Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Observations and Sample of Recent Trades (AGNC, CYSPRB, GMRE, NLYPRD, RNRPRC)

More Improper and Potentially Criminal Conduct

Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence
Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence - The Washington Post

One of those officials that Trump tried to influence directly, the former Indiana republican senator Dan Coats, would not answer a question today whether Trump asked him to deny the existence of any collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians. Coats not commenting on Trump report- CNN He then said that the disclosure of that kind of information could put lives at risk. How would answering a question about a call from Donald on that issue impact anyone's life? It could impact Donald's presidential term and that is all.  

The WP report also contained this very serious statement about other White House officials: 

"In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials said the White House appeared uncertain about its power to influence the FBI."

If true, that would be evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

Nixon was impeached in part for trying to use the CIA to squash the FBI's investigation of Watergate. He would have been convicted of that crime if his successor, Gerald Ford, had not given him a pardon. Gerald R. Ford: Proclamation 4311—Granting Pardon to Richard Nixon That obstruction of justice effort was on tape. The Smoking Gun That Took Down Nixon: One From the History Books - Bloomberg The press reports of Trump's obstruction efforts are far wider in scope.  

The former CIA Director, John Brennan, testified today that he was concerned about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The Russians were trying to influence persons involved in the Trump campaign, and Brennan called his counterpart in Russia prior to the election to tell the Russians to quit interfering in the U.S. election. He had questions about whether collusion existed between the Trump campaign and Russia, but does not know whether the known Russian efforts to subvert and suborn those individuals were successful. Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Russia -- live updates - CBS News

The market does not care. Trump will be shielded from any justified consequences that would otherwise naturally flow from his conduct. 


Trump the Mass Generator of Straw Man Replies

A reporter shouted a question at Netanyahu asking whether he had concerns about intelligence sharing with the U.S. 

Trump wanted to answer that question as well and made the following statement: 

“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel. Never mentioned it during that conversation. They're all saying I did, so you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

Trump says "I never mentioned the word or name Israel" to Russians - CBS News

No one said that Trump used the name Israel when he disclosed classified information to the Russians without any vetting by the intelligence agencies. Instead, the WP and other news organizations stated that Trump disclosed highly classified information and identified where the information originated in Syria.  

I seriously doubt that anyone in the Trump Administration ever tells Donald that he is wrong about anything.  


Trump The Hypocrite

Michelle Obama did not wear the traditional Saudi headscarf when visiting that country in January 2015. 

Trump was aghast: 

"Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted.We have enuf enemies"  10:40 A.M. 1/29/15

Neither his wife nor daughter wore those scarfs on their recent visit. I have not yet seen a tweet from Donald criticizing them. 

Melania, Ivanka Trump Forgo Headscarves in Saudi Arabia — Despite Past Trump Criticism - NBC News

Last year, when a Clinton aide invoked the Fifth Amendment in the email investigation, Trump made the following statements during the campaign last year:

"If you are not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for."  And, "The mob takes the Fifth Amendment. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment".  

Spicer stated in a tweet "why do u take the 5th if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide?  

Trump's former National Security Advisor Flynn invoked the Fifth Amendment and has refused to testify and to produce documents. Does anyone expect Trump and Spicer to make similar statements about Flynn"

Obama reportedly told friends that Trump was nothing but a bullshitter .Report: Obama told friends Trump is a ‘bulls----er’ | TheHill Well, of course, he is.  Isn't it obvious?  


National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster:

This guy sounds like a political shill.

In the Sunday talk shows, he was asked whether Trump called Comey a "nut job" during the meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister and its U.S. Ambassador a few days ago.

McMaster was at the meeting.

Is that something that anyone would forget?

No honest person would forget.

An honest person would respond Yes or No.

A dishonest one would say I don't remember.

Well, I don’t remember exactly what the president said,” McMaster  statement 

McMaster won't say if President Trump confronted Russian officials about election interference - ABC News

And whatever Trump said, he was merely reassuring the Russians that he wanted better relations or some piece of crap that the Spin Doctors cooked up since the White House memo describing something much different was summarized in the press. 

White House Prepared Document of Meeting: 

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia.  That’s taken off.”

Trump has frequently referred to other people as nut jobs so that is normal for him. Here's who Donald Trump has called a 'nut job' - CNN


Trump Draining the Swamp?

White House Moves to Block Ethics Inquiry Into Ex-Lobbyists on Payroll - The New York Times (so much for draining the swamp); The 'Swamp' Donald Trump Promised to 'Drain' Is Growing Again: NewsweekTrump’s nominations for U.S. ambassador are hardly draining the swamp - The Washington Post


Trump and the Free Press:

Trump Suggested Imprisoning Journalists Over Leaks, Comey Memo Alleges

The greatest danger to our Democracy comes from within and that threat is growing exponentially.


Trump's Budget Attack on Trump Voters

Trump's $3.6 Trillion Budget Cuts Hit His Own Supporters Hard - Bloomberg

The rural areas that voted overwhelmingly for Trump will be the most adversely impacted areas by Trump's policies and proposed budget cuts. 

Older Americans might be on their own if Trump’s budget proposal goes through - MarketWatch

The GOP depends on the white, high school educated voters in those areas remaining uninformed about issues that have a direct impact on them. 

The conservative columnist Ross Douthart, who would be viewed as an extreme liberal by many Trump voters,  noted correctly the wide divergence between Trump's populist rhetoric and his policies: Donald Trump, Establishment Sellout - The New York Times

Can anyone identify an example where a GOP politician admitted that a policy would harm a substantial number of constituents? I can not recall an example. The opposite occurs with some frequency.  

A case in point is the reply given by Representative James Comer (R-KY) who was asked a recent town meeting whether health insurance premiums for seniors would rise under Trumpcare. A GOP congressman from Kentucky wonders: Is ‘this Trump thing’ sustainable? - The Washington Post 

The answer is, without question, yes. Obamacare prohibited insurance companies from charging seniors more than 3 times what they charge healthy young adults. Trumpcare would raise that cap to five times which would of course significantly increase the premium costs for seniors.  

Trumpcare could send seniors' insurance rates skyrocketing: USA Today ("AARP's Public Policy Institute commissioned a study to assess the impact of changing the 3:1 limit to the 5:1 limit that the AHCA mandates. . . The average premium increase would be $3,200. This would bring average annual premiums up to $17,900 for someone aged 60 or older who purchases health insurance on the individual market.") 

Many Trump voters to pay a lot more for health insurance under Trumpcare: CNBC;  If you're older and lower income prepare to pay more under GOP health bill - Mar. 13, 2017Republican plans could raise insurance premiums by 750 percent for some.

