Master Financial Education

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

E. F. Moody Jr.

  
PhD, MSFP, MBA, LLB, BSCE
click above for bio

EFM@EFMoody.com

   

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

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

BUSINESS WEEK: "For an Expert, Click here" 

SP 500
World Statistical data

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



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

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

Losses limited to about 12% for recessions

Patent Pending
 

Morality, Sexism, Ethics, Corrupt Equilibrium


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

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

1/12 Caregiver support groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



1/12:Cyber criminals have become increasingly sophisticated, and all financial services firms are ripe targets for frauds. In 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 300,000 complaints for almost $1.3 billion in losses. Read more by clicking the link http://bit.ly/2EtuEuk

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

What is Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis?

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

What Causes PDP?

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

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

Hallucinations

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

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

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

Other Types of Hallucinations

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

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

Delusions

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

Susan’s Story

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

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

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

PDP’s Impact on Caregivers

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

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

Treating PDP

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

Support Your Loved One and Yourself

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

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









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

Market Movers

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/12 Medical Insurance Board

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

1/11:

1/11: An omen???

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

 

Zero Hedge(Jan 4 2018)

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

1/11:Another omen?????


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

1/11:

CRR Finds Those at Risk for Having Inadequate Retirement Income Dropped

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


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

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

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

1/11:


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

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

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


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

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


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


1/9: High Frequency Trading  

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




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

 THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


1/9: Another case for algorithms

Can an Algorithm Tell When Kids Are in Danger?

By DAN HURLEY

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


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

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


Why exercise should not be a New Year's resolution


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

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

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



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

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


1/8:


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

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

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


1/5: FINRA arbitration claims

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

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

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



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

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

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


Great cartoon
 85% Probability by 2050

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

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


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

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


A classic

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Need

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

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

How It Works

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

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

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

1/2: Absolute tragedy

'Massive Mental Health Crisis' Feared for Rohingya Children

By HANNAH BEECH

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

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


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

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

 

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


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

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

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


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

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

By SHERRY LACHMAN

Children are pouring into the beleaguered child welfare system.

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



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

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


12/31: Look at the increase for drug costs

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

12/29:Basically, don't get sick

 

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


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

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


12/29   Introduction To Employee Stock Purchase Plans

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






1


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


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


12/27:

Steps to Help Seniors See the Need for Home Modifications
12/27: Nice Nursing Homes

Lots of things look different when you step into a small Green House nursing home.

The bright living and dining space, filled with holiday baubles at this season. The adjacent open kitchen, where the staff is making lunch. The private bedrooms and baths. The lack of long stark corridors, medication carts and other reminders of hospital wards.

I was visiting the Green House Homes at Green Hill, a continuing care facility in West Orange, N.J. Dorothy Bagli, who’s 91, showed me her room, looking out onto the garden and filled with artwork from home and photos of her grandchildren. (Her son, it turned out, is a reporter at The Times.)

“I’ve gotten to know most of the people that live here,” she said — an easier task when there are only 10 residents.

“It’s very intimate,” agreed Eleanor Leonardis, who declined to give her age and is recuperating from a nasty fall. “It feels a lot like home.”

But the thing that struck me most was a man sitting alone at the communal table, having his breakfast oatmeal — at noon. The staff knows that he doesn’t like getting up or eating early in t

At conventional nursing homes, aides have to hustle residents out of bed, help them dress, escort them to the dining room by whatever time breakfast is served, and then perhaps whisk them off for physical therapy. These facilities struggle to provide even a smidgen of personal autonomy.

Here, physical therapists come to the Green House Homes. If they find a resident still asleep, they come back later.

The Green House Project, which in 2003 opened its first small nursing homes in Tupelo, Miss., counts just 242 licensed homes in 32 states to date, with 150 more in various stages of planning or construction. (Next up: Bartlett, Tenn.; Lima, Ohio; and Little Rock, Ark.) That’s a droplet in the bucket of the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes.

But few aspects of aging generate quite so much anticipatory horror as nursing homes, and so Green Houses have attracted disproportionate attention, including media coverage.

