This post was published at Reluctant Preppers
A possible new pandemic is forming from a deadly strain of flu emerging from Australia and will be headed to the UK as the normal flow of travels would take it. Britain will perhaps be hit with the worst flu season in 50 years. Already, there are about 170,000 cases of flu reported in Australia which is more than double this season than usual.
The strain of flu is called H3N2, and the number of flu deaths in Australia over winter has not yet been released, but it’s thought to be the worst in many years. The last major flu epidemic was in the 1968 pandemic which began in Hong Kong killing more than a million people worldwide. Flu pandemics have been linked to fluctuations in climate, and new research connects the world’s four most recent pandemics to the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean near the equator.
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 29, 2017.
This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
President Trump on Friday signed the Republican $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that is expected to trigger tax cuts for most Americans next year. The GOP/Trump bill undoes some of the damage caused by the tax increases put in place on January 1, 2015 by the Obamacare legislation such as increasing the top bracket from 35% to 39.6%.
Although this is not related to housing per se, the corporate tax rate has been cut to 21%, putting the US in the middle of the G-7 nations instead of being the most heavily tax major nation on earth.
This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 26, 2017.
An LA County psychologist who thinks President Trump’s tax bill stinks to high heaven, compared himself to Jesus after admitting he delivered a gift-wrapped box of horseshit as a Christmas present to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Robby Strong told AL.com he dropped off the box of horse manure at Mnuchin’s house as an ‘act of political theater’ to hammer home the point that ‘Republicans have done nothing for the American worker.’
Boldly taking the Christ-analogy to a place it has never gone before, Strong told SoCal radio station 89.3 KPCC that “what I did, I would like to compare to what Jesus did when he went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers, who were exploiting the people financially in the name of religion.”
‘In the long run, if we don’t do stuff like this, what are we going to have left?’ Robby told KPCC. ‘I feel like that’s what the GOP has done to the American people,’ added the man who, bizarrely, is a psychologist with the LA Department of Mental Health.
Things start to make much more sense, however, once we learn that Strong claims he was an organizer for the Occupy LA movement; predictably he sides with critics of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul who say it favors corporations and the wealthy, CBS Los Angeles reported.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2017.
‘I’ve been pounding the table about location-based pricing for years. Now we have hard data.’
Wolf here: Michael Gorback, M. D., who has authored a number of articles for Wolf Street on how opaque pricing in the US healthcare system inflates costs, has been a strong advocate of price transparency. He told me he is ‘one of the very few (only?) pain specialists who accept uninsured patients and publish their cash fee schedule.’
A ‘cash fee schedule’ is essentially a price list. It’s the norm in just about every industry, except in healthcare, where opaque pricing dominates – to the detriment of consumers.
By Michael Gorback, M. D., at the Center for Pain Relief in Houston, TX: Imagine you’re out shopping for a new car. You stop by Dealership A and get an offer of $35,000. You decide to do some comparison-shopping and head over to Dealership B. Their price is $39,000. You show them the offer from Dealership A. The trusty salesman says you should buy the car from him at the higher price because his store has a higher overhead. ‘Look at the fancy furniture in our showroom,’ he says. ‘The chairs are really comfortable in the waiting area and we offer espresso and cappuccino. Our rent is also much higher.’
This is the logic behind higher prices for outpatient procedures done at a hospital as opposed to an ambulatory surgery center or office setting. I discussed this phenomenon on Wolf Street back in 2014.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 25, 2017.
Alcohol abuse can result in health problems including memory loss, poor decision making, fetal damage, liver diseases, hypertension and cardiovascular problems… but ’tis the season…
As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, a recent report by the United Health Foundation found that 18.5 percent of U. S. adults engage in binge or chronic drinking.
Binging is defined as having four or more (for women) or five or more (for men) drinks on one occasion in the past 30 days. Chronic drinking is having eight or more (for women) or 15 or more (for men) drinks per week. The U. S. has an annual average of 87,798 alcohol attributable deaths while 12,460 road deaths were due to alcohol consumption between 2006 and 2010.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 24, 2017.
Last night the Senate passed the Republican proposed tax plan, a major political victory for Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.
At the Mises Wire, we have featured numerous articles pointing out many of the fallacies involved with the general debate on the issue of “tax reform.” For example, the absurdity of “revenue neutral” reform, the danger of raising rates through eliminating loop hopes, the fallacy of trying to address the deficit through eliminating deductions on state and local taxes, and the general notion that tax breaks can be equated to tax subsidies. While the Republican bill does fall for some of these traps, the result of the bill as a whole is a genuine reduction in the tax burden for the majority of Americans. That is always something worth celebrating.
There are additional benefits to be found within the bill as well.
