Master Financial Education

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

E. F. Moody Jr.

click above for bio


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

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BUSINESS WEEK: "For an Expert, Click here" 

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

Morality, Sexism, Ethics, Corrupt Equilibrium

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

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

12/12: I do not believe the tax bill will work in bringing down the deficit. But this puts an even tougher warning on the bill (Financial Times)\

Washington’s tax policy battle is threatening to become a transatlantic row. The finance ministers from Europe’s five largest economies have warned the Trump administration that Republican tax cut plans would flout international agreements and could start a trade war.

In a letter to the White House and US Treasury department, the ministers — including Philip Hammond of the UK, Peter Altmaier of Germany and Bruno Le Maire of France — raised the possibility of retaliating if the legislation becomes law. A French finance ministry official said the letter was organised quickly because “more informal things haven’t really worked”. But the intervention is only the latest in a series of disputes between Europe and the US over tax issues that date back to the Obama administration. (FT, Telegraph)

12/12 A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”.

EFM- but the internet started the changes. And what about all the games that have changed children to sitting for hours staring at a screen.

12/12: We cannot get 2% inflation and the UK is over 3%.

The annual rate of change in the consumer price index rose to 3.1 per cent in November, according to official figures released on Tuesday. The governor must write a letter if inflation exceeds the 2 per cent target by more than 1 percentage point. Prices have risen faster in the UK than comparable economies after the value of the pound fell following the vote to leave the EU.

EFM- I think it is impossible to figure out the final costs of Brexit until it actually happens. Too much is inknown

"When you grow up in France, none of the heroes you learn about are entrepreneurs.

When someone gets rich in France, people immediately ask,

'What did he do to make this money? He must be a nasty person.'"

BRIGITTE GRANVILLE, a professor at Queen Mary University of London who was raised in France, on the shift in the country's mentality toward business as it tries to take advantage of Britain's exit from the European Union.

12/12:With Climate Change, Tree Die-Offs May Spread in the West


Forests will be decimated as trees become less resilient to drought and higher temperatures,

EFM- for the last decade at least, a lot of oak trees have died and are dying now. In another 10 years???????????????????????

12/12: Drowning in debt. I had NO idea of the amount of debt collections in America. This is truly unbelievable

Nearly half the residents of Louisiana have debt that has gone into collections, making that state America's capital of past-due debt,
Nationwide the data shows that 33 percent of Americans hold debt that is currently in collection. The median amount of debt in collections is $1,450.
Rates of past-due debt are generally highest in southern and western states, and lowest in the upper Midwest
health insurance coverage as a chief driver of indebtedness: People who have health insurance tend to be less likely to fall behind on their bills.

“a 1 percentage-point increase in the share of population without health insurance is associated with a 0.16 percentage-point increase in the likelihood of having debt in collections and a 1.3 percent increase (equal to $20) in the average amount of debt in collections.”

The numbers underscore the connection between physical and financial health. Among the more astonishing facts about life in America today is that we spend more money on health care than any other developed nation, but we also die younger than people in those nations.

Urban's numbers show that those sky-high health-care costs are saddling many Americans — nearly 20 percent of them — with debt they cannot pay.


Fiduciary Awareness Among DC Plan Sponsors Continues to Slip

"By 2060, nearly 24% of the US population or close to 100 million people will be over the age of 65, but few Americans are prepared for retirement. What's equally concerning is that plan sponsors now face added responsibilities under the DOL's new fiduciary rule, yet they're less aware of their fiduciary status today than before, and because of legal ramifications, what you don't know can hurt you," said Jennifer DeLong, Head of Defined Contribution at AB. "These are clearly challenging trends in the DC landscape that require action and change. Plans and sponsors will need to consider all the comprehensive tools available today, for the benefit of plan participants, as well as their own."

Key findings include:

  • Fiduciary awareness among DC plan sponsors continues to slip: 49% of plan sponsors do not consider themselves a fiduciary, up from 37% in 2014 and 30% in 2011. Fiduciary awareness is lowest in two categories of plan sponsors, those on investment (39%) or administrative (22%) committees. But even among those plan sponsors who say they have primary responsibility for the plan, one-third don't believe they are fiduciaries. Fiduciary training programs for plan sponsors could also be improved: about half the respondents who have access to a training program do not think the training is comprehensive. And while 80% of respondents say their plans document the fiduciary process, more than half of them feel the process could be improved.
  • One way to boost fiduciary awareness and appreciation is to hire a financial advisor or consultant. Sponsors who use a financial advisor or consultant have a better understanding and awareness of their fiduciary responsibilities. More plans using advisors also show increased participation rates (49% vs. 40% for non-advisor plans), increased average savings (57% vs. 37% for non-advisor plans), and participants improving their retirement readiness (22% vs. 11% for non-advisor plans).

  • Reenrollments into the QDIA steer participants into more effective investment options: Nearly 60% of sponsors were most concerned that participants lack awareness of how much they need to save for retirement needs, and 54% said participants do not understand their investment options. Many workers who actively choose investments for their accounts don't make the best choices and some make no choices at all. Thus, reenrollments with a QDIA have become an increasingly popular way to remove asset-allocation guesswork, and boost participation rates, deferral rates, diversification and retirement readiness. Forty-percent of sponsors have recently done a reenrollment and 23% are considering it in the next two years, showing improvement since 2013, when only 10% of sponsors would consider a reenrollment in the future.
  • Quality of asset management becoming a greater driver of QDIA selection: Use of target-date funds continues to grow, most notably among micro plans (less than $1 million in AUM), up from 33% in 2014 to 40%. Respondents point to performance first (54%) when asked about what they think are the most important attributes, followed by cost (41%), quality of asset management (40%) and appropriate glide path (32%).
  • With fees coming under greater scrutiny each year, one-way plans could find cost savings is by using collective investment trusts. Roughly 40% of plans still use first-generation, off-the-shelf proprietary mutual funds but the industry is seeing rapid growth in collective investment trust series.

  • DC plan sponsors differ in philosophy on how to handle retired participants' balances: By 2060, 100 million Americans -- nearly a quarter of the US population -- will be aged 65 or older. This shifts pressure to DC plans and how involved plan sponsors should be in participants' DC account decisions when they retire. When plan sponsors are asked about their organization's philosophy regarding terminated or retired participants' balances in the plan, the most common response (37%) is that participants should roll over their assets into an individual retirement account (IRA) or another qualified plan. The next most-cited response (28%) is that their company has no philosophy one way or another. Eighteen-percent of respondents feel participants should keep their money in the plan, while only 7% see taking a lump-sum distribution (a cash-out) as the answer. Only half of the survey respondents' organizations even track the percentage of participants who cash out.
  • But cash-outs at retirement are a growing concern in an America of increasing life expectancy and decreasing retirement readiness. One in five plan sponsors would prefer participants leave their money in the plan. If they do, the plan could negotiate better fees by virtue of higher balances. And plan sponsors could explore offering a variety of distribution options -- such as guaranteed lifetime income solutions -- to ensure participants have appropriate options to take them through retirement.

  • Financial wellness programs viewed as a smart investment: Financial wellness programs, while broadly defined, are gaining popularity as formal programs at companies. Four in ten plans offer them and cite important benefits: employees are more productive and focused, and one-third say employees are less stressed from having improved their financial knowledge and confidence.

12/12: I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ethnic cleansing is going on.

21 Rohingya women recount rape by Myanmar armed forces

The use of rape by Myanmar’s armed forces has been sweeping and methodical, with one of the alleged victims as young as 13.


Over 1 million children and pregnant women are on the brink of losing health insurance
If Congress doesn't reauthorize funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), at least 1.2 million children could lose healthcare coverage.
A handful of states are expected to run out of money by early next year.
Medical officials in those states are beginning to send termination notices to families as they prepare for the worst.
Even if Congress does restore CHIP money, the delay in funding will have already cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For the first time in the history of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — which has provided healthcare to millions of Americans and helped to drastically reduce the uninsured rate of children since its implementation in 1997 — states may run out of funding.
A lack of funding could result in 1.2 million children losing coverage and becoming uninsured, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.
"These are families making $8, $10, or $12 an hour that don't have insurance. And they're going to get letters saying 'your insurance is canceled,'" Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said during a debate on the Senate floor November 30. "How can we let that happen?"
The reauthorization deadline for CHIP passed over two months ago without Congress agreeing to an extension, making it the longest lapse in funding since the program was first introduced.
"The politics are ugly. This should not be a Republican or Democratic issue," Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne told Business Insider. "There's never been any talk of it not making sense."

12/12: Hedge this

12/11: work hard or boy a house (UK)

Just over £5 trillion, or three quarters of the total increase, is accounted for by increase in the value of dwellings – another name for the UK housing stock. The Office for National Statistics explains that this is “largely due to increases in house prices rather than a change in the volume of dwellings.” This alone is not particularly surprising. We are forever told about the importance of ‘getting a foot on the property ladder’. The housing market has long been viewed as a perennial source of wealth.

But the price of a property is made up of two distinct components: the price of the building itself, and the price of the land that the structure is built upon. This year the ONS has separated out these two components for the first time, and the results are quite astounding.

In just two decades the market value of land has quadrupled, increasing recorded wealth by over £4 trillion. The driving force behind rising house prices — and the UK’s growing wealth — has been rapidly escalating land prices.

For those who own property, this has provided enormous benefits. According to the Resolution Foundation, homeowners born in the 1940s and 1950s gained an unearned windfall of £80,000 between 1993 and 2014 alone. In the early 2000s, house price growth was so great that 17% of working-age adults earned more from their house than from their job.

12/11: Vulgarity

In our agency, you have to lead by example. Discipline is important. When those in positions of authority are crude in conversation, it fosters an environment that makes it easy for misconduct to happen. Vulgarity in language, even if inappropriate touching never happens, trickles down throughout the organization. If people in a position to lead and make decisions constantly curse and joke about sex while playing down complaints about harassment, it sends the message that harassment is not a problem — and that everyone else should feel the same way. Loose conversation promotes a negative culture throughout the chain of command. It’s hard to change people’s morals or values individually, but the agency can set the precedent that that kind of language is not acceptable — from the top down.

The issue isn’t isolated to the men on our job. Women can be just as vulgar — in part, because they think that joining in coarse conversation is what it takes to be equal to men or to gain their respect. But there will always be a group of men who doubt women’s ability, and that isn’t the way to convince them. The way to gain respect is to know your job and perform it well consistently. Even if men don’t want you around, nine times out of 10 they’ll develop respect for you. Why? Because you’re being true to yourself and because you’re doing the work — maybe even better than they are. That’s the way to get buy-in, not by trying to be cruder versions of men.

Kishia Clemencia is a captain with D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

EFM- Sure it has become 'acceptable' in many social situations to use f*** this and f*** that. But it tends to show an IQ of a crouton since it is used as a crutch in conversation. Grow up.

12/11: Corrupt Equilibrium at its worst:Harvey Weinstein Excellent article from NY Times. There are a ton of Weinsteins out there. Their power over women is now waning, but women will need to "man up" in all walks of life to really make a difference. .

12/11: Burma or Myanmur--- the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning Burma, also known as Myanmar, for the “very likely commission of crimes against humanity.”

