Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Great Depression Ahead

Harry Dent- the longtime investor and author predicted a severe downturn in Japan and a great boom in the United States in the 1990s and has made quite a name for himself. He was right on those two counts and since then he has been churning out an endless stream of books filled with predictions.

His current bestseller "The Great Depression Ahead," predicts a new Great Depression right around the corner.

According to the description on Simon and Schuster:

"The first and last economic depression that you will experience in your lifetime is just ahead. The year 2009 will be the beginning of the next long-term winter season and the initial end of prosperity in almost every market, ushering in a downturn like most of us have not experienced before. Are you aware that we have seen long-term peaks in our stock market and economy very close to every 40 years due to generational spending trends: as in 1929, 1968, and next around 2009? Are you aware that oil and commodity prices have peaked nearly every 30 years, as in 1920, 1951, 1980 -- and next likely around late 2009 to mid-2010? The three massive bubbles that have been booming for the last few decades -- stocks, real estate, and commodities --have all reached their peak and are deflating simultaneously."

Among Dent's predictions are the following:

• The economy appears to recover from the subprime crisis and minor recession by mid-2009 -- "the calm before the real storm."

• Stock prices start to crash again between mid- and late 2009 into late 2010, and likely finally bottom around mid-2012 -- between Dow 3,800 and 7,200.

Although it may be possible to identify demographic and economic trends through long term cycle analysis, to forecast the stock market is too far fetched. Nevertheless, the book makes for an iteresting read at a time when the world is teetering on economic meltdown.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Freedom vs. Greater Good of Society

In the United States, everyone is debating on how to reform the healthcare and it seems there are as many ways of reforming the broken healthcare system (that everyone agrees) as there are special interests and lobby groups such as the insurance companies and drug companies who are spending millions of dollars to win their side of the argument with the lawmakers.

Joining the debate bandwagon, an alliance made up of major health agencies, including the American Diabetes Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and two former surgeon generals, wants to reverse the obesity epidemic by investing more in health promotion and disease prevention, especially to kids. The alliance has urged the lawmakers to pass legislation and deal with this alarming health problem which is not only dangerous by enormously expensive.

The group says the American children are getting addicted to poor diets--loaded with salt, sugar and fat--and sedentary lifestyles, which leads to cancer, heart disease and diabetes later on, costing billions of dollars to the taxpayer. Obesity-related spending contributes $150 billion to healthcare spending each year. (Link. HealthDay)

Amid the media coverage of the often rowdy and sometimes abusive language against any form of national healthcare heard in the townhall meetings, it is stunning to read that America- the world's only superpower and the world's largest economy, is expanding a free health service meant to take modern medicine to the third world as reported on CBS.

"People from all around Los Angeles have been lining up around the clock since Monday - waiting, hoping to get free medical care.

Some 1,500 people a day - many working poor, almost all with little or no health insurance - file into L.A.'s cavernous Forum to see hundreds of doctors, dentists, and optometrists. All of these medical professionals are volunteers. All of these people are in need.

Larry Durst's disability check won't cover the glasses he needs. He says without this clinic he would suffer and go without.

Kenya Smith needs a checkup for two-week-old Zoe. Her insurance doesn't cover it.

"They wanted $1,500 for just to be seen by the doctor plus co-payments. That was a lot of money I thought," she said.

Anna Garcia got in line Tuesday for dental work. She works for Orange County, has five children, and her husband is out of work. The co-pay for three year old Aizza's root canal: $1,000.

"I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t want her to lose her teeth. So I once read about this program, and I had to take advantage of it, even if it meant missing a couple of days of work," she said.

The program is run by Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group established 24 years ago to take modern medicine to the third world. Today they do some 40 multi-day free clinics a year - 65 percent of them now in the U.S.

"There are about 49 million people who don’t have access to the care they need. They simply can’t afford it," says Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical."

The debate over healthcare reform in the United States centers around questions of a person's right to health care, access, fairness, sustainability, and quality purchased by the high sums spent by the taxpayers. The mixed public-private health care system in the United States is the most expensive in the world, with health care costing more per person than in any other industrialised nation. The U.S. is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system.

Just like the American tobacco industry and their lobbysts who spend vast sums of money to influence lawmakers and persuade people, particularly younger people, that smoking is an assertion of freedom and liberty- so too does the drug and insurance companies and the lobbysts of the private healthcare industry spend vast sums of money to kill off any legislation that will bring in a public option which can compete with the private healthcare.

The present healthcare debate has pitted two opposing ideologies against each other, and a proper balance between them needs to be found to satisfy the majority of the people.

President Obama, the democratic president considers health care a freedom issue: everyone should walk as equals under the same insurance umbrella. That people are left out in the rain is contrary to the American ethos.

Conversely, Republicans see it as a liberty issue. Obama's reform plan leads to some with the individual's power of choice. In large part, this choice is the choice of how to spend one's money, but there is no small amount of philosophical objection to government telling you what to do -- that's also contrary to the American ethos.

Read about the five freedoms Americans will likely loose if the public option of the healthcare reform bill intended to provide affordable healthcare to the poor and compete against the private insurance is enacted into law.

United States of America- the world's great bastion of freedom- is deeply skepical of any program such as the universal healthcare that gives power to their government to control any aspect of their lives.

China rises to a Global Power with Market Socialism

China Thursday celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party's rise to power with a spectacular military parade that is billed as the largest ever in Chinese history. It also underlines China's new status as a global power, and throughout the gala celebration "Socialism with Chinese characteristics," a concept developed by the late Deng Xiaoping in 1984, was the phrase heard most often in the official commentary.

“The 60 years of new China have proved that only socialism can save China,” Hu Jintao, the president of China said in his key note address.

“We will unswervingly follow socialism with Chinese characteristics and comprehensively implement the ruling party’s basic theory, basic line and basic programme.”

Economic reforms under a market socialist model began in China in 1979, which has allowed for astonishing economic growth of more than 8 per cent for over two decades. This has induced profound social migration from rural to urban cities and caused major environmental challenges.

Despite the global economic downturn that started in early 2008, the Chinese economy has come out earlier than most of the western economies.