They seem to embody change. “The numbers are still modest, but it truly is a different model of care,” said Sheryl Zimmerman, a gerontologist and health services researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What wasn’t clear, until Dr. Zimmerman and a team of researchers around the country undertook the most comprehensive research to date on Green Houses, was how good a job these newcomers do. “Does this model work?” she asked. “Is it sustainable and replicable?”

The group’s study of nearly 100 Green Houses compared to standard nursing homes, funded by a $2 million grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in the journal Health Services Research, showed that Green Houses don’t fulfill all their goals and promises.

Though “control over the rhythms of the day” represents a pillar of Green House life, as one of its brochures declares, the researchers found that about a third of the homes didn’t allow residents to decide when they awakened, and most restricted when residents could bathe or shower. Compared to conventional nursing homes, Green Houses also are far less likely to offer formal activities.

But overall, the studies, incorporating nine years of data, add up to a positive report card. “Compared to traditional nursing homes, no doubt about it,” said Dr. Zimmerman. “It’s a preferable model of care.”

Among the reasons:

* Green Houses practice what’s called “consistent assignment,” meaning that the same aides care for the same few residents. “People know you. They know your likes and dislikes,” Dr. Zimmerman said. “There’s more trust and familiarity. Relationships develop.”

A Green House shahbaz spends many more hours on patient care: an average 4.2 hours per resident per day, compared with 2.2 hours in conventional nursing homes. (At Green Houses, that includes tasks like preparing meals and doing laundry.)

* Compared to residents in traditional nursing homes, Green House residents fared better on three of eight federal inspection criteria, and did equally well on the others.

* Though Green Houses are expensive to build (including a $200,000 payment to the nonprofit Green House Project for training, design and support), with 8 percent higher operating costs than standard nursing homes, they save Medicare 30 percent per resident per year. (They charge residents or their insurers somewhat more than regular nursing homes, however.)

Developers also seem able to adapt them for particular populations. They’ve built Green Houses for assisted living, for veterans, for a public housing agency, for people with dementia and multiple sclerosis.

Green Houses incorporate hospice care, too. “We try very hard to say, ‘This is home for life,’” said Susan Ryan, senior director of the Green House Project.

She’s troubled by how slowly the model has spread, partly because of complex state regulations and financial obstacles.

Critics who deplore the state of American nursing homes have called for a “culture change” for at least 20 years. That means “deinstitutionalizing nursing homes, making them more like the way we’ve lived all our lives, with our own routines and familiar objects,” said Robyn Grant, public policy director for The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

We’ve made only modest progress toward that goal, Ms. Grant said. Perhaps one function of the Green House model, then, is to point the way.

“There are many elements of it that could be done by other nursing homes,” Ms. Grant said. “There are ways to break down the size and make nursing homes smaller,” with workers consistently assigned to a group of residents. Facilities could be redesigned to offer private rooms; they could give residents more say over their routines.

At Green Hill (disclosure: my late father lived there for a year and a half, though not in a Green House), Dorothy Bagli’s family has discussed whether to move her into the facility’s traditional nursing home, which costs slightly less.

But Jeanne Jenusaitis, one of her 12 children, thinks the small scale of the Green House suits her mother, along with aides who know and understand her. Wouldn’t her mother, who has dementia, get disoriented trying to find her way through the long nursing home corridors? Would there be a staff person always in sight to assuage her fears?

Her Green House, Ms. Jenusaitis said, “is so much more nonclinical. She likes that feeling of home.”


Now this makes sense

12/27:Legal Tips for the New Year

12/26: Inflation

The BEA's Personal Consumption Expenditures Chain-type Price Index for November, released this morning, shows that core inflation remains below the Federal Reserve's 2% long-term target at 1.48%. The most recent Core Consumer Price Index release, also data through November, is higher at 1.71%. The Fed is on record as using Core PCE data as its primary inflation gauge.




12/26


12/26: I gave up doing any investing in South America. It was one mess after another and the corruption was horrid. Here is a powder keg about to get worse.

In inflation-plagued Venezuela, ‘it’s like Christmas isn’t even happening this year’

Venezuelans are calling this holiday season “Infeliz Navidad” — Unhappy Christmas. Amid an inflation crisis and a collapsing economy, families have no money for presents or Christmas dinners.