These hard realities mean that the United Nations and Western governments must begin to focus on improving conditions for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in Bangladesh, who are likely to remain there for the foreseeable future and who face grave humanitarian risks — such as an incipient diphtheria epidemic. Their temporary settlements — which have quickly become one of the largest refu­gee camps in the world — could become a recruiting ground for extremists if they are not well managed and secured
EFM- Tens of thousands already dead and many more will die. The solution to stop the killings, rapes  torture????? 
.Without direct military  intervention by the United Nations.........nothing. 
Reminds me of a quote from Stalin- A million deaths is a statistic. A single death is a tragedy

12/11: Retirement allocation
12/11: retirement fees

The Pew Research Center reports that 40% of Americans age 65 and older live in a home with a firearm. About 5.3% of Americans in that same age range have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. What’s more, the numbers of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to balloon to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Organization.

This basically means there are lot of Americans out there with both dementia and access to guns. But how risky is it, really, for someone with Alzheimer’s to have access to a gun?

Experts say that depends on how far the disease has progressed. Aside from the typical forgetfulness associated with Alzheimer’s, people with the disease may be prone to bouts of anger, confusion and hallucinations. Even the most experienced marksman can lose his or her ability to make proper judgement calls. The last thing you want is your loved one mistaking a caregiver for an intruder or pulling out a gun in public during a burst of inexplicable anger.

But while a few stories trickle out every few years about a senior with dementia shooting someone (usually a loved one) with a gun, the biggest risk to seniors with guns in the home is suicide. The New York Times reports that in

2014, 5,000 people age 65 and older committed suicide using a firearm

12/10: Up and down

12/10: Where are foreign aid goes. Good stuff

In 2016, more than $140bn was distributed around the world. That is more than ever before. (Unfortunately I did not get any)

12/9"  So large it is incomprehensible

A team of scientists have just discovered the oldest, most distant black hole known to man. It’s 13 billion light-years away, 800 million times more massive than the sun and could offer clues to the enigmatic early years of the universe.  

12/7: Charitable Giving

Let's be careful our there  Look at Goodwill and UNICEF

RONALD MC DONALD HOUSES   Click Me!Click Me!    [son Ray's favorite]
All monies go to running the houses for parents who have critically Click Me!

ill Children in the hospital.100% goes to housing, and feeding the families.

THE AMERICAN RED CROSS Click Me!Click Me!Click Me!
President and CEO Marsha J. Evans' salary for the year was

$651,957 plus expenses Click Me!


Commissioner, Todd Bassett receives a small salary of only $13,000 per year(plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization. 96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.

MARCH OF DIMES   Click Me!Click Me!Click Me!
It is called the March of Dimes because only a Click Me!dimeClick Me! for every

1 dollar is given to the needy.Click Me!

National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help
Veterans and their families and youth


President Brian Gallagher receives a $375,000 base salary

along with numerous expense benefits.Click Me!

National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help
Veterans and their families and youth!

UNICEF Click Me!Click Me!Click Me!Click Me!
CEO Caryl M. Stern receives
$1,200,000 per year (100k per monthClick Me!Click Me!)

plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE. Click Me!
Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.

National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help
Veterans and their families and youth!

GOODWILL    Click Me!Click Me!Click Me!

CEO and owner Mark Curran profits $2.3 million a year.

Goodwill is a very catchy name for his business.Click Me!

You donate to his business and then he sells the items for

PROFIT. He pays nothing for his products and pays minimum

his workers wage! Nice Guy. $0.00 goes to help anyone! Stop giving to this man.

National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help
Veterans and their families and youth!

National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help
Veterans and their families and youth!

For children's last wishes.
100% goes to funding trips or special wishes for a dying child.Click Me!

  Click Me! ST. JUDE RESEARCH HOSPITAL   Click Me!     [my favorite]
100% goes towards funding and helping Children with Cancer

who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay.

100% of Donations go to help the Blind, Buy Hearing Aides,

Support Medical Missions around the world.

12/7: The numbers are down but I just was not aware of how many people are arrested.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

EFM- How can this be if consumer confidence just hit another record???

Findings from the biennial 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey indicate that just a bit more than a third of U.S. workers (35 percent) were satisfied with their financial situation this year; that’s a tumble from two years ago, when close to half—48 percent—said they were satisfied. That’s a sharp reversal of a trend of improved satisfaction since 2009, when only a quarter said they were satisfied.

That’s not the only downturn in employee attitudes. In the last survey, 21 percent of U.S. workers believed their current financial concerns were negatively affecting their lives, but this year that’s risen sharply, too—to 34 percent. And 59 percent are worrying about their future financial state, compared with just under a half (49 percent) two years ago.

An overwhelming majority, 81 percent, of struggling employees say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, and only 20 percent of them manage to pay their credit card in full each month. And overall, more than a third of U.S. workers experienced a moderate (24 percent) or severe (13 percent) financial hardship. Ten percent have taken a loan from their 401(k) plan, while 6 percent have made a permanent hardship withdrawal

An overwhelming majority, 81 percent, of struggling employees say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, and only 20 percent of them manage to pay their credit card in full each month. And overall, more than a third of U.S. workers experienced a moderate (24 percent) or severe (13 percent) financial hardship. Ten percent have taken a loan from their 401(k) plan, while 6 percent have made a permanent hardship withdrawal

EFM- Is it possible that both consumer confidence and financial well being are right? Uh, no. Both worng? Uh, no. What then? I am not sure but since I have seen this merry go round for decades I have learned that the market commentary can be all over the place. The market does NOT  have to make sense. And until a correction is initiated via a look at the inverted yield curve, just sit there. This does not mean you cannot change funds over time because of better growth but acting stupid is not in the investor's  guide book to economics

12/7: College scholarships
ONLY 0.3% get a free ride from grants and scholarships1.

EFM- Sounds like it needs to be checked- but it is a place to start

12/6: How money is spent

12/5: Caregiver guilt

Caregivers often carry around undeserved guilt, believing that they aren’t doing enough for their loved ones. This guilt can make the caregiving role even more stressful than it already is. One might ask why a caregiver feels guilty when they’re doing such a courageous job. Here are some reasons:

  • Resentment for personal time lost – It’s normal to feel like you’re missing something when so much of your time is taken up taking care of someone else. The caregiver thinks that they shouldn’t feel this way.
  • Unresolved issues – Many times, there are issues stemming from childhood or arguments in the past that hinder the caregiving process. Many caregivers feel guilty about this.
  • Comparing yourself to others – Some caregivers will look at another caregiver and think that they could never accomplish what that other person did.
  • Knowing placement is inevitable – There can be tremendous guilt involved when a caregiver has to place their loved one in assisted living or a nursing home.
  • Dealing with your own issues – You may be dealing with personal or health problems yourself, which takes away from your caregiving responsibilities.

Ways to Cope with Caregiver Guilt

  • Acknowledge the guilt – It’s normal to feel guilt from time to time. Once it’s recognized, we are better able to deal with it.
  • Look at the bigger picture – Although you may be stressed with a particular situation now, it will not last forever. Look at the sacrifices you make for your loved one and realize that you are doing a great job.
  • Accept that you’re human and have flaws – All of us make mistakes from time to time. Some of us may be good at the physical aspects of caregiving, while others may be better able to handle the emotional toll. Recognize your strengths and don’t focus on the negative.
  • Make time for yourself – This is easier said than done, but it’s a must! Even if it’s just an hour or two a week, go out and have coffee with a friend, catch a movie, attend a caregiver support group, or just curl up and read a book. Taking time out helps you put your situation in better perspective.
  • Know that you are making the best decision for you and your loved one at that time – This can be hard to accept, especially if you’ve made a promise to a loved on in the past that you can no longer keep. A change in a situation may force you to break that promise, but realize that the promise was made under different circumstances. You are making the best decision with new circumstances.
  • Deal with unresolved issues or accept them for what they are – Many times, we may be taking care of someone who we resent, for many reasons. You can choose to try and resolve those feelings from the past to allow you to care for that person fairly. You can also choose to allow someone else to care for that person because you know you cannot rightfully do so. Either way, this is something you need to consider if your past with that person is an issue for you. Talk to a professional if necessary to make the best decision for both you and your loved one.
  • Reach out for support from family and friends; seek caregiver support groups or professional help to work through your feelings of guilt. Know that you are not alone in your caregiving journey and the help is available. Most of all, remember that you are doing the best that you can!

12/4: If that is true, it speaks about a nation that is out of kilter on its axis  I therefore don't know if it is possible to even gauge an immediate future. Going long is fruitless.

Yikes: Nearly half of Americans believe news media fabricates stories about Trump

In the eyes of Trump "approvers," there's a lot of fabrication going on out there.



If you REALLY want to get a look at pure exasperation of talented(?) minds researching various aspects of investing going back decades, this is the best/worst. But if is VERY  interesting that out of 1,000s of members at APViewpoint, you have a very few 'heavy hitter's that want to show off their talented ego. Go ahead and give it try- one you will not know what they are talking about (me too) and secondly, and perhaps more valuable is that WHO CARES? There is no consensus, nothing that really educates advisers due to its pomposity. That they cannot explain every thing clearly to each other simply indicates that their clients are LOST IN SPACE with no Robby to save the day. (O/K. I am old. indulge.) This gets so far from real life it is absurd.  

This type of knowledge with very limited educational merit..............................

12/3  Industry statistics far above the norm

12/1:Confidence of US consumers surprisingly jumps

Catching experts by surprise, US consumer confidence shot up to a 17-year high in November. Data from The Conference Board show the number of Americans who plan to make big-ticket purchases and to take vacations is increasing.

EFM: Yes, I am fully aware of GDP numbers, employment rate, but the exuberance level of consumers reminds me of the DOTcom era. I am not convinced that this might get not  messy.

According to congressional scorekeepers, the Senate tax bill would cost an estimated $1.4 trillion over 10 years

EFM- A tax cut could enliven the economy for a short time but then this tax fiasco will, with too many interest rate hikes, put us right into recession.

12/2: But things look good right now

12/1: According to congressional scorekeepers, the Senate tax bill would cost an estimated $1.4 trillion over 10 years

(Senators) said then and believe now that Congress and the president should come together on a balanced plan that reduces deficits and promotes growth. We called for fundamental tax reform that would cut tax breaks to reduce tax rates and — rather than add to the debt — generate new revenue.

We called for a more internationally competitive corporate tax code but also pressed for continued investment in education, infrastructure and high-value-added research so that the United States can compete effectively in the knowledge-based global economy. We also said tax reform should raise $1 trillion in revenue for debt reduction and be paired with spending cuts and reforms of entitlement programs to bring spending growth under control.

the tax plan under discussion in Congress ignores nearly all the hard choices we proposed — incorporating only the “goodies.” It reads as if it were developed for a country whose debt problems have been solved, when in reality debt is the highest it has ever been other than around World War II.
EFM- Or to put it another way- it sucks

“This is a really big missile, much larger than I expected,” said Scott LaFoy, an imagery analyst for the specialist website NK News. “I believe one of my professors would have referred to it as a big honking missile.”

EFM= No idea how this will turn out. But the world cannot allow a little puppet master to control the world.

