Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Weekly Indicators for January 20 – 24 at Seeking Alpha

by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for January 20 – 24 at Seeking Alpha

I neglected to post this yesterday….

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.  The forecasts remain as they have been recently, but there are several developments in the long leading range.

As usual, clicking over and reading brings you fully up to date, and rewards me a little bit for my efforts.

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The producer vs. consumer sectors of the economy: a comparison

by New Deal democrat

The producer vs. consumer sectors of the economy: a comparison

I have a post up at Seeking Alpha, comparing current conditions on the producer side of the economy vs. the consumer side.

As usual, clicking over and reading should bring you up to date on the “nowcast,” and helps put a $ or two in my pocket.

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Thoughts and Feelings on cancer

I have begun to keep a daily journal on my thoughts and feelings in the lead-up to my diagnosis and treatment of cancer, a dedifferentiated lymphosarcoma in the groin area.  Sharing these thoughts was not my first or second impulse until Bill encouraged me to keep notes of my progress and publish  them (from the  point of view on our medical system and the more personal journey in considering my own mortality and experience).

I have a second surgery scheduled for Jan. 27; and then about 4-6 weeks later, I start a course of radiation 5 days a week for 33 treatments.  I am greatful to have adequate insurance through medicare and medex blue cross/blue shield of MA. Dana Farber hospital has a bone cancer and sarcoma treatment center that has experience in my rather uncommon cancer and body location.  My surgery will be at the Brigham and Womans Hospital, which is the big building next to Dana Farber, since DF does not provide those services. There is a close coordination between staff.

My Dec. 2 surgery by a urologist at another excellent regional hospital (Newton-Wellesley) was part of an exploratory and diagnostic survey and included the removal of a ‘growth’ that also needed a biopsy, a needle biopsy being inadequate due to the nature of lipomas.  The first surgery turned into a more extensive 4 hour attempt at ‘clean margins’ which failed.  The Mass General Hospital was consulted on the biopsied samples. Newton Wellesly has close ties to MGH as the cancer was not easily recognized and the consult was needed.

My attention to detail is on purpose as it is a demonstration of the benefit of  living near world class hospitals, privelege of choice and access to them, and not worrying so far about the crushing cost if I had to pay out of pocket. This stands in contrast to what many Americans face in rural parts of the country.

I have notified most of the Bears; but, I want readers to know that Bill and Eric will be on top of things.

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A Stock Market Boom is Not the Basis of Shared Prosperity

(Dan here,,,at lunch the other day a friend asked about the great prices for stocks.  This post by Thomas Palley caught my attention as a well written post on the nuances between stocks and finance and the 80% who do not own many stocks and the economy of losers and winners. )

 

by Thomas Palley  (re-posted)

A Stock Market Boom is Not the Basis of Shared Prosperity

The US is currently enjoying another stock market boom which, if history is any guide, also stands to end in a bust. In the meantime, the boom is having a politically toxic effect by lending support to Donald Trump and obscuring the case for reversing the neoliberal economic paradigm.

For four decades the US economy has been trapped in a “Groundhog Day” cycle in which policy engineered new stock market booms cover the tracks of previous busts. But though each new boom ameliorates, it does not recuperate the prior damage done to income distribution and shared prosperity. Now, that cycle is in full swing again, clouding understanding of the economic problem and giving voters reason not to rock the boat for fear of losing what little they have.

The Groundhog Day boom-bust cycle links with John Kenneth Galbraith’s observations on the phenomenon of financial fraud via embezzlement, which he termed “the bezzle”:

“To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months, or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.) At any given time there is an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country’s businesses and banks. This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle (Galbraith, J.K., The Great Crash 1929, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1954, p.152-53).”

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Weekly Indicators for January 13 – 17 at Seeking Alpha

by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for January 13 – 17 at Seeking Alpha

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

The short term forecast has been volatile recently – and was again this week.

As usual, clicking over and reading rewards me a little bit for the effort I put in

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CRS: Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

(Dan here…reposted due to discussion in a previous thread)

CRS: Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Very interesting paper that I missed in real time.

Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Almost everyone who addresses this question assumes that the answer is pretty simple: if either of the Social Security Trust Funds goes to zero than benefits will automatically drop from ‘Scheduled’ to ‘Payable’ which translates to a 22-25% overnight cut depending on which Trust Fund we are talking about. But I had an interesting conversation with Andrew Biggs some years back. Andrew is a very prominent advocate of Social Security ‘reform’ which he sells on the basis that the system is ‘unsustainable’. As such he and I and Coberly and he have had some vigorous debates over the years, and mostly he is firmly in the ‘bad guy’ category on policy. For all that he is a nice guy and really, really knows the numbers and laws in play. Not least because he spent some time as the Principal Deputy Commissioner of Social Security (the no. 2) during the Bush Administration.

With that as background Biggs told me that the situation at Trust Fund Depletion was not as clear-cut as almost everyone assumed and had been the topic of some high end discussion at SSA. And their conclusion as related by Biggs to me mirrored that of the Congressional Research Service in this Report from last year.

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