Got my vote

12/26: And Mexico is now lost. Corruption is rampant and will not be rooted out.

Mexican traffickers find a new market hungry for drugs: Their own country

The drug abuse that has become a defining feature of American life is increasingly emerging in Mexico as well, posing a daunting challenge for health officials and feeding the country’s soaring violence.



12/22:



  • Almost 5 million student loans have gone unpaid for a significant amount of time.
  • Federal and private loans are going into default, making it harder for loan holders to establish credit or buy cars and homes.
  • The federal government is on the hook for the money if defaulters can't pay.
  • EFM- We cannot forgive those loans and I don't see a way out, Will their Social Security be levied??? A Draconian measure but what other remedy exists for the tens of thousands owed by each student.

12/22: Just interesting

Jakarta’s choice: Redevelop or drown

• Indonesia’s capital, with 30 million residents, is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet.

The main cause: Jakartans are digging illegal wells, draining the underground aquifers on which the city rests. About 40 percent of the city now lies below sea level.



12/22:  Nice- but I am not so sure it is sustainable


12/22: And some more nice

The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for November increased to 130.9 from 130.4 in October. The Coincident Economic Index (CEI) came in at 116.5, up from the previous month.



12/22:

12/22:People are much more likely to die when they turn 62 years old, probably from retiring
Most Americans become eligible for Social Security benefits when they turn 62 years old. Comparing death rates of those who have just turned 62 with those who are almost 62, Maria Fitzpatrick of Cornell and Timothy Moore of the University of Melbourne find that mortality increases by 1.5 percent in the month people turn 62, and the effect is greater among men. This jump in mortality at age 62 was not observed prior to 1962, the year that the Social Security eligibility age was lowered to 62. The authors find that the demographic subgroups with the largest increases in mortality at age 62 are those most likely to retire then, including unmarried males and males with little education. Further, the primary drivers of the increased mortality at 62—more deaths from traffic accidents and lung-related conditions—are causes of death that have previously been linked to losing a job


American life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled by a staggering 21 percent rise in the death rate from drug overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

The United States has not seen two years of declining life expectancy since 1962 and 1963, when influenza caused an inordinate number of deaths. In 1993, there was a one-year drop during the worst of the AIDS epidemic

More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses alone in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2015. When deaths from drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines are included, the overall increase was 21 percent.

.

12/22


12/21:

12/20:

12/20: Employer-sponsored medical plan costs expected to rise 8.4 percent
BY KATIE KUEHNER-HEBERT
Costs for employer sponsored-medical plans in 2018 are likely to rise 8.4 percent – nearly triple the projected rate of inflation, as global risk factors such as high blood pressure, physical inactivity and obesity increase, according to Aon’s report, “2018 Global Medical Trend Rates.”
For 2018, the gap between the average medical trend rate and the average general inflation rate is expected to modestly decrease to 5.3 percentage points from the corresponding 5.4 figure in 2017. The average nominal medical trend rate is expected to increase 0.2 percentage points: For 2018, the global average medical trend rate was 8.4 percent and the average general inflation rate was 3.1 percent. In 2017, the global average medical trend rate was 8.2 percent and the average general inflation rate was 2.8 percent.
“Aon expects further medical cost escalation due to global population aging, overall declining health, poor lifestyle habits becoming pervasive in emerging countries, continuing cost shifting from social programs, and increasing utilization of employer-sponsored plans,” the authors write.




Even if you’re not a caregiver, the threat of the holidays being right around the corner strikes instant fear, terror and major stress into the hearts of almost everyone. However, there is hope for caregivers to enjoy the holiday season and still make it a special time for their loved one as well. The key is to pace yourself, as well as to help your loved one do the same, so that neither of you will feel completely drained, depressed or overwhelmed, especially during such a special time of year. Here are some suggestions that may help you both survive the holidays:

Organize Your Time

Try not to schedule too many social events, one right after another. It's better to miss out on a few holiday events than to end up with yourself or a loved getting too exhausted, which could lead to health problems for both of you. Remember, when it comes to holiday events, it's the quality, not the quantity, that counts.

Make sure that your loved one gets a chance to have some quiet time away from all the noise, stress, and chaos that is a natural part of the holidays. It’s best to spend some quiet time together, so that you both get a chance to unwind from recent events.