For example, the elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate is a small, but significant, step to improving the American healthcare system. As I noted in March, when Paul Ryan’s attempt at Obamacare reform failed, the rise of direct primary care and other market solutions meant that the best thing the GOP could do is simply provide as much freedom as possible for Americans to opt out of government-managed insurance markets:
Given that this is happening naturally on the market already, the legislative focus for those in Washington concerned about American healthcare should be preventing any future laws and regulations that would destroy this model going forward. Further, rather than trying to completely overhaul Obamacare, simply eliminating the individual mandate tax and allowing Health Savings Accounts to be used for healthcare membership would be subtle ways of empowering the market to revolutionize American medicine. This should be coupled with real tax cuts, not ‘revenue neutral reform’ to help Americans keep their own hard-earned money to help pay for it.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 12/20/2017.
Update: In a vote that almost exactly mirrored yesterday’s results, the House once again passed the final Trump tax bill – formerly known as the conference agreement on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – by a vote of 224-201.
As the Financial Times pointed out, “the vote gives the president a longed-for legislative victory to carry into his second year, one whose scope matches the radical reforms of healthcare and Wall Street regulation achieved by his predecessor Barack Obama.”
But the tax bill is already as divisive as Mr Obama’s achievements, ensuring 2018 will be dominated by electoral sparring over whether it will help middle-class families, as Republicans claim, or will deliver further riches to the wealthy and powerful, as Democrats say.
Mr Trump said at a ‘celebration’ cabinet meeting that people would begin seeing the results of the tax bill in February when adjustments to their after-tax income started appearing in pay checks. ‘We got it done,’ he said, thanking congressional leaders.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.
As the House prepares to hold its second vote on the final version of the Republican tax plan, Fox Business and Dow Jones Newswires are reporting that President Donald Trump might wait until early next year to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. His reason? By delaying the signing, Trump would effectively push certain spending cuts to programs like Medicare until 2019.
At issue are so-called “pay as you go,” or “pay-go,” budget rules that could be triggered by deficits in the tax bill. Congressional Republicans are preparing a separate fix to waive the rules after they finish the tax bill. But – given their already jam-packed legislative schedule – if Congress fails to pass the waiver before its year-end recess, one way to delay the cuts would be to wait until January to sign the bill.
If successful, the waiver would likely be attached to Congress’s ‘continuing resolution’ bill that would keep the government funded through Jan. 19.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.
Here are the House Republicans who voted against the tax bill, which of course raises the question: With his NO vote, what secret message was Rohrabacher sending to Putin & Assange? pic.twitter.com/B66BY0uIZC
— Ira Goldman (@KDbyProxy) December 19, 2017
After more than six weeks of frenzied negotiations, the House of Representatives has passed the reconciled version of President Donald Trump’s tax plan, leaving only one major hurdle between Republicans and their biggest legislative accomplishment of the Trump era.
In a 227-203 vote, the House passed the tax plan over united Democratic opposition, as well as a flurry of ‘no’ votes from blue-state Republicans who spoke out against provisions in the bill that eliminate deductions for state and local taxesthat will disproportionately impact taxpayers in high-tax states like California and New York. Ultimately, 12 Republicans joined 191 Democrats in voting against the bill.
The vote followed an empassioned debate with Democrats – who labeled the bill the White House “tax scam” – slamming the bill as an attempt to establish a “permanent plutocracy.” Republicans countered that it would benefit all Americans, and evidence of its sanguine impact on the economy would emerge over the next year.
The contentious debate that preceded the vote was interrupted several times by protesters, including people who shouted “kill the bill, don’t kill us!” The Hill pointed out that one of the protesters was a woman in a wheelchair who said she relies on Medicaid and warned that the bill would “starve” the public.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.
Barring some unforeseen catastrophe (or another floor-vote surprise akin to Sen. John McCain’s last minute decision to strike down the Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare), Congressional Republicans appear all but certain to pass the reconciled version of President Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan – the first time Congress has successfully passed comprehensive tax reform since 1986.
With their self-imposed Friday deadline looming, the Republicans’ Senate leadership managed to secure commitments from several holdouts, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
At last count, the only Senator who hasn’t committed to a ‘yes’ vote is Arizona’s Jeff Flake. Flake famously delivered a scathing speech condemning President Trump from the floor of the Senate after announcing that he would not seek another term. He has been an outspoken Republican critic of the Trump agenda, per Reuters.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Corker – the only senator who voted against the Senate’s original tax bill – said late last week that he would vote for the current bill after several provisions were added that would benefit him personally, along with a handful of other Republicans.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.
For several decades now the American Midwest has suffered from unprecedented economic decay courtesy of a persistent outsourcing of manufacturing jobs in the automotive and steel industries, among others. As we’ve noted frequently, that economic decay has resulted in a devastating surge in opioid overdoses that claim the lives of 100s of people each year.
Of course, many attribute Trump’s staggering victories in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania to his efforts to tap into the frustration of the dispossessed Midwest masses by promising a rebirth of the manufacturing economy that once provided them a solid middle-class lifestyle.
