August 5th, 2011
By: Sheryl Nance Nash
The stock-market roller coaster has been wild enough to make even the most stoic, stiff-necked investors queasy. After falling in 10 out of the last 11 trading sessions, the stock market plunged more than 500 points Thursday, making it the worst day for the Dow since Oct. 22, 2008, the day that marked the beginning of the global financial crisis. On Thursday, the index lost 4.3% — erasing all the gains for the year — to end at 11,384.
What’s stoking the volatility? The U.S. dodged the default bullet, but not everybody is impressed. “The negotiated debt-ceiling settlement is being seen by world’s financial markets as a smoke screen,” says James DiGeorgia, publisher of the Gold and Energy Advisor newsletter. “No matter how many times my fellow Republicans repeat the mantra that Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, the truth is we cannot make a dent in the national debt unless we reduce spending and raise revenues.
“Without swift tax reform lowering corporate and individual rates in exchange for eliminating the special-interest patchwork of tax breaks and subsidies, we’re going to continue to see the national debt spiral higher and the dollar weaken.”
The fact remains that the U.S. economy is not just lackluster, but flirting with recession part deux.
“Continued weakness has shown in the recent economic numbers. The [gross domestic product] at 1.3% is at a recessionary level and not nearly what is necessary to reduce the compounding effect of our deficit,” says Jeff Sica, president and chief investment officer of Sica Wealth Management. “Downward revisions on economic numbers make lagging indicators even worse, suggesting what we always believed: we never left the recession.”
Unemployment remains high, even though it fell to 9.1% in July, from 9.2% in June. And even worse, job cuts have surged 60%, which will boost unemployment much higher, Sica says.
At least the U.S. isn’t alone. “The European economy is collapsing,” Sica says.
Europe is addressing its fiscal and monetary problems way too slowly, DiGeorgia says. Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are in seriously bad shape. Banks in Europe are on the hook, he says, as are many banks throughout the U.S. that have been playing interest-rate arbitrage, borrowing at a quarter of a percent and lending to Italy for 6% and Greece for 9%, for example.
“For anyone in the know, its a catastrophe in the making,” Sica says. “Bottom line: A financial crisis worse than the one that took place in 2008 and 2009 could ignite at any moment.” And because many Europeans take the month of August off, the first emergency meeting to address the euro and the danger isn’t scheduled until Sept. 6th, in France. Europe is a dark cloud getting darker by the day, Sica says.
Another concern is China, points out Matt Freund, senior vice president of investment portfolio management at USAA. What if the Chinese economy falters — a scenario that seems much more likely than it did as 2010 ended? Real estate and construction have become dominant sectors in China’s economy, but easy credit and speculative building may be creating a surplus in luxury apartments and other properties that sets the stage for a major correction.
A reversal of China’s economic fortunes could have wide-ranging effect. It could lower demand for industrial and construction equipment, dampening revenues for the companies that make it; weaken demand for commodities, which could pressure the emerging-market economies that depend on them; and reduce overseas profits for large multinational corporations as growth stalls around the world.
What are Investors to Do Now?
A confluence of such factors are creating plenty of uncertainty. Investors are wondering what in the world they can expect from the market for the rest of this year.
“Given the debt deal, the likelihood of another stimulus package is decreased,” says Steve Wood, chief market strategist for Russell Investments.
And that will slow the recovery, says John Liu, president of Firstrade, an online broker. “Without government help, the market is going to get worse before it gets better,” he says. “It doesn’t mean it won’t get better, it will just take longer.”
Sica predicts that the market will decline 15%-20% by the end of the summer. Given the economic headwinds, it’s hard to envision a return to a robust and steadily growing economy anytime soon.
Investors should expect the recovery to remain choppy and uncertain, marked by below-average economic growth and periodic setbacks — including the potential for another recession, Freund says.
For sure, the outlook suggests investors should tighten their seatbelts and brace themselves for one jolt after the other. How can you protect yourself? Here’s what the pros are suggesting:
Keep your cool
“Don’t panic, and keep your emotions in check,” says Thomas Yorke, a Covester model manager and managing director of Oceanic capital Management. “These movements should flush out some of the more leveraged players and provide an opportunity to make some selective buys at a significantly lower levels. In situations like this, most investors are more likely to sell their best performers and hold their worst — the trading in gold today being a prime example of that behavior. When you are ready to make some adjustments, make sure you pitch your poor performers and opt for the market leaders who apt to recover more quickly.”
