Master Financial Education

Financial Planning Daily Commentary 2017
The  most intensive and extensive on the Web

E. F. Moody Jr.

click above for bio


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SP 500
World Statistical data

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

Highest integrity


10/22:Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence company created virtual robots that can sumo wrestle and play soccer. Short illuminating video

10/22:Bll O'Reilly reached a $32 million deal in January to settle a new sexual harassment claim. Fox extended his contract a month later.

EFM- For 32 million he could have harassed me.
What a schmuck.

10/22: It's all in the marketing- it's perception which may bear nothing to reality

  • President Donald Trump’s proposal for comprehensive tax reform was almost immediately dismissed as heartless and impractical by his political opponents.
  • When the same ideas are packaged under Bernie Sanders' name, however, liberal college students excitedly endorsed them.

  • 10/22:Insights both professionals and public failed to grasp "The current extended US bull market since the major 2008-09 sell-off allows for the retail investor to feel comfortable with “cheaper” passive investment. Yet prior to each of the previous busts there were also good reasons to “love the bubble”. And the subsequent bust was exacerbated by the retail investors’ reversal of previous confidence. That was the case for the origination of portfolio insurance back in the 1980s. Retail investors enticed into selling “naked put” options (along with the misguided notion of “dynamic hedging”) allowed portfolio managers to pay excessive levels for stocks."

    10/20: Mutual Fund ratings

    non Morningstar

    10/22: Obesity is increasing

    In 1975 obese children were almost unknown outside the rich world: just 0.3% of people in developing countries aged five to 19 were classed as obese. That figure has soared to 7% today. If current trends continue, the number of obese children worldwide will surpass that of the undernourished by 2022

    EFM- the trend will continue


    Aging Parents and Pets

    When George Honn knocked on his mother’s door to pick her up for a doctor’s appointment six years ago, she was startled. “That’s not today,” she told him.

    Sadly, George wasn’t as surprised as his mom, Charlotte, who was 81 at the time and living in Kansas City, Missouri. Once a talented cook and seamstress, Charlotte had been slipping for a while, forgetting appointments and endangering herself and others when she got behind the wheel. Sometimes, Charlotte didn’t slow the car at all as she merged into the path of speeding vehicles on a busy highway. “I’m an old lady. They have to let me in,” Charlotte told George when he rode beside her. In 2014, a doctor diagnosed Charlotte with dementia and banned her from driving. George and his wife, Nancy, who lived nearly an hour away in Paola, Kansas, checked on Charlotte regularly and got her out of the house occasionally.

    At least Charlotte had her dog, Chester, a young, 20-pound West Highland Terrier mix, to keep her company. However, as Charlotte’s dementia worsened, she frequently forgot to let Chester outside to relieve himself.

    Charlotte’s apartment smelled of urine, and she fell and injured herself often.

    In 2015, Charlotte moved to an assisted living community that allowed pets. However, she still forgot to let Chester outside. The Honns worried that the assisted living residence would insist that Charlotte couldn’t keep Chester.

    Before they could find Chester a new home, an emergency made the issue even more pressing. Charlotte fell again, breaking her ankle, and was admitted to a skilled nursing facility permanently in late 2015. This time, Chester couldn’t go with her.

    When a Senior Can’t Keep a Pet: A Common Dilemma

    Westie Rescue of Missouri is contacted “all the time” by children of aging parents unable to keep their pets, says Cheryl Sanford Aston, a volunteer and board member with the rescue group.

    “Typically, the family or a friend will contact us,” says Sanford Aston. “A lot of times, it’s a crisis situation where they might say, ‘I have to get rid of the dog tomorrow.'”

    The Honns didn’t want to take in Chester, who was five by that time and still not properly housetrained. Charlotte’s grandson took Chester for a while but the dog, stressed by an unfamiliar environment, chewed up furniture and gnawed through a wire crate where he was kept when the man left the house.

    The Honns boarded Chester temporarily at a kennel. Meanwhile, George’s mother Charlotte continued to decline mentally.

    At times, Charlotte thought she was living on a boat. Other times, not understanding the facility’s pet restrictions, she pleaded for Chester’s return. “He doesn’t need to be rescued,” Charlotte told them. “He’s got a home here. Bring him back.”

    Nancy called animal rescue groups but says all of them turned her down because they were full. “I was upset because it wasn’t fair to the dog,” says Nancy. “Something needed to be done but we had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to put him down.”

    Planning Ahead for a Parent’s Pet

    It’s a good idea to ask your parents to include in estate planning a guardian for their pet and/or enough money to fund veterinary care, boarding and expenses related to finding the animal a new home, says Sanford Aston.

    Plan ahead so you’re not making decisions during a crisis.

    Pet rehoming options could include:

    1. Adopt to a family member or friend.
    2. Sign over the pet to a reputable rescue group. Make sure the organization is licensed in the state where it’s located and has standards in place for adopters. A good rescue will charge an adoption fee, have the adopter sign a contract promising to return the pet if that person no longer wants to keep the animal and will follow up at least once or twice on the adoption. You can search online to find local animal rescue groups.
    3. Surrender to an animal shelter. If you have no choice but to take the pet to an animal shelter, try to find a facility that is clean, well-managed and has an excellent reputation. Ask friends about shelters where they adopted their pets. At the shelter, inquire about its euthanasia policy and procedure when a pet is not adopted within a certain time frame.
    4. Temporarily board the pet while looking for an adopter. Be sure you tour the boarding facility and check out where the pet will be kept. Also, inquire about how much recreation or playtime the pet will receive.

    Whatever you do, don’t advertise the pet on Craigslist or elsewhere as “free to a good home.” Unfortunately, people seeking free dogs sometimes have nefarious intentions such as selling the pet to dog fighting rings or reselling the animal to the first buyer with no screening or follow-up.

    If you adopt out the pet out on your own, charge an adoption fee of at least $60 to $100 to weed out people with bad motives, follow up a few weeks later and let the person know they can return the pet if things don’t work out.

    “We Just Matched Perfectly”

    After finding no rescue group for Chester, Nancy reached out to an acquaintance who volunteered with animal rescue organizations. The woman contacted Sanford’s rescue group, Westie Rescue of Missouri, which accepted Chester into its program and adopted him to Fortune Campbell, who lives in Columbia, Missouri, about two hours away from Kansas City.

    “He’s doing really well,” say Sanford Aston. Charlotte still asks about Chester, but the Honns say it would upset her too much to see him again when she can’t have him back. Things turned out well for Chester, though.

    A few months after Campbell adopted Chester, her husband passed away. “I had the bed to myself and it was so sad and depressing,” says Campbell, who lets Chester snuggle under the covers with her every night. “He’s been a huge comfort to me,” she says.

    Other rescues wouldn’t adopt to Campbell, 78, because she was “too old,” she says. So, Campbell made sure that before she adopted Chester, one of her children promised to take the dog if anything happened to her.

    “He was an older dog who had been with an older lady and we just matched perfectly,” says Campbell. “He’s very affectionate. She must have loved him dearly.”

    10/22: An inverted yield curve has predicted the last seven recessions dating back to the 1960's

    10/22: A Minsky moment is a sudden major collapse of asset values which is part of the credit cycle or business cycle. Such moments occur because long periods of prosperity and increasing value of investments lead to increasing speculation using borrowed money.

    EFM- Here is what you need to know.

        Zhou Xiaochuan, who is soon to stand down as governor of the Peoples Bank of China  said: “If we are too optimistic when things go smoothly, tensions build up, which could lead to a sharp correction, what we call a ‘Minsky moment’. That’s what we should particularly defend against.”

    It does not, obviously, state that will happen but the mere comment is a definite warning sign regarding China's economics. If they go down, a lot of other countries will do so as well. What about U.S.? Our fundamentals are better but the market keeps going becauase people want it to (momentum investing) . 

    10/22: Lowest jobless claims

    10/22: It’s cool again to invest’: Americans are giddy about stocks as Dow tops 23,000 .

    EFM- The title of the article really captures the emotional absurdity of momentum investing. It shows how one guy in college who is giddy about the market  and   "
    Friends regularly ask him for stock tips.". No idea when the market will stop but it reminds me of the DOTCOM mess.

    10/22: hale band prevents price rise to $60. The so-called “shale band” continues to cap oil prices at the $60-per-barrel ceiling, according to oil analysts. Any move above that threshold is widely seen as a likely catalyst for more shale production. This is why even the serious tension in the Middle East can seem to push Brent above $60. “The market is frightened by the shale oil band,” Olivier Jakob at PetroMatrix, who helped coin the term “shale band,” told the FT. “But it’s not just traders — we’ve seen indications from OPEC and Russian oil companies that even they think going above $60 a barrel right now would be too much and would bring on more oil from shale. They don’t want it.”

    We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.”

    George Bush

    (Take it anyway you want. Anti Trump, An old grouch. Bad president anyway, et al. But it is true)

    10/22: U.S. fund investors regained an appetite for risk over the last week, rushing into American and emerging market equities, as the Dow breached 23,000. Stock mutual funds and ETFs overall attracted $5.4B in the week ended Oct. 18, while emerging markets pulled in $2.3B, the most cash since March, Initial jobless claims fell to a 44-year low last week. 

    EFM- it is true 
    that current numbers show a fairly strong economy for the U.S. So maybe there is more time for the market to gain even more. But this bubble will have to stop somewhere and it will not be simply a correction

    10/20:Rohingya Refugees Are Overwhelming Authorities in Bangladesh

    Ethnic cleansing. A very sad situation that will get worse.  And enabled by a Nobel peace prize winner

    As long as I could get to the coffee, I wouldn't care

    10/20: Pollution kills- a lot more than had been assumed

    Pollution around the globe now contributes to an estimated 9 million deaths annually — or roughly one in six — according to an in-depth new study published Thursday in the Lancet. That means pollution kills three times more people each year than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    10/20: Reading, writing and recognizing fake news.]

    The Italian government has begun an experiment to train students to recognize false news reports and conspiracy theories.

    fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet, and we end up infected without even realizing it,” said a lawmaker who helped spearhead the project.
    Jason Horowitz, our Rome bureau chief, explains: “Frustrated by economic woes, upset by a migrant crisis and fed a steady diet of partisan media, many Italians subscribe to all kinds of conspiracy theories. It is what they call dietrologia, the belief that there is also always something dietro, or behind, the surface.”

    Many people live lives of quiet desperation

    10/20: ABCs of Alzheimers'


    At a mall in Hong Kong

    10/20: 113 questions and my answers continued

    8. Thought Experiments

    A technique popularized by Einstein, the thought experiment is a way to logically carry out a test in one’s own head that would be very difficult or impossible to perform in real life. With the thought experiment as a tool, we can solve problems with intuition and logic that could not be demonstrated physically, as with Einstein imagining himself traveling on a beam of light in order to solve the problem of relativity..

    EFM-Very useful and the one thing similar: making your first talk before a group. Mentally do it over and over. Appears initially impossible you can do it but use your mind to piece together how it will unfold. Didn't work for me the first time- one of my most humbling efforts. But keep running it through your mind and ultimately you can succeed. I still do it beforehand so I am prepared, But that is why we have a mind.

    9. Mr. Market

    Mr. Market was introduced by the investor Benjamin Graham in his seminal book The Intelligent Investor to represent the vicissitudes of the financial markets. As Graham explains, the markets are a bit like a moody neighbor, sometimes waking up happy and sometimes waking up sad – your job as an investor is to take advantage of him in his bad moods and sell to him in his good moods. This attitude is contrasted to an efficient-market hypothesis in which Mr. Market always wakes up in the middle of the bed, never feeling overly strong in either direction.

    EFM- I tell clients , classes, small furry animals, that the market does whatever it want. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO MAKE SENSE. As an investor in decades later, it is next to impossible to figure out what may be going on. If so, you would find ALL the hedge managers being highly successful. Further all the Artificial Intelligence (AI) being able to do the same. Can you buy and sell at certain times to limit risk. Yes- that is what the Process can do. Perfect? No because you can have a loss of 12% in any case. And you can get back in when UBER says things are now better. Should make extra return as well but I generally don't include that. Reminds me "don't believe everything you think"

    10. Probabilistic Thinking (See also: Numeracy/Bayesian Updating)

    The unknowable human world is dominated by probabilistic outcomes, as distinguished from deterministic ones. Although we cannot predict the future with great certainty, we are wise to ascribe odds to more and less probable events. We do this every day unconsciously as we cross the street and ascribe low, yet not negligible, odds of being hit by a car.

    EFM- I have to do that in my Process. You can define by math a perfect formula of what risk is over each and every year. And you would be wrong each and every year (probably). You have to include in you mind  the unknown probabilities as a potential range of occurrences. You will still be "wrong" but the range is hopefully close to reality.

    As regards retirement, there is NO plan that will carry 30 year with any level of accuracy. You do the best possible for a range and make changes every year or at least every five years. YOU MUST HAVE CONTINGENCIES  FOR OUTLIERS

    11. Default Status

    The USCB ecologist/economist Garrett Hardin once said that “The scientific mind is not closed: it is merely well-guarded by a conscientious and seldom sleeping gatekeeper.” The way it does that is with the concept of the default status: The “resting position” of common sense, whereby the burden of proof falls on assertions to the contrary. Given the problem of opportunity costs and limited time and energy, a default status is nearly always necessary to avoid wasting time. Examples include the laws of thermodynamics, the law of natural selection, and the incentive-caused bias.

    EFM- This is true to a point- The “resting position” of common sense, whereby the burden of proof falls on assertions to the contrary.   But the resting position for investment research has radically changed in the last 20 years and is still doing so. Insurance products look little like the decades previously, Health care- actually the dying process is far different and will keep evolving till people truly realize that the mere extension of life is causing excessive pain and mess for the patient. Assisted suicide will prevail. You can use common sense but a lot of people are just plain stupid. In short, "don't believe everything you think- or read- or hear on the news,,,,,,,,,,,"

    Numeracy (14)

    1. Permutations and Combinations

    The mathematics of permutations and combinations leads us to understand the practical probabilities of the world around us, how things can be ordered, and how we should think about things.

    EFM- Nope. read Mandelbrot, Bernstein, Taleb. The practical probabilities of investng has been stood on its head for the last 20+ years. Part of that is Kahneman and Thaler with the behavioral inputs.

    2. Algebraic Equivalence

    The introduction of algebra allowed us to demonstrate mathematically and abstractly that two seemingly different things could be the same. By manipulating symbols, we can demonstrate equivalence or inequivalence, the use of which led humanity to untold engineering and technical abilities. Knowing at least the basics of algebra can allow us to understand a variety of important results.

    EFM- right on

    3. Randomness

    Though the human brain has trouble comprehending it, much of the world is composed of random, non-sequential, non-ordered events. We are “fooled” by random effects when we attribute causality to things that are actually outside of our control. If we don’t course-correct for this fooled-by-randomness effect – our faulty sense of pattern-seeking – we will tend to see things as being more predictable than they are and act accordingly.