Mr. Comer started to answer the question, according to the WP reporter, by saying that was not the case. He stopped and then bailed by saying he did not know. Of course he knows but prefers not to be candid. 

The I have not clue answer allowed him to avoid answering the main question, which was why did he vote to drastically increase the premiums for older Americans who were not yet eligible for Medicare. 

He could have truthfully replied by saying that premiums would skyrocket for seniors and then try to explain his justification for supporting that result. That would have been the honest response. The justification offered by republicans is that this cap in effect results in younger people subsidizing the premiums of older folks which is in fact the case.   

So when confronted by a somewhat knowledgeable constituent, Comer in effect misled this rare person by not answering in the affirmative, nor providing any details as to why the questioner was right about premiums skyrocketing,  and then explaining why he supported that part of TrumpCare. All of the this is related to keeping people as ignorant as possible about the issues that directly impact them.  

A large number of Mr. Comer's constituents are on Medicaid. I seriously doubt that he will ever admit to them the consequences of voting for the Trump budget plan. The result, if passed, will be most unfortunate for a substantial number of Trump voters in Comer's 1st congressional district in Kentucky. In a cosmic sense, voters who make decisions without becoming informed deserve what happens to them. 

The CBO score of the last TrumpCare bill, which narrowly passed the House in early May, is scheduled for release tomorrow. 

Since the first vote occurred before a CBO score, the House may have to vote again after receiving that score. House May Need to Vote Again on GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill - Bloomberg

The drastic budget cuts in social programs contemplated by Trump will have significant adverse economic consequences since those cuts are primarily aimed at the poor and the middle class who are already operating on a shoe string at best. 

Government benefits that flow to them are either spent right away or allow them to spend more money on consumer purchases, whereas benefits that benefit primarily the wealthy, such as tax cuts, are mostly saved or invested in financial assets that do not directly benefit the real economy. Consumer spending is critical to the U.S. economy. Chart: Shares of gross domestic product: Personal consumption expenditures-St. Louis Fed

How Trump’s budget helps the rich at the expense of the poor - The Washington Post

Trump Budget Would Cut Safety Net Programs, Boost Defense Spending - NBC News

Trump to Pitch Deep Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs, Medicaid - Bloomberg

Huge cuts to food stamps part of Trump’s budget proposal - The Washington Post

Trump budget seeks huge cuts to disease prevention and medical research departments - The Washington Post

Trump budget will slash Medicaid, food stamps programs: reports | TheHill

Trump's budget plan continues his deceitful attack on the disabled — and violates a campaign pledge - LA Times

Trump’s new budget proposal slashes safety-net programs

Having said all of this, I do support some surgical changes in social programs, such as social security disability benefits, that would weed out more fraudulent claims. 

There is a factory system in the real world, consisting of lawyers and other professionals, that specialize in securing benefits for those making claims about disabilities that do not really exist and where there is no physical evidence of a disability. 

Where there is no physical evidence of a disability, a disability award is based ultimately on what a claimant tells a doctor or chiropractor after being coached by an attorney how to answer questions. This kind of activity is also prevalent from my work experience in the workman's compensation claim area. The Democrats need to recognize that people are gaming the system in order to be paid not to work. The republicans will slash far more broadly than necessary to prevent fraud while cutting taxes for their wealthy donors who in my opinion still control the GOP's agenda in spite of Trump's populist rhetoric. .   

 +++ ++++++++

1. Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Intermediate Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Strategy

A. Bought 2 SVB Financial 3.5% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 1/29/2025

Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus not linked)
SIVB SVB Financial Group Page at Morningstar
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at A3
S & P at BBB

YTM at Total Cost (99.941) = 3.553%
SVB 2016 Annual Report (bond listed at page 142)

B. Added 1 Entergy Louisiana 2.4%  First Mortgage Bond Maturing on 10/1/26

I now own three of these bonds.
Finra Page: Bond Detail
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at A2
S & P at A

YTM at Total Cost (94.05) = 3.133% 

C. Bought 1 HCP 3.4% Senior Unsecured Bond Maturing on 2/1/25

Issuer: HCP Stock Price - HCP Inc.-A REIT 

Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
HCP Page at Morningstar
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa2
Moody's downgrades HCP's ratings to Baa2; outlook stable
S & P at BBB

YTM at Total Cost (98.453) = 3.63%%

HCP Analyst Estimates

HCP SEC Filings
HCP 2016 Annual Report

D. Bought 2 Northeast Utilities 2.8% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 5/1/23-A Roth IRA Account:

Issuer: Northeast Utilities is now known as Eversource Energy (ES)

FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
ES Eversource Energy Page at Morningstar
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Baa1
Moody's upgrades NU and five subsidiaries, outlooks stable
S & P at A-
Fitch at BBB+
Fitch Rates Eversource's Senior Unsecured Notes 'BBB+'
Fitch Upgrades CL&P, PSNH, and WMECO; Eversource Outlook to Positive
ES Credit Ratings.pdf

YTM at Total Cost (99.852) = 2.808%

Eversource 2017 1st Quarter Report

10-Q for the Q/E 3/31/17
2016 Eversource Annual Report (long term debt discussed starting at page 114)
ES Analyst Estimates

E. Bought 2 Intel 2.6% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 5/19/2026:

Issuer:  Intel Corp. (INTC)

Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
INTC Intel Corp Page at Morningstar
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at A1
Moody's assigns an A1 rating to Intel's proposed senior unsecured debt; outlook stable
S & P at A+
Intel: Fitch Gives Lackluster Thumbs Up to Mobileye Deal - Tech Trader Daily - Barrons.com

YTM at Total Cost (97.396) = 2.929%

Intel's 2017 First Quarter Report

2016 Annual Report (long term debt discussed starting at page 85)
INTC Analyst Estimates

I have bought and sold the common over the years. I made a series of purchases with cash flow starting in October 2008 and have sold most of those shares: Item # 5 Snapshot of  Intel Purchases with Cash Flow (4/25/11 Post) I currently own 110+ shares at an average cost per share of $15.2. I am not reinvesting the dividend.  