If you end up traveling away from home for the holidays, make sure to begin packing way in advance so that you’ll have everything needed for the person you’re caring for, as well as for yourself. Make lists and check them often prior to leaving home. Remember to have any refills on medications done early. If you’re traveling by car, remember to break up the car trip with a stopover at a park or at a favorite restaurant so that your loved one can get some fresh air and feel less confined.

Watch out for holiday burnout in the person you’re caring for, by taking note of unusual irritability, tiredness, or even boisterousness, depending upon their condition. Also, be aware of possible holiday burnout in yourself.

At the end of the holidays, you may notice some post-holiday blues creeping into the mood of your loved one. It’s best to try and get them back into their regular, daily routines as quickly as possible, but do it gradually so that it’s not too much of a shock.

Patience is always required as a caregiver, but even more patience is required during the holidays, and in order to keep yourself from stressing out too much or becoming too exhausted, it’s important to try and keep your own, personal holiday schedule under control. This doesn’t mean to deprive yourself of social events that you’d like to attend for yourself, but know what your limits are, know that it’s okay to reduce your holiday commitments down to only a few, and don’t feel guilty about telling someone “no” when asked to participate in yet another holiday function.

Shopping Alternatives

Shop online whenever possible. A growing number of major retailers have cyberspace shops offering a variety of goods that can be purchased without ever leaving your home.

Catalog shopping is another option if you don't want to spend hours fighting the crowds at the mall.

Buy the same gift for as many people as possible on your list. If you find a gift book that would be perfect for all of your favorite friends, pick up a half-dozen copies. You don’t always have to get everyone you know something different.

Use your shopping time as efficiently as you can, by creating and carrying a business-card sized list of gift ideas in your wallet, along with a list of gifts you've already gotten. These lists will help you from spending so much money, and will also help you not buy so many unnecessary gifts.

Preparing Your Loved One

Although it’s the holiday season, try to maintain the daily routine you and your loved one are used to doing.

Even before an official gathering, continually speak about the people who will be coming to visit, or who you’ll be visiting, so that the person you’re caring for will begin to start looking forward to some social time.

Play seasonal music around the house, and serve their favorite, seasonal food.

Let the person observe but don’t try to force them into any activity beyond their cognitive capacity. Have them do a repetitive task, such as folding napkins or cracking nuts, that will help keep them calm.

If it’s possible, have them help bake cookies, or decorate the tree. If they don’t want to, let them stay as an observer.

Prior to the onset of any behavioral problems during a holiday gathering, prepare distractions such as a family album to draw the person's attention away from their problem.

Managing Visitors

It’s also a good idea to prepare your visitors for how your loved one may react during the gathering, and what to expect from their condition. This way, it won’t be shock if relatives and friends haven’t seen them for a while.

Make sure to prepare friends and relatives regarding the condition of your loved one, especially if they haven’t seen them in quite a while. The behavior or condition of the person you’re caring for may come as quite a shock, so it’s best that everyone is informed ahead of time so that everyone is at ease and relaxed during a holiday visit.

Don’t focus on how the holidays “used” to be, but focus instead on what a wonderful gift it is to have your loved one with you for yet another holiday season. The top-two priorities for you during this time of year is maintaining health and happiness, for the person you care for and for yourself as well. If you can, go ahead and by yourself a gift, something you’ve had your eye on for quite a while. Try to take time off from other obligations and responsibilities in order to re-energize during this season.

Have smaller gatherings; this will help reduce the noise and stress level for you both. It’s okay to set limits, and make sure that everyone in the family, as well as friends, understand what you need as a caregiver during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and to delegate holiday tasks among family and friends. Don’t spread yourself too thin by volunteering to help others. It’s okay to say no, and when you do, make it short and simple, and don’t apologize; it should be abundantly clear as to why you can’t do something, until you actually have extra time on your hands (and when is that really going to happen?). Hopefully, family and friends will want to know what you want or need for the holidays for yourself. Definitely put respite at the top of your list as what you’d like to receive the most.

