Medicare

Guest Post: The Ethics Of Repudiation

Do you ever get the feeling that no one in the Washington power elite is willing to seriously deal with the major economic threat to future prosperity facing the United States today: mounting government debt and the associated deficits? As a taxpayer, you did not borrow the funds, you did not spend the funds, and you have no moral obligation to repay the funds. Rothbard’s recommendation: “I propose, then, a seemingly drastic but actually far less destructive way of paying off the public debt at a single blow: outright debt repudiation.” Repudiation is not only a sound economic solution to our fiscal crisis, but it is also the morally correct solution.

Guest Post: Programs That Should Be Cut - But Won’t Be Cut - From The Federal Budget

Washington is laying on the malaise pretty thick lately over automatic budget cuts set to take effect in March, with admonitions and partisan attacks galore.  Of course, those of us who are educated in the finer points of our corrupt puppet government are well aware that the public debate between Democrats and Republicans amounts to nothing more than a farcical battle of Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots with only one set of hands behind the controls.  The reality is, their decisions are scripted, their votes are purchased, and they knew months ago exactly how America’s fiscal cliff situation would progress.  The drama that now ensues on the hill is meant for OUR benefit and distraction, and no one else. There are plenty of irrelevant federal appendages out there that could be amputated, but probably won’t be, while other more useful programs will come under fire.  In the end, the budget cuts are not about saving money; they are about social maneuvering and political gain.  They will be used as an excuse for everything, and will produce nothing favorable, not because cuts are not needed, but because the people in charge of them are not trustworthy.

Druckenmiller: "I See A Storm Coming"

Hedge fund icon Stanley Druckenmiller sat down with Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle, saying that he’s decided to speak out now because he sees "a storm coming, maybe bigger than the storm we had in 2008, 2010." His fear is that the ballooning costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (which with unfunded liabilities are as high as $211 trillion) will bankrupt the nation's youth an pose a much greater danger than the debt currently being debated in Congress.  He said, "While everybody is focusing on the here and now, there's a much, much bigger storm that's about to hit... I am not against seniors. What I am against is current seniors stealing from future seniors." While not exactly Maxine Waters' sequestration-based 170 million job loss, this concerning interview is must-see for his clarity and forthrightness from who is to blame, to the consequences of gridlock, our society's short-term thinking, and the concerning demographics the US faces.

Guest Post: 50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is About To Collapse

The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.  In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster.  Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash.  Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.

Bitter Pill: The Exorbitant Prices Of Health Care

Instead of asking the endless question of "who should pay for healthcare?" Time magazine's cover story this week by Steve Brill asks a much more sensible - and disturbing question - "why does healthcare cost so much?" While it will not come as a surprise to any ZeroHedge reader - as we most recently noted here - this brief clip on the outrageous pricing and egregious profits that are destroying our health care quickly summarizes just how disastrous the situation really is.  A simplified perspective here is simple, as with higher education costs and student loans: since all the expenses incurred are covered by debt/entitlements, there is no price discrimination which allows vendors to hike prices to whatever levels they want. From the $21,000 heartburn to "giving our CT scans like candy," Brill concludes "put simply, with Obamacare we’ve changed the rules related to who pays for what, but we haven’t done much to change the prices we pay."

Stanley Druckenmiller: "We Have An Entitlement Problem" And One Day The Fed's Hamster Wheel Will Stop

Two and a half years ago, George Soros' former partner Stanley Druckenmiller closed shop when he shut down his iconic Duquesne Management, after generating 30% average annual returns since 1986. Some time later he raised many red flags by being one of the first "establishment" types to expose the Fed's take over of the market when he said in a rare May 2011 interview that "It's not a free market. It's not a clean market.... The market isn't saying anything about the future. It's saying there's a phony buyer of $19 billion of Treasurys a week." This was in the context of the constantly declining interest rates on an ever exploding US debt load. And while back then total debt was a "manageable" $14.3 trillion, as of today it is some $2.3 trillion higher moments ago printing at a fresh record high of $16.6 trillion, not surprisingly the phony buyer is still here only now he is buying not $19 billion by over $20 billion in total debt each week. But just like it was the relentless rise in the US debt that forced him out of his privacy in the public scene back then, so it was also the US debt that was also the topic of his rare CNBC appearance today (where he fiercely poked at all those other TV chatterbox pundits when he said "money managers should manage money and not go on shows like this") in the aftermath of his recent WSJ Op-Ed. There, he once again said what everyone knows but is scared to admit: "we have an entitlement problem."

Guest Post: Who's Living Large in Retirement?

Who fares better in retirement, pensioners or folks who saved up their own respective nest eggs? If you look at the numbers, you might be surprised to learn who's really "living large" after retirement.

Frontrunning: February 20

  • Office Depot Agrees to Buy Officemax for $13.50/Shr in Stock
  • Bulgarian Government Resigns Amid Protests (WSJ)
  • Rome will burn, regardless of Italian election result (Reuters)
  • Abe Says No Need for Foreign Bond Buys Under New BOJ Chief (BBG)
  • Rhetoric Turns Harsh as Budget Cuts Loom (WSJ)
  • Muddy Waters Secret China Weapon Is on SEC Website (BBG)
  • Business Loans Flood the Market (WSJ)
  • Staples May Be Winner in Office Depot-OfficeMax Merger (BBG)
  • Fortescue Won't Pay Dividend, Profit Falls (WSJ)
  • Key Euribor rate on hold after rate cut talk tempered (Reuters)
  • FBI Probes Trading in Heinz Options  (WSJ)
  • Spain Said to Impose Yield Ceiling on Bond Sales by Regions (BBG)
  • BOK’s Kim Signals No Rate Cut Needed Now as Outlook Improves (BBG)

Rajoy Summarizes Overnight (And Recurring) Sentiment: "There Are No Green Shoots, There Is No Spring"

In the aftermath of yesterday's surge in German hopium measured by the ZEW Economic Survey which took out all expectations to the upside, it was inevitable that the other double-dipping country, France, telegraphed some optimism despite a contracting economy and would follow suit with a big  confidence beat, and sure enough the French INSEE reported that February business sentiment rose from 87 to 90, on expectations of an unchanged number. And the subsequent prompt smash of investor expectations in Switzerland, where the ZEW soared from -6.9 to +10.0 tells us that something is very wrong in the Alpine country if it too is trying so hard to distract from the here and now. And while one can manipulate future optimism metrics to infinity, it is reality that is proving far more troublesome for Europe, as could be seen by the Italian Industrial Orders print which crashed -15.3% Y/Y on expectations of a smooth -9.5% drop, down from -6.7% previously. Since industrial orders are a proxy for future demand, a critical issue as Italy enters 2013 after six consecutive quarters of economic contraction and with no relief on the horizon, it is only fitting that Italy should shock the world with an off the chart confidence beat next.

Guest Post: Adrift At Sea

The big story this past week, besides the annual State of the Delusion speech by Barack “It won’t add a cent to the deficit” Obama, was the fate of the passengers on the Carnival Triumph as their skyscraper sized ship was left adrift at sea for days without power. The ordeal at sea of the Carnival Triumph and the leadership displayed by the Carnival management and executive officers is a microcosm of our declining empire. Rather than deal with our reality, Obama chose the Carnival Cruise Line method of public relations - misinformation, denial and delusion. He has embraced the Big Lie concept as if he had created it. Our cruise of illusions and delusions is headed for troubled water. The math challenged citizens on this ship have been enjoying the 24 hour pizza buffet without the labor required to pay for the bounty. This voyage is reaching an end and the bill is coming due. The engine is on fire but the captain is telling us all is well. Eventually, everyone will know the captain lied.