    EFM- Nassim Taleb has a book, "Fooled by Randomness" And Mandelbrot has "Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow:" Then there is: Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics focused on the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. 'Chaos' is an interdisciplinary theory stating that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, self-organization, and reliance on programming at the initial point known as sensitive dependence on initial conditions. The butterfly effect describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state, e.g. a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas.[1] .  Read Mandelbrot, the father of fractals. Stay with the basic definitions- the math must be left to experts. r

    4. Stochastic Processes (Poisson, Markov, Random Walk)

    A stochastic process is a random statistical process and encompasses a wide variety of processes in which the movement of an individual variable can be impossible to predict but can be thought through probabilistically. The wide variety of stochastic methods helps us describe systems of variables through probabilities without necessarily being able to determine the position of any individual variable over time. For example, it’s not possible to predict stock prices on a day-to-day basis, but we can describe the probability of various distributions of their movements over time. Obviously, it is much more likely that the stock market (a stochastic process) will be up or down 1% in a day than up or down 10%, even though we can’t predict what tomorrow will bring.

    EFM- It is not easy to reflect on the distribution of returns and what the impact can truly be. That necessity has been identified by Black Monday in 1987 and thereafter. Certainly 2000 and 2008 clearly showed why it is now mandatory to include proper analysis coupled with a gauge of the outlier effect. In my work on the Risk of Loss is a method to offset such outliers   and smooth out returns over time- possibly/probably increasing over a buy and hold. .

    10/22:  CPI since 2017

    10/22: Inflation since 2000

    Health care is a wildcard for the future. Trump does not have a cure. But apparently neither do Democrats nor Republicans.

    10/20 IRS Publishes New Mortality Tables, Affecting DB Plan Benefits
    "The new mortality table will increase the amount of lump-sum distributions payable by a private sector plan ... by 3% to 5%, depending on the age of the participant, when compared to the lump sum using the table for 2017.... For a retirement age of 65 and a 5.5% interest rate, the lump-sum equivalent of the maximum dollar limit of $215,000 will increase by approximately 3.5% (about a $90,000 increase)."

    10/19: ETFs

    10/18: Insurance products using indexes, participation, cap, spreads. Info only

    Sample return 2003 to 2013 Info primarily for me only

    10/18: Ron Surz


    The timing of investment losses matters a lot. Losses sustained during the Risk Zone can wreck retirement lifestyle. EFM- true

    Gambling against Sequence of Return Risk may seem like a good wager, but there is no recovery from losing this bet. RTM- probably quite true

    The World Economic Forum identifies 30 threats to U.S. markets. Investors near retirement cannot ignore these risks. EFM- true

    Every day without a correction is a day that the risk for a correction increases - Kristina Hooper, Invesco EFM- true

    EFM- Overall commentary however is flat out wrong. Do you have to take the losses of any recession- NO. Further, if you cannot take a 10% correction (corrections are defined as 10% to 15%), then you were never an investor anyway and have little business being in the market.

    Losses for a recession should not exceed about 12%. The devil in in the details.

    10/18: Bookstaber- what is wrong with economics. READ AND PAY ATTENTION

    Computational irreducibility

    Current economic systems are too complex to reduce to a mathematical description, and therefore cannot be treated with models designed for simple systems. "There are limits to how far we can carry deductive processes for understanding or describing human phenomena."

    EFM- Put that in all your notes about investing


    The effect of a group's actions qualitatively differ from an individual's actions. "You cannot anticipate the outcome for the whole system on the basis of the actions of its individual members because the large system will show properties its individual members do not have."


    Unlike ergodic models, social processes cannot extrapolate the past to predict future actions. "The dynamics of a financial crisis are not reflected in the pre-crisis period because financial markets are constantly innovating, so the future may look nothing like the past."

    Radical uncertainty

    Not every event can be predicted. Since many crucial events are unanticipated, they "cannot be put into a probability distribution because they are outside our list of things that might occur." Thus, "a mechanistic approach to economics will fail."

    10/18: It is just getting worse

    Another outbreak related to the nation’s opioid crisis: Hepatitis C

    New cases of the liver disease have tripled nationwide, driven largely by the use of needles for intravenous drugs.

    10/17: When the mind slips away

    10/17: David Robertson of Arete Asset Management writes in his October 13 SA article Market Overview Q317: Raised On Promises: Too many investors ignoring risks creates a "tremendous powder keg of risk in the markets" that is ultimately punctuated by significant disruptions.

    Is there a way out?? Yes (see above). So why hasn't it been offered? One reason is that advisors can say they are doing a great job (at least to themselves) for selecting allocations that will lower the overall risk/loss by one third. OK how much is that if the (regular equity loss was 60%).

    10/17: Evaluating skilled nursing homes

    1) Absolutely no place is perfect, there are just levels of imperfection. We are all human and all make mistakes, after all.

    2) I don't care how nice a facility looks when they are giving you a tour, you should really find out how much their average CNA makes. If it looks nice, and they give you a good speech, but their employees aren't paid well, exactly what kind of care do you think they will be giving?

    3) You should also really find out how many CNA's and nurses are normally on staff at each shift (not how many they'd like, how many there really are.) In other words, how many patients is the CNA taking care of your family member expected to take care of during an average shift. The higher the number, the less time they can give to each patient. Remember also that CNA's have duties they are responsible for outside of normal patient care that can take up their time.

    4) You should know what the facility’s turnover rate is. Chances are, if they have serious problems keeping employees, there is a very good reason. I have quit more than one facility because of the way it was run and the obvious lack of care for the patients the facility engendered.

    5) You should also find out what their policies are about sending patients out to the hospital for care, and how frequently this happens. You want a facility that will send a patient to the hospital for care when it is necessary. There are facilities that pressure staff to not send patients out, even when it is necessary.

    6) Try to talk to the CNA's without their supervisor watching. Find out what they think of the facility.

    Ask about the following:

    • Are they being treated fairly?
    • How is the patient care in general?
    • Are there enough nurses?
    • What does a normal shift look like?
    • Do they often have to work short-handed?

    An important question to ask is about the nurses. If the CNA feels they are able to go their nurse with concerns about a patient and see the issue addressed in a timely manner. You want to hear that your aides can talk to their nurses about potential problems or changes and be taken seriously. CNA's will see your family member far more than any other staff, and you want a nurse to listen to them if they think something is wrong with your family member.

    7) You should find out if they try to assign the same CNA's to the same patients every day they are working. You want the same people to see your family member daily. This causes the patient to be more comfortable and receive better care. If they have the same aides every day, then the aides know what they like, dislike, have a schedule and routine with them, and will be able to easier identify problems or concerns. If the patient has a different aide every day, there will be less consistency in care and routine. Some facilities don't like the attachment between patient and CNA this causes, but as a family member that is a bond you want. Aides often become attached to their patients and want to take care of them the best they can.

    8) No one wants to tell you this is true, but it is. Patients who have regular visits from family (daily, weekly, etc.) usually get better care and are a higher priority for their CNA's. Basically, if staff (even the bad stuff) knows someone is coming to check on their work and there will be serious repercussions for it not being done, they will make it a priority to have it done.

    9) Even good facilities have bad employees. There are at least 3 shifts of people who will take care of your family member daily, sometimes even more when people leave and assignments change. Not everything that happens is one person's fault, and good people won't be there all the time.

    10) Please remember that whether they are at home with you or in a facility, accidents will happen. If accidents are too frequent then you should be concerned, but please don't think that just because they are in a facility that no accident will ever happen. Facilities do lots of things to keep patients safe, but most person specific safety measures (alarms, mats, seat belts, etc.) won't be done until an accident has already happened once. Because unless they have a precedent for it happening the facility can't do anything to prevent it.

    Shared by Sharon at  this was written by my daughter w ho was the primary caregiver for my mom who was living with Alzheimer's

    10/17Sad News: Your 401(k) Won't Give You a Decent Retirement
    "The rise of the 401(k) would not be much of a problem if these accounts provided an effective way to husband assets for retirement periods that are growing longer, or if Social Security and employer pensions were as secure as they used to be.... Social Security's full retirement age is increasing to as high as 67 (for those born in 1960 or later) from the traditional 65. The change means that those subject to the maximum retirement age who nevertheless retire at 65 will receive 86.7% of their full benefits. In other words, most new retirees are facing a benefit cut, one way or another."
    Los Angeles Times

    EFM- The lowering of SS taken too early is 6/9% per month. You can see just how quickly the monthly payment can drop and potentially railroad your retirement

    1016: Harvey Weinstein

    Why do people like him walk the earth for so long without being taken down?  Nothing really different from many others where their power may be omnipotent- or so it seems. Those (whistle blowers) going after wrongs may be treated poorly, ostracized socially and professionally, criticized for risking the boat and more. Worth it? I have mixed feelings from doing it. It will leave you in a very, very small group of similar people who recognized what they did was right but that might be all.

    10/16: Falsification

    The modern scientific enterprise operates under the principle of falsification: A method is termed scientific if it can be stated in such a way that a certain defined result would cause it to be proved false. Pseudo-knowledge and pseudo-science operate and propagate by being unfalsifiable – as with astrology, we are unable to prove them either correct or incorrect because the conditions under which they would be shown false are never stated. 

    EFM- In the insurance business it may be next to impossible get get the info from a company to prove much of anything.  Further, there are few that have the ability to actually do it and few would care. The agents would not have the background to know one way or the other even if they did try to comprehend (doubtful). And they would hate to give up the commissions that everyone else was making.  As regards investments, few have made the effort to review the mathematical underpinnings of previous theories- myself included at times. More recently, a few analysts steeped in major mathematics (Michael Edesess, PhD. Math) have not only questioned many of theories used by advisors (MPT is a fine  example) but completely derided the fallacy of the certain theories/applications (use of smooth Gaussian graphs/standard deviation and the admittance of the emotional investor). 

    1016: Circle of Competence

    An idea introduced by Warren Buffett and Charles Munger in relation to investing: each individual tends to have an area or areas in which they really, truly know their stuff, their area of special competence. Areas not inside that circle are problematic because not only are we ignorant about them, but we may also be ignorant of our own ignorance. Thus, when we're making decisions, it becomes important to define and attend to our special circle, so as to act accordingly.

    EFM- this goes much further than the statements above. It might be possible to get really, really good in a specific area, but who is going to know? In terms of financial planning  some think they are conversant in investments- but still have missed the importance of correlation in portfolio application.

    But the real problem (that I faced years ago) was that one might be good in an area but are woefully short of the insight that investments would play with estate and retirement planning, certainly with insurance (an absolute minefield of terms and uses), One CANNOT simply turn over the ability to know what to do with what? simply calling their brother in law who has been 'top of the market' for years and goes on lots of trips? Will such an agent know of life settlement? Who is going to grasp the nuances of a reverse mortgage. Another brother in law? This is why financial planning is one of the most difficult disciplines imaginable because of the necessity of knowing outlying areas of planning beyond where a planner thinks he is truly capable. Most of the time it is being conveniently stupid- not bothering to upgrade knowledge in other disciplines. Referrals are the wrong way to see out excellence.   But that is not the way the industry works. 

    The Principle of Parsimony (Occam’s Razor)

    Named after the friar William of Ockham, Occam’s Razor is a heuristic by which we select among competing explanations. Ockham stated that we should prefer the simplest explanation with the least moving parts: it is easier to falsify (see: Falsification), easier to understand, and more likely, on average, to be correct. This principle is not an iron law but a tendency and a mindset: If all else is equal, it’s more likely that the simple solution suffices. Of course, we also keep in mind Einstein’s famous idea (even if apocryphal) that “an idea should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

    EFM- MPT is simple- so it is used as an acceptable format for thousands of advisors. Unfortunately, MPT has been a failed theory since it does not include human behavior. Simple is way overrated. 

     Hanlon's Razor

    Harder to trace in its origin, Hanlon’s Razor states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. In a complex world, this principle helps us avoid extreme paranoia and ideology, often very hard to escape from, by not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, although they can be. More likely, a mistake has been made.

    EFM- I agree. Outright fraud is not generally displayed. Stupidity is the problem. See also Circle of Competence

    Second-Order Thinking

    In all human systems and most complex systems, the second layer of effects often dwarfs the first layer, yet often goes unconsidered. In other words, we must consider that effects have effects. Second-order thinking is best illustrated by the idea of standing on your tiptoes at a parade: Once one person does it, everyone will do it in order to see, thus negating the first tiptoer. Now, however, the whole parade audience suffers on their toes rather than standing firmly on their whole feet.

    EFM- This seems to parallel Kahneman with his recent book Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow though the issue to me seems to be that the first thought is easy- tiptoeing- but a very few will think beforehand and bring a stepping stool and therefore do much better. The first element is simple heuristics- that which is easier to use- while the other element can be a brains buster. It's when you realize the first order of thinking will not give a benefit and further thought is necessary. I find this difficult but absolutely necessary when you are confronted with what one sees as difficult and time consuming.

    The Map Is Not the Territory

    The map of reality is not reality itself. If any map were to represent its actual territory with perfect fidelity, it would be the size of the territory itself. Thus, no need for a map! This model tells us that there will always be an imperfect relationship between reality and the models we use to represent and understand it. This imperfection is a necessity in order to simplify. It is all we can do to accept this and act accordingly.

    EFM- This reminds me of the smooth Gaussian curve which has been used for decades to address standard deviation as risk. So very simple because almost everything will fall in three standard deviations- until it doesn't. Outliers are common place and occur with a regularity that confounds the simple methods of determining risk. I don't quite follow the comment that imperfection will make things simplify (it may just be me unable to see what is being addressed). The imperfection may make the decisionmaking process very difficult since some of it has yet to be defined simply. See Mandelbrot and his  book "The (Mis)behavior of Markets". Amazing insight that must be read. Also Peter Bernstein and 'Against the Gods. The Remarkable Story of Risk." Both are mandatory reading.    

    10/15: Mental Models: The Best Way to Make Intelligent Decisions

    From Charlie Munger (better know him) And put this note on your nose and follow it diligently:

    Munger explained his novel approach to gaining practical wisdom:

    Well, the first rule is that you can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang 'em back. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form.

    You've got to have models in your head. And you've got to array your experience both vicarious and direct on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You've got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

    What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you've got to have multiple models because if you just have one or two that you're using, the nature of human psychology is such that you'll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you'll think it does. …

    And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That's why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don't have enough models in their heads. So you've got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.

    You may say, “My God, this is already getting way too tough.” But, fortunately, it isn't that tough because 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.

    EFM- One of the best things I ever learned took a long time- Don't believe everything you think. Maybe you can find the nuggets early enough in life but not from my experience. I did challenge a lot of investment "rules" in the 90s and found out the concern was warranted. (MPT,   valuation of securities, behavior of investors, most of life insurance was a crap game, real estate exchanges were not what they appeared) and on and on. Finally a lot of stuff was discredited and made me fell better. But considering all the interrelated elements of financial planning, there is a lot more re-education that is needed up and down the line.. Will it succeed? The discipline in the licensing is a joke.

