Master Financial Education
Daily Commentary 2015

E. F. Moody Jr.


I have asked Errold Moody to provide a brief example of what he has actually found on behalf of a client who engaged his services to review the insurance contracts which funded the client's estate plan. You will be amazed. In my 30 years in the business, I have never seen an authoritative, objective, prudent expert speak so clearly on the use of insurance. What Errold can do is unique in the industry.

Steven Winks

Secretary of State John Kerry - In America,  "you have a right to be (as) stupid (as) you want to be."
(But too many Americans are abusing the privilege)

Why did our systems fail and why will they continue to do so?  From Paul Volcker

"our economics are based on “an unjustified faith in rational expectations, market efficiencies and the techniques of modern finance"

You must not believe everything you think

Stephan Thomas Vitas

You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.

Kevin Kind

Words  are chosen in order to influence us as manipulable objects, not to inform us as autonomous subjects.

Stephen Colbert

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds 

Albert Einstein


Uniform (Im)Prudent Investor Act- Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Out of Date

World Clock by

 I now have contracted with one of the major professional (non industry) associations in the U.S. to provide videos on a host of financial issues to their members

3/25: Roubini on Chima
“Maintaining a growth rate of 7 percent for the next few years is not possible,” . “The only way you could do so is by increasing further the amount of credit relative to GDP and that increase of leverage eventually is going to lead to massive losses.”

3/25: the Alzheimer's Association finds that 5.3 million Americans have the disease, including 200,000 people under the age of 65. "Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number will rise to 13.8 million by 2050," the association says in its annual report. Two-thirds of them are women.

EFM- we cannot afford  the cost today and to have that many more by 2050 will break the bank. Several members of my family had it. Learn the key signs of dementia. One simply one is if the elderly start writing everything on notes because they forget so quickly. Also become familiar with Sundowners.

"In the early stages, people can still talk to family members about what type of care they want. And they can participate in clinical trials. Not having that information robs them of the opportunity to make those decisions,"

The Alzheimer's Association says treating dementia this year will cost the U.S. $226 billion, of which $153 billion is the cost to Medicare and Medicaid alone.

"In 2014, the 15.7 million family and other unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at $217.7 billion (with care valued at $12.17 per hour),

3/25: Homeowners insurance

3/25: Oil rig count down

 This past Friday, traders were bent over their desks, staring at their screens, waiting for 1 p.m. New York time to see whether drillers extended their biggest-ever retreat from U.S. oil fields. (They did.) Oil futures spiked within minutes of the count, closing at the highest level in four days.

 3/25: Insurance coverage

 there are some conditions that make clients uninsurable at any price. You'll be declined for life insurance if you have AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, cerebral palsy, Huntington's, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, or stage 4 cancer. Additionally, if you're an astronaut or if your hobbies include cave diving, deep sea diving or race car driving (depending on the car and speed), you will not be eligible for coverage.

The five issues for higher cost include pulmonary disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.


Huntington's Disease: A Caregiver's Guide
By Frances Maguire Paist, Staff Writer

To the uninitiated, a first read-through of the symptoms of Huntington’s disease is reminiscent of the behaviors of very early childhood. Those afflicted with what is sometimes also called Huntington’s chorea eventually can’t walk or communicate the way they once did. They need help eating and drinking and even toileting and become dependent on others for almost everything. But a deeper read promises heartbreak that only the caregivers of those with this hereditary disorder and the patients themselves can truly understand; for in spite of the fact that those living with Huntington’s disease are as needy as our own young, they are also completely coherent all the way to the end of life. They know what’s happening but there’s nothing they can do about it. Whole inside but prisoners of their own bodies, they yearn to communicate but can’t. They understand what’s being said but can’t always reply. They try to walk and carry on but instead stumble or fall or even become confined to wheelchairs. The indignity of the disease can cancel out pride, self-esteem and joy, and it is the wise caregiver who learns early-on the importance of compassion, of reaching out to another who is intellectually an equal but physically, verbally and emotionally has once again been relegated to infancy.

First described by Dr. George Huntington in 1872, Huntington’s disease is now considered a fairly common genetic disorder. Passed from parent to child in a genetic mutation of a normal gene discovered in 1993 called the Huntington gene, the disease is egalitarian, affecting as many men as women and no more prevalent in one race or ethnicity than another. While onset is most common between the ages of 30 and 45, some are afflicted as early as age two. (Children living with Huntington’s disease rarely live to adulthood.) The sobering facts are these – children of parents who carry the gene have a 50/50 chance of inheriting it, and those who have the gene will develop the disease. There is no question or possibility otherwise, and the disease is fatal. Over time, Huntington’s disease affects the afflicted person’s ability to walk, talk, think and reason. Its impact is felt in three major areas – emotional, physical and cognitive.

Early symptoms affect cognition and mobility. Other indicators include depression, mood swings, forgetfulness, clumsiness, involuntary twitching and lack of coordination. As the disease advances, concentration and short-term memory are affected and involuntary movements of the head, trunk and limbs increase. Walking, speaking and swallowing skills decrease. Eventually the patient becomes totally dependent. Death is often caused by choking, infection or heart failure. While there is currently no cure, those living with with the disease must learn to live with it, for life after diagnosis can last as long as 20 or 30 years. Physical fitness is very important – those who are fit handle the disease’s progression better than those who are not.

Caregivers of those living with Huntington’s disease know as perhaps not many others do the complexities of lending support to someone who is involuntarily traveling backwards emotionally while continuing to relate to them on a level intellectual playing field for as long as possible. Faced with behavioral problems, particularly those of dementia, an altered perception of the world and changes in family dynamics, the caregiver must learn to speak a new language, one whose vocabulary is not verbal but behavioral. Learning to look beyond unwanted behaviors to see what the patient is trying to say or demonstrate is a pre-requisite to successful caregiving, for it is up to the helper to see through, interpret, analyze and deliver while still preserving the patient’s dignity and self worth. Imagine if you will the difficulty of knowing what you want to say or do but being unable to follow through. It is this difficult truth that becomes the new reality of those living with Huntington’s disease. Caregivers function as life preservers, helping love ones hold onto a remnant of the life they once knew. There is absolutely no doubt that it takes a special person with a heart of gold who can look beyond, understand, translate and accomplish what is needed in the face of the disease and debilitation of a loved one. It is an ability to translate the language of disability into productivity that will enable a caregiver to observe and see what he or she is capable of and still interested in doing and adjust expectations accordingly. It is in helping to find things he or she can still do that self worth is saved and confidence restored. Aggression, depression, obsessions and compulsions, hallucinations and paranoia are all behaviors the caregiver may have to confront.  Add to that irrevocably changed family dynamics, and it becomes clear that families must work together to learn new, unfamiliar terrain. The imbalance is that the lion’s share of the work will fall to the caregiver. Following are some tips that should be helpful:

  • The caregiver must accept responsibility for but not control conversations. Patients should be encouraged to speak slowly. Messages should be repeated or rephrased and simplified as necessary. The caregiver should ask yes/no questions to gain clarity and should try to have an understanding of what the family member may be discussing so as to make comprehension easier. If the speaker gets distracted, he or she should be refocused. Presenting two choices instead of asking open-ended questions can help. It may become difficult not to cause frustration or anger, but the caregiver must exercise great patience to preserve equanimity. Addressing requests promptly helps prevent angry outbursts.

  • Non-verbal modeling and participating in activities helps encourage patients to participate and prevents apathy. In spite of the fact that the lurching, dance-like, abnormal movements of a patient with Huntington’s disease can be awkward, making both of you feel uncomfortable, encouraging involvement in activities is important and can fight depression. Sometimes activities can be found in which your loved one can participate that will give a caregiver much-needed respite.

  • Remember that in late stage Huntington’s disease, the a person may not be able to verbally communicate any longer, but he or she will not have lost the ability to understand. It is at this point that it becomes critical for the caregiver to maintain communication.. He or she still has much to share, and helping them do that as well as giving them something to think about will be invaluable.

  • When eating and swallowing become difficult, the caregiver should understand that eating in a peaceful environment will help. Your loved one should not be permitted to eat when he or she is upset or anxious. Good lighting will permit the food to be seen more easily. Caregivers should not talk when the family member is eating. Good posture is critical, and the patient should be encouraged to sit up straight, chin pointed to chest and head tilted down for easy swallowing. Try to remain at the table for 20-30 minutes after the meal, and keep head movements to a minimum.

  • Because people living with Huntington’s disease are moving constantly, they are often very hungry. An increased calorie load means that eating several smaller meals more frequently through the day may be better than three large meals. Encourage you r love one to take smaller bites and eat smaller pieces of food. Drinking from a straw is helpful, as is eating blended, softened and pureed foods. Dry, tough and stringy foods should be avoided, and thicker liquids are easier to swallow. Caregivers should know the Heimlich maneuver.

  • Keeping in mind that a person with Huntington’s has an altered sense of reality, the caregiver must think through what can be reached, how he or she will think of it, and whether or not it would be dangerous to them.

  • Install grab bars in bathtubs and shower stalls. Shower benches and flexible shower heads prolong independence. Textured strips should be put on the floor of the tub and shower for traction. Finally, raised toilet seats and handles give the patient something to hold onto.

  • In the kitchen, put chemicals out of reach. Supervision is important such as making sure the stove isn’t turned on by accident. Put items to be used within easy reach, and keep the counters free of clutter.

  • Minimize furniture so that your loved one doesn’t have to maneuver around it. Remove rugs and carpets where possible since they are stumbling hazards. Pre-programmed  telephones make dialing easier.

  • A tendency towards paranoia might mean that your loved one may try to lock you out of your home. Prevent this by installing locks that can be opened from the outside as well as the inside. Keyless entries are a good idea. For those who tend to leave home, nametags sewn inside clothing with their name and phone number are useful. Also, door alarms will allow you to know when someone is coming and going.

Because Huntington’s disease is progressive, the symptoms exacerbate as the disease advances. Late stage symptoms of the disease include dystonia, sustained abnormal postures that include facial grimaces, twisted neck and arched back; chorea or choreoathetosis, a condition in which involuntary movements like jerking, twisting and writhing become more pronounced; a slowness of voluntary movements to include abnormal eye movements and gait disturbances; an inability to regulate the speed or force of movements; an inability to initiate movement; slowed reactions; difficulty speaking and swallowing due to involvement of the throat muscles; localized or generalized weakness and impaired balance ability; and rigidity. In most patients, chorea peaks and then declines while rigidity and slowness in movement may become more significant. Rigidity and spasticity are late stage problems that can affect gait, lead to falls and eventually lead to the need for a wheelchair. While an enumeration of these complications paints a bleak picture and must illustrate the feeling of helplessness faced by caregivers, it is important for others to understand not only what the patient is living but what their caregivers face daily.

There is great reason for hope in combating Huntington’s, however. Since 1991, Columbia University’s HDSA Center for Excellence has been working tirelessly to provide help to those who have the disease ( And recently, Sirna Therapeutics and the University of Iowa announced groundbreaking results in a preclinical study for the treatment of Huntington’s disease through RNA Interference Therapy. One day at a time, with the help of people who care and want to find answers, through the courage of those living with the disease and because of the 24/7 dedication of caregivers, there will be answers. Those who live it know that Huntington’s disease does not have to have the last word. It can be a statement of victory from those who learn in each moment to overcome overwhelming odds.

Helpful Hints for Caregivers

The diet for people living with Huntington’s disease should be high in protein and carbohydrates. If the person is underweight, a minimum of 3000 calories a day might be required and is best administered in smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large meals. Constant movements burn many calories and the resulting increased hunger can be met with eggnog, Carnation Instant Breakfast or milk.

Multivitamins are important as are vitamins B complex, C and E.

People with Huntington's should avoid junk foods, highly fried foods and alcoholic beverages.

Plastic dishes and large, plastic utensils are helpful – the dishes help prevent breakage, and the utensils are easier for patients to hold.

Fill cups of liquid only halfway full to prevent spillage. Flexible straws are helpful.

Let your loved one dress him - or herself. Choose easy to wear clothing, replacing buttons and zippers with snaps and Velcro fasteners. Replacing the small, flat tabs of zippers with a large plastic ring will help the patient when dressing. Avoid belts, choosing suspenders instead, and avoid ties. Slip-on loafers with rubber soles are great shoe choices.

Don’t let the your loved one withdraw. Keep him or her occupied to help prevent depression and social isolation.

Stay positive with your communication. Let the patient know if you don’t understand something. Learn the patient’s vocabulary. Encourage your loved one to use word or picture cards. Before speech deteriorates, establish a definite yes/no response like the blinking of an eye or the nodding of a head.

Accept the person as he or she is. Be understanding and relaxed.


3/24: Shrinking Middle Class, Mapped State by State

3/24 Fortune magazine has a very lengthy article on the evolution of the Miller Light beer can. So its importance is obviously much greater than certainly anything else I can think of. But it will garner more readers in one day than I probably will get in a year. And many will actually read the article become impressed to the pont where some may even switch brands.
Isn't marketing great?
I think I will go out and get plastered now.

3/24: Here we go again

Ebola still deadly in west Africa


Fresh infection detected in Liberia as Guinea and Sierra Leone report steady stream of new cases

'3/24: This could get real messy A growing number of professional investors are warning that bonds are overvalued as fears grow that a fixed income bubble will collapse in a disorderly sell-off.

The group, which represents 11,000 investment professionals, says their valuations index, which has been running for three years, is in effect flashing red over the high valuations of bonds.

Brad Crombie, head of fixed income at Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “You only know you’re in a bubble when it pops. But this market could pop. There is more tension and anxiety over valuations than for a long while.

3/23: LTC With a million seniors residing in over 31,000 assisted living facilities nationwide, assisted living is big business. Not only that, 86.2% of residents are paying out of their own personal financial resources. For a one-bedroom apartment the median cost is $3,450 per month.

Qualifying for Assisted Living Write-Offs

As long as you’ve been keeping those records throughout the year for assisted living costs and medical expenses, then when tax time rolls around, you’ll be well prepared to qualify for write-offs. First and foremost, the taxpayer must be entitled to itemize deductions. However, other requirements differ depending on who the taxpayer is: the senior or the caregiver.

  • For seniors, or if you’re preparing taxes on a senior’s behalf, you can deduct qualified medical expenses the taxpayer paid for during the tax year (see the next section of this article to find out what qualifies for a deduction). A doctor’s certification for a medical condition can help you provide verification of medical expenses if needed.
  • For caregivers, you’ll need to first make sure your loved one qualifies as a dependent. They should also be a U.S. citizen or national, or a resident of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. Next, determine whether you paid at least half of  the support for that person and the senior does not have income exceeding $3,950.
    • If you provided more than half of your loved one’s support, then you can deduct those qualified expenses on your tax return.
    • If you are part of a formalized multiple support agreement with other family caregivers, you can still deduct medical expenses if, collectively, the caregivers provide more than half of your loved one’s support – even if you, individually, did not contribute more than half.
    • You will also be allowed to take a dependency exemption for that individual.

    How Much You Can Deduct for Assisted Living?

    There are limits to how much you can deduct for qualified medical expenses. “Although the deduction floor for medical expenses has increased to 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI), beginning in 2013, it remains at 7.5% of AGI through 2016 for taxpayers who were age 65 or older as of Dec. 31, 2013,” reports Business Management Daily.

    That means, if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1950, the threshold is lower, and you can start claiming tax deductions for any medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of AGI. For example, if you are over 65, your AGI is $40,000, 7.5% of which is $3,000, and you have $4,000 worth of qualifying medical expenses, you can deduct $1,000 worth of expenses.

    What You Can Write Off—And What You Can’t

    So what qualifies as a medical expense, and can you take a tax deduction for assisted living? Generally, anything that is directly related to the individual’s medical care, including health or Medicare insurance, long-term care insurance, eyewear, hospitals, hearing aids, and so forth, qualifies as a medical expense. You can find a complete list in IRS Publication 502. But what about the actual monthly cost of assisted living?

    According to Craig Kellner, CPA and Partner at EFP Rotenberg LLP, Board Member of Empire State Association of Assisted Living and a specialist in assisted living situations, a facility like a nursing home is easy to take a deduction on, but it’s not so simple when it comes to assisted living:

“Nursing homes are primarily used for medical care, and medical care is always deductible. Assisted living is not necessarily there for medical reasons. It’s often a safety or companionship issue, so an assisted living facility is not usually deductible.”

However, if your loved one is receiving substantial medical care, is in a special needs unit, or is in dementia care at an assisted living facility, then they may qualify for a tax deduction. “You need to have a certified plan of care from a licensed health care practitioner, and be unable to perform at least two activities of daily living,” such as bathing, dressing, or eating, says Craig Kellner. “Then those costs would be deemed to be medical.” Or, if they have dementia and require substantial supervision to protect their health and safety, then AL costs may be deductible.

For other types of housing, such as senior independent living communities, generally the only deductible expenses would be directly related to medical costs – if you pay out of pocket for nurse visits, for example.

More Tax Deduction Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

There are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re putting your taxes together this year, whether you’re preparing them yourself, or having a tax preparer or loved one do it for you – or if you’re the one doing taxes for a senior family member.

  • Tracking down paperwork: Craig Kellner has a good tip for anyone preparing their loved one’s taxes and trying to get the most out of medical deductions. He notes that older clients sometimes forget things, or have trouble finding the paperwork they need. “Look at prior years’ returns for the type of expenses they had in the past,” he says, so you can be as complete as possible about their qualifying deductions. It’s also possible to get a transcript of income received by the individual from the IRS, which can help immensely when you’re filling out that 1040.
  • Deducting insurance premiums: Not every insurance policy is tax-qualified, especially when it comes to long-term care insurance. Check with the policyholder to make sure the policy qualifies – if it does, then you can deduct the premiums as a medical expense, says the Assisted Living Federation of America.
  • Don’t forget the fees: If the assisted living facility charges any entrance or initiation fees directly related to medical care, then those are deductible. According to ElderLawAnswers, “The assisted living facility is responsible for providing residents with information as to what portion of fees is attributable to medical costs.”

3/23: Water- REad the whole article carefully. No matter who or what is causing the problem, there is nothing that can be done in the next 15years+ to meet the demands of global population. Personally. I think humans have lost the rights to the earth and Mother Nature is pissed. She may decide to take the earth back. And I don't blame her.

The World Water Development Report, issued ahead of World Water Day on Sunday, says demand for water around the world will increase by 55% over the next 15 years. With current supplies, that means only 60% of the world’s water needs will be met in 2030.

The reason for the shortfall include climate change, which causes irregular rainfall and dwindling underwater reserves. The results of the shortage could be devastating to agriculture, ecosystems and economies. With less water, health could also be compromised.

3/23: 401k
When employees have the option (or are required because of a match) to invest in company stock through a 401(k) plan, a fair number do. On average, about 18.1 percent of assests are invested that way, while the median is 13 percent. At least the number of companies where more than half of the 401(k) plan assets are in company stock has fallen over time; in 2004 it was 13 percent, but in 2013 it was just 2.2 percent.

3/22: SEC should adopt uniform fiduciary standard, White says
Mary Jo White, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, says the agency should adopt a fiduciary rule that requires brokers to put what's best for clients ahead of their own interests. She backs a uniform fiduciary duty that applies equally to broker-dealers and investment advisers. The Department of Labor is working on a fiduciary rule governing financial professionals who give retirement advice to retail investors.


The inference from the unpredictability to the rationality of stock prices is the most remarkable error in the history of economic thought…
Robert Shiller

3/22: Efficient market

Even with respect to some of the most liquid markets in the world (S&P500 equities) and with respect to the weakest possible version of the hypothesis (so-called “weak form” — the hypothesis that there is no information in the past history of share prices which can be used to predict the future), it doesn’t work…. Momentum effects exist and can’t be rationalised away as statistical noise; fund companies like AQR have been offering funds based on them, and generally outperforming, for ages. And when you get to anything stronger than the very-weak form versions, the performance is really quite embarrassing….
Market prices are… in some sense a weighted average of the views of a large group of well-resourced and intelligent people with an incentive to get things right. But nobody would build a theory of politics around the infallibility of opinion polls — business schools certainly wouldn’t let any other department get away with claiming that it’s definitionally impossible to improve on the current state of affairs. All that’s really left of market efficiency is a sort of woolly idea that “it’s difficult to make money in the stock market”. Which it is, but it’s pretty difficult to make money in any other way too…. Efficient markets theories have the advantage for economics academics that they provide a useful response to an often-asked question by class smart-alecs (“If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”), and… provide… sensible advice for personal finance (tracker funds). But this really isn’t a reason to keep them on the syllabus


On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets

. More likely, the markets are always pretty poorly informed and so we’re all just sort of guessing our way through things in what never really resembles anything all that efficient.

Anyway, I’ve made my peace on the efficient market theory. I basically think it’s a form of propaganda that was constructed to make an economic theory (Monetarism) appear consistent with a financial theory. And you ended up with the idea that markets are so good at pricing in information that it would be silly to allow anyone to intervene in a discretionary manner. So you got all sorts of strawman attacks on “active” investors and any form of government intervention in the markets. It’s seamless! Except then Monetarism totally collapsed on its face and we’re slowly realizing that Modern Portfolio Theory and EMH have more holes in them than many might have previously thought. Politics in economics, as usual, has set us back many decades.

New allocations

 53.4% of respondents said their client portfolios had increased their allocation to dividend-paying stocks. Other increased allocations included high-yield bonds, reported by 28.6% of respondents; REITS, 23.2%; hedge fund strategies (long-short, absolute return, etc.), 14.1%; and commodities (through ETFs, mutual funds, limited partnerships, futures or managed futures), 10.3%.

More Variable annuities sales with living benefit riders such as a guaranteed rate of return or a guaranteed income payment  are driving an increase in these vehicles. According to LIMRA, 79% of all variable annuities sold in the fourth quarter of 2013 had living benefit riders, when such benefits were available 9. These annuities are especially popular with baby boomers, many of whom are not confident that they have saved enough for a comfortable retirement. They are worried about having enough income in retirement but may be leery of making too big a bet on the stock market.

3/22: Maybe????
An experimental drug from Biogen Idec became the firstAlzheimer’s treatment to significantly slow cognitive decline and reduce what is believed to be brain-destroying plaque in patients with early and mild forms of the disease

It marks the first time an experimental drug demonstrated both a statistically significant reduction in amyloid plaque and a slowing of clinical impairment in patients with mild disease,

3/22: Water water hardly anywhere. Another year of the drought in CA and the green of lawns will be just a memory. Probably should do it anyway regardless of a wet year since the drought will be back.

If we continue on our current trajectory, we'll only have 60% of the water we need in 2030

3/22: I'm so lonely

loneliness increases risk of death by 26%, according to the new study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation — or lacking social connection — and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely, respectively increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32%.

The researchers emphasized the difference between the subjective, self-reported feeling of loneliness and the objective state of being socially isolated. Both are potentially damaging, the study found. People who say they are alone but feel happy are at increased risk of death, as are those who have many social connections but say they are lonely. People who are both objectively isolated and subjectively lonely may be at the greatest risk of death, says Holt-Lunstad, though she notes that more data would be needed to know with certainty.

“If we just tell people to interact with more people, that might solve the social-isolation issue, but it might not solve the loneliness issue,” she said. “I think we need to acknowledge that both of these components are important.”

3/22: Two twins- 0ne active, one non active, were examined

The results revealed big differences between each twin. While the more active twins had lower body fat percentage (20.7 versus 24), better endurance levels, and normal insulin sensitivity, the sedentary twins had about seven more pounds of body fat, worse endurance, and insulin sensitivity that showed signs of early metabolic disease. Not only were their bodies different; their brains diverged as well. The athletic twins had more gray matter (the information processing part of the brain), particularly in areas that controlled balance and motor function.

Long Distance Caregiving - A Growing Phenomenon

By   Liza Berger, Staff Writer


It usually starts with a call: A father casually informs you he’s been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Your mom’s neighbor says she’s noticed that Mom hasn’t been herself lately. A sibling tells you it’s about time you came down South to visit Dad.

Caregiving is often triggered by a crisis. And all of a sudden, an adult child is forced to come to grips with a newfound new role as a long-distance caregiver. 
Thankfully, caregivers can take certain steps to help ease the stress of the task. Collecting valuable information on a loved one, assembling a support team and staying in touch with the people involved are a few ways that caregivers can take charge from afar. 

A Growing Phenomenon

It is not uncommon today for children to live far from their parents. Baby Boomers are now learning what it is like to care for their parents from far away.

Approximately seven million adults, including more than three million Baby Boomers, provide or manage care for a relative or friend over the age of 55 who lives at least an hour away. That is according to the “Handbook for Long-Distance Caregivers” from the Family Caregiver Alliance and its partner, the National Center on Caregiving. Like the changing patterns of living, gender roles have evolved too. Men now represent more than 40 percent of caregivers, the National Institute on Aging reports. Meanwhile, a study by MetLife Mature Market Institute in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving indicated that 23 percent of long-distance caregivers are the sole primary caregiver.

Whether primary or secondary, man or woman, caregiving from afar is loaded with anxiety-producing questions: How do I make sure Mom or Dad receives the proper care? Where do I find the necessary care services? How do I balance my life here with caring for him there? 
Gathering Information 
To help lessen the load of long-distance caregiving, organizations recommend doing your homework. That includes finding out who you can count on to take care of mother on a regular basis and who you can turn to for questions, support and help if an emergency arises. As you continue to manage care for your loved one, it may help to have a Care Notebook—a three-ring binder to keep track of all the information you collect, the Family Caregiver Alliance handbook says.

Assessing your family member’s condition is the first step toward getting a handle on the situation, caregiving organizations say. It should include both a medical diagnosis and an evaluation of the individual’s need for assistance, according to the guide “Long Distance Caregiving” from MetLife in cooperation with the National Alliance for Caregiving. Making regular visits is probably the best way to appropriately determine a loved one’s limitations and needs. Ask such questions as: Is there a change in personal hygiene? Does he or she appear unsteady when getting up or down from a chair? And does he or she seem to be increasingly forgetful? These help to determine the type and amount of care that a loved one may require. Also, a caregiver shouldn’t forget to always spend some quality time with a loved one during a visit. Research is key in learning about the types of services that are available in your loved one’s community. One good idea is to use the phone or computer to find out what the resources and options are before a visit. Then a caregiver can set up appointments to meet providers during the visit. Caregivers should make a point of meeting their family member’s doctors and others who help their family member.

Services in the community to consider include: meal delivery, adult day care, in-home aides, transportation, help with Medicare claims and telephone check-ins. A long-term care facility, such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, may also be an option. The Administration on Aging’s Elderare Locator helps find aging services in a particular community. To find out more, call 800-677-1116, or visit (More resources for long-distance caregivers are at the end of the story.)

A geriatric care manager (GCM) may be just the person a long-distance caregiver is looking for to help assess a loved one’s needs and coordinate services. Often trained as gerontologists, social workers or nurses, they can suggest care options, provide referrals to local resources and help guide you through the complex system of long-term care. 
A Team Effort
One of the most essential parts of caring for a parent long-distance is to develop a core group of people you can rely on to help care for your parent. That team could include nearby siblings, other family members or close friends; neighbors who know your relative well; those people your loved one sees often, such as a housekeeper; and care professionals. Make sure to keep a list of names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for all the people on your team.
It may be helpful to hold a conference with siblings and others to discuss each person’s caregiving role. This may be done face-to-face, on the phone or through e-mails. Family conflicts often erupt when a parent becomes sick. In such a situation, it may be helpful to bring in a therapist or objective third-party to mediate family conferences.

It’s also important to involve the loved one in the decision-making process. 

Part of the information-gathering process is keeping a family member’s important documents and medical information at hand. This information includes a loved one’s date of birth, Medicare and/or Medicaid number, Social Security number and health insurance information. (Consider copying and laminating these key documents and keeping them in your Care Notebook.)

It’s important that caregivers tend to their own physical and emotional health. Recognize what you can and can’t do. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, according to the “Long-Distance Caregiving” guide. Don’t become isolated from your friends, families and activities. Support groups may offer a way for caregivers to share their feelings with others who are in similar situations. If a caregiver is experiencing signs of depression, sleeplessness or feelings of helplessness, it may be a good idea to seek help, experts say.

It takes a special person to be a caregiver. Those who are doing it should recognize that they are doing a valuable, loving and caring act—and for this they should be proud.

There are many places long-distance caregivers can turn to for help.  Here are a few: 
Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator 
Helps to find local resources for the elderly.
Phone: 800-677-1116 
Web site:
Children of Aging Parents 
 Provides information, referral service and educational outreach. 
 Phone: 800-227-7294 
Web site:

Family Caregiver Alliance 
Provides information, education, services, research and advocacy for caregivers.
Phone: 800-445-8106
Web site: 
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Mangers. 
Locates geriatric care managers in your area. 
Phone: 520-881-8008 
Web site:

National Council on Aging Benefits Check-Up. 
Checks eligibility to receive benefits. 
Web site: 
National Family Caregivers Association 
A support organization for caregivers. 
Phone: 800-896-3650. 
Web site:

Interactive Tax Forms

This interactive tool tells you a little about what is behind the tax forms. What does each line mean? How many people make an entry? How does it affect revenues and the distribution of tax burdens across income categories?

This year’s version covers the 2014 Form 1040—the most common return—and Schedule A, where taxpayers tally up itemized deductions. The biggest change from 2013 is the addition of three lines related to the Affordable Care Act that reconcile subsidies used to purchase health insurance on the federal or state exchanges or collect penalties from people who failed to obtain required coverage.

3/19: Social security- 2,725 rules
If you think that is bad, check Medicare.

3/19: Anybody have a crystal ball (FT)

the Federal Open Market Committee said it anticipated lifting rates when it had seen further improvement in the labour market and was “reasonably confident” that inflation would move back to its 2 per cent target over the medium term. This new language did not mean the committee has made up its mind when to raise rates, however, the statement added.

The biggest market reaction was seen in US equities, where the broad S&P 500 index erased losses to rise 1.1 per cent. Investors bought up US Treasuries, pushing yields on the benchmark 10-year note 6 basis points lower and back below 2 per cent.

3/18: Obesity

Obesity increases cancer risk by around 40 percent in women, according to new figures from Cancer Research UK.

And the list of obesity-related cancers isn’t short. The data show that obesity increases the risk of at least seven different kinds of the disease: bowel (colon) cancer, womb (uterine) cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, gallbladder cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

EFM- This is not an esoteric comment. When dealing with long term care, life insurance, actuarial lifetime, health factors change how to plan for retirement.


Understanding Challenging Behavior
By Sharon Roth Maguire MS, APRN-BC, GNP, APNP

While being a caregiver to unusual or so-called “difficult” behaviors, it is quite common for persons with dementia to display these types of behaviors and while many of these behaviors are predictable, like repetitive questioning, pacing, forgetting how to use common objects, etc., there are others that are more upsetting to both the caregiver and the individual with dementia. Agitation in the form of shouting, pushing, resisting care; spitting out food; urinating in inappropriate places, disrobing; wandering, etc., are the kinds of behaviors that are truly unsettling and should prompt investigation. Special note should be made of the fact that medication in the form of sedatives, tranquilizers, and other “behavior” medications like antipsychotics need not be the first step. Many of the medications given to help control these behaviors can cause more harm than good. It is true that in certain instances these types of medications are warranted, but far too often these medications are prescribed as a knee-jerk response when no or few other strategies have been attempted to reduce the problem or are continued for far too long without attempts to reduce the dosage or discontinue the drug.

Current thought on best practices with regard to understanding difficult behaviors in persons with dementia focuses on the concept of unmet need. As human beings, we all have certain, basic physical and emotional needs: air, food, water, sleep, comfort, love, safety, security, belonging, etc. Individuals with dementia continue to have these needs despite their disease; their disease, however, may make it more difficult for them to express or satisfy these needs. For example, if I no longer am capable of explaining an abstract concept like insecurity due to the cognitive impairment I have related to Alzheimer’s disease, yet I feel that way, how can I express it? If I have physical discomfort due to arthritis pain in my hips and lower back but cannot articulate the words to describe it due to the language impairment I have related to Alzheimer’s disease, how can I tell you that I am in pain when you try to get me out of my chair? I may “show” you by resisting, or withdrawing, shouting, striking out or any number of other ways that seem like difficult behavior. When in fact, I am trying to “tell” you that I have an unmet need: I am in pain; I need comfort.

As caregivers, you know your loved one well. You may be surprised when he or she does something out of character or behaves unusually. You may be tempted to respond abruptly or seek strong medication to curb the problem. Better strategies would include an analysis of the potential causes of the behavior focusing on unmet need. Some common themes related to physical need: Is your loved one in pain? Many older adults have chronic pain that research tells us is inadequately or even un-treated. The addition of a regularly scheduled mild analgesic may be of tremendous benefit. Could your loved one have an infection? The most common infections that we see in older adults with dementia are urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and skin infections from scratches or open wounds. This can be very uncomfortable for the individual and definitely contribute to exaggerated behaviors. You would need to see a physician for treatment of these. Could your loved one be dehydrated? As we get older, we have a diminished thirst response and coupled with common medications that older adults take, like diuretics (“water pills”) that further dehydrate them, you could see increased confusion. Is your loved one uncomfortable due to constipation? Again related to poor fluid intake and certain medications (add calcium supplements to the list), lack of exercise, and limited dietary fiber, older adults are at risk for constipation which can be very uncomfortable. Simple strategies like providing regular liquids throughout the day, adding fiber to the diet and a daily walk can help.

Some common themes related to emotional need: Is your loved one bored? Are they wandering or trying to leave your home to find something more interesting to do? Conversely, is the day too busy or too overwhelming and they are looking for more quiet time? The best days for persons with dementia are when they have balance between sensory stimulating and sensory calming activities. Is your loved one frightened of being left at home alone? Are they feeling sad or depressed? The research tells us that the rate of un or under-treated depression is quite high in older adults with dementia. Providing social times and opportunities for continued belonging are important; consider a pet, plant or an indoor garden to offer care responsibilities and purpose to the individual with dementia.

It may take some time before you are able to identify the potential causes of the challenging behavior, but understanding that it may be the result of an unmet need is an important first step. Unfortunately, there are behaviors that we may never be able to understand as they are part of the mystery of this challenging illness. Finally, it is very important to have a care team that accepts this approach to behaviors as well. Understanding challenging behaviors is key to meeting your needs as a caregiver!

3/18: UK is ahead of us

U.K. Advisors Adapt to Life After Commissions

By Miriam Rozen March 17, 2015

Two years have passed since sweeping regulatory changes for the U.K’s advisory industry started taking effect. Known as the Retail Distribution Review, or RDR, the changes have eliminated most commission-based compensation, imposed additional requirements for fee transparency and training, and forced advisors to take clients’ potential risks into account when making recommendations

Advisor headcount has shrunk by about 25%

 RDR does not completely ban commissions, which British advisors can still earn on products like insurance. Rather, the legislation allows British FAs to charge clients only predisclosed fees for advice. And those who recommend products based on suitability must consider a client’s ability to withstand possible losses in light of his or her broad financial circumstances. To some, this brings to mind U.S. calls for a universal fiduciary standard for advisors that doesn’t except those in the securities-brokerage channel, as the standard now does.

As for life in the aftermath of actual reform, Schroders’ Stoakley says U.K. clients and advisors have adjusted to RDR, though not without fallout. With so much fee transparency, large clients aren’t willing to keep subsidizing smaller clients, he says. About a fifth of the advisors responding to Schroders’ latest survey reported dropping clients with less than 50,000 pounds sterling (currently about $74,000) to invest. Some U.K. advisors are making more use of low-cost products like index funds, so they can take on clients with small portfolios and still make money

3/18: Maybe

Fiduciary rule will happen under Obama, Labor's Perez says
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says he is confident that his department will adopt a fiduciary rule governing retirement advice before the end of the Obama administration. "This is one of the most remarkably important things we can undertake in the remaining 650 days," he said. InvestmentNews (free registration) (3/13)


SEC Will Develop Fiduciary Rule for Advisors, White Says



Wading into a battle between Wall Street and the White House, SEC Chair Mary Jo White said the agency will develop stricter rules for brokers.

3/18: Netanyahu wins, Palestinians lose, Putin shows arrogance, Syria is lost in other news and keeps on killing, China is slowing and ISIS keeps beheading.  A normal day

3/18: Assets under management fees

Why has there been very little price change in the explicit fees consumers pay for managed accounts?

“Within the managed accounts practice at Cerulli, the questions most frequently asked by our clients relate to fees,” explains Tom O'Shea, associate director at Cerulli. “Since 2008, there has been very little price change in the explicit fees that consumers pay for subadvisory separate accounts, mutual fund accounts, rep-as-portfolio-manager services, and rep-as-adviser accounts.”

According to Cerulli, the explicit costs of all types of managed account programs varied only three to six basis points between 2008 and 2014

3/18: Putin Puts Russia’s Northern Fleet on ‘Full Alert’ in Response to NATO Drills

“New challenges and threats of military security demand the further heightening of military capabilities of the armed forces and special attention will be paid to the state of the newly formed strategic merging [of forces] in the North,

Will this destabilize global economics even further and lead to ????????

3/18" The absolute stupidity of MAN kind

Indian growth stunted by women’s exclusion, says IMF

female labour force participation rate in India at around 33 per cent of the workforce, well below the global average of 50 per cent and the east Asian level of 63 per cent.

In contrast to trends elsewhere, the proportion of women working in India has declined over the past decade, while the 50 per cent gender gap — the difference between male and female participation rates — is second only to Saudi Arabia’s among the G20 economies.

Numerous economic studies, including from the IMF, have shown how the entry of women into a workforce contributes to economic growth and prosperity, for example in the fast-growing “tiger” nations of Southeast Asia. It has been estimated that increasing the number of Indian women in the labour force could boost growth by 1.5-2.5 per cent a year.

3/18: RETIREMENT SHORT FALL - According to the Pension Rights Center, the U.S. retirement-income gap has expanded to an estimated $7.7 trillion. "We need more retirement income, and the traditional sources, such as Social Security, are providing less. Medicare premiums will lead to less net Social Security income."

3/17: Even if not true the mere comment is nerve wracking

"We were ready to do it"

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he considered putting the country’s vast nuclear arsenal on alert to prevent outside agents from stopping the Kremlin’s forced annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine last year.


3/17" You have to read this. Advisors have to know it.

Sundowner’s Syndrome Symptoms

What is the most difficult time of day for caregivers dealing withAlzheimer’s disease and dementia? Many agree that the evening hours can be especially challenging as Sundowner’s Syndrome is ever-present in the after-hours.

What is Sundowner’s? In simple terms, it is an ailment that causes symptoms of confusion that often occurs after sundown. But the condition is anything but simple.

The mind is complex, and when someone suffers from this syndrome, it complicates matters further. As the brain deteriorates, it’s normal to have confusion. The end-of-day is also a time when people are typically tired and overstimulated, which can then be overwhelming. All of these “over-adjectives” speak volumes as Sundowner’s can not only be rough on the sufferer, but also on their caregiver too. If the mind is not processing normally, this only adds to nighttime woes.

Let’s think for a minute. Healthy people in their prime are often moody at night. Children — who don’t know any better — also tend to act up at night. So, when someone has a disease in the brain, it only makes sense that darkness in tandem with exhaustion propagates behavioral issues. As mentioned in a previous post onsundowning and dementia, natural circadian rhythms respond to the loss of sunlight; it’s a very human response to be more depressed at night. But the issues are heightened in dementia sufferers.

So, what do you do? Although everyone is different, there are ways to help make life a little easier during those dusk hours.

Top Ways To Ease Sundowning

    1. Regulate sleep. Knowing your loved one’s regular routine is important. You don’t want to overdo napping, otherwise they will be unable to sleep through the night, but sleep does have rejuvenating effects. Encouraging rest throughout the day with one or two catnaps — no more than 20 minutes or so — can make all the difference.
    2. Encourage light and positive ambiance. Keeping rooms well-lit helps enhance the mood and distracts from the fact that it’s dark outside. Having some music playing that your loved one enjoys can also help boost spirits, and encourage happy reminiscing and memories. If there’s a window, allow for light exposure in the morning that can also help set a natural internal clock.
    3. Encourage an active day. It’s no secret that keeping an active mind and body with stimulating and healthy activities and exercises is good for all. This is especially true for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Being cognizant of a healthy balance of activity, designed for the individual senior, is what’s important. Whether it’s encouraging exercise, such as walking or gardening, or nourishing the mind through a trip to the museum or by reading an appropriate book or watching a comforting show — stimulating mental engagement gives your loved one purpose.
    4. Think about an appropriate medication. Sometimes, if nothing else is working, it may be time to consider an appropriate medication. There are specific medications on the market for those with Sundowner’s, so talk to your loved ones doctor about what may be right for him or her.


3/16: Who do you think you are?
Interesting quiz on class in America


  1. Certainty and Overconfidence in Future Preferences for Food




Linda Thunström (HUI Research AB) ; Jonas Nordström (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen) ; Jason F. Shogren (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming)

We examine consumer certainty of future preferences and overconfidence in predicting future preferences. We explore how preference certainty and overconfidence impact the option value to revise today’s decisions in the future. We design a laboratory experiment that creates a controlled choice environment, in which a subject's choice set (over food snacks) is known and constant over time, and the time frame is short -- subjects make choices for themselves today, and for one to two weeks ahead. Our results suggest that even for such a seemingly straightforward choice task, only 45 percent of subjects can predict future choices accurately, while stated certainty of future preferences (one and two weeks ahead) is around 80 percent. We define overconfidence in predicting future preferences as: the difference between actual accuracy at predicting future choices and stated certainty of future preferences. Our results suggest strong evidence of overconfidence. We find t hat overconfidence increases with the level of stated certainty of future preferences. Finally, we observe that the option value people attach to future choice flexibility decreases with overconfidence. Overconfidence in future preferences affects economic welfare because it says people have too much incentive to lock themselves into future suboptimal decisions.

3/15: Info only


3.25% for 5 Years

Issued Through Age 90

2.25% Commission to Age 90

  1. The Cost of Constraints: Risk Management, Agency Theory and Asset Prices




Alankar, Ashwin (Alliance Bernstein) ; Blaustein, Peter (Oak Hill Advisors) ; Scholes, Myron S. (Stanford University)

Traditional academic literature has relied on so-called "limits to arbitrage" theories to explain why investment managers are unable to eliminate the effects of investor "irrational" preferences (either the asset-pricing anomalies or the behavioral finance literature) on asset pricing. We demonstrate, however, that investment managers may not eliminate the observed asset-pricing anomalies because they may contribute to their existence. We show that if managers face constraints such as a "tracking-error constraint," coupled with the need to hold liquidity to meet redemptions or to actively-manage investments, they optimally hold higher-volatility securities in their portfolios. Investment constraints, such as tracking-error constraints, however, reduce the principal-agent problems inherent in delegated asset management and serve as effective risk-control tools. Liquidity reserves allow managers to meet redemptions or redeploy risks efficiently. We prove that invest ment managers will combine a portfolio of active risks (a so-called "alpha portfolio") for a given level of liquidity with a hedging portfolio designed to control tracking error. As the demand for either liquidity or active management increases presumably because of confidence in alpha, the cost of maintaining the tracking-error constraint increases in that the investment managers must finance these demands by selling more lower-volatility securities and holding more higher volatility securities. With more demand for the "alpha" portfolio, managers are forced to buy more of the tracking-error control portfolio. Investment managers and their investors are willing to hold inefficient portfolios and to give up returns, if necessary, to control the tracking-error of their portfolios. Given the liquidity and tracking-error constraints, investment managers concentrate more of their holdings in higher volatility (higher beta) securities. And, we show that it is optimal for investors to lim it their manager's use of leverage, which implies that leverage has a different cost other than the cost of borrowing exceeding the return from lending. Empirically, we show that active investment managers, such as mutual funds, hold portfolios that concentrate in higher volatility securities. Moreover, when they change their holdings of their "alpha" portfolios (reduce or increase their tracking error by choice), the relative prices of higher volatility stocks change according to the predictions of the model. That is, if investment managers move closer to a market portfolio, the prices of lower-volatility stocks rise more than the prices of higher-volatility stocks given changes in the prices of other market factors.




  1. Active management and mutual fund performance




Meryem Duygun (School of Management, University of Leicester, UK) ; Juan Carlos Matallín-Sáez (Department of Finance & Accounting, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain) ; Amparo Soler-Domínguez (Department of Finance & Accounting, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain) ; Emili T ortosa-Ausina (IVIE, Valencia and Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)

This paper analyses the relationship between active management and performance in US equity mutual funds over the period 2001-2011 for both gross and net returns. Mutual funds achieve nonzero abnormal performance through strategies that produce differentiated results which are not captured by risk factors. Active management is measured by time-varying parameters, idiosyncratic risk and turnover. The results show a negative aggregate performance close to zero. Performance is worse for non-survivor mutual funds. A U-shaped relation is found between active management and performance, thus both the best and the worst mutual funds show a higher level of active management. This behaviour is also found in the relationship between expenses and performance. Active management therefore implies selecting different strategies or investment bets with higher expenses and an unequal performance is achieved. However some level of persistence in the success of these bets is only f ond for the best mutual funds. Moreover the results of these bets show a low level of similarity in terms of herding between the best funds. In contrast, the failures of the worst mutual funds are not persistent before expenses are considered, but there is a higher level of herding among these funds. In sum, the best funds reflect persistence and particular skills, whereas the worst present non-persistence and common failures.


The tables and charts below provide yield rates for AAA, AA and A rated bonds in 10, 20 and 30-year maturity ranges. These rates reflect the approximate yield to maturity that an investor can earn in today's tax-free municipal bond market as of 3/13/2015.


ISSUE Maturity
Today Last
National 10 Year 1.80 1.65
National 20 Year 2.60 2.45
National 30 Year 2.75 2.60
Florida 30 Year 2.70 2.55


National 10 Year 2.05 1.90
National 20 Year 3.00 2.85
National 30 Year 3.35 3.20
Florida 30 Year 3.30 3.15


ISSUE Maturity
Today Last
National 10 Year 2.60 2.45
National 20 Year 3.35 3.20
National 30 Year 3.65 3.50
Florida 30 Year 3.60 3.45

3/15: Percentages lie

Easy Money and Bad Advice: Why DC Plans Leak

Mike Bushnell

Just 2% of all gainfully employed respondents in a recent survey said they would cash out their DC plan’s balance if they switched jobs, but in reality, 45% of all transitioning workers do so. In the Winter issue of NAPA Net the Magazine, Warren Cormier examines why so many people take the money and run. READ MORE

3/12 Bear markets

The average investor in stock mutual funds made 3.8% a year over the past 30 years, according to Boston research firm Dalbar Inc. That is one-third of the S&P 500’s average 11.1% gain in that period. Dalbar’s explanation for this sad performance: People buy and sell funds at all the wrong times.

EFM-  It is true that emotionalism  by the bulk of consumers in a bear market causes untold calamity. If you are unemotional and use DCAD, you will beat most everyone in return by about 90% and reduce risk compared to them by close to 100%.

3/12 Roubini

The Mother of All Bubbles by 2017

"The dilemma facing the Fed, Roubini contends, is that if it tightens monetary policy too late, it could lead to 'the mother of all bubbles' by 2017. And if the Fed tightens too soon, it could cause a hard landing of the real economy.

EFM- sounds about right to me

3/12: Old and senile

 the rate of dementia among 60- to 64-year-olds is 0.8% and that rate doubles every five years. The rate of dementia among 80- to 84-year-olds increases to 12.8% and among the 85-and-older crowd, 30% are experiencing clinical dementia.

another study that found that 60% of those that are experiencing clinical dementia are still managing their own money. Only 30% of those experiencing clinical dementia reported delegating their money management to someone else.

EFM- Irrespective of dementia, the elderly have a F score on financial literacy to begin with and there is a loss of competency of 2% per year after age 65. Certain studies also indicate that their perception of competency INCREASES by the same 2% annually. A very dangerous combination

3/11: It's magic

In exactly the same way that we have given away our personal behavioral data to banks and credit card companies and wireless carriers and insurance companies and a million app providers, so are we now being tempted to give away our portfolio behavioral data to mega-banks and mega-asset managers and the technology providers who work with them. Don’t worry, they say, there’s nothing in this information that identifies you directly. It’s all anonymous. What rubbish! With enough anonymous portfolio behavioral data and a laughably small IT budget, any competent magician can design a Big Data system that can predict with 90% accuracy what you will buy and sell in your account, at what price you will buy and sell, and under what external macro conditions you will buy and sell.

By Ben Hunt. Read his stuff

3/11: Goor article on economic forecasting by the NY Times, but then...........

the market has been rising despite a barrage of corporate reports that might suggest that stock prices are overextended. After all, growth in both revenue and earnings for the last quarter has decelerated. For the 440 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index that had reported by Wednesday, revenue for the fourth quarter rose only 1.5 percent over the period a year ago, compared with a 4.1 percent growth rate for the third quarter at the same point in the previous earnings season, Mr. Yardeni said.

Comparable numbers for earnings were an annual increase of 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter, versus a 10.4 percent rise at the same point in the previous earnings season. The strong dollar, falling oil prices and a sluggish global economy have all taken their toll.

What’s worse, guidance for future earnings turned extremely pessimistic.

EFM- so should you care that much? Well, how are you invested? To gain assets, quite obviously. But on the other side you are terribly concerned about a major drop. But you can only have a major drop in your equities if you want to. If you don't want to, then don't. You have to know how much a true correction is (percentage) and then DCAD. Pretty simple actually.
Of course pundits will tout the element of emotionalism. Fair enough but then they are naive investors knowing little and forgetting much. Very little you can do with them if they are not willing to learn. Do people learn? In school, some do. Afterwards, not really. The validation is in reviewing financial literacy scores. Some of the research resides in material below,  

Drug Dispensing and the Caregiver

By M. Simon


One of the common issues that caregivers have to deal with on a daily basis is the need to dispense their care recipient’s medication in a safe and timely fashion. Navigating the dangerous waters of different pill sizes, colors and dosages can be an intimidating experience as most family members and home care workers possess neither an in-depth knowledge of these medications nor the ability to discern when a problem with the pills may be developing. Elderly and infirm clients often seem to be on a never ending slew of pills that need to be doled out on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter that the clients have accumulated them honestly, usually a few at a time during each hospital admission; but the sum total is what the home care worker, family member or employee, must face every day on the job.

In past years, medications were often dispensed three or four times per day or worse. Thankfully, in our modern day, each medication only has to be taken once or twice every twenty-four hour period. The downside is that there are a lot more diseases we can treat and consequently a lot more pills people can consume.
In an effort to decrease the angst this process can cause and keep the client on a safe and effective regime, there are several simple rules one can follow.

First of all, it’s a good idea to keep all medications in a safe and secure place. Playful grandchildren, nosey visitors and even confused patients will get into the pill bottles if they’re left unattended. Some medications have to be refrigerated, but most can be safely stored in a secure cupboard. Pharmacies, in an effort to keep your business, have developed blister packs that link the pills with specific days of the week. So, in the middle of a busy day, if the caregiver suddenly wonders “Did I give him his morning pills?” all it takes is a quick look at the package to confirm that, yes, it was given. In the same vein, all medications should be administered at the same time every day. Modern pills have been designed for specific durations and maintaining a regular dosing schedule will decrease the risk of adverse reactions.

Not to overstate the obvious, but dosages of drugs should not be changed without first consulting the client’s physician. The old adage “If one is good, two is better” does not apply in these situations. Playing with the dosages of blood thinners, heart pills and pain killers can easily have unforeseen and unfortunate side effects.

Despite what the infomercials say, don’t start using over-the-counter products, herbs, vitamins and supplements without first discussing it with a physician. Not only is quality control for these products somewhat lacking (as compared to prescription medications), but they may interact with the client’s normal medications by increasing or decreasing the medicinal concentration in the body.
Check the expiry date on the prescription bottle. Medications that are only used on an as-needed basis may become ineffective if left too long on the shelf. A good example would be nitroglycerin pills for chest pain or a ventolin inhaler for an asthma exacerbation. The one time you need it could be the time you discover it’s out of date. Likewise, it’s prudent to double check the prescriptions that are picked up from the pharmacy against a home list of medications being given. The employees filling the prescription are human too (and often pharmacy assistants) and can make mistakes.

There are also options to consider if the condition of the person you are caring for begins to deteriorate. For example, if problems  develop with his or her ability to swallow, there may be some pills that can be changed to a liquid or even given through a small butterfly needle in the skin. Some newer medications are actually a combination of two or three different drugs and using them could decrease the total number of pills consumed daily.

Another aspect to consider, especially if his or her condition is worsening, is whether they really require all those medications. If grandmother, who is well into her ninth decade, is truly failing, does she really need that cholesterol pill or that Alzheimer’s drug? Maybe it’s time to have a family discussion with the physician and ask the question, “Have we reached the point where we are treating the disease instead of the patient?” One of the benefits of modern medicine is that we have so many wonderful drugs to combat the detrimental aspects of aging and disease. However, just because these drugs now exist doesn’t always mean it’s in the best interest of the client to use them.

The use of medicines is one aspect of caregiving that will not disappear in the foreseeable future. It is a complicated and precise job that requires concentration and adherence to a rigorous schedule. The aforementioned tips are meant to simplify this task and make life that much easier for the caregiver in your family.

3/11: Job Changes in the last decade

So if it doesn't make sense to do a regression analysis/monte carlo  on job changes with the idea that the future will be like the past, why do it with returns????

3/11: A lot of falls are due to drinking

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month 
Traumatic Brain Injuries can Result from Senior Falls


Traumatic brain injuries due to falls caused nearly 8,000 deaths and 56,000 hospitalizations in 2005 among Americans 65 and older, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in the June issue of the Journal of Safety Research.

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

Falls are not an inevitable consequence of aging, but they do occur more often among older adults because risk factors for falls are usually associated with health and aging conditions. Some of these conditions include mobility problems due to muscle weakness or poor balance, loss of sensation in feet, chronic health conditions, vision changes or loss, medication side effects or drug interactions, and home and environmental hazards such as clutter or poor lighting.

“Most people think older adults may only break their hip when they fall, but our research shows that traumatic brain injuries can also be a serious consequence,” said Dr. Ileana Arias, director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “These injuries can cause long-term problems and affect how someone thinks or functions. They can also impact a person’s emotional well-being.”

Each year, one in three older Americans (65 and older) falls, and 30 percent of falls cause injuries requiring medical treatment. In 2005, nearly 16,000 older adults died from falls, 1.8 million older adults were treated in emergency departments, and 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and nonfatal injuries for those 65 and over.  
This study analyzed 2005 data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Vital Statistics System and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Nationwide Inpatient Sample.

Key findings are:

  • Death rates for fall-related TBIs were higher among men than women (26.9 per 100,000 and 17.8 per 100,000, respectively).

  • Rates for fall-related TBI hospitalizations were similar among men and women (146.3 per 100,000 and 158.3 per 100,000, respectively).

  • Death and hospitalization rates for fall-related TBIs generally increased with age.

Additional findings:

  • The majority of men and women hospitalized with a fall-related TBI spent two to six days in the hospital (54.9 percent of men; 61.5 percent of women).

  • The median total charges for these hospitalizations were $19,191 for men and $16,006 
    for women.

Arias also points out that as more baby boomers reach retirement age, these types of injuries will increase demands on the health care system unless action is taken to prevent the injuries. “CDC has developed tips and suggestions for older adults, their caregivers, health care providers, and communities to help prevent falls,” Arias said.

For older adults, their children, caregivers, and health care providers, CDC recently developed the “Help Seniors Live Better, Longer: Prevent Brain Injury” initiative. Developed in collaboration with 26 organizations, it features easy-to-use English- and Spanish-language materials in a concise question-and-answer format to help prevent, recognize, and respond to TBI. For more information and materials, visit

CDC has also created resources for practitioners and community-based organizations. “Preventing Falls: What Works. A CDC Compendium of Effective Community-based Interventions from Around the World” and “Preventing Falls: How to Develop Community Based Fall Prevention Programs for Older Adults” can be downloaded or ordered at


3/11: LTC-
Rates for long-term care 
insurance, which can help pay for care in your own house or in a nursing home, rose this year an average of nearly 9 percent

A healthy 55-year-old man can now expect to pay, on average, $2,075 per year for $164,000 in initial benefits, up from $1,765 last year,

The cost for a healthy, single woman of the same age is higher: Her average premium is $2,411, up from $2,307. Insurers take gender into account when pricing long-term care policies, since, statistically, women live longer and are more likely to need long-term care.

Couples generally get a discount if they buy a joint policy; the rationale is that one or the other is likely to provide some care for a spouse initially, Mr. Slome said. A married couple, both age 60, would now pay $3,930 combined, up from $3,840, for $328,000 of initial coverage.

The numbers assume a “three-year” policy that uses a daily benefit of $150 to compute a maximum payout, and includes inflation protection — a 3 percent compounded annual increase in benefits. Eliminating inflation protection greatly reduces the cost — the average premium for a single man would be cut roughly in half — but that means you will probably have to pay more out of pocket if you eventually need care. A middle option, which costs more than the base premium, allows the choice of adding inflation protection later.

3/10:  India rape


ine months after India was rocked by the gang rape and murder of a young physiotherapist on a Delhi bus, popular Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin made a satirical video called “Rape: It’s your fault”.

In three-and-a-half minutes of very black humour, the actress mocked pervasive patriarchal attitudes — expressed openly by Indian public figures — that blamed urban women and their conduct for the rising violence against them

Now New Delhi has gone into overdrive trying to prevent further broadcasts of a BBC documentary that exposes the chauvinistic mindset of one of the men convicted in the notorious 2012 case.

In the film India’s Daughter , aired in the UK on Wednesday night, Mukesh Singh, who has been sentenced to death for his role in the attack, expresses no remorse, and blames the young woman for her own fate, saying she should have neither been out at night nor resisted the assault.

“A girl is far more responsible for a rape than a boy,” the convict told Leslee Udwin, the British director, in a chilling interview filmed in New Delhi’s Tihar jail. “A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night.” Calling her death an “accident,” Singh added, “when being raped, she should not fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape”.

EFM- I know that Modi is trying to clean up India but with the pervasive attitude towards women, it;s going to take some time. Same with a lot of other countries

3/10: The 50 US state economies from worst to best


MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF MILLLENIALS - According to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, the "Millennial" generation is expected to surpass the Baby Boom generation as the country's largest living generation this year. Millennials are ages 18 to 34 this year. They are projected to number 75.3 million this year, up from 74.8 million last year, an increase due in large part to the many immigrants. Baby boomers - ages 51 to 69 - peaked at 78.8 million in 1999 and are projected to drop to 74.9 million.  Then there is Generation X - ages 35 to 50 this year - is projected to number around 66 million this year. Millennials have to a considerable extent fared poorly in financial terms, due in part to recessions, a sluggish recovery, and student loan burdens. The Census Bureau recently reported that 30.3% of Americans 18 to 34 years old are living with their parents, up from 22.9% in 1980. See this link for more on "generations."


HOME OWNERSHIP LOWEST IN 21 YEARS - The home ownership rate in the United States has fallen to its lowest level in more than two decades, giving the rental market a boost. According to new figures from the Census Bureau, the rate was 64% in the fourth quarter of 2014. That is the lowest rate since the second quarter of 1994, when it stood at 63.8%. New York had the lowest homeownership rate in the last quarter, 53.1%, followed closely by California at 53.2%, and Nevada at 56.8%. The District of Columbia's rate is lower than any state's, 41.2%. The highest rate is in West Virginia (77.5%), followed by Delaware (74.3%) and Vermont (73.2%).

3/10: Roubini
The Negative Way to Growth? by Nouriel Roubini -Project Syndicate

Monetary policy has become increasingly unconventional in the last six years, with central banks implementing zero-interest-rate policies, quantitative easing, credit easing, forward guidance, and unlimited exchange-rate intervention. But now we have come to the most unconventional policy tool of them all: negative nominal interest rates. 

3/10: The idiot forescaster

On average, chief market strategists' forecasts are worse than those made by a guy I call the Blind Forecaster. He's a brainless idiot who assumes the market goes up 9% -- its long-term historic average -- every year, regardless of circumstances.

Some quick math shows the strategists' forecasts were off by an average of 14.7 percentage points per year.

How about the Blind Forecaster? Assuming the market would rise 9% every year since 2000 provided a forecast that was off by an average of 14.1 percentage points per year.

Underperforming the Blind Forecaster isn't due to 2008, which forecasters like to write off as an unforeseeable "black swan." Excluding 2008, the strategists' error rate is 12 percentage points per year, versus 11.6 percentage points per year for the Blind Forecaster.

3/10: Maybe we should do the same??

Pensions civil servants face cuts of a third


More than a third of staff at the Department for Work and Pensions are expected to lose their jobs in the next five years as Whitehall leaders brace themselves for more sweeping cuts across the civil service after the general election

3/9: working longer:

Early retirement, it turns out, is bad for your physical and emotional health. The World Health Organization estimatesthat a suicide occurs every 40 seconds worldwide. The highest rates, for both men and women in almost all regions, are among those 70 and older.

In 2013, France’s federal health agency INSERM studied dementia prevalence among 429,000 people. Controlling for the possibility that some people retired because of their dementia, they found that jumping ship at 60 increased your risk for the illness by about 15 percent, compared with those who waited an extra five years before hanging up their hats. They concluded that work keeps our brains young and fit. Meetings can be stressful, but binging on reruns is actually unhealthy.

 than two-thirds of today’s adults, or 68.8 percent, are overweight or obese.

Rates of child obesity are even more troubling, having grown from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2012. Being overweight burdens the entire body and can even cut short a person’s career. In 2009, a study published in Obesityfound that overweight status at 25 and the eventual slide into obesity in middle age was associated with earlier retirement due to poor health. “They essentially have less vitality,” Fries says of the younger generations, “because of the problems that go along with obesity.”

Perhaps more important, climbing rates of Alzheimer’s disease—and FaceTime replacing actual face time—are combining to make trouble upstairs, in the brain. In 2013, the nonprofit organization Alzheimer’s Disease International shook the medical community with the prediction that by 2030 worldwide dementia rates will double, and by 2050, they will triple. Millennials are doomed to be the most dementia-racked generation ever. As it stands now, medical science has no tools to stem the tide of Alzheimer’s; it can only watch as the disease overtakes its victims without mercy.

3/9: Flat fees

New rules forcing fund supermarkets to reveal their pricing structures have prompted more wealthy self-directed investors to move their money, research shows.

Direct-to-consumer fund supermarkets that charge flat fees, an arrangement that benefits those with large amounts of money to invest, have seen a steep increase in the average size of customer accounts, according to research by The Platforum, a business information company.

The average account size on fixed-fee platforms, which include Alliance Trust Savings, Interactive Investor and The Share Centre, increased 22 per cent to £44,403 between the end of September 2013 and the same date in 2014, the research shows. These platforms charge a fixed monthly or quarterly fee regardless of the sums invested.

3/9: Michael Lewitt

February 13th marked the 25th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Drexel Burnham Lambert. I remember driving to work at Drexel’s Beverly Hills office that morning having no idea what was about to happen. My years at Drexel in the late 1980s and those I spent managing the firm’s private equity holdings in the 1990s were an intensive education in credit and human nature. Twenty-five years after Drexel’s demise and seven years after a crisis that pushed the global economy to the brink of collapse, the world is drowning in debt and derivatives. As a point of reference, when Drexel filed for bankruptcy, it had a balance sheet of $3 billion. When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in 2008, its balance sheet was two hundred times larger at $600 billion. As Figure 1 below illustrates, debt has grown exponentially while the global economy has crept along at a petty pace. Six years after the financial crisis, interest rates have been driven below zero in much of the developed world,2 a sign that policy makers have failed to create sustainable economic growth. (The latest tally is that $1.9 trillion of European sovereign debt is trading with negative yields.) They have managed to inflate financial assets but left the real economy behind. For example, U.S. equity prices have gained 122% since 2009 while US nominal growth has grown by only 18% over the same period. Having exhausted their ability to employ interest rates as a policy tool, policy makers are now shifting their sights to currencies to stimulate growth. But currencies are themselves nothing more than a form of debt, a promise by a sovereign. And those promises are being actively debauched in a series of currency wars that are certain to end badly for those who depend on fiat money for their daily bread...


Sleep disorders are a significant source of concern — especially in the geriatric population. Changes in sleep patterns are part of the normal aging process, but sleep disorders have been implicated with increased mortality, and side effects such as dementia, cognitive impairment and falls. This week, the National Sleep Foundation urges everyone to celebrate sleep and its health benefits for National Sleep Awareness Week. We’ve put together an overview of why sleep is critical for senior health, how conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can change sleep patterns, and what caregivers can do to make sure they get enough rest.

Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia Increase Dementia Risk

We all know a good night’s sleep is the key to feeling energetic and clear-headed the next day, but sleeping soundly is also linked to a lower risk of cognitive impairment later in life. Unfortunately, older adults are more likely to have health issues that disturb their sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. A 2011 study at the University of California, San Francisco, showed a clear association between sleep-disordered breathing in older women and the risk of cognitive impairment.

“Those who developed disruptions of their circadian rhythm were also at increased risk,” reports NPR. “So were those who awoke throughout the night, tossing and turning.”

For seniors who are under some form of psychological stress, this link may be even stronger. Not only does stress affect our sleep patterns, stress in itself has been associated with dementia risk. A study in 2010 found a link between stress in middle-aged women and the later development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Kristine Yaffe, who co-authored the UCSF study, advises older adults to get regularly screened for sleep problems, so that any issues can be caught early and treated before they lead to significant cognitive impairment.

Alzheimer’s, Sleep Problems and Sundowning

Sleep problems are even more pronounced in older adults with Alzheimer’s. Brain changes associated with the disease are the underlying cause of issues such as difficulty sleeping, nighttime wandering, daytime napping, shifts in the sleep/wake cycle, and late-afternoon/early-evening agitation referred to as “sundowning.”

Aging sometimes causes a natural disruption of Circadian rhythms — our daily cycles of waking, sleeping, body temperature, and metabolism — a disruption which is often significantly worse in those with Alzheimer’s, reports the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association notes that “in late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals spend about 40% of their time in bed at night awake and a significant part of their daytime sleeping.” Sleep disruptions, in turn, are one of the factors that contribute to sundowning behavior.

If your loved one shows increased mood swings, confusion, memory loss, or even anger as the day winds down, there are several coping strategies caregivers can use to improve sleep for seniors, including establishing a daytime routine that includes some degree of physical activity.

Caregivers Need Sleep, Too

Study after study has shown that caregivers need a good night’s sleep just as much as their loved ones do. According to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving, stress and depression are common in caregivers, and 87% of those surveyed reported problems with sleep and energy levels. Many caregivers said that their sleep was interrupted during the night, sometimes several times a night, while others said it was the stress of their responsibilities keeping them awake.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that “sleep problems among caregivers increases the likelihood of Alzheimer’s patients being cared for in an institutional facility,” as well as taking its toll on the health of the caregiver. It’s therefore especially important for caregivers to care for themselves as much as possible, adopting healthy day-to-day habits as well as taking longer breaks as needed, such as those provided by respite care or “dementia camp.”

  1. The equity risk premium: a review of models




Duarte, Fernando M. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York) ; Rosa, Carlo (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

We estimate the equity risk premium (ERP) by combining information from twenty models. The ERP in 2012 and 2013 reached heightened levels—of around 12 percent—not seen since the 1970s. We conclude that the high ERP was caused by unusually low Treasury yields.

3/8 UK is better than us.The UK will announce plans on Friday to cap charges on new products designed for people drawing down their pension savings after claims that the public could be charged excessive fees.

The Labour leader’s latest market intervention reflects concerns that people exercising new freedoms over their pension savings could be exploited by companies offering new products.

A market survey of drawdown products by Which? found big variations in annual charges between companies and even with the same pension provider. “Our research uncovered several high-charging drawdown products, including one that charges 2.76 per cent,” said Which?. “We think this is too high for the mass market and want to see a cap introduced on products sold to customers by their existing provider.”

Which? said a saver with a typical £36,000 pension pot, taking £2,000 a year in income drawdown, would save £10,300 over their retirement if charges were capped at 0.5 per cent instead of 2.75 per cent.

3/8:Falling Marriage Rates Reveal Economic Fault Lines


There has been a long decline in married households in the United States.

72.2% in 1960

68.6% in 1970

62.3% in 1980

50.5% in 2012

3/8: Generational differences force re-examination of workplace retirement education

In the past five years, employers have realized just how precarious a position their employees are in when it comes to retirement and they have begun to put plans in place to help get them moving in the right direction.

A report released this week by Financial Finesse, a provider of financial wellness programs, shows just how ill-prepared baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials are for retirement.

In the case of baby boomers, they are generally doing well financially but “those who are unprepared for retirement have little time to save, and even those who are prepared face some financial risks.”

Employers are becoming more aware of their employees’ financial situations, particularly when it comes to older workers.

“We’ve seen an increase in their urgency and willingness to dedicate teams to this by building financial wellness programs,” said Liz Davidson, CEO of Financial Finesse. “People are designing and monitoring these programs and the budget dollars have gotten much larger. They are also doing much more analysis on behavioral change and what is triggering the behavioral change.”

EFM- None are teaching risk cause they have never been taught it. Nor how to mitigate almost all major losses.

3/8: Stress

Can employees stressed out about their personal finances be as productive as those who are not? Not likely. Survey data supports the intuitive answer. For example, 41% members of the Society for Human Resource Management responding to a poll last year reported that an “overall lack of monetary funds to cover personal expenses” took a toll on some of their employees’ output levels.

The assumption seems to be not that employees aren’t paid a living wage, but that they have some shortcomings in their personal financial management skills.

3/8: Suicide
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 10 to 24. In 2012, more than 5,000 teens and young adults died by suicide.Results of the analysis indicated that, during 1994-2012, suicide rates by suffocation increased, on average, by 6.7 percent and 2.2 percent annually for females and males, respectively,"

3/8: Most countries can't get inflation high enough. But...........

The government of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is being forced to allow energy and fuel prices to rise after earlier subsidising them in a bid to boost consumption and spur the country’s slowing economy.

This has fuelled inflation, which grew at a monthly rate of 1.24 per cent in January compared with December, or an annualised rate of 7.14 per cent — exceeding the central bank’s target range of 4.5 per cent plus or minus two percentage points.

EFM- I gave up on Mexico and South America years and years ago. Huge graft and terrible economics.

What to look for in a Nursing Home

Yes, it is long but it's necessary for you or your parents.


Use the following checklist to assist you in assess nursing homes. If possible, both the caregiver and care recipient should be involved in the decision making process. The more an older person participates in the planning process, the easier it will be to adjust to the new environment.

The Facility

  • Are there handrails along the walls?

  • Are the doorways wheelchair-accessible?

  • Does management take safety precautions to prevent residents from falling down stairs?

  • Is the floor kept dry and free of litter?

  • In case of fire, can the facility be easily evacuated?

  • Are fire extinguishers easy to locate?

  • Does the facility appear clean?

  • Are there lingering odor?

  • Do the faucets, call buttons, telephones, and television sets work?

  • Are heating and cooling adequate?

Staff and Care

  • Is the atmosphere pleasant?

  • Do staff seem to genuinely enjoy working with the residents?

  • Do staff appear to care about and respect residents?

  • Are residents treated as individuals?

  • Do the staff appear interested in the residents?

  • Do staff seem interested in speaking to visitors or residents?

  • Are your questions answered clearly, frankly, and in sufficient depth?

  • Do any other residents have conditions similar to your elderly relative's?

  • Are residents clean and adequately dressed?

  • Do staff appear to refrain from making unrealistic promises or predictions?

  • Are the rights of the residents clearly posted?

  • Is the food hot, attractive, and tasty?

  • Are special diets available? What kinds?

  • Does a resident have plenty of drinking water easily available?

  • Are planned, posted, and varied recreational and social activities available?

  • Do the listed activities seem interesting and appropriate?

  • Do most of the people at an activity program seem to be participating?

  • Are religious services held weekly?


  • Is the facility in good standing with the state inspectors?

  • Are fees competitive?

  • Have fees increased significantly in the past few years?

  • Is the structure easy to understand and reasonable?

  • Does the institution readily reveal what service are covered in the quoted fee?

  • What services are extra?

  • Is Medicaid accepted? Is Medicare accepted?

  • Are billing and accounting procedures understandable and acceptable?

  • Is transportation of patients provided?

  • Does a resident advisory council exist?

  • Are visiting hours reasonable?

  • Are therapeutic services available? (Speech, physical and occupational)

  • Are social work services or other mental health services available?

  • Are community organizations (library, church group, volunteers) involved?

  • Do the charge nurses, social workers, department heads, and top-level administrators have geriatric experience and/or education?

(c)Senior Living Alternatives, which, publishes FREE semi-annual guides to senior housing in the Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo areas, and Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. Call toll-free for free copy: 1-888-SLA-7276. For Nationwide Information, visit

What to Look for in Assisted Living Communities

Using the following checklist to assist you in assesses assisted living communities. If possible, both the caregiver and care recipient should be involved in the decision making process. The more an older person participates in the planning process, the easier it will be to adjust to the new environment.

Assessing an Assisted Living residence as you tour the facility:

  • As you arrive at the residence, do you like the location and outward appearance of the residence?

  • As you enter the lobby and tour the residence, is the decor attractive and home-like?

  • Did you and your potential resident both receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the residence?

  • Does the administrator/staff call residents by name and interact warmly with them as you tour the residence?

  • Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?

  • Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the residence and staff?

  • Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for your loved one?

  • Are staff appropriately dressed, personable and outgoing?

  • Are the staff members that you pass during your tour friendly to you?

  • Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?

  • Is the community well-designed for resident's needs?

  • Are the recreational and non-living spaces free from storage items or other obstacles?

  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?

  • Are doorways, hallways and rooms accommodating to wheel chairs and walkers?

  • Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?

  • Are hand rails available to aid in walking?

  • Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?

  • Are doors of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?

  • Does the residence have good natural and artificial lighting?

  • Is the residence clean, free of odors and appropriately heated/cooled?

  • Does the residence meet local and/or state licensing requirements?

  • Needs assessments, contracts, costs & finances

  • Is there a written plan for the care of each resident?

  • How long after admission is this care plan written?

  • Are the family and resident involved in writing the care plan?

  • What is the procedure for assessing a potential resident's need for services and are those needs reassessed periodically?

  • Can a resident be discharged for refusing to comply with a care plan?

  • When may a contract be terminated and what are refund policies?

  • Are there any government, private or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident.

  • Is a contractual agreement available to include accommodations, personal care, health care and supportive services?

  • Are additional services available if the resident's needs changes?

  • Are there different costs for various levels or categories of services?

  • How do you pay for additional services such as nursing care when needed on a temporary basis?

  • What are the billing, payment and credit policies? May a resident handle their own finances with staff assistance if able, or should a family member or outside party be designated to do so?


  • What is the policy on insurance and personal property?

  • Is staff available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?

Medication/health care

  • What is the residence policy regarding storage of medication, assistance with medications, training and supervision of staff and record keeping?

  • Is self-administration of medication allowed?

  • Who coordinates home care visits from a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, etc. if needed?

  • Are staff available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgment losses?

  • Does a physician or nurse, visit the resident regularly to provide medical checkups?

  • What is the procedure for responding to a resident's medical emergency?


Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) if needed?

ADLs include: __Dressing __Eating __Mobility __Hygiene and grooming __Bathing, __toileting __incontinence __Using the telephone __Laundry __Housekeeping in unit __Transportation to doctor, hairdresser, activities, etc. __Shopping __ walking/caring for pets. others:______________

Features of individual units

  • Are different sizes and types of units available?

  • Are units for single and double occupancy available?

  • Do residents have their own lockable doors?

  • Is a 24-hour emergency response systems accessible from the unit?

  • Are bathrooms private with handicapped accommodations to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?

  • Are residents able to bring- their own furnishings for their unit and what may they bring?

  • Do all units have a telephone and cable TV and how is billing handled?

  • Is a kitchen area/unit provided with a refrigerator, sink and cooking element?

  • May residents keep food in their units?

  • May residents smoke in their units? In public spaces?

  • May residents have pets?

Social and recreational activities

  • Is there evidence of an organized activities program, such as a posted daily schedule, events in progress, reading materials, visitors, etc?

  • Do residents participate in the neighboring community?

  • Do volunteers, including family members, come into the residence to help with or conduct programs?

  • Does the residence require residents to undertake any chores or perform specific activities that benefit all residents?

  • Does the residence have its own pets or provide for pets to visit the facility?

Food Service

  • Does the residence provide three nutritionally balanced meals a day, seven days a week?

  • Are snacks available?

  • May a resident request special foods?

  • Are common dining areas available?

  • May residents eat meals in their units?

  • May meals be provided at a time a resident would like or are there set times for meals?

Senior Living Alternatives(c), which, publishes FREE semi-annual guides to senior housing in the Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo areas, and Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. Call toll-free for free copy: 1-888-SLA-7276. For Nationwide Information, visit

3/8" Genworth a major player in LTC policies:

We have concluded that we did not have adequate controls designed and in place to ensure that we correctly implemented changes made to one of our methodologies as part of our comprehensive long-term care insurance claim reserves review completed in the third quarter of 2014. As a result, we failed to identify a $44 million after-tax calculation error. Although this control deficiency did not result in a material misstatement in the consolidated financial statements, we have concluded a material weakness exists in the controls over the implementation of our long-term care insurance claim reserves assumption and methodology changes because such a misstatement could have occurred. We are currently working to remediate the material weakness ...  We cannot be sure when we will successfully remediate the material weakness or whether compensating controls will be effective b efore then in preventing or detecting material errors.

EFM- now I wonder what will happen to all the other companies selling any form of their policies.


3/8: Putting a Stop to Retirement Plan Leakage
"[P]roposals that have been suggested include: [1] Raise the age requirement for early withdrawal from 59-1/2 to 62 to match the earliest Social Security retirement age; [2] Limit balances for in-service withdrawals to only employee contributions; [3] Tighten hardship rules even more and only allow hardships in case of 'unpredictable events,' for both 401(k) plans and IRAs; [4] Remove cash-outs altogether (this will mostly likely be met with resistance from plan sponsors because small balances can be expensive and burdensome to administer)."
(Milliman Retirement Town Hall) 

EFM- it's a good start

3/8: Howard Marks-

In periods when the markets do not change dramatically, most investors get it right most of the time but it does not make them any money. It is very valuable to forecast radical changes, as in the case of oil prices, but most people don’t get this right and this makes forecasting so unavailing. When something radical happens, someone gets it right, but Marks asks himself did this person get anything else right before or after, or do they just take extreme positions? 

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble but what you know for certain that just ain’t true.”

Mark Twain

If you think the same as everybody else, you will act the same as everybody else. If you act the same as everybody else, you will perform the same as everybody else. If you want to outperform, then you have to think differently and act differently with higher level thinking.

With first-level thinking, an investor thinks that a company is great and buys the stock. With second-level thinking the investor thinks that the company is great but not as great as everyone thinks and therefore sells the stock. Marks described first-, second- and third-level thinking in the context of Maynard Keynes’ observations in predicting winners in newspaper beauty contests in London in the 1920s. With first-level thinking, you pick the winner based on your opinion. However to win the contest you need to have at least second-level thinking and pick the girl who you think will get the most votes.

Ben Hunt provided further details on Keynes’ observations of third-level thinking on his Epsilon Theoryblog. Hunt stated that to win the contest you have to make a third-level decision and pick “who will get the most votes when all the voters are basing their votes on who they think will get the most votes”.

I'm not sure the liquor makes any difference

3/8: China's slowdown will negatively impact us (doesn't take any brains for that) but I have no idea how bad it will be

China will target economic growth of “around 7 per cent” this year, Premier Li Keqiang told parliament on Thursday, signalling that the leadership expects the country’s economy to slow further following the slowest expansion for 24 years in 2014.


from the whitehouse

3/8: As Australia goes, so I think we will as well

Australians face a future of lower economic growth, falling living standards and increasing public debt unless they embrace structural reforms that meet the challenges posed by an ageing population, a government report has warned.

“Ongoing deficits and rising debt is not sustainable. We need to be better placed to respond to the potential for future economic downturns and pressures on the budget as we live longer."

Seem familiar????????????

3/8: Amaranth

Marks went into further detail on luck and skill in describing the 2006 collapse of the hedge fund Amaranth. Marks said that Amaranth lost 90% of its assets not due to poor bets in 2006 but because of their success in 2005 when they were up 100%. He offered that “losing 100% is only the flip side of making 100% if there is no skill.” Marks said Amaranth made some “wild ass” bets in 2005 and got lucky and then made similar bets in 2006 and got unlucky.

3/5" Indexing" the percentage of institutional investments in index-tracking strategies is small — about 19.2 percent for public pension plans and 11.2 percent for corporate plans