2. Continued to Pare Canadian Reset Equity Preferred Allocation

A. Sold 100 TRPPRE at C$22.26

TRP.PR.E Stock Price - TransCanada Corp. Cumulative Preferred Series 9 (Canada: Toronto) 

Profit Snapshot: +C$476.5

Item # 4 . Bought 50 TRPPRE at C$17.68 and 50 at C$17.25Update For Exchange Traded Bond And Preferred Stock Basket As Of 7/7/17 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

The TransCanada Corp. Cumulative Preferred Series 9 Stock (TRP.PR.E:TOR) is an equity preferred stock issued by TransCanada Corp. Stock Price Today (TRP:TOR). The annual dividend, paid in quarterly installments, will be C$1.0625 per share to but excluding 10/30/19. That equates to a 4.25% coupon on a C$25 par value. 

Starting on 10/30/19, this cumulative preferred stock will reset at a 2.35% spread to the five year Canadian treasury bond. TRP has the option to redeem on that reset data and on every fifth year thereafter. There is an option to convert to the Series 10 preferred shares that reset quarterly at a 2.35% spread to the three month Canadian treasury bill.

I include the Canadian reset equity preferred stocks in my floating rate equity preferred stock category which is a niche category within my bond and bond like allocation. 

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Advantages and Disadvantages of Equity Preferred Floating Rate Securities (Total Realized Gain 2009 to Date= $20,799.29)

3. Continued to Pare Stock Allocations

A. Sold 54+ AGNC at $20.71-A Roth IRA Account:

AGNC Stock Price - AGNC Investment Corp. Stock Quote

Profit Snapshot:   +$102.54  (from 4/24/17)

On March 28, 2017, I sold 50 AGNC at $19.94 and another 50 at $20.01: 

Items 5.B. and 5C.: Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Observations and Sample of Recent Trades- 4/14/17 (SGYP, TANNZ, TANNL, AGNC, VEA): Tax Cuts and Trumpcare

B. Sold 53+ AGNC at $20.71-Used Commission Free Trade Taxable Account

Profit Snapshot: +$107.07 (from  4/24/17)

I will look for an opportunity to buy AGNC back at significantly lower price. 

A one year interactive stock shows a recent spike up, topping out near $21.35, and a spike down last December bottoming near $17.5. AGNC Interactive Stock Chart A price below $19 would cause me to consider buying back some shares.  

Mortgage REITs are viewed as a disfavored asset class. Before buying the first share, I would recommend that an investor take the following actions: 

(1) read the risk summary found in the last annual report. The last AGNC risk summary can be found starting at page 8 of its 2016 Annual Report;

(2) take a look at the Mortgage REIT's dividend history (AGNC Investment was paying a $1.4 per share quarterly dividend and is currently paying a monthly dividend of $.18 per share or $.54 quarterly);

(3) take a look at a five year chart and check out the total return history which can be found at several websites including Morningstar and at DRIP Returns Calculator (AGNC has a five year total annualized average return of slightly less than 3%: AGNC Total and Trailing Returns)

C. SOLD 50 GMRE AT $10.01-Used Commission Free Trade

GMRE Stock Price - Global Medical REIT Inc.

Website: Global Medical REIT

Profit Snapshot:  +$82.54

I discussed that purchase in Item # 3.A.: Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Observations and Sample of Recent Trades (VGSTX, GMRE, AMU, EBAY, MS): 2/15//2017

I am not able predict when this new REIT will cover its dividend with funds from operation. I could only say that is unlikely to happen soon.

2017 First Quarter Report

The quarterly dividend is currently $.2 per share but that is all ROC.

Trading Profits to Date: $204.29

Snapshots at Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Gateway Post: Equity REIT Common and Preferred Stock Basket Strategy

4. Short Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Strategy:

A. Added 2 USTs .75% Maturing on 10/31/17:

 This is what a Schwab confirmation for a UST purchase looks like: 

Note that Schwab sold these bonds to me. No commission is charged but arguably a commission of some sort is built into the price.  

YTM at Total Cost = .954%

I now own 4. 

B. Added 1 UST .5% Maturing on 7/31/17 (Fidelity Taxable Account)

YTM at Total Cost (99.922) = .79%

I now own 4. 

Both of these securities are simply alternatives to cash sitting in a Fidelity Government MM fund that has a lower yield. 

I do not pay commissions on my UST purchases. 

5. Continued to Pare U.S. Equity Preferred Stock Allocation

A. Sold 50 NLYPRD at $25.63: A Roth IRA Account:

This sell eliminated my position-again. 

Profit Snapshot: $47.48 

Quote: NLY.PD Stock Price - Annaly Capital Management Inc. Cumulative Preferred Series D Stock 

NLYPRD is an equity preferred stock issued by the Mortgage REIT Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY) that pays cumulative and non-qualified dividends at the fixed coupon rate of 7.5% on a $25 par value. NLY has the option to redeem this security on or after 9/13/17. Prospectus There is a possibility that Annaly will be able to redeem and refinance cost effectively at a lower coupon. 

My last transaction was to sell 50 shares at $24.81 (3/24/17): Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Observations and Sample of Recent Trades: 4/11/17 (CYSPRA, NKTR, NLYPRD )

A five year chart reflects reasons for a trading strategy: Annaly Capital Management, Inc.: NYSE:NLY-D

B. Sold 50 RNRPRC at $25.75:

Profit Snapshot: $20.47

I still own 50 shares in that account bought at $24.72, and that purchase was  discussed here. I discuss in that comment my prior history with RNR securities.  

This security was partially redeemed by the issuer in 2013 and may be redeemed at anytime at the $25 par value plus accrued dividends.


RNR equity preferred stocks are rated Baa2 by Moody's and BBB+ by S & P.

Moody's affirms RenaissanceRe and changes outlook to stable from negative

C. Sold 50 CYSPRB at 23.81-Used Commission Free Trade

Quote:  CYS Investments Inc. 7.5% Cumulative Preferred Series B (CYSPRB)

CYSPRB pays cumulative and non-qualified dividends at a fixed coupon rate of 7.5%. Par value is $25. The issuer has the option to redeem on or after 8/3/17. Prospectus Supplement

Position Before Pare: Average Cost Per Share= $23.33 

Position After Pare: Average Cost Per Share =$22.99

Profit Snapshot: 

I discussed buying this lot here: Item # 4. Added 50 CYSPRB at $23.7-Update For Exchange Traded Bond And Preferred Stock Basket Strategy As Of 8/25/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

My last sell was to sell 50 CYSPRB at $24.6 and to buy 50 CYSPRA at $24.55 which has a higher coupon at 7.75% (discussed here) The securities are functionally equivalent except for their coupons and optional call dates.

CYSPRA Prospectus (7.75% coupon paid on a $25 par value, optional call date on or after 8/3/2017)

There is no material difference in the optional call dates. Both pay cumulative dividends and are in pari passu with one another. Yet, for a brief time, the higher yielding CYS preferred was priced below the lower yielding one.  

