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Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Media on Healthcare… Corporate Media that is…

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2009 at 4:31 am

Here’s EOTM’s Take – What’s yours? Sound off Tuesday @ 7pm est –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz6Mbnob7wA

I’ve always had trouble picturing the decline of Rome. Why would the Roman people get distracted by a mean-spirited and meaningless circus? At what stage of a civilization do cheap thrills become the best option? Unfortunately, nowadays, I don’t have to crack a history book to get that lesson.

If media outlets, pundits, and commentators were seriously concerned about the health of Americans, why after the President’s speech, would media coverage land upon a single word shouted by an idiot–rather than the substantive realities of American health care reform?

Of course, I know. The circus is far more entertaining than what you, I, and our loved ones will suffer due to the health care situarion. It’s easier to fixate on a tiny sound byte than to address a complex reality.Too darn bad for us and our health!

Recently, Andrew Weil offered a voice of “sanity” on the Larry King show. King joked about the title of Weil’s just published book, Why Our Health Matters asking: Isn’t it obvious why our health matters? (Great read, by the way…) Is it? Do we act as if health is primary? Given all the ways Weil revealed in which American health care is off the rails, as a Mother, I really have to wonder: Can we take it for granted that health really matters to Americans–when we:

• Allow a thousands year old healing art to be co-opted and turned into an industry accountable for bottom line profits, not health?

• Permit that industry to make profits higher than any other commodity in our society, while people go bankrupt and their health suffers–even after we watched other unregulated industries topple our economy?

• Stand by as that industry donates millions of dollars to legislators to buy legislation that governs health care–and then fear executive branch leadership that tries to restore programs for the public good?

• Okay direct to consumer drug advertising so that most TV shows push drugs? • Hope that media reporting is honest when it’s paid for by drug advertising?

• Believe that scientific studies published in medical journals are scientific even when those journals are paid for by industry advertising–as is much of the research itself?

• Look on in confusion as health care politics degenerates into a talking point mud wrestle?

• Irrationally believe that doctors like Weil who recommend prevention and health promotion stand opposed to insurance coverage–even though he and other integrative doctors have repeatedly supported universal coverage?

• Are so health disempowered that any suggestion to take better care of our health in the basic ways available to us– evokes a terrible two’s response in so many?

Americas pay lip service to health. But we all too easily get diverted by a media circus–and any old fear-mongering PR campaign can throw us off course. We’ll vote against our own self-interest based on a meaningless slogan or the color of someone’s tie. We’ll jump on board to comment on the latest media frisson, but ignore the fundamental realities of health care and health economics. We believe in a myth (American health care is number one) and ignore the reality–we rank with the Serbians. We overlook basic ways to preserve health and then scream for drugs. We trust high tech services and distrust healthy foods and the gifts of nature. Are we getting the health care we deserve?

We need a more responsible voice in this debate and it needs to be ours, “Every last one of us”. EOTM is asking that the people be responsible, that legislators be responsible, and that health industries be responsible to the people they serve– not to executive profit. It’s that simple.

A true solution won’t give you an adrenaline rush like the latest media circus, we need to make sure certain things are done to assure better health care at lower cost:

1. Build some form of government sponsored plan to create leverage to lower insurance rates and negotiate favorable pricing on standard medical care

2. Lower health costs through the lifestyle/preventive measures

3. Assure that both government and private programs enact health promoting policies across the board.

If your health care matters to you, I highly recommend that you listen to EOTM Radio on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 @ 7pm est and make sure you call in to voice your thoughts live @ 718-664-6543.

Click here to stream live. We’ll continue to get the health care that has been imposed upon us, until we rise up, take responsibility and demand the health care we deserve! Hear you Tuesday!

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The U.S. Housing Market’s False Dawn

In Uncategorized on September 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Housing-Decline

Is the U.S. housing market truly at a turning point, as real estate investors seem to increasingly believe? Or is this actually a false dawn, meaning that there are problems ahead for those who turned bullish too soon?

New home sales jumped almost 10% in July, while the Case-Shiller home price index rose for the second successive month. Yet luxury home builder Toll Brothers lost $493 million in the quarter ending July 31, considerably worse than analysts had expected.

Housing stocks are certainly acting as if a recovery must be on the way. Pulte Homes Inc. has more than doubled from its low. Toll Brothers Inc. is up around 70% from its bottom. D.R. Horton Enterprises is up almost four times from its bottom. Lennar Corp. is up about 4.5 times from its low. Finally, Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. is up almost tenfold from its low after a flirtation with bankruptcy. Yet all of these companies are still racking up quarterly losses, according to their most recent earnings reports.

In terms of house prices, it would seem unlikely that a bear market bottom has been reached. Yes, the average house price is now back down around its long-term average of about 3.2 times average earnings, or only a little above it. But history suggests that markets don’t bottom at their average valuation: In fact, after such a huge excess to the upside, they overshoot on the downside.

The Case-Shiller 20-cities index is still 42% above its January 2000 level, having outpaced inflation during the last 9.5 years. Yet January 2000 was not the bottom of a housing depression — far from it, in fact. That was actually close to the top of the dot-com bubble, when valuations of all assets were at all-time highs. So an average price over the whole country that — even now — remains 42% above the average price recorded at the very top of a huge economic boom does not seem like a market bottom to me.

You also have to remember that the U.S. federal government is hugely subsidizing the market. Interest rates are artificially low, and the U.S. Federal Reserve has bought more than $1 trillion worth of housing debt. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been rescued by the government, and provided with more than $100 billion of taxpayer capital. And Ginnie Mae (the Government National Mortgage Association), directly a government agency, has provided almost $1 trillion of mortgages that require a 3% down payment.

And that’s not all…

The government is spending additional billions helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. First-time buyers are given a tax credit of $8,000 towards the down payment on their house — this credit currently runs out on December 1. So the current overall market bottom is propped up artificially. Even if the proposed tax-credit extension is approved, at some point, those props will be removed.

In individual cities, the picture is somewhat brighter. Phoenix and Las Vegas prices are less than 10% above their 2000 levels, having been halved from their respective peaks. In those markets, house prices may truly be reaching a bottom, although the overhang of foreclosures after such a huge drop may make recovery slow. At the other extreme, Detroit housing is 30% cheaper than in 2000, a testimony to the awful economic environment there, with the bankruptcies of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group LLC.

Again, with the government bailouts of both companies, there may be something of a recovery in those local housing markets.

Probably the best prospects, however, are in Denver and Dallas, where prices are about 20% above their 2000 level, roughly in line with the increase in consumer prices during that same period. However, the local economies are strongly based on natural resources, particularly oil, whose price is triple its 2000 level. With prices in Dallas and Denver down only about 10% from their 2000 peaks, a true recovery in those cities may be near.

At the opposite extreme are the metropolitan “Big Three” of Los Angeles, New York and Washington, where prices are 61%, 71% and 74% above their 2000 levels, respectively.

Washington will be fine, of course: The Obama administration’s spending-and-legislation plans have attracted yet another huge influx of bureaucrats, lobbyists and lawyers, all of which will boost the housing market to new highs. With New York you have to worry about all the financial-services jobs being lost as a result of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

From a nationwide standpoint, the most likely path for the housing market is for a modest recovery, with some later slippage as subsidies are removed. Housing is likely destined to once again become a highly regional market, as it always was prior to the 2001-2006 market boom, with the cycles in each market being very different.

What do you think local housing markets will do over the next 12 months?

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In Uncategorized on September 11, 2009 at 1:51 am

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