This is the time to re-evaluate your portfolio and determine how diversified you truly are, Yorke advises. But keep in mind that the correlations between different asset classes will converge at times like these, when the market is moving downward so strongly, he says. “You should study what classes performed best and plan to increase your exposure to them when things start to return to normal,” he says. “Doing this during high-stress periods will more likely have you buying things too expensively and selling things too cheaply. Your goal should be to create the proper asset allocation and understand that
over time this more balanced approach will achieve a better ‘risk adjusted’ return and enable you to sleep better at night.”
If you are a long-term investor, take a deep breath and stay the course, says Mark Fissel, a certified financial planner with Beacon Hill Investment Advisory. From the standpoint of price-to-earnings ratios, or stock prices compared to company earnings, the stock market is the cheapest its been since 1990. So, yes, there’s great uncertainty, but that also means there’s an opportunity to make money. By the time the sky is blue, the market will have already gone up, Fissell says.
Fred Dickson, senior vice president and chief investment strategist with D.A. Davidson & Co., has similar advice to investors: Find the upside. Use the recent 10% market dip to invest in high-quality stocks that have a long history of increasing dividends, he says.
Today, the “all-seeing” Kevin Trudeau gives you his predictions for what will happen to the US economy & the US dollar within the next 2-5 years. Plus, Dr. Tom Morter stops by to explain why Trace Minerals are absolutely imperative to your health and why you should never leave home without it!
Take Trudeau on the Go! Click here to download this show to your iPod, mp3 player, or PC through iTunes!
October 21st, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
If none of the men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer were ever treated, 97 percent of them would still survive the disease, according to a study conducted by Swedish researchers and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Most prostate cancers grow so slowly that researchers have increasingly questioned whether the significant risks of treatment with hormones, surgery or radiation — all of which can cause side effects including incontinence and impotence — are actually justified by a serious threat to patients’ lives.
“What the data is showing is that for most patients with low-risk cancer, there is no need to panic,” said cancer researcher Grace Lu-Yao of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, who was not involved in the study. “Prostate cancer really is no longer a fatal disease.”
Researchers used data from Sweden’s national cancer registry to compare death rates among 6,800 men under the age of 70 who had been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer classified as low- or intermediate-risk. The risk factor of each cancer was calculated through a combination of tests, including the prostate specific antigen (PSA) and Gleason tests. Participants either underwent aggressive cancer treatment with hormones, surgery or radiation, or they took a “watchful waiting” approach in which their doctors monitored them for any progression in the cancer.
After eight years, 20 percent of the men in the watchful waiting group had died — the same as the proportion for the general population. Fewer than 3 percent had died from prostate cancer. The researchers estimated that after 10 years, only 2.4 percent of participants in this group would have died from prostate caner.
Although the rate of death from both prostate cancer and from all causes was lower in the treatment group, the researchers noted that men in the “watchful waiting” group tended to be sicker going into the study than men who underwent treatment.
May 7, 2010
International Business Times
The Gold Report: John, last December you stated, “The U.S. economic and systemic crisis of the past of the past two years are just precursors to a great collapse,” or what you call a “hyper-inflationary great depression.” Is this prediction unique to the U.S., or do you feel that other economies face the same fate?
John Williams: The hyper-inflationary portion largely will be unique to the U.S. If the U.S. falls into a great depression, there’s no way the rest of the world cannot have some negative economic impact.
TGR: How will the United States’ decreased economic power impact global economies? Will the rest of the world survive?
JW: People will find to their happy surprise that they’ll be able to survive. Most businesses are pretty creative. The thing is, the U.S. economic activity accounts for roughly half that of the globe. There’s no way that the U.S. economy can turn down severely without there being an equivalent, at least a parallel downturn outside the U.S. with its major trading partners.
When I talk about a great depression in the United States, it is coincident with a hyper-inflation. We’re already in the deepest and longest economic contraction seen since the Great Depression. If you look at the timing as set by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the arbiter of U.S. recessions, as to whether or not we have one, they’ve refused to call an end to this one, so far. But assuming you called an end to it back in the middle of 2009, it would still be the longest recession seen since the first down-leg of the Great Depression.
In terms of depth, year-to-year decline in the gross domestic product, or GDP, as reported in the third quarter of 2009, was the steepest annual decline ever reported in that series, which goes back to the late ’40s on a quarterly basis. Other than for the shutdown of war production at the end of World War II, which usually is not counted as a normal business cycle, the full annual decline in 2009 GDP was the deepest since the Great Depression. There’s strong evidence that we’re going to see an intensified downturn ahead, but it won’t become a great depression until a hyper-inflation kicks in. That is because hyper-inflation will be very disruptive to the normal flow of commerce and will take you to really low levels of activity that we haven’t seen probably in the history of the Republic.
Let me define what I mean by depression and great depression, because there’s no formal definition out there that matches the common expectation. Before World War II, economic downturns commonly were referred to as depressions. If you drew a graph of the level of activity in a depression over time, it would show a dip in the economy, and you’d go down and then up. The down part was referred to as recession and the up part as recovery. The Great Depression was one that was so severe that in the post-World War II era, those looking at economic cycles tried to come up with a euphemism for “depression.” They didn’t want to create the image of or remind people of the 1930s. Basically, they called economic downturns recessions, and most people think of a depression now as a severe recession.
I’ve talked with people in the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Bureau of Economic Research in terms of developing a formal depression definition. The traditional definition of recession-that of two consecutive quarters of inflation-adjusted contraction in GDP-still is a solid one, despite recent refinements. Although there’s no official consensus on this, generally, a depression would be considered a recession where peak-to-trough contraction in the economy was more than 10%; a great depression would be a recession where the peak-to-trough contraction was more than 25%.
We’re borderline depression in terms of where we’re going to be here before I think the hyper-inflation kicks in. You’ve certainly seen depression-like numbers in things such as retail sales, industrial production and new orders for durable goods, where you’re down more than 10% from peak-to-trough. In terms of housing, you’re down more than 75%, and that certainly would be in the great depression category. With hyper-inflation, you have disruption to the normal flow of commerce and that will slow things down very remarkably from where we are now.
TGR: After a period of recession, isn’t inflation considered a good sign?
March 17, 2010
By: Charlene Laino
Better heart treatment of women could help close the gender gap in heart deaths. Women would be more likely to survive a heart attack if they were treated more like men, French researchers say.
In a study of more than 3,500 people admitted to the hospital for a heart attack, women were far less likely than men to get angiography to visualize heart artery blockages or angioplasty to open up blocked arteries.
Women were about twice as likely to die within a month of having the heart attack, according to the study, presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting.
The higher death rate in women “is related to the fact that they don’t get the same treatments as men,” says Maria Rosa Costanzo, MD, an American Heart Association spokeswoman who was not involved with the study.
“If women had the same access to procedures and medication as men, they would derive the same benefit,” says Costanzo, of Midwest Heart Specialists in Naperville, Ill.
Study researcher Francois Schiele, MD, chief cardiologist at the University Hospital of Besancon in France, says that when possible, “women should be treated with all recommended strategies, including invasive ones.”
Closing the Gender Gap
Costanzo tells WebMD that it’s been known for some time that women fare worse after a heart attack than men, but it’s been unclear why. Some studies point to biological differences such as women’s smaller blood vessels that raise the risk of complications during angioplasty, she says.
Also, women tend to be older and have poorer overall health when they have heart attacks, and wait longer to seek medical care than men, research suggests.
But other studies suggest that women are undertreated, Costanzo says.
The new study attempted to level the playing ground by using statistical techniques that took into account women’s and men’s different characteristics and treatments when they had heart attacks.
The researchers analyzed data from a regional registry that included more than 3,500 patients, about a third of whom were women, treated for a heart attack between January 2006 and December 2007.
Women were, on average, nine years older than men, had more health problems, and received fewer effective treatments for heart attack. They were nearly twice as likely to die, both during the initial hospital stay and over the following month.
When the analysis was adjusted to take into account the differences in the women’s ages, blood pressure, kidney function, and other characteristics as well as the treatments they received, there was no difference in death rates, either in the hospital or at 30 days.
“Once they compared apples to apples, it shows women get the same benefit from [procedures to open blocked arteries] and medication as men,” Costanzo says.
Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis helped fund the registry.
September 1, 2009
By Karen Springen
To survive, you need your heart, lungs, and liver. But what about your appendix, tonsils, wisdom teeth, and other parts that you normally hear about only when they’re being removed. Are they just troublemakers?
Not quite. “Most likely all of these were useful and all of them may still be,” says Dr. Robert Ashton, a surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center who admits that “some of them are thought to be more useful than others. ”
Still, some body parts may linger thanks to evolutionary laziness, says Dr. Udayan Shah, associate professor of otolaryngology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and chair of the medical devices and drug committee for the American Academy of Otolaryngology─Head and Neck Surgery. “If it doesn’t interfere with reproduction, it’s not going to be removed from the human gene pool.”
With recent research indicating that the appendix isn’t just a ticking time bomb, we got thinking: what other body parts get an undeserved bad rap, and which ones can you live without? We found seven of the most maligned, misunderstood body parts and figured out their function (or total lack thereof). Here’s the lowdown:
Appendix: For many people, it’s a case of can’t live with it, can live without it. In 2006, the most recent year statistics are available, 410,000 Americans had appendectomies, and suffered no shortened lifespans as a result.
