Thursday, April 30, 2009

Census Bureau Reports Security and Commodity Exchange Revenue Nearly $9 Billion in 2007

(A CDC two-fer on Georgia Gallimaufry!)

Securities and commodities exchanges employed 8,852 people with nearly $1.4 billion in annual payroll and more than $8.9 billion in revenue in 2007, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of the 2007 Economic Census Industry Series.

These latest figures outline the finance and insurance sector and provide data on the number of establishments, revenue, payroll, number of employees, value of product lines revenue and other data items at the national level by industry.

Other findings include:

-- Security and commodity contract trade fees represented more than 55 percent ($4.9 billion) of the total revenue of this industry. Payment clearing and settlement fees represented an additional 15 percent ($1.4 billion).

-- Annual payroll per employee for securities and commodities exchanges was $156,363 in 2007, and revenue per employee was $1,010,737.

Industry Series data are available only on the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder. This online system allows data users to access, filter, manipulate and extract data. Data from the 2007 Economic Census for additional finance and insurance industries will be released through December 2009.

The 2007 Economic Census only includes businesses with paid employees. Information on businesses without paid employees is released as part of the Nonemployer Statistics data files.
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Census Bureau Releases Data Showing Relationship Between Education and Earnings

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that workers with a bachelor's degree earned about $26,000 more on average than workers with a high school diploma, according to new figures that outline 2008 educational trends and achievement levels.

The tables also show that in 2008, 29 percent of adults 25 and older had a bachelor's degree, and 87 percent had completed high school. That compares with 24 percent of adults who had a bachelor’s degree, and 83 percent who had completed high school in 1998.

Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008 is a series of tables containing data by characteristics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, occupation, industry, nativity, citizenship status and period of entry. The tabulations also include historical data on mean earnings by educational attainment, sex, race and Hispanic origin.

In 2008, 29.4 million women and 28.4 million men 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or higher. Women had a larger share of high school diplomas, as well as associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. More men than women had a professional or doctoral degree.

Other highlights:

-- Workers with a high school degree earned an average of $31,286 in 2007, while those with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $57,181.

-- The race and Hispanic origin data show that 53 percent of Asians in the U.S. had a bachelor's degree or more education. For non-Hispanic whites, it was 33 percent; for blacks; it was 20 percent; and for Hispanics, it was 13 percent.

-- Among younger adults (age 25-29), 88 percent had completed high school, and 31 percent had completed college. Among adults 75 and over, 73 percent had completed high school and 17 percent had completed college.

The data in Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008 are from the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic supplement, which is conducted in February, March and April at about 100,000 addresses nationwide.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Petition for Health Insurer Code of Conduct Garners Widespread National Support

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The recent call for a National Health Insurer Code of Conduct has won support from a number of groups across the country as many have joined the Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA) effort by signing a petition in favor of regulating managed care industries. Issued on March 10th, AfPA’s petition calls for the adoption of a Code of Conduct, currently being drafted by the American Medical Association, which will address the restrictive practices of the managed care industry that undermine the integrity of doctor-patient relationships.

“Support of the petition from physicians and patient advocacy groups has been encouraging,” said AfPA Chairman David Charles, M.D. “The principles that are advocated for in the code of conduct – transparency, corporate integrity, clinical autonomy and patient safety and welfare – have resonated with the health community, and groups are responding by signing the petition. This wide range of support demonstrates the growing recognition that the time has come for health insurance companies to adopt a voluntary Code of Conduct.”

Just one month after its launch, the petition has been signed by doctor and patient advocacy groups across the country, including the Georgia State Medical Association, Healthy African American Families, Out With Cancer, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health and National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association.

“The AfPA petition is finally giving a voice to concerns over interference in the care physicians provide their patients,” said Dr. Charles. “Groups are working tirelessly to end the increasingly aggressive practices of managed care companies, with an ultimate goal of ensuring patient safety and access to approved therapies.”

Supporters of the AfPA Petition Include:

* Georgia State Medical Association
* The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
* National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association
* The Birmingham Area Fibromyalgia Coalition
* Indiana Minority Health Coalition
* Indiana Society of Sleep Professionals
* Easter Seals of Iowa
* Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
* Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) of Nebraska
* National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ Colorado Chapter
* National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ New York Chapter
* Colorado Council of Black Nurses
* Rocky Mountain Stroke Association
* For Grace
* Healthy African American Families
* MaleCare Prostate Cancer Support
* Out With Cancer
* New York State Rheumatology Society
* Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc.
* Epilepsy Coalition of New York State, Inc,
* Central Jewish Council, Inc.
* Lupus Agencies of New York State
* American Liver Foundation, Western PA Chapter
* Central Pennsylvania Allergy & Asthma
* Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association
* New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHA)
* New Jersey Mental Health Institute
* National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health
* Massachusetts Association for Mental Health

Comments from Supporters:

“Everyone understands the importance of appropriate health care cost containment and managed care is an important part of that effort. However, we see too many instances where the patient doctor relationship is interfered with and access to appropriate care and medication is denied or unreasonably limited. The focus must be on patient well being, outcomes, and improving health care and not on insurer’s balance sheet or bottom line.”

--Tim O’Leary, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Inc., a private non-profit advocacy organization in Boston

"The AfPA's petition is a critical first step to raising awareness of the need for transparency in health care and to ensuring that caregivers and patients are able to put a patient's health first."

--Rosanna Reyes, RN, MPA, President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ Colorado Chapter

"The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies signed on because they believe in the core principles expressed in the Code of Conduct and also strongly believe that quality care must focus on managing care, not costs.”

--Phillip A. Saperia, Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc.

"The Epilepsy Coalition of New York State stands behind the proposed Code of Conduct for health insurers because we believe that restrictions to the patient's access to care undermine the physician-patient relationship and can have severe consequences for individuals."

--Pamela Conford, Chairperson, Epilepsy Coalition of New York State, Inc.

"Central Jewish Council believes strongly that the doctor-patient relationship should be the core of all treatment decisions. Choices in healthcare should be made based on what is best for the patient, not for a company's bottom line.”

--Chaim Wercberger, Central Jewish Council, Inc.

“It is time we act in the best interest of the patients again. Let us not displace the expertise of our physicians with the cost-savings measures from insurers.”

--Dan Suarez, RN, MA, President National Association of Hispanic Nurses/ New York Chapter

“Policies and practices that delay or limit access to necessary medications do not make any sense from the clinical and humane perspectives and further, they just do not make smart fiscal sense. Immediate access to evidence based procedures and medications save money and most importantly, save lives."

--Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., CEO, New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHA)

The AMA House of Delegates passed a resolution in November of 2008 to draft and adopt a National Health Insurer Code of Conduct. According to the resolution, the AMA code will set forth clear and concise principles addressing both medical policies and payment issues, as well as create a mechanism to monitor compliance by managed care companies. AfPA’s petition supports the AMA’s efforts and calls for the inclusion of specific key principles, including clinical autonomy, full transparency, business integrity, and patient safety.

The AfPA petition for a Health Insurer Code of Conduct is accessible on: www.insurepatientaccess.org .

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Price and Money: Wag the Dog?

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Joon Yun, Director, Palo Alto Institute:

Decades ago, when everything and everyone from unions to cartels was blamed for inflation, Friedman rejected the conventional wisdom and posited on the basis of empirical data that money supply drives price levels. He argued that prices increased not due to price and wage increases, but because the federal government made the supply of money grow faster than the real economy created value. This groundbreaking theory, while highly controversial and almost revolutionary at the time, appeared to be vindicated by the "Great Inflation" of the 1970's, and has since become the core tenet of monetarism and modern policymaking. However, in a mark-to-market world, price may act insidiously to drive money supply and amplify boom-bust cycles.

Despite the copious amounts of money printed by the U.S. government through the fall of 2008, asset prices continued to fall precipitously. Relying on the assurance that Ben Bernanke would avert deflation by printing money, as indicated by Friedman's theory, investors betting on hyperinflation were caught leaning the wrong way. Few recognized that credit contraction caused by price declines would annihilate money in a mark-to-market world. The contraction of total money supply overpowered the printing presses of monetarism, and cataclysmic deflation ensued. The Fed has long downplayed the role of asset prices in monetary policy. Yet it is apparent that in a credit-based economy that appraises assets on a mark-to-market basis, asset price inflation creates money and asset price deflation destroys money.

Imagine a marginal transaction that raises the price of an asset - say a house sells in San Francisco for 10% more than it sold for a year earlier. All similar homes in that neighborhood get marked up. Credit institutions then willingly lend against these houses at their new market value - their mark-to-market prices. In this way, small increases in price create vast amounts of collateral, which in turn beget credit, liquidity, money velocity, and eventually total money. The net effect is that the appreciation of asset prices leads to an expansion of the total money supply.

As price increases lead to an increase in the amount of money available to bid on assets, such as our house in San Francisco, these perverse incentives promote further inflation in a "feed-forward" manner: anticipation of future price increases prompts higher bidding. The irony here is that as assets appreciate in price, they actually become more of a bargain, since these assets become scarcer relative to the money supply available to purchase them. This secondary effect is purely monetary and independent of the feed-forward effect of expectations regarding inflation. The potential explosiveness of the vicious cycle of per unit inflation and increase in total money supply is mitigated by human innovation that renders scarce assets more abundant through production i.e., more houses get built.

Conversely, as asset prices decline, the mark-to-market basis of the credit valuation precipitates a dramatic reduction of collateral, leading to a contraction of credit, liquidity, money velocity, and eventually total money. In our example, as houses sell for less all homes are assumed to be declining in value, banks are less willing to lend, and markets eventually freeze up as money is no longer available for buying homes. Price declines and consequent contraction of money creates a feedback loop. No matter how inexpensive they get, homes sold today aren't bargains if they're going to be cheaper tomorrow. Although the price tag of an asset might be lower, the decreased availability of money for bidding would also cause assets to become more expensive relative to the money used to buy them. Counterintuitively, as assets fall in price, they may become less of a bargain.

This phenomenon may help explain the seeming contradiction in purchasing behavior that people have pointed out during this recent deflation. The world seems to be on a half-off sale, yet few parties are behaving as if the deal is a bargain. Asset investors note that assets are falling in price, yet lament the paucity of money to support bids.

When multiple asset classes deflate simultaneously, the feed-forward effect of price declines on total money supply can be dramatic. When asset prices in emerging markets and U.S. equity markets joined the housing markets in decline, American policymakers followed Friedman's script and immediately began to increase money supply to combat the specter of deflation. Many investors similarly weaned on monetarist theory reflexively shorted the dollar and took long positions on commodities.

As these trends gained momentum, inflation lurked during the first half of 2008 due to rocketing commodity input prices. Notably, faith in monetarist policy amongst investors actualized the monetarist credo that an increase in money supply would cause inflation...for a while. Alas, commodity prices peaked in summer of 2008 and soon joined other asset classes in decline, and through the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, asset prices continued to fall precipitously in spite of the continued printing of money by the U.S. government.

A mark-to-cost model for asset appraisal, such as that seen for capital gains tax treatment, would substantially mitigate the insidious feed-forward effect of asset price movements on total money supply. In a cost-based appraisal system, only the house actually sold would be marked up in value; the other houses in the neighborhood would continue to be valued at their purchase prices until sold, and no money would be loaned against their "market value." However, since a mark-to-cost model would be difficult to implement - it would not accurately reflect long term trends, such as a house in San Francisco owned for over a hundred years with a cost way below the market average - a more moderate solution such as asset valuations based on historical trend lines may be more practical. Under this scenario, banks would use an appraisal rate based upon the historical appreciation of homes in the neighborhood, over some set number of years to value the home for lending purposes, rather than the market value at any given moment in time based only on the most recent sales.

This change would seem problematic for America - we are a debtor nation, both to ourselves and to other countries. Stabilizing total money supply at low levels of money velocity could leave the country with insufficient total money to pay off our debts. It would seem that the U.S. remains on an implicit path to print enough money to allow us to inflate our way out of the current crisis, and at some point this policy will create the illusion of success. Eventually, however, the issues discussed above will once again resurface. Price increases will beget the whole cycle of money creation again, initiating the next boom-bust cycle.

The risks involved in implementing a new model for pricing assets may be high, but the risk of ignoring the issue may be a lot higher.

By Joon Yun, Director, Palo Alto Institute - a think tank whose mission is the pursuit of truth through fundamental research.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smokin' in the Boys' Room? Get Ready for the Future

GG Note: Just what will they think of next? Smoking an electric cigarette with a microchip? Just imagine the conversation with the hall monitor at the schools when the kids are caught smoking these in the restrooms!

Smokefree Innotec Sets Production Timeframe

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Smokefree Innotec, Inc. (Pink Sheets: SFIO) announced today that its Rauchless™ or smoke-free cigarette is scheduled for production in the 4th quarter of 2009. This production target was disclosed by Dr. Robert Wang, Vice President of Research & Development of Smokefree Innotec. Dr. Wang, a Swedish national, who is one of the three founders of the company, has succeeded in bringing micro-technology components together in an electric “cigarette” that will allow smokers to experience the sensation of a real cigarette without being subject to smoke or smoking restrictions in buildings and other places where people gather. The smoke-free cigarette has its own microchip that regulates the temperature and length of draught and is expected to be retailed in the same price range as traditional cigarettes. Smokefree Innotec has applied for international patents through its Swiss legal representatives.

About Smokefree Innotec, Inc.

Smokefree Innotec, Inc. is in the business of designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing a hi-tech, smokeless, nicotine delivery cigarette-like electronic device which is completely smoke-free and tobacco-free. Smokefree Innotec’s products are designed to protect the non-smoker from secondhand smoke and all its effects while providing the smoker a way to enjoy a smoke-free cigarette anywhere, including places where smoking is prohibited. Further, our products will allow the smoker to enjoy smoking while not having to worry about the dangers and ill effects of regular cigarette smoking.

A number of statements referenced in this Press Release are forward-looking statements, which are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21B of the Exchange Act of 1934. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, and goals, assumption of future events or performance are not statements of historical fact and may be “forward-looking statements.” Forward looking statements are based on expectations, estimates and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated. Forward-looking statements in this Release may be identified through the use of words such as “expects,” “will,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “believes,” or statements indicating certain actions “may,” “could,” or “might” occur. Such statements reflect the current views of Smokefree Innotec, Inc. with respect to future events and are subject to certain assumptions, including those described in this release. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including the timely development and market acceptance of products, services, and technologies, competitive market conditions, successful integration of acquisitions, the ability to secure additional sources of financing, the ability to reduce operating expenses, and other factors. The actual results that the Company achieves may differ materially from any forward-looking statements due to such risks and uncertainties. Smokefree Innotec, Inc. does not undertake any responsibility to update the “forward-looking” statements contained in this news release.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UGA student sets state cricket-spitting record

David Friedman sent a cricket flying 31.55 feet – with his mouth. Now the University of Georgia junior from St. Simons holds the unofficial state record for cricket spitting.

“I would say the secret is you got to get a good lunge forward with the head and diaphragm,” said Friedman, a finance major in UGA’s Terry College of Business. “Put your whole body into it. My sister and I used to see how far we could spit watermelon seeds, so I guess that helped out.”

Friedman’s unusual honor was awarded during an entomology service-learning class this spring.

The cricket-spitting contest is the newest addition to the annual Insect Zoo hosted by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences entomology department. Now in its 24th year, the zoo’s organizers decided it was time to send things hopping.

Cricket spitting started at Purdue University in 1996 when entomology professor Tom Turpin added the competition to the annual Bug Bowl event there. In 1998, Dan Capps from Madison, Wis., set the current Guinness World Record with a cricket spit of 32 feet and a half inch.

UGA entomology program coordinator Marianne Robinette plans to invite Guinness officials to the 2010 insect zoo. She’s hoping a Georgian will set the world record.

For an amateur, Friedman came close.

“My second cricket reached 31.55 feet,” he said. “I would say it was pretty miraculous, almost like a hole in one, but more like an eagle on a par five.”

In addition to reaching the farthest distance, Friedman’s brown house cricket had to land intact – with six legs, four wings and two antennas. And, he had 20 seconds to accomplish this feat.

Robinette was in charge of the rules and regulations for the contest and making sure the crickets were sterilized.

“We soaked them in alcohol, rinsed them in water and froze them,” she said.

Friedman plans to put his honor and his newly gained insect knowledge to use in the future.

“I’ll be the coolest dad in the world because I will know everything about bugs,” he said. “Or if I am ever lost in the wild, I may know what can or can’t harm me, or what I may or may not eat.”

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Major 2010 Census Operation Under Way

/PRNewswire / -- The Census Bureau has started a massive operation on March 30 to verify and update more than 145 million addresses as it prepares to conduct the 2010 Census.

Nationwide, more than 140,000 census workers will participate in the address canvassing operation, a critically important first step in ensuring that every housing unit receives a census questionnaire in March 2010. All information is kept confidential. The countdown to the 2010 Census is officially one year out on April 1.

"A complete and accurate address list is the cornerstone of a successful census," said Tom Mesenbourg, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau. "Building on the achievements of the 2000 Census, we have been testing and preparing for the 2010 count all decade, and we're ready
to fulfill our constitutional mandate to count everyone living in the United States."

Address canvassing is the first publicly visible activity of the 2010 Census and should conclude by mid-July. The operation will use new hand-held computers equipped with GPS to increase geographic accuracy. The ability to capture GPS coordinates for most of the nation's housing units will greatly reduce the number of geographic coding errors caused by using paper maps in previous counts.

"The primary goal of the census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place," Mesenbourg said. "Because the census is used for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the distribution of more than $300 billion in federal dollars every year to state and local governments, it's essential to get this first step right."

Over the last several years, the Census Bureau has been actively working on updating its geographic databases and master address files. From implementing the Local Update of Census Address program where more than 11,500 tribal, state and local governments participated in a review of the Census Bureau's address list for their area, to increasing the precision of the GPS mapping, many advances have been made to compile the most comprehensive listing of addresses in the nation.

The address canvassing operation will be conducted out of 151 local census offices across the U.S., with most offices beginning on April 6. In most cases, census workers will knock on doors to verify addresses and inquire about additional living quarters on the premises. This is the first census to include group quarters (such as dormitories, group homes, prisons and homeless shelters) in the address canvassing operation, which should improve both the accuracy and coverage of the final count.

There will be one final opportunity to add new home construction in early 2010 prior to the mailing of the census questionnaires.

Census workers can be identified by the official Census Bureau badge they carry. During the address canvassing operation, census workers may ask to verify a housing structure's address and whether there are additional living quarters on the property.

2010 Census workers will never ask for bank or social security information. All census information collected, including addresses, are confidential and protected by law. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with the FBI, the IRS, CIA, Welfare, Immigration, or any other government agency. No court of law or law enforcement agency can find out respondents' answers. All Census Bureau employees -- including temporary employees -- take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

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