregiver can work with their loved one to acknowledge that significant changes in physical function and financial requirements are on the horizon, she explains. This allows both parties to develop a plan for future needs that is realistic and a reasonable adjustment to important goals. Knoche says that intimate relationships are cultivated during the times of physical challenges, and that a caregiver should encourage a loved one to participate in the activities they love, even if adjustments to time, place or duration must be considered.

“ALS progresses at a different rate in everyone,” she adds. “Embrace the successful quality of life experienced at each stage of the journey.”

Knoche explains that caregivers must recognize that frustration, depression, anxiety and exhaustion are common emotions for those with ALS, and especially as the disease progresses. Many of these arise when physical abilities decrease and the need for assistance increases.

She recommends caregivers learn about the equipment and assistive technology available. One option is to connect with a local ALS chapter or ALS Certified Treatment Center for advice. These technologies are there to support the caregiver, as well as the loved one, she notes. “Be proactive; investigate and acquire equipment before it becomes an urgent issue,” Knoche says.

Caregivers must consider equipment which keeps them safe, but also find balance in their own daily lives while caring for someone with ALS. She says communication is key, and that discussing personal needs with the loved one is just a first step in self-care. Another is cultivating an awareness of physical, emotional or relational stress signals, then trying new methods of relaxation. She says maintaining a sense of self is part of a caregiver’s job, as is asking for support from family, friends and community. “Recognize priorities may change multiple times during this journey,” Knoche explains. “Accommodate the here and now.”

She says a caregiver’s quality of life in turn contributes to a better quality of life for a loved one with ALS. It also helps a loved one feel as less of a burden, and brings more consistent care, hopefulness and better communication with everyone involved.

When asked for five best tips for caregivers of those with ALS, Knoche offers the following:

  1.  Recognize an ALS diagnosis impacts the entire family, work and social network of a loved one.
  2.  Acknowledge the progressive nature of ALS, and develop a strategy for how to cope with changes.
  3. Identify challenges, investigate options and choose a plan of action or accommodation. If it doesn’t work, change it.
  4. Accommodate the increased amount of time needed for everything in your daily schedule.
  5. And finally,-  Accept help.
6/13: Interesting

    3 Yrs | 150% Participation | Euro Exposure

Issuer: Citigroup




    Fee Based Income Note (CUSIP 17324CWB8) :

  • 95% partial protection (5% max loss, if index down 6%, note loses 5%)
  • 150% participation
  • Payment at maturity, point to point

    Underlying: SX5E    

    Close Date: 6/14/2018


6/13: Interest  hikes and recessions



“How Does Divorce Affect Retirement Security?”

by Alicia H. Munnell, Wenliang Hou, and Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher

The brief’s key findings are:

  • While the divorce rate is no longer rising, about 40 percent of marriages still end in divorce.
  • The financial costs can be high: a divorcing couple pays legal fees, may need to sell illiquid assets, and has to cover the costs of two – rather than one – residence.
  • Not surprisingly, the analysis finds that households with a past divorce are much more likely to be at risk for maintaining their standard of living in retirement.
  • Interestingly, for one divorced group – single women – the impact is negligible, perhaps because higher child care costs are offset by retaining the house as an asset.
6/13: Cleaning house? Use a robot? So think CITI

Citi staff replaced by robots? 

Robots could replace as many as 10,000 human jobs at the banking giant Citi within five years, its president told the Financial Times.

"We've got 20,000 operational roles. Over the next five years could you make it 10,000?" Jamie Forese, the president of Citi and chief executive of the bank's institutional clients group, told the Financial Times in an interview.

Forese said the most likely areas for automation were in technology and operations, which accounts for almost 40% of the headcount at Citi's investment-banking arm. Forese described these roles as the "most fertile for machine processing."

EFM- So there is the future for many, many firms. And the displaced personnel will get jobs......WHERE?  McDonalds? Nope- they will be using robots. Some 'experts' suggest that the robots will need handlers. Agreed. Maybe one human per 50 robots or per 100.

There goes job security and the low unemployment. It might just be 5 years when a lot of this starts. Then it just will escalate far beyond current expectations

6/13: Trump doesn't ask the G6 on inviting Putin. Naughty. Doesn't tell South Korea and Japan that he will stop 'war games" Stupid Sure it will save money but it will destabilize that section of the world until denuclearization is initiated very, very quickly..

​ ​

LNG exports have increased sharply around the world, after the inauguration of a series of export terminals in the past five years. 

-    Global trade in LNG rose to 38.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, a 10 percent increase from the year before. It was also the largest annual increase on record at 3.5 Bcf/d. 

-    The gains were led by the U.S. and Australia, two countries that have seen a wave of investment in LNG export projects.

6/13: Twenty-Three Percent Fewer Employers Are Offering Life Insurance to Their Workers

 In 2017, only 48 percent of employers offered life insurance to their workers, a 23 percent decline from 2006. This continues a steady of decline in employer-sponsored life insurance since 2006 (chart 1).

While access to employer-sponsored life insurance has declined, employees continue to recognize the value of life insurance.

EFM- I can understand some recent difficulties with Dodd Frank and the fiduciary difficulties but nothing comes to mind as a problem back to 2006

5/13:IMF says clouds over the global economy are 'darker by the day.' The International Monetary Fund head, Christine Lagarde, on Monday said the "biggest and darkest cloud" over the global economy was the risk of eroded confidence "by attempts to challenge the way in which trade has been conducted, in which relationships have been handled, and the way in which multilateral organizations have been operating."

EFM- she is right but it won't sink in to Trump.

6/13: The trouble with HOPE

I had a strained relationship with hope before my wife was diagnosed with cancer. To me, hope was a high waiting for a low, a fix with a nasty flip-side. Far from the precious entity exalted by legions of poets and philosophers, hope was just another coordinate on the pain/pleasure cycle existing in infinite balance with its opposite. In the same way that happiness alternates with sadness, or desire with loss, hope alternates with fear. One requires that the other exist. Hope was for suckers, and I was no sucker.

Or so I reasoned. The times I didn’t need hope, that is. But when life would clobber me over the head with misfortune, there I was, clinging to hope like a dear, misunderstood friend.

Since my wife’s diagnosis, however, my relationship with hope is no longer strained. It’s been severed completely. I’ve abandoned hope and in the process, have met a new friend—peace.

To abandon hope is to trample the plotline of feel-good movies, to renounce the rhetoric of sweating preachers, and to earn puzzled looks from hopers everywhere. Hope soothes and inspires. It builds churches and sells books. Hope is widely thought to be the last coin in our pocket, the one thing we can never afford to lose.

But what is hope, exactly? What does it look like away from the flickering glow of votive candles?

Isn’t hope just wishful thinking? Isn’t it just slapping a happy ending on an unhappy beginning?

We want to be happy all the time, and why not? It beats sad, lonely, and a host of other unpleasant but inevitable human conditions. When we’re not happy, we hope. We paint a bright future with our thoughts and wait for it to materialize. However rickety, this logic makes just enough sense to ease a frightened mind.

Implicit in hopeful thinking is the mistaken notion that we are separate entities existing outside the flow of an exquisitely connected universe, that we are as in control of our destinies as we are our individual retirement accounts. Hope is our silent prayer that misfortune is meant for one of the other six and a half billion people in the world, but not us.

In small doses, hope is not toxic. It only nips or stings. When our home team loses, when no one asks us to dance, when we tear up lottery tickets, our hopes are dashed and we’re left to survey the space between our expectations and reality. That space grows into an abyss for those attempting to stall reality with hopeful thoughts during times of peril. Thoughts eventually dissolve, while reality stands pat. We blink, and it’s still there. Rays of hope meant to banish our darkest fears in the end only illuminate them, and we crumple into a state of surrender. Anyway, I did.

Surrender was where I stumbled into peace. I didn’t give up on life—I just stopped trying to outwit it. Surrender meant discarding the idea that life is always supposed to be wonderful; it’s just supposed to be life.

Time spent hoping for happier days is time spent turning away from life in its infinite poses of glory—the elegant curve of my wife’s newly hairless head, the game smile poking through her fatigued expression, the mountain of get well cards rising above a sea of orange pill bottles. Beauty borne from tragedy acquires a sacred dimension that can only be witnessed by a surrendered mind—a mind that isn’t chasing after the next happy face moment.

To picture my wife with hair again, to imagine her digging in the garden or strutting back off to work is to add time where none is needed—to ignore the beauty right under my nose, and to allow futile hope to intrude on an otherwise peaceful day.

John Ptacek is a caregiver for his wife who is living with ovarian cancer. You can read more of his essays on his Web site

6/12: Alzheimers

Pharma giants AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly have scrapped two late-stage trials of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug they were co-developing

EFM_ this on the heels of the same thing with three other firms in the last 6 months. Nothing can reverse the steady decline of the brain

6/12: the rating of the company was not shown but it gives an idea of how fixed rates have gone up in 2018. These are walkaway annuities. Hold for the period and simply pick up the money

3.60% Guaranteed for





3.85% Guaranteed for


6/12: I can count- or can I????

here are the ways humans are known to assess numbers. Below five, we’re able to subitize, or rapidly judge numbers of items without counting. Between six and ten, we count. Above ten, we estimate, with decreasing accuracy.

6/12: Mutual fund fees at ZERO?????

Since 2000 the average annual mutual-fund fee has fallen by more than a third. For funds that track a stock index, the average fee is now less than 0.1%, but even that is too high. That fraction of a percentage point means real money over time. If you invest $10,000 in a mutual fund today, and the stock market rises 6% a year, a 0.09% expense ratio will cost you more than $1,500 over three decades.

In 2000 index funds made up 7.5% of equity mutual-fund assets. In 2017 they accounted for more than 21%. The rise of index investing means fewer Americans are paying sizable fees to portfolio managers, who generally fail to beat the market. This trend has reduced expense ratios significantly.

mutual funds are increasingly finding that they can generate income from nonfee sources. In fiscal 2017, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund earned more than 63% of its expenses by lending securities. The demand for securities loans has limits, but growth in that market will allow an increasing number of funds to offset some or all of their expenses through loan income.

While free funds won’t solve America’s retirement-savings problems, they could make a meaningful difference. American workers typically pay tens of thousands of dollars in fees over a lifetime of saving for retirement.

EFM- free?? not in real life. What I am referring to is that over a three decade period there will be 3 to 4 recessions. Each with a loss of, say, 50%. on the S&P (I do not think that unreasonable given an entirely new world technical order that started around 1995 with the advent of personal computers and the internet. And economics in upheaval with the same type of risks- probably greater (much like the weather). So the average investor (average means not a clue to what to knowledgeably ?pick view a fund over time) is going to do what. Use a free balanced fund?. For at least the first 10 years the bond side is going to be hurt due to raises in interest rates. Maybe a zero return (people with little money will not be privy to offsetting tactics). The equities side might produce 6%- maybe 7%. Only to what- lose 50% of the value? Say 4 times over 30 years? That is not good investing but the industry has settled as fait compli the 50% loss where little that can be done- certainly for the bulk of workers who have little funds to entice an adviser. .The amount to be lost(?) in the worst case scenario is about 12%..
Yes I will describe it more fully- hopefully very shortly. I am way behind but intend to put the second phase of the Process up later this week. the third phase describes how to get a better return with far less risk. No  smoke and mirrors. Really!!!

6/12: Yield curve-
EFM- In the past, the inverted curve has been essentially a 100% indicator of an upcoming recession. Doesn't say when (generally around 12 to 14 months). nor how bad nor how long. And it seems to be viable only in America.  . But caution is advised due to the 'new' economics of funneling huge amounts on dollars into the economy to get it going again. Might that screw up the 100%?? Possibly. But one must stay on the lookout.

"The difference between three and four rate increases may not matter much to investors, who expect rates to keep rising next year. But it matters a lot for the yield curve, which is edging closer toward inverting, the situation in which short-term rates are higher than long-term rates. That is a longstanding signal that a recession is coming."

6/12: How many do not have access to an employer retirement plans

There’s some debate over just how many working Americans don’t have access to a retirement plan at work – “more than half” is the number that the uninformed bandy about, but even the arguably more precise estimates indicate that it’s a significant number.

 when workers have access to a plan at work, they are much more likely to save – 12 times more likely, in fact.

6/11: This rebuttal of our 'friends' and the clear admiration for Russia and (quite probably) Kim Jong Un will cause a recession before 2020. Now, if the meeting with North Korea goes south, it could get even worse as he becomes so livid with not getting a decent a nice photo op that the world will be in a quandary as to what Trump will do next- and then change his mind. The G"6" will try to go it alone- but Europe is still in the doldrums and may not be able to go forward. This will greatly impede America towards any decent agreements and the lack of better trade (actually just the smell of a trade war) will stifle our economy and bring us into a morass at least as bad as 2008.
I suppose a 'great' agreement with North Korea might change things. But consider this- Trump's belligerence with the G7 has cost him a lot of press points going into the meeting and Un can probably figure he can push Trump for all he is worth (which also seems to be in error) to get more on his side as Trump might cave a bit just to get the PHOTO he wants (and now definitely needs) to put him back on some podium showing he is worthy of the global stage. 

Then there is this- he says he can size up Kim in one minute. Really? Then what happened with Trudeau? Didn't he see that coming? Maybe he needs a few more minutes/hours/weeks/months before he can come to terms with being wrong and boorish and acting like a jerk. I do not dispel that Trump has some attributes but after this much time, most of the good stuff may very well get buried in an onslaught of an economy that might go to pieces much earlier than expected and cost Americans twice again of their previous financial loss and emotional anxiety.  .

He looks like a deer in the headlights

6/11: Long term care- It is estimated that 70% of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives.2 One year in a private room in a nursing home care costs $105,645 today and is projected to reach $245,649 in 20 years.3
A 2016 survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute found that four out of five people cannot estimate how much they will have to pay for health care in retirement, even though nearly three-fourths say out-of-control health care costs are one of their top retirement fears.4
the average retired couple now spends about $15,000 a year on health care, of which more than half goes to Medicare premiums, and they will spend somewhere between $259,000 and $395,0005 over the course of their retirement, depending on their lifespan and health conditions.6

6/11:Social Security program’s expenditures will outstrip its income.
The gap will be $1.7 billion this year (including interest income to the trust fund) and is projected to grow in the years to come, depleting the program’s nearly $3 trillion in reserves by 2034.


6/11: Target date funds

Target date funds accounted for 20.4 percent of the assets in large 401(k) and other defined contribution plans last year, according to Pensions & Investments. That’s up from 18.4 percent in 2016 and 16.8 percent in 2015, according to Pensions & Investments.

Fidelity Investments said that 49.1 percent of workers in the plans it administers were invested in a single target-date fund in the first quarter. For Millennials, that number was 67.5 percent. Overall, 30.2 percent of its plan assets were in these funds.

Vanguard found that average annual employee-elective deferrals have remained steady — oscillating between 6.8% and 7% of pay — since 2008. The estimate for last year was 6.8%. The median deferral rate has been 6% each year.

6/11: 10 comments about retirement

(Target Risk are balanced funds)

If you have enough money to put away to match/exceed the net amount (gross minus social security and the like) needed for retirement, fine. Other wise TDF are still all over the place with stock/bond splits and can hurt you considerably. Main reason is that bonds right now do not pay well and will lose more as rates rise. If your stuck with a lot of stock with the next recession, you can lose from 40% to 60%.
If you are 55, 30 years to live, you should expect 3 to 5 recessions. Do you just leave money to volatility and active management?  Will target risk work in recessions and good times- no, not with rebalancing. See Edesess

See my article on Target date funds at top of page. They can work but not as advertised

It is good that they are not trading all the time. But if 401k education was any good, it would not occur. Can't always blame employees doing the wrong thing if there is not formal guidelines on what works- and does not- in the real world.

Still my commentary on TDFs. They are marketed as the be all and end all and if you can save enough throughout the bad times, I do  not have much aversion.  But once you are on the cusp of finds needed or are under, it is better to use the method in my patent pending 4 phase Process.  The Process is up for bid= we will see what happens. I will give more detail soon but I am really backed up with some work

Autoenrollment is the way to go- certainly to 'force' new employees to save enough to get the matching amount by employer. The slowdown might have been due to the supposed law that any advisor act as a fiduciary so no one was sure how to proceed.


That is a huge difference and absolutely valid to 'push' on new employees. Admittedly what to invest in is the issue up for research

I beg limited knowledge why it doesn't work for smaller firms. Seems to be it should be less expensive.

That is the way to go.


I understand to discourage rampant trading- absolutely necessary since few know what they are doing no matter the 'insight' from TD Ameritrade and so on. But the reality of TDFs through all economies is missing. They are NOT the panacea people think.

6/10: Single retirees

According to LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute’s analysis of the Federal Reserve Board’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finance data, there are 7.6 million single pre-retirees and retirees aged 55 or older in the U.S. with investable assets of $100,000 or more — nearly two-thirds of them are single women. In addition, single pre-retirees and retirees control $6 trillion in investable assets.

Single Women Retirees Feel Less Confident

A new LIMRA SRI study of more than 1,100 single retirees with annual incomes of at least $35,000 finds single retirees — particularly single women retirees — feel less secure about their financial security in retirement and are more concerned about outliving their savings than those who are married or have partners. These concerns are more pronounced with single women retirees. More than 4 in 10 single retired women worry that their savings and investments will not last if they live to be 90 years old, compared with just 3 in 10 single retired men.

Apart from higher longevity risks — especially for women — there are other reasons for low retirement confidence: (1) single retirees may have no one to rely on; (2) single retirees spend proportionately more of their income on essential expenses such as housing, food and utilities than couples do; and (3) many single retirees do not own their primary residences. The study shows that many single retired women underestimated their expected expenses primarily because of higher expenditures for housing and the need to provide financial support to (mostly younger) family members.

 6/10: The Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that 123 people die by suicide every day

6/10: Claiming Social Security early could lead to poverty later in life

About 4.3 million of the 18 million workers in the 55-64 age bracket are likely to live in poverty once they reach 65,

6/10: Argentina gets a big fat loan. Is kicking the can overtaking what happened in Europe????

The International Monetary Fund has come to Argentina’s rescue. The country has agreed to a $50bn financing deal with the fund. The size of the loan was a pleasant surprise for investors, who had speculated it would be closer to $30bn. But markets were still lower ahead of a potentially fraught G7 summit on Friday in Canada.

Argentine president Mauricio Macri’s $50bn bet comes with a price, writes our Latin America editor, primarily the IMF’s conditions. John Authers takes a wider look at emerging markets under strain, including Brazil’s currency coming under remorseless attack.

EFM_ I gave up on South America a long time ago. Too much ineptness coupled with graft

6/9: Needs repeating women now receive more bachelor’s and master’s degrees globally than their male counterparts? In the United States, they also receive more doctoral degrees. women also have high emotional intelligence. In a quantitative review involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures, researchers found that women are more sensitive, considerate and humble than men — “arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences

6/9:Homes in America are selling at a record pace. The amount of time from list to sale fell to 64 days in April from 77 days a year ago, the shortest amount of time since Trulia started keeping track in 2010.
EFM- a bubble????

6/8: Alzheimers

According to a U.S.-based survey, nearly 50% of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are already in the moderate to severe stages when diagnosed.


See below for common symptoms associated with moderate and severe stages of the disease.




An image of a clipboard

Symptoms of
Moderate to Severe AD


Moderate Stage



Wandering or getting lost


Forgetfulness about one's own personal history


Continuously repeating stories


Severe Stage



May not recognize oneself or family


Groaning, moaning, or grunting


Needing help with all activities of daily living


For more information on moderate and severe Alzheimer’s symptoms, click here.


Learn More About A Treatment Option >




Suicide rates are rising sharply in most of the U.S. In 2016, there were more than twice as many suicides than homicides.

Suicide rates increased in 49 states between 1999 and 2016, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increases were seen across sex, age, race and ethnicity. In half of all states, the increase was 30 percent or more.

In 2016, there were almost 45,000 suicides in the United States — more than twice the number of homicides. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death overall in America, and the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34.

Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, called the data “disturbing” and said, “the widespread nature of the increase, in every state but one, really suggests that this is a national problem hitting most communities.”

EFM- Separately. 22/24 members of the armed forces commit suicide every day.

6/8: there are 7.6 million single pre-retirees and retirees aged 55 or older in the U.S. with investable assets of $100,000 or more — nearly two-thirds of them are single women. In addition, single pre-retirees and retirees control $6 trillion in investable assets.

6/7:Report links early Social Security claiming to poverty

Early claiming of Social Security benefits coincides with an increase in poverty and income inequality among the elderly, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research. A 1961 law change that lets people claim at age 62 has reduced Social Security income in male-headed retired households by a median 3%, while retirees in the lowest quarter of income distribution has seen a 4% reduction,

6/7: Let's go for a ride

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that in 2016, 44% of fatally-injured drivers with known results tested positive for drugs, up from 28% just 10 years prior. More than half of these drivers had marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two in their system.

6/7" Great video on bonds (45min) by PIMCO. Stuff on active and passive you have never heard but are relatively easy to comprehend. Highly recommended 


“Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2018 Update in Perspective”

by Alicia H. Munnell

The brief's key findings are:

  • The 2018 Trustees Report shows virtually no change:
    • Social Security’s 75-year deficit ticked up from 2.83 percent to 2.84 percent of payroll.
    • Trust fund exhaustion is still 2034, after which payroll taxes still cover about three quarters of promised benefits.
  • This shortfall is manageable, but action should be taken soon to equitably share the burden among cohorts, restore public confidence, and give people time to adjust.
  • One concern is whether the declining fertility rate is a lingering effect of the Great Recession or a permanent shift that could worsen Social Security’s finances.

This brief is available here.

6/7: More bubbles to pop globally????

Toronto home sales plunged 22% in May — and it shows the city's housing bubble is getting serious

Toronto home sales plunged 22% in May compared to a year ago, to 7,834 homes. The irony is that “housing affordability” is fundamentally impacted by prices and interest rates.

That's not photoshop- it's an actual drawing on the pavement with chalk

6/6: Jobs
The United States lost nearly 8.7 million jobs in the Great Recession and its aftermath. It has gained 18.9 million since then — a powerful rebound that belied fears of another “jobless recovery.” (Net growth was needed just to keep pace with the working-age population, which has increased by about 10 million during the same period.)

6/6: I thought that the PBGC would do better as the economy improved. Report: Pension insurance fund might be insolvent in 7 years

A report from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. says there's a more than 90% chance that its Multiemployer Insurance Program will run out of money by the end of fiscal 2025. The PBGC's Single-Employer Program is in better shape, according to the report, and is expected to emerge from deficit sometime in fiscal 2019.

6/6 TDFsTDF Investor Behavior Improves, But Allocation Mistakes Remain Common

"Vanguard reports that more than half of 401(k) participants are now invested in a single target-date fund (TDF), compared to only 13% just a decade years ago.... Vanguard researchers estimate that 77% of the participants on the firm's recordkeeping platform will be invested in a single TDF by 2022.... [W]hen constructing their own retirement portfolios, about 10% of participants still tend to hold extreme allocations -- defined here as holding either 0% or 100% equities in a retirement-focused portfolio."

EFM- But TDFs go to bonds as investor gets older. With returns being nil (still) this can be a recipe for disaster if any shortfall occurred (recessions) This appears to be very  bad planning

6/6: If one acts under DOL rules via retirement plans they will be treated as fiduciaries How Brokers and Retirement Plan Consultants Differ

"Investment brokers, who collectively still advise millions of plan sponsors nationwide, play a relatively narrow role in managing retirement plans. Their focus, essentially, is limited to selecting the investments that optimize returns given the details of the plan itself. Under the proposed DOL fiduciary rule, any financial professional advising retirement plans would also have to assume the responsibility of fiduciary.... In addition to sharing the same fund selection responsibilities taken on by brokers, consultants can also advise plan sponsors on how to maintain regulatory compliance, increase plan participation and minimize risk for participants. Consultants are co-fiduciaries."

6/6: Medicare trust fund will run out of money in 2025.

6/6 Not reviewedTips on Choosing a Major -

Top Accredited Online Colleges -

Guidebook to Surviving Freshman Year -

Guide to Visiting and Choosing a College -

ACT Resource Guide -

6/6: Macron's priceless comment about talking with Trump. Really funny

‘You’re better off not knowing’
  Mr Macron said that his phone calls with Donald Trump and other world leaders are just like sausages: better not explain what’s inside.
His comments were in response to a CNN report saying that a phone call between Mr Macron and Mr Trump last week had been “terrible”.

6/6: Millennials  are overtaking everyone and particularly in developing nations

6/6: Social Security- don't know why it took so long in addressing lower returns

For the first time since 1982, Social Security this year will have to tap into its nearly $3T trust fund to cover benefits of the program. That is three years sooner than expected a year ago, partly due to lower economic growth projections, according to the latest annual report. The program's income comes from tax revenue and interest from its trust fund.

6/6: An Analysis of Retirement Models to Improve Portability and Coverage


To better understand the challenges of the 401(k) system and its coverage and to assess possible strategies to improve it, this report presents a three-part analysis. The first part focuses on 401(k)s and documents the extent and nature of portability, the flow of money to IRAs, and leakage from both systems. It summarizes resulting problems and potential solutions. But beyond the existing 401(k) system, a coverage gap remains. So, the second part of the analysis identifies the nature of the coverage gap among wage and salary employees and assesses proposed solutions. But these solutions would not affect the 16 percent of workers in non-standard employment. Therefore, the third part of the analysis looks at options for covering these workers.

The objective of this report is to assess and present a wide – though not comprehensive – range of available options by examining and summarizing existing proposals and, where relevant, examples from other countries.

6/6: Aphasia

  • You ask your spouse for a plate, and he hands you a cup.
  • Your spouse seems to get “stuck” on the same word or phrase.
  • Your spouse can say words, but her sentences don’t make sense.

That’s Aphasia: a language disorder that results from damage to parts of the brain. It can affect all modes of language including speaking, writing, gesturing, understanding what others say, understanding writing, and using numbers. Aphasia often hides people’s thoughts, ideas, personality, intelligence and competence – they know what they want to say, but can’t always get the words out.

Stroke is the leading cause of aphasia; however, it also can result from brain tumors, head injuries, brain infections, and other conditions of the brain.

People who suffer from aphasia can have difficulty understanding others, particularly strangers. Or, they can follow the gist of a conversation, but lose track easily, or forget the beginning of a message before reaching the end of it. They may be able to say individual words, or parts of words, but struggle to complete the entire word or sentence. Or, they may speak nonsense quickly. And background noise or lively conversation among a group of people can really exacerbate the difficulty they have understanding conversations.

“Many times, too, a person with aphasia is so focused on themselves, they are unable to see that their caregiver is overwhelmed. The person with aphasia can’t help it; they’ve lost a lot of control in their lives between the loss of communication and physical disabilities. They are just trying to survive,” says Mimi Block, M.S., CCC-SLP, clinical services manager, University of Michigan Aphasia Program.

“And even if they could recognize how much their caregiver is dealing with, they cannot express their gratitude or appreciation,” she added.

It can be an enormously frustrating condition, for both the individual and the caregiver.

The University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP) is the oldest and most effective program of its kind in North America for the treatment of aphasia. Established in 1947 to assist World War II veterans who sustained injuries in combat, UMAP has successfully treated thousands of individuals, offering as much speech-language therapy during a six-week session as a person would receive in one year of traditional therapy.

Caregiver education and support is a critical component of the UMAP.

This past summer, UMAP gave Robin Cox, wife of a (retired) National Guard Lieutenant Colonel with aphasia, the tools to help her husband with his therapy and the insight to help herself as his caregiver. Her husband Mark suffered a stroke in March 2009, just 30 days before he was due to be deployed to Afghanistan.

“I know it’s a cliché, but UMAP taught me this is not the end of the world, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the little progress we make each day brings us that much closer to our goals,” Robin Cox said. “And those little improvements are exponentially more important for the caregiver,” she added. “They bring us ten times the joy.”

One morning, not too long ago, Mark found his glasses after looking for them for quite some time.

“He said, ‘I found them’ and I said, ‘Say that again!’ and he did! And then I made him say it again. It was one whole, complete sentence. It’s those little moments you must celebrate,” Cox said.

  • During the six-week session at UMAP, there are five caregiver meetings which focus on:
  • Acquiring a better understanding of aphasia, and the physical disabilities associated with a stroke (the most common cause of aphasia)
  • Facilitative conversation and other ways to communicate with people who have aphasia
  • Effective communication techniques and strategies
  • Practicing new communication skills using facilitative conversation
  • Options for the future

"Ongoing education is essential for the well-being of the loved one with aphasia and all the family members,” Block says. “The caregiver needs to connect with the speech-language pathologist who sees their loved one to learn about aphasia and specific techniques to communicate with him or her.”

To prompt conversation, Block encourages caregivers to use “topic cards,” which are lists of words or pictures—like family, sports, friends, birthdates, hobbies, maps, a calendar—as a starting point to determine what the person wants to talk about.

“There’s also the WH Chart—who, what, when, where and why, that can be used to get the person thinking in terms of sentence structure,” Block said. “The more information that’s available to them, the more successful they will be.”

One night when Mark Cox was trying to tell his wife Robin to change his schedule that week, she said they both “went round and round and round, and started to get flustered” until she resorted to using a calendar and writing down days of the week and appointments to clarify what her husband was trying to do.

“You have to keep digging to find the right way to get the point across,” Robin Cox says. “It’s more than just talking. You can use pictures, calendars or write words on paper. You’ve got to take a deep breath and be patient. Yelling isn’t going to do it. You have to try all of your options.”

UMAP also encourages caregivers to be advocates for their loved ones, providing them with the encouragement and motivation to continue on the road of recovery with realistic goals and expectations, and a better ability to communicate in their day-to-day living.

Lulu Smith, whose husband Louis suffered a stroke in 2005 and has aphasia, is in two therapy programs, including UMAP. She accompanies Louis to all of his therapy sessions, and either watches them or participates in them directly.

“I watch to see what the therapists are doing, and I insert their techniques into our daily routine at home,” she said.

Lulu Smith also tries to keep their lives as normal as possible. Louis is a legendary jazz trumpeter with an international reputation and many major recordings, and she regularly takes him to jazz festivals and clubs where he can interact with other musicians. They’ve always been great travelers, she said, and they go to Paris in October each year and to Mexico for two months in the winter.

“I never get someone to ‘sit’ with him. We’ve always done things together,” she said.

Robin Cox recently encouraged her husband to go with her to their 11-year-old son’s football game.

“He didn’t want to go at first. Since he had his stroke, he’s lost some endurance, too. But he ended up staying for the whole game. I think Mark realized he can socialize, and he can talk with others—not just his wife, his brothers, or people who are close to him. Physically, he was tired, but it was great for his spirit.

“He was put out of his comfort zone. I think that’s what a caregiver does. We try this, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else,” Cox said.

“It is so important to keep trying,” says Joyce Zeigler, whose husband Mack suffered a stroke in 2004 and who has participated in two UMAP sessions in 2006 and 2008.

“Mack continues to make progress. I encourage people with aphasia and their loved ones to be patient and have hope. Mack and I have faith that more progress is in his future. We take it a day at a time and look forward to each day.”

Lulu Smith adds, “You must understand it takes a long time to have success. You have to keep working and working, and never give up. You’ve got to stick with it.”

At least they are boneless

6/6:  if you have flood insurance and your home gets damaged or destroyed by mudflow, you’re probably going to be covered. Say what? Oh, it is not a mud SLIDE

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “a mudflow is a river of liquid mud similar in consistency to a milkshake. Mudslides, on the other hand, are more solid and more closely resemble a cake.”

Both are made of rock, earth and other debris saturated with water, and they can occur in any part of the United States. They can flow rapidly, striking with little or no warning at avalanche speeds. They also can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees and other materials.

Although similar, knowing exactly which one struck a home is a very big deal. According to the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, mudflow damage is excluded from the typical homeowners policy but is covered by the NFIP, which is an additional insurance policy administered by FEMA and underwritten by the federal government. In other words, if you have flood insurance and your home gets damaged or destroyed by mudflow, you’re probably going to be covered.

Additional coverage purchase required

“Your standard policy is not going to cover flood, so if you think your home might be exposed to mudflow you’ll want to purchase that additional NFIP coverage,”

EFM:I was never licensed in P&C but I doubt but few agents knew of this. I was clueless. I mean what happens if it moves like warm fudge.

6/6: Record 95.9 Million Americans Are No Longer In The Labor Force

EFM- so the unemployment rate will look lower
 because this number is not inculded in those looking for work.

6/6: "The Promises and Pitfalls of Robo-Advising" Free Download
8th Miami Behavioral Finance Conference 2017

FRANCESCO D'ACUNTO, University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business
ALBERTO ROSSI, University of Maryland - Department of Finance

We study a robo-advising portfolio optimizer that constructs tailored strategies based on investors' holdings and preferences. Adopters are similar to non-adopters in terms of demographics, but have more assets under management, trade more, and have higher risk-adjusted performance. The robo-advising tool has opposite effects across investors with different levels of diversification before adoption. It increases portfolio diversification and decreases volatility for those that held less than 5 stocks before adoption. These investors' portfolios perform better after using the tool. At the same time, robo-advising barely affects diversification for investors that held more than 10 stocks before adoption. These investors trade more after adoption with no effect on average performance. For all investors, robo-advising reduces -- but does not fully eliminate -- pervasive behavioral biases such as the disposition effect, trend chasing, and the rank effect, and increases attention based on online account logins. Our results emphasize the promises and pitfalls of robo-advising tools, which are becoming ubiquitous all over the world.

6/6: The rig counts are due to higher prices

In today’s newsletter, we will take a quick look at some of the critical figures and data in the energy markets this week. 

We will then look at some of the key market movers early this week before providing you with the latest analysis of the top news events taking place in the global energy complex over the past few days. We hope you enjoy.


Fossil fuel consumption for electricity generation in the U.S. declined to 22.5 quadrillion BTUs in 2017, the lowest level since 1994.

-    The decline of coal and the near elimination of oil from the electricity sector is somewhat offset by the rise of natural gas, but efficiency and renewables have led to an overall decline in fossil fuel use.

-    Last year, coal consumption fell to its lowest level since 1982.

-    Natural gas, even though it too is a fossil fuel, burns more efficiently than coal. That means the generation-weighted average efficiency of the electricity mix has significantly improved. According to the EIA, fossil fuel plants in the U.S. required 10,400 BTUs of primary energy to produce a kilowatt-hour in 1994, but by 2017, that figure had fallen to just 9,400 BTUs. 


6/5: Recession in 2020???
The economic expansion that began in mid-2009 and already ranks as the second-longest in American history most likely will end in 2020 as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off an overheating economy, according to forecasters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

As for the most likely primary cause of the next downturn, 62% selected an overheating economy leading to Fed tightening. Other options picked by at least 5% of economists surveyed were a financial crisis, the bursting of an asset bubble, a fiscal crisis or disruptions to international trade.

6/5: Trump's trade war could kill hundreds of thousands of jobs. "The tariffs and retaliation would increase U.S. steel employment and non-ferrous metals (primarily aluminum) employment by 26,346 jobs, but cost a net of 495,136 jobs throughout the rest of the economy, for a total net loss of nearly 470,000 jobs,"

EFM- A trade war generally ends badly

6/5: Stats

Though More Comfortable with Volatility, Americans Still Lean Toward Protecting Retirement Savings

"35% of Americans said they are comfortable with market conditions and ready to invest -- up from 26% in 2015. 37% admit that recent volatility is making them anxious about their nest egg. 57% are willing to give up potential gains for a product that protects a portion of their retirement savings -- up from 48% in 2015."


After years of U.S. dominance, Chinese science is closing the gap — and luring away experts

China is on track to surpass the United States on spending on scientific research by the end of this year, according to the National Science Board. And with the allure of ample funding and tech staff, many young scientists are pulling up stakes.


 a site that helps financially disadvantaged families with finding assistance programs. Our directory lists assistance programs that help with utility, energy, mortgage, rent, medication, education and medical bills.

6/5: Danielle Booth

  • Despite the tough rate hike talk, a wholly different scene is being set, one that allows the Fed even more leeway in the event inflation retreats anew.
  • So, this inflation scare is no head fake? Well, look again. Future New Orders are moving in the exact opposite direction, meaning there’s precious little faith on manufacturers’ part that the need to continue building stocks will be necessary.
  • The fuel to this fire came in the form of tariff and trade war fear disruption which triggered a short-run spike in New Orders

6/4:■ G7 countries condemn US in rebuke over tariffs

, trade is bound to take centre stage this year and at present there appears to be every chance it will end with acrimony just as it did last year. The US president has already put steep tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminium exports and given European nations and Canada a month’s stay before doing the same. None of these countries feel they need to bend in the face of what they see as blackmail and a tit-for-tat tariff escalation is threatened.

EFM- they must get an agreement worked out since a trade war- amongst everything else- would lead to a global meltdown

6/4 Assad is going to meet Kim Jong Un

That is going to be a bitter pill for Trump- actually any American. You have one terrorist joining in solidarity(?) with another. Maybe Assad takes Un's nuclear missiles and Un gets chemical weapons. Problems solved

6/4: Opioids Are Now Responsible for 1 in 5 Deaths Among Young Adults

In 2016, one in 65 deaths in the United States involved opioids — and among younger adults, that number skyrocketed to one in five, according to a new study

6/4: And it gets worse

Deaths by Suicide and Firearms Among Kids Are Rising Sharply
The overall death rate for children between ages 10 and 19 fell by 33% between 1999 and 2013. But from 2013 to 2016, the report says, it crept back up by 12% — in large part because of a sizable increase in injury deaths

6/3:The Lifetime Medical Spending of Retirees    READ THIS

Using dynamic models of health, mortality, and out-of-pocket medical spending (both inclusive and net of Medicaid payments), we estimate the distribution of lifetime medical spending that retired U.S. households face over the remainder of their lives. We find that at age 70, households will on average incur $122,000 in medical spending, including Medicaid payments, over their remaining lives. At the top tail, 5 percent of households will incur more than $300,000, and 1 percent of households will incur over $600,000 in medical spending inclusive of Medicaid. The level and the dispersion of this spending diminish only slowly with age. Although permanent income, initial health, and initial marital status have large effects on this spending, much of the dispersion in lifetime spending is due to events realized later in life. Medicaid covers the majority of the lifetime costs of the poorest households and significantly reduces their risk.

6/3: What a waste

Thailand is one of the world's largest consumers of plastic bags, which kill hundreds of marine creatures living near the country's popular beaches each year.

"I feel sorry for the animal that didn't do anything wrong but has to bear the brunt of human actions,"

EFM- There are more laws now attempting to reduce plastic garbage but I think it is too late to save a lot of the oceans

6/3: Careful- they may not send us anymore ice

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told NBC News Friday that he rejects the Trump administration's reason for imposing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and noted his country is a close military ally of the U.S.

"The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable

6/3:AARP Health Care Costs Calculator


6/3: The spread between WTI and Brent hit a three year high this week as bottlenecks in the U.S. drove WTI downwards, adding to the sense of uncertainty in oil markets as the next OPEC meeting looms.


6/Just a title from the New Yorker:  The New Estimate of Deaths in Puerto Rico Reflects a Broader and Shameful Neglect

I thought the original death total was out of whack but I had no data to say otherwise. Harvard's study had the data. They found that there were four thousand six hundred and sixty-five excess deaths

EFM- Does the data make a difference to mainstream America????

Here’s how much more cable and broadcast news talked about Roseanne than Puerto Rico

6/3:  I have used Genworth's site for years regarding long term care. Looks to me it is even better now. So go there to get a lot of your questions answered

6/3: A LOT of experts will be watching this.  No question it will help some but I will be curious if a lot of money goes to cigarettes, booze and drugs. (Yes I am cynical)

US town trials free cash
Finland has tried — and scrapped — the free cash experiment. Now a poor and desperate Californian town will become the first in the US to attempt it. The simple trial will be watched by governments and social scientists around the world. (NYT)

6/3: $0 premium Medicare

Would you believe it’s possible to get all your health care coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan and not pay a monthly premium? Well, you can, and I want to give you the full scoop on how you can get quality coverage with no monthly premium.
The Truth Behind $0 Premium Plans
Medicare Advantage plans (known as Part C plans) combine your Original Medicare Part A and B benefits into one plan. It provides you access to a network of doctors and hospitals, and may include additional benefits like Part D prescription drugs, a gym membership, vision, dental, and hearing aid coverage. For you this means that a private insurer, like Independence Blue Cross, pays for all of the Medicare covered services received in-network, provides you additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare, and reduces any paperwork you may have, such as submitting claims. By enrolling in a Part C plan, you are not disenrolling or forfeiting Original Medicare benefits. Even though you are enrolled in a Part C plan, you are still enrolled in Original Medicare, and you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
How is a $0 Premium Plan Possible?
When private insurers offer Medicare Advantage plans, the government reimburses the private insurer to deliver and cover the services that Original Medicare would cover within the private insurer’s network. The reimbursement that the private insurers receive is intended to cover the entire plan premium and provide quality coverage plus added benefits not provided by Original Medicare.


6/3: An international tragedy on the Muslim Rohingya population in Burma

HAVING ENGINEERED a horrific campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Muslim Rohingya minority, the Burmese military has turned its attention to another persecuted group. An offensive against the mostly Christian Kachin people near Burma’s northern border is underway.

The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, feels free to pursue this genocidal policy because it has suffered virtually no consequences for what human rights groups and senior U.N. officials describe as blatant crimes against humanity.

Burma’s Nobel Prize-winning civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi,  has failed to condemn the ethnic cleansing, and occasionally even defended it.

EFM- if she can win a Nobel prize for peace, could they make the same mistake with Trump???

6/2: US town trials free cash
Finland has tried — and scrapped — the free cash experiment. Now a poor and desperate Californian town will become the first in the US to attempt it. The simple trial will be watched by governments and social scientists around the world. (NYT)

I will be interested in how such money will be spent. Will it be cigarettes, liquor and drugs???? I will say that those ;"necessities will cost  a minimum of 25% and a maximum of 39%  of the gift.


223,000 jobs added in May; unemployment rate falls to 3.8 percent

The U.S. economy added a robust 223,000 jobs in the month of May, according to figures released Friday by the Department of Labor, and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.8 percent. Wage growth remained a sticking point in the mainly positive jobs report, with hourly pay up by only 2.7 percent year on year. But with inflation at just over 2 percent, workers are barely feeling any net increase.

6/1: Some say that this could lead to the destruction of the EU.

Italy will be led by populists who deeply oppose the euro. The coalition just

got presidential approval after a seesaw week that roiled markets..

EFM- If the EU is hurt, Europe implodes and the world has a global recession that will take longer than 2008 to fix


Duty to Investigate

The two fundamental duties of a fiduciary under the common law of trusts are the duties of loyalty and of prudence. With respect to the latter, a plan fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act must act with “the care, skill, prudence and diligence under the circumstances that a prudent man would use.” Read more >

EFM- As regards investing- would a prudent man have to have a financial calculator???????  What's you answer

6/1:Is Your Workplace Prepared for the Opioid Epidemic?

"About 4 in 10 opioid addicts are covered by large employer health plans. The cost of treatment for opioid addiction was $2.6 billion in 2016. The average employer spends $19,000 per year, per employee for treatment related to opioid addiction.... What employers can do ... How health insurance providers can work with employers."

Makes complete sense

6/1:So, Just How Much Do Recent Grads’ Know About Retirement Investment ?

When looking at the total population, 88% of investors do not believe recent grads are very knowledgeable about saving and investing for retirement

 Results reveal a pronounced divide between generations when it comes to how respondents perceive the financial knowledge of recent grads.

6/1:Firm warns many target-date funds carrying too much risk

Investment services provider SEI found many target-date funds are taking on too much risk, with the average 2020 fund still having more than half of its assets allocated to equities. SEI's Jake Tshudy recommends advisers run an analysis to assess a fund's suitability based on a client's retirement age, investing style and expected Social Security benefits.

EFM- Look at top of this site and you will see commentary on Target date funds. Yucky in most cases

6/1: Sequence of returns

6/1: Longevity risk

6/1: Depression after stroke- it will happen to a person you love. Or maybe you

Nearly two-thirds of people who experience a stroke also find themselves battling depression. It can be attributed to a variety of causes including the emotions due to physical losses or simply the overwhelming reality of going through the therapy needed to recover. Depression after a stroke can also stem from biochemical changes in the brain. A brain injury can interfere with a person’s previously normal emotional state.

Caregivers will expect a loved one to be sad after a stroke. It’s important they know the symptoms of depression and those of apathy, the feeling of indifference or not having emotions at all. An apathetic person is satisfied and content doing nothing, and isn’t bothered by it. This is often seen in those who have had right-brain strokes.

Depression, however, is marked by feelings of sadness or discouragement and even suicidal thoughts. The symptoms of depression following a stroke are the same as from any other cause. If extreme sadness and hopelessness persist for longer than two weeks, or the person has no interest in therapy, socializing or struggles to concentrate, a caregiver should start to consider seeking help. Depression doesn’t appear at a set time; it can show up weeks or months after the stroke occurred.

Depression doesn’t just affect the loved one either. Family caregivers in general already face a high risk of developing depression. Those who are caring for people recovering from stroke are not only dealing with challenges in mobility, care and communication, but a loved one’s depression adds an additional burden that can lead to the caregiver developing a depression of their own. Research from the American Stroke Association reveals that 30 to 33 percent of caregivers were depressed at their loved one’s 18-month post-stroke checkup appointments.

A study published in the 2011 journal Neurology showed that successfully treating depression in both caregiver and loved one also helps the person’s recovery from stroke. The same study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, gave industry leaders proof that the correlation between stroke and depression is real, and depression can cause an even greater impact on quality of life than physical/mental impairments from the stroke itself.

Treatment Options

The National Institute of Health says most people dealing with depression following a stroke do not get the help they need. Treatment can be fairly straightforward if the symptoms are recognized and managed early on.

Occupational therapists are trained to notice signs of depression and if a loved one is in therapy, this person can be a first line of defense for treatment of post-stroke concerns. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also beneficial, helping change negative thinking and behaviors that add to their depression. Counseling, group or individual, is another alternative for talk therapy. Many times this helps loved ones work through feelings of loss from the stroke, as well as gain a positive outlook on the future—their “new” normal.

Another common treatment approach is through nutrition. A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, Vitamin B and complex carbohydrates is known to help those dealing with depression. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as fish, flaxseed and walnuts, and promote a healthy brain. Complex carbohydrates include items like brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat. They boost the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain which affect mood. Dark chocolate helps reduce fatigue and stress in a person with depression. Caregivers can think of beans, oranges and broccoli as sources of folic acid, a vital nutrient that helps with cognition. For Vitamin B, eggs, milk and liver increase a person’s energy and alertness.

As with most physical ailments, exercise also helps improve a person’s mental state. Adaptive equipment is available for those who are recovering from a stroke. Walking, yoga and swimming are low-impact exercises which are ideal therapies for post-stroke conditions.

Treatment for post-stroke depression isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Treatment is available and a caregiver plays a big part in its success. Anti-depressants often help a loved one get through a tough transition time after a stroke. They are common treatments prescribed by a physician or psychiatrist. Anti-depressants improve mood by interacting with neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain, and there are a variety of options available which a physician can prescribe to see which works the best for that person.

Social Support

While therapy and medication are well-known and successful treatment measures for depression, the importance of social support following a stroke cannot be underestimated.

Treatment alone is not always enough, and if left untreated, depression can worsen other common post-stroke symptoms like malnutrition, incontinence, pain, fatigue and sleep issues. Then, if a person is inhibited in recovery because of depression, those feelings only compound because of the lack of progress toward recovery.

Communication is critical. Relationships can change after a stroke, and that alone is enough reason to keep talking to family and friends. The assurance that while things may be different, the mutual love and respect are still there is so important for a loved one’s recovery from the stroke and depression associated with it. Stroke support groups are often a great benefit and can be found at most local hospitals or stroke centers.

The successful management of depression following a stroke prevents both caregiver and loved one from suffering a great cost. Depression takes a physical and emotional toll, and should never be ignored or minimized. Help is definitely available.

Watching for Depression

The symptoms of depression following a stroke are the same as from any other cause. Caregivers should be alert for the following behaviors in a loved one:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increase or decrease in appetite and eating patterns
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and/or worthlessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering details
  • Aches, pains, headaches and digestive problems that do not ease with treatment
  • Suicidal thoughts

6/1“radical ignorance”  from a New Yorker article on a lifetime disease

without doctors making certain inferences based on their existing knowledge, there can be no diagnosis. And yet, when disorders with such drastic effects remain so little understood, researching and treating them may require that much more humility and imagination. Given that medicine is itself a narrative practice—in which the case history has always played a central part—it, too, might benefit from a respect for ambiguity

6/1: Volcker rule

US regulators have begun easing the Volcker rule ban on risk-taking by banks, a centrepiece of post-financial crisis reforms. Fed chair Jay Powell said regulators wanted to “replace overly complex and inefficient requirements” with more streamlined ones.

The FT’s financial editor Patrick Jenkins says that while the bulk of Volcker reforms seem sensible, there is danger in the broader deregulatory mood in the US. “Much of the populism evident in Italy now, and across the world in recent years, was triggered in part at least by a resentment with policymakers who allowed the 2008 crisis to happen. Repeating those mistakes so soon is not only financially irresponsible, it is politically incendiary.”

EFM-  "........who allowed the 2008 crisis to happen". True statement and it could happen again here

5/31: A crappy scientific study detected agricultural antibiotics — those fed to animals like chickens and cows — in many people who claimed they hadn't taken antibiotics in the year prior to their sample collection!

This means that antibiotics, used to fatten up animals raised in industrial farming operations, may be ending up in our bodies where they could potentially alter or harm the microbes in our gut

Check's in the Mail

Gordon Goodwin Big Band

Great chart that boils

6/1:Dire retirement outlook requires "new social contract"

Many factors are converging to dim the outlook for retiring workers in the US and around the world, according to a new global survey, including skimpier government-provided benefits, low interest rates and volatile markets. The survey finds overwhelming support among the working population for government action, and the authors call for a "new social contract" that encompasses sustainable benefits and a positive view of aging.

6/1 savings for special needs for young people

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows people who are diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26 to save for quality of life purchases without affecting their qualification for social security benefits (SSI) or Medicaid.

Prior to the passage of this act, people with special needs would be disqualified for government benefits if they had any more than $2,000 in assets.

The passage of this act is expected to promote the health, independence and quality of life for people with special needs and end a cycle of poverty, dependence and limitation.

The ABLE Act allows people with special needs to set up an account similar to a 529 Account, a popular college savings plan. They can save up to $100,000 in the account without affecting their SSI benefits. If the account accrues more than $100,000, SSI payments will be suspended but not terminated. The amount in the account does not affect Medicaid payments. The cap on the account is governed by the state limit on 529 plans.

Anyone may contribute to the account as long as cumulative contributions do not exceed the gift tax exclusion amount in any given year, which is $14,000 this year and is adjusted for inflation. Contributions are not tax deductible. But the accounts can grow tax free, similar to a Roth IRA.

ABLE Account holders can withdraw money from the account, without paying taxes, to use for any qualified expenses including health, education, housing, transportation, training, assistive technology, personal support, and related services and expenses. Housing distributions count as income for SSI purposes.

If an account holder wanted to use money in the account for a non-qualified expense, say a trip to Disneyland, the amount withdrawn would be subject to taxes and a 10 percent penalty. Money left in the account after the death of the account holder is subject to Medicaid reimbursement, which means that Medicaid is entitled to recoup any funds spent on the account holder during his lifetime. Remaining funds would be distributed to the deceased’s estate or designated beneficiary.

Another long standing option for parents of children with special needs is a Special Needs Trust. ABLE accounts are not a replacement for a Special Needs Trust but could be another option if a Special Needs Trust does not fit the needs of a family.

A Special Needs Trust is exempt from the SSI and Medicaid resource tests, but not from Medicaid reimbursement. A Special Needs Trust would not have an investment cap, like an ABLE Account, but is subject to income tax. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you determine which plan is best for your family.

5/31:"A Fiduciary Duty of Care for Canada" Free Download

ROBERT FLANNIGAN, University of Saskatchewan

Two recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada suggest that the court has further distanced itself from the conventional Anglo-Canadian view that fiduciary accountability is concerned exclusively with the mischief of self-dealing or opportunism.

5/30 Economists predict workforce growth around the world is set for a slowdown, 

Overall world population is projected to grow over the next several decades, according to the United Nations, but at a slower rate. Officials expect the overall population growth rate to average 0.8% by 2050, compared to between 1% and 2% in recent decades.

"Slowing population growth and population aging will weigh heavily on economic growth in the coming decade or two," Andrew Kenningham, chief global economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a recent note to clients. "These forces will be only partly offset by increased participation in the workforce by women and older people."

"A reduction in the rate of growth of the working-age population is unavoidable and is a key reason to expect global economic growth, which has been sluggish in the past decade, to remain weak,"

robotics and artificial intelligence have the power to offset the negative effects of workers aging out of the labor force.

"The spread of robots and use of artificial intelligence will continue to reduce the demand for unskilled labour and could lead to an increase in inequality even if demographic pressures are pushing in the opposite direction,

5/30: Schmucks

more than 120 pregnant whales were slaughtered last year during Japan;s annual hunt in the Antarctic Ocean.
Latest figures show that 333 minke Antarctic whales were killed last summer, 181 of which were females and 122 of which were pregnant.

5/30: SEC SchmucksSEC chief explains why "fiduciary" not included in best-interest rule

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton told attendees at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's annual conference that the word "fiduciary" was left out of the SEC's Regulation Best Interest to avoid investor confusion. "It's important for an investor to understand that the relationship model of the broker-dealer is different than the relationship model of the investment adviser,"

EFM- But I do not understand what best interests means?????? You only get screwed only half as much???

5/30: Over 70% of marketers don’t trust their data
Data is the bedrock of a strong marketing campaign and is at the top of the list of purchasing priorities for marketers. A study found that 70% of marketers believe that their customer data is low quality or inconsistent.

EFM- Marketing is also called nudging

5/30: This is why you diversify:

Crashing and Burning

In addition to overvalued tech startups that are still privately-owned, some highly-touted IPOs in recent years have crashed, leaving investors burned. Among the recent high-profile casualties are shares of Fitbit Inc. (FIT), a maker of wearable devices that help users adhere to exercise programs, and social media company Snap Inc. (SNAP). Beyond tech, big losers also include meal kit delivery service Blue Apron Holdings Inc. (APRN) and German-based hotel search engine Trivago NV (TRVG). Through the close on May 25, these stocks are down by 82%, 56%, 69% and 56% from their respective offering prices

In case you missed it, the peak in the tech unicorn bubble already has been reached. And it's going to be all downhill from here. Massive losses are coming in venture capital-funded start-ups that are, in some cases, as much as 50% overvalued." He adds, ominously, "We are now officially in a tech bubble larger than March of 2000."  (Keith Wright)


In today’s newsletter, we will take a quick look at some of the critical figures and data in the energy markets this week. 

We will then look at some of the key market movers early this week before providing you with the latest analysis of the top news events taking place in the global energy complex over the past few days. We hope you enjoy.

Gasoline prices averaged $2.92 per gallon for the week ending on May 21 and have surpassed $3 per gallon in regional markets. 

-    The prices are the highest for the Memorial Day weekend in four years.

-    However, prices are likely to fall back soon with crude oil prices plunging over the past week. 


China is now producing more steel than the rest of the world combined

According to data from the World Steel Association, China produced more steel than the rest of the world combined in April, with its output rising to 76.7 million tonnes — the highest monthly total on record.

5/30: Home health care, also known as domiciliary care, is care provided in one’s own place of residence.  This can include skilled nursing services, speech-language pathology, physical and occupational therapy, home health aide services, as well as medical social services and the provision of durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs or walkers for use in-home when ordered by a licensed physician.  Anyone who has ever looked for home-based care for a loved one comprehends what a daunting experience it can be.

Browse through the “home health agencies” section of the phone book and there are an overabundance of listings—some counties have over 200 home care agencies, with new ones opening, closing, and merging weekly.  With so many choices, one might assume that the choice would be easy, but in fact it is not.  What follows are some tips to consider when considering home care for a loved one:


Find out if the agency you are considering is licensed and bonded.  In the case of a home health agency, this means that the quality of care being provided has been surveyed/accredited by an outside accrediting agency such as Medicare or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).  The agency should also be licensed by the state in which it operates.  Agency outcomes can be researched by going to and going to their new “home health compare” tool, or calling the Medicare helpline at 1-800-MEDICARE. 


In terms of employees, confirm that all home health employees (nurses, physical therapists, home health aides, and social workers) are certified or licensed in the state they are working (regulations may vary by state), in order to ensure they meet minimum requirements to perform their duties.  Also important is to make sure that the agency does screenings of employees to ensure that not only do they not have a criminal background, but that they are free of communicable diseases which could affect the compromised immune system of a patient.


Ask what policies are in place to ensure patient confidentiality, and find out how far that policy extends.  Many caregivers, particularly ones who arrange for assistance long distance, find themselves frustrated after they arrange for care for a loved one, only to be told that due to HIPAA regulations, the agency cannot provide information on their health status.  At the outset of care, make sure of what the company’s policy for communication is and ensure that it is noted who may and may not receive information about the patient.

Kathy R. found communication a problem with one home health agency while caring for her stepmother cross- country.  She faxed a durable power of attorney right to the home health agency but “they still wouldn’t tell me anything!”  She states that “especially when you are working from a distance, your hands are tied when there is no communication.” 


For most people, it is a far better choice to choose a “full service” agency which provides for all their needs (nursing, home health aide, physical therapy) than to pick and choose services from different agencies.  This ensures that caregivers are free to communicate amongst themselves on a patient’s progress and work collaboratively to resolve any issues, rather than if they are all from different agencies and forced to stab blindly at problems as they arise.


