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Daily Digest 3/22 - IL Unpaid Bills Hit Milestone, Pension Woes Continue

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 9:17 AM

Economy

Illinois teachers' pension spiking continues despite $130 billion deficit

A 10-year teacher contract recently approved in Palatine School District 15 provides back-to-back 6 percent salary increases for the four years leading to retirement for eligible teachers. A teacher entering the retirement track with an annual salary of $80,000 would be making $100,998 per year four years later.

Rising Pension Debts Checking Muni Supply, Morgan Stanley Says

Analysts at Morgan Stanley, led by Michael Zezas, said the rising retirement-system costs has made government more leery of running up new debts. State and local revenues have not kept pace with growth in total liabilities that now amount to $4.97 trillion, the analysts say.

Is the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Crisis the Canary in a National Coal Mine?

Across the United States, municipalities and states are struggling with similar unfunded liability crises regarding pensions and civil service retirement packages. For example, Los Angeles is facing $15 billion in debt for its public safety, water, power workers, and general employees pension. In South Carolina, a state plan that serves one in nine South Carolina residents is looking at a $24.1 billion shortfall.

Illinois' Unpaid Bills Hit Milestone

Illinois' total of unpaid bill is enough to saddle every man, woman, and child in the state with a thousand dollars of debt.
The state's comptroller on Friday said Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills hit 12-point-eight billion dollars.

Is Le Pen miles ahead in French polls? 'Secret polls' claim National Front candidate is actually far more popular with voters than official surveys forecast

Secret polls reveal Marine Le Pen to be more popular among voters than official surveys have forecast, according to a French media columnist. The far-right candidate may even have the backing of more than 30 per cent of voters ahead of the presidential elections in late April and May, it has been claimed.

The Balance Sheet Worry for Global Central Banks

In today's "Single Best Chart," Bloomberg's Tom Keene and Francine Lacqua display the balance sheet to GDP of the Bank of Japan, Federal Reserve, and European Central Bank.

BOJ’s mission to reflate economy incomplete

With the annual pace of JGB purchases of around ¥80 trillion ($700 billion), the BOJ’s total assets swelled to about 90 percent of gross domestic product. The BOJ added a negative interest rate in January 2016 and yield curve control last September.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 3/21/17

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

14 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Millennials are skipping doctor visits to avoid high healthcare

Millennials are skipping doctor visits to avoid high healthcare costs, study finds

Yahoo Finance - ‎20 hours ago‎
In particular, high-deductible health plans are on the rise. According to a September survey, the percentage of workers with an insurance plan that requires them to pay up to $1,000 out of pocket passed the 50% mark for the first time. That means ...

Italy to test EU rules again with Veneto banks bailout

Reuters-7 hours ago
The European Central Bank decided not to disclose the outcome of stress tests on smaller banks - so there is a question mark over the Veneto banks' exact state ...

 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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It could soon be legal for Americans to buy meds from Canada

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/It-soon-could-be-legal-to-buy-your-prescription-meds-in-Canada.html

With prescription drug prices soaring and President Donald Trump vowing to take action, an old idea is gaining fresh traction: allowing Americans to buy medicines from foreign pharmacies at far lower prices. A new bill in Congress to allow the practice would modify previous safety standards and remove a barrier that proved insurmountable in the past.

Congress came close to allowing importation through the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003, but insisted that the secretary of Health and Human Services had to guarantee that imported medications posed no additional risk to public safety and would save money.

“That is a fairly absolute standard and a high bar to cross,” said Elizabeth Jungman, director of public health at the Pew Charitable Trusts...

Trump has promised that “pricing for the American people will come way down.” Last week, he had a high-profile meeting at the White House with Elijah Cummings, Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and the head of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Redonda Miller, to discuss allowing Medicare to negotiate prices on outpatient medicines. Cummings told reporters later that Trump said he supports Medicare price negotiation as well as the Sanders bill.

In an open letter to Congress, four former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration argue consumer drug importation remains too risky to permit. “It could lead to a host of unintended consequences and undesirable effects, including serious harm stemming from the use of adulterated, substandard, or counterfeit drugs,” they said in the letter distributed to media organizations. It was signed by Robert Califf, Margaret Hamburg, Mark McClellan and Andrew von Eschenbach, who headed the FDA at various times between 2002 through 2016.

