Friday, August 26, 2011

Cost Effects of Spinal Cord Injury

Based on my own research on the central nervous system/spinal cord from numerous books and documentaries I see a need for a major breakthrough. There has been little progress in the field. Before World War II patients didn't survive for long they would typically die from pneumonia. Years later we still haven't been able to give people the ability to walk again all that medicine can offer is rehabilitation and an average life span.

Based on February 2011 figures more than 12,000 people are disabled by traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) in the U.S each year. The financial cost of such injuries can be devastating and unbearable not only for the patient but for the family as well. Injury to the cervical vertebrae C1-C3 will cause paralysis to the arms,trunk, hands and legs. This type of injury will surely require 24-hour-a-day care.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center
Injuries to the cervical vertebrae (C1 - C4) will cost $985,774 the first year and $171,183 each subsequent year till death.  Injuries to (C5 - C8) average at $712,308 the first year and $105,013 each following year. That includes yearly healthcare and living expenses but does not include losses in wages,benefits and productivity which were estimated to be about $66,600 per year in December 2010.
About 80% of spinal cord injuries reported are male patient cases.  Motor vehicle accidents, falls and gun shot wounds are the national leading causes of spinal cord injury.  This is true for both male and female.  Although men outweigh women in the number of spinal cord injury cases, there are percentage differences between the sexes. Women have a higher rate 4.8% of SCI due to medical/surgical complications than men 2.0%.  Percentage wise women are also more likely to develop SCI from a vehicular accident compared to men. 

Here is a link of research being done in the field the title of the documentary is "Mapping Stem Cell Research Terra Incognita"

Below you will find a clip from The Institute of Spinal Cord Injury

Saturday, August 20, 2011


As a business school graduate and a healthcare employee I will write blogs to share my experiences and hopefully help out others.  I have acquired my skills while working in peri operative services, grants, finance, school of medicine, research, business competitions, stock trading, currency trading, options/derivative trading, physical fitness and Wall Street.

Here are the topics for next up and coming blogs in no particular order:

Changes in Medicine
Trading Stocks
Trading Currencies
Investing for the Future
Real Estate
Contemporary Art Economics
Spinal Cord Injury and its Financial Impact
The Correlation between Good Looks and Salary

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Landing a Job

Although the recession may be technically over it seems jobs are still hard to get.  With our unemployment rate at 9.1% it is a competitive world out there.  It is good to keep a positive and hopeful mentality.  Whether you have just graduated from college, been layed off or part of the hard core unemployed, I believe that jobs are still available to those who are persistent and well prepared.  I would recommend to seek your dream job even if we are in a tough economic situation.

Start interviewing right away.  As is true of all things practice makes perfect.  If you have your eye on a certain job at a particular company then do interviews with your 2nd and 3rd choice first.  The reason is that most likely your first interviews may not go as smooth as you would like.  After going up to bat a few times you will feel a bit more comfortable and confident.  This will help your chances of making a stronger impression with the company on the top of your list.

If you are looking to change industries then you may want to volunteer.  This will give you the opportunity to test the waters and see if this is something you will want to do full time.
I once volunteered at a library and it opened up my desire to read heavily.  Helping out is always a win win situation even if it doesnt lead to a job.  Connecting with people is probably the best way to get a job.  Employers like to take in people who are recommended by friends or employees.  It offers some type of insurance to them.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

Do research on the company

Reach out to people/get a mentor

Prepare answers to common questions for the interview

Prepare questions for the interview that show you did your research

Make good eye contact with interviewers

Give a firm handshake

If interviewer is female don't shake her hand any stronger than she does

Bring a few copies of your resume

Send thank you notes after the interview

Get to the interview 15 minutes ahead of time no more no less

Don't hold back sell yourself !!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Interest Rates

On Tuesday August 9th the Fed took an unprecedented step and announced a definitive time frame for low interest rates (0.25%) they stated they would stay at the low rate at least through mid-2013.  With the guarantee that rates will be low for two years, the 2 year treasury yield reached 0.17% which is a record low.  That is the equivalent of leaving your money under a mattress.

But what do low interest rates really mean?

This means that people have limited choices as to where to put their money to protect themselves from inflation which has been at about 3.6% over the past 12 months.  Clearly fixed income tools such as bonds and CD's will pay very little interest and will provide no protection against inflation.  Checking and savings accounts offer low rates that will not protect against inflation either. Sure these options seem safe since the money won't be lost but low yields are not beneficial.

That is why low interest rates are good for stocks, investors who wish to fight inflation will have to go to the market because every other financial instrument will bear low yields for the next 2 years. 

With the market as volatile as it has been investors may delay their entry but when they do come back they will want higher returns.  High yield dividend paying stocks will most likely be their choice.  With some stocks paying 4.00% in dividends this will not only be a strategic move to fight inflation it will be a capital gain opportunity. Stocks are fairly cheap from where they where a few weeks ago. 

I like to follow baby boomers and their trends they are a large market and typically move in a similar pattern.  Dividend investing is hot among retirees and others who wish to live off their savings.  It is obvious that fund managers/certified planners will see dividend stocks as the investment choice to fund the retirement of baby boomers.  In our present economic state this has to create a huge demand for these stocks. Where else will they find attractive yields?  Boomers will be looking for solid companies that will increase yields, companies that are sitting on a lot of cash.  They will need this extra hedge to fund their lengthy retirement due to their longer life expectancy as a result of modern medicine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dow Falls Dow Soars Dow Falls Again

On Monday August 8th the market got its first shot at reacting to the S&P's downgrade on U.S. debt. The 635 point drop was the markets 6th worst point loss ever. Europe's financial situation also contributed to the day's losses.

The blood bath spared no one.  Even stocks like Proctor and Gamble were down, P&G sells goods that people buy whether the economy is doing well or not. Although Gold was up to about $1,710 gold stocks were down. 

"Not only is the economy not growing as most would like, but there is a concern that fiscal and monetary authorities are powerless to do more for the economy," said Michael Pond, co-head of interest-rate strategy for British bank Barclays

On Tuesday August 9th the Dow Jones shot up 430 points, due to the Fed's announcement that it will keep interest rates at its record low level of 0.25% for at least 2 more years.  According to the FOMC economic growth has been slower and household spending has flattened. The only strength has been seen in business investment. The Dow's 430 point ascent was its 11th-largest point gain ever.

On Wednesday August 10th the Dow Jones erased the gains from Tuesday closing down on 519 points.  The Dow has now lost more than 2000 points in less than 3 weeks. These black swans are occurring too often. This type of activity may be here to stay at least for the coming weeks.

European debt problems caused the severe drops in the market.  Although low interest rates are great for stocks, traders focused on the Feds view that the economy won't improve substantially by 2013. 

Financial stocks were the big losers for the day. Investors are uncertain how much European debt problems may hurt American banks.

Investors are afraid; if European governments default on their bonds, this will take its toll on the European banks that own bonds.  As a result that could start a domino effect that would hurt large U.S. banks.

What will the U.S government do now?

The U.S. may start another stimulus package and start buying treasuries this would add a little goose to the market. On Tuesday the Federal Open Market Committee did not mention it would start buying more treasuries. It may wait till the wild movement in stocks dies out.  As of now the Dow futures are up in Asian markets at 10,800.00

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dow Jones Falls 513 points

On Thursday August 4th, the Dow Jones had its worst one-day loss since December 2008. The usually high traffic streets of Wall Street looked like a ghost town.  You could sense the pain and fear through the silence.

Recent worries about a credit downgrade, double dip recession, high unemployment, slow economic growth, European debt, and a deteriorating housing market has taken a toll on the stock market.

The drop in stocks "will have repercussions back on the economy," stated Barry Bosworth, who is an economist at the Brookings Institution.  Bosworth has studied the link between consumer spending and stock market performance .

Michael Niemira who is a chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers states that 40% of consumer spending comes from the richest 20% of Americans. This is important information because the decrease in stock prices could slow spending by upper-income Americans.

The wealthy have gotten used to the violent swings the market has had.  But when will they start to question the economy and start cutting down on their spending ?

The future doesn't look too bright as of now, most average consumers have been spending less.  Companies are holding on to their cash and are not hiring.  Only 19% of small business owners plan to add employees during the next year.  Is this hinting to a double dip, a lost Japanese decade or slow growth?

Who can say if the 10% free fall the Dow Jones had since July is a short term trend or a sign of what's to come ? Will investors who didn't get phased by this week's one day 513 point drop be rewarded or punished for not exiting before the market drops harder? What should they do now ?

There seems to be many issues that can hurt our economy in the next few months. But a savvy investor knows what to do in a time of uncertainty and keeps his calm.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How to Budget Yourself

It is important to be active and in control of your finances.  With our economy in a state of panic and the job market scarce now is the worst time to be idle about money matters.  The first thing on the list is to create a budget and stick to it.  Start with your total after tax income and subtract your living expenses.  These are necessary expenses such as food and shelter.  How much money do you really have to work with? While doing the math ask yourself whether changes should be made.  If you are barely making it with your present salary then this is a sign that you should be cutting costs.

Our situations and creeds vary therefore there is no universal formula only suggestions on how to save and spend.  If your goal is to take a vacation then save and spend responsibly.  Dont take the vacation until you can actually afford it.  Never sacrifice health and happiness in order to live a certain lifestyle.  If you have enough money to invest then consider what you are comfortable investing in.  When the recession hit many baby boomers put their money into CD's to hedge for their retirement and to protect themselves from the violent market swings.  But if you are young then stocks is something you may want to try. 

When it comes to credit cards I suggest being a bit extreme don't buy anything that you cant afford to pay at once.  Only use it for things you must buy like groceries and to pay bills.  Most people will spend more than usual if they pay with a credit card instead of cash.