I know just how to fish this. Love this type of country

University College London found that people who had never married were 42% more likely to develop dementia compared to married people, and widows and widowers were 20% more likely

Other research has shown that people with spouses tend to be healthier than those without them. This may explain part of the findings, say the researchers: Married couples may motivate each other to exercise, eat healthfully, maintain social ties and smoke and drink less—all things that are associated with a lower risk for dementia.

Grieving the death of a spouse can also increase stress levels, they say, which may affect nerve signaling in the brain and impair cognitive abilities.

12/1 Highest valuation since 1900

12/1:DOL Delays Parts of Fiduciary Rule About to Take Effect, Extends Enforcement Relief
"Notwithstanding this enforcement relief, as of June 9, 2017, participants can bring class action lawsuits against fiduciaries for breaches that occur on or after that date.... [It] appears that Field Assistance Bulletin 2017-03 remains in force. This means that during the transition period, while plan participants can sue to enforce their rights under ERISA, fiduciaries can require arbitration for settling claims."

EFM- For consumers- arbitration is quicker and cheaper. Arbitration are not necessarily fair so one cannot expect a claim to even remotely pay for bad advice  and losses

Keillor, the folksy former host and creator of "A Prairie Home Companion," has been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over "allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.
EFM- Next it will be Rodney the Clown from McDonalds and the Burger King exchanging condiments with Wendy's, Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima at a fraternity hazing ritual

If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer.”

Hannah Arendt:

EFM- but if you repeat a lie long and loud enough, it ends up as a fact and then as a really accepted fact that won't be denied.

11/30: Agitrop is (the spreading of) strongly political ideas or arguments expressed especiallythrough plays, art, books, etc.

Usually used to describe media productions (posters, books, movies, music, etc.) designed to instill pro-system thought patterns into those who consume them.
In turn, these implanted thoughts lead to actions that in some way bolster or directly advance official state policies.

What Trump (Steve Bannon and others) is doing is a play where the leading characters  spill out so much propaganda that the uninformed and illiterate public will desire the same thing as the play dictates. Of course, in the internet age, we have all sorts of propaganda but the louder it is and the better looking the website, the  farther it goes into the little craniums of the people who have put out a welcome mat for the swill.  In part, look at the quote above. It is clearly a form of nudging
The goal is to render fact- and evidence-based inquiry itself a cause for suspicion.


"Procurement with Unforeseen Contingencies" Fee Download
CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12385

FABIAN HERWEG, University of Bayreuth - Faculty of Law, Business and Economics
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich - Faculty of Economics, CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

The procurement of complex projects is often plagued by large cost overruns. One important reason for these additional costs are flaws in the initial design. If the project is procured with a price-only auction, sellers who spotted some of the flaws have no incentive to reveal them early. Each seller prefers to conceal his information until he is awarded the contract and then renegotiate when he is in a bilateral monopoly position with the buyer. We show that this gives rise to three inefficiencies: inefficient renegotiation, inefficient production and inefficient design. We derive the welfare optimal direct mechanism that implements the efficient allocation at the lowest possible cost to the buyer. The direct mechanism, however, imposes strong assumptions on the buyer's prior knowledge of possible flaws and their payoff consequences. Therefore, we also propose an indirect mechanism that implements the same allocation but does not require any such prior knowledge. The optimal direct and indirect mechanisms separate the improvement of the design and the selection of the seller who produces the good.

It is true horror- a wasp's nest
11/30: Trump tweets video on "how to beat up Muslims". This is hate

Trump says the 'bus episode' was not him because he doesn't use those words. This is lying

So see 'corrupt idealism below" But he does not even make an average ethical violation.  He is WAY over the top save for a very small minority of Americans (dare I even call them Americans?)

I think the force/words being used against North Korea may be/is  warranted due to ineptness by past presidents.

Total grade- D  



Oil and gas industry is causing Texas earthquakes, a ‘landmark’ study suggests

The last time Texas had much seismic activity may have been 300 million years ago.

EFM- I guess the dinosaurs also did fracking. Oklahoma has the same issue with earthquakes

Intellectual disabilities, also known as Low IQ, exist within the larger spectrum of developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and down syndrome. As the number of academic programs for students with these types of disabilities grows, it’s important for learners and their families to have access to details about their options.


Since 1929 (88 years) there have been 10 Bear Markets with an average loss of 45% lasting 25 months.

 The average Bull Market run has been 54 months.  The current Bull Market since March 2009 has been 95 months through 2016.

 Add another 11 months for 2017 and now we are at 106 months.

  • The Federal Reserve is expected to increase Interest Rates 4 Times In 2018
  • Terrorism/N. Korea
  • Inflation/Wages
  • Margin Debt For Brokerage Firms At All Time Highs.
  • CAPE Schiller PE ratio At 31.58 time earnings (2nd Highest Ever)
11/29:“Is Working Longer A Good Prescription for All?”

by Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher and Steven A. Sass

  • Working longer is an effective way to boost prospects for a secure retirement, but is it realistic for workers across the socioeconomic (SES) spectrum?
  • The Center examined this question in a series of studies funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, using education as the measure of SES.
  • Given rising life expectancies, the analysis finds that it is reasonable for lower-SES workers to work somewhat longer.
  • However, it may be harder for them to extend their worklives, as they plan to retire earlier and face narrower job options than their higher-SES counterparts.
Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. "

- Plato

All eight indexes on our world watch list have posted gains for 2017 through November 27. The top performer thus far is Hong Kong's Hang Seng with a gain of 34.93%, followed by India's BSE SENSEX at 26.81%. In third is Tokyo's Nikkei with 17.69%.

11/29: I knew it was high but not THIS HIGH

Tesla trucks One of Europe’s leading energy consultancies has estimated that Tesla’s much-hyped electric truck will require the same energy as up to 4,000 homes to recharge. The calculations raise questions over the project’s viability. (FT)

11/29: This growth is 'good' obviously but it smacks of momentum investing in 2000 where everyone just keeps buying regardless of any risk, I do not know when the bubble will pop but I think it will be a bad recession.

OECD warning Business investment in most large economies is too low to keep the world economy powering forward, the Organisation for Economic Co-operatiohen and Development warned. It forecasts that the global economy will expand 3.6 per cent this year, rising to 3.7 per cent in 2018, just below the 2005-2014 average, but will ease back to 3.6 per cent in 2019. (FT)

11/29: Looks like I am going to be wrong regarding interest rate hike. I thought two increases for 2017 but that the economy wouldn't be able to sustain a third. But it seems like it is now almost a certainty

: "CEOs wear out like every other piece of productive equipment,. "Over time, their ability to lead change inevitably diminishes,
and a new leader must be brought in to clean [the] house and start the clock ticking once again."

Michael Watkins

11/28 Why nobody will thank you for soldiering on at work (FT) This provides a portrait of an alarming behaviour across employees: ‘presenteeism’. Everyone knows that going to work when ill is counter-productive. Yet, as the article emphasises, ‘presenteeism is a bigger problem in the UK than absenteeism…’ Why is this the case?”

Sadly, as the article suggests, this behaviour is a mirror of the typical corporate culture of modern businesses. We work in a highly competitive environment, where taking some much-deserved time off is equated to slacking.

Students should read this as a reminder that it is important to maintain a work-life balance. Nobody will give us a medal for going to work when ill.

11/27: Interesting and hard to believe

Making an extra $10 could cost you $24,000 more for health insurance
Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
In a health care system teeming with fine print, here’s an oddity that middle-class people who buy insurance on their own, rather than through an employer, need to know: You might want to take a pay cut next year.
Consider the situation of a 63-year-old married couple with a projected household income of $70,000 next year. The lowest-cost health plan they can buy in Milwaukee County will cost them $24,034.80.
If that couple’s income falls to $60,000, however, the same health plan would cost them $24.
That’s not a typo. It’s the total premium for the year.
The difference: At $60,000, they’ll qualify for a federal subsidy. At $70,000, they won’t.

Poncho and Chito

Yea, it is real. Pancho, the crocodile found  Chito when he was young and injured. Pancho nursed him back to health with lots of fish and they became inseparable
Uh, I might have mixed them up

For you really old folks, remember the western that said, "Hey Poncho, Hey Chico"
OK you can go back to Facebook now

11/27Up to 250,000 positions may have been eliminated by small businesses seeking to avoid Obamacare’s employer mandate, a new study has found.
By JACOB PASSY / MarketWatch
While Obamacare has allowed millions of Americans to get health insurance, it has also caused thousands of people to lose their jobs, a new report estimates.
Up to 250,000 positions may have been eliminated by small businesses seeking to avoid Obamacare’s employer mandate, according to estimates in a new working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Altogether between 28,000 and 50,000 businesses appear to have reduced their number of full-time employees from 2014 to 2016 because of the mandate.
The share of businesses with fewer than 50 employees grew between 2012 and 2016 to 45% from 37%.
“The size distortion is closely linked with whether a business offers employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) to its employees,” said Casey Mulligan, the study’s author and a professor at the University of Chicago. “Even by comparison with businesses employing fewer than 30 full-time workers, the propensity to offer ESI is low among employers with 30-49 full-time employees.”

11/26: HATE

In 2016, the FBI counted 6,121 reported incidents nationwide — an increase of 4.6 percent from 2015, during which 5,850 cases were reported. That number, in turn, marked a 6.8 percent increase in reported hate crimes over 2014. Roughly 58 percent of such attacks last year were motivated by racial bias, of which about half targeted African Americans. Of the 21 percent of crimes fueled by animosity toward the victim’s religion, more than half the attacks were aimed at Jews, a quarter at Muslims

The PBGC multiemployer insurance program stands a more-than 50 percent chance of running out of reserve funds by the end of fiscal year 20254

11/26:Myanmar's Crackdown on Rohingya Is Ethnic Cleansing, Tillerson Says


The long-anticipated designation will open the door to sanctions against the country's military commanders and intensify pressure on its civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

EFM- and she won the Nobel Peace Prize years ago.  From there to genocide. I don't think anyone saw that coming.

11/26: Morality, sexism, ethics, corrupt equilibrium.

I taught ethics for a number of years. The main term for a lot of poor behavior was "moral egoism: or "situational ethics". Basically whatever is good for you, your family, business, neighborhood, dog, lunch bucket, etc. was justified.  The offset to this is called a "veil of ignorance" where you look objectively at your actions to determine if they really are correct. That you could show these actions to your wife, children, priest etc. without issue. Long time readers know I have bucked the financial industry's  'code of ethics', etc. for decades- mainly because they would not impose anything just based on ethics. (Actually they were afraid of getting sued for just cause if there was no legal wrong that had yet been adjudicated.)  The kicker is that there are no laws on ethics per se- it is a nebulous term that floats around that is seldom speared. Effectively you are guilty of an infraction if and only if preceded by a governmental slap for having done a legal wrong (SEC, FINRA, State departments of insurance, federal and state courts, etc.). Note I said LEGAL wrong, not ethical. It is this legal violation where an organization might impose an ethical violation- but universally where many more investors have been harmed in the interim periods (perhaps many years)- particularly the elderly. The "word" ethics is merely meant to  assuage journalists and the unsuspecting and gullible public. There are many lapses under ERISA where a fiduciary duty is mandatory but with no documentation what one needs to know in order to practice. The Prudent Man Rule is over 25 years out of date and incorporates the Modern Portfolio Theory as the bedrock formula for investments. Not any more it ain't- not without addressing emotion and the inconsistencies of reality. What about the DOL rules that will apply in one form or another? Do they cut it? No. See  .The DOL Rule Cannot Work in the Real World of Retirement and Investment Planning  

I am not disparaging the entire effort and recognize that many people will get better service. But when a fiduciary does not have or does not know how to properly use a personal Financial Calculator- oy vey.  Software cannot cover all contingencies. Basic planning software will rarely address, if ever, the issue of life settlements, correlation, risk identification, senile dementia et al. That also means that since 97% of the anointed governmental entities above are clearly oblivious to what is the 'right thing to do, do you really think there can be a fiduciary effort with ethics, sans legality? 