PhRMA, the drug industry’s trade group, has denounced Sanders’ proposal as it has others that enabled imports in the past.

“The bill lacks sufficient safety controls [and] would exacerbate threats to public health from counterfeit, adulterated or diverted medicines, and increase the burden on law enforcement to prevent unregulated medicines and other dangerous products from harming consumers,” said PhRMA spokeswoman Nicole Longo...

Surveys indicate that up to 8 percent of Americans have bought medicines outside the U.S. even though the practice is technically illegal and imported pills are subject to confiscation.

Around 45 million Americans — 18 percent of the adult population — said last year they did not fill a prescription due to cost, according to an analysis of data from the Commonwealth Fund by Gabriel Levitt, president of PharmacyChecker.com, whose company helps Americans buy medications online by vetting overseas pharmacies and comparing prices for different drugs. Data compiled by the company comparing prices offered in Canada to those in New York, shows drugs are frequently three times or more as costly in the U.S. as over the border.

For example, a simple Proventil asthma inhaler costs $73.19 in the U.S. vs. $21.66 in Canada. Crestor, the cholesterol-lowering drug, is $6.82 per pill in the U.S. but $2.58 in Canada. Abilify, a psychiatric medicine, is $29.88 vs. $7.58, according to pharmacychecker.com.

Many previous bills to allow importation or to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for its beneficiaries have failed in the face of $1.9 billion in congressional lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry since 2003, according to Open Secrets. But Americans may be reaching a tipping point of intolerance. In polling just before the election by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 77 percent of Americans called drug prices “unreasonable” and well over half favored a variety of proposals to address them.

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MJB
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Wow, Illinois is in bad shape

Going to be interesting how the small and getting smaller pie is divided when that time comes. Have noticed road construction/repair in the southern part of the state is taking an abnormally long time.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Anyone want to bet?

Anyone want to bet the British police officer stabbed to death today was the typical UNARMED "Bobby" waiting for "armed police" to arrive?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-22/gunfire-reported-outside-uk-parliament-two-people-have-been-shot-building-lockdown

Here's the propaganda: "Police can handle knife-wielding attackers with edged weapons without having to resort to deadly force (firearms)."

Here's the truth: an edged weapon is a serious deadly weapon. Training endorsed by the Taser company and used by US police departments states this, and states that a Taser is the wrong weapon for an officer to deploy when confronted with an assailant armed with an edged weapon. It is a reckless and unwise risk to confront a knife-wielding attacker with OC spray, batons and Tasers, no matter how many times British police get away with it.  The day I'm told not to use a firearm against a knife-wielding assailant is the day I resign. 

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blackeagle
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For a smile

In this world dominated by bad news, here is something to smile.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/16/russian-zoo-sues-advertising-...

 

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
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Re: Un armed Police in the UK

Last I recall, Britain banned swords, cricket bats, and selected kitchen knives (ie meat Clever) (You need a special license to buy and keep them) . I am sure all knives, forks and any object that can be used to inflict injury will be banned. It would surprise me that large personal vehiicles (SUVs) will be banned from London too.,

Of course the issue is that any one can make a stabbing weapon, bat of knife at home. Prisoners in US max. security prisons always find ways to make deadly weapons. 

Banning firearms and other weapons does not prevent violence, but has the opposite effect of encouraging it. The bad guys know that an unarmed public is an easy target.

 

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davefairtex
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absurd drug pricing

So it really gets me annoyed when the drug manufacturers talk about "safety concerns."

I have a safety concern.  How about all the people who can't afford anti-parasitic drugs in the United States because they now cost $100 per pill?  That doesn't seem very safe to me.

Emerging market nations charge less than a buck, each.  Albendazole, 400 mg.  If you need a six-month course of treatment, its cheaper to fly to Asia, buy your pills, live for six months in a hotel, and then fly back.  You can live quite well on $100/day.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1408376?viewType=Print&

Its just obscene.  Albendazole was made in 1975.  Its been generic for decades.  This is not about recouping development costs, nor is it about safety.  Its just about gouging people, a direct transfer of wealth from people to the executives and shareholders at these companies.

I think I'm more upset at these "drug kingpins" than I am at the bankers.

 

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Michael_Rudmin
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How about Mebendazole, Dave?

Mebendazole was twentyfive cents a dose here in the US. It was safe and effective and generic.

But because of the law barring imports, and the scandal involving fraud by one compounding company, it was easy to shut down the industry entirely.

Last I knew, you can't get it.

Only coincidentally perhaps, it was also showing up on the radar as having effectiveness against certain cancers (because of its necessity before major steroid use, which was necessary before certain operations such as for brain tumors).

Tell me, can you get Mebendazole where you are? At all?

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Yup: unarmed, clinging to an obsolete paradigm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/victims-london-terror-attack-murdered-police-officer-named-keith/

Four people were killed, including an unarmed police officer and a mother of two, and around 40 others were injured, after a knifeman brought terror to the heart of Westminster during a suspected terror attack.

Scotland Yard's most senior anti-terror officer Mark Rowley said one policeman, two civilians and the attacker died, including a woman hit by the attacker's car before he reached Parliament. She was confirmed dead by a doctor at St Thomas' Hospital.

The unarmed police officer who was killed inside the gates of Parliament was named as Pc Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old husband and father.

One of the two civilians was a 43-year-old British woman of Galician origin, Spanish media has reported, naming her as Aysha Frade.

The other civilian killed was a man in his 50s.

Pc Palmer had worked for the Metropolitan Police for 15 years, having previously served in the armed forces. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4340760/How-one-open-gate-let-knife-maniac-kill.html

Police were facing serious questions last night over how the knife-wielding terrorist was able to enter the Parliamentary estate.

There were unverified claims that no armed officers had been on duty at the main Carriage Gates, facing Parliament Square, which the Prime Minister uses to enter the House of Commons.  [Brilliant!]

They are also used by other MPs, staff and visitors. At least four staff are usually stationed at the gates, two outside and two inside.

The entrance is also blocked by metal barricades and barriers. Although armed guards routinely patrol the grounds, they are not stationed permanently at a fixed position at the main gate. It is understood the officers work a ‘fluid’ patrol pattern so potential terrorists do not know where they are located.

Labour MP Mary Creagh urged the authorities to step up security following the atrocity.

‘The one weak spot on our estate is those Carriage Gates,’ she said. ‘We have four police officers there. Two on the gate going in, two on the gate going out. We see them every day, we’re friends with lots of them.

‘I think we will need to look at security at the Palace in the wake of this incident but this is a plan for another day. It’s a terrible, terrible day for Parliament.’

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of UK forces and a security expert, said: ‘He shouldn’t have been able to get in and this shows there must have been a lapse in security with big consequences. People will have questions to answer.

‘It is such a high profile target and they should consider there is permanent coverage of armed police at the main gates.  [Ya think?]

We humans are prone to clinging to old ways of thinking and behaving even when our situations have changed dramatically and therefore require new ways of thinking and acting.  Unarmed police (or more accurately "lightly armed" or "inadequately armed") were appropriate in Britain in the past when attacking a police officer was a (nearly) universally held taboo among the population.  Times have changed, and a significant part of the population no longer respect the police and have little to no inhibitions about disobeying and even killing police officers.  Politicians, police and the British public are clinging to the symbol of unarmed police because they are clinging to the image of a different society from their past which was more peaceful and orderly than today's British society.  I expect they will continue to resist accepting current realities and adjusting police policies to them.  I also expect the changed realities to continue to pound them with very unpleasant lessons like yesterday's event into changing their thinking and acting eventually.

Isn't that the dynamic we discuss often here as we look at the changing realities in our world related to The Three E's?  As a population, we refuse to face the new realities we are living in and cling to the old ways of thinking and acting.  Many Greek citizens continue to put their fiat paper money into Greek banks.  Nations continue to take on more debt that can only be paid back (or even simply rolled over) if the future turns out to be just like the past, only much bigger.

Despite widespread denial in Sweden, maybe some people there are starting to adjust to their new paradigm:

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/03/23/swedes-building-police-fortress-in-migrant-hellhole/#more-146081

nickbert's picture
nickbert
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Posts: 1208
Risque Russian Raccoon Row
blackeagle wrote:

In this world dominated by bad news, here is something to smile.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/16/russian-zoo-sues-advertising-...

