OSU coach Kevin McGuff yells during a game against Nebraska on Feb. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 96-70. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorA road matchup against No. 20 Michigan State (22-7, 13-4) was how the No.5 Ohio State (23-6, 15-3) women’s basketball team would end its regular season, and it surely was a thrilling conclusion. After losing to Minnesota just three days ago in overtime, the Buckeyes once again needed extra time to try and secure a win. However, they fell to the Spartans in not one, not two but three overtime periods, 107-105, on Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan. Despite the loss, sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell set a single-game scoring record for OSU after dropping 48 points. Senior guard Ameryst Alston added 19 points and seven assists. It was Michigan State’s senior day, making it the second game in a row that the Buckeyes would battle against an opponent honoring its seniors. The inspired Michigan State roster followed the same strategy that Minnesota set in place against OSU by coming out in a zone defense. After facing a zone the past few games, though, the Buckeyes started to find a flow, moving the ball around the court and being patient until they found the shot they were looking for. The first half was bundled with highlight action from both squads, but neither team was able to take advantage of opportunities that were presented. At the halfway mark, the Buckeyes and Spartans were knotted up at 34 apiece.As could be expected from the matchup between ranked conference foes, the lead was exchanged multiple times between the two teams, with a total of 22 lead changes and 16 ties by the final buzzer. The Spartans came out of the locker room for the second half fired up, willing to do whatever it took so that OSU wouldn’t be able to celebrate a win on their home court, on their senior day.Michigan State swarmed the Buckeyes on the defensive end at the beginning of the second half, forcing five turnovers in a 2:18 stretch, then making OSU coach Kevin McGuff take a timeout to allow his team to regain composure with 6:08 to play in the third quarter.The Buckeyes would finish the game coughing up the ball 25 times, allowing the Spartans to score 18 points off those mistakes.Back and forth the two teams went until the final media timeout of the fourth quarter when the action began to get interesting.At the timeout, the score was knotted up at 63. With the Spartans controlling the final few minutes of play, the Buckeyes had a tough time regaining the momentum to help put them ahead.Down two points with under a minute to play and the game clock ticking down, Mitchell tied it up after making a nifty spin move in the paint and floating the rock through the net. With 25 ticks remaining, the teams were leveled at 72. Michigan State would not have to worry about the shot clock in the final seconds, but redshirt junior Ariel Powers, who has been the Spartans’ main scorer all year, missed the potentially game-winning pull-up jump shot, pushing the game into overtime.The continued exchanges for the lead continued in the extended time, and with 11 seconds left the Buckeyes thought they had the road win wrapped up with a two-point lead. They were wrong.Senior center Jasmine Hines, who finished the game with a career-high 36 points to make for an impressive senior day showing, would answer for the Spartans and tie the game, moving it to another bonus period.The second overtime was controlled by the Buckeyes; receiving contributions from Mitchell, Alston and sophomore guard Asia Doss. The defensive specialist Doss made a huge steal for her team and scored on the other end to put OSU ahead 92-88, but it was immediately was answered by Spartan redshirt sophomore guard Branndais Agee on a 3-pointer.Alston went to the charity stripe after getting fouled off the inbound, where she knocked down both and regained the three-point lead for the visitors.Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant then drew up a play during a timeout, which her team executed to perfection, as junior guard Tori Jankoska drained one from downtown to tie it up 94-94 with 11.1 seconds on the game clock.The Buckeyes put the ball in Mitchell’s hand for the final shot. Dribbling down the floor, the sophomore made a move to the left wing, but after being unable to create space for a shot, she looked to kick out to Alston. But the pass went awry, flying out of bounds.Triple overtime was next on deck.In the third and final overtime period Michigan State would dig down, eventually coming out on top when time expired. Jankoska was the hero yet again for the Spartans, knocking down her three free throws at the end to get the two-point lead and victory.Mitchell’s 48-point performance led all scorers, but with Alston and junior forward Shayla Cooper having a tough time from the field, Mitchell had no choice but to attempt to put the team on her back down the stretch. The Cincinnati native showcased her seemingly unlimited range and speed on the fast break, which she utilized to get to the basket and finish with contact. Mitchell is in the conversation for the national player of the year award, as she is averaging 24.5 points per game and continues to be the go-to option for the Buckeyes.Powers, who is also a nominee for the player of the year award for the 2015-16 season, had an impressive all-around performance, despite being quiet in the first half as she struggled to find her groove from the start.On Saturday, Powers showed that she can do it all, finishing with 23 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists. Before their next game, the Buckeyes will have to play the waiting game to see which team they will be playing in their first game of the Big Ten conference tournament. They will also have to wait to learn their seed in the tournament. A win Saturday would’ve locked up the top seed and a share of the Big Ten title, but instead a Maryland win over Minnesota on Sunday would give the Terrapins the outright title.Last year, OSU fell in the championship game of the tournament against that Maryland team, and it will look to flip the script this year in Indianapolis. Its quarterfinal matchup is set for Friday.
Members of the Ohio State men’s hockey team know now is not the time to start letting doubt creep in, even after dropping its last three games. OSU only has one win in its last 10 games, a 3-1 victory at Ferris State on Jan. 11. The team has suffered a lot of injuries this season, something OSU coach Mark Osiecki said “drastically” hurts the team’s chemistry. “Our roster has been different every game because of it,” Osiecki said. “You don’t want to use that as an excuse at all, but it’s definitely affected it.” Despite the team’s recent struggles, Osiecki stressed the importance of the team consistently maintaining a positive attitude, even if its play has not been consistent. “They’ve got a great attitude,” Osiecki said. “They love coming to the rink. If (the Schottenstein Center) was open every day, they would be in here every day shooting pucks on the ice, using open ice. That’s the mentality.” It is that mentality of working hard every day that could help the Buckeyes toward closing out the season on a high note, said senior goalie Brady Hjelle. “All the cards are right there ready to go,” Hjelle said. “We are ready to go, we just got to stay positive and keep working hard every day.” Sophomore forward Max McCormick said he agreed with Hjelle and said staying positive is key. “We can’t get down on ourselves and hang our heads,” McCormick said. “We’ve got to have a good work ethic in practice and prepare for the weekend.” OSU is scheduled to host Lake Superior State (13-12-1, 8-9-1-1 CCHA) this weekend at the Schottenstein Center. The series against the Lakers begins a stretch where OSU will play eight of its next 10 games in Columbus. “It’ll be nice to be back home here,” Osiecki said. “At home you got a full roster and we gotta play with an attitude.” Junior defenseman Curtis Gedig also said he is happy to be at home and playing in front of the home crowd, something the team has not had the chance to experience since before Christmas. “I love the building, love the atmosphere,” Gedig said. “We don’t have to worry about catching up on school because we are traveling, so that is nice.” Osiecki said the team is closer to 100 percent health than it has been since the beginning of the season, adding that he is looking forward to getting some of the players back to “knock the rust off.” Even with the roster being nearly at full strength, he said his team does not have a lot of time to waste before the end of the regular season. “Guys have to get to game speed quickly,” Osiecki said. “There’s not enough time to sit around and ease into it.” Hjelle said winning games is a must for any team at this point in the season but is happy to have the majority of the remaining games at home, which he said helps with morale. “It’s always a good time to start winning a lot of games,” Hjelle said. “It’s definitely nice being at home. It’s going to be huge for us.” Osiecki said he and the rest of the coaching staff have not had to say much in practice to keep the team focused on what they need to do. “I think the sky is still the limit,” he said. “Our guys have the right attitude. Now it is just a matter of getting some sort of comfort and chemistry going.” Gedig agreed with Osiecki that the team just has to find a way to win. “The excuses have got to come to an end,” Gedig said. “We are so close, and I believe with this team we are good enough and it will come for us.”
One of the most exciting tournaments in golf is finally here. The top players in the world will stroll down Magnolia Lane to tee it up at the legendary Augusta National Golf Course for The Masters, the first of four annual major championships on the Professional Golfers Association Tour. The 93-player field will feature top players, past champions and even the youngest competitor in Masters’ history: 14-year-old Tianlang Guan from China, who won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November to punch his ticket to Augusta, Ga. (I couldn’t imagine doing anything of this magnitude at age 14). This year’s edition features a common theme from past Masters tournaments: Tiger Woods versus the rest of the field. With three wins in five starts on the 2013 PGA Tour, and regaining the No. 1 ranking in the world after a whirlwind three years, I think Woods is a shoe-in to win for the fifth time at Augusta National. Woods is definitely my favorite to win the Masters, but here are my top-10 players who can also win the green jacket: 1. Brandt Snedeker: If there is anyone in the world who is as hot as Woods, it’s the 32-year-old from Nashville. The winner of the season-long race for last year’s FedEx Cup, Snedeker carried that momentum into 2013, posting a win and four top-three finishes in just seven starts so far on the PGA Tour. 2. Matt Kuchar: After finishing T-3 in last year’s Masters, and picking up a win earlier this year at the World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play Championship, Kuchar’s consistency over the last three years with 21 top-10 finishes makes him a key player to look for this year. 3. Justin Rose: The Englishman hasn’t finished worse than T-17 in eight events on the PGA and European tours this season. Expect him to be in the mix late afternoon on Sunday. 4. Rory McIlroy: The 23-year-old Northern Irishman has had an eventful year so far, highlighted by the switch to Nike golf clubs and inconsistent play so far. But last week’s second-place finish at the Valero Texas Open gave him the confidence he needed to try to win his third major championship. 5. Dustin Johnson: The big-hitting American’s power of the tee will be crucial to his success this week. Look for him to score some low numbers on the par-5s, and this could be the year for him to break through for his first major championship. 6. Phil Mickelson: A three-time Masters champion playing in his favorite event? You know Lefty is going to bring his A-game to Augusta this week. 7. Lee Westwood: His success in majors in astonishing, except for one stat: wins. Westwood has yet to win that first major, despite having eight top-10 finishes in the last 16 majors. 8. Bubba Watson: The emotional roller-coaster, and last year’s Masters’ champion, Watson knows what it takes to win at Augusta, especially with his incredible shot-shaping abilities. 9. Ian Poulter: The 37-year-old Englishman knows how to thrive on golf’s biggest stages. A Ryder Cup hero for the Europeans, Poulter will look to improve from his seventh place finish last year. 10. Keegan Bradley: Another big-hitting American, poised to add a second major championship to his impressive resume. When he won the 2011 PGA Championship as a rookie, everyone knew he could handle the pressure of a big-time tournament.
Ohio State redshirt senior pitcher Thomas Waning (14) prepares to throw a pitch during the game against Hawaii on March 23. Ohio State won 7-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe Ohio State baseball team will return to Bill Davis Stadium, the place where the Buckeyes have won seven of nine games in 2019, after beginning its Big Ten season against Rutgers on the road. On Wednesday, Cincinnati (10-16, 3-3 American Athletic) will take its struggling offense up against an Ohio State (16-12, 2-1 Big Ten) pitching staff that has been in a groove. The Bearcats are coming off a series loss to Tulane at home, in which Cincinnati was outscored 33-12 throughout the three-game series. Averaging 3.96 runs per game, the Bearcats have had trouble keeping up with opponents. The low run average can partially be explained by the team’s low batting average. Cincinnati has hit .227 as a team, with only one player hitting above .265. Cincinnati junior shortstop Joey Bellini leads the team with a .292 batting average. Bellini has started 17 games for the Bearcats, and is tied for sixth on the team with seven RBI. Cincinnati does not have the power to make up for its insufficient hitting. With only 11 home runs on the season, the Bearcats struggle to tally runs in quick fashion. The Bearcats do excel, however, in their ability to steal bases. With 48 stolen bags on the season, the Bearcats rank in the top 50 in the nation. Cincinnati redshirt junior center fielder Jeremy Johnson and junior second baseman Jace Mercer have combined for 25 stolen bases. Mercer also leads the team with 21 walks on the year. The Buckeyes have caught only seven of the 30 baserunners that have attempted stealing this season. Junior pitcher Jake Vance will likely receive the start Wednesday. Vance has allowed four steals on the season, the most of any Ohio State starter. Ohio State sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler has the arm to keep the Bearcats honest. The co-captain has thrown out 3 of 4 runners who have tried to steal on him. After allowing 15 runs in a loss to Hawaii, Ohio State has allowed only 12 runs in the past four games. In this same stretch, the pitchers have combined to strike out 40 batters. Cincinnati’s pitching has not been as successful, allowing 5.77 runs a game. Despite striking out more than eight batters a game, the Bearcats walk an average of 5.69 batters per contest.Ohio State will take on Cincinnati at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#TurksandCaicos, October 25, 2017 – Providenciales – The Young Corporate Alliance is breaking ground in the Turks and Caicos and is expanding its support to younger business professionals and business owners between 18 and 40 with a BlackCard offer for significant savings and discounts among key companies which are signed onto the program.The Corporate Black Card was unveiled yesterday and executives of YCA, which was established in 2015 say, eleven companies are on board. Up to 75% discount for some services from law firms in the program and those include TWA MarcelinWolf, StanbrookLaw and Savory&Co; there are marketing and media companies like OutsideoftheBox Marketing, CayaHicoMedia, Island Printing and RogerHarvey&Co. Business services and supplies firms are on board like Business Solutions, Digicel, NW Hamilton and HLB.The Corporate Black Card of the YCA is for its Platinum membership tier only and President Dominic Rolle led a team which also explained that applying can happen at their website, the card is valid for one year and an Executive Board is established to oversee compliance related to the card. The card is black and prominently features the YCA logo and the title Black Corporate Card in an elegantly sophisticated design. The launch was called a pioneering positive step for the Turks and Caicos economy.#MagneticMediaNews#YoungCorporateAlliance#YCABlackCard Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:#magneticmedianews, #YCABlackCard, #youngcorporatealliance Young Business Leaders Travel to the Netherlands For Providenciales Incubator
(Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International Speculator)[Skype rings: It’s Doug Casey, calling from Cafayate, Argentina. He sounds tired, but pleased with himself.]Doug: Lobo, get out your mower; it’s time to cut down some green shoots again, and debunk a bit of the so-called recovery.L: Ah. I have to say, Doug, the so-called recovery is looking more than “so-called” to a lot of smart folks. Even our own Terry Coxon says the recovery is real, albeit weak.Doug: Terry’s probably looking at it by the numbers, some of which are reported to be improving. But let’s come back to the numbers later and start with fundamentals. The first order of business, as usual, is a definition: a depression is a period of time in which the average standard of living declines significantly. I believe that’s what we’re seeing now, whatever the numbers produced by the politicians may seem to tell us.L: I was just shopping for food and noticed that the bargain bread was on sale at two for $5. My gas costs almost as much per gallon. That’s got to hurt a lot of people, especially on the lower income rungs. I don’t need to ask; a member of my family just got a job that pays $12 per hour – about three times what I made working for the university food service back when I was in college – and it’s not enough to cover his rent and basic bills. If his wife gets similar work, they’ll make ends meet, but woe unto them if anyone in their family crashes a car or requires serious medical treatment.Doug: That’s just what I mean. Actually, the trend towards both partners in a marriage having to work really started in the early ’70s – after Nixon cut all links between the dollar and gold in August of 1971. Before then, in the “Leave it to Beaver” era, the average family got by quite well with only the husband working. If he got sick or lost his job, the wife was a financial backup system. Now, if something happens to either one, the family is screwed. I think, from a very long-term perspective, historians will one day see the ’60s as the peak of American prosperity – certainly relative to the rest of the world… but perhaps even in absolute terms, even taking continued advances in technology into account. Maybe the ’59 Cadillac was the bell ringing at the top of that civilizational market.My friend Frank Trotter, president of EverBank, was just telling me that the net worth of the median US citizen is only $6,000. That’s the median, meaning that half of the people have less than that. Most people don’t even have enough stashed away to buy the cheapest new car without going into debt. It used to be that people bought cars out of savings, with cash. Now they have to finance them over at least five years… or lease them – which means they never ever have even that trivial asset, but a liability in the form of a lease.The bulk of the 49 percent below this guy don’t even have that – with the concentration of wealth among the top one percent, most of those below average have seriously negative net worth, at least compared to their earning capacity. In other words, the US, Europe, and other so-called First World countries are in a wealth-liquidation cycle that will be as profound as it will be protracted.By that I mean that people are on average consuming more than they produce. That can only be done by living out of capital – consuming savings – or accumulating debt. For a time, this may drive corporate earnings up, and give this dead-man-walking economy the appearance of returning health, but it’s essentially, necessarily, and absolutely unsustainable. This is an illusion of recovery we’re seeing – the result of our Wrong-Way Corrigan politicians continuing to encourage people to do the exact opposite of what they should do.L: Which is?Doug: Save. People shouldn’t be getting new cars, new TVs, and new clothes. They should be cutting expenses to the bone.The Obama administration, just like the Baby Bush administration before it – there really is no great difference between the Evil Party and the Stupid Party – and its minions in the US and its cronies around the world, stubbornly stick to the bankrupt idea that economic growth is driven by consumption. This is confusing cause and effect. Healthy consumption follows profitable production in excess of consumption, resulting in savings – accumulated capital – that can either be spent without harm, or invested in future growth.Consumption doesn’t cause an economy to grow at all. To paraphrase: “It’s productivity that creates wealth, stupid!”L: Policies aimed at encouraging consumption, instead of increasing production, are what turned the savings rate negative in the US and resulted in the huge sovereign debt issues we’re seeing in supposedly rich countries…Doug: Well, the governments themselves have spent way more than they had or ever will have, and that’s par for the course when you believe spending is a virtue. However, it’s the false signals government interference sends to the market that caused the huge malinvestments that only began to go into liquidation in 2008. That has to do with another definition of a depression: It’s a period of time when distortions and malinvestments in the economy are liquidated. Unfortunately, that process has barely even started. In fact, since the bailouts started in 2008, these things have gotten much worse. If the government had gone cold turkey back then, cut its spending by at least 50% for openers, and encouraged the public to do the same, the depression would already be over, and we’d be on our way to real prosperity. But they did just the opposite. So we haven’t yet entered the real meat grinder…L: Those false signals the government sends to the market being artificially low interest rates?Doug: Yes, and Helicopter Ben’s foolish leadership in the wholesale printing of trillions of currency units all around the world – I don’t really want to call dollars, euros, yen, and so forth money anymore. When individuals and corporations get those currency units, they think they’re wealthier than they really are and consume accordingly. Worse, those currency units flow first to the state – which feeds it power – and favored corporations, which get to spend it at old values. It’s very corrupting. There is also an ongoing regulatory onslaught – the government has to show it’s “doing something” – which makes it much harder for entrepreneurs to produce.In addition, keeping interest rates low encourages borrowing, and discourages saving – just the opposite of what’s needed. I don’t believe in any state intervention in the economy whatsoever, but in the crisis of the early 1980s, then-Fed Chairman Paul Volker headed off a depression and set the stage for a strong recovery by keeping rates very high – on the order of 15-18%. They can’t do that now, of course, because with the acknowledged government debt at $16 trillion, those kind of rates would mean $2.5 trillion in annual interest alone – more than the government takes in taxes. At this point, there’s no way out. And there’s much more tinkering with the system ahead, at the hands of fools who remain convinced they know what they’re doing, regardless of how abject their past failures have been.L: And yet, the interventions seem to be working. The “orderly default” in Greece seems to have saved the Eurozone for now, and critically important employment figures in the US show definite signs of improvement.Doug: Perhaps, but let’s take a closer look. I advocate the Greek government defaulting, overtly and immediately, on 100% of its debt, for several reasons. First, it would punish those who lent it money to do all the stupid and destructive things it’s done. Second, it would ensure that the Greek government wouldn’t be able to borrow again for a very long time. Third, it would liberate young and yet unborn Greeks, who are being turned into serfs by all that debt. It would also mean that most European banks would fail. Tough luck for those who relied on them. When new banks are established it will serve as a lesson to people to be more careful about where they put their capital. Anyway, it would be much less of a catastrophe than the way we’re currently heading.Here in the US, the twelve-month fiscal deficit is still over $1.2 trillion, an extreme situation that is gutting the value of the dollar, because it’s mostly financed by the Fed buying US debt. It’s temporarily expanded the eye of the storm we’re in, but it’s done nothing to dissipate the storm itself. Their easy-money policies may have bought them a little more time, but they will only make it worse when we do exit the eye of the storm.There’s a third definition of a depression that I use: a depression is the end phenomenon of an inflation-caused business cycle. Inflation is the sole cause of business cycles, and inflation is caused by governments and their central banks printing money. The government – the state – is 100% responsible for society’s economic problems. But it arrogantly represents itself as the cure. And people believe it. There’s no hope until the psychology of the average person changes.L: As Bob Lefevre used to say: “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.” Want to update us on when you think the economy will return to panic mode?Doug: Earlier this year, I was expecting it sooner than I do now. Unless some black-swan event upsets the apple cart suddenly, I would not expect us to exit the eye of the storm at least until after the US presidential elections this fall. Maybe not until early 2013, as the reality of what’s in store sinks in. I pity the poor fool who’s elected president. In a way, I hope it’s Obama who wins, mainly because the worthless – contemptible, actually – Republican candidates yap on about believing in the free market, which means if one of them is somehow elected, the free market will be blamed for the catastrophe. Too bad Ron Paul will be too old to run in 2016, assuming that we actually have an election then…L: So, what about those numbers, then? Employment is up, and the oxymoronic notion of a “jobless recovery” was one of our criticisms before…Doug: Yes, but look at the jobs that have been spawned; they are mostly service sector. Such jobs can create wealth for certain individuals – it looks like we’ve put more lawyers to work again, as well as waiters and paper-pushers – but they don’t amount to increased production for the whole economy. They just reshuffle the bits around within the economy.L: Unlike my favorite – mining – which reported 7,000 new jobs in the latest report, if I recall correctly.Doug: Yes, unlike mining, which was more of an exception than the rule in those numbers. But that’s making the mistake of taking the government at its word on employment figures. As we’ve discussed before, if you look at John Williams’ Shadow Stats, which show various economic figures as the US government itself used to calculate them, unemployment has actually reached Great Depression levels.The US government is dishonestly fudging the figures as badly as the Argentine government – which is, justifiably, viewed as an economic laughingstock in most parts of the world. One reason things are going to get much worse in the US is that many of those with economic decision-making power think Cristina Fernandez Kirchner is a genius. A little while ago there was an editorial in the New York Times – the mouthpiece for the establishment – written by someone named Ian Mount. Get a load of this. I’ve got it in front of me.If you can believe it, the author actually says: “Argentina has regained prosperity thanks to smart economic measures.” The Argentine government “intervened to keep the value of its currency low, which boosts local industry by making Argentina’s exports cheaper abroad while keeping foreign imports expensive. Argentina offers valuable lessons … government spending to promote local industry, pro-job infrastructure programs and unemployment benefits does not turn a country into a kind of Soviet parody.”Well, no, I guess it turns it into something the US can ape. He goes on: “Argentina is hardly a perfect parallel for the United States. But the stark difference between its austere policies and low growth of the late 1990s and the pro-government, high-growth 2000s offers a test case for how to get an economy moving again. Washington would do well to pay attention.”The guy has obviously never been here, though he admits that “Argentina is far from perfect.” His modest concession is that the taxes to imports and exports have “scared away some foreign investment, while high spending has pushed inflation well over 20 percent. And it would be laughable to suggest that the United States follow its lead and default on its debt.”When I first read the article, I thought I was reading a parody in The Onion. I love Argentina and spend a lot of time down here. It’s a fantastic place to live – but not because of the government’s economic policies. Its only competition in state stupidity is Brazil, which regularly destroys its currency. Fortunately, though, the Argentine government is quite incompetent at people control, unlike the US. It leaves you alone. And there’s a reasonable chance the next president down here won’t be actively stupid, which isn’t asking much. But it’s amazing that the NYT can advocate Argentine government policy as something the US should follow. A collapse of the US economy would be vastly worse than that of the Argentine economy – the US dollar is the world’s currency. Here in Argentina they’re used to it and prepared for it to a good degree. Very unlike in the US.L: In the US, the welfare state has bloated beyond imagination. The damage already done is less visible because where there used to be private charity soup kitchens, there are now “food stamps” that look like ordinary credit cards, making the destitute among us look like everyone else at the supermarket. There are 50 million recipients, and that number is growing, not declining.By the way, John Williams is a speaker at the Casey Research Recovery Reality Summit we have coming up, April 27-29 in Weston, Florida. Perhaps this would be a good time to invite our readers down to hear John’s take on what the numbers really are – and to meet us. We’ll both be there.Doug: That’s true. Several readers made it to the event we just had at La Estancia de Cafayate, which went very well. We have some of the most interesting people in the world reading these conversations – it’s fun to get to meet more of them.L: Ah, that must be why you sound both upbeat and tired. A pity I didn’t get to sit in on Coffee with Casey with you in the new spa you built down there…Doug: Yes, it’s been a long couple of weeks, but I am pleased. You should see the place now; not only has the spa been completed since you were last here, they’re making good progress on the hotel, and there are houses going up all over the place. I’m tickled pink with our world-class 3,500 square-foot gym, where I was pumping iron for an hour today, and resistance swimming pool, among lots of other stuff. But the real attraction isn’t the toys, it’s the people.L: I’ll see it next time. It may be time to sit down with an architect. Meanwhile, back at the ranch here, what are the investment implications if the Crash of 2012 gets put off until the end of the year, or even becomes the crash of 2013?Doug: There are potentially many, but generally, the appearance of economic activity picking up is bullish for commodities, especially energy and raw materials like industrial metals and lumber. That’s not true for gold and silver, so we might see more weakness in the precious metals in the months ahead. I wouldn’t count on that, however, because government policy is obviously inflationary to anyone with any grasp of sound economics. That will keep many investors on the buy side. Plus, the central banks of the developing world – China, India, Russia, and many others – are constantly trading their dollars for gold. There are perhaps seven trillion dollars outside the US, and about $600 billion more are sent out each year via the US trade deficit.L: I know I bought some gold and silver in the recent dip and would love to have a chance to do so at even lower prices ahead.Doug: That’s the logical thing to do, given the fundamental realities we started this conversation with, but a lot of people will be scared into selling if gold does retreat. A good number will sell low, after buying high – happens every time, and is a big part of why commodities have such a tricky reputation. Most investors just don’t have the strength of conviction to be good speculators. Instead of looking at the world to understand what’s going on and placing intelligent bets on the logical consequences of the trends, regardless of what anyone else says or does, they go with the herd, buying when everyone else is buying and selling when everyone else is selling. This inverts the “buy low and sell high” formula. They let their thoughts be influenced by newspapers and the words of government officials.L: In other words, everything you see calls for gold continuing upward for some time – years – making any big retreats along the way great buying opportunities for those with the guts to act on them. Same for silver, and doubly so for the precious-metals mining stocks, and triply so for the junior stocks.Doug: Just so. I look forward to the day when I can sell my gold for quality growth stocks – but we’re nowhere near that point. But silver might correct less than gold if gold corrects due to the appearance of economic recovery – silver is, after all, an industrial metal as well as a monetary one.L: Agreed. And I can see the positive implications for energy as well, but Marin was just saying that natural gas has dropped below $2. That’s apparently starting to force oil and gas companies to remove reserves from their books – because reserves need to be economic, not just exist – which the market isn’t going to like. He sees some great bargains on solid companies ahead, and not just “gas” companies as many oil companies, including the major ones, produce both. Marin said one major company gets half its top line from gas sales. This is a huge shift.[Ed. Note: Louis is referring to Marin Katusa, chief energy investment strategist for Casey Research and editor of Casey Energy Opportunities and Casey Energy Report.]Doug: The devil is always in the details – it’s dangerous to oversimplify things, painting with a broad brush, as in, “A recovering economy will be bad for gold” or “A recovering economy will be good for energy.” You have to understand these markets well enough to really see how different forces and factors will affect them. Marin is unquestionably one of the sharpest analysts I’ve met in my life. He’s actually something of a genius, both academically smart and very street smart, in addition to being a workaholic. He runs a lot of my money. He’s done spectacularly well, and I expect him to do even better, because he constantly learns. Not much gets by him.L: Good reminder. So, if we’re looking at signs of economic recovery for a time, would you buy into copper, nickel, or other base-metal plays?Doug: Well, just because we might see signs of a temporary economic recovery, that doesn’t mean we will – and even if we do, they could easily be swept aside by any number of events, such as Europe taking another turn for the worse, or Japan or China starting to come apart at the seams. But, as a hedge, some near-term bets on industrial metals might not be a bad thing.L: How about agriculture?Doug: That’s one thing for which demand can never go down. Economic upturns or downturns may affect the mix of what people eat, but they won’t stop people from eating – or, if they do, we’ll have more pressing concerns than which way to play the markets. I remain especially bullish on cattle.L: Anything else?Doug: [Laughs] Many things. The right technology companies should do well; finding ways to do things faster-better-cheaper always adds value. Select mainstream equities in currently profitable sectors might do well as well – but I’d be very careful there. I can’t stress enough how close to the edge of collapse the global economic house of cards is – it could take another year or more to topple, or it could be starting today.L: Which leads to the other reason for owning precious metals – not as a speculation on skyrocketing prices, nor as an investment for good yield, but for prudence.Doug: Yes. Gold remains the only financial asset that is not simultaneously someone else’s liability. Anyone who thinks they have any measure of financial security without owning any gold – especially in the post-2008 world – is either ignorant, naïve, foolish, or all three.Look, we saw it coming, but everyone in the world could see Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall in 2008. Now we’re just waiting for the crash at the bottom, and no amount of wishful thinking otherwise is going to change that. It’s a truly dangerous world out there, and blue chips are no longer the safe investments they once seemed to be. You don’t have to be a gold bug to see the wisdom of allocating some capital – and not just a token amount – to cover the possibility that I’m right about what’s coming. There’s some opportunity cost associated with taking out this kind of insurance, but it’s not catastrophic if I’m wrong, and the cost of failing to do so if I’m right is catastrophic. That really is the bottom line.L: Financially. If you’re right about the coming Greater Depression, people also need to take steps to batten down the hatches on their physical life arrangements.Doug: Right. As we’ve said many times now, your government is the greatest threat to your well-being these days. If at all possible, you should be taking steps to diversify your political risk. Foreign bank accounts are not illegal for most people in most countries, though they need to be reported. Getting one is a good start. Buying real estate I like in various countries is one of my favorite ways to diversify risk in my life. That’s partly because I like speculating in real estate, but much more so because whichever government thinks you’re its tax slave can’t force you to repatriate real estate you own abroad. Most of all, it’s because it’s good to have places to go if things get ugly wherever you happen to be.L: Very well. Any particular triggers you think we should watch out for – warning signs that we really are about to exit the eye of the storm?Doug: In the US, the Fed being forced to raise interest rates would be one, or inflation getting visibly out of control – which would force a change in interest rates – would be another. Who knows – Obama getting reelected could tip the scales. War in the Middle East could do it, or, as we already mentioned, China or Japan going off the deep end. The ways are countless. Black swans the size of pteranodons are circling in squadron strength. A lot of them are coming in for a landing.People will just have to stay sharp – sorry, there’s no easy way to survive a depression. As my friend Richard Russell says, “In a depression everybody loses. The winner is the guy who loses the least.” It will take work and diligent attention to what’s going on in the world and around us. We’ll do our best to help with The Casey Report, but each of us is and must be responsible for ourselves.L: Okay then, thanks for the guru update. No offense, but in spite of the investments I’ve made betting that you’re right, I hope you’re wrong, because the Greater Depression is going to destroy many lives, and the famines and wars it spawns even more – millions, I’m sure. Maybe more. The mind balks.Doug: Oh, I agree. I only wish I could believe otherwise, because I’m sure it’s going to be even worse than I think it will be… although I hope to be watching it in comfort and safety on my widescreen TV, not out my front window.L: I think we need to find something more upbeat to talk about next time.Doug: [Chuckles] Maybe. If there’s something important in the news we should cover it. It’s sure to be fodder for comedy – at least black comedy.L: As you say. ‘Til next week then.
It’s been clear to anyone paying attention that the October “rollout” of Obamacare has been a turbulent, confusing disaster. Sloppy IT systems and technological failures combined to cripple Obamacare’s sign-up systems. Security flaws put Americans at risk for identity theft. In an almost comical understatement, President Obama summarized these massive failures as “a few glitches.” I think that Luke Chung, IT expert and president of database solutions firm FMS, explained the situation much more accurately: “What should clearly be an enterprise quality, highly scalable software application felt like it wouldn’t pass a basic code review. It appears the people who built the site don’t know what they’re doing, never used it and didn’t test it.” Chung went on to call it a “technological disaster.” Think about what this ineptitude means in the bigger debate about Obamacare. The administration spent 3½ years and $698 million of taxpayers’ money to develop this software. They’ve known since earlier this year that the system wasn’t ready to support the rollout of the exchanges. Yet they proceeded anyway, apparently unconcerned about their faulty software costing Americans millions of hours of frustration and lost productivity. These same bureaucrats continue to assume more and more control of our medical care. What does their incompetence say about how they will handle making life-or-death medical care decisions? Like a parasite taking over its host, Obamacare will commandeer almost 20% of our economy, crowding out private options. With 2014 fast approaching, what should we expect in its next phase? Here’s my list Top Ten list for 2014: 1. The expansion of Medicaid, with increased cost burden for taxpayers. Medicaid is a combined state-federal program initially designed to help the neediest among us. But it has burgeoned to cover medical costs for about one in every five people. Today, Medicaid pays for two of every five babies born in the United States, and three of every five people in long-term care facilities in the US. Obamacare will add another 20 million new Medicaid dependents. According to the Kasier Family Foundation, that Medicaid expansion will add an average of 13% to state budgets in costs for 2014 alone. Even though Medicaid was designed to help the poor, studies have consistently shown that Medicaid recipients receive worse medical care than people without any health insurance at all! Medicaid patients have longer waits to see a doctor, fewer specialists to choose from, and poorer medical outcomes overall. A particularly morbid piece of evidence is that on average, Medicaid patients die sooner after surgery than people who have no medical insurance. Essentially, Obamacare is forcing 20 million more Americans into second-class medical care with Medicaid. 2. “Sticker shock” as the reality of higher health insurance premiums hits home. The majority of Americans, especially those who are young and healthy and therefore have paid low premiums in the past, are seeing their health insurance premiums rise between 50% and 150%. Further, employers are cutting full-time workers back to part-time by reducing employees’ hours per week from 40 to 29 or less, to avoid having to provide those employees with expensive, Obamacare-compliant coverage. The “Affordable Care Act” has become anything but affordable for most people. 3. Large and small employers are cutting health insurance benefits. Obamacare expands the requirements for what all health insurance policies must cover. So it’s no mystery why premiums have risen: Americans now must pay for a host of features, whether they want to or not. For example, in my office, the women employees are all menopausal. Yet Obamacare requires our small-business health insurance policy to cover pregnancy and maternity care! That means our policy costs more. These higher premiums force employers to pass on the costs to employees (in the form of higher co-pays and deductibles) and/or customers (in the form of higher product costs). 2014 will bring even higher premiums for most individuals and businesses. To deal with this onslaught of rising costs, businesses have a series of bad options: fire or lay off workers, cut health insurance benefits for everyone in the company, or reduce full-time employees to part-time so they don’t qualify for health insurance benefits, as I mentioned above. Unfortunately, some businesses will be forced into the worst option of all: going out of business. 4. The employer-based health insurance policies that remain will have higher out-of-pocket costs for employees. Because businesses must pay more to purchase Obamacare-compliant plans, they will require employees to pay higher co-pays and deductibles before coverage begins. 5. Fewer types of health insurance policies can be offered under Obamacare. Many small-business plans and existing physician networks are being terminated due to the expanded coverage requirements under Obamacare. We just received notice that our own small-business plan is being terminated. Candidate and then President Obama promised, “You can keep your insurance plan.” Nope. 6. Many people cannot keep their doctors. Candidate Obama promised, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” But many patients who like their doctors are being forced to find new ones due to changes in physician networks, as well as doctors leaving insurance plans to start fee-for-service or “concierge” practices. Sadly, when a patient is pushed out of a long-standing relationship with a physician who understands their medical history, medical outcomes often deteriorate. This is especially true for special-needs patients, who often fall between the cracks when doctors are pressured to see 40 or 50 patients a day in five-minute visits. 7. Further destruction of Medicare. In 2014, Medicare patients will discover several unwanted changes: higher premiums for their supplemental policies fewer types of Medicare supplement policies available more cutbacks in Medicare-covered services longer delays to see doctors, because many doctors are closing their doors to Medicare patients due to the cuts in reimbursements fewer cancer care specialists taking Medicare patients higher costs for hospital-based cancer treatments, as private offices with lower costs are closed due to reimbursement cutbacks fewer hospital-based surgeries being approved because as of October 2012, Obamacare rules incentivize hospitals (i.e., paid more by Medicare) to do fewer surgeries and procedures. Medicare patients who sign the Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) agreeing to pay for services Medicare does not cover will find that they now have higher out-of-pocket costs to pay for these non-covered services. Patients over 80 are already finding reduced approvals for certain procedures and medicines. Expect to see more of this age-based rationing as the Medicare cuts increase over the next decade. 8. Loss of ownership of your medical records. Your doctors, hospitals, and other health professionals are being pressured to adopt electronic medical record systems and send patient information to the federal government’s medical database by 2015. If they don’t comply, they’ll be penalized with reduced payments for services. This means the government will own your personal, private information, and you have no say in the matter. I consider this a complete loss of your privacy, as well as a violation of the Constitution’s 5th Amendment “Takings” clause. 9. More waivers and exemptions for the political elites and Democrat cronies. The Obama Administration and its political appointee, HHS Secretary Sibelius, have granted over 1,000 waivers and special exemptions to various Democrat donors, political allies, unions, and others. Obama’s politically connected friends are the only Americans who won’t suffer under Obamacare’s onerous regulations, ballooning costs, and 20 new taxes. 10. On January 1, 2014, the Individual Mandate to purchase Obamacare-compliant health insurance goes into effect. “Mandate” may sound benign, but it carries the force of law. Those who do not comply face another Obamacare tax (as the Supreme Court defined it), though called a “penalty” by Democrats when they forced the healthcare law through Congress on a partisan vote. At the end of the day, Obamacare shifts a bigger burden onto taxpayers and increases the number of people on the dole. In other words, it pushes the US in the exact opposite direction it needs to go to solve its massive debt problems. The most serious problems of Obamacare, however, will be felt at the individual level. You’re going to wait longer to see a doctor, you’re going to pay more for fewer treatment options, and healthcare quality will deteriorate as doctors and hospitals go out of business. Obamacare seeks to replace the adaptability and efficiency of our free markets with heavy-handed government control and micromanaging by bureaucrats who don’t have a clue about what really helps patients. We need the opposite: patient-centered, free-market reforms. Such programs have been successfully implemented in states like Indiana and businesses like Whole Foods and Safeway. They used health savings accounts and other incentives to empower consumers to make their own medical spending decisions. It’s possible to reform and improve the broken payment system while keeping our excellent medical care and innovative atmosphere that relieves suffering and improves quality of life. Unfortunately, Obamacare is pushing our country in the wrong direction. Dr. Vliet writes as an independent practicing physician with medical practices in Tucson and Dallas focused on issues of endocrine aging in men and women from puberty to late life. Dr. Vliet is a registered political Independent, and is also medically independent of all health insurance contracts since 1986. Her allegiance is to and for patients. Dr. Vliet is the 2007 Voice of Women Honoree by the Arizona Foundation for Women for her pioneering work on the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health, and she is the author of six consumer books on health topics. She has appeared on nationally syndicated radio and TV shows discussing the healthcare law as well as a variety of health topics for women and men. Dr. Vliet was one of the speakers at the just-concluded 2013 Casey Research Summit. (Click here to pre-order the complete Summit Audio Collection and save $100 off the normal price. This discount offer ends tomorrow.) Dr. Vliet’s medical websites are www.herplace.com and www.InternationalHealthStrategiesLtd.com. Follow Dr. Vliet on twitter @healthandcents