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Is this really what this group believes - and wants to increase?

As one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S., depression is a serious condition directly affecting millions of people, as well as their surrounding support network of friends and family. In a response to the mounting awareness of mental health, figuring out who may be suffering and providing them with the help and support they need is crucial. In light of this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that doctors should screen everyone over the age of 18 for signs of depression, and provide them with the necessary care.

The advice is an update on the 2009 recommendations by the USPSTF – which is made up of an independent panel of experts – and as well as suggesting that all adults should be screened, they also advocate that pregnant women and those who have recently given birth should also be assessed, as they were not previously included in the earlier recommendations. The USPSTF say that they have found “convincing evidence that screening improves the accurate identification of adult patients with depression in primary care settings.”

Uh huh.

The problem with such a recommendation is that it sounds good but the arithmetic isn't so favorable.  In fact it's downright nasty and leaves one to wonder exactly what the motivation for this really is.

This is not a function of wanting to help (or not) people who are depressed.  It is about risk and placing diagnostic capability in the hands of those who are unfit to exercise it, especially when psychotropic, and specifically SSRI-class, drugs are involved.

I've gone through this before but it bears repeating: These drugs have serious warnings on them because they have the potential, in a small but material percentage of people, to cause mass-rage incidents.  This risk is especially pronounced in persons under the age of 25 for reasons we do not fully understand.

Specifically it appears from the literature that if you manage to give one of these drugs to someone who is in fact bi-polar you're running a terrible risk.  People who are mentally ill are often misdiagnosed and to ask an ordinary physician to make a diagnosis of this sort and potentially prescribe said drugs is asking for trouble.

Leave aside the other societal changes that certain people, including our President, want to make.  Specifically, they're very interested in declaring anyone who is "depressed" as mentally incompetent, which gives rise to a whole host of disabilities including removal of one's Second Amendment rights.  Being wrong about this diagnosis could lead to immediate confiscation of one's property and revocation of those rights, for starters.

But that risk pales beside creating rage monsters.

I have long advocated that nobody under the age of 25 should be prescribed these drugs except in a residential facility.  That would gross disrupt a whole lot of pharmaceutical profits but given the facts on these mass-shooting incidents it would have probably prevented nearly all of them, including Sandy Hook, Columbine and Aurora -- for starters.  Even worse is the fact that these drugs appear to often precipitate suicide as well, which is of course the exact opposite of "help."

The debate we must have is one over the benefits for the person taking the drug, which is open to plenty of question when it comes to this class of drug anyway, versus the risk that we create monstrously bad outcomes (read: dead people) for society as a whole.

I think there's a clean argument to be made that with proper monitoring these drugs can be safe and possibly effective in some members of the adult population over the age of 25.   But I maintain my stance, based on the public literature and outcomes that have been witnessed over the last couple of decades, that their use is indefensible in adolescents and young adults outside of a residential facility -- and I'm not alone in that view.

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Who won last night's debate?

Trump.  And he wasn't there.

Who lost?  Fox News, which led the "debate" with a cheap shot at Trump.  Megyn did herself no favors in that regard, and she had better hope that nothing ever disrupts the media oligopoly (a losing bet, IMHO) as if it does she's going to find her best and highest calling in Nevada somewhat outside of Clark County.

The program Trump put together, with essentially zero notice, was very nice.  It was the best political speechifying and rallying that I've seen since I have been sentient enough to pay attention to it.  It was so because it was uplifting and yet not promotional for oneself; it was in fact selfless.

Trump instead took to praise other people, to uplift others, and instead of raising funds for himself and his political ambitions he managed to pop up somewhere north of $6 million for veterans with one of those millions being his, personally.

When was the last time you saw a politician give away his own money instead of beg for yours -- or even more commonly, collect it from people who are effectively bribing him?

Those veterans organizations that preemptively decided they didn't want the money before they saw the program are fools.  If they expected Trump to use this as a political polemic device they were wrong.  He didn't, although he certainly could have; posting up a million smackers of his own cash gave him every right to do exactly that. Instead he had a vet with a prosthetic leg give a nice little speech on what life's like after serving one's nation and having one of your limbs removed as a consequence.

It was a particularly poignant reminder of two things, which our nation needs to see more of.

First, freedom isn't free and those who volunteer for such duty sometimes come home in a box or missing parts of their body.  For everyone who garfs about veterans "using" the nation for benefits such as the GI Bill and other privileges there are many who come home permanently damaged, at room temperature or who never return at all.  If you want to argue over politics as relates to our military a good place to start is who you want in the left seat of power in America that will reduce the risk of our men and women in uniform being utilized in a fashion that results in these outcomes.  Do you want someone who speaks out of both sides of one's mouth and repeatedly fails to bring peace (witness anyone named "Bush", "Clinton" or "Obama") or do you want someone the world is literally terrified to screw with because they know what will happen?

Millennials weren't around when Reagan took office but they damn well ought to read history.  There are many legitimate criticisms about Reagan, particularly on the economic front, but one thing is indisputable: He won big twice internationally without having to fire a single shot, drop a single bomb or get one American maimed or killed; first with Iran and the hostages (they folded before he even put his hand on the Bible) and then again with the USSR; his bet that they couldn't fiscally afford an arms race but that he could successfully goad them into economic and political self-destruction via one proved correct.  Big balls are often seen as a liability but there are times that displaying them saves countless lives and even more maimed soldiers.  Who's the one candidate to put that forward on the stage today?

There's only one, folks, and you know it.

The second is that big balls without grace, or worse, with actual malice, is dangerous.  Very dangerous.  Using a system of laws to make money doesn't qualify as malice.  Personal avarice and willful disregard of the law to the point of ignoring state secrets is another matter.  So is playing games with American jobs and our economy for personal profit, something that all of those who stepped on that stage last night with Faux News support and promote.

Incidentally, so does Fox News itself, which is why they're terrified of Trump.  These people literally want to see you impoverished to improve their own personal bottom line and wealth.

In asking the question of “what’s wrong over there?” Trump has shined a spotlight on one of Washington’s best kept secrets: namely, Fox’s role via its founder Rupert Murdoch in pushing an open borders agenda. The Trump campaign is a direct threat to Murdoch’s efforts to open America’s borders. Well-concealed from virtually all reporting on Fox’s treatment of Trump is the fact that Murdoch is the co-chair of what is arguably one of the most powerful immigration lobbying firms in country, the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE).

In addition to blanketing the country, media, and politicians with literature, advertisements, and a barrage of lobbyists pushing for open border immigration policies, the Partnership for A New American Economy (PNAE) was a prime lobbyist for one of the biggest open borders pushes in American history.

Oh, and it gets better -- Fox's VP of News and Washington managing editor is the father of Rubio's Press Secretary.  Ailes, Fox News' President, is strongly on board with this agenda as well.

Oh, and by the way, that view is shared by Bloomberg as well.

But of course it is.  It's also shared by Zuckerberg, because it would allow him to fire thousands of high-paid Americans and replace them with H1B visa-holders from India, further feathering his own nest while screwing you blind.

This isn't some random thought.  It's systemic; Disney along with dozens of other firms have been engaged in this for decades, and they will continue for as long as you allow it.

Trump will stop it, first by enforcing existing immigration laws (something neither Democrat or Republican executives have done for the last 20 years) and then by using the bully pulpit of the Presidency to point out the economic and social costs to the American people, inciting them to demand changes in the laws that will restore immigration to its proper place in America.

Look folks, we're all immigrants in this nation unless you're a native American, and few (percentage wise) are.  I was privileged to attend the naturalization ceremony of a good friend a few days ago, and it was quite the moving experience.  Part of it included each petitioner saying a couple of sentences about who they were and how long they'd been here.  Most had spent more than a decade pursing naturalization as Americans and they did it legally, through arduous process and procedure.  That's the right way, and I was honored to watch 60-odd new American Citizens take the oath in Tallahassee at the federal courthouse.

Trump is not anti-immigration; he is anti cheating and jumping the line.  He's an immigrant and he knows it; so are family members.  But every one of them in his lineage and family did it the right way.

Might Trump be a lying snake on both of these points?


But then again, maybe not.  And as things stand right now if you have a desire to see either of those things become front and center in America, two points that will be central to halting and reversing the decay of this nation, there is only one candidate who says he will do these things.

All the rest are saying in plain English that they'll do the opposite.

How many more jobs do you want to lose and how many more of our American servicemen and women do you want to have missing legs -- or lives?

That's your choice folks.

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2016-01-29 08:38 by Karl Denninger
in Earnings , 217 references

The excuse factory is going overtime this morning after Amazon missed (big) last night.

Yes, I get it -- the company had a large year-over-year growth rate.  But do remember, this is the Christmas quarter, and like all retailers if you don't knock the cover off the ball compared against the previous quarter -- you suck.  People are also looking at year-over-year, where the news is also good -- but decelerating. 

And that's really the story here.  In addition you have to be a bit alarmed at some of the trends.  For example, net product sales for 2015 .vs. 2014 were up 13%.  That's good.  Service sales (AWS) were up (much) more, 47%.

Overall, the company sold 20% more "stuff" than last year.  That's a good number.

But..... fulfillment costs were up 25%.  That's a bad number, when fulfillment costs on AWS are zero.  In other words they sold 13% more physical stuff but spent 25% more getting it to you.  Shipping expense is going up twice as fast as is gross sales.

Marketing costs were up 21%.  That's roughly inline with the total top-line number.  Ok.

Technology and content expense?  It exploded higher, rising 35%.  Oops.

The company tried to blame the foreign numbers on currency effects, and they're right as far as it goes.  But that's not the problem -- the problem is that they're not making any money, on balance, and of their segment operating income they're spending nearly half of it on stock grants to executives.  That normally wouldn't matter so much but in this case it does, because it takes a ~4% operating margin and, along with everything else, turns it into a 0.56% net profit margin.

Yes, half a percent, or $596 million on sales of $107 billion.

This is a company that has no earnings power.  At all.

It's a juggernaut that destroys competitors, but it does so by choosing not to make money and relies on the market believing that Jeff Bezos, a very wealthy man, can literally walk on water and never has to actually operate a profitable company.  The market has rewarded this with a $300 billion market cap -- for a company that manages to earn a puny $600 million over an entire year's time.

That's a 500 P/E.

Still, even after the selloff last night.

There are other things to be alarmed over in the financials as well.  PPE increased by 29% against that same 20% increase in gross sales.  In other words the company is increasing their fixed assets roughly 50% faster than they're growing.  That's not good, it's bad; not only does it depress the bottom line it speaks to inefficiency in spades

I know the argument on the other side; that the company "is investing to make money in the future."  Ok, when?  This pattern has been going on for over a decade and it's part of why the company doesn't make any money.  Not then, not now, and, I'd argue, it will not ever.

They're also increasing inventory at a rate exceeding gross sales. That's not good either, although the increase is smaller than on the PPE line.

Where are they controlling costs well?  SG&A is well-controlled (increased under sales expansion percentage) and receivables, which are being watched like a hawk.  Both of those are good.

Payables (being slow to fork it over), not so much - up 24%.  And other long-term liabilities increased a monstrous 34% year-over-year.  I can't find this in capital leases, which are up far-more modestly.... Hmmmm...

Oh, one more thing -- AWS sales growth is slowing.  Market saturation approaching?  Maybe.  It's not a big decline -- yet -- but given the other cloud provider numbers it appears that business is entering the cannibalization stage, as all new "disruptive" things eventually do.  When that stage arrives your growth slows, the less-competent start to lose accounts net-net rather than gain them and margins get squeezed as pricing becomes your primary weapon.  Margin has not yet started to decline in this segment for Amazon, but if I had to guess looking at these results plus those from Microsoft in cloud revenue I'd say that we're one or two quarters away from that process starting to show up in Amazon's balance sheet, at which point AWS becomes "just another business" and its net positive contribution to operating income beings to fade.

So what's the stock worth?  Not zero, to be sure, but not 500x earnings either.

Maybe 30x?

Where does that put the share price?

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Very nice Disney....

Between 200 and 300 Disney IT workers were laid off in January 2015. Some of the workers had to train their foreign replacements -- workers on H-1B visas -- as a condition of severance.

They sued, alleging violations of RICO.

IMHO, good.

To obtain an employee under H1B the company has to show that US employees will not be "adversely affected."

How do you do that when you're not going to only fire people you demand that as a condition of severance they train the H1b replacement?

Good luck Disney... you're going to need it, I suspect, on this one.

PS: Disney isn't the only company doing this.  In fact, it's part and parcel of how firms have "beat earnings expectations" over the last number of years and incidentally, it's also a position (massive increases in H1b Visas) that is linked directly and indirectly to firms like Facebook, media companies like Fox News and others.

Indeed, you might reasonably conclude that this is where a lot of animosity by those firms and media outlets towards Donald Trump is coming from, as he is the only candidate that has said he will put a stop to this crap and instead protect American jobs.

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You can't trust online "polls" but the evidence is that Fox News is having a panic attack.

After Hannity basically begged Trump to come to the "debate" (and was turned down, politely) last night comes the news -- it appears that 85% of the people who responded to an online poll will "stay home" tonight.

That, if it reflects into the ratings, will utterly destroy Fox's revenue from this event.

 You lose Fox.

Incidentally, Fox News and their allies are "open borders and worker displacement" folks.  They all want much higher (essentially unlimited) H1B visas to trash US tech workers (while pocketing a ton of money and "boosting earnings") and "regularization" (read: AMNESTY) for illegals already here.

Trump is against both and they believe he'll do it too, which is why they want him gone.

It's that simple folks -- if Trump is President your job prospects will MASSIVELY improve while NONE of the other candidates will do a damn thing about this problem.

Choose wisely.

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