I will consider buying back the 50 CYSPRB shares at less than $22.5.   

Shortly after CYSPRB was sold to the public in 2013, intermediate term interest rates started to spike. CYSPRB plummeted in price, sinking as low as $19.5 by year end. The precipitating cause was a rise in the ten year treasury yield to 3.04% by 12/31/13 from 1.66% in early May 2013. The share price also sunk below $22 in late 2015 and early 2016. Within the past year, the price touched $22.5. CYS.PB Stock Chart 

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor but simply an individual investor who has been managing my own money since I was a teenager. In this post, I am acting solely as a financial journalist focusing on my own investments. The information contained in this post is not intended to be a complete description or summary of all available data relevant to making an investment decision. Instead, I am merely expressing some of the reasons underlying the purchase or sell of securities. Nothing in this post is intended to constitute investment or legal advice or a recommendation to buy or to sell. All investors need to perform their own due diligence before making any financial decision which requires at a minimum reading original source material available at the SEC and elsewhere. A failure to perform due diligence only increases what I call "error creep". Stocks, Bonds & Politics: ERROR CREEP and the INVESTING PROCESS Each investor needs to assess a potential investment taking into account their personal risk tolerances, goals and situational risks. I can only make that kind of assessment for myself and family members.


  1. "Nixon was impeached in part"

    Assigning words their normal meanings - and if my memory is holding up - I don't think that Nixon was impeached at all. He resigned after the Judiciary Committee (?) had voted several articles of impeachment, but before the full House had voted at all on any of them.

    I've always wondered about this: At what point does it become correct to say that a federal official has been "impeached"? Suppose that the House has voted in favor of impeachment, but proceedings have not yet started in the Senate: Is it reasonable to say that the official has been impeached? Or is he only impeached when the proceedings in the Senate begin?

    1. D.: Technically you are correct. The full House did not formally vote for impeachment.

      The House Judiciary Committee did vote out three articles of impeachment. Article one was obstruction of justice which received 27 Yes votes, including 6 GOP representatives, and 11 GOP No votes. The second article was abuse of power and it received 28 votes (all the Democrats and 7 republicans). The third article was contempt of congress which was voted out with 21 Yes votes to 17 no votes including 2 Democrats.

      After that vote, the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Nixon compelled the production of the tapes rather than the GOP's partial transcripts. That is when the smoking gun tape was released that clearly show Nixon orchestrating an effort to stop the FBI investigation. (the infamous 7/23/1972 tape) That caused several republicans to abandon Nixon. That tape undermined what Nixon had been saying for two years.

      GOP senators and congressman met with Nixon and told him that he would lose the full House vote and would be convicted by the Senate with no more than 15 senators voting for acquittal when he would need at least 34 votes. He then resigned rather than being impeached.

      If the reports to date about Trump's efforts are correct, then his efforts to obstruct justice were broader in scope with far more "overt" acts compared to Nixon.

  2. "Where there is no physical evidence of a disability, a disability award is based ultimately on what a claimant tells a doctor or chiropractor"

    After helping a family member and then later a friend, and interviewing attorneys and working through the literature and official laws in place...

    In order to get disability the first requirement is physical evidence through a test. It can be neuropsych testings, blood tests, other medical tests. It can not be the person saying ouch, I hurt.

    I don't know what % of SSA assessors adhere to this basic first step rule of their job. Looking at the approval casework afterward (a lay person can go into the office after and get a full copy of the assessment itself), that requirement was specifically noted by the assessors with what test met the requirement.

    Usually as well once you apply, SSA assessor sends you to their own list of doctors. So even if you say the right words, a good portion of those doctors will focus on concrete tests and not take your words into account when they send their report to the assessor.

    There may be much need to trim the process. It's been unclear to me why the numbers have gone up over the years. It may be that we as a society now recognize more illnesses, and have more testing for them. It maybe that for some, in the past they'd have kept pushing through or had family to help them. The system does a poor job of letting a person work parttime and to increase their ability to leap back into the workforce. There's been programs to address it, but they're bureaucratic and ineffective. If you have an illness that waxes and wanes, you can't take advantage of the waning and go off during that.

    Whatever it is, from my understanding of the system, it's not that individuals game the system by saying the right thing to their doctors. The system already has checks for that, and is hard to get approval on - with most cases taking average of 2 years and 2 appeals.

    The one area where it may be less clear is psychiatric conditions since most don't have objective testing.

    For the people I've met tangentially to my experiences who were on SSDI, they should have been.

    So that's what I've gathered from my lay person experiences.

    1. LMH: My experience is not the SS disability area but in worker's compensation and was limited to review of case files in order to write an appellate brief for the Tennessee Supreme Court.

      When reviewing those files, I do not recall a single instance where there was physical evidence supporting the compensation award. Yet, there was a very large award given to the claimant.

      Those are not cases where someone lost a hand, broke a bone, and had some injury observable on a MRI, XRay or CAT Scan.

      Instead, the aggrieved person would go for an examination and complain about back pain or pain somewhere that would also limit their movements, recreation activities, destroy their sex lives, etc. and so on. When undergoing a physical exam, an attempt to bend or lift something would result in a reaction consistent with some kind of problem.

      When you see the same lawyers and doctors over and over again in those kind of claims, then you are witnessing first hand the disability factory at work which exists everywhere in the country.

      I did write one Supreme Court brief in a workmen's compensation case involving a guy who died in an automobile accident after attending a weekend function somewhat related to his work as I recall. So he was without question injured, as in killed. He had become so drunk at the event that he passed out driving home and crashed his car. His widow was awarded substantial benefits at the Chancery Court level.

      As to SS disability, you might want to read this NYT article that exposes the same problem but in the SS disability area. Almost all retired persons from the Long Island RR retired with SS disability.


      There were several articles exposing that fraud which is commonplace.

      I believe the standard is stated more broadly than physical proof and encompasses "a severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last 12 months or result in death, based on clinical findings from acceptable medical sources." That is much broader than mere physical evidence.

      I would agree that the mental impairments are probably more subject to fraud and are easier to fake. A reasonably intelligent person could cook something up.

      There was a time recently when about 1 in 20 Americans (all ages) were receiving disability payments under one of the two federal programs. One program is funded by SS taxes and the other by general revenues.



    2. SG - Workers Comp works is entirely different than SSDI. I haven't had much direct experience with it.

      I can think of people I've known who got rewards and I'd question it, based on their later activities. Once you "prove" you are injuries in some way and receive an award, you no longer can be questioned nor have to prove anything ongoingly (if you pick the lump sum option.) That's very different from SSDI.