Two years ago Duke University researchers proposed that the appendix─traditionally regarded as a useless, leftover “vestigial” structure─actually provided a haven where good bacteria could stay until they were needed to repopulate the gut after, say, a bad case of diarrhea. But in a study published last week in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, researchers at Duke University, the University of Arizona, and Arizona State University concluded that the 80 million-year-old appendix (which sits on top of the colon) was not just the remains of a larger structure used by human ancestors to digest food.
In fact, the appendix may still help store good bacteria, but only in places where bad bacteria runs rampant, like the developing world. Humans without access to clean water supplies need the bacteria stored by the appendix to fight off illnesses like cholera.
But give the appendix nothing to do, and it can get into trouble. Researchers say the appendix only becomes inflamed when modern sewage systems and improved sanitation have left the immune system, including the appendix, bored. “We’re so clean, and that causes us to get appendicitis,” says immunologist William Parker, assistant professor of surgical sciences at Duke University and the senior author of the study. “Your entire immune system is hanging out, doing very little.” As a result, the appendix gets swollen and bacteria inside it can start leaking out. “What medical science needs to do is figure out how to get our immune systems busy,” says Parker. “An idle immune system is a devil’s workshop.”
Gallbladder: The gallbladder concentrates and stores bile that the body uses to break down and digest fat. But the pear-shaped sac (just below the liver) can cause pain and problems. That happens if the liquid bile contains too much cholesterol and hardens into stones in the gallbladder. “Yes, it has a use,” says Montefiore’s Ashton. “[But] we lead completely normal lives without it.” Thanks to the liver, bile is still available, even without the gallbladder.
Spleen: In 2006, 899,000 Americans had their spleens surgically removed in a procedure called a cholecystectomy. The spleen is useful: it helps the immune system work, and the body makes blood cells there, explains Ross. The negative connotation to the word “spleen” dates back to the Middle Ages, when people believed the organ was the black-bile “humour” that caused anger. That’s why, even today, people talk about getting rid of their bad mood by “venting their spleen.”
Tonsils/adenoids: Part of the immune system, the tonsils are on each side of the throat and the adenoids are on top of it. But doctors often remove this lymph tissue (where both good and bad bacteria hang out) because of breathing problems such as loud snoring or because of ear and sinus problems. (It’s a long tradition: the first tonsillectomy documented in Western literature dates back to a Roman surgeon in the first century.) No harm done. “Over time, children who get their tonsils or adenoids out do not have higher rates of infections,” says Shah.
Tonsillectomies are controversial. In a July press conference, President Obama said, “The doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, ‘You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out.’ ” In a press release, the American Academy of Otolaryngology─Head and Neck Surgery responded that clinical guidelines suggest that “in many cases, tonsillectomy may be a more effective treatment, and less costly, than prolonged or repeated treatments for an infected throat.”
But even if people no longer need tonsils to fight infection, doctors don’t just take them out prophylactically. After all, surgery can be expensive and potentially dangerous. “It’s the first place the body gets exposed to foreign objects coming into the body,” says Dr. Callum Ross, the anatomy course director at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. “There’s this constant inflow of bacteria into the body through the oral cavity, so you can start making antibodies already.” With any operation, there’s a risk of infection and of complications, including death, from anesthesia, he says. When kids get their tonsils removed, they’re usually about 5 years old. Three decades ago, 90 percent of tonsillectomies in children were performed because of recurrent infection. Today only 20 percent are for infection and 80 percent are for obstructive sleep problems, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of Americans getting tonsillectomies jumped from 418,000 to 757,000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Wisdom teeth: In 2006, 39,000 Americans had their wisdom teeth (sometimes along with other teeth) removed─down from 48,000 a decade earlier. “They keep getting infected. They’re difficult to get clean,” explains Ross. Earlier humans needed more grinding teeth and had larger mouths before the advent of tools and cooking, which made food softer and our faces shorter and flatter. “[Today] so much of processing of food is done before it gets into our mouth,” says Heather Smith, assistant professor of anatomy at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., rendering these teeth redundant. For primitive man, by contrast, wisdom teeth were essential.
Uvula: People often look at the uvula in the back of their throats and think, “What the heck is that?” says Shah. But the uvula─part of the palate─helps people swallow and helps propel food downward. It redirects food so it goes down your esophagus rather than up your nose or into your trachea. It also helps with speech. Without one, people are more likely to have air escape from their nose and to have high, squeaky voices. They may even have liquid or food come out of their noses, says Shah. Because the uvula can obstruct air, doctors sometimes remove it in patients with sleep apnea. Shah recommends against piercing the uvula because of the risk of infection and speech difficulties.
Ear lobes: “No one knows why we have earlobes,” says otolaryngologist D. J. Verret, a spokesman for the AAO-HNS.