    The commentary states that there are certain principles that one might hold dear- "The main laws of physics. The main ideas driving chemistry. The big, useful tools of mathematics. The guiding principles of biology. The hugely useful concepts from human psychology. The central principles of systems thinking. The working concepts behind business and markets." I do not necessarily agree. There are some novel elements appearing in physics that stretch the mind (time and gravity). Big mathematics that controlled how economies work have fallen along with business and markets because there are great tail risks that cannot be accounted for. Interest rates below zero fails credulity. Central principles of thinking? Look at what Kahneman and Thaler have done. How the earth works? Well so far the world is falling apart now. Biology? Throw in robotics and we might be doomed in a few decades as a new 'form of life' controls everything. As Fox Mulder would say, TRUST NO ONE 

    More to come

      Really impressive
    Of course out of three brothers helping her, this is the only one left

    10/15: Retirement sucks

    About 28% of seniors polled by Nationwide claimed that their lives worsened after they retired,

    How to invest for lifetime income and long-term growth
    Clients who have a sizeable retirement savings may want to annuitize a portion of these funds to create a guaranteed income stream enough to cover their needs in the golden years, according to this article on CNNMoney. A small portion of their savings may be socked away in a cash reserve fund, and the remainder of the money may be invested in a diversified portfolio with a 40% to 60% asset allocation

    EFM, . - May work for some recognizing that annuities pay close to nothing. If you have a lot of money, that can work. As to 60% in bond  funds- that is a joke now. Nothing in annuity returns and next to nothing in bond funds- certainly as rates rise.

    10/15: Investors Do Not Underperform their Investments

    EFM- It is also the reason why this silly graph by Carl Richards is categorically wrong.

    10/15: Trump's tax

    10/15: n Education in Risk Management Can Offer a Leg Up,” according to a recent New York Times article. “Among the hot areas now are positions related to minimizing risk, as firms try to mitigate the chances of another financial crisis. Risk in general is a relatively new focus, and the openings range from business, credit and operational risk to product and technology risk.”  Today nearly everyone in the financial services industry has risk management listed in their job description.  Yet, when trying to grasp the concepts, many people are intimidated by the mathematics in most texts and risk courses.

    EFM- mathematics are necessary but that is not how you finish the concept of basic risk of loss dealing with mutual funds and recessions. .

    10/13 If you have cataracts, just get the surgery. Relatively uninvasive and quick. Immediate results. Done by laser, no sutures, no pain for 8 in group. 

    10/13: I am having cataract surgery today

    Delaying Treatment of Advanced Forms of the Common Eye Disease Can Increase Risk of Permanent Blindness and Injury.

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges seniors and their caregivers to be aware of the dangers of ignoring the symptoms of cataracts, a leading cause of visual impairment that will affect more than half of all Americans by the time they are 80 years old. Delaying diagnosis and treatment of age-related cataracts can increase seniors' risk of permanent blindness and can lead to both physical and psychological damage.

    Cataracts are caused by the clouding of the lens of the eye and are most common among older adults as the condition develops as the eye ages. Many seniors cope with cataracts — accepting vision loss as an inevitable part of the aging process rather than seeking medical treatment. Due to the incapacitation caused by blurred vision, leaving cataracts undiagnosed and untreated can lead to physical danger such as injuries from falls or running into unseen objects, as well as psychological harm like depression and social isolation. In addition, the longer advanced forms of cataracts are left untreated, the more difficult it can be to successfully repair the damage caused to the eye.

    Adults age 65 and older should have regular eye exams to monitor for the development of cataracts, in addition to other common eye conditions and diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. People with diabetes, a family history of cataracts, and those who smoke tobacco are at an increased risk of developing cataracts. Common symptoms such as dull, blurry vision, colors appearing less vibrant, and halos around lights may begin to be noticeable as cataracts develop. This cataract simulator demonstrates how vision is affected by cataracts.

    Cataracts are nearly always treatable with surgery, but it may not be necessary until performing daily activities becomes difficult. If daily life isn't disturbed, a change in a person's eyeglass prescription may be all that is necessary until visual impairment becomes more severe. If completing everyday tasks is challenging, cataract surgery should be discussed with an ophthalmologist — a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions.

    "Seniors who find themselves giving up normal tasks like reading, exercising or driving due to cataract symptoms should know that they do no not need to suffer in silence," said Rebecca Taylor, M.D., spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Cataract surgery can help these individuals regain their sight and their independence. It is one of the most common and safest procedures performed in medicine, so seniors should not resist seeking help. Getting treatment can vastly improve your quality of life."

    For people without regular access to eye care or for whom cost is a concern, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost to qualifying seniors age 65 and older through its corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists across the U.S. To learn more about EyeCare America or to find out if you or a loved one qualifies for the program, visit EyeCare America is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., with additional support from Alcon and Genentech

    10/13: According to academic research in 2012, financial literacy education has changed behavior 0.1% of the time

    EFM- it really is never going to do much better

    10/13: Fiduciaries???

    Of roughly 310,000 financial advisers in the U.S., less than 10% are legally obligated to put your interests first at all times on all of your accounts.

    Tony Robbins says this, "Don’t get me wrong, this is not an indictment on the good people that work in the industry. I have lots of friends and clients in the financial industry, so I’m speaking with firsthand knowledge when I tell you that they — and the vast majority of their colleagues — are people of real integrity. They have good hearts and good intentions. The trouble is, they work in a system that’s beyond their control — a system that has tremendously powerful financial incentives to focus on maximizing profits above all else."

    I find the sophomoric and superficial exaltations about 'agoods hearts and intentions' to be the real cruz of clients losses. Financial planning, done properly, is one of the most demanding disciplines one could think of. To marry several different subject areas together is very, very hard (taxes, estate, investments, retirement, insurance, annuities, behavioral et al). Integrity has nothing to do with knowing how to use a financial calculator, life settlement, inverted yield curve...... My point is that you are not going to find many entities with real life knowledge and expertise- though if no one else does not care then????? The industry has not mandated criteria strong enough to work well. So I will say this again- does your adviser know of the inverted yield curve when a recession is eminent? What did they do in 2000 and 2008? Generally it was nothing at all.
    So much for caring.

    10/13: History of recessions

    10/13: Underwriting breast cancer

    With the advances in medical care, abilities for treatment, and increasing awareness and self exams we’re seeing more and more cases of women that are survivors of cancer and create a unique underwriting challenge. The good news is that we typically can get a decent offer for coverage if it is detected early and treated properly.

    When you come upon someone who has this history, the first thing is to assure them that this is common. The industry has lots of experience underwriting this risk and you have access to support that will help them get the best offer, based on their situation and history

    A few key bits of information will allow us to give you a realistic expectation of an eventual underwriting decision:

    • What was the age at diagnosis and date the treatment ended?
    • What was the specific type of Breast Cancer?
    • What was the stage and grade of the cancer? — most important, and comes from the post-pathology report
    • How was it treated?...lumpectomy or mastectomy?...any chemo or radiation?
    • Any metastasis or lymph node involvement?
    • If known, are there any positive receptors and what is the size of the tumor?
    10/13: IMF on accelerating global growth


    Tenfold increase in childhood obesity
    The number of obese children and teenagers across the world is about to overtake the number who are underweight. The study, led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization, is the most extensive analysis of body weight ever undertaken. Between 1975 to 2016, the number of obese girls, aged 5 to 19, rose from 5m to 50m, while the total for boys increased from 6m to 74m. (FT)

    10/12: Iodine Global Network
    It’s something that affects all of us, in fact, if you don’t consume it then you die, sodium chloride, better known as salt. But in many countries, iodized salt remains the difference between a baby born with mental retardation or not.

    EFM- A much greater impact on humans globally than I ever realized. Supposedly a very good charity

    Born and raised back east so I know it can look like this for several weeks if the weather allows.
    10/12: S&P 500 versus international. Which is better

    10/12: Well, I forgot what to write here.

    Roughly 9% of Americans have dementia, which is a blanket term for a loss of intellectual function that is severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life. That interference often takes the form of memory loss or confusion, but it could also manifest as poor hand-eye coordination, problems with tasks like cooking or operating a computer, or mood and behavioral changes ranging from depression to hostility.

    “Driving issues, especially struggling to find their way around areas they know, or not judging distance between cars, or making turns inappropriately, are all symptoms,”

    But the number-one red flag a child or caregiver needs to watch out for is change. If someone is acting differently than they used to, that’s good reason for them to see a doctor for an evaluation

    In the majority of dementia cases—at least 60%—the loss of cognitive function will be caused by Alzheimer’s disease,. “Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative process in which abnormal plaques or deposits accumulate in brain regions controlling thinking and memory and other functions,” he says. “As that process progresses, it causes dementia.”

    At the same time, there are also other triggers of cognitive decline that are treatable and in some cases reversible. These include everything from an undiagnosed stroke to a thyroid condition or medication side-effects. This fact—that many cases of dementia are caused by fixable, non-Alzheimer’s sources of impairment—may be a good way to coax a parent into visiting a doctor for an assessment, which can be a tricky conversation for kids and caregivers,

    In fact, talking about dementia with a parent is often more difficult than spotting the warning signs. another aspect of dementia is impaired insight, so a loved one who’s struggling may not recognize his symptoms or acknowledge that there’s an issue. “When family approach them, they may be either dismissive or angry,” he says. “There can also be some degree of paranoia,” which makes these sorts of conversations rough.

    I think I might get this but  it may not be no problem since I have to think so hard every day that I really haven't seen a falloff - yet. But  have no intention to be a vegetable

    I have an annuity I would like to sell you
    And you can tell I'm sincere
    10/12: Securities exam necessary to sell you something.

    Qualifications Exam Restructuring

    FINRA is restructuring the Qualifications Examination program to streamline competency exams and expand opportunities for prospective securities professionals seeking to enter or re-enter the securities industry. Under the revised program, which is effective October 1, 2018:

    • all new representative-level applicants will be required to pass a general knowledge examination, the Securities Industry EssentialsTM (SIETM), and a revised representative-level qualification examination;
    • firms may maintain a larger roster of associated persons who are permissively registered as representative or principal allowing firms to have greater flexibility in managing unanticipated needs for qualified personnel; and
    • FINRA is implementing a waiver program for individuals who terminate their registrations to go to work for a foreign or domestic financial services industry affiliate of a member firm.

    FINRA is providing a range of resources to help firms understand the changes:

    Video: Qualifications Exam Restructuring

    EFM- Raise your hands if you think an adviser needs to be able to use a personal financial calculator. Well, it ain't gonna happen. So much for fiduciary duty.

    10/12:Why the Average Retirement Age Is Rising
    "Changes [to Social Security] made work more attractive relative to retirement.... The shift from defined benefit to 401(k) plans eliminated built-in incentives to retire.... [W]orkers covered by 401(k) plans retire a year or two later on average than similarly situated workers covered by a defined benefit plan.... Life expectancy has increased, and much of the evidence suggests that people are healthier as well."

    EFM- actually there has been a slight negative change in anticipated deaths (lots of opiods). And obesity is increasing.
    10/12: An IQ test for Trump

    10/12:Mortality Table Updates Finalized for 2018 (PDF)

    10/12: I said only two interest rate increases in 2017. It's a toss up right now. Of course if I am wrong I won't admit it (situational ethics)

    Inflation cloud hangs over Federal Reserve


    Worries about the risk of stubbornly low inflation hung over the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting, even as the central bank held its course for a further rate rise as soon as the end of the year.

    Many of the US central bank’s policymakers declared at its latest rate-setting meeting that a further increase is likely to be needed “later this year” as long as the economy stays on track.

    But minutes of the Fed’s gathering on September 19-20 revealed a body of policymakers who are troubled by this year’s doggedly weak inflation readings and divided over how best to respond.

    10/11: Puerto Rico debt

    Firms with the most PR debt exposure

    Firm Total Puerto Rico debt
    OppenheimerFunds $2,955,781,628.00
    Franklin Templeton Investments $1,142,020,099.00
    MFS $676,144,062.00
    MainStay $554,738,801.00
    Goldman Sachs $511,618,471.00
    American Funds $212,453,233.00
    Eaton Vance $191,457,544.00
    Lord Abbett $149,579,023.00
    Vanguard $123,634,227.00
    BlackRock $110,219,411.00
    Source: Morningstar Direct

    That prediction comes as the island's revenues that are diverted to help with rebuilding efforts could reduce the likelihood bondholders will recover their funds

    10/11: African cancer is devastating

    Cancer now kills about 450,000 Africans a year. By 2030, it will kill almost 1 million annually, the World Health Organization predicts. The most common African cancers are the most treatable, including breast, cervical and prostate tumors.  Cancers in most of Africa are more lethal than in the West. In the United States, 90 percent of women with breast cancer survive five years; here, only 46 percent do. 450,000 Africans die each year in africa

    10/11: If you see an article by Alicia Munnell, read it. Exceptional research.

    “401(k)/IRA Holdings in 2016: An Update from the SCF” 

    Click for full report

    by Alicia H. Munnell and Anqi Chen

    CRR logo

    The brief’s key findings are:

    • The Federal Reserve’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances offers an opportunity to examine households’ holdings in 401(k)s and IRAs.
    • For working households nearing retirement with a 401(k), median combined 401(k)/IRA balances rose from $111,000 in 2013 to $135,000 in 2016.
    • While growing balances are encouraging, $135,000 provides only $600 per month in retirement, so current saving levels are still falling short. 
    • Moreover, about half of households nearing retirement have no 401(k) assets at all, so lack of access to a plan remains an enormous problem.

    10/10:  I think all the child's play at politics is referenced in this headline..............

    Corker calls White House ‘an adult day care center’ in response to Trump’s latest Twitter tirade

    Trump said Corker, who made headlines last week with his sharp criticism of the president, “didn't have the guts to run” for reelection.

    That is just a great funny comeback irrespective of politics,.

    10/10: German Finance Minister and I agree

    Wolfgang Schäuble has warned that spiralling levels of global debt and liquidity present a major risk to the world economy.

    there was a danger of “new bubbles” forming due to the trillions of dollars that central banks have pumped into markets.