Gifts For You

A day at the spa - a day of massages, facials, manicures and pedicures would be a perfect gift. Caregivers are often so busy meeting everyone else's needs that they overlook their own needs. A service that is totally self-indulgent is a rarity to someone who normally thinks of others first.

Gift card for streaming movies  - this is a great way for you to catch up on some of the movies you may have missed at the theaters. Ask for some microwave popcorn, traditional movie candies, and may be even a new set of pajamas to go along with the gift card, all perfect for upholding the true tradition of home theater viewing.

Gift certificate for a clothing boutique - the wardrobe of a caregiver generally consists of wash and wear clothing (for obvious reasons), so having the opportunity to shop for an outfit that is something other than cotton is a fun splurge.

Coupon good for an entire day off from caregiving duties - do anything you want to do, and don’t necessarily have the day planned and structured for you, so you can experience some real freedom.

Gift certificate for a bookstore or online bookseller - this is a great gift because a new title by your favorite author can always take you to another place when you need to get away.

A coupon good for a night out on the town, including a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, along with someone to watch your loved one could add up to a wonderful evening.




Saudi Arabia said it had intercepted a missile fired towards Riyadh by Yemeni Houthi rebels, the second direct attack on its capital in as many months.

12/20:World Markets Update

World Markets Update

by Jill Mislinski, Dec 18

All eight indexes on our world watch list have posted gains for 2017 through December 18. The top performer thus far is Hong Kong's Hang Seng with a gain of 32.04%, followed by India's BSE SENSEX at 26.34%. In third is our own S&P 500 with 20.16%.

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Brand new and very unique

12/20: Cost of caregiving


12/20:

Critical Capital Mass

A worksheet to determine how much in unnecessary income taxes you are paying

They indicate that the results are emailed but since you phone number is required  you might be called by an agent of something.

12/20: Washington Post"

The national debt is poised to explode by more than $1 trillion, and there is no realistic scenario in which these tax cuts generate enough economic growth to pay for themselves. Some Republicans will cite this hole that they’re creating to call for cuts to popular entitlement programs next year. This could aggravate many of Trump’s core supporters, which is why they are unlikely to happen.



  • Conversations about older men dating and marrying young girls have left many Americans surprised, especially in the wake of allegations that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore dated teenage girls while he was in his 30s.
  • But few may know that child marriage has a long and vibrant history in the US.
  • In the last 15 years, more than 207,000 minors have become legally wed in the United States, many marrying below the age of consent to sex in their states.

12/19: Make my day- Drop a nuclear bomb on the city of your choice.
Great for bars. Estimate the number of casualties for a fee beer 



life expectancy for women in the US has stalled, leaving American females at the bottom of the list of the wealthiest nations.

"While US life expectancy is now the lowest among ... high-income nations, the discrepancy is especially stark for women," said the CRR. In 1960, American women were likely to be among the longest-living females in the world. But that trend reversed itself in the 1980s, and today their life expectancy lags two-and-a-half years behind women in other developed nations.

The CRR had another surprising finding. Even though women have had, and still do have, longer life spans than men, that gap is narrowing. It's now is only four to five years, compared to the nine or 10 years for previous generations

The CRR looked at retirement-age Americans and based its study on expected life span from age 65 on. But the factors that make both men and women -- but particularly women -- die younger than they should are already in place when they're in their 30s and 40s.

And despite the ongoing criticism of the US health care system relative to socialized medicine in other developed countries, this nation's erratic health care doesn't seem to be a significant factor, according to the CRR. "These differences probably have had little impact," it said.

Instead, the study indicated that the fault lies within ourselves. The CRR said diseases associated with smoking and obesity, such as lung cancer and diabetes, have contributed to the decline in women's life spans relative to other countries. "If US patterns had matched those of its peer countries, US life expectancy would have exceeded the average until very recently."

The CRR said the life expectancy gap between the US and other countries was "surprising" given that we spend more money on health care than any other nation in the world. And the US is doing better than most other nations at "aggressive treatment" of cancer and heart disease. But where the US fails is in obesity, which causes stroke, and lung cancer, which is often caused by smoking. US women were found to have smoked a lot


12/18: Dementia- this is why you cannot depend on taking care of a patient who has "lost their mind"


12/18:

12/17: Remember the comment that humans use only 10% of their brains? Wrong.  The brain is highly active across its entirety just about all the time, even when we are spacing out or sleeping.brain is highly active across its entirety just about all the time, even when we are spacing out or sleeping.

12/17: North Korea  was 'invited to a sitdown with Tillerson with no strings attached.  Then the invitation was changed to North Korea has to earn its place to a negotiation. If North Korea was remotely rational  it would say the initial invitation was grossly mishandled. An irrational North Korea would say we were stupid.

Well it was stupid, childless and we looked like fools. North Korea may slow down its nuclear focus for awhile and just focus on germ warfare. They still win the  negotiations. China must step in soon ot a lot of lives may be lost to gross arrogance and stupidity.  

I am not confident with Trump/ On the other hand neither Bush nor Obama did anything so this mess is beyond normal reasoning.

a new study by Hendrik Bessembinder, a finance professor at Arizona State University. He looked at U.S. stock performance over the 90 years through December 2016.

His startling discovery: The market’s entire 90-year gain, over and above Treasury bills, could be attributed to just 1,092 companies, equal to 4% of all stocks. The other 96% collectively matched T-bills.

Indeed, half the wealth created over this 90-year stretch can be explained by just 90 stocks, including Exxon, Mobil, Apple, Microsoft, GE and IBM. That’s a mere 0.36% of the stocks that traded during this period. Most of the other 25,000 listed companies weren’t nearly so impressive: Stocks typically stuck around for just 7½ years—and a majority lost money during their usually brief life.

In other words, if you had picked just one or two stocks, the odds suggest you would have got your head handed to you.

S&P’s most recent analysis found that, over the past 15 years, just 7% of large-cap U.S. stock funds outpaced the S&P 500-stock index, 6% of mid-cap funds beat the S&P MidCap 400 and 6% of small-cap funds outshone the S&P SmallCap 600. The 15-year results for bond funds and international stock funds were almost as grim.

A provider network administrator somewhere in the country is trying to set up a nursing home network aimed issuers of private long-term care insurance (LTCI) and their policyholders.

The statewide nursing home network would offer people covered by "participating payors" rate discounts.

Only private LTCI providers could by participating payors.

The network organizers told HHS OIG they would open the network to any willing nursing home care provider in a state that earned a quality rating of 3 stars or higher on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Compare website, if the facility agreed to give a participating payor's insureds a minimum discount on use of a semiprivate room.

12/17: Consumer Confidence Remains at 17 Year High

The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was released this morning based on data collected through November 14. The headline number of 129.5 was an increase from the final reading of 126.2 for October, an upward revision from 125.9, and remains at a 17-year high. Today's number was above the Investing.com consensus of 124.0.



  • Almost 5 million student loans have gone unpaid for a significant amount of time.
  • Federal and private loans are going into default, making it harder for loan holders to establish credit or buy cars and homes.
  • The federal government is on the hook for the money if defaulters can't pay.

 

Approximately 4.6 million Americans have defaulted on federal student loans, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This figure includes an increase of 274,000 people over the last three months. At the end of the third quarter of the fiscal year, these nearly 5 million defaulters represent 22% of all Americans who were required to pay federal student loans


12/17:

"'Institutionalization Aversion' and the Willingness to Pay for Home Health Care" Free Download
CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6703

JOAN COSTA-FONT, London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)
Email: j.costa-font@lse.ac.uk

We examine the presence of a systematic preference for independent living at old age which we refer as “institutionalization aversion” (IA). Given that IA is not observable from revealed preferences, we draw on a survey experiment to elicit individuals’ willingness to pay (WTP) to avoid institutionalization (e.g., in a nursing home), using a double-bounded referendum WTP format. Our results suggest robust evidence of IA and reveal a willingness to pay of up to 16% of respondent’s (individuals over fifty-five years of age) average income. We find that estimates of the willingness to pay to avoid institutionalization (or €292 at the time of the study) exceed the amount respondents are willing to pay for home health care at old age in the event of a mild impairment (€222). WTP estimates vary with income, age and especially, respondents’ housing conditions. Finally, we test the sensitivity of our estimates to anchoring effects and ‘yea-saying’ biases.