      What you describe are in my opinion, questionable (non-legit) cases. I don't know how common they are, but I've known people with back injuries who could do quite a bit afterward.

      For SSDI, I couldn't think of the word earlier when I wrote "physical evidence." Ah, the term is "objective" evidence. I knew an SSDI attorney who was working with congress on legislation for autoimmune conditions that often have a lack of medical tests available so the topic came up on what objective testing was available even if diagnosing a specific condition was medically hard.... and the requirement by SSA assessor to identify objective evidence even for a condition where it's hard to come by.

      You're referencing the general SSDI statement. Looking it up, on this SSDI page of rules:
      "In determining whether you are disabled, we consider all your symptoms, including pain, and the extent to which your symptoms can reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective medical evidence and other evidence."
      I haven't read through the whole thing, so I may be missing something.

      Here's another SSDI explanation:
      "The medical condition(s) must be shown to exist by means of medically acceptable clinical and laboratory findings. Under the law, symptoms alone cannot be the basis for a finding of disability, although the effects of symptoms may be an important factor in our decision whether a person is disabled."

      They consider all sorts of information including your doctor's office notes of what you've reported over the years. But they need something objective to base a diagnosis on, that will be consistent with subjective complaints, and can't just take in subjective complaints or some random tests.

      At least that's what they are supposed to do. Considering how hard it is to get approved, and the stories I've heard, I'd think it'd be mostly true.


    3. con't

      Your links -

      NYTimes on Railroad - I think railroad may be a different agency. It's a different line item on the 1040 than SS isn't it? The article is describing a program the sounds like workers comp not SSDI. They are injuried on the job. It never mentions SSDI.

      Politifact - I've heard there's an increasing number of people. The article rates that as true; I'm assuming it is. I gave some possible explanations beyond fraud above.

      hsgac's article - lists a particular fraud case. It involved an SSDI judge acting in concern with attorneys and doctors in ways that are way outside how the system works. A judge isn't supposed to be making deals with attorneys. So I'm not sure it's expandable to apply to the rest of SSDI. How many judges would be doing this illegal stuff? If it is happening, it needs to be stopped. It's not that patients get fed and are committing fraud with their doctor and skating into the program. This situation was at a different higher up level than that.

      So my original thesis was that it's not that there's tons of individual fraud swelling SSDI. I'll stand by that. I think there's a lot of misinformation that circulates around the program. Particularly since there are other programs like Workers Comp that are run very differently.

      I don't know anything about SSI, but I think it's the same assessors - but I wouldn't swear to that. (SSI is for if you didn't work long enough before getting ill, to pay into SSDI Insurance.)

      Well, I'm always asking you questions that must sound totally newbie simplistic to you. So this is a nice change of pace to actually know something to contribute to the discussion.

    4. LMH: The railroad disability and worker compensation rules are similar to SS disability rules.

      SS funds a significant part of the railroad disability benefits.

      Quote from article:

      "The board is funded through taxes on railroads and their workers, but Social Security had to contribute $3.6 billion last year to cover expenses." The year referenced was 2007.

      I would not use the phrase tons to describe the fraud, but I have seen up close how the system works when the "injury" is mood disorders or the category called "Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue" injuries which includes back pain. The problem in those later cases is that muscle and connective tissue injuries are frequently not capable of being proven or disproven with physical evidence.

      A detailed study published in 2013 by Mathematica Policy Research Institute found that
      18.8% of DI recipients had back pain as their disability. Combining DI and SSI beneficiaries, there were 1.205+M persons receiving disability payments due to back pain. Another 332+K had an "anxiety disorder"; 1.409+M had "affective disorders", and 571+K had other mental disorders.

      Table III

      I can not link that report but you can find it by googling "Mathematica Policy Research Primary Impairments" and it should be the first item.

      The other point is that it is very difficult for me to accept that 1 out of 20 Americans are really suffering from a disability that keeps them from working. And that is particularly difficult after seeing repeatedly the disability factory industry in operation.

    5. LMH: The similarities in worker's compensation and SS disability involve the scope of purported injuries that result in a disability which include categories like back pain and mood disorders and how those disabilities are proven.

      There are back pain cases that can be traced to a specific problem that appears on an image (x-ray, CT or MRI) A large number can not be proven or disproven by imaging.


  3. Workers comp may be similar but there are meaningful differences. What qualifies for payment is different and you can take a lump sum. My observations are that it then has very different results. The RR may get SS money, but may be run on it's own. It sounds like a workers comp program.

    I noted that I know Worker's comp recipients that had vague back issues. I haven't known or seen that with SSDI. It appears to be harder on SSDI to claim something vague.

    I added thoughts that the increase in disability may be due to our having better understanding of and testing for medical problems. (It may also be due to less extended family support being available.)

    Forty years ago even admitting you had psychiatric problems was shaming, and so how many people would have applied for that unless they were desperate? Now substance abuse and alcoholism qualify to put you on disability because they are stated as medical conditions.

    Forty years ago there were institutions and people with down syndrome and psychiatric illnesses were in institutions. Now such children grow up and are on SSDI, for those that aren't working.

    Autism is now 1 in 77 children and used to be fairly rare. These children have grown up and can't always work.

    I don't think fraud by individuals is the main place to look when looking for why there are so many people on disability.

    There are other places to look, in order to look to fix this.

  4. This article supports your argument, and comes from a solid source:

    It points out that 1/3 of claims are psychological. That's the area I commented is harder to be concrete.

    It looks like the problem isn't the regulations and requirement of objective evidence... but that claims aren't being assessed correctly to follow the rules.

    The flip side is I know a case that was was rejected through two levels - who was paralyzed down one side, and living in a major teaching hospital's bed for several months at the time. So consistent with the article, the process doesn't always work well.

    From the article:
    "Enormous inconsistencies emerged after looking at how judges reviewed evidence. Coburn said, “you could flip a coin for anybody that came before the Social Security commission for disability and get it right just as often as the judges."

    So it's a poorly run system that doesn't follow it's own standards.

    1. LMH: I also recalled viewing a 60 minutes program on this issue and found the transcript:


      That 60 minutes expose alludes to what I call the disability factory.

      Rather than just filling out the SS disability form and sending it to the government, which results in a huge denial rate, the claimants first hire a lawyer.

      Then that lawyer starts to structure their case by sending them to an "expert" depending on the symptoms.

      In Nashville, there was a clinical psychologist who was a favorite expert since she always found some kind of mental problem.

