Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Treat Life as an Experiment?

It's St-Jean Baptiste Day, a national holiday here in Quebec, so decided to run through some interesting stories I've been tracking over the weekend. Remember to follow me on Twitter (@PensionPulse) where I post links to stories on pensions, markets, health, Greece and a lot more.
  • Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi wins Egyptian presidential vote: The Globe and Mail reports that Egypt’s election commission has declared Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood the winner of Egypt’s first free elections by a narrow margin over Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak. Egypt remains deep divided and it remains to be seen how these tensions between Christians, Muslims and the secular army play out under this new government.
  • Schaeuble tells Greece to "stick it": Reuters reports that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece's new government should stop asking for more help and instead move quickly to enact reform measures agreed to in return for previous bailouts from its European partners. Schaeuble is disingenuous because the Greek bailout is nothing more than a corporate handout to German banks and companies. But German frustration is running high and with good reason. To my disgust, the first thing the new Greek coalition government did upon forming a new government was reassure the ridiculously bloated public sector that there will be no new cuts. A friend of mine with vast experience working in Greece said it perfectly: "If there is civil war in Greece, it will be between the public and private sector. They are asking two thirds of the population who have borne the harsh cuts of austerity to keep paying the entitlements of one third. Greece should follow France's example and privatize large parts of their public sector."
  • Europeans preparing a 2 trillion euro bailout bazooka?: Business Insider quotes Jeff Sault, Chief investment Strategist at Raymond James, sharing a rumor that he has heard about an enormous bailout program for the beleaguered eurozone, to the tune of 2 trillion euros. Sounds like another big band-aid to me.
  • Should active managers panic?: You bet. According to CNBC, nearly two thousand fund managers gathered in Chicago this past week to talk strategy in a tough market - and an industry-wide rift. Most are underperforming their indexes. These are tough times for active managers struggling with euro woes and rigged markets.
  • Grantham on bonds, potash and Las Vegas: One active manager I track closely when peering into top funds' quarterly activity is Jeremy Grantham. Business Insider quoted him as saying bonds are disgusting, potash is in crisis and it's time to obliterate Las Vegas. Amen!
  • Are women better leaders?: Yes, the results are in and women are better leaders. No surprise to me. Having worked in finance, seen firsthand how big swinging dicks with inflated egos are terrible leaders because all they care about is their image and lust for power (read this article on 7 Habits of Extraordinary Teams) . But as the Atlantic article Why Women Still Can't Have It All states, if women are going to benefit from a true level playing field, there is a lot that needs to be changed. Having said this, I like what George Will said on ABC This Week's roundtable: "Got news for you. Men can't have it all either. That's life, deal with it." Another comment I liked was from Major Garrett whose mom was a successful corporate executive: "The big difference is she used to go to work at 8:30 and leave at 4:30. Nowadays, it's a 15 hour workday."
  • Why half of America hates their job: CNBC reports that Americans are quitting their jobs on their own volition because they are seeking more personal fulfillment in their workplace lives.This isn't an American phenomena. Most people everywhere are miserable at work, getting squeezed to work longer hours for less pay. Not surprisingly, more and more people have become disenchanted with corporate life as it is. Many feel trapped and unappreciated and they long to do something that has significance and value, something by which they can make a difference in the world. Big wake-up call to corporations seeking to retain talent.
  • Failure in Rio: Alexander Cockburn wrote an excellent comment in Counterpunch discussing the failure in Rio. According to Mr. Cockburn, the conference twenty years on from the huge Earth Summit, Rio 92, has been unable to produce even the pretense of an energetic verbal commitment of the world’s community to “sustainable principles.” Agreed, these conferences have always been pretty fraudulent affairs. No wonder Greenpeace has declared war on the finance sector.
  • Dr. Michael Bury's UCLA commencement speech: Kudos to Zero Hedge for posting this speech by Dr. Burry who was featured in Michael Lewis' book, "The Big Short". Embedded it below. Do not agree with everything the good doctor warns of, especially when comparing US debt to that of Greece or any other nation, but he raises some excellent points on finance, the nexus of power, and the culture of self-entitlement. The advice he gives graduating students is priceless, even better than that of the late Steve Jobs.
  • Altucher on treating life as an experiment: James Atucher wrote another classic comment on how to treat life as an experiment. He interviewed interviewed four prostitutes, drug dealers, criminals, potential dates (for him), and homeless kids every single week for three years and offers some exceptional insight. You should also read this priceless advice from a homeless man turned millionaire. Also, read Altucher's latest on how multi-tasking can kill you.
  • The multiple sclerosis controversy: The media is all over the news that Ozzy Osbourne's son, Jack Osbourne, was diagnosed with MS. Not surprisingly, coverage has been pitiful, full of stereotypes of how poor Jack will end up in a wheelchair (majority of MS patients never end up in a wheelchair, and that was before drug therapy exploded). What disgusts me was how he lost a job after revealing his diagnosis, prompting the LA Times to state that going public with MS is ill-advised. Rubbish! Take it from me, someone who has battled MS for over 15 years, silence of any illness, not just MS, can kill you inside. The only way to fight stereotypes -- and there are plenty of ignorant fools out there -- is to expose them.

And on that note, invite you to watch some clips below, including one from Fox Business reporter Neil Cavuto, an MS patient who came out in the open, on why Ann Romney doesn't need your sympathy. Also embedded Dr. Burry's UCLA economics commencement speech and a clip of a relapsing remitting MS patient, David Oliver, sharing his story of recovery and hope following adult stem cell therapy at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama.

Must caution you, while I'm glad I underwent the 'Liberation treatment' in Albany, New York, I'm very skeptical of any clinic in Panama claiming to cure or treat MS and many other diseases using adult stem cells. Most of these outfits are run by quacks looking to profit off of desperate patients. If you have MS, focus on these five things and be skeptical of everyone, including neurologists. Basically, listen to your body and do what is right for you (watch Ann Romney below).

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