We get some Russian TV in Mongolia, and partial (topless) nudity is... well maybe not exactly COMMON, but not unusual either.  They even have (or at least had) a practical joke show with female toplessness as one of the commonly used situations, therefore I'm not the least bit surprised Russian advertising does this.  So given some of the Russian TV programming, I suspect many of the Russians that disapprove only do so because the raccoon is getting in the way.  cheeky

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Drug pricing rant, continued

THC quoted above:

... For example, a simple Proventil asthma inhaler costs $73.19 in the U.S. vs. $21.66 in Canada. ...

Ten years ago, albuterol inhalers (such as brand name Proventil) were generic and cost $4 at Walmart.   Environmental protection legislation was passed banning the CFC propellant used in the inhalers requiring the manufacturers to reformulate it with a different propellant.  This brought the "new product" under patent protection again and the price was boosted to $70 - $80.  So, the $21 Canadian price quoted above is completely outrageous too.

Steroid inhalers (QVAR, Flovent, and combinations like Advair, Symbicort) are used to prevent asthma flares, but cost $150 /- $300 month. 

School children with allergies and asthma need several hundred dollars of medicines / month during the hay fever season.  This is absolutely impossible for many families.  Some kids must drop out of sports due to persistent uncontrolled shortness of breath and periodically call the paramedics when wheezing flares.  They cannot sleep well.   These are cheap medications to manufacture and shouldn't be over $10.  The human and societal cost of this scam is outrageous.

Something similar with Lantus insulin,  a long-acting dosing form of insulin that can be given once a daily.  But its cost is high, averaging about $300 - $500 / month.  This is a crushing burden and patients just stop buying the Lantus. 

More horror stories:  Many years ago a patient with tonsillitis was given an Augmentin prescription at a time when Augmentin cost $180.  The less expensive plain amoxicillin was judged not potent enough so the new, much better, brand name Augmentin was prescribed.  The young man could not afford the $180 cost and left the pharmacy with nothing and went home to just lie in bed.  48 hours later he was brought back by ambulance in coma.  He developed a deep space infection dissecting thought the neck soft tissues requiring surgical drainage and a week in the ICU for sepsis.

The key thing to know here is that the marginal cost of manufacturing these medications is a penny, or possibly two pennies, per pill.

Ken Wilbur points out that if a person dies of a disease for which there is effective treatment that cannot be accessed due to cost, he has actually died of POVERTY.

 

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Fixed, All Better

Scotland Yard to rush through £11m spend on guns to protect London from terror attacks (Evening Standard)

Quote:

In documents seen by the Standard, Scotland Yard seeks authorisation to spend the money “as soon as possible” to “increase current capability” in order to deal with threats “effectively”.

The force will use a Single Tender Action process, used to speed up purchases, “in the face of heightened threat levels”.

The investment will “increase the capability” of current armed response teams as well as the 600 extra firearms officers announced by Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in January.

London's deputy mayor for policing Stephen Greenhalgh said: “I’ve watched the police train and these days officers have to actually move forward towards the gunfire, because you’re talking about people who are willing to die for what they believe, so they need to have the right equipment.

"Budgets shouldn’t be a barrier to ensuring we keep our capital safe.

“We know that incidents these days don’t just happen in ones and twos, they happen five, six, seven and eights, and having enough armed response vehicles is critical for dealing with the kind of marauding attacks we’re talking about.”

London MP for Enfield Southgate, David Burrowes, who also sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the new equipment is vital due to a “clear and present” threat to launch attacks on the streets of London.

He said: “The attacks in Paris and Brussels could happen on the streets of London and we need to make sure that our police officers on the frontline have all the necessary support and equipment they need to tackle this threat.

“The threat is clear and present and the fundamental duty of Government is to protect its citizens.”

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
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Posts: 1447
Re: Absurd Drug Pricing

My insurance used have flat $10 for generics regardless of deductible but not any more.  60 tablets of generic Ceftin was $157!  Each pill's mfgr cost is probably $0.005.

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Posts: 319
Cheaper Drug Source:

For anyone hoping to save on prescriptions should check out www.blinkhealth.com.For example,I just checked the price on Albuterol,(Lung Function?) 23 dollars.Ceftin, 56 dollars.57,000 pharmacies participate in this country.Except Walgreens.I imagine it would be a lifesaver for the elders especially.

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