But without prior actions by such entities, an agent has not committed a wrong and therefore could continue as before since the organizations would do very, very little, if anything,  to curb even illegal activity. As such, as a whistle blower, you can be ostracized quickly and suffer consequences. So it is easy to understand why so few women were willing to push the issue of sexism since the 'anointed one(s) can see to it that you are a lower class stool pigeon and need to suffer at the hands of a more powerful being (generally called schmucks).  Trump was going to sue all the women who made statements against him but once in office, nada, nothing, zilch, zero. I cannot state that the women are absolutely right, but too many allegations tends to show the intent and actions of a real life transgressor (Roy Moore).

Professor Raymond Fisman, who studies systemic corruption, which occurs when the corruption is so widespread and severe that it becomes an integral part of a country’s economic and political life (EFM- and personal life). Once systemic corruption takes hold it can quickly infect an entire system, encouraging or even forcing bad behavior — even by those who would, in another context, remain honest. He argues that the most accurate way to think of corruption is as an “equilibrium” — the result of people acting rationally within a flawed system, not just individual moral lapses. (EFM- though to me that sounds like a cop out.)

This commentary now takes a slightly unique observation of sexism. Men may love their wife, mother, daughters and the like but once outside that circle, I don't think they respect women that much. (Most notable where secretaries et al, are not respected. Even women with higher positions.) Part of the reason is an old cultural problem that women are not that smart, they have physical/mental limitations for a few days per month and so on. As to who is smarter- generally it is women given the chance. Look at college today and they are more women than men getting degrees.



As far as my work is concerned, women took more effort than men in planning because they asked more questions. Well, that is supposed to be what should actually occur. A lot of advisors do not like that and don't want to do the heavy lifting. So out came all the cat calls about being 'too emotional' et al.

As regards the biological once a month  'infirmity' that causes 'mental incapacities'- give me a break.  Here is something that easily trumps (sorry, but the word fit. Has he put a brand on it yet?) that- men have a bigger problem for 30 days a month and the impact is insidious. What is it?


C'mon ladies, you know what it is.


Male ego. The reality is "I read a magazine once and I now where a book is- you don't have to tell me about........(pick something"). It is one of the most mind numbing lacks of forethought imaginable. On many issues (like personal finance) it is like talking to a stump. And it is inbred. When confronted by a 'problem/issue', men fight, flight or freeze. Women tend and befriend. While the male's quick reaction to danger might have served him well eons ago with saber tooth tigers and large hamsters, the instinct remains. Nonetheless, the aggressive nature of men is the cause of 99 44/100% of all inflicted deaths our world has seen. Men have found a way of hiding specious reasoning generally with men of the same suasion, AKA like Trump with the 'locker room' banter recorded on the bus. As such many men may find these recent faults as simply men being men- as in Rose's case when one female employee noted- "Oh, it's just Charlie being Charlie."  Not good enough. Not even close.

The element of IMmoral and unethical egoism is embedded in our system. Clinton showed you can cause serious problems with the sexual escapades, but so what? He went on to making MILLIONS after his presidency. I submit that allowed a lot of men to impose all sorts of illicit sexual activity (and a number of non sexual questionable activities) because if it is all right for a president, why can't I do it?  Finally the case of Cosby broke a barrier that women had to break themselves. Women now have the opportunity to keep pressure on the elite (it will slowly filter down to the mediocre) and force/require/intimidate men (in particular) to toe an ethical line henceforth. It will still cause a lot of anguish (I believe) in outing a lot of sexual miscreants (schmucks) who will no longer be able to hide 'in plain sight'.

Experts say the recent scandals may in fact be cautiously good news. They show that prosecutors and other institutions have managed to break free of those systems and hold their leaders to account — with overwhelming public support for that accountability when they do. Moral egoism can and does ruin many lives personally and professionally. The ball(s) are now in the women's court and they can make major moves to uphold their rights as long they keep on squeezing.

11/21" And its getting worse

Opioid epidemic took $95 billion from economy in 2016

And for 11/23

Opioid-crisis cost revised to $504 billion in sixfold surge

By Randy Woods

The opioid epidemic sweeping the U.S. is far costlier than once thought, with the economic impact of the crisis exceeding half a trillion dollars, according to a new report by White House economists.


World Markets Update

by Jill Mislinski, Nov 20

All eight indexes on our world watch list have posted gains for 2017 through November 20. The top performer thus far is Hong Kong's Hang Seng with a gain of 33.0%, followed by India's BSE SENSEX at 25.43%. In third is Tokyo's Nikkei with 16.47%.

“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” the philanthropist wrote Monday on his blog. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew. My family history isn’t the sole reason behind my interest in Alzheimer’s. But my personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease.”

EFM- It is the death of the mind before the death of the body

And people almost always know they are losing it. To watch someone die slowly before your eyes...................................

  1. Individual and group preferences over risk: does group size matter?




Morone, Andrea ; Temerario, Tiziana ; Nemore, Francesco

In this paper we investigated group size impact on risk aversion when a majority rule is applied. Drawing on the widely used Holt and Laury’s (2002) lottery pairs, we observed a risky shift for both individual and groups regardless of their size. However, groups choices are shown to be closer to the risk-neutrality prediction. More interestingly, whereas smaller groups attitudes can be safely approximated by individual choices, larger groups reveal a statistically different risk-loving attitude. This risky shift becomes more prominent as group size increases.



Preferences; Group; Risk Attitude; Majority Rule; Laboratory.


C91 C92 D1


  1. Thinking fast, thinking badly




Natalia Jimenez (Universidad de Granada (Spain)) ; Ismael Rodriguez-Lara (Middlesex University London (United Kingdom)) ; Jean-Robert Tyran (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen and University of Vienna (Austria)) ; Erik Wengström (University of Lund (Sweden))

We test for the construct validity of the cognitive reflection test (CRT) by eliciting response times. We find that incorrect answers to the CRT are quicker than correct answers. At the individual level, we classify subjects into impulsive and reflective, depending on whether they choose the incorrect intuitive answer or the correct answer the majority of the time. We show that impulsive subjects complete the test quicker than reflective subjects.


cognitive ability, cognitive reflection, response time, intuitive behavior, reflective behavior




Many men will absorb the lessons of late 2017 to be not about the threat they’ve posed to women but about the threat that women pose to them. So there will be more — perhaps unconscious — hesitancy about hiring women, less eagerness to invite them to lunch, or send them on work trips with men; men will be warier of mentoring women.

The only real solution may be one that is hardest to envision: equality.

Rebecca Traister

  1. 11Risk-taking on Behalf of Others




Kristoffer W. Eriksen ; Ola Kvaløy ; Miguel Luzuriaga

We present an experimental study on how people take risk on behalf of others. We use three different elicitation methods, and study how each subject makes decisions both on behalf of own money and on behalf of another individual’s money. We find a weak tendency of lower risk-taking with others’ money compared to own money. However, subjects believe that other participants take more risk with other people’s money than with their own. At the same time, subjects on average think that others are more risk averse than themselves. The data also reveals that subjects are quite inconsistent when making risk decisions on behalf of others, indicating random behavior. A large majority of subjects alternates between taking more risk, less risk or the same amount of risk with other people’s money compared to own money.


risk-taking, other people’s money, beliefs, preferences, experiment


I could do this.

  1. Behavioral Biases in Marketing




Guhl, Daniel (Humboldt University Berlin) ; Klapper, Daniel (Humboldt University Berlin) ; Massner, Katharina (LMU) ; Spann, Martin (LMU) ; Stich, Lucas (LMU) ; Yegoryan, Narine (Humboldt University Berlin)

Psychology and economics (the mixture of which is known as behavioral economics) are two fundamental disciplines underlying marketing. Various marketing studies document the non-rational behavior of consumers, even though behavioral biases might not always be consistently termed or formally described. In this review, we identify empirical research that studies behavioral biases in marketing. We summarize the key findings according to three classes of deviations (i.e., non-standard preferences, non-standard beliefs, and non-standard decision-making) and the marketing mix instruments (i.e., product, price, place, and promotion). We thereby introduce marketing researchers to the theoretical foundation of and terminology used in behavioral economics. For scholars from behavioral economics, we provide ready access to the rich empirical, applied marketing literature. We conclude with important managerial implications resulting from the behavioral biases of consumers, and we present avenues for future research.


marketing; behavioral economics; behavioral biases; review;


China is building the world’s fastest wind tunnel to simulate hypersonic flight at speeds of up to 12 kilometres per second.

A hypersonic vehicle flying at this speed from China could reach the west coast of the United States in less than 14 minutes.

Zhao Wei, a senior scientist working on the project, said researchers aimed to have the facility up and running by around 2020 to meet the pressing demand of China’s hypersonic weapon development programme.

"It will boost the engineering application of hypersonic technology, mostly in military sectors, by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights, so problems can be discovered and solved on the ground

The escape velocity, or the minimum speed needed to leave the Earth, is 11 kilometers per second.

  1. Potterian Economics




Daniel Levy (International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University; Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University; Department of Economics, Emory University; Rimini Center for Economic Analysis, ITALY;) ; Avichai Snir (Department of Banking and Finance, Netanya Academic College, Netanya 42365, ISRAEL)

Recent studies in psychology and neuroscience find that fictional works exert strong influence on readers and shape their opinions and worldviews. We study the Potterian economy, which we compare to economic models, to assess how Harry Potter books affect economic literacy. We find that some principles of Potterian economics are consistent with economists’ models. Many others, however, are distorted and contain numerous inaccuracies, which contradict professional economists’ views and insights, and contribute to the general public’s biases, ignorance, and lack of understanding of economics.


Economic and Financial Literacy, Political Economy, Public Choice, Rent Seeking, Folk Economics, Harry Potter, Social Organization of Economic Activity, Literature, Fiction, Potterian Economy, Potterian Economics, Popular Opinion


Explaining the new Tax Laws


"Women's Entrepreneurship: How to Measure the Gap between New Female and Male Entrepreneurs?" Free Download
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8242

World Bank
World Bank

This paper analyzes data on female and male entrepreneurship that were collected by the World Bank Group's Entrepreneurship Database. Recognizing the importance of a differentiated approach to entrepreneurship in terms of legal entities, the data on female and male business owners are collected at the level of limited liability companies and sole proprietorships. Forty-four of the 143 economies that participated in the Entrepreneurship project provided some sex-disaggregated data for 2016. The paper finds that the gender gap in business ownership remains high in many economies around the world. In the majority of the analyzed economies, less than one-third of new limited liability company owners are women. Although sole proprietorships are more frequently used by female entrepreneurs, only three economies have similar or equal number of women business owners relative to men. The gap in female entrepreneurship is especially apparent in low-income economies, where women are much less likely than men to start a new business. The paper also provides new insights into the relationship between female entrepreneurship and various institutional factors, including women's financial inclusion, the gender gap in education, and legal rights disparities. The analysis suggests a need to expand the collection of sex-disaggregated data, to trace the economies' progress in narrowing the existing gender gap in entrepreneurship.

