The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill: Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures

The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill

Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL | Published: June 1, 2013

Healthcare cost

MERRICK, N.Y. — Deirdre Yapalater’s recent colonoscopy at a surgical center near her home here on Long Island went smoothly: she was whisked from pre-op to an operating room where a gastroenterologist, assisted by an anesthesiologist and a nurse, performed the routine cancer screening procedure in less than an hour. The test, which found nothing worrisome, racked up what is likely her most expensive medical bill of the year: $6,385.

That is fairly typical: in Keene, N.H., Matt Meyer’s colonoscopy was billed at $7,563.56. Maggie Christ of Chappaqua, N.Y., received $9,142.84 in bills for the procedure. In Durham, N.C., the charges for Curtiss Devereux came to $19,438, which included a polyp removal. While their insurers negotiated down the price, the final tab for each test was more than $3,500. Read more of this post

Under David Steiner’s leadership, Waste Management stepped up its game and modernized its image. A focus on pricing, and a tiny violin.


Turning Trash to Cash


Under David Steiner’s leadership, Waste Management stepped up its game and modernized its image. A focus on pricing, and a tiny violin.


On the surface, at least, David Steiner is as casual as they come. The CEO of Waste Management, the nation’s largest trash hauler, regularly cracks jokes in the halls of its Houston headquarters, and ribs colleagues whenever his beloved Louisiana State University Tigers beat football rivals. He has even been known to rip off his shirt at a company gathering to reveal a fake tattoo pasted on his chest, in honor of a company driver sporting the actual tat. Spend just a few minutes with Steiner, 53, and it’s easy to understand why he was voted the class wit in high school, and president of his college fraternity.

Yet, behind the antics is a deeply serious, analytical chief executive, who is said—only half in jest—to have a mainframe computer for a brain. Steiner is fond of focus groups and data, and has relied on both to change the culture of Waste Management (ticker: WM), which he has led since March 2004. Read more of this post

Investing in spinoffs—and often their parent companies—can be a ticket to market-beating returns


Graduation Day for Spinoffs



Investing in spinoffs—and often their parent companies—can be a ticket to market-beating returns. But not all are created equal: Four ways to play the recent crop.

The best parents know when their offspring are ready to go off on their own. And when corporate parents spin off parts of their business, it’s often the best thing for investors as well.

Graduation is in the air, and more companies are considering divesting businesses through spinoffs. Last month, industrial company Dover Corp. (ticker: DOV) said it planned to spin off a fast-growing consumer electronics unit. Two media conglomerates—Time Warner (TWX) and Barron’s parent News Corp (NWS)—have announced splits that separate their publishing units from other media properties. And a wave of corporate activism is pushing other executives to consider such moves. While PepsiCo (PEP) has fended off calls to split its snack and drink business in the past, Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said in April that the company is exploring “sensible opportunities to unlock incremental value through meaningful structural alternatives,” amusingly dense corporate jargon that kicked off spinoff speculation.

A good parent company knows when it’s time to let a fledgling business fly solo. And savvy investors know those new companies are good buys. Read more of this post

The Many Ways That Cities Cook Their Bond Books; The $3 trillion municipal debt market is rife with creative accounting

Updated May 31, 2013, 7:01 p.m. ET

The Many Ways That Cities Cook Their Bond Books

The $3 trillion municipal debt market is rife with creative accounting.


It has been a busy few weeks for the Securities and Exchange Commission. In May, the SEC charged two cities—Harrisburg, Pa., and South Miami, Fla.—with securities fraud for allegedly deceiving investors in their municipal bonds.

This follows similar fraud charges against states, New Jersey in 2010 and Illinois in March, after SEC investigators uncovered what they called “material omissions” and “false statements” in bond documents related to those state’s pension funds. Read more of this post

Trust: Easy to Break, Hard to Repair; renowned short-seller Jim Chanos points out that the average investor is right not to trust the integrity of the financial markets

May 28, 2013, 11:18 AM

Trust: Easy to Break, Hard to Repair

By Jason Zweig

In this interview, the renowned short-seller Jim Chanos points out that the average investor is right not to trust the integrity of the financial markets. (Someone showed a nice touch by posting it on April Fool’s Day.)

In the interview, Chanos makes three important points.

First, in recent years financial fraud has rarely been detected and exposed by the people the public might reasonably expect to do so: accountants, regulators and law-enforcement authorities, whom Chanos calls “the normal guardians of the marketplace.” Instead, frauds more often have been rooted out by whistleblowers, short-sellers and journalists. Read more of this post

China’s Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers and Workers Who Are Remaking the World in Beijing’s Image

China’s Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers and Workers Who Are Remaking the World in Beijing’s Image


Release date: February 19, 2013

The first book to examine the unprecedented growth of China’s economic investment in the developing world, its impact at the local level, and a rare hands-on picture of the role of ordinary Chinese in the juggernaut that is China, Inc.

Beijing-based journalists Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo crisscrossed the globe from 2009-2011 to investigate how the Chinese are literally making the developing world in their own image.  What they discovered is a human story, an economic story, and a political story, one that is changing the course of history and that has never been explored, or reported, in depth and on the ground.  The “silent army” to which the authors refer is made up of the many ordinary Chinese citizens working around the world – in the oil industry in Kazakhstan, mining minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, building dams in Ecuador, selling hijabs in Cairo – who are contributing to China’s global dominance while also leaving their mark in less salutary ways.  With original and fresh reporting as well as top-notch writing, China’s Silent Army takes full advantage of the Spanish-speaking authors’ outsider experience to reveal China’s influence abroad in all its most vital implications – for foreign policy, trade, private business, and the environment. Read more of this post

China’s Economic Empire: The biggest threat from Beijing is the aggressive spread of state capitalism.

June 1, 2013

China’s Economic Empire



HONG KONG — THE combination of a strong, rising China and economic stagnation in Europe and America is making the West increasingly uncomfortable. While China is not taking over the world militarily, it seems to be steadily taking it over commercially. In just the past week, Chinese companies and investors have sought to buy two iconic Western companies, Smithfield Foods, the American pork producer, and Club Med, the French resort company. Europeans and Americans tend to fret over Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, its territorial disputes with Japan, and cyberattacks on Western firms, but all of this is much less important than a phenomenon that is less visible but more disturbing: the aggressive worldwide push of Chinese state capitalism.

By buying companies, exploiting natural resources, building infrastructure and giving loans all over the world, China is pursuing a soft but unstoppable form of economic domination. Beijing’s essentially unlimited financial resources allow the country to be a game-changing force in both the developed and developing world, one that threatens to obliterate the competitive edge of Western firms, kill jobs in Europe and America and blunt criticism of human rights abuses in China. Read more of this