      An important source of earnings for the claimant's expert, which would includes physicians, is referrals from the attorney representing the claimant.

      When asked whether they have never substantiated the disability or injury for that attorney, and they would say no. Or maybe there was one or two at the outside.

      Then the expert would say something like that attorney only sends injured people to them.


  5. When I do a google search on workers comp and fraud, a lot of sites show up, including discussion of how to game the system. When I do a search of ssdi and fraud, the sites that come up are a combo of ssdi official statements on how to report fraud, and news media articles. That difference is interesting to see - to whatever extent it means or doesn't mean anything. That googling is how I came across the article I posted.

    Going to an attorney when you first apply for SSDI, is recommended so that you fill out your paperwork properly. That by itself isn't a problem. A good attorney will help a disabled person who can't really fill out the forms themselves due to -- disability. There are SSDI checks in place, that apparently weren't being used in that Nashville case. There isn't supposed to be any kickbacks and that, from what I understood, would get both of them ethics reviews in their fields and/or criminal charges. The attorney signs on the forms that they've taken your case, so if in a region, the same attorney doctor combo is showing up, that should be getting flagged. I remember from years ago, that SSDI was implementing something around that - so why isn't it in place?

    In the case of back injury, there is supposed to not be coverage according to rules, unless it is provable by something like an xray or mri or something more concrete than saying so.

    A doctor's report also is not valid by itself according to the rules. SSDI is supposed to avoid the situation with one doctor who always finds a problem, by sending applicants to doctors for 2ndary review. I've known people who get caught up into those safeguards by SSDI. They've had to go to doctors of SSDI's choosing (some were good doctors, some were unfamiliar with the condition or not in appropriate specialties to know it, and became an obstacle.)

    The article with the Senator, basically says the decision making is a coin toss - it's arbitrary. So that people who need it don't get approved, and people who aren't appropriate, do get approved. It's attention catching to focus on fraud, but the Senator's conclusion points to an arbitrariness and poor following of the rules in place. it sounds like implementation isn't done well enough.

    So what you call factories should be pretty straightforward to spot. That isn't the bulk of how the process works. It usually takes 2-4 years where you aren't working, and 3-4 levels of application to get an approval. And concrete medical evidence is required, and a review by someone besides your own doctors. So if the implementation needs clean up, then it needs clean up.


  6. con't

    Applying to permanent disability is humiliating and emotionally very difficult. Just a month ago, a friend/acquaintance (I know her well but we haven't stayed close) who's worked hard and been director of programs for years, went on short term disability when post-cancer, the treatment seems to have taken out her cognitive and physical abilities and doctors finally told her this was her only option, and she was pretty much in tears while we talked and trying to figure out how to cope with the idea of not working and not feeling like a responsible person. What it's usually like shouldn't get lost in the hoopla about what to do with finding and tracking down fraud rings to the extent they exist, or how to get the system to follow it's own rules.

    Fraud feels appealing to look at, but I haven't seen studies that look at the other factors that I mentioned or at the percent influences. I've seen the causes raised as potential, but not then studied. Mostly discussion centers on politicians making comments, and media finding specific situations that are outrageous.

    I mentioned earlier once on SSDI, the system doesn't provide a way to gradually improve and graduate off the system slowly - (which is how many injuries and illnesses improve, not with an on/off switch.) The efforts to address this are poor.

    Well I should focus on stock research. I bought AAP on the drop yesterday at $139.67. It did pop but I didn't sell. Now it's at 131, sigh. I've got a couple things I'm digging into. Well more than a couple - a lot to learn more about in case a good pullback happens.

    (con't because the comment was too long)

    1. Good discussion. You summed it up so well with:

      "What it's usually like shouldn't get lost in the hoopla about what to do with finding and tracking down fraud rings to the extent they exist, or how to get the system to follow it's own rules....Mostly discussion centers on politicians making comments, and media finding specific situations that are outrageous."

      True of so many things these days.

    2. LMH: I do not own AAP or AZO and would not buy now since AZO does not pay a dividend and AAP has something close to a .17% dividend yield. In that space, assuming a major pullback, I would look at GPC.

      I do own Autozone senior unsecured bonds.

      I did recently buy 50 shares of VOD in anticipation of selling a lower coupon VOD senior unsecured bond which I have not done yet.

      That is part of recent portfolio management trend where I am increasing my current income amount, mostly by selling some low coupon bonds maturing in 2019-2022 and assuming more interest rate risk by going out further in time.

      I would say that the media and most people will generalize from a specific example to make a broader point. Yes, the republicans will do that with disability benefits. The liberal media will do the same when someone is denied a benefit who otherwise deserves it. I have seen both the WP and NYT do that often. The truth is more difficult to ascertain which is the case IMO for disability awards.

      Senator Coburn (R) will take an example of fraud and then blow it up into a large scape systemic problem with the entire system. He was interviewed in that 60 minutes report.

      Then there is the following in that report also:


      "Marilyn Zahm: If the American public knew what was going on in our system, half would be outraged and the other half would apply for benefits.

      Marilyn Zahm and Randy Frye are two of the country's 1,500 disability judges. They are also the president and vice president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges. They are each expected to read, hear, and decide up to 700 appeals a year to clear a backlog of nearly a million cases. They say disability lawyers have flooded the system with cases that shouldn't be there.

      Steve Kroft: Why do you think there's so many more lawyers involved in this than there used to be?

      Marilyn Zahm: It's lucrative.

      Randy Frye: Follow the money.

      Last year the Social Security Administration paid a billion dollars to claimants' lawyers out of its cash-strapped disability trust fund. The biggest chunk -- $70 million - went to Binder & Binder, the largest disability firm in the country. Lawyer Jenna Fliszar and Jessica White worked for Binder & Binder representing clients in front of disability judges from New Hampshire to West Virginia.
      Many of the cases they handled involved ailments with subjective symptoms like backache, depression and fibromyalgia, which is joint and muscle pain along with chronic fatigue.

      Steve Kroft: Hard to prove you've got it?

      Jenna Fliszar: Yes. And there's really no diagnostic testing for it.

      Steve Kroft: Hard to deny you don't have it.

      Jenna Fliszar: Correct.

      Steve Kroft: Out of the hundreds of people that you represented, how many of these cases involved strong cases for disability?

      Jenna Fliszar: Strong cases I would say maybe 30 percent to 40 percent. And then I would say half of my cases were not deserving of disability.

      Steve Kroft: How many of them ultimately ended up getting benefits?

      Jenna Fliszar: Half.

