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City of Swan's tree cull sparks accountability furoure - WA today

Transition Towns in the media - 46 min 27 sec ago

WA today

City of Swan's tree cull sparks accountability furoure
WA today
The council voted in the majority to bypass consultation with the community and cut down both trees and secretary of community group Transition Town Guildford Peter Langlands said the whole fiasco had highlighted a weakness in the existing community ...

and more »
Categories: TT news

Film Grow discussed by Transition Town Group - Williams Lake Tribune

Transition Towns in the media - 6 hours 29 min ago

Film Grow discussed by Transition Town Group
Williams Lake Tribune
The Transition Town Group will show the film Grow for its next film and discussion night Monday evening at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre. Rob Borsato of Mackin Creek Farms will be on hand to answer your market garden questions. Everyone needs to ...

Categories: TT news

Bold Predictions from the Bubble Crowd

The Daily Reckoning - 6 hours 57 min ago

Uhhh… What happened?

Judging by the headlines in mainstream financial media when we woke up, we were supposed to get an enormous rally after fabulous numbers last night from Apple and Facebook.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq popped more than 1% on the open. But as we write, it’s barely in the green. The Dow and the S&P are likewise flat.

“Today’s action is a huge tell,” reads an email from Greg Guenthner of our trading desk.

“Nasdaq futures were up 50 points before the bell. Gold was down big.

“Thirty minutes later, momentum stocks were selling off hard (again). Facebook was red. Gold soared close to $1,300. There’s a hint of panic under the surface.

“Get out the meat grinder. The psychological damage inflicted by falling momentum and tech names has clearly spooked investors. I think we head lower into the summer.”

The more interesting story everyone’s ignoring is this: The bear cases for Apple and Facebook collapsed with last night’s releases.

Apple’s best days are supposed to be behind it: Steve Jobs is no longer around. Shorter term, Apple’s iPhone push into China is supposed to fall flat on its face: There aren’t enough Chinese with enough disposable income to buy iPhones when they can buy cheaper domestic or Korean models.

Whoops: Apple has now reversed a two-year slowdown in iPhone sales. “Here’s why China is moving the needle now for Apple,” explains Agora Financial investment director Paul Mampilly: “This is the first quarter where they were selling the iPhone in cahoots with China’s biggest mobile phone service — China Mobile (CHL). You see, the Chinese market works a bit like the U.S. market, where people buy their phones and wireless service at the same time.”

No, there’s no breakthrough product on the horizon that’ll get people to line up around the block. “But in the meantime,” says Paul, “the company is doing stuff that makes its investors happy.”

The stock split announced yesterday means “if you own one share of Apple today, you’ll have seven sitting in your account when the split is complete. But remember that a stock split does not change the value of the Apple shares you own. You can think about it like splitting a single pizza. You can split a pizza into five, seven or 10 slices, but it’s still one pizza.”

Doesn’t hurt that Apple is raising its dividend 8% and buying back another $30 billion in stock — which it can afford with $151 billion cash in the bank.

“Apple is still a very cheap stock paying a 2.5% dividend,” says Paul. “It’s still growing about 20% a year based on Wall Street analysts’ estimates, and you buy all that for a price-earnings ratio of 11. Not too shabby.”

And Facebook? “Facebook does what television used to do,” Paul explained in yesterday’s Daily Reckoning — it delivers eyeballs to advertisers.

“The big difference is that the content is created by the users, and it’s created by the users for FREE.”

The knock on Facebook went like this: As Internet use transitions from computers to mobile devices, people will have less tolerance for ads hogging the smaller amount of real estate on a smartphone screen. And they definitely won’t put up with video ads that count against their monthly data limits.

Whoops again: “Facebook,” says Paul, “reported that 59% of its revenue comes from a mobile-based 1.23 billion users. This is up from nearly zero at the time of its IPO in May 2012.

“Overall, Facebook grew its sales by 72% in the first quarter. And if you annualize its sales from this quarter, it’s going to have $10 billion in sales for 2014. Facebook made $642 million for the quarter, or 193% more than last year.

“Facebook is a very fast-growing, highly profitable company. I wouldn’t call it a cheap stock. But my experience is that when stocks are growing as fast as Facebook is growing right now, you’ll never get a chance to buy it really cheap. That was true for Microsoft and Cisco and Oracle in the 1990s. And I believe the same thing is happening with Facebook.”

One more reality check about the “new tech bubble.”

If you’ve seen buzz about it lately, that’s because hedge fund guru David Einhorn — the guy who made a fortune shorting Lehman Bros. in 2008 — recently declared, “We are witnessing our second tech bubble in 15 years.”

One of the factors he cited was that investors and analysts are tossing aside traditional valuation methods — the same way they did when they said earnings didn’t matter in 1999.

Money manager and uber-blogger Barry Ritholtz begs to differ, and he passes along this chart of the Nasdaq 100′s price-earnings ratio. “It speaks for itself,” he says…

“David Einhorn is a very astute trader and an insightful fund manager,” Mr. Ritholtz avers. “He is a smart guy, and I only rarely find myself in disagreement with him. But when it comes to the declaration of an echo tech bubble, I am on the other side of the argument.”

Regards,

Dave Gonigam
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Whether you believe we’re in the midst of another tech bubble, or that it’s just a solid bull market in tech stocks, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for whatever the market decides to throw at you next. Sign up for the 5 Min. Forecast, right here, and learn how you can gain exclusive access to the best investment advice the market has to offer.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - So What Is The Purpose Of A Board Again?

The Market Ticker - 8 hours 32 min ago

A stunning piece of insanity came out of Uncle Warren's mouth today.....

He was asked about the CocaCola resolution put before the shareholders (Berkshire has a big position) and how he was voting on it.  He said he "abstained."

But it was the next statement that left me speechless.

He said that "It's kind of un-American to vote 'No' at a Coke meeting"; adding that "taking them on is a bit like belching at the dinner table."

WHAT?

Worse, in a follow-up he asked if he silently sat for -- or worse, voted for -- other compensation plans he didn't like and he said not only had he but he had never seen anyone in his 55 years speak out against them at a boardroom table!

So exactly what, may I ask, is the purpose of a corporate board if the directors will not vote as the believe is in the best interest of the firm, and worse, what purpose is holding shares in the first place if shareholders won't vote their interests?

What Warren said, in short, is that despite being one of the richest men in the world, despite wielding enormous power through Berkshire's holdings in various companies, far more than you ever will, even for a man like him corporate governance is nothing more than a joke and not only will boards do whatever the hell they want they will also do whatever operating management wants, despite it being their fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of shareholders, not management.

In short not only do you have no voice in the public political sphere you have none in the corporate sphere either.

For extra credit you may attempt to explain why any sane person would comply with the "reasonable requests" of either corporations or government, given these facts.

Categories: Economics

The Price Floor That’s Key to Gold Mining Profits

The Daily Reckoning - 9 hours 9 min ago

Chocolate milk isn’t my ice-cold beverage of choice. But the “brown milk” holds an important lesson for us in the gold market — as you’ll see.

Chocolate milk, however, is my 11-year-old nephew’s favorite — and lemme tell you, that boy can put away some chocolate milk!

Recently, we were hanging out drinking our brown milk, and when the taste hit my lips, I instantly teleported through the wormhole to the last time I had a chocolate milk — back in grade school. It’s amazing what a once-forgone taste or smell can do to you.

Ah, I remember the good old days of school lunch. Sitting at a table with friends, getting a break from the drone of teachers and generally living the easy life! Heck, I even had an affinity for the school menu.

Frankly, I don’t know why school lunch got such a bum rap. I loved it — every day was different. You could mix and match your pizza or steak sub with a pretzel or apple — and of course, you got the choice of regular or chocolate milk. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

…lunch prices in Baltimore County have surged 87% in just 16 years!

Plus, 16 years ago, my last soiree of school lunchdom, you could get all of that for just $1.60.

That’s when I turned to my nephew and asked, “Hey, how much is school lunch these days?”

“Three dollars,” he said.

Holy cow. Three bucks? I was incredulous. Sure, three bucks is a steal for a normal, outside-of-school lunch. But comparing apples to apples, that means lunch prices in Baltimore County have surged 87% in just 16 years! That’s insane.

It also brings us back to the topic of today’s article — no, not chocolate milk — I’m talking about gold!

According to the U.S. inflation calculator, the rate of inflation over the past 16 years was a “mere” 44.9% — which accounts for about half of the 87% surge in prices. I guess the other reason for increased prices comes down to local/state/federal bureaucracy or just good old shadow inflation.

That being said, a 45% drop in your purchasing power in 16 years is the hefty cost of holding U.S. dollars. That’s a losing bet if I ever saw one — and it’s written plain as day on the government’s CPI inflation calculator.

But had you paid for the same school lunch in gold, the price wouldn’t have risen at all. In fact, it would have dropped.

That’s the lesson we can learn from a small carton of chocolate milk. (And I shouldn’t need to remind you that the same buffoons that allow 45% inflation in 16 years not only affect the price of school lunch but could also have an impact your Social Security checks. Ugh.)

Needless to say, gold should still be a part of your investment philosophy. And today there’s reason to believe gold is still a worthy place to stash some cash — particularly the miners look appealing.

And — shocker alert — in case you haven’t noticed, Janet Yellen is a strong dose of the same medicine at the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The same inflationary forces at work for years are continuing to play a large role going forward. That is, the Fed is spinning cash and holding interest rates low to try to goose the economy. To an extent, it’s working, too!

It’s amazing how that works, right? Apparently, when you increase the money supply at an alarming pace and stomp interest rates to the curb, the prices for stocks, houses and everything else seem to rise.

The great inflation continues!

Not to mention, at the rate the government is spending (think Obamacare, ever-rising Social Security benefits, out-of-control congressional spending, etc.) the only way to pay back all of these greenbacks is to print ’em.

All said and done, you and I can count on the status quo at the U.S. Fed for months and years to come.

All of this inflation — and the same force that jabs the price of chocolate milk higher — is going to support the gold market. So even though right now it seems like the price of gold and gold miners are walking on ice, rest assured that there will be demand for the “once and future money”!

From my perch, we’ve found a sturdy floor for gold prices above $1,200.

Whether that support is based on inflation, money supply, supply/demand or any other fundamental factor is still up for debate. But looking at the chart, I’m confident saying it’ll take a large force to push gold below $1,200 and keep it there.

Take a look at the all-important three-year chart for gold:

I say that this chart is all-important because it tells the tale of the short- to medium-term gold market.

After hitting a high of $1,900, gold prices marched lower and continued to fall until we found support at $1,200. That is, twice since mid-2013, gold prices tried to push below $1,200, and twice, prices sharply rebounded. The second time this happened, in December 2013, we can consider this “confirmation” of that price support level.

By no coincidence, once the $1,200 price support was confirmed in December, miners got a boost.

I’ve shared this opinion before in these pages. The reason that miners caught a bid was simple: Up until that point, analysts simply couldn’t get a good read on where the price of gold was heading. Without a reliable commodity price, it was impossible for anyone to grade a miner.

But with price support at $1,200, the calculators start humming.

All things considered, I like gold miners here. I think the price of gold will stay above $1,200, and well-run miners can turn a profit.

Regards,

Matt Insley
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Today, April 24th, was the day most people thought China would officially release its gold numbers. Well, most people thought wrong. If you were subscribed to the FREE Daily Reckoning email edition, you would’ve read all about it. Not to mention, you’d have gotten the real story why China’s hoarding gold. If you’re not subscribed to receive the DR by email each day, you’re tuning out 50% of the actionable ideas we don’t post here on our site. You should fix that. Click here now to subscribe for free, right way.

Categories: Economics

I’m Shocked, Shocked!

The Baseline Scenario - 9 hours 46 min ago

By James Kwak

Technology-land is abuzz these days about net neutrality: the idea, supported by President Obama, (until recently) the Federal Communications Commission, and most of the technology industry, that all traffic should be able to travel across the Internet and into people’s homes on equal terms. In other words, broadband providers like Comcast shouldn’t be able to block (or charge a toll to, or degrade the quality of), say, Netflix, even if Netflix competes with Comcast’s own video-on-demand services.*

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FCC is about to release proposed regulations that would allow broadband providers to charge additional fees to content providers (like Netflix) in exchange for access to a faster tier of service, so long as those fees are “commercially reasonable.” To continue our example, since Comcast is certainly going to give its own video services the highest speed possible, Netflix would have to pay up to ensure equivalent video quality.

Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica has a fairly detailed yet readable explanation of why this is bad for the Internet—meaning bad for the choices available to ordinary consumers and bad for the pace of innovation in new types of content and services. Basically it’s a license to the cable providers to exploit a new revenue source, with no commitment to use those revenues to actually upgrade service. (With an effective monopoly in many metropolitan areas and speeds already faster than satellite, the local cable provider has no market pressure to upgrade service, at least not until fiber becomes more widespread.) The need to pay access fees will make it harder for new entrants on the content and services side; in the long run, these fees could actually be good for Netflix, since it won’t have to worry as much about competition. The ultimate result will be to lock in the current set of incumbents that control the Internet, ushering in the era of big, fat, incompetent monopolies.

Not only is this bad for consumers and for innovation, but it’s a reversal (or at least a severe watering-down) of the FCC’s earlier position on net neutrality, established in 2010 under a different FCC chair. Why did this happen? Well, look at this:

That’s from another article that Brodkin published yesterday, on the revolving door at the FCC. To summarize: Tom Wheeler, the current chair of the FCC, has previously been the CEO of the industry organizations for both the cellular industry (CTIA) and the cable industry (NCTA). The NCTA is currently headed by Michael Powell, a former chair of the FCC. The CTIA announced that its next CEO will be Meredith Attwell Baker. Her résumé goes like this: lobbyist for the CTIA; lobbying firms; National Telecommunications and Information Administration (part of the Department of Commerce), where she sided with Comcast against the FCC; FCC commissioner who voted for the Comcast-NBC merger (that’s Kabletown, for 30 Rock fans); head lobbyist for the NBC division of Comcast; and now CEO of the CTIA.

To put things in more familiar terms, this is roughly like Tim Pawlenty leaving the Financial Services Roundtable to become chair of the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke leaving the Fed to become head of the American Bankers Association, or Phil Gramm becoming a senior bank executive after shepherding the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. (Wait, one of those things actually happened.)

Many business groups like to say that they are against regulation because of free market, big government, economic efficiency, consumer choice, blah blah blah. But in fact, the history of regulation is one of large incumbents (or well-funded, well-connected newcomers) buying politicians and using them to extract rents, raise barriers to entry, erect tariff barriers, and do other things to pad the bottom line. Very occasionally, like in 2009–2010, people sit up and take notice. But most of the time, the casino is open and everyone looks the other way.

* There’s a separate issue about peering deals between different parts of the Internet backbone, which conceptually is a net neutrality issue, but is not addressed by the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

Categories: Economics

Why You Should Tune-Out the Talk of a Tech Bubble

The Daily Reckoning - 11 hours 23 min ago

If you ask us, David Einhorn’s talk of a tech bubble is a heap of horse dung. If you want to see what a real tech bubble looks like, think back to theGlobe.com’s IPO in November 1998.

On the day it went public, the target price for a share was $9… the first trade was for $87… the price soon went to $97 from there… and it closed at $63.50.

It was a single-day increase of 606%. The site’s founders, Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman, were worth nearly $100 million each afterward.

More tellingly, Paternot did an interview with CNN a year later. He got the nickname “the CEO in the plastic pants” from that segment.

Back in the late 1990s… Those companies were barely ideas… let alone businesses.

That’s because they showed him dancing on top of tables in a New York nightclub with his significant other.

“Got the girl. Got the money,” he said.

“Now I’m ready to live a disgusting, frivolous life.”

Later that year… the tides turned… and shares of the globe went from $97 to just 10 cents as its market cap shriveled to next to nothing.

There’s a social mood that supports a stock market bubble, and we don’t have it.

In addition, go back to every time the stock market starts to feature companies with new technology and new business models to go with it. You’ll find that people are skeptical.

But comments made about Facebook, Twitter and others — the ones Einhorn calls “cool kid” companies — could have been said of Google in 2004.

When Google went public, it did not have its current business model in place. Yet buying Google at the IPO was a great investment. I know because I bought some (I don’t own it anymore).

They’re a cash machine now.

Like Einhorn now, I was too skeptical back then. I thought it was a bubble. Instead, it was the beginning of the end of the newspaper business. People are always skeptical of what’s new. It doesn’t help that the stock market sometimes seems a bit crazy to give companies these valuations. But often, in hindsight, the stock market’s judgment is not so crazy.

At the end of the day, Facebook does what television used to do. That is, it keeps you glued to a screen while you’re fed advertising. Twitter’s no different. These are marketing companies that get content created for them for free by their users. Hence their huge profit margins.

Back in the late 1990s, none of the tech bubble companies had revenue. Nothing. Those companies were barely ideas… let alone businesses. But Twitter and Facebook have revenue — $665 million and $7.87 billion last year, respectively.

All the market capitalization that used to be in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Knight Ridder neatly went to Google. That’s because it revolutionized the classifieds business and took it online. Now Facebook and Twitter are cutting in on the action.

The younger generation spends more time on these sites than on the New York Times website. Advertisers are going to pay them for that. If it came down to owning shares of The New York Times or Facebook, I would rather own Facebook.

Regards,

Paul Mampilly
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Paul has been a part of a hedge fund team that managed $10 billion. And there’s one sector he specializes in that he says is rife with investment opportunities: biotechnology. In today’s issue of Tomorrow in Review he gave readers his No. 1 rule for investing in the biotech sector… and how it could help them in building their investment fortunes. Sign up for the FREE Tomorrow in Review email edition, right here, to start getting these kinds of expert tips before anyone else.

Categories: Economics

The Scariest Thing You Don’t Know About Generic Drugs

The Daily Reckoning - 12 hours 47 min ago

Karen Bartlett spent months recovering in the hospital after losing two-thirds of her skin and needing a medically induced coma.

She is now legally blind and has trouble swallowing because of scarring in her throat. She lives off disability payments… all because she took a generic drug.

In 2004, Karen’s doctor prescribed her Clinoril — an anti-inflammatory drug — for shoulder pain. When she went to fill the prescription, the pharmacy gave her the generic version of Clinoril, called sulindac. Soon after taking sulindac, she developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) — a rare and life-threatening skin disorder caused by certain medications, infections, or cancer.

Karen sued the generic-drug maker, and in 2010, won a $21 million judgment. However, last summer, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling because of a much-debated legal point: Generic manufacturers can’t be sued.

You see, the FDA requires generic drugs to carry the exact same labeling as their name-brand counterparts (not including the brand name or trademark). All of the safety precautions, warnings, and related text must be copied exactly.

As it was, the name-brand drug did not specifically warn patients about SJS, so the generic drug didn’t either. The generic-drug maker had no further legal obligation…

The FDA is currently working on changing this rule to force generic drugs to include their own safety warnings, which would allow people to sue generic-drug makers over harmful side effects.

Regardless… Karen’s story isn’t unique. And it underscores a hidden danger of generic drugs: They aren’t as safe as you think…

Most people assume generic drugs are identical to the branded drugs they’re meant to replicate. They figure that makes them as safe as the name-brand stuff. And they’re protected if they experience serious side effects.

But none of that is correct. Generics are not identical… and you’re not safe.

Big government and big businesses aren’t looking out for the individual. It’s up to you to make the best decisions for your health.

So today, I want to empower you to make knowledgeable decisions the next time you’re at your doctor’s office or the pharmacy.

Generic drugs account for more than 80% of all prescription drugs filled in America. And that number is expected to rise over the next five years to 87%, thanks, in part, to the U.S. government.

The Obama administration is pushing the Federal Drug Administration to approve more generics to increase competition and decrease prices. Some estimates say the value of the pharmaceutical industry will soar from $359 billion in 2012 to $476 billion by 2020, due to increases in the number of people insured (including those covered by Medicaid).

Insurance companies all push the use of generics as lower-cost substitutes for brand-label drugs… Because makers of generic drugs don’t have to put all their money into research and development, they can charge less. Of course, the insurance companies receive incentives from the makers to encourage generics.

The momentum behind generics is so strong, it’s likely your pharmacist or insurance company has switched a prescription of yours to a generic alternative without you realizing it. And switching your drug to a generic — without your consent — is perfectly legal.

In theory, this makes sense…

Generics are supposed to work the same way and have the same effects as the name-brand drug. Something called “bioequivalence” means things like the dosing, strength, method of administration, and intended use should be the same.

Measuring bioequivalence is a difficult process to explain, but it is the crux of the problem. So bear with me…

Basically both drugs — the name brand and the generic — are given to patients over a certain time interval, say for 72 hours. The amount of the drug in each patient’s bloodstream is measured hourly. This is called the “plasma concentration.”

The concentrations of each patient are averaged, giving the mean concentration for that time period. This gives something we call a metabolic pattern — how the mean concentration changes over time in a set percentage of people. As long as the pattern for the generic is close enough to the brand name, it can hit the market.

But here’s the scary part: The FDA won’t release the bioequivalence studies that determine their judgment.

Worse… even if the bioequivalence is close, that doesn’t always mean the generic will act the same way as the name-brand drug. What’s advertised as the same drug with the same dosage may have anywhere from 15% less to 25% more of the drug’s activity in the body… This means the generic could be slightly more or less effective than the brand-label version.

The ingredients can also be different. The only ingredient that generics need to have in common with the name-brand drug is the active ingredient. That means all preservatives, binding materials, coatings, dyes, and flavorings are fair game. The generic-drug maker will often switch to lower-cost ingredients (another reason generics are cheaper).

This is all legal and approved by the FDA…

But these differences in inactive ingredients — called “excipients” — lead to possible side effects not found taking the brand-label drug. For example:

The FDA doesn’t test for these substances. And even if it did, around 40% of the drugs taken in America are from outside the country.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, at the rate global laboratories have grown in the generic market, it would take the FDA 13 years to see every foreign laboratory just once. Don’t count on the safety or efficacy of that generic drug.

And some of the foreign laboratories have already displayed safety issues.

Ranbaxy Laboratories (owned by pharmaceutical giant Daiichi Sankyo Co.) recalled atorvastatin (the generic of Lipitor) in November 2012 when reports of possible glass particles in the capsules made their way into headlines.

Eventually, Ranbaxy’s atorvastatin made its way back onto the market. But the drug was recalled again in February 2014 when a pharmacist in the U.S. spotted a 20-mg tablet in a clearly sealed 10-mg bottle.

Last May, the manufacturer pleaded guilty to charges made by the FDA that it had filed false claims and had been producing adulterated drugs. It had to pay $500 million in fines.

One of Ranbaxy’s labs in Toansa, India just failed a January 2014 FDA investigation. In the sample preparation room, the flies were “too numerous to count,” and many windows could not be shut. A refrigerator with samples had filled with water and leaked onto the floor, as well. Workers also did not run proper screening tests for sample quality. The FDA prohibited the plant from producing and distributing drugs.

Unfortunately, dozens of labs have safety issues. You can see a full list of labs that haven’t passed FDA inspection here.

Don’t get me wrong… not all generics are bad. But I believe in transparency and empowering consumers.

Remember… generic-drug makers CANNOT be sued if you have a reaction.

Before you start using a generic, ask your doctor or pharmacist some specific questions…

If you are on a blood thinner, ask about how often you should get your blood checked. Make sure to ask if you should get it rechecked when/if your prescription gets changed. The answer should be yes.

Do your research before you harm yourself. Remember… generic-drug makers CANNOT be sued if you have a reaction. They are required to copy the label verbatim from the original drug. Watchdog groups and online forums can help if you start feeling like the drug is causing problems.

Certain kinds of drugs require delicate and tight therapeutic dosing regimens. With things like mental illness, epilepsy, and blood thinning – ask your doctor about generics and which ones are the best substitutes for your name-brand drug.

Once you start the generic, make sure you monitor your symptoms. Any recurrence of symptoms could mean the generic isn’t working. If that’s the case, ask your doctor if you can switch to the brand name.

Also, keep a log of your medications. Every time you get a refill, make note of the name, brand, distributor, color, and medication dose. Give this journal to your doctor/spouse/kids – everyone. This is a simple way to keep track of your medications, and it can save your life if you’re ever in the hospital.

If you want the brand name, some insurance companies will make you pay a higher co-pay or claim the drug is not approved and refuse to pay for any portion of it – making you cover the full cost.

If you’re worried about the added cost, there are ways to save money on prescriptions.

An “authorized generic” is a generic-label version sold by the brand-label manufacturer. It’s a lower-cost version of the exact same drug.

The same company makes it with the exact same ingredients. This allows the manufacturer to corner the market on the generic form of the drug, pushing out other potential generics. For consumers, it means getting the exact same drug as the brand-label drug… avoiding any variances that come with using the generics from a different manufacturer.

The FDA maintains a list of authorized generics. You can see it here.

Another way to save money… Take a double dosage of your medicine every other day. So instead of taking 5 mg a day, take 10 mg every other day. Since a 90-day supply of 10-mg pills costs the same as the 5 mg, you’d save 50% instantly on your drugs. Just check with your doctor to see if this could work, as some medications work best taken every day, regardless of the amount.

Another way to save is with coupons. Like other consumer-product providers, drug companies offer coupons. The coupons are distributed to doctors and pharmacists. Not all companies provide coupons. But feel free to call up your doctor or pharmacist and ask if any coupons are available for your prescriptions.

You can also find printable coupons online: www.GoodRx.com and www.RxPharmacyCoupons.com are good resources.

You can also buy your drugs in bulk. Buying a 90-day supply of your medications can save you up to 40%, versus buying your medication every month. The simplest way to do this is to ask your doctor to write out a prescription for a 90-day supply, with multiple refills as necessary.

At a Walgreens in Baltimore, we found that a 90-day supply of Lipitor costs $57.10 versus $24.70 for a 30-day supply. This could save nearly $20 per refill. Before you buy in bulk, check how soon the drug will expire.

Again, I’m not against all generics. But it is important to know the possible dangers when taking a generic drug. Always keep a list of what you’re taking and talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Doc Eifrig
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Tips to keep you safe… Natural health cures that don’t require you to get a doctor’s prescription… Healthcare alternatives that save you money and keep you healthy… These are the things that Laissez Faire Today brings to you. Click here and subscribe for FREE so you don’t miss out on any future tips or ideas..

Article posted on Laissez Faire Today

Categories: Economics

An Unlikely Source of Dirt-Cheap Energy

The Daily Reckoning - 14 hours 19 min ago

Solar power is celebrating a big event. The solar panel turns 60 on Friday– but this birthday celebration will be unlike any other the industry has seen so far.

I know what you’re thinking…

Solar’s an interesting idea. But it’s nothing new. Why bet on an industry that’s had a long history of over-promising and under-delivering?

“You wouldn’t be wrong to think that,” chimes in Rude researcher Noah Sugarman. “It’s not that unlimited renewable energy from the sun was ever a bad idea. The timing was just wrong. But now that’s all changed – the market’s ready for solar.”

In the past, solar energy’s high price tag meant its wide-spread usage was nothing more than a pipe dream. But now an event 60 years in the making just occurred – solar is potentially cheaper than oil and Asian liquefied-natural-gas.

“That’s an absolutely violent decline in solar pricing,” Noah explains. “While other sources of energy have fluctuated in a relatively tight range in recent years, solar just keeps getting cheaper. Best of all, this is a story that will get even more interesting down the road. As a technology, Solar will keep dropping. Fossil fuel extraction, on the other hand, will continue to become more expensive.”

We’re already seeing results from the big drop in solar costs. The U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association sees more solar installations in the past 18 months than in the previous 30 years. 37,007 megawatts of solar power installations in 2013 alone drove a 35% increase in world solar power capacity.

Even more exciting – solar still sees just .17% of the overall energy market. Just imagine what will happen to solar stocks if that share is increased to as little as 5% – never mind the majority of overall energy usage.

Solar’s promise has been marred for decades by high production costs that translate into pretty low outputs. Practical hurdles have limited its usage, especially in comparison to much cheaper fossil fuels. But if this is true, you’re looking at the ground floor of arguably the biggest energy development in recent memory.

A solid play on this trend is the Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSE:TAN). After fading over the past couple of months, it looks like it’s ready for another run…

Regards,

Greg Guenthner
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. There are plenty of opportunities to buy solar stocks in this market. Sign up for the Rude Awakening for FREE to see what names you can trade for big gains today…

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - What To Make Of The Earnings Parade?

The Market Ticker - 15 hours 21 min ago

In a word, meh.

Verizon churn was up some, postpaid getting hit a bit too.  Am I impressed with this?  No, as I pointed out this is now a mature business and therefore all you're doing is eating one another.  Not a growth industry folks, period.

How about Apple?  The market loves the "China Story."  Uh huh -- how about iPADs?  Down big sequentially and on an annualized basis, which is bad news.  Yes, China had a lot of shipments but they were of the lower-priced products so ARPU was down.  How do you spell "commodity product and margin compression" again?  Of course Wall Street needs a "story", so it gets pumped by $40, then just to play the game the company announces a split.  Big deal.  If you have gotten some of your sore butt back overnight I certainly wouldn't be looking to commit more capital on this mess.

Qualcomm.  Uh, yeah.  What goes into all the mobile products at the build level?  Uh, yes.  Do you like their numbers?  Not me, and neither does the market.  Then there's the Wells Notice.

Facebook.  You want to cheer this one?  Get out.  First, the gains are bleeding back off and it is now under where it opened.  Second, the stock was priced for perfect and yet what you got wasn't, and worse, the forward story is less growth.

No, no and no.  Not at this multiple.  The CFO leaving isn't a good story either irrespective of the spin.

How long will the hype machine -- and Cramer's screaming -- keep levitating prices?

We'll see, but if I had been long any of the big poppers this morning (I wasn't) I would have been out before the bell with my money and enjoying the beer at the local bar.

My money is on these "pops" bleeding back off within a week, and then there's Netflix which has now lost almost all of it's earnings pop as of this morning.

Look out below folks.

 

Categories: Economics

Finally: Open Source Broccoli and Kale

Energy Bulletin - 17 hours 25 min ago

The past thirty years have seen a massive patent grab to control agricultural seeds and the crops that are grown, not just in the US but around the world.

Categories: Peak oil news

Evaluating your community currency

Energy Bulletin - 17 hours 46 min ago

From local currencies to time banks, more and more people and organisations are setting up new forms of exchange in a bid to tackle the social, economic and environmental problems they see in their communities.

Categories: Peak oil news

Why Degrowth?

Energy Bulletin - 18 hours 5 min ago

Bill Rees recorded in April at the Vancouver Degrowth Event on why degrowth is the only realistic path to sustainability.

Categories: Peak oil news

Solar Warriors vs. the Black Snake of Tar Sands

Energy Bulletin - 18 hours 6 min ago

This past week, Henry Red Cloud, a descendent of Chief Red Cloud and President of Lakota Solar Enterprises, was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Obama for his leadership in renewable energy.

Categories: Peak oil news

Resilience, impact, and learning

Energy Bulletin - 18 hours 32 min ago

Resilience is about the capacity of a system to be able to respond to change.

Categories: Peak oil news

A Proposed Scar on Alaska’s Brooks Range – The Road to Ambler

Energy Bulletin - 18 hours 46 min ago

If Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell gets his way, an industrial road through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is in our future.

Categories: Peak oil news

Peak Oil Notes - Apr 24

Energy Bulletin - 18 hours 58 min ago

It has been an active week for the oil and gas markets as the Ukrainian situation worsens and US crude inventories rose to all-time highs.

Categories: Peak oil news

The New Farmer’s Almanac

Energy Bulletin - 19 hours 21 min ago

Like the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the New Farmer’s Almanac offers long range weather forecasts, full moon dates, sunrise and sunset times, best planting dates, crop advice, tides tables, riddles, games, recipes, songs, and folk wisdom.

Categories: Peak oil news

Refusing the Call: A Tale Rewritten

Energy Bulletin - 19 hours 22 min ago

I have been wondering for some time now how to talk about the weirdly autumnal note that sounds so often and so clearly in America these days.

Categories: Peak oil news

Town Briefs - Andover Townsman

Transition Towns in the media - 20 hours 14 min ago

Town Briefs
Andover Townsman
Steve Chase, a longtime Quaker activist and local community organizer for the global Transition Town Movement, will lead the talk. Chase is educational director of the environmental studies master's program in advocacy for social justice and ...

Categories: TT news
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