Bull or Bear

I don't thing he'll get the same reception

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Medicine Today

I.

Two people get a splinter.  Not too severe but requiring immediate attention.

The first of our individuals, John has “good” insurance.  John, no longer living near his Mom, decides it requires a medical visit.  The large sliver is removed and the doctor is able to bill the insurance company $300.  The doctor also uses $50 worth of overpriced medical equipment.

The second individual, without access to his Mom, has however, found a even better skilled wife.  She quickly performed the exact same procedure as the doctor, albiet without the commute and wait for the doctor.  Likewise, the insurance company realized monetary benefits by not having to pay the doctor.

Apply this same methodology to all medical care and we quickly conclude that the current system is inefficient for most parties, save doctors and pharmaceuticals.

A minor sprained ankle that can be treated without either a doctors visit, expensive drugs and hours waiting to see a doctor and the huge bill for someone, is a benefit to everyone.

The only way for medical care to be both good and universally available to is deregulate medical practices and buy less drugs.  Logically, the only way to save money is to spend less somewhere.  You can’t be against rationing while simultaneously being against rising costs, it’s irrational.

II.

Insurances company do not need to be regulated, they just need to lose their anti-trust exemption.  Either we regulate or we don’t.  Allowing a monopoly is the worst kind of regulation.   There is no reason a medical practice and hospital affiliation shouldn’t offer it’s own “in-network” insurance.  The government can cover all “out-of-network” costs if you happen to be traveling.

III.

Another simple step is to allow all registered nurses to become sole operators offering house calls.  Even if they just became commissioned reps of a doctors office.   How much would you pay to have a trusted registered nurse doing house calls?  As a lay person, I have learned that Nurses are far better performing normally required medical service.

Avoiding exposure to a hospital or even a doctors office was lost when house calls became inefficient.

Finally, If you want to know wether the eventual bill is all corporate giveaway, check the stock market.  So long as Big Pharm and Insurance Cos continue to see stock gains we know the Healthcare bill is just corporate welfare masquerading as populism.

Apple

I just finished a trip to North Carolina and Florida, and as expected the iPhone was everywhere. If you aren’t an iPhone user, I’m sure you know someone who is. It was a game changer and expands of the old adage “Once you go Mac, you never go back”.

During my flight home, I was thinking about Apple success and it’s inevitable switch from underdog to favorite. It’s rise and the current cellphone battle between Apple, Blackberry, etc is the best proof that competition, in an uncorrupted form, does produce greatness. Does anyone think Ma Bell could have gotten us an iPhone?

As a devoted iPhone and Apple follower one might be forced to look negatively at their competition. Quite the contrary, we should hope that Palm and the others do their bast to force Apple to continue innovating.

Check out the new Droid ad for further proof:

How are you invested ??

Just because it’s a bull for three months doesn’t mean it’s not an irrational bull.

A bear only needs to be right once a decade to make money. 2000 and 2008 make us two for last eight. If we can batt .300 by getting 2009 in the win column, to paraphrase David Winfield; baseball, and being a bear, is the only job where you can fail 7 out of 10 times and still make million

What perma bull made money from 1998 to 2008 with a buy and hold strategy ?? NONE.

Bears don’t make 50% in six months like the S&P, but they don’t lose 40% in that time either. Any math with tell you that losing 40% (S&P actually lost 57%) leave a million dollars down to $600,000 so followed by a gain of 50% (S&P currently up 55% from low), leaves you at $900,000 down $100,000.

Not so for a realistic and hedged bear over the last 12-16 months.  For the prudent bear the returns are much better, say  down 10% then up 20% (rather -40% than +50%). This takes the million down to $900,000 then back up to $108,000. Sure you only made $8,000 (8%) but that crushes the loss perma-bulls endured.

Look at any long term S&P charts and the evidence is clear.

Bulls should acknowledge and apologize for the last, going on eleven, years of BEAR market fact. The same people who were shouting bull were shooting bull. And they still are.

Next Viral Video – With No Apology

As good as “You Lie” but actually the truth and we won’t be seeing an apology on this one.

To add  a little more gravitas to Congressman Grayson, he is also a champion for Federal Reserve accountability.   He is quickly becoming the Democratic answer to Texas Republican Ron Paul.

Kids and Komputers

iTouch after a Shower

iTouch after a Shower

It’s always the youngest.

On Saturday my 4yr-old left our iTouch (old iPhone) outside for four hours of rain.  We didn’t notice it was missing until we went looking to play with it at 9:00 PM.   My 4yr-old  sheepishly told my oldest that she was using it outside and put it down on a lawn chair shortly before being chased back inside by the rain.

While holding the now dripping device, I did a little searching on some tech blogs for hope.  Not surprisingly, I found numerous others with a similar problem, though different causes; dropped in the toilet being the best.

Following the advice of blogs, I dried it with a paper towel and stuck in a tupperware container with some silica packets and rice (short grain, in case you were wondering).

Well I opened the tupperware up this morning, plugged it into the computer and presto, it works.

I think I may be buying some more AAPL today.

— Tom

Irony and Unintended Consequences

Tolstoy would say that Rep. Wilsons outburst (scroll down for video)was an inevitable result of this summer.   Ironic that Congressman Wilson may have uttered the one tipping remark that will save healthcare for the President.

Now onto the details.  Whatever is finally voted for, I don’t imagine the status quo is where we will end up.

How many of the 46 million uninsured have been postponing needed medical procedures??

Lets assume 10 percent of the newly insured require immediate outlay from whomever is the insurer.  Remember that a large portion of the uninsured are in this situation because they were dropped from the previous insurer due to recision or an exclusion based on a pre-existing condition.

Why don’t the private companies want the Government taking these high-risk, immediately cash negative, individuals?  My guess is that are making such an obscene amount of money that, rather then fearing an ultra competitive public plan, they actually fear what may be revealed by the open books of a public plan.

How many employees are held “Job” hostage at their current employer?  Are you?

The current plans seeming to be leaning at both healthcare transportability and eliminating the pre-existing exclusion for new enrollees.  My guess is somewhere between 5% and 25% of the corporate workforce is currently coerced by healthcare from changing jobs.  This outcome better be on the radar of large corporations like McDonalds and Starbucks.   Currently, they outcompete mom and pops for talent just because they offer healthcare.  At the least, employees will have removed one of the swords hanging over their heads at a crappy job.

Who loses if this passes, and haven’t we learned there’s no free lunch?

The stocks of Insurance Companies, Pharmacuticals, in fact, all healthcare related companies are up big time.  The doctors aren’t marching down fifth avenue so they must think they’ll get paid.  And, supposedly, this is all going to end with more people getting healthcare, and cheaper.

Some can argue that it’s because investors and doctors all think reform is doomed.  As an experienced investor and trader (and cynic), maybe the opposite is true.

Perhaps the doctors are getting squeezed now and they actually want reform.  Perhaps the stock investing class is running a classic pump and dump with the healthcare sector.

It won’t surprise me if we see healthcare reform as the scapegoat for a W recovery, no recovery, a re-test of the March ’09 stock market lows, continued decline in housing or any other calamity.

Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.

Be pessimistic when others are optimistic and optimistic when others are pessimistic.

— Tom Bergman