      Jenna Fliszar: I call it a legal factory because that's all it is. I mean, they have figured out the system and they've made it into a huge national firm that makes millions of dollars a year on Social Security disability."

      When you get to a back pain claim, what is the "medically acceptable" findings to support a SS disability claim. I don't believe that is limited to an imaging test and would include physical tests where the patient needs to groan at the right time or do something that would be consistent with the underlying medical injury claim.

      It would be interesting to see the number of SS disability claims for back pain that have no imaging support.

    3. Out for a day or two and I missed a lot.

      Thanks Cathie. Pattern is true of many things these days.

      SG - I hadn't thought much about GPC. I bought AAP as a trade and got a good entry - but failed on the sell point. It's rebounding so if market doesn't correct soon, it may well give me a chance to get out clean enough. Live and learn. With 24PE, even for a trade, I shouldn't have tried it. I did a reasonably small amount, so I wouldn't get too stressed. Thanks for your thoughts on this area!!

      On disability this wasn't a dem vs rep topic in my mind. Over the years I thought people who were on disability must have some laziness, minus a few who were really sick or injured. I've learned how inaccurate that image is. This topic was embedded in a long post you'd written outlining all the many political points happening. This topic was one small point in there. I responded to it, because I don't want that inaccurate image to keep floating around. It's harmful to people on SSDI, and makes it even harder on them. That's all I was aiming for -- to point out that for most people who are on SSDI, it's been a heartbreaking time in their lives. I just don't want people to look at them with the same image that I originally assumed years ago.

    4. Con't

      On the transcript ---

      I haven't seen WP or NYTs articles about poor person's who couldn't get approval. They must not get my attention. I am aware that congressional reps will take a case that's not being handled well and work with SSDI on it.

      The article quoting Senator Coburn, that I'd linked to, seemed pretty solid. There was a congressional study referenced, that had decided how much was fraud. I thought that a useful data point. I assume they used doctors and realistic procedures.

      Marilyn Zahm and Randy Frye are judges. They say the system has been flooded with claims, not that those claims are slipping through and getting awarded. If there's a flood of dumb claims that should be stopped, just to take workload off the assessing process. None of this addresses whether this swelling recipients is of fraud. I heard the same complaints from SSDI judges in 1990's. (A special set was appointed to work off the excess then.) So fraud may not be what's causing the increase - it may be a steady rate of fraud as it was years ago; any of course is too much.

      "Lawyer Jenna Fliszar and Jessica White worked for Binder & Binder... representing clients... in front of judges...Many of the cases they handled involved ailments with subjective symptoms like backache, depression and fibromyalgia....
      Steve Kroft: Hard to prove you've got it?
      Jenna Fliszar: Yes. And there's really no diagnostic testing for it."

      ... this makes me wonder about the interview. Fibromyalgia has testing that's required before you can get SSDI. In something like 70-90% of Fibromyalgia cases you'll have a dsyautonomia which is tested for with a computer and wires to your body. In 70-90% of cases neuropsych testing will show significant degrade of cognitive function. There are exercise tests that show complete degrade of one's system in some people. The 2nd link of SSDI prodecures was about this and related conditions. It says very distinctly that objective testing is needed and describes what that means.

      If the lawyer is saying there's no testing for it, and the interviewer is saying so too, then they haven't done their homework and aren't presenting well to the public.

      Binder & Binder - I would put nothing by them, no integrity. Places like that don't even process their own cases. They advertise and pull in clients, then sell the cases to other firms. Just like it looks in their ads, they'll talk to anyone.

      But if they are putting in so-so cases, it shouldn't be hard to weed them out? The interview didn't seem to ask the SSDI offices how they do that. The standards and regulations are in place already (I'd linked to.) So why isn't that happening?

    5. "It would be interesting to see the number of SS disability claims for back pain that have no imaging support"

      It would be interesting. The number -should- be zero. There are regulations that say you MUST have objective data. I linked to them. An applicant groaning is not evidence of a condition. First you need evidence of a condition. The problem with back stuff isn't that there won't be imaging. It's that imaging is close to useless. Two people can have the same images of stenosis. One can do anything and have no idea. The other can be in a wheelchair. Multiple doctors have said that to me. A herniated disk can be unknown to the holder of it, or put them in bed for weeks. Even the person who's bedridden can have the same herniation and be fine 6-8 weeks later. So there's the wiggle room... Meanwhile, while there will be some people who can fake well, most people do a poor job of it. Even physical tests for pain, are designed to make sure you aren't exaggerating and faking. (Movements will be included that wouldn't trigger with your condition, but will look like it would so you 'should' groan at them. Also a battery of psych tests can be included and the most common, MMPI is still amazing at picking out types of faking or subconscious faking.) Along with MMPI, most other neuropsych testing has checks for faking in them. A handful of people may be motivated enough to learn and fake all of this stuff, but most people don't even know that these hidden questions are included. (I learned about MMPI in school & I was in awe of it, in an otherwise extremely dull class.)

      So I was saying that there's regulations in place that should / could / aught to stop faking and vague. Fraud can be a bit harder because it's not a patient but a system of attorney/doctors, but also should be detectable.

      Questions: So how much fraud is there? Is it the first problem, or just a partial part of the problem? I still think it's a partial part of the problem. And I also think at this point, there's enough info to move toward helping SSDI work better, rather than railing to the public about "the problem" as though the public needs to fix it. See problem...start fixing it.

      However, how can that happen when we've got this craziness happening in general? I want to go try and figure out today's news releases.

      I just worry about disabled winding up pointed to as scapegoats, and all fakers, from generalized statements by people who are less investigative than you are when they dig into a topic, so I commented on your comment on this topic.

      I gained from this discussion, some more concrete info than I had before that supports that the fraud is higher than I'd been noticing (that link with a completed congressional study seems compelling.)

    6. LMH: I suspect that you are reading the SS requirements too narrowly as requiring an image showing an undisputed source of the pain.

      This article says the SS relies primarily on the claimant's credibility since most back pain cases do not have image support.


      That article points out another problem area worth noting. There may be some image support but that image does not support the pain symptoms being expressed by the claimant. In other words, the claimant should not be viewed as being unable to work and is exaggerating their symptoms in order to be paid not to work.

      There are medical tests that do not involve images that are accepted by SS in assessing back pain tests and all of them can be faked.

      There are many back pain cases that are justified by imaging

    7. " SS requirements too narrowly..."

      " as requiring an image showing an undisputed source of the pain. "

      That's not what I said - I said the opposite.

      The article says the same thing I did about how these are assessed.

      I said an image is required and you won't get approval without one but that with back stuff, images leave lots of wiggle room.