Most patients fare better when they see one or two familiar faces rather than a steady stream of strangers passing through their lives.  Find out if the same person will be caring for your loved one, or if they will see a new person on a continual basis.  Having one or two familiar caregivers is particularly helpful in the case of people who are confused or frail, as this helps both the patient and caregiver get used to a routine.  It also helps the caregiver know what is “normal” for a patient and what is not normal and warrants a call to the doctor.  Also important to find out is what will happen should the regular worker call in sick.  Will the person be forced to wait for assistance until the next day?  Will a substitute come out at the same time?  Will the person have to wait for hours until another worker has time in their schedule? 


Find out what the procedure is if there is an emergency.  Is there always someone on call?  Will a patient need to wait until the next business day to speak with someone should an emergency happen after the regularly scheduled service is performed?  A good agency should have someone on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so urgent matters need not wait until the next scheduled visit.FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – A reputable agency will not hesitate to address the patient’s financial considerations and should provide the patient/caregiver with a written statement explaining what is/is not covered by insurance/Medicare, and what services the patient will be responsible for out of pocket, if any. 


Check with friends, your physician, ask people at your place of worship, or attend a support group and ask which home care agencies others are using.  One of the best ways to assess how an agency performs in the home is to look past the glossy brochure and ask people how they feel about the service that has been given to their loved ones.  Chances are that good or bad, people will be happy to share their experiences. 


Many people who look for home care erroneously assume that if their loved one needs assistance in the home, Medicare will cover the service.  This is not always the case.  Medicare limits itself to “reasonable and necessary part time or intermittent skilled nursing care and home health services,” and does not include 24 hour care, services which are limited to “homemaking” services, assistance with transportation, or companion services.  Unless a person has a long-term care insurance policy which provides for these services in the home, home care can be cost prohibitive.  Although most people prefer to “age in place,” there are times that due to financial resources and the availability of finding good, reliable, continuous care, that an assisted living community may be a better choice than in-home care, both financially and for the assurance of the safety and health of a loved one.

As one popular commercial for menswear states, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”  There is possibly no arena in which this is truer than in the search for good, reliable home health care.  Ronnie Thomas, who is a part owner/administrator for a home health agency in Broward County, FL states that when a person is considering home health care for a loved one, one should make an informed decision and weigh all the options.  She believes that first and foremost to remember is that the services the patient is receiving is paid for by insurance (usually Medicare) and since this is money the loved one worked hard for and paid into the system, they are entitled to and deserve good, quality care which puts the patient’s needs first, out of the system.  “Attentive, kind, quality care from committed professionals who involve the family as much as possible,” are things she believes should be insisted on.  

Kathy R. believes the same.  “Compassion and good communication between caregiver, patient, and the home health provider are paramount,” she states, and although she has had many sleepless nights worrying about her stepmother’s health, she knows that the home health provider she now uses provides her with one less thing over which to worry

The Full Circle

Bob Curnow Big Band

Gorgeous and lyrical Chart

5/30: What an increase!!!!

Effective July 1st, Secure Survivor GUL II will be re-priced. Premiums will be increasing from 21% to 26% depending on funding scenario, age, gender, underwriting class and face amount.

You can expect an average increase of: 

     • 21% for level pays 
     • 23% for 10-pays 
     • 26% for single pays

EFM' makes me wonder about other companies.   Increases- yes but not that great. The company must have seriously missed the lapsed rate..

5/30: Coping

REORGANIZE Reorganize your life. What do you need to focus on at this time? By reorganizing your life, you can better structure your needs and the needs of others.

RETHINK Rethink your priorities. What is most important to you? By taking a good look at what is most important in your life, you can focus and channel your energy in that area.

RELAX Find relaxation in exercise, hobbies, meditation. What is the best way that you can find peace? By finding a method of relaxation, you can recharge your energy so that you will be better able to face daily challenges.

RELEASE Let go! What can you let other people do? By taking a good look at what others can do, you can ask for and accept assistance

5/30: U.S. birth rate is going down further

.America's birthrate hit yet another record low in 2017, as mothers in nearly all age groups gave birth to fewer babies last year than they had the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. birthrate has been falling for several years, led by declines among younger women in their teens and early 20s who seemed to be putting off motherhood until they were older. But in 2017, women in their 30s joined the trend as well.

5/30: Aren't you happy for them????

Agent Commissions Rise For Annuities in 1Q

The increase in commissions is not enormous but agents might find the change refreshing after years of declining compensation.

5/29: Is it a bird, plane....... No its a country or a province

Canada recently made a similar shift, changing its description of Taiwan from a country to a province of China. It appears to be the first financial institution to make the change this year amid China's political crackdown on how foreign companies describe its disputed territories.

EFM- this is going to make a mess with U.S. But we already have a mess so.....................

5/29: British going up or down or does anyone know

Policymakers and economists are divided about whether weakness in the first three months of the year was an aberration primarily owing to extreme cold weather blown in from Siberia by the “Beast from the East”, or an indication that underlying trends are sickly.

To every consumer and business survey cloud, the silver lining is the UK labour market, where the employment rate hit another all-time high of 75.6 per cent in the first quarter, despite the growth slowdown.


PIER Working Paper No. 18-010

JON KLEINBERG, Cornell University - Department of Computer Science
University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics
Harvard University - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

When testing a theory, we should ask not just whether its predictions match what we see in the data, but also about its “completeness”: how much of the predictable variation in the data does the theory capture? Defining completeness is conceptually challenging, but we show how methods based on machine learning can provide tractable measures of completeness. We also identify a model domain—the human perception and generation of randomness — where measures of completeness can be feasibly analyzed; from these measures we discover there is significant structure in the problem that existing theories have yet to capture.


1.   Why Has Idiosyncratic Risk Been Historically Low in Recent Years?


Bartram, Sohnke M. (University of Warwick); Brown, Gregory W. (University of North Carolina); Stulz, Rene M. (Ohio State University)


Since 1965, average idiosyncratic risk (IR) has never been lower than in recent years. In contrast to the high IR in the late 1990s that has drawn considerable attention in the literature, average market-model IR is 44% lower in 2013-2017 than in 1996-2000. Macroeconomic variables help explain why IR is lower, but using only macroeconomic variables leads to large prediction errors compared to using only firm-level variables. As a result of the dramatic change in the number and composition of listed firms since the late 1990s, listed firms are larger and older. Larger and older firms have lower idiosyncratic risk. Models that use firm characteristics to predict firm-level idiosyncratic risk estimated over 1963-2012 can largely or completely explain why IR is low over 2013-2017. The same changes that bring about historically low IR lead to unusually high market-model R-squareds.


G10 G11 G12




5/29: Do insurance agents owe a responsibility to beneficiaries?????

California Insurance Broker Did Not Have to Advise Life Insurance Beneficiary How to Protect Her Interest

insurance brokers owe a limited duty to their clients “to use reasonable care, diligence, and judgment in procuring the insurance requested by an insured.” An insurance broker does not breach its duty to clients to procure the requested insurance policy unless “(a) the [broker] misrepresents the nature, extent or scope of the coverage being offered or provided . . . , (b) there is a request or inquiry by the insured for a particular type or extent of coverage . . . , or (c) the [broker] assumes an additional duty by either express agreement or by ‘holding himself out’ as having expertise in a given field of insurance being sought by the insured.”

It is the job of a lawyer, not an insurance broker, to advise clients how to protect their interest in life insurance policies, the appellate court added. There was “no duty requiring an insurance agent to advise a beneficiary of a life insurance policy how to protect her beneficial interest,” the appellate court declared, adding that it “decline[d] to create a duty in the absence of any articulable legal basis on which to do so.”

The case is Randle v. Farmers New World Life Ins. Co., No. B276579 (Cal. Ct.App. May 18, 2018). Attorneys involved include: Shernoff Bidart Echeverria, William M. Shernoff, Travis M. Corby; Shernoff.Law and Howard S. Shernoff for Plaintiff and Appellant. Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Thomas G. Oesterreich and Dustin E. Woods for Defendant and Respondent Hebson Insurance Agency, Inc.

EFM- the industry has pretty much wanted to show/state that the agents are very highly trained (having taught this stuff, I can assure you it is not true). Unfortunately that is not necessarily the agent's fault since they can only know what is required for them to know and while there are statements confirming the need for an attorney, did you ever find anyone that has read an entire insurance or annuity contract????. Mandatory knowledge for insurance, investments et al is not very inclusive and generally not real life. You have heard me say this many times- is an insurance licensee, securities broker or registered investment advisor required to know how to use a financial calculator??? 

5/29: Federal Fund rates going up