That said, no economic crisis is truly “discovered” until an Ivy League, Nobel-prize-winning economist says it is. As such, we present to you the intriguing findings of Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton who said he was “looking for something else” when he noticed a staggering increase in white mortality rates for people aged 50-54. Per Market Watch:
That was the case with landmark research undertaken by Nobel Prize winning economist Angus Deaton. The Princeton economist, working with his wife Anne Case, stumbled on the fact that mortality rates were rising for working-age white Americans since 1999.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.
The exploits of John Brown have long fascinated historians. His actions, for better or worse, certainly had a significant effect on the country prior to Southern secession, but the fascination with Brown is largely driven by the enigma the man himself has proven to be. In trying to explain his actions and motives, historians have wrestled with questionable and biased testimonies by the people who knew him, and many of the mysteries surrounding John Brown have been explained – then and now – by mental disorders.
But was John Brown crazy? Diagnosing historical figures is an ambitious task, but the history of where the insanity claim for John Brown came from is insightful.
Psychiatry was evolving in the medical field in the beginning of the nineteenth century. For centuries, physicians in the western world acknowledged four basic psychological illnesses. The first was mania, which was exhibited through erratic behavior, irritability, and wild, racing thoughts. Second was melancholia, which was essentially depression. The third was dementia, defined much as it is today. And finally, there was delirium, which was characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disorientation.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 14, 2017.
After seeing the tax reform inspired to jump in small business optimism from the NFIB, today the Duke CFO survey optimism index rose the to the best level since June 2004. Also, it was driven by tax reform. This is though coming with building inflation pressures as the survey ‘also finds the difficulty that companies are having hiring and retaining qualified employees is at a 20 yr high, and that in part will lead to higher wages.’ The survey said CFO’s expect ‘median wage growth of about 3% over the next 12 months.’ Hopefully, higher productivity can offset this as opposed to companies passing that on in higher prices. There is also healthcare inflation that is a worry as expectations are for an 8% rise next year. ‘Nearly half of US companies indicate that the cost of employee health benefits crowds out their ability to spend on long-term corporate investment.’ Like I said before, embrace lower corporate taxes but don’t assume all else equal.
There was a slight ebbing of bullish enthusiasm according to Investors Intelligence. Bulls fell to 61.9 from 64.2 while Bears ticked up a hair to 15.2 from 15.1. The spread between the two of 46.7 is a 3 week low but is just 3.3 pts from a 30 yr high. Since bulls got back to 60 on October 11th, the Value Line Equal Weighted Geometric index is up 2.2%. A lot of tax reform generated optimism, along with better global growth will meet faster monetary tightening next year. The former certainly won that battle in 2017 also helped by $2 Trillion of ECB and BoJ largesse. That largesse changes dramatically in 2018 but markets are clearly betting on the soft landing scenario, aka a free lunch.
This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/13/2017.
If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably heard the distinct sound of an AMBER alert and or perhaps weather notifications. These notifications are free and great, alerting us to potential danger, and what we need to do to prepare.
With the help of student programmers, Baltimore health officials have launched a similar notification service, but it’s to warnresidents in the city when a deadly batch of drugs enters their neighborhood. Mike LeGrand, co-founder of the nonprofit Code in the Schools, worked with a team of student programmers around Baltimore to develop ‘Bat Batch Alert’, an anonymous free text messaging service aimed at helping those struggling with heroin addiction to stay alive.
LeGrand got the idea of ‘Bad Batch Alert’, after he lost a close friend in Florida to an opioid overdose. With a grant from Baltimore City’s health department and data feeds from Emergency medical services (EMS), LeGrand was able to track the ‘hot spots of fentanyl overdoses’ across the city.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 8, 2017.
In the most specific finding to date about physical damage, AP reports that doctors treating the U. S. Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain the hearing, vision, balance and memory damage.
Medical testing has revealed the embassy workers developed changes to the white matter tracts that let different parts of the brain communicate, several U. S. officials said, describing a growing consensus held by university and government physicians researching the attacks. White matter acts like information highways between brain cells.
As AP details, loud, mysterious sounds followed by hearing loss and ear-ringing had led investigators to suspect ‘sonic attacks.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.
What will it take to radically reduce the cost basis of our economy?
Clearly, both rising costs and stagnating income cause households to lose ground, i.e. their income buys fewer goods and services every year. If we had to choose one “big picture” reason why the vast majority of households are losing ground, it would either be the stagnation of income or the spiraling out of control cost basis of our economy, that is, the essential foundational expenses of households, government and enterprise. I’ve often covered the dynamics of stagnating income for the bottom 95%, and real-world inflation, i.e. a decline in purchasing power. But neither of these dynamics fully describes the relentless upward spiral of the cost basis of our economy, that is, the cost of essentials and the foundations of the economy: education, healthcare, energy and labor.
This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on MONDAY, DECEMBER 04, 2017.