The logical assumption is that if you are a “good” driver, you will qualify for lower auto insurance rates. It turns out that there is also an exception to this rule if you are currently insurance by a smaller, “non-standard” insurance company and live in a lower-income community. The Consumer Federation of America reached this conclusion from recent research and premium quotes. It’s always important to review your insurance options prior to renewal of your auto insurance policy.


11/19: Tony Steuer

Retirement Health Care Costs and Long Term Care:

A 65-year-old, healthy couple can expect to spend $266,600 over the course of their retirement on Medicare premiums alone, according to HealthView Services. An estimate from Fidelity is a little less: $245,000. Neither include out-of-pocket expenses or long-term care costs. Genworth recently published their annual cost of care survey which shows that the national median monthly cost for home health care service is $4,000, adult day health care is $1,517, assisted living facility is $3,750 and a nursing home is $7,148 for a semi-private room ($8,121 for a private room). Keep in mind that this is average and costs in your area will be different. It’s important to note that the odds of needing some type of long term care are about 50% (depending on which study you use) and though this is from 2012, these 40 must-know statistics about long term care insurance are still useful.

11/19: Tony Steuer

ill Insurance Companies Be Able To Weather Climate Change?

There is some differing opinions on whether insuring against weather natural disasters could reach unaffordable levels for households and companies, with the potential damage being so unpredictable that it may be impossible to model which would be an unacceptable risk to insurers. For a closer look check out: Big Insurers Brace for Perilous Future as Climate Risks Escalate.



Household Debt And Credit Report: Up $116B in Q3, Another Peak

by Jill Mislinski, Nov 15

Household debt increased by $116 billion (0.9%) to $12.96 trillion in Q3. There were increases in mortgage, auto, credit card, and student loan debt and a modest decline in balances on home equity lines of credit.

11/16: A concise explanation of why Saudi Arabia is important (NYT)

Ever since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings collapsed into chaos, a faction within Washington’s small but influential network of foreign policy think tanks have gathered around an idea: the United States must be more forceful in supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies.

This idea isn’t universal, but it is a common position, echoed at downtown policy conferences, cable news panels and off-record dinners with policymakers and members of Congress.

The basic theory is three-fold:

(1) Saudi Arabia is invested in the status quo and so will block changes that could destabilize the region or hurt American interests.

(2) Saudi Arabia opposes Islamist political parties, which have tended to do well in Arab elections, and so can be relied upon to suppress Islamists.

(3) Saudi Arabia is locked in a regional proxy conflict with Iran, so helping the Saudis will hurt the Iranians, thereby containing Iran and containing the proxy war.

Saudi Arabia is not popular in the United States, what with being an authoritarian theocracy that beheads dissidents, relegates women to second-class status and has funded Islamist extremists. So supporters of a pro-Saudi line typically do not single it out by name, but instead refer to “our Gulf allies,” which in practice means Saudi Arabia and a handful of smaller states that generally follow Saudi Arabia’s lead on the matters listed above.

Octopus Candle holder
You know you want one for Christmas

11/16: Winter and the elderly

In addition to common, year-round domestic hazards, each season presents its own set of potential issues for the health of seniors. As colder temperatures set in, many new threats to seniors’ health and safety emerge. To help ensure seniors’ safety through the winter, it’s important to consider potential threats both inside and outside the home and make preparations that promote safety while allowing seniors to enjoy as much independence as possible. Seniors that require in-home care frequently do not have family in close enough proximity to prepare for winter and assist with the preventative tasks that are needed throughout the season, meaning much of this work will be completed by professional caregivers. There are a handful of common threats caregivers can plan ahead for to make sure seniors’ homes are fully equipped to handle the chilly winter season.

As colder temperatures tend to chase people indoors, it’s important to make sure the home is prepared for the season. Caregivers should make sure seniors and their families schedule inspections and maintenance for furnaces and fireplaces to ensure they’re in safe condition and ready to use. Elders, especially those with cardiac issues, are vulnerable to health problems that can arise from being too cold, including dehydration. Setting the thermostat at the recommended 68 degrees will prevent these issues. With regular use of these heating methods, a few other potential dangers emerge. It’s a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near all heat sources in case a malfunction starts a blaze. Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed on every floor of the home and check them to ensure all are working and have fresh batteries. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous, as it’s practically undetectable without a monitoring device.

Caregivers should also make sure seniors’ homes are prepared with emergency kits in case a major winter storm causes power outages or strands them inside the home for an extended period without assistance. Winter emergency kits should include necessities such as a flashlight, backup batteries, a radio and warm blankets. Homes should also be stocked with enough non-perishable food and bottled water to last for several days until scheduled in-home visits can resume. Condition-specific care also necessitates seniors’ homes have a seven-day supply of prescription medications.

Falls are one of the most prominent threats to seniors’ health throughout the year, and the colder months present unique falling hazards both inside and outside the home. Make sure there are non-slip mats inside doors to prevent falls that can be caused by wet or snowy shoes. It’s also a good idea to store shoes on floor mats once inside the home to prevent puddles from accumulating on the floor due to melting snow and ice. Put the lights near entry ways on timers and make sure they’re set to turn on before the early sunsets that accompany the winter months to make sure seniors are able to the areas around doorways and avoid potential tripping or slipping hazards.

Outside the home, there are several maintenance tasks that should be completed both at the beginning and as needed throughout the season to mitigate safety hazards. Rain gutters should be clear of leaves and other obstructions that came accumulate throughout the fall. Gutters that are partially or completely blocked by leaves and other debris can overflow and cause damage to the home or create puddles on the ground, which freeze in cold weather and create dangerous conditions on sidewalks and near entryways. As winter storms hit throughout the season, it’s important to clear ice and snow from sidewalks, steps and driveways on an ongoing basis to eliminate slippery conditions that create dangerous falls. It’s also important to spread salt on outdoor areas where seniors walk to prevent dangerous ice patches from forming.

Because most seniors spend less time outdoors and are less active during the winter, they often lack vitamin D and take on a greater risk of catching colds. Even if seniors do spend enough time outdoors, winter sunlight is not strong enough for the body to make a sufficient amount of vitamin D for most people who live north of Atlanta. For this reason, ensuring seniors maintain a health, balanced diet. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include beef, fish, milk, yogurt and breakfast staples such as orange juice, egg yolks, oatmeal and cereal. Pudding made with milk is a tasty treat that can be an easy way to get seniors to consume more vitamin D.

When seniors are outside the home, it’s important that they’re dressed properly for winter conditions. Keeping them bundled up in layered, loose-fitting clothing and wear warm hats and waterproof gloves or mittens can help stave off dangerous winter maladies such as hypothermia, pneumonia and bronchitis. Making sure seniors are equipped to stay warm when outdoors is a good way to encourage them to spend at least some time outside when possible. Fresh air and sun light can go a long way toward improving seniors’ mood, which has a positive impact on their physical health as well.

If seniors are still driving on their own, it’s important to prepare their vehicle for winter as well. Cars should be inspected by a qualified mechanic to make sure they’re in good working condition to minimize the risk seniors become stranded in cold weather. Mechanics should check the car’s heating system and defrosters to make sure they works well, and cars should be equipped with snow tires and winter windshield solution to help melt ice. Seniors should also have a working cell phone and know how to use it in case they get stuck in the car and need to call for help.

While it’s important for everyone to be ready to deal with dangerous winter conditions, seniors are especially vulnerable to the dangers that come from cold, icy weather. Taking the time to think ahead and make sure seniors are prepared to remain happy and healthy until spring.


Compare Reviews for Textbook Rental Companies

The cost of buying books for a semester in college can easily reach hundreds of dollars. Online textbook rental tends to be more affordable and can make shopping for textbooks more convenient.

You can rent your required books, have them delivered directly to your home or dormitory and then return them at your convenience or at the end of a set period. Most people who use online textbook rental services are college or university students who rent required course texts at the beginning of a semester or term and return them after final exams.

11/15: Cold weather and the elderly

In many areas of the country, cold weather is an old-forgotten nemesis that reappears this time of year. When caring for those with disabilities and seniors, caregivers must take some simple precautions to ensure a loved one’s safety this winter season.

Temperature control

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 600 Americans die each year from hypothermia, half of whom are older than age 65. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops from the normal 98.6 degrees to 95 degrees or below. Seniors and those with disabilities are at a greater risk if conditions such as arthritis and a variety of medications diminish their response to cold temperatures.

Layering is not just a fashion trend; it serves a purpose, especially for those susceptible to dangerous temperatures and if a home is prone to drafts. Use lighter layers of clothes nearest the body and make them easily removable and also a non-hassle to put back on. Layers trap warm air between each layer, keeping the body warmer.

When outside, keep a loved one's exposed skin covered, including head, face, ears, hands and feet. A couple things to remember: use mittens versus gloves, since they allow the fingers to touch and generate heat. Next, make sure a loved one's clothes are loose fitting, since tight clothes keep blood from flowing and minimize the production of body heat. Proper footwear is also something a caregiver should examine and see is proper for the season.

Maintaining an even, warm house temperature is essential during the cold weather season. A caregiver should make sure the thermostat is easy to read, perhaps with large digital numbers, so a loved one can check it frequently. The National Institute of Health recommends at least 68 to 70 degrees as a standard, and says that even mild cold temperatures such as 60 to 65 degrees can cause a hypothermia risk for seniors.

Stay Safe

Many times, cold weather is the cause of power outages. Both darkness and cold are situations a loved one does not want to find themselves in without some preparation and knowledge of what to do.

Many people with disabilities and seniors rely on powered devices for medical care such as oxygen or for mobility. Have emergency numbers easily accessible and an emergency kit with easy-to-use items available at all times. A generator is a great source of backup power. A caregiver should walk their loved one through its use and the emergency plan before such a situation arises.

For many loved ones, travel is hard during the cold winter months. A caregiver can be an advocate by eliminating any unnecessary travel, shopping for their loved one and encouraging family members and friends to visit at the loved one’s home. Take advantage of the nicer, sunny days and don’t push medical appointments that can be put off if the cold is too extreme or snow too deep. Another option for medical appointments is for a caregiver to look into a visiting physician service if travel is too difficult.

A big safety issue in wintertime is falls. A caregiver can help prevent this common injury-causing scenario by keeping sidewalks and door entryways clear. Think of things that might cause a loved one to go outside? The mail? Pets? Appointments? A caregiver can be available or have someone nearby to assist with these daily tasks while the weather is less-than-desirable.

Don’t worry, be happy

Cabin fever isn’t just for newlyweds taking refuge in a north woods cabin. Many seniors struggle immensely with this season of isolation and Vitamin D deprivation.

Remind a loved one to drink plenty of water, eat well and exercise indoors as much as possible. Many senior-friendly exercise videos are available.

Encourage socialization by inviting friends and family who are able to travel for a visit. "Brain" games such as word and number puzzles and simply reading the daily paper help a loved one maintain a sense of connection during the long winter months.

Keeping warm isn't the only thing on a caregiver's to-do list during the cold season. Ensuring a loved one is safe and content are also important and will make for a faster, happier winter for all.

bodies of 26 teenagers were found floating in the Mediterranean Sea. The corpses were sent to Salerno, Italy, where autopsies are being conducted to determine the details of their deaths. The girls were probably victims of sex trafficking, originally picked up in southern Nigeria, held in Libya and then sent to Italian shores in dinghies. Aid workers suspect that, like many African girls trafficked before them, they were tortured and raped.

More than a week after the bodies of these 26 girls were found, we know only that they were 14 to 18 years old — nothing about the lives they led. The horrible reality is that they will most likely remain nameless, never identified or claimed.

“When Syrian families arrive from Libya, they have been through a lot, but they haven’t faced the same kind of abuse these Nigerian girls have,” Mr. Rotunno said. When Syrians die at sea, he explained, they tend to be identified more quickly because they are with relatives or people who know them, unlike African women and girls, who typically travel alone.

Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of girls from the area around Benin City, in southern Nigeria, have been taken to Italy, where they are forced into prostitution. Over the past three years, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, Italy has seen a nearly 600 percent increase in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving by sea. Last year, 1,100 Nigerian girls made the trip; some 80 percent of them are thought to be trafficking victims.

Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of girls from the area around Benin City, in southern Nigeria, have been taken to Italy, where they are forced into prostitution. Over the past three years, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, Italy has seen a nearly 600 percent increase in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving by sea. Last year, 1,100 Nigerian girls made the trip; some 80 percent of them are thought to be trafficking victims.

Family caregivers report more positive emotions despite half feeling stressed or worried and care recipients report more positive emotions despite 6 out of 10 feeling less independent. The survey also found that family caregivers who felt more prepared to take on their role were more likely to report positive emotions than negative.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • For family caregivers, positive emotions such as being pleased about helping a loved one (91%) far outweigh negative feelings. 
    • However, over half are stressed (51%) or worried (51%) and many are overwhelmed (40%).  
  • 4 in 10 family caregivers say they were not prepared to take on their role. 
    • Among those who were prepared, only 16 percent say they were "very prepared."
  • Family caregivers who felt prepared for their role were more positive.
    • Seventy-nine percent of those who felt prepared were more likely to report they were happy compared with only 57 percent of those who felt unprepared.
    • Eighty-four percent of prepared respondents felt comfortable with their role versus 60 percent of unprepared respondents.
  • Most care recipients feel a sense of gratitude (89%) along with other positive emotions.   
    • However, nearly six in ten (59%) say they feel less independent since accepting help.


11/15: Student loans are now the largest source of household debt after mortgages. The tide of rising defaults is also a lucrative business.

11/15:  I know this is true because I have counted those flying around me now.
For each person on earth, there are 17 million flies.

11/15:  Thanksgiving with Dysphagia

Thanksgiving is the holiday most focused on gathering around the table with family and friends to share a sumptuous feast.  My father-in-law, Rodger, was never one to miss a meal. He ate breakfast, lunch, and supper at precisely the same time every day. He grew up on a farm in Italy. Like most Italians he had a very healthy appetite. 

When advancing Parkinson’s disease and dementia triggered severe swallowing problems I knew I had to be creative. Everything he ate had to be pureed and any liquids had to be thickened to the consistency of honey. I bought a food processor and experimented with ways prepare him tasty versions of the things he loved to eat. I showed him that the mushy stuff he insisted wasn’t food was the same thing he used to eat. I had him watch me mash the potatoes, prepare the vegetables, and put them in the food processor.

“This is real food,” he finally admitted.  “But it’s not as good. I need the real, real food.”

I wanted to serve him roast chicken, a baked potato and fresh green beans with a slice of apple pie with ice cream for dessert.  He should have been able to eat anything he wanted. But the danger was too great.

I made a lot of thick soups and stews full of vegetables and beans. Flavor and nutrition were my main focus and when the peas turned the pureed chicken stew green I told him it was one of my Irish specialties. He ate it all.

When Thanksgiving came and the house filled with wonderful of aroma of roasting turkey and baking pies I made sure he was able to enjoy as many of his favorite dishes as possible.

Here is my recipe for A Dysphagia Thanksgiving:

Turkey – I tried pureeing both dark and white meat turkey and found it too grainy so I used a well-known brand of junior baby food and pureed it further to remove all lumps.

1 cup homemade stuffing – Place in food processor with 2 tablespoons of homemade gravy. Puree until smooth, making sure all the lumps are removed. (Add gravy one teaspoon at a time as needed.)

½ cup mashed potatoes – mash or puree to remove all lumps.  Add gravy to the potatoes for flavor. 

½ cup creamed spinach – puree until very smooth

For dessert – remove crust from one slice of pumpkin pie, top with whipped cream. 

At the end of the meal he said, “This is just like my wife used to make.” I knew it wasn’t true but as long as he enjoyed it there was reason to be truly thankful.

An estimated 15 million people in the United States have the current diagnosis of     Dysphagia.  Patients with Dysphagia are at high risk for aspiration pneumonia, which weakens them and can lead to death.  Nearly 60,000 people die each year from complications associated with swallowing disorders

EFM= I realize that including these articles  may seem unnecessary. But they are needed since if you know someone who is old or you figure on getting old, you will run into these same situations and you need to be prepared in solving the problems. More importantly is that you are aware of the implications and can bring in those that can help. Being ignorant is no excuse. Being conveniently stupid is another phrase for it. 

11/15: Ageism

Employees are NOT commodities, they don’t depreciate with Age.

"Rothification" Likely to Reduce Retirement Saving"

by Alicia H. Munnell and Gal Wettstein

The brief’s key findings are:

  • As part of tax reform, Congress considered changes to 401(k)s that would require most new contributions to go to a Roth, rather than a traditional, account.
  • This budget gimmick would help pay for tax cuts because Roths are taxed up-front, rather than in retirement.
  • Such a change, however, could also affect how much people save.
    • Some could save more by keeping their contribution steady.
    • Some may save the same by reducing their contribution to maintain their take-home pay.
    • But many, especially those who have lower incomes or are cash-strapped, may overreact and save much less.
  • Rather than risk disrupting the retirement savings system, a better idea is to focus on actions to boost saving and expand access to workplace retirement plans. 


11/15: Just interesting stuff on wind power. Why 2 blades, 3 blades and not a fourth.  Saw a lot of them in California.

Q. The wind turbines that generate electricity seem to have just three blades, or sometimes two. Why so few?

A. As many as 90 percent of the turbines in use now have three blades. But experiments are still underway to determine what number of blades works best in terms of efficiency, durability and economy.

When the wind shifts, the three-blade design minimizes vibration or “chatter.” A two-blade system is subject to considerable chatter when the blades are in the horizontal position, with associated wear and tear on the turbine. The chatter is sometimes audible.

A design with only one blade would actually be the most aerodynamically efficient, but the single blade would move very fast, producing objectionable noise, and it wears out the assembly more quickly.

Adding a fourth blade increases energy production by only a small percentage, and the added expense is comparatively large.

Finally, many people consider the three-blade turbine to be the most aesthetically pleasing design.

New Calculator: Solo 401(k) Contribution Limits

11/14: Genworth

Compare Long Term Care Costs Across the United States

The national median yearly cost of care for home health aides is $49,192, up 6.17% this year. Retirees opting to receive home care can expect to pay caretakers up to $21.50 an hour.

11/14: We will never meet all the air quality  standards. Before the ink dried on the post below, this popped up.

Greenhouse gas emissions to hit new high Stronger Chinese economic growth will push global greenhouse gas emissions to a record high in 2017 after remaining flat for three years, dashing tentative hopes of a turning point in the world’s efforts to curb climate change. A new report by the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium, predicts that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry will rise 2 per cent this year. The report was released at the UN climate change meeting in Bonn on Monday. (

Frankly, I think the human race is dead meat if it does not do something dramatically by 2020 (just TWO years away). But I would bet it will not happen

11/14: Ans, of course, their parents know what they are doing.

In 2010, when Roberto Garcia—recently fired and scraping by on unemployment checks—told his girlfriend that he wanted to take up a career playing the computer game World of Warcraft, it sounded like an adolescent fantasy. Today, Garcia is one of the stars of Twitch, a streaming platform where, every month, a hundred million visitors watch other people play video games, some for hours every day. Taylor Clark introduces us to America’s e-sports celebrities, who can make seven-figure salaries but have to play around the clock to keep their fans, in some cases nearly dying of overwork.

EFM= I simply cannot grasp 100 million. But it represents our kids civilization for decades. Not a comfy future.

11/14: Higher Education Plan Sponsors Ramp Up Use of Investment Policy Statements
"In light of a stronger focus on fiduciary responsibilities, more than three-fourths of higher education plan sponsors have implemented an investment policy statement, compared to 60% in 2015 ... 7% of respondents offer fewer than 10 investment options, while 31% offer 11 to 15 options. Just 12% of higher education plans offer between 16 and 20 investment options, generally considered to be the ideal number for accommodating -- but not overwhelming -- participants with choice."

Better pick me up than coffee
11/13" United stopped flying

New Delhi’s air quality is consistently ranked among the world’s worst. But a perfect storm of problems is exacerbating the problem to potentially deadly levels. Farmers who have recently harvested crops in neighboring states are illegally burning their fields, sending smoke into the air. Construction projects and pollution from vehicles in a city that lacks adequate public transportation are making things worse.

This week, the smog was 10 times worse than reigning pollution champion Beijing, where air-quality problems have reached Olympic proportions. Some parts of New Delhi have pollution 40 times the World Health Organization-recommended safe level.

Smog has grounded planes in major cities before, but typically because the thick haze dangerously obscured pilots’ vision.

EFM- we are out of the Paris accord. No matter, I do not see the world correcting the pollution much by 2050. Mother Earth is apt to spit on the human race (volcanoes. floods, rap music) as a test that failed. An extras 1/5 billion more people won't help. A nice plague might provide some 'relief'.  There will be a few hundred thousand left  in 2100 but not enough to worry about as far as Big Mama is concerned.

11/13: Here comes the water

the main international assessments, until recently, forecast relatively modest rises in sea level: three feet, perhaps, by century’s end. That’s enough to cause major problems, but perhaps not insuperable ones — richer cities could probably build seawalls and other barriers to keep themselves above the surface. Yet new assessments of the disintegration of glaciers, and more data from deep in the Earth’s past, have convinced many scientists that we could be looking at double or triple that rate of sea level rise in the course of the century.

EFM- So who is going to pay for these  barriers et al? We will be another trillion or so in debt by 2050. Do we erect 10 foot wall to save New Orleans? How much for New Jersey, New York. Do we put major barrier around Miami? Too later. The rich can build huge barriers to keep the riff raff out but after awhile most will drown
Yea I know that is harsh. But we don't have the resources nor the money. We never will. Politics will slow any progress though Trump has already taken that route. The other countries will take forever to do anything and most will, yet again, look to a bailout by the U.S.As they say, ":we screwed the pooch."

  “If you want truth to go around the world you must hire an express
train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go around the world,
it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
11/13: PTSD 

In a 2008 study, the RAND Corporation estimated that P.T.S.D. affected fourteen per cent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Symptoms of the disorder range from minor insomnia to debilitating flashbacks, and studies of veterans suggest that the likelihood of developing P.T.S.D. increases with each combat deployment

P.T.S.D. as “the persistence into civilian life, after danger, of the valid adaptations you made to stay alive when other people were trying to kill you.” In an interview last year, Kyle observed, “There’s no way you can go in, kill people, see people blown up and maimed and everything, and not come out with some stress”; however, he added, acknowledging P.T.S.D. was “hugely frowned on” by most SEALs. Another psychiatrist, who works at a military hospital, said of special operators, “Their culture is still that you don’t show any signs of weakness. You have to believe you’re invincible and better than anyone else. Narcissism is reinforced in that culture. They’re very bright and they’re in top physical shape. All they do is train.” He added, “They’re trained to sight someone and shoot them in the head and see the bullet shatter the whole head. They’re trained not to flinch.”

11/13: Retirement amounts from Ron Surz


Median Income

Retirement Savings Benchmark

Percentage on Track

Percentage Behind



Started a retirement fund























EFM- Lots of charts out there like this. Valid? OK if one wants to keep funds invested for a lifetime and go through innumerable recessions with losses around 50% each time. If you use my suggestion, you would have losses about 12%. Which is better????

Backtest Portfolio Asset Allocation  (Keep this handy- lots of available stats. Though will it help much when there is a recession? Do any type of testing you want but there is nothing that will indicate what the Risk of Loss might be in a recession, (except as noted above. Need joint venture  partner for marketing.)

This online portfolio backtesting tool allows you to construct one or more portfolios based on the selected mutual funds, ETFs and stocks to analyze and backtest portfolio returns, risk characteristics, standard deviation, annual returns and rolling returns. The results include a visualization of the portfolio growth chart and rolling returns, CAGR, standard deviation, Sharpe ratio, Sortino ratio, annual returns and inflation adjusted returns. A periodic contribution or withdrawal can also be specified together with the preferred portfolio rebalancing strategy. You can also analyze and compare asset class based lazy portfolios with a longer time horizon starting from 1972.


Great visuals and stats. This is one you have to keep for reference

11/12: TDF (Target Date Funds) are generally a ripoff

Last year, TDFs accounted for more than $850 billion in assets. That figure has ballooned in the 10 years since the Pension Protection Act allowed TDFs to be used as alternative investments within retirement plans. By 2020, financial analysts at Cerulli Associates project that TDFs will capture 90 percent of all 401(k) inflows.

As the eldest groups of TDF holders retire, rising rates threaten the value of their fixed-income allocations, and the managers of these funds can’t always account for the risks that increasing bond allocations carry. Paradoxically, in the current market climate, plan participants might fare better if their TDF falls off its path.

Yet Morningstar claims that when TDFs deviate from their paths to boost returns in response to changing market conditions, it actually costs investors between 11 and 15 basis points a year.

EFM- (that's 0.1% to 0.15%) That's negligible to an added return of, let's say..5%. How could you tell if they might do that. Look at past history. No past history?? Then why did you buy it.? Or maybe they didn't know risk.

When Living With Your Aging Parent Isn’t Working Out

The new living situation was taking a toll on the couple’s marriage as tension over roles and privacy increased.

The scenario is usually twice as bad with senile dementia/Alzheimers.

Yep, a coffin with Air Conditioning and WiFi
I think there is also a Facebook page for the Dead
What happens when the electricity goes out. Do they get sick?

$300 Billion War Beneath the Street: Fighting to Replace America’s Water Pipes

By 2020, the average age of the 1.6 million miles of water and sewer pipes in the United States will hit 45 years. Cast iron pipes in at least 600 towns and counties are more than a century old, according to industry estimates. And though Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million older ones remain, ready to leach lead and other contaminants into drinking water from something as simple as a change in water source.
EFM- This is part of the infrastructure that needs replacing/repair now. But where does the money come from? Not a clue. And this on top of roads and bridges, sewers, electricity grids and on and on. Will all this get done by 2050? Not a chance. It will be plug and  paste to hold stuff together. It is just one of a myriad of problems that will get worse. Should it be included in the new tax overhaul? Sure but it would never pass. So the infrastructure can will be kicked down the alley for the children of the next generation. .

11/12"  WWII

of every five German soldiers killed in the war died on the Eastern Front.
Only 20 percent of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war.
Only one out of every four men serving on U-boats survived.
The Siege of Stalingrad resulted in more Russian deaths (military and civilian) Than the United States and Britain sustained (combined) in all of World War II
 The mortality rate for Russian POWs in German camps was 85 percent.
 Total casualties for World War II totaled between 50 - 70 million people, 80 percent of which came from only four countries - Russia, China, Germany and Poland.  Over 50 percent of the casualties were civilians, with the majority of those being women and children

Stalin killed anyone who tried to desert in battle. If they tried, the were killed by the commanding officers. They just kept throwing human chattel at the Germans and simply overwhelmed them. If the Germans won over the USSR, it is debatable that the allies  would have won. EXCEPT that we had nuclear weapons. But I read that the only bombs that were built at that time wee the two we dropped on Japan. 

Another article's statistic indicated that the Soviet Union lost 18 million. However as the marched toward Germain, they killed thousands they hated in Hungary, Ukraine, Slovenia et al. Never saw anything that gave a full number/estimate.

11/10: Oil Price and commentary

Appears to be one of the best sites on the subject

11/9: From Sunguard


Today, when companies want to embrace transformation, some start by launching their moonshots on the edge (radically innovative projects away from the core business), but those at corporate level are often struggling to unlock the organisation’s explorative mindset: they keep looking out to the future only as an extrapolation of the past. The most difficult task for them is to shift from a “know-it-all” to a “learn-it-all” mindset, because constant learning means accepting your own vulnerability. Corporate innovation can find inspiration in reading the adventures of the 16th century Jesuits."

11/9: Life Expectancy: The boom in native population in the early 19th century was remarkable considering the low life expectancies of the time. By one estimate, a white man who had reached his 20th birthday could expect to live just another 19 years. A white woman at 20 would live, on average, only a total of 38.8 years. If measuring from birth, which counted infant mortality, life expectancy would have been even lower. A white family in the early 19th century would typically have seven or eight children, but one would die by age one and another before age 21. And, of course, for slaves, childhood deaths were higher and life expectancy was even lower. About one in three African American children died, and only half lived to adulthood.

Disease was rampant during this time. During the War of 1812, which concluded in 1815, more soldiers died from disease than from fighting. The main causes of death for adults during this period were malaria and tuberculosis, while children most commonly died from measles, mumps, and whooping cough, all preventable today.

  Some other nice trivia on the early U.S. population (about 1750 to early 1900s)

11/9: Corrupt equilibrium   (Don't ever forget this. It rationalizes all types of immoral, unethical and illegal behavior) 

Social scientists who study corruption say the one critical thing to understand is that it is perpetuated by a “corrupt equilibrium.”When people see bribery tolerated, even rewarded, they begin to assume it is the way things are done in that system. They realize that speaking out would mean taking on a whole system of powerful people, not just a single bad actor. And so, fearful of the consequences, they stay silent. And so the equilibrium perpetuates itself.

EFM- Apparently I was not bright enough to see the consequences. You can get ostracized quickly when you call out the miscreants-

Ben Kentish, a reporter for The Independent, a British newspaper, wrote that harassment was widely known, but that lawmakers kept silent about their abusive colleagues because “the sense of loyalty to their party and their colleagues, or to their own political ambitions, trumped their concern for junior parliamentary staff.” Junior staff members, he said, kept silent because they feared for their jobs.

The Long-Term Costs In the case of corruption, the cost of a damaging equilibrium can be measured in bribes paid, economies distorted, witnesses silenced. And in the case of harassment and assault, it can be measured in bodies and minds damaged, careers destroyed and trust shattered.

But because they infect whole systems, they also cause damage when they are finally broken.

When systems protect bad behavior, they ultimately put themselves at risk.

EFM- true but only if they REALLY get caught

11/9: Opiods

Every day across the country, nearly 100 people die from overdoses of opioids, powerful narcotic painkillers that attach to cells and dull pain, slow breathing and bring on an overall sense of calm and satisfaction. Since 1999, the rate of fatal prescription opioid overdoses in the U.S. has quadrupled. In 2015, drug overdoses claimed more lives than car accidents and gun violence and rivaled the HIV/AIDS crisis at its peak. The toll, as the White House commission on the crisis put it, is the equivalent of the 9/11 attacks every three weeks

11/9:Stand-alone long-term care insurance accounted for only about 5.3% of the 2016 LTC product market.

11/9: Saudi Arabia. The headlines say it all. This could be very costly for the U.S. if the backing sours.

Saudi Arabia corruption probe arrests rise to more than 200


Attorney-general says ‘systematic corruption’ totalling $100bn dates back decades

Iran alarmed at rising tensions with Saudi Arabia

 Tehran muzzles hardline newspaper but doubles down on regional ambitions



Arrests of Saudi media moguls raise ownership fears


Concern mounts that Riyadh’s anti-corruption probe puts diversity of coverage at risk

11/9: Wandering


  1. The biggest reason never stated for people with dementia wandering is that this is the way they can self-medicate their anxiety and sense of displacement;
  2. That feeling of displacement drives them to walk out of the front door and straight off down the road, going forward endlessly. It is a feeling that instigates walking and it is dementia which keeps it going. Once people have begun walking,  they tend to be  unlikely to ask for help or directions and they tend to go straight ahead.
  3. Boredom and  restlessness also drive people out of their front doors to find presumably some kind of variety.
You want to know when your person heads for the great outdoors. This doesn’t have to be sophisticated.  The things people I know have used successfully have been:
  • a set of brass bells hanging on a door-handle;
  • that cheap set of buzzer and five activators that you can put on doors. Not at all expensive -- I think around $7 and in most budget stores and hardware places;
  • a warning door chime;
  • an ankle bracelet that sets off a perimeter alarm.
  • Or for the cunning escaper, firmly locked doors, deadbolted and you have the key.  

11/9: The Brazil cabinet, as well as the president and leaders of the other main political parties, form the backdrop to a worryingly anaemic economic performance. 

The bald numbers tell an alarming story: income inequality in Brazil remains among the highest in the world; growth is sluggish, lagging behind less vaunted economies in the region such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Chile; and total factor productivity – a measure of the rate of innovation – has been falling since the turn of the century.

Venezuela is in dire straits, North Korea and the U.S., Spain's fight with Catalonia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Yemen and just about all the bordering neighbors. The list is almost endless with the U.S. and North Korea maybe the highest concern. But not far behind is Saudi Arabia and the tribal elements heading for a real showdown. This could get very very messy.

I believe this type of animosity will continue for decades with minor resolution. When you consider another 1.5 billion people by  2050  a major war or plague may undue the world. 

11/9: (Too funny not to mention) Qatar airlines had to do an emergency landing due to a thumbprint   A couple were flying and the husband fell asleep. The wife, suspecting hanky panky, got his phone and was able to get his thumb print to unlock it. She found lots of incriminating evidence and started  to hit him. It got so bad Qatar had to land to get them off.

Many men will now never sleep again

 11/8:US President Donald Trump, in partnership with congressional Republicans, is pursuing tax cuts that will blow up the fiscal deficit and add to the public debt, while benefiting the rich at the expense of middle- and working-class Americans. Once again, Trump has not hesitated to betray the people he conned into voting for him.

Republicans in the US Congress have just unveiled a bill that, if enacted, could vastly widen the deficit and increase the public debt by as much as $4 trillion over the next decade.
Worse still, the Republican plan is designed to funnel most of the benefits to the rich. It would lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, reduce the tax on capital gains (investment profits), eliminate the estate tax, and introduce other changes that benefit the wealthy.
Like the Republicans’ health-care proposals, their tax plan offers little to struggling middle- and working-class households

I concur

11/8: Heart Failure

The number of Americans with heart failure increased to 6.5 million in 2011-2014 from 5.7 million in 2009-2012, according to the American Heart Association.

More than 10 percent of those over age 80 have heart failure, and more patients are living longer with advanced disease. Even as the death rate from heart attacks is falling, the figure for heart failure is rising

Heart patients account for just 15 percent of hospice deaths, while cancer patients make up half

“Unfortunately, when you have patients with a chronic illness like heart failure, everyone thinks someone else will talk about it,” Dr. Stevenson said. “Too often, no one takes ownership of the last stage of the journey with the patient.”

Dr. Ellen Hummel of the University of Michigan, one of a small number of doctors specializing in cardiology palliative care, said the typical patient with cancer will usually experience a “fairly predictable” decline.

“They will be less able to take care of themselves,” she said. “They will be more symptomatic and come back to the hospital more frequently. And once this starts, it will probably continue until they die. Most people can see the end coming.”

But patients with end-stage heart failure are more likely to have wild swings, Dr. Hummel said, veering from feeling better to being terribly ill.

“It is confusing to both the patient and provider. Are they actually dying, or can we rescue them from a particular episode of worsening?”

11/8 Trash islands in Honduras


"The Economics of PIPEs" Fee Download
NBER Working Paper No. w23967

JONGHA LIM, California State University - Fullerton
Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Finance
Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Finance, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

This paper considers a sample of 3,001 private investments in public equities (PIPEs). Issuing firms tend to be small and poorly performing, so have limited access to traditional sources of finance. To attract capital, they offer shares in a PIPE at a substantial discount to the market price, along with warrants and a collection of other rights. Because of the discount at issuance, PIPE returns decline with the holding period, which itself is a function of registration status and liquidity of the shares issued in the PIPE. Assuming that the PIPE investor sells 10% of volume each day following the issuance, the average PIPE investor holds the stock for 384 days and earns an abnormal return of 21.2%. More risky firms tend to raise capital from relatively risk tolerant investors such as hedge funds and private equity funds. PIPEs issued to more constrained firms have higher holding period adjusted returns but these returns are more volatile. The abnormal holding period adjusted returns earned by PIPE investors appear to be compensation for providing capital to otherwise constrained firms.


"The Benefits and Costs of Donor Advised Funds" Fee Download
NBER Working Paper No. w23872

JAMES ANDREONI, University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) are now a major source of charitable donations in the US, responsible for 1 in 10 dollars donated to charity in 2015. In 2016, Fidelity Charitable, whose only mission is to provide DAFS, became the largest charity in the US. Paradoxically, most people have never heard of DAFs or Fidelity Charitable. This leads us to ask, who uses DAFs and why, what is the impact of government tax policy toward DAFs, and could the extra fiscal cost of subsidizing DAFs be balanced out by an extra public gain of new charity resulting from tax policy toward DAFs?

11/7: Financial literacy sucks in England. Welcome to the club   

    The UK Financial Conduct Authority’s recent exposure of the abuses around the 2015 pension freedoms that enable people to cash in their gold-plated pension pots caused few surprises. It has, yet again, pointed the finger at the long-ignored elephant in the room: low financial literacy on the part of pension savers.

    The employee is seen as a “retirement planner” — a proactive individual capable of accessing the right information, making the right decisions, monitoring the outcomes and doing the necessary course corrections. The UK’s pension freedoms rest on this caricature. (EFM- Yep, no problem, sure- but this is the same absurdity with Modern Portfolio Theory where every entity invests without emotion. It is a theory that does not work in real life,

    Nearly half of them didn’t know the annual return on their investments. Nearly 65 per cent didn’t know the fees they were charged “because it’s too difficult to calculate/find out”.

    Other studies show that many are quick to invest in top-performing funds and are just as fast to offload when performance falters. They often overrate their own ability, rely on the wisdom of the crowd and follow the path of least resistance.
    In hindsight, risk has been transferred from those who were unable to manage it to those who don’t understand it. Yet their retirement narrative remains one of high expectations and low preparation.(EFM- that is true in any nation
because they do not know what the real life risk of their portfolio in a recession nor what to do to limit losses to a small percentage of expected. Then again, why would they know if the industry doesn't know either.) nor

The Pension Protection Act (2006) in the US  has achieved more than expected but less than needed. By itself, it cannot shield individuals from the colder winds of ageing demographics or volatile markets. (EFM- true statement but missing the real world of risk and how to effectively negate.)

 governments are taking a more proactive role in promoting financial education to move the needle on retirement preparedness. Jurisdictions as diverse as Australia, Hong Kong, India, the UK and the US have embarked on national programmes. (EFM- they might help but not for risk so retirees will still get screwed.)

   There is much less emphasis on three sets of investment basics: key principles that explain what it is all about; key risks that highlight what can go wrong; and key techniques that are used in allocating assets, monitoring the outcomes and doing the necessary course corrections. (EFM- The industries can highlight recessions as a risk but are not prepared to agree on a specific type of allocation.  I suppose they can monitor outcomes but nary a one has used the inverted yield curve to do so. The course correction is what I developed but nobody seems to care. That said, I submitted my material for a patent and am seeking joint ventures which can really ramp up the marketing)

    In partnership with pension plans, financial advisers and educators at large, they can help craft objective, jargon-free, emotionally inspiring educational material delivered through digital channels. It should focus on real-life case stories and fun-inspired simulations that enjoin users to make decisions under realistic scenarios and present the outcomes as learning points. The aim is to show how what individuals themselves do makes a big difference to retirement outcomes. (EFM- My material is not emotionally inspiring. It is not 'fun". It just works for any group in about an hour.)

It is time to up the game by decoupling marketing from thought leadership.  (EFM- I read more material and listen to major webinars of portfolio theory than anyone- the effort is to find a better use for managing futures, smart beta, and a host of other mind numbing applications that do not include real life risk)

EFM- The article is by the Financial Times. But it is the same as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and on and on. Some areas might help. But just wait the the calamity of the next recession. Their risk aversions will not work well at all. My process would limit losses to about 12%. 2000 was a loss of 49% and 2008 it was 59%, Which is better????

11/7: Here’s How Far the World Is From Meeting Its Climate Goals

EFM- If you have already read my comments about the effort to change our climate by 2050, not a bleeding chance. Here is a great article with active graphs showing just how well we are doing and what needs to be done. Won't happen

From Climate Science Report That Changes Minds? Don’t Bet on It
Researchers have found again and again that attitudes about climate change are shaped far more profoundly by political ideology or by comfort with proposed solutions to global warming than they are by the science itself.

The charts show current, per the Paris agreement and what needs to be done to keep temperature rise to 2%. Includes World, U.S., European Union, China, India. ,

“One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,”

EFM- Add in another 1.5 billion people by 2050 and you are going to see massive human death and carnage. Millions will die- but it may be even more calamitous with a plague at least by 2050 and probably 25 years earlier.


  1. The Importance of Peers for Compliance with Norms of Fair Sharing




Simon Gaechter ; Leonie Gerhards ; Daniele Nosenzo

A burgeoning literature in economics has started examining the role of social norms in explaining economic behavior. Surprisingly, the vast majority of this literature has studied social norms in asocial decision settings, where individuals are observed to act in isolation from each other. In this paper we use a large-scale dictator game experiment (N = 850) to show that “peers†can have a profound influence on individuals’ perceptions of norms of fair sharing, which we elicit in an incentive compatible way. However, in contrast to these strong peer effects in social norms of fair sharing, we find limited evidence of the influence of norms and peers on actual sharing behavior. We discuss how these results can be explained by heterogeneity in normative views as well as in willingness to comply with norms.


social norms, norm compliance, peer effects, fair sharing, dictator game, framing, experiments


A13 C92 D03


11//6: Robots and Humans- who will win out

There are comments and articles galore on whether or not robots will change the world and usurp the human race. There are failsafes that could be introduced into robot psyche (is there such a thing?) to make sure we will remain the masters. Nice thought but I think some algorithms will void that. The end result WILL be a country where robots take over all menial work and then just about everything. This article in the New Yorker really depicts how industry will gladly transfer (and have) all sorts of functions that led to wholesale laying off human workers. But they will retain a couple humans to oversee certain breakdowns and repairs.
We are expendable.

Why I don't use my image on my site.
Though you must admit I have lost weight  and look pretty good here
Probably need a shave

  1. Contests as Selection Mechanisms: The Impact of Risk Aversion




Christoph March ; Marco Sahm

We investigate how individual risk preferences affect the likelihood of selecting the more able contestant within a two-player Tullock contest. Our theoretical model yields two main predictions: First, an increase in the risk aversion of a player worsens her odds unless she already has a sufficiently large advantage. Second, if the prize money is sufficiently large, a less able but less risk averse contestant can achieve an equal or even higher probability of winning than a more able but more risk averse opponent. In a laboratory experiment we confirm both, the non-monotonic impact and the compensating effect of risk aversion on winning probabilities. Our results suggest a novel explanation for the gender gap and the optimality of limited monetary incentives in selection contests.


selection contest, risk aversion, competitive balance, gender gap


C72 D72 J31 K41 M51 M52


11/6: Could become a major issue

Stock options in flux. Bloomberg's Anders Melin: "Stock options, a staple of executive compensation, could cease to exist under the Republican tax plan, which proposes to classify them as deferred pay, or money that’s already earned but received at a later date. The GOP plan could 'cause options to be extinct,' said Ian Levin, a partner at law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel. That could be a sea change, since chief executive officers of S&P 500 companies got one-fifth of their pay in the form of options last year, on average."

11/6: And another unique tax

Endowments in the crosshairs. NYT's Anemona Hartocollis: "The House Republican tax plan released on Thursday includes a 1.4 percent tax on the investment income of private colleges and universities with at least 500 students and assets of $100,000 or more per full-time student. It would not apply to public colleges. The endowments are currently untaxed, as they are considered part of the nonprofit mission of the colleges. The new tax, if it passed, would bring in an estimated $3 billion from 2018 to 2027, one of many new revenue sources Congress is considering to pay for broad tax cuts. Universities criticized the proposed tax Friday as a blunt instrument that would curb their autonomy and reduce support for poor and moderate-income students."