    10/10: Depression after Stroke

    10/10: Vision changes in the elderly. I will be having cataract surgery this month


    "Medically Necessary But Forbidden: Reproductive Health Care in Catholic-Owned Hospitals" Fee Download
    NBER Working Paper No. w23768

    ELAINE L. HILL, University of Rochester
    University of Kansas
    University of Kansas - Department of Economics

    The United States has recently seen a large increase in hospital mergers and acquisitions, and Catholic hospital systems have actively participated in this. As of 2016, 40% of the largest healthcare systems were faith-based, with 141 mergers between Catholic and non-Catholic systems since 1997. Mergers that affiliate a hospital with a Catholic owner, network, or system, are consequential because they reduce the set of possible medical procedures since Catholic hospitals are generally prohibited from providing procedures like tubal ligation. We examine the effect of changes in ownership from secular to Catholic (and vice versa) on reproductive health procedures that are likely to be affected. Using hospital-level variation in ownership status for 1002 hospitals, we estimate a difference-in-differences model with year and hospital fixed effects. We find that Catholic hospitals reduce the per bed annual rates of inpatient abortions by 30% and tubal ligations by 31%, whereas there is no significant change in related procedures such as D&Cs or C-sections. Our results are primarily driven by hospitals that change from not Catholic to Catholic. Across a variety of measures, we find minimal overall welfare reductions. However, this decrease in tubal ligations rate alone represents nearly 10,000 fewer tubal ligations per year across the United States, which in itself imposes a substantial cost on women and their partners.

    10/9: Volatility is not Risk- Absolute or Otherwise

    Volatility as a Source of Risk Is Not Absolute, But a Function of the Investor’s Circumstances

    Consider the following four investor profiles and how volatility is likely to affect their long-term investment results:

    1. Long-Term Investors with Strong “Stomachs”: Such investors have a 10-year or longer time horizon as they save for goals like retirement or college tuition for their children. Furthermore, these investors are behaviorally unaffected by volatility — they stick to the investment plan regardless of how bumpy the ride. (And they are deluded by marketing) For such investors, volatility is not a risk. Their main consideration is the long-term annualized rate of return and the probability of permanent capital loss along the way.
    2. Short-Term Investors: This cohort plans to use a major portion of their portfolios within the next three years. Volatility is a primary risk since the near-term withdrawal of capital will lock in short-term results. So volatility is a primary concern, because as it increases, so too does the potential for forced sales at disadvantageous prices.
    3. Long-Term Investors with Weak “Stomachs”: These investors are behaviorally affected by volatility. Many investors saving for long-term goals end up taking investment actions counter to their interests because of price volatility, market news, or other short-term developments. Ideally, these investors should not act in this manner given their goals, but they can’t stay rational and so frequently sell at low points. This type of investor should treat volatility as a risk since a more volatile return stream is likely to create worse financial outcomes.
    4. Long-Term Investors Who Consistently Spend Small Portions of Their Portfolios: This variety of investors could include institutions, such as an endowment that spends approximately 5% of its portfolio to support its organization, or an individual using a small portion of the portfolio to cover annual expenses. Volatility matters to some degree, but it is not the main risk.

    Here are two Monte Carlo simulations of a scenario similar to those facing many endowments today:

    Scenario 1

    Expected Return = 8%, Standard Deviation = 15%,

    Annual Withdrawal Rate = 5%, Number of Years = 30

    Scenario 2

    Expected Return = 8%, Standard Deviation = 10%,

    Annual Withdrawal Rate = 5%, Number of Years = 30

    The above analysis demonstrates that when the volatility of returns, as measured by the standard deviation, falls from 15% annually to 10%, the probability of the portfolio failing to last the full 30 years drops significantly — from 14% to 3%.

    There are two lessons here: First, know your client’s situation so you can determine how important a risk portfolio volatility is in their specific case.


    "SIRI-OUSLY 2.0: What Artificial Intelligence Reveals about the First Amendment" Free Download
    101 Minnesota Law Review 2481 (2017)
    Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 17-01
    Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 374
    U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-3

    TONI M. MASSARO, University of Arizona College of Law
    University of Colorado School of Law
    University of Colorado Law School, Yale University - Yale Information Society Project, Yale University - Law School, University of Colorado at Boulder - Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship

    The First Amendment may protect speech by strong Artificial Intelligence (AI). In this Article, we support this provocative claim by expanding on earlier work, addressing significant concerns and challenges, and suggesting potential paths forward.

    This is not a claim about the state of technology. Whether strong AI — as-yet-hypothetical machines that can actually think — will ever come to exist remains far from clear. It is instead a claim that discussing AI speech sheds light on key features of prevailing First Amendment doctrine and theory, including the surprising lack of humanness at its core.

    Courts and commentators wrestling with free speech problems increasingly focus not on protecting speakers as speakers but instead on providing value to listeners and constraining the government’s power. These approaches to free speech law support the extension of First Amendment coverage to expression regardless of its nontraditional source or form. First Amendment thinking and practice thus have developed in a manner that permits extensions of coverage in ways that may seem exceedingly odd, counterintuitive, and perhaps even dangerous. This is not a feature of the new technologies, but of free speech law.

    The possibility that the First Amendment covers speech by strong AI need not, however, rob the First Amendment of a human focus. Instead, it might encourage greater clarification of and emphasis on expression's value to human listeners — and its potential harms — in First Amendment theory and doctrine. To contemplate — Siri-ously — the relationship between the First Amendment and AI speech invites critical analysis of the contours of current free speech law, as well as sharp thinking about free speech problems posed by the rise of AI.

    10/9: This is an actual case

    Wife Accused of Killing Husband Can Sue Insurer That Froze Life Insurance Proceeds


    "Impact of Managerial Commitment on Risk Taking with Dynamic Fund Flows" Fee Download
    CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12285

    RON KANIEL, University of Rochester - Simon Business School, CEPR
    University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business
    TI ZHOU,

    We present a model with dynamic investment flows, where fund managers have the ability to generate excess returns and study how forcing them to commit part or all of their personal wealth to the fund they manage affects fund risk taking. We contrast the behavior of a manager that may invest her personal wealth in a private account to a manager that is either forced to commit her wealth to the fund she manages, or a manager who is not allowed to hold risky assets held by the fund privately. We show that a fund managed by a manager with higher ability does not necessarily achieve higher expected returns but achieves lower idiosyncratic volatility. For a manager with constant ability, restrictions placed on her personal account do not influence her choices in the fund, while for a manager whose ability varies stochastically they result in higher expected returns and idiosyncratic volatilities. Fund strategies can be non-monotone both in the manager's commitment level and the ratio of manager to investor wealth. Our results are robust to incomplete information and to competing managers with correlated ability.

    10/9  Artificial Intelligence

     "Typical" careers, in which a person advances through the ranks of a particular field, will increasingly "cease to exist" as artificial intelligence and robots replace more human workers over the next few decades. Humans, it says, will have to become more comfortable learning new skills and making career transitions.

    EFM- Considering the kids with no high school diploma, this is a no win situation. They cannot get a job with McDonalds since they will all be automated. So, no money, no avenues to turn to will lead to far more teenagers just hanging around on the street corners and selling opiods or using them.

    A 2013 Oxford University study estimates that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be replaced by robots and automated technology within the next two decades.

    Some 60 percent of the report's 10,000 respondents think that "few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future." And the overwhelming majority of those who participated in the survey, about 75 percent, believe it's their own responsibility to update their skills, rather than rely on their employer's.
    Still, many say they'll need help. Some 56 percent of respondents think governments should take any action needed to protect jobs from automation. The report also mentions the possibility of universal basic income, or cash payments from governments.

    EFM- Universal income pays EVERYONE money each month . The robots will do most everything and the human will be pushed aside. However I believe that humans need the challenge of work and without that more and    more of any age will be hanging around the street corner

    10/9: Teeny robots on a bun

    researchers are closing in on the creation of an ingestible robot that can perform a variety of functions from within the human body.

    EFM -I thought that was a function of gummy bears

    10/9: Not necessary to read this. Tons of the same type of commentary. But it is the last sentence which is included in most. articles that points to higher and higher deficits. There is no way our society can keep handling HUGE losses each year.

    Republicans largely abandon their platform of fiscal restraint

    Cutting spending to balance the budget was almost religion to Republicans for much of the past eight years, when they frequently clashed with then-President Obama about government spending and federal programs. Now, the GOP is charging forward with plans to significantly increase military spending and to cut taxes in a way that could add more than $1.5 trillion to the government’s debt over 10 years.



    10/8:  The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

    are analyzing what we all see: the President’s persistent, blatant lies (there is some disagreement among contributors on whether he knows he is lying or is, in fact, delusional); his contradictory statements; his inability to hold a thought; his aggression; his lack of empathy.

    10/8: Household income

    10/8: The unemployed

    In August, 78.4 percent of Americans in their prime working years — typically defined as ages 25 to 54 — had jobs, down 1.3 percentage points from when the recession began. That small-sounding change masks a vast human toll: the disappearance of more than 1.5 million workers from the economy. Research has found that many fell into drug addiction and poverty.

    in the places that had been hit the hardest, the effects have lingered — thousands of workers who lost their jobs struggled to find work and ultimately stopped looking. Many, still haven’t found it.

    “There are a bunch of people who were knocked out by the recession who aren’t coming back even in the places where unemployment has fallen,”

    It is not clear what has been preventing workers from returning to work as the economy has improved. Recent research from the Princeton economist Alan B. Krueger has linked the decline in employment among men, in particular, to opioid abuse, a problem unlikely to go away simply because more jobs become available. Mr. Krueger found that nearly half of the working-age men who are not in the labor force take pain medication daily; many employers have recently complained that they are having trouble finding workers who can pass a drug test.

    declining rates of entrepreneurship and falling job turnover, suggests the nation’s economy has become less dynamic and flexible since 2000, which could have made it harder for workers and companies alike to adapt following the shock of a recession.

    the recession may have accelerated trends that were already underway: ........... has found that companies had, in effect, taken advantage of the recession to replace workers with machines. That was particularly damaging for men without a college degree — a group that was already struggling before the recession and that has been especially slow to recover from it.

    Had the change happened more gradually,  workers might have had a chance to adapt and learn new skills; instead, the recession left millions of them jobless in an environment where there was little demand for their labor.

    If the United States no longer recovers as quickly from recessions as it once did, and if those slow recoveries can leave permanent scars on workers, then it is all the more important to kick-start the economy before too much damage is done.

    10/8: Wow!!!

    10/8:  40% of Cancers Are Linked to Being Overweight

    In 2014, about 630,000 Americans were diagnosed with a cancer associated with excess body weight.

    Carrying around extra weight is believed to fuel cancer growth in a number of ways. It increases inflammation throughout the body and alters levels of insulin, sex hormones, and growth hormones, all of which may trigger cancer cells to grow rapidly and uncontrolled.

    About two-thirds of the people diagnosed with obesity-related cancers in 2014 were between ages 50 and 74, and rates were higher among women than men—“partially because endometrial, ovarian, and postmenopausal female breast cancers accounted for 42% of overweight- and obesity-related cancers,”

     About two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, defined as having a body mass index of at least 25 or at least 30, respectively. These people are nearly twice as likely as healthy-weight people to develop esophageal, stomach, liver and kidney cancer, they authors write in their paper, while obese people are approximately 30% more likely to develop colorectal cancer.

    10/6: Old workers

    new study found some striking differences between older and younger workers – and among different groups of older workers:

    • The vast majority of workers between ages 50 and 59 predict they will have the physical and mental ability to continue in their jobs for another 10 years. However, this positive assessment of the future is higher among the college-educated than those without college degrees, whose work tends to be more physically demanding.
    • But the amount of heavy lifting, tiring positions, and standing or sitting required for long periods largely does moderate with age – and even for men without college degrees.
    • Older men are also under much less time pressure than men under 35 without degrees, who report not having enough time to complete their tasks at three times the rate reported by similar women under 35. Notably, the reverse is true for older women, who face more time pressures than women under 35.
    • Autonomy – in the form of control over one’s schedule – improves with age, particularly for college-educated men over 50. Among older women without college degrees, two out of three can choose their break times, giving them more freedom than their younger counterparts.
    • Older workers lacking college degrees have some advantages too: they are less prone to frequent scheduling changes than younger workers.

    This survey suggests there are myriad workplace factors driving the decision to keep working or retire. Stay tuned for more research on this important issue.

    EFM- there are tons of statistics involving older workers but they vary to what is being asked. One survey says this, another one, that.


    Millions in suburbs lack health coverage

    By Marlene Y. Satter

    Nearly 40 percent of Americans lacking health coverage live in the suburbs, and close to one out of every seven suburban residents has no coverage.

    10/5: The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to increase between 3.6% and 4.0% this year

    I am always very curious to Christmas sales. It's not a perfect gauge to the following year but if an increase occurs, it bodes well for the economy. This might be similar to 2011. I did not think Christmas would be good at all considering another round of kicking the can on a new budget. So what happen? They did not care this time and just spent more on Christmas. That seemed illogical but I have learned that a lot of stuff does NOT have to make sense. 

    Some other stuff not making sense- North Korea, VIOLENCE AGAINST MYANMAR'S ROHINGYA (very very bad almost to the level of genocide)  England is not doing well with Brexit. And  this is happening right now

    This is economics in the Twilight Zone!

    10/5: Notice the home bias.


    10/4: Another economic high

    CNBC All-America Economic Survey found 43 percent of the public believes the economy is excellent or good, a record high in the 10-year history of the survey. Thirty-six percent believes the economy will get better, down a couple of points from last quarter, but just 23 percent say it will get worse, down 6 points.

    10/4: Manufacturing looking good

    The ISM Manufacturing chart above shows that reports for the month of September came in significantly ahead of expectations, topping 60 for the first time in over 13 years! 


    Economists/analysts were forecasting the headline index to come in at a level of 58.1 - a bit short wouldn't you say?  Relative to expectations, September's report was the strongest since October 2014, and on an absolute level, this month's print was the highest since May 2014.

    10/3: This is tough to look at since it is really out of whack

    10/3: Acts of terror


    Obesity exacts high productivity penalty along with higher medical costs

    Just got this. Anyone see an issue with........ KILLER chronic Illness Rider. 10/2: 10/2: Projected tax rates 10/2: US Trade balance The visual really shows the difference in countries 10/1: The question of interest for this discussion is the pace at which mortality rates have been declining – rapidly or slowly – and at what ages. Figure 2 shows the annual improvement in mortality rates for men and women since 1900. To separate longer term trends from short-run fluctuations, these rates of improvement are averaged over a rolling 10-year period and centered on the middle year of the averaging period. Several points are worth noting. First, the rate of change varies significantly over time for both men and women. Second, the historical pattern of women’s mortality improving faster than their male counterparts has reversed in recent decades. Finally, the United States is in a downward part of the cycle today. That is, the rate of improvement has been dropping for both men and women in recent years 10/1: India is going to be huge. However I think some time is needed for the country to  'mature'. 10/1: EFM- They used to be set periods of moving stocks to bonds. Then they went all over the map. They are NOT the safe and secure investment for retirees.

    Using computer modeling, a team of researchers estimated that individuals could save nearly a year’s wages over a normal life span simply by maintaining a BMI appropriate to their physical stature.

    10/2:       New Guaranteed Death Benefit IUL with Killer Chronic Illness Rider

    Dementia and Alzheimers are epidemic

    One in Three Seniors will Die with a form of Dementia.

    caring for those effected with Dementia will soon become the single biggest cost of our healthcare system

    Alzheimer's Association. “2012 Alzheimer's
     Disease Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer's and Dementia:
    The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.  March 2012;

    Chart of Select Limits              
    401k Plan Limits for Year 2018* 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
    401k Elective Deferrals $18,500 $18,000 $18,000 $18,000 $17,500 $17,500 $17,000
    Annual Defined Contribution Limit $55,000 $54,000 $53,000 $53,000 $52,000 $51,000 $50,000
    Annual Compensation Limit $275,000 $270,000 $265,000 $265,000 $260,000 $255,000 $250,000
    Catch-Up Contribution Limit $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500
    Highly Compensated Employees $120,000 $120,000 $120,000 $120,000 $115,000 $115,000 $115,000
    Non-401k Related Limits
    403(b)/457 Elective Deferrals $18,500 $18,000 $18,000 $18,000 $17,500 $17,500 $17,000
    SIMPLE Employee Deferrals $12,500 $12,500 $12,500 $12,500 $12,000 $12,000 $11,500
    SIMPLE Catch-Up Deferral $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
    SEP Minimum Compensation N/A $600 $600 $600 $550 $550 $550
    SEP Annual Compensation Limit $275,000 $270,000 $265,000 $265,000 $260,000 $255,000 $250,000
    Social Security Wage Base N/A $127,200 $118,500 $118,500 $117,000 $113,700 $110,100

    “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”

    Winston Churchill



    India: Bharat 22, ETFs, and Maginot Lines

    Narendra Modi is working hard at changes

    2017 Target Date Fund Buyer’s Guide

    About 38% of the off-the-shelf TDF families—28 of those listed in our guide—use a hybrid or active/passive method of portfolio construction. Another 28%—21 suites—primarily use active underlying funds, and 27%—20 suites—favor index or passive underlying funds. The remainder cited something else in that field.

    As to strategy, open architecture is the presence of an unaffiliated manager overseeing at least one part of the portfolio. Thirty-seven of the funds in the guide now provide this feature; however, the largest fund investment managers—Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity—do not, meaning less than 25% of TDF assets are in funds with unaffiliated managers.

    Also interesting, more than half of the products here allow the investment manager some tactical deviation from the glide path when the situation warrants.

    Plan sponsors unable to find an appropriate prepackaged TDF solution among those on the following pages might consider a custom target-date fund. Thereby, the plan sponsor can work with an asset manager to specify glide path construction, underlying asset allocation and ongoing advisement. Nine asset managers listed here provide that option.

    Here's my take on TDFs.

    They should have a Nobel prize for quotes like that

    10/1: Washington Post about Aid in Dying. Gives both sides.

     Studies of patients who pursue aid in dying have found that control over their death and maintenance of their autonomy rank highest among their reasons for doing so. One study even found that up to a third of patients who filled their prescriptions under Oregon’s Death With Dignity law did not end up taking the medications; merely having them gave these respondents a sufficient sense of control. Another study found that patients who receive prescriptions for lethal medications report less depression and anxiety than those who do not. The gun next to the bed is a comfort.

    I am firmly in belief of assisted suicide. I was sick for 26 years until April 2016. I have no idea why I am alive today. But if I revert to that part of my life while I am old at the same time, I want to leave. I'll make sure that someone will take care of my cats but that is about my only exposure to sustaining life.

    Frankly there should be an option for those with Alzheimers. Do you really want to become a vegetable?

    10/1: How Exercise Might Increase Your Self-Control

    From my own experience, exercise tends to add a level of endorphins. I have been running for 52 years and I know it works. Of course I have no idea where I am now. 
    10/1Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court) wrote the book on Assisted Suicide

    Sick- but just plain funny

    10/1:Americans Have Mistaken Ideas About Paying for Long-Term Care

    In the survey of 2,065 U.S. adults age 18 and older, those ages 55 and older were more likely than those ages 18 to 54 to say they’d pay for long-term care needs with health insurance and/or Medicare (67% vs. 47%, respectively). Americans ages 18 to 54 were more likely than those ages 55 and older to say they would borrow money for long-term care, either from family/friends or with a credit card or loan (36% vs. 13%).

    EFM This has always been tough to get across to families. Medicare covers very, very few people. You would need to be under skilled care.

    10/1: How are we dong so far

    10/1:Long-Term Care Cost Inflation Picks Up

    The average rate of increase for 2017 is up from just 1.1% in 2016, and it's up from a five-year average of 3%.

    In 2016, changes in national median prices ranged from a decrease of 1.2%, for adult day care, to an increase of 2.6%, for homemakers, or aides who help people with tasks such as cooking and shopping.

    This year, changes ranged from a 3% increase, for adult day care, to an increase of 6.2% for home health aide services.

    A home health aide helps people with activities such as bathing, or transferring from a bed to a wheelchair.

    The median national cost of the services of a home health aide is now $22 per hour


    What’s Happening to U.S. Mortality Rates?

    9/29: Paying Out-of-Pocket- The Healthcare Spending of 2 Million US Families.”

    Healthcare costs are rising for families. In 2015, the US spent 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare, up from 13 percent in 2000. For every dollar spent on healthcare, families paid 11 cents out-of-pocket and 28 cents after including insurance costs. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects health spending to continue to grow faster than GDP through 2025, the future of family-paid healthcare costs also rests with policy choices currently being debated.

    9/29: 9/29: Paying out of Pocket-- Full Report

    9/29:3 Types of Designated Beneficiaries You Must Understand

    9/29: Workforce changes

    9/29 WHat Is Gross Domestic Product?

    9/29: How to Invest Internationally

    The goal of country selection in portfolio management is to minimize risk by maximizing exposure to different countries. In an increasingly globalized world, country risk exposure does not need to come from companies in different countries. According to Damodaran, US and European investors do not even need to look beyond their domestic markets.

    “I could, using just the S&P 500 companies, get exposed to pretty much every market in the world,” he told Shreenivas Kunte, CFA, during a recent Take 15 interview.

    9/29 Nearly Half of Abortions Around the World Are Unsafe

    Every year, an estimated 55.7 million abortions are performed worldwide. Among those, 25.5 million are not considered safe,

    Among the unsafe abortions, nearly 31% were classified by the study authors as less safe. This meant that while the abortion was done by a trained provider, they may have used an outdated method. It also meant that the abortion may have been done with a currently advised method, but without the oversight of a professional slightly more than 14% of abortions performed worldwide were classified as the least safe, which meant they were provided by someone who was untrained and used unsafe methods like sharp curettage.

    9/29: This is what I thought would happen all over the U.S. Our safety has gone down several notches.

    A top Ukrainian official said a drone could have set off gigantic explosions at one of the country’s largest ammunition depots. They prompted the evacuation of 30,000 people.


    EFM- huge difference with proposed tax rates but how do we pay for it? Trickle down? Don't think so. The other question is Harvey, Irma, Puerto Rico together  In the interim, will cost billions and rebuilding will take decades. Will other hurricanes cause a lot of devastation as well? Sure. So where is the money????

    And will we have to pay for Myanmar???

    UN discusses Rohingya crisis
    Britain, France, the US and four other countries requested the UN Security Council meeting today after the violence that uprooted tens of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar across the border into Bangladesh

    9/28: Optimism

    EFM- I am far from being optimistic. Just looking at the news tonight with Moore being elected, a tax bill without being able to pay for it, Harvey, Irma and Puerto Rico et al that will cost BILLIONS, no health bill, impeachment talk on Trump, stupid HHS costing us thousands for his jet trips, Russia staying front and center on the news and on and on. Something is apt to implode.......soon. 


    Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Result from Senior Falls

    Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are caused by a bump or blow to the head; however, they may be missed or misdiagnosed among older adults. TBI often results in long-term cognitive, emotional, and/or functional impairments. In 2005, TBIs accounted for 50 percent of unintentional fall deaths and eight percent of nonfatal fall-related hospitalizations among older adults.

    Additional findings:


    Westinghouse DB plan short $937 million if terminated, PBGC says

    Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC could wind up having to put $937.4 million into its defined benefit plan.

    EFM- this might get reduced if the life expectancy slows in the future as it has been recently. Probably know over the next two years.


    Free Plan Data. Free Prospecting Tools. FreeERISA.

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    9/28: More than killing by gun?? More than car accidents?? COMBINED!!!!          Good article

    In 2015, 52,404 people in the United States died from drug overdoses. Adjusting for age, that equated to 16.3 deaths per 100,000 people, more than 2.5 times higher than the rate in 2000 (6.2 per 100,000).  “The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.”

    9/28: Australian funds sucks too

    Over the one-year period ending June 2017, 62% of large-cap equity funds and 66% of bond funds in Australia underperformed their benchmarks.

    I cannot believe it is for real- but it is great nonetheless

    9/28: The Trend that is Ruining Finance Research

    9/27: An Algorithm, an ETF and an Academic Study Walk Into a Bar

    Most of the supposed market anomalies academics have identified don’t exist, or are too small to matter

    A new study making waves in quantitative finance tested 447 anomalies identified by academics and found more than eight out of 10 vanish when rigorous tests are applied. Among those failing to reach statistical significance: one anomaly recently set out by the godfathers of quantitative finance, Nobel-winning economist Eugene Fama and his colleague Kenneth French.

    The anomalies literature is infested with widespread p-hacking. We replicate the entire anomalies literature in finance and accounting by compiling a largest-to-date data library that contains 447 anomaly variables. With microcaps alleviated via New York Stock Exchange breakpoints and value-weighted returns, 286 anomalies (64%) including 95 out of 102 liquidity variables (93%) are insignificant at the conventional 5% level. Imposing the cutoff t-value of three raises the number of insignificance to 380 (85%). Even for the 161 significant anomalies, their magnitudes are often much lower than originally reported. Out of the 161, the q-factor model leaves 115 alphas insignificant (150 with t < 3). In all, capital markets are more efficient than previously recognized.


    “What’s Happening to U.S. Mortality Rates?”

    by Anqi Chen, Alicia H. Munnell, and Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher

    The brief’s key findings are:

    EFM- Mortality improvements have already gone down and some pension funds have drawn up numbers that mean much lower investment will be needed. But the adjustment may not be maintained- though the idea of obesity curbing the numbers is a definite possibiility.

    9/27: Essential Tremor   Never heard of it and that's why it is here


    Caregiver Thought Leader Interview
    Gordon Baltuch MD, PhD. 
    Professor of Neurosurgery & the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia

    Gary Barg: Dr. Baltuch, let’s start at the beginning for us laymen. What is essential tremor?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: Essential tremor is a movement disorder whose primary symptom is shaking, mostly in the hands, but it can also occur in the jaw and the voice as well. Classically, it is a tremor that occurs when you try to do something. When you are sitting at rest, you don’t shake, but when you try to pick up a fork or a spoon or a glass, write or try to dress yourself, that is where the tremor is most noticeable.

    Gary Barg: How has it been treated in the past and how is it being treated now?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: The mainstay of treatments for essential tremor are medications. When these no longer provide symptom relief, patients have traditionally been offered two invasive treatment options, thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation, or radiation. Today, there is a new treatment option that is incisionless - MR-guided focused ultrasound. Often, though you will see people who have had tremors for twenty-five years and it gets worse over time. They start having trouble using utensils, picking up a cup of coffee, dressing, or writing. It becomes restrictive over time and really hurts their quality of life. Those tend to be the people that we will see in the neurosurgical office.

    Gary Barg: Can you talk about INSIGHTEC’s Neuravive focused ultrasound treatment treatments?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: This is an FDA approved treatment for essential tremor. It is a procedure in which the patient lies in an MRI machine and about a thousand small beams of ultrasound waves all focus on a small point to create heat much like a magnifying glass. We use the MRI to localize the proper point in the brain and the procedure takes a few hours. The person is awake in the MRI, so you can test them clinically at the same time and get an immediate effect to suppress their tremor. For essential tremor, we will treat the hand the person feels needs to be treated either because the tremor is worse or it is their dominant hand.

    Gary Barg: Is it non-invasive?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: It is incisionless, so the patients walk out of the MRI, can go home the same afternoon and they do not feel like they have had an operation. It is not uncommon for some of the patients to have temporary numbness in their hand, some patients may have a little bit of imbalance which usually resolves over time. You can really see the difference, especially in a senior population. With the option of deep brain stimulation, you must put the patient through an invasive operation and general anesthesia as well as them having hardware in their body which needs to be programmed and can become infected or erode. There is none of that here. So, the focused ultrasound treatment is a terrific option to have for this condition.

    Gary Barg: It seems like a next generation modality. 

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: Yes. It’s very exciting and I think we are just at the beginning of this both technologically and in terms of the treatment. It feels like deep brain stimulation did twenty years ago. 

    Gary Barg: I read a letter a caregiver wrote after her husband went through INSIGHTEC’s Neuravive focused ultrasound treatment and she said the difference before and after treatment was astonishing. Afterwards he had no tremors left. What are you hearing from family members and caregivers after the treatment?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: The patients that we have treated have been ecstatic about the procedure. They are ecstatic that their tremors are gone. They all ask when we will do the other side, because they are so very happy with this. 

    Gary Barg: The effects of the anesthesia needed for Deep Brain Stimulation on people of a certain age can be a risk. 

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: There are a whole group of seniors who are fabulous candidates for these focused ultrasound treatments. For them, it is a very elegant option. We give people just a little IV sedation in the MRI machine just to keep them comfortable. Probably, a lot less than you get for a colonoscopy or something like that. The seniors feel great afterwards as opposed to when you give them a general anesthesia, where they are going to have the effects for a while.  

    Gary Barg: What steps does someone living with essential tremor need to take to be considered for the treatment?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: They need to go to the INSIGHTEC website  and see where the treatment centers are located. Once you choose a convenient center, you can just call that number and be seen for a consultation to evaluate if you are a candidate for treatment. It is not a major process whatsoever. 

    Gary Barg: Is this an outpatient procedure?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: Absolutely it can be done as outpatient procedure. However, we are not going to send anyone home that is not clinically ready to leave. But, for the most part, patients will go home within 24 hours.

    Gary Barg: What would be the one most important piece of advice that you offer family caregivers when you see them bring their loved ones in for treatment?

    Dr. Gordon Baltuch: Having any kind of medical procedure can be scary, even if there are no incisions and almost no risk of infection. I tell them that some people are worried about side effects. But, the people who are coming in for treatment have a very debilitating condition and the improvement in tremor is a real game changer and really can change quality of life. This is functional neurosurgery that will not necessarily increase the days of your life, but can increase the life of your days.

    There is a saying that the good news is people are living longer, the bad news is they are tacking all the years on at the end. For someone who cannot hold a fork or a spoon, who needs to be fed, cannot write a letter anymore and/or has trouble dressing, these issues affect their dignity and quality of life. If you can give some of that back in a relatively risk-free fashion, without major surgery in an outpatient setting, I think it is fabulous.


    Anything beyond the red dot is the future and guessing. Seems a bit optimistic

    9/27:This comment is not about the racism (or not) of the football players kneeling. It is about what we have in America versus the rest of the world. Voters in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan poured into polling stations to cast their ballots in the region’s controversial referendum on independence, despite escalating threats from Baghdad and neighbouring states

    9/27: Reverse Mortgage changes

    There are three essential differences which will take effect starting October 2, 2017. First, upfront HECM mortgage insurance premiums will be increased for certain borrowers, but lowered for others, as compared to the current system. Second, the ongoing mortgage insurance premiums will be lowered, bringing down the total compounding rate cost for most borrowers. This could put rates more in line with the rates of traditional mortgages and the rates of home equity lines of credit. Thirdly, principal limit factors will be changed, which impacts the amount of home equity that will be available for homeowners to tap into at various ages under the HECM program.

    Market Impact of Changes in Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premiums: Since one disincentive to take a large lump sum amount disappears with the new MIP change, the market could see a slight increase in the amounts of initial withdrawals. However, borrower behavior is not expected to change dramatically as a result, because the industry and professionals alike have been trending away from large lump sum distributions for years now. However, one reverse mortgage option has been to establish a HECM line of credit just in case it might be needed in the future. Some companies have been offering this arrangement for a low or almost no upfront cost. Now that there will be higher upfront costs for setting up a standby HECM line of credit, this will likely change.

    Market Impact of Lower Ongoing Borrower Costs: Lowering ongoing costs improves the attractiveness of the program as compared to a traditional mortgage or home equity line of credit by bringing the overall interest rates more in line. While upfront costs can’t be ignored, consumers might actually gravitate towards the lower ongoing costs as most HECM borrowers did borrow upfront and did not just set up and sit on a HECM line of credit. Also the change to the annual MIP rate impacts how fast the loan grows, as well as how fast the line of credit grows. In essence, by lowering the MIP rate, the line of credit will grow more slowly. This is a welcome change for the program because reasonable line of credit growth limits are needed to prevent the program from insuring unreasonable amounts in the future.

    Market Impact of Changes in Principal Limit Factors: The lowered rate floor will most likely result in a more competitive reverse mortgage market. It will encourage lenders to offer lower lender margins in order to maximize principal limits for borrowers. Ultimately, this could bring down the cost for the borrower. This reduction in rates and lower principal limit factors will also slow the line of credit growth and debt amount. Again, it appears that the changes might benefit borrowers with larger withdrawals and not be as beneficial for those using a line of credit approach. This will also help reduce the number of mortgages that are transferred to the FHA overtime, reducing the FHA cost to administer the program.

    While the reverse mortgage program is changing, not all positive for borrowers and not all negative, the heart and soul of the program remains. The HECM allows seniors to tap into their home equity and be better prepared financially to age in place. The reverse mortgage still remains an underutilized program. While the costs and fees need to be understood by any borrower, the benefits also need to be understood. Unfortunately, most people know little about either today. Financial advisers also need to learn more about the ways reverse mortgages and home equity lines of credit can fit into a comprehensive retirement income plan. Hopefully, one certain benefit of these changes will be an increased awareness of the program and better utilization of home equity assets to help senior Americans enjoy more financial security throughout retirement.


    I can't do this and I'm human (liberty taken)
    9/26: Long Term Care Statistics
    Usage of Long-Term Care

    6.3 million: The number of Americans who have a high long-term care need because they need help with two or more activities of daily living or are experiencing cognitive decline. 

    15 million: The number of Americans expected to have a high long-term care need by 2050.

    52.3%: The expected percentage of people turning 65 who will have a long-term care need during their lifetimes. 

    47.7%: The expected percentage of people turning 65 who will have no long-term care need during their lifetimes.

    46.7%: The expected percentage of men turning 65 who will have a long-term care need during their lifetimes. 

    57.5%: The expected percentage of women turning 65 who will have a long-term care need during their lifetimes. 

    22%: Percentage of individuals over 65 in the highest income quintile who will have a long-term care need of two years or longer. 

    31%: Percentage of individuals over 65 in the lowest income quintile who will have a long-term care need of two years or longer. 

    10%: Percentage of Americans over age 65 who have Alzheimer's dementia. 

    38%: Percentage of Americans over age 85 who have Alzheimer's dementia. 

    35%: Projected increase in number of people with Alzheimer's dementia between 2017 and 2030. 

    110%: Projected increase in number of new Alzheimer's cases between 2010 and 2050, barring the development of a new treatment to prevent or cure Alzheimer's disease. 

    2 years: Average number of years that individuals age 65 and older will have a high long-term care need during their lifetimes.

    0.88 years: Average duration of nursing-home stay for men. 

    1.44 years: Average duration of nursing-home stay for women. 

    22%: Probability of needing more than one year in a nursing home, men.

    36%: Probability of needing more than one year in a nursing home, women.

    2%: Probability of needing more than five years in a nursing home, men.

    7%: Probability of needing more than five years in a nursing home, women.

    Paying for Care
    $30 billion: Long-term care expenditures in U.S., 1980. 

    $225 billion: Long-term care expenditures in U.S., 2015.

    57.5%: Percentage of individuals turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 who will spend less than $25,000 on long-term care during their lifetimes.

    15.2%: Percentage of individuals turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 who will spend more than $250,000 on long-term care during their lifetimes.

    $217,820: Estimated end-of-life care costs in patient's final five years for individuals without dementia. 

    $341,651: Estimated end-of-life care costs in patient's final five years for individuals with dementia. 

    $17,680: Median annual cost for adult day care (five days/week), 2016.

    $43,539: Median annual cost for assisted-living facility, 2016.

    $82,125: Median annual nursing-home cost, semiprivate room, 2016.

    $92,378: Median annual nursing-home cost, private room, 2016.

    $164,250: Average annual nursing-home cost, private room, Manhattan, 2016.

    $63,875: Average annual nursing-home cost, private room, Monroe, Louisiana, 2016.

    $22,887: Median annual income from all sources for individuals who are 65 or older.

    $38,515: Median annual income for households headed by people 65 or older.

    3.5%: Five-year annual inflation rate in nursing-home costs, private room, 2016.

    21.9%: Percentage of long-term care costs that are paid out of pocket, 2013.

    13.2%: Percentage of people who receive professional home healthcare who have long-term care insurance coverage, 2010.

    $5,518: Median total household wealth for people who have lived in a nursing home for six months or more.

    $0: Median household wealth for people who have lived in a nursing home for six years or more.

    37 billion hours: The annual amount of long-term care provided by unpaid caregivers, 2013.

    $470 billion: The dollar value of long-term care provided by unpaid caregivers, 2013. 

    $3 trillion: Estimated lost lifetime wages due to unpaid caregiving responsibilities.

    83%: Percentage of help provided to older adults that is delivered by friends or family members. 

    46%: Percentage of all caregivers who provide help to someone with Alzheimer's or dementia.

    $230.1 billion: Value of assistance provided by unpaid caregivers to people with Alzheimer's or dementia, 2016.

    65%: The percentage of older adults with long-term care needs who rely exclusively on friends and family members to provide that assistance.

    More than 75%: Percentage of caregivers who are women. 

    63: Average age of caregivers for people who are 65 and older. 

    70%: The percentage of caregivers who suffered work-related difficulties due to their caregiving duties.

    $15,000: The average amount of income that caregivers will lose due to time demands of providing care to those with Alzheimer's or other dementias.

    State and Federal Funding
    62.3%: Percentage of long-term care services and supports that are provided through Medicaid.

    20%: Percentage of Medicaid funding that went to pay long-term care costs in 2016. 

    $120,900: Maximum amount of assets that a healthy spouse can retain for the other spouse to be eligible for long-term care benefits provided by Medicaid, 2017. (Actual amounts vary by state.) 

    100: Days of care in a skilled nursing facility ("rehab") covered in full or in part by Medicare following a qualifying hospital stay.

    Long-Term Care Insurance
    125: Number of insurers offering standalone long-term care policies, 2000. 

    Less than 15: Number of insurers offering standalone long-term care policies, 2014. 

    380,000: Number of individual long-term care insurance policies sold, 1990.

    129,000: Number of individual long-term care insurance policies sold, 2014. 

    72,736: Number of hybrid life/long-term care policies sold to individuals, 2009.

    305,068: Number of hybrid life/long-term care policies sold to individuals, 2013.

    4.50 million: Number of individuals with long-term care insurance coverage, 2000. 

    7.25 million: Number of individuals with long-term care insurance coverage, 2014. 

    $1.98 trillion: Maximum potential benefit of all long-term care policies in force today.

    $1.87 billion: Annual claims on long-term care insurance policies, 2000.

    $8.73 billion: Annual claims on long-term care insurance policies, 2014.

    99%: Percentage of new long-term care policies that cover nursing home and in-home care, 2014.

    37%: Percentage of new long-term care policies that cover nursing home and in-home care, 2000.

    $2,772: Average annual premium, long-term care policies being sold, 2014.

    $1,677: Average annual premium, long-term care policies being sold, 2000.

    0.5%: Percentage of all businesses offering long-term care insurance to their employees.

    20%: Percentage of businesses with 10 or more employees offering long-term care insurance to their employees. 

    $52,000: Amount that a person buying the average long-term care policy at age 60 would have paid in premiums by age 82.

    $547,000: Amount of total benefits available at age 82 for a person who purchased a typical policy at age 60.

    19.6%: Increase in short-term care insurance sales in 2015 relative to 2014. (Short-term care insurance policies cover periods of one year or less.)

    17%: Percentage of applicants ages 50-59 denied long-term care coverage due to health issues. 

    45%: Percentage of applicants ages 70-79 denied long-term care insurance due to health issues.


    1. An Impossibility Result on Nudging Grounded in the Theory of Intentional Action




    Sergio Beraldo (Università di Napoli Federico II and CSEF)

    I offer an impossibility result on nudging grounded in the theory of intentional action. I prove that if individuals are not open to money-pump manipulation and nudges are motivationally irrelevant, any induced choice is unintentional and just reflects the preferences of the choice architect. Autonomy is therefore violated, and nudging proves to be inconsistent with liberal principles at a fundamental level.


    Nudging, Manipulation, Autonomy


    D03 D6


    9/25: Explains some of the issues of women's attitude about working and equality
    1. How uncertainty and ambiguity in tournaments affect gender differences in competitive behavior




    Loukas Balafoutas ; Brent J. Davis ; Matthias Sutter

    Tournament incentives prevail in labor markets, in particular with respect to promotions. Yet, it is often unclear to competitors how many winners there will be or how many applicants compete in the tournament. While it is hard to measure how this uncertainty affects work performance and willingness to compete in the field, it can be studied in a controlled lab experiment. We present a novel experiment where subjects can compete against each other, but where the number of winners is either uncertain (i.e., unknown numbers of winners, but known probabilities) or ambiguous (unknown probabilities for different numbers of winners). We compare these two conditions with a control treatment with a known number of winners. We find that ambiguity induces a significant increase in performance of men, while we observe no change for women. Both men and women increase their willingness to enter competition with uncertainty and ambiguity, but men react slightly more than women. Overall, both effects contribute to men winning the tournament significantly more often than women under uncertainty and ambiguity. Hence, previous experiments on gender differences in competition may have measured a lower bound of differences between men and women.


    gender, competition, uncertainty, ambiguity, experiments


    C91 D03


    1. Strategic Behavior of Moralists and Altruists,




    Alger, Ingela ; Weibull, Jörgen W.

    Does altruism and morality lead to socially better outcomes in strategic interactions than selfishness? We shed some light on this complex and non-trivial issue by examining a few canonical strategic interactions played by egoists, altruists and moralists. By altruists we mean people who do not only care about their own material payoffs but also about those to others, and by a moralist we mean someone who cares about own material payoff and also about what would be his or her material payoff if others were to act like himself or herself. It turns out that both altruism and morality may improve or worsen equilibrium outcomes, depending on the nature of the game. Not surprisingly, both altruism and morality improve the outcomes in standard public goods games. In infinitely repeated games, however, both altruism and morality may diminish the prospects of cooperation, and to different degrees. In coordination games, morality can eliminate socially inefficient equilibria while altruism cannot.


    altruism; morality; Homo moralis; repeated games; coordination games


    C73 D01 D03


    9/24: International inflation

           In a section of its regular Economic Bulletin, the ECB says its staff expect to see the headline inflation rate pull back to a low of 0.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, noting:This profile essentially reflects the impact of base effects on the annual rates of change in energy and unprocessed food prices, which are the most volatile components of HICP inflation

    9/24: Caregiving is one of the toughest jobs imaginable

    Caregivers clearly take on their heroic role out of love and duty, but for many, cost is also a big part of the equation. A lot of caregivers believe that caring for aging parents themselves is more affordable than professional senior care. After all, the logic goes, assisted living communities and nursing homes are quite expensive, so it must be cheaper to do it yourself.

    But this is often a miscalculation. There are many clouded costs to family caregiving that should be considered before committing to becoming the full-time caregiver for an older loved one. Being aware of these costs can also help non-caregivers appreciate the sacrifice caregivers make, and the profound importance of their role.

    Here are the five hidden costs of caregiving:

    1. Lost Wages

    Family caregivers frequently have to leave their jobs, reduce their hours, or retire early. According to a poll of caregivers by Gallup, the majority of family caregivers report that their role has negatively impacted their career. Furthermore, the MetLife study mentioned above found that the average caregiver’s lost wages are $143,000.

    2. Decreased Employability

    Caregivers who leave the workforce for months or years often find that it’s difficult to get another job when their time as a caregiver ends. This challenge is particularly marked because high unemployment has created an extremely competitive labor market

    3. Increased Health Care Costs

    Caregiving is physically and mentally taxing. Gallup researchers found that caregivers have both worse physical and emotional health than non-caregivers. What’s more, a study by the Center on Aging found that more than 1 in 10 caregivers say that the role has caused their own health to decline. This translates into increased healthcare costs for family caregivers, particularly those who have lost their own health insurance because they left their job to become caregivers.

    4. Lost Savings and Retirement

    Out of pocket expenditures by caregivers can really add up. A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare found that a stunning 47% of working caregivers reported having used up all or most of their savings. Naturally, caregivers who have left the workforce altogether will have an even more difficult time maintaining their savings and retirement funds. Leaving the workforce can also reduce your social security benefit.

    5. Reduced Productivity

    The costs of caregiving are not solely on the caregiver. The American economy itself is also impacted. MetLife found that American businesses lose an estimated $34 billion each year due to employees’ need to care for aging loved ones.

    Where Do the Hidden Costs Originate?

    One reason that caregiving is so costly is that, according to MetLife, caregivers typically underestimate the amount time they will be providing care. We might imagine ourselves providing care a few hours per week for a couple of months, but end up providing care a few hours per day for a couple of years.  Leaving the workforce for two months may be tolerable, but leaving the workforce for a couple years can be financially decimating.

    A Way Forward?

    The immediate burden of caregiving may be obvious, but the long term costs are now beginning to be understood as well. How can these costs be mitigated? A report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute made several recommendations:

    There are no easy answers to this conundrum, but we believe it’s important have a conversation about the vital and honorable role of family caregivers, and what can be done to make their lives easier.

    9/24: download the guide to VA Benefits

    Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit Overview

    2017 benefits

    • $1,794 per month for a veteran
    • $2,127 per month for a veteran with a spouse
    • $1,410 per month for a veteran with a sick spouse
    • $1,153 per month to a surviving spouse
    • $2,846 per month to a couple of two veterans

    Anticipated Change 2018

    We anticipate the payout to be consistent with current level, however, we believe the eligibility requirements will change.

    2017 Eligibility Requirements

    • Veteran served during an approved war period and honorably discharged.
    • Reviews current income and assets when applying.

    Anticipated Change 2018

    The VA has provided guidance that the eligibility requirements will change in 2017.

    It is to your advantage to apply today.

    This is called pandering

    9/24: UK downgraded

    Reducing the credit rating a notch to Aa2, or two rungs below the triple A rating the UK had enjoyed for 35 years until 2013, Moody’s said that the public finances were more stressed than the Treasury believed and the challenges of Brexit would increase risks to the exchequer and complicate policymaking.

    EFM- So now what? Does the UK lower rates to jumpstart their economy while we raise rates??

    9/23: Basic probabilities

    9/22: Life and Death and Hospice

    Only 10 percent of Americans will die suddenly. The remainder of us (90 percent) will decline slowly, growing weaker until we die. Because this process is so gradual, we often don’t recognize that a loved one is approaching the final weeks of life. This may be why most Americans, around 80 percent, die in institutions, despite the fact that most Americans polled (85 percent) voice that they want to die at home. Perhaps the reason could be that we simply do not see it coming.

    It is only natural that we would want to deny how seriously ill our loved one is. Denial protects us from the painful reality that we may soon lose someone precious to us. While denial can help us to cope, it also may interfere with making a plan that will guarantee that your loved one’s final months are spent in the place they choose, surrounded by friends and family.

    Well-thought-out preparation, on the other hand, will allow us to choose where death will occur, participate more fully in our loved one’s care, make better decisions and achieve a measure of control over the coming months. We will feel peaceful despite living with uncertainty. In the future, after our loved one has died, we will reflect back on these final months, and be left with the deep comfort that comes from knowing that we did our best for someone we love at a very difficult time.

    So what are the signs that an elderly person may be approaching the final months of life? There are many indicators, but in this article, we will discuss three common signs: weight loss, progressive weakness and infections.  

    There is a great deal of research that shows that weight loss by itself is a powerful indicator that an elderly person is approaching the final months of life. Just five percent to 10 percent loss of weight in six months can be significant. If a person is in a nursing home, it has been shown that as little as 10 percent loss of weight in six months will carry 85 percent mortality in the next six months. Weight loss is so significant that it can be an indicator for hospice care. It is commonly understood that elderly people approaching the final months of life naturally stop wanting food and fluids.

    Another indicator is increasing dependency. Loss of weight leads to loss of muscle which leads to progressive weakness. This may start with having difficulty getting up from the chair. It progresses from needing assistance to transfer to being chair bound to eventually being mostly bed bound. This immobility also puts an elderly person at risk for skin breakdown and pneumonia.

    A third indicator is propensity for developing infections. It is well known that there is a progressive decline in the power of the immune system with aging. Before the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940’s, many elderly people died from pneumonia.  Pneumonia was called “the old man’s friend” as it promised a swift death.  We may think of pneumonia as being curable, but many elderly people are at risk to contract pneumonia and at risk to die from pneumonia. If a person is older than 75, they have a six times greater chance of getting pneumonia than if they were 60 years old. This is because the lung has lost its elasticity. In addition, changes in the brain and nervous system affect their ability to cough up secretions, which is essential to overcoming pneumonia. Some elderly people have difficulty with swallowing and may cough while eating, inhaling liquid into their lungs. This is called aspiration, and can cause them to get pneumonia repeatedly.   Some elderly people also develop infections of the urinary tract, which can be treated, but which further weaken the body.

    Identifying early that your loved one is declining has many advantages. You can tell your health care provider how you want those final months to be, so he or she can support you in your plan. Services can be put in place at home or in a facility so that if a crisis arises, it can be managed without going to a hospital. If you are able to get hospice care in place, oxygen and medications for comfort will be on hand should a medical crisis arise. Nurses will do routine in-home assessments and advise you as to what you can expect. You and your family will be better prepared.

    If you suspect your elderly loved one is declining, you can ask for a “hospice consult.” and a nurse will come to your home and advise you and your healthcare provider about eligibility. In-home support and availability of comfort  measures is the key to successful care at the end of life.


    9/22: Disability claims

    9/22:  You have probably seen many of the same type of articles regarding retirees, college students, women etc.

    Millennials need financial guidance, education

    The percentage of age 25 to 29 millennial Americans who have completed a post-secondary education program is very high, with women getting degrees at a higher rate (46%) than men (36%). These rates are significantly higher than was achieved by earlier generations at the same age.8 Yet, millennials experience higher rates of underemployment than the population as a whole.9 Many millennials have focused on higher education as the best path to increase their opportunities in a challenging and competitive employment market. Currently, 20.5 million students are pursuing post-secondary education in the United States, an increase of 5.2 million students since 2000.10

    My type of vacation
    9/21: Mental illness

    A 2015 investigation by The Times found that nearly 40 percent of the population at Rikers Island, a total of 4,000 men and women at any given time, suffer from mental illness.

    9/21: Battle deaths  NY Times

    For two centuries, war had increased in both severity and frequency, with each conflict worse than the last until, in 1945, the trend suddenly stopped. And so did, for the most part, the deadliest form of conflict: war between states.That change seemed to break every unwritten rule for how the world worked. (It also made those other historic improvements possible.) Ever since, scholars have been asking how and why this happened, so that we might cement what remains a relatively recent change.
    There are, broadly, two schools of thought. One is that those unwritten rules changed in 1945, after which the old, might-makes-right, every-nation-for-itself system was replaced by a new system of international cooperation. Under these new rules, it is argued, individual states worked to enforce norms of diplomacy over war and cooperation over competition.
    The other school of thought is that the rules never changed at all, only the short-term incentives of the players. Ruthless power politics, in this view, still drives the international system. States still use violence and coercion when it suits them. It just so happens to suit them less these days.

    9/21: Armed conflicts

    9/21:How to Cook for a Loved One with Dysphagia

    The simple act of eating is anything but for those who experience dysphagia, the medical term for difficulties swallowing or eating. Millions of Americans have the condition, especially aging adults: The U.S. Department of Health suggests that about 15% of the elderly population experiences some form of dysphagia. And for those who care for elderly adults, it may be difficult to find equally nutritious and appetizing food that can be consumed.

    Caregivers may feel alone or discouraged when it comes to finding and cooking dysphagia-friendly recipes. Often, they will find themselves resorting to feeding their loved ones soft, tasteless food because it is the only thing they can swallow.

    But, this is not the case, and students and faculty at Speech@NYU, the online master’s in speech pathology from NYU Steinhardt, wanted to change this mindset and provide tools so everyone can take dysphagia head on in the kitchen with “Dining with Dysphagia: A Cookbook.”

    The cookbook, which includes eight recipes that elevate pureed or “mushy” food to a higher standard, focuses on all of the values that are important to those who are supporting people with dysphagia: nutrition, texture and taste. Not only is this cookbook meant to be a resource, but also the catalyst to help start a larger conversation about changing the narrative of dysphagia. In fact, this cookbook all started with the NYU Steinhardt Iron Chef Dysphagia Challenge competition, during which contestants prepared food based on recipes that are easy-to-follow and easy-to-swallow. The cookbook is a result of the event and this year’s dishes include rosemary mashed potatoes, pumpkin soup and vegetarian squash chili, just to name a few.

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind when cooking for someone with dysphagia:

    It is important to remember that food should not only nourish the body, but also the soul. No one should ever assume they have to resort to simple, “mushy” food just because it is easily consumed. There are myriad options to create delicious recipes that your loved one will enjoy, and the cookbook is just one example of this.

    If you would like to learn more about dysphagia, schedule an appointment with your loved one’s general practitioner. A speech-language pathologist will also be able to discuss the condition in greater detail.

    To learn more about the “Dining with Dysphagia” cookbook visit

    I find this hard to believe. And the amount of time to do it.....................

    9/21: European immigration

    9/21: How the debt got so high


    "Credit Growth and the Financial Crisis: A New Narrative" Fee Download
    NBER Working Paper No. w23740

    STEFANIA ALBANESI, University of Pittsburgh
    University College London, NBER, Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of New York
    Columbia Business School - Economics Department

    A broadly accepted view contends that the 2007-09 financial crisis in the U.S. was caused by an expansion in the supply of credit to subprime borrowers during the 2001- 2006 credit boom, leading to the spike in defaults and foreclosures that sparked the crisis. We use a large administrative panel of credit file data to examine the evolution of household debt and defaults between 1999 and 2013. Our findings suggest an alternative narrative that challenges the large role of subprime credit in the crisis. We show that credit growth between 2001 and 2007 was concentrated in the prime segment, and debt to high risk borrowers was virtually constant for all debt categories during this period. The rise in mortgage defaults during the crisis was concentrated in the middle of the credit score distribution, and mostly attributable to real estate investors. We argue that previous analyses confounded life cycle debt demand of borrowers who were young at the start of the boom with an expansion in credit supply over that period.

    9/20: Rising Health Care Costs Threaten Employees’ Financial Security

    79% of employees surveyed reported higher health care costs in 2016 — up from 69% in 2015 — and more than half said they were either spending less overall or contributing less to fund financial goals as a result.
    Of that 56% that cut back, almost two-thirds said they were saving less for retirement, about 50% said they were reducing debt payments and almost 40% were investing less.

    The survey also found that the impact of rising health care costs on savings, investments and debt servicing contributed to employees’ financial stress, which, in turn, negatively affected the health of six in 10 respondents.

    9/20:"The Consequences of Abortion and Contraception Policies on Young Women's Reproductive Choices, Schooling and Labor Supply" Free Download

    Documento CEDE No. 2017-43

    DIEGO AMADOR, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

    I specify a dynamic life-cycle model of abortion, contraceptive use, schooling, and labor supply decisions of US women. I structurally estimate the model, allowing for abortion misreporting, using data from the NLSY97, aggregate abortion provider data from the Guttmacher Institute, and information on mandatory counseling restrictions at the state level. I simulate a series of policies and find that eliminating access to abortion services increases contraceptive use but decreases women’s schooling and lifetime earnings. I also find that providing free contraception would increase contraceptive use and decrease abortion rates substantially, while also leading to an increase in women’s schooling.

    9/20: Globalization: Financial Times

    or the past three decades western multinationals have been outsourcing production to low-cost countries such as China. But are executives turning to localisation?  automation, wage costs and political risk are driving businesses away from globalisation

    EFM- I know that Trump (and many others) would like to see more manufacturing in the U.S. But labor of a certain type are scare. And we are restricting immigration.  And many countries are having immigration problems/issues. However the real reason that will become more obvious as time goes by is automation. Faster and cheaper and can/will  make products in the U.S.  more competitive. Nice but it will increase unemployment

    9/20 Preventing UITs

    Urinary tract infections, or UTI's are the result of bacteria that infect the system the body uses to carry urine out of the body.  Half of women and about twenty percent of men will have a urinary tract infection in their lifetime.

    Changing some of these daily habits may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

    9/20: Did not expect the tight correlation

    9/20: Opioids’ rise in China
    There’s plenty of discussion about the US’s opioid addiction problem. But a rapid rise in cancer cases in China is also driving an opioid boom in the world’s most populous country

    EFM_ As much as the statement reflects  opioids is the rise of cancer. Never saw that before and wonder the cause or is it simply better diagnosis. .


    "Effectiveness of Obesity Prevention and Control" Free Download
    ADBI Working Paper 654


    Implementation of evidence-based interventions to control obesity is regarded as a public health priority. In this working paper, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness evidence of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes, nutrition labeling, advertising bans on unhealthy food, and school-based interventions are reviewed.

    The review indicates that SSB taxes may be an effective and cost-effective intervention for obesity prevention and control. Regarding nutrition labeling, current evidence indicates that this has a significant impact on food selection. Although there is limited evidence on its impact on body mass index (BMI) and obesity prevalence, nutrition labeling is considered a cost-effective intervention in many settings. Further, while current evidence indicates that unhealthy food and beverage advertisements may increase dietary intake and the preference for unhealthy foods, especially in children, limited evidence demonstrates the impact of restricted unhealthy food advertising on BMI and obesity prevalence. However, such an intervention is considered to be cost-effective in many settings. Concerning school-based interventions, due to the limited number of good-quality studies as well as high variation across studies, the effectiveness of these interventions is inconclusive. Current evidence also suggests that school-based interventions are less likely to be cost-effective.

    9/20 Depression

    9/20: The Benna401k Comes Alive
    "[Three designs] eliminate the complexity and the cost of the traditional 401k. They remove the requirement to have a plan document, to have a summary plan description, to have to file 5500 form, to have all this paperwork when employees terminate. All that disappears.... The easiest, Model One, has absolutely no rules.... [It] could be offered to all employees. All employees to be given the opportunity to make contributions via payroll deduction. It could have an employer contribution, either match or otherwise, but it doesn't have to. It has absolute total flexibility.... There is technically no plan in Model One, so there isn't a plan sponsor. The amount that the employee can get a tax break is less than what they can get with the standard 401k.... The closest [example] is what the states are moving into doing with the mandated payroll deduction IRA programs."

    9/20: Why seniors do not eat

    More than half of older adults who visit emergency departments are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition, but not because of lack of access to health care, critical illness or dementia. Despite clear signs of malnutrition or risk of malnutrition, more than three-quarters had never previously been diagnosed with malnutrition, according to the results of a study published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine (“Malnutrition Among Cognitively Intact, Non-Critically Ill Older Adults in the Emergency Department”).

    “We were surprised by the levels of malnutrition or risk of it among cognitively intact seniors visiting the ER, and even more surprised that most malnourished patients had never been told they were malnourished,” said lead study author Timothy Platts-Mills, MD, of the University of North Carolina Department of Emergency Medicine in Chapel Hill, N.C. “Depression and dental problems appear to be important contributors, as is difficulty buying groceries. Given that seniors visit ERs more than 20 million times a year in the U.S., emergency physicians have an opportunity to screen and intervene in ways that may be very helpful without being very costly.”

    Of patients age 65 and older, 16 percent were malnourished and 60 percent were either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. Of the malnourished patients, 77 percent denied have been previously diagnosed with malnutrition. Malnutrition was highest among patients with symptoms of depression (52 percent), those residing in assisted living (50 percent), those with difficulty eating (38 percent) and those reporting difficulty buying groceries (33 percent). Difficulty eating was mostly attributed to denture problems, dental pain or difficulty swallowing.

    In this study, nearly all (95 percent) of patients had a primary care physician, nearly all (94 percent) lived in a private residence and nearly all (96 percent) had some type of health insurance. More than one-third (35 percent) had a college education.

    Malnutrition is defined as lacking “adequate calories, protein or other nutrients needed for tissue maintenance and repair.”

    “For patients who report difficulty buying groceries, Supplemental Nutrition Program, Meals on Wheels, Congregate Meals Programs or community-based food charities can be helpful, although other factors may also need to be addressed,” said Dr. Platts-Mills. “The growing role of the emergency department as community health resource makes it an essential place for identifying and addressing unmet needs of older adults. Implementation of oral nutritional supplementation is inexpensive and may reduce overall costs by accelerating recovery from illness and reducing readmissions.”

    9/20:Caregiving Is Risky Business for Family Caregivers

    Nine out of 10 non-professional family caregivers feel that it’s important to provide a good quality of life for the person they care for, like helping, and enjoy spending time with the care recipient.

    However, many caregivers are providing care at their own risk. Fifty-five percent say that their own health is taking a back seat to the health of their care recipient. Sixty-nine percent gave little or no consideration to their own financial situation when deciding to become a caregiver.

    9/20"The Veterans Affairs Department reported that veterans are 20 percent more likely than nonveterans to commit suicide.
     But the numbers of about 23 servicemen committing suicide EVERY DAY is a real problem for the military

    9/20: AI is disconcerting at best. At its worst, it will delegate humans to the dustbins of jobs and take over the world. It might save mother earth from the decay we fostered in using the earth as a private playground for the scurrying epidemic of humans 

    Lately, the same fears emerge in healthcare about artificial intelligence taking the jobs of radiologistsrobots surpassing the skills of surgeons, or taking jobs in pharma. A renowned voice in tech, Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures told CNBC that A.I. will be bigger than all other tech revolutions, and robots are likely to replace 50 percent of all jobs in the next decade. Stephen Hawking even said that the development of full A.I. could spell the end of the human race. Elon Musk agreed.


    "Stabilizing the System of Mortgage Finance in the United States" Free Download
    IMF Working Paper No. 17/186

    RICHARD KOSS, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

    It has been over a decade since the peak of house prices in the US was attained, and while there has been a concerted regulatory response to the subsequent collapse, the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) remain in conservatorship. While this action served to forestall a deeper crisis at the time, over the past several years risks related to the system of mortgage finance can be seen building across several dimensions that need to be addressed. While reforms to the GSEs are an important part of dealing with these concerns, this paper argues that broader changes need to be made across the entire mortgage landscape to stabilize the system, even before the final state of the GSEs is fully determined.


    9/19: An ad I just got

    11%Annuity Commission
    5% Rider Bonus!
    & Up to 50% Liquidity!


    On Apps Received 9/15/17 thru 10/15/17
    (Must be issued and paid by December 29, 2017)

    Additional Features:
    • 10% Penalty Free Withdrawals After Year 1
    • 50% Cumulative Withdrawals*
    • 60% Contract Value Policy Loan
    • 75% Medical Stay Waiver
    • 100% Terminal Illness, Nursing care & Death Benefit
    • 200% Accidental Death
    • 100% Full Accumulation at Death AM Best 'A' Rated Company

    Boy, I want that 11%. And maybe a free trip to Cleveland

    9/19: What is our FED going to do. It might raise rates another 25 basis point if inflation can take it. But where is the Eurozone heading. Not so good

    The eurozone inflation rate is likely to slide below 1% early next year due to volatile developments in oil and unprocessed food prices. It's an awkward development for the ECB as it prepares to wind down its giant monetary stimulus. Meanwhile, inflation across the bloc rose 1.5% in August, heading closer to the central bank's target of just below 2%.

    9/19: NYSE sine 1966

    9/18:  READ THIS:

    1. The total cost of investing in mutual funds




    Giorgio Albareto (Bank of Italy) ; Giuseppe Cappelletti (European Central Bank) ; Andrea Cardillo (Bank of Italy) ; Luca Zucchelli (Bank of Italy)

    The total costs of investment in an open-end fund include those that are charged on the fund and those directly attributed to subscribers (subscription and redemption fees). Subscriptions of funds characterized by the presence of costs directly attributed to investors have increased significantly in recent years. The paper presents an estimate of the Total Shareholders Cost (TSC) made using the information provided by the investment management companies in the supervisory reports. The estimates obtained show that in the period 2006-2016 the TSC was on average 1.58 per cent of the total assets of funds (1.74 per cent at the end of 2016). Subtracting direct and indirect costs borne by investors, the return on open-end funds is reduced from 3.5 per cent on average to 2 per cent. Based on preliminary results, the presence of subscription and redemption fees reduces the elasticity of subscriptions and redemptions with respect to returns.


    mutual funds, Total Expense Ratio, Total Shareholders Cost


    G11 G23 E60


    Really! Look at it again
    9/18: Isn't random walk supposed to work anywhere???

    Random walks and market efficiency in Chinese and Indian equity markets




    Oleg Malafeyev ; Achal Awasthi ; Kaustubh S. Kambekar

    Hypothesis of Market Efficiency is an important concept for the investors across the globe holding diversified portfolios. With the world economy getting more integrated day by day, more people are investing in global emerging markets. This means that it is pertinent to understand the efficiency of these markets. This paper tests for market efficiency by studying the impact of global financial crisis of 2008 and the recent Chinese crisis of 2015 on stock market efficiency in emerging stock markets of China and India. The data for last 20 years was collected from both Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE200) and the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index and divided into four sub-periods, i.e. before financial crisis period (period-I), during recession (period-II), after recession and before Chinese Crisis (periodIII) and from the start of Chinese crisis till date (period- IV). Daily returns for the SSE and BSE were examined and tested for randomness using a combination of auto correlation tests, runs tests and unit root tests (Augmented Dickey-Fuller) for the entire sample period and the four sub-periods. The evidence from all these tests supports that both the Indian and Chinese stock markets do not exhibit weak form of market efficiency. They do not follow random walk overall and in the first three periods (1996 till the 2015) implying that recession did not impact the markets to a great extent, although the efficiency in percentage terms seems to be increasing after the global financial crisis of 2008.


    9/18. Treasury trading


    9/18:  This just sickens me. What is wrong with some people??????

    In 2004, Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson was imprisoned for raping his stepdaughter nearly every day for 12 years, starting when she was just 5. Thirteen years later, his crime has helped bring down Iceland's government.

    The story involves Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and his father, Benedikt Sveinsson.

    Here's what happened: Several months ago, Sveinsson drafted a letter of recommendation for Hauksson, arguing that he should have his “honor restored.” In Iceland, convicts can have certain civil rights restored by submitting letters of recommendation extolling good character. Hauksson and another convicted pedophile, Robert Downey (formerly named Robert Arni Hreidarsson), received full pardons over the summer.

    And we have a weiner
    9/18: And more obesity

    Great comment

    9. Western food companies are aggressively expanding in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that’s contributing to a new epidemic of chronic illnesses fed by soaring rates of obesity. Above, a woman purchasing Nestlé products near Muaná, Brazil.

    What we have is a war between two food systems, a traditional diet of real food once produced by the farmers around you and the producers of ultra-processed food designed to be over-consumed,” one expert said.

    And I know this is tacky so say it- but before I die I'd like to get a deep fried Twinkie.

    • Brazil, hooked on junk food.

    Western food companies, seeing slower growth, are aggressively expanding in developing nations, contributing to obesity and other health problems.

    9/18: You would think after all the wars the world has had that something would have materialized in civilization that the wars waste lives and may solve very little. Nope- and here we now have a Nobel Peace winner (Aung San Suu Kyi) allowing (perhaps instigating) genocide.

    The issue of more and more conflicts/genocides/slavery/racism will emerge and get much worse as we add another 1.5 billion people by 2050. This will create massive conflagrations .as each person vies for the basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.This all will get worse and worse as we move to 2050. Who will emerge victorious?? Actually no one. Who will nicely survive? Those with LOTS of money who will live in multi million dollar forts. but that will only last a short time (10- 15   years) as Mother Earth takes back what was always hers.

    We got a nut case in North Korea, genocides world wide. And despite all of America's talk on getting rid of Syria's government- we look like fools. Afghanistan proves it. Anyway, happy reading

    ‘Blood flowed in the streets’: Refugees from one Rohingya hamlet recount days of horror

    Those fleeing Burma’s military crackdown, which has triggered an exodus of an estimated 400,000 refugees, say civilians were gunned down and villages torched. Those who escaped into Bangladesh have overflowed an existing refugee camp — and the tide is expected to grow in the coming days.

    By Annie Gowen  •   Read more »

    9/17: Returns since 2000  (I'll try and get a better picture)

    9/17: Obesity

    Globally, the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese has swelled from 29% in 1980 to 37% in 2013. Obesity is associated with serious health problems, most importantly diabetes, and though the solution to the problem seems easy—eat less—it is in fact fiendishly hard to combat.

    Double whammy: you’re more likely to be obese if you’re poor:

    9/17: I think this is way out of whack. No way the market should be this high. But I remember saying that in the late 90s- but also stating that the market can- and will- do whatever it wants. So just ride with it. However, there would already a process in place to limit such losses when the market turned.
    If you want to play the market and 'buy on the dip, the market always come back, we are in this for the long haul, yada, yada, yada,- the world has changed and the idea that the past is tbe best indicator of the future is absolute folly.

    9/17: Brief comments on China from Washington Post. Puts a lot of the questions of finance into focus

    Consider China’s recent performance. In 2015 and again in early 2016, China suffered acute financial turbulence. After averaging almost 10 percent growth between 2006 and 2014 and turbocharging the global economy, China suddenly emerged as the chief risk to the world. In its headlong drive to invest in coal mines and steel plants, it created a glut that was driving foreigners out of business. In its faltering experiments with financial modernization, it allowed cracks to appear in its currency controls: Well-to-do Chinese families were rushing to buy anti-dictator insurance in the form of real estate in Los Angeles or London. The government’s war chest of foreign currency reserves shrunk by about $1 trillion as it desperately bought back yuan to offset capital flight.

    In the past 18 months, however, China has restored calm. Last year the government ordered coal mines to cap production at 276 days; steel output was also cut, and producers the world over have profited from recovering prices. Meanwhile, authorities have put a stop to capital flight, using dictatorial powers to crush purchases of anti-dictator insurance. The process has not been pretty, but capital flight has ended and the yuan has recovered. Any company connected to China’s global supply chains is breathing more freely..

    9/17: If you don't use it, you lose it

    What to do about summer learning loss. Research shows that, on average, students can lose a month’s worth of school year learning over summer vacation. David Quinn and Morgan Polikoff examine the evidence and discuss interventions to prevent students from backsliding.

    9/17: Even As States Return To Health, Pension Funds In Bad Conditions

    9/17:  Fiduciary Rule Guide for Advisors
    "The rule expands the 'investment advice fiduciary' definition under [ERISA] of 1974. If this sweeping regulation (1,023 pages in length) is not stopped outright, it will automatically elevate all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to the level of a fiduciary, bound legally and ethically to meet the standards of that status. While the new rules are likely to have at least some impact on all financial advisors, it is expected that those who work on commission, such as brokers and insurance agents, will be impacted the most."

    There are no standards. Think they should be relatively conversant with a personal financial calculator????? Dream on. If they do not have one, run away.

    9/17" Virgin Islands before and after Irma. Remarkable pictures of utter devastation

    I was without power for five days.No way you can compare that to what these people are enduring

    With everything gone now, what can they do??? I'd be lost since the options are close to zero.

    9/17: Marine Plastic Pollution

    Disgusting numbers

    Rank Country Percentage of waste that is mismanaged Quantity of mismanaged plastic waste (MMT/year) Percentage of global mismanaged plastic waste Quantity of plastic marine debris (MMT/year)
    MMT = million metric tons
    Adapted from Jambeck et al. (2015)4
    1 China 76 8.82 27.7 1.32–3.53
    2 Indonesia 83 3.22 10.1 0.48–1.29
    3 Philippines 83 1.88 5.9 0.28–0.75
    4 Vietnam 88 1.83 5.8 0.28–0.73
    5 Sri Lanka 84 1.59 5.0 0.24–0.64
    6 Thailand 75 1.03 3.2 0.15–0.41
    7 Egypt 69 0.97 3.0 0.15–0.39
    8 Malaysia 57 0.94 2.9 0.14–0.37
    9 Nigeria 83 0.85 2.7 0.13–0.34
    10 Bangladesh 89 0.79 2.5 0.12–0.31
    11 South Africa 56 0.63 2.0 0.09–0.25
    12 India 87 0.60 1.9 0.09–0.24
    13 Algeria 60 0.52 1.6 0.08–0.21
    14 Turkey 18 0.49 1.5 0.07–0.19
    15 Pakistan 88 0.48 1.5 0.07–0.19
    16 Brazil 11 0.47 1.5 0.07–0.19
    17 Burma 89 0.46 1.4 0.07–0.18
    18 Morocco 68 0.31 1.0 0.05–0.12
    19 North Korea 90 0.30 1.0 0.05–0.12
    20 United States 2 0.28 0.9 0.04–0.11

    /14:Top 10 health conditions costing employers the most

    Arthritis, obesity and depression are among the ailments having the biggest impact on rising plan costs, according to research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans.


    9/14: Arbitration

    Firms pay no damages in about 60% of client claims that reach a decision, according to FINRA statistics. Clients may spend years navigating a process in which the odds are against them. Advisors already face steep odds in intra-industry cases, and the rule will help claims against advisors and firms,

    The process of getting to arbitration is set to wear you down and either back away or accept a pittance before arbitration. As to the arbitrations themselves, the plaintiffs attorney may get an award but is willing to settle without an arbitration since they still get around 40% to 60% of the award so what you are seeing above--take half of it.

    Further as regards the attorneys- they are clueless to the fundamentals of investing and without an expert witness    (good luck with that) it can be a game of craps. Think the arbitrators  are trained in the fundamentals of investing- get real. There are no classes is such fundamentals.  Think they know what a fiduciary is supposed to do. And it get funnier..................

    9/14: In America we can wear shorts

    THE BIG IDEA: West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s son was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and suffered traumatic brain injury.

    When he finally made it home, the Republican asked his boy to tell him about his toughest day in combat.

    “He had been wounded. There was a girl who had a leg blown off. They had to call in F-16s to secure their positions,” Warner recalled in an interview. “I was expecting those kinds of war stories out of him. But he said, ‘Dad, the hardest day for me, without a doubt, was election day in Afghanistan.’ It was 110 degrees. Before they went out, they put tourniquets on each of their arms and legs so, if they got hit, they could still turn the tourniquets. They found five IEDs around the one polling place that his platoon was assigned to defend.” But Afghans came out to vote any way, even at great personal risk to themselves.