      I then added more about checks that -can- be used.

  7. FYI: Moody's downgraded China's debt:


  8. FED Minutes of 5/2-3/17 Meeting:

    Looks like the Bond Ghouls and the Stock Jocks found something to like in the minutes:


    High quality bond were mostly stagnant in price prior to the release and then managed to rally into the close.

    iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF)
    $106.87+0.22 (+0.21%)

    The IEF price was at $106.65 when the minutes were released or unchanged from the previous day.

    I would pinpoint the relief rally to the FED stating there was general agreement on how to decrease the FED's huge balance sheet.

    First, the FED says it is not going to sell the bonds so problems with too much supply driving up yields is off the table for now.

    Second, the technique being adopted is to gradually quit reinvesting proceeds from maturing securities.

    That will allow the bond market to absorb more easily new treasury debt issued to retire maturing debt owned by the FED.

    Discussed at

    While Bloomberg says that this shrinking of an extremely bloated balance sheet "may lift longer-term borrowing costs and dampen growth", that may not be the case too depending on other factors that would influence interest rate levels.

    The increase in supply held by non-FED parties will be gradual and will start out small apparently. That slow run off would likely dampen any increase in yield that could arguably tied solely to supply exceeding demand which is still good.

    Given this slow mo approach, other factors impacting rates, particularly Inflation and inflation expectations, will have a more significant impact on yields/prices.

    The Bond Ghouls are still forecasting-long term-below historically average inflation rates. The forecasts are contained in the break-even inflation rates embodied in TIP pricings.

    The 30 year break-even inflation rate is just a tad above 2%:

    The 10 year is hovering near 1.8%:

    Starting in 1914 through last year, the average annual CPI rate was 3.28%:


    Stock Jocks view persistently low inflation rates as ideal.

    A bad scenario for both bonds and stocks would be a repeat of the 1966-1982 inflation numbers.


    A few more words on disability benefits. The fact that false claims permeate the system make it harder and more time consuming for legitimate claims to be processed and increases the likelihood of meritorious claims being rejected particularly in cases that are more borderline.

    A second point is that two doctors can look at a back image and come to two diametrically opposite views. One will see the problem causing the claimant's back pain (that would be the one hired by the claimant's lawyer) and the other will not see how the issue shown in the image could result in the symptoms. Those who are quick with the scalpel and who frequently see backs in needs of some kind of surgical intervention would also be the ones hired to support the claim. Frequently the result of the back operation is more problems down the road which requires subsequent operations until the claimant is in fact truly disabled.

    That sounds cynical, I know, but that is what I have seen happen.


    The CBO has scored the Trumpcare bill passed by the House.

    23M people will lose insurance over the next ten years. The increase next year would be 14 million.


    CBO Report:

    1. I'm sure you've seen it happen with back stuff. I described the same thing in my email last night, with back images not being very useful.

      (Also, yes it's a problem with back surgery that it can harm and that some or many surgeons can see everything as needing their tool. The problem with that goes past SSDI to, that medicine doesn't do well in this area and causes harm.)

      This is narrowing down to back stuff and applicants... which was listed in one of the articles as 18% of applicants or recipients. (It may be less of recipients who have been approved, one article would put it at 50% of applicants.)

      So there it isn't clear from evidence yet that false claims permeate the system. Just that they exist in the system.

      To get approved while overstating your pain, you'd need to either study up and work hard at knowing how to do it... or a doctor / attorney who tells you exactly what to do. Obviously some exist. But it's not the majority of what's happening. It's a portion.

      My only comment was to not forget the majority who are simply applying and approved and are disabled, with a large number of conditions in addition to back pain (or apply and aren't disabled and are rejected.)

      So, you're experience with worker's comp and back stuff --- is definitely one of the things that happens and shouldn't. I agreed with that from the beginning.

      So there's a swelling of recipients of various government programs. I suspect that the swelling of disability recipients portion has less to do with fraud increasing, and more to do with changes of definitions and understanding in medicine, which I listed before. So we'll spend money and time to stop fraud, and that will be useful -- only to look up and see that it didn't fix the swelling problem very much. So I don't want to forget all the other reasons that the swelling can be happening. Nor the fraud issues to be seen as so big as to be almost all or most of what's happening.

      I've lost track, but I don't think we're really disagreeing on anything.

  9. CBOE Volatility Index 10.02 -0.70 -6.53%

    Very low volatility.
    Stable VIX Pattern IN Force, Phase 2



    Biggest Gainers Today in Small Cap Biotech Basket:
    $21.10+1.35 (+6.84%)
    Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR)

    Recent NKTR news:

    I recently pared my position after a pop:

    5. Small Cap Biotech Lottery Ticket Basket:
    A. Sold 50 out of 70 NKTR at $22.53:
    Profit Snapshot: +$355.4

    I still own 20 bought at $13.2.

    The other leading gainer was Advaxis (ADXS) which has given me some heartburn and caused me to change my approach in this basket.

    Within a few days after my first purchase last year, the stock more than doubled and I did not sell a share, riding the price back down to below my purchase price where I added some more shares. I am profitable at today's closing price:

    Advaxis, Inc. (ADXS)
    $9.16+0.48 (+5.53%)
    Volume 1,463,485
    Avg. Volume 570,538

    I did not see any news. With that heavier than normal volume, I just assume that there was a buyer in bulk today. Needless to say, the Fidelity Biotech fund does not buy in 100 share lots.

    Fidelity Select Health Care had a larger position than the Biotech sector fund based on the last reports:


    The largest institutional owner with 5,939,366M shares is Adage Capital Partners Gp LLC.


  10. The NYT just published an article, sourced from 3 officials familiar with the intelligence, that American spies collected information from "senior Russian intelligence and political officials" discussing how they would influence Donald through his advisors.

    "The conversations focused on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at the time, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired general who was advising Mr. Trump, the officials said. Both men had indirect ties to Russian officials, who appeared confident that each could be used to help shape Mr. Trump’s opinions on Russia."


    This U.S. intelligence collection was at the same general time period when U.S. intelligence became convinced that Russia was taking brazen measures to interfere in the U.S. election in order to elect the malleable Trump "nut case." (just using one of DT's favorite phrases here, nothing personal)

    The former CIA Director used the word brazen to describe the interference.


  11. Toronto Dominion (TD)(own):

    This stock is reacting positively to TD's earnings report release before the market opened today.

    Toronto-Dominion Bank
    $48.12+ $1.15 +2.51%
    Last Updated: May 25, 2017 at 9:54 a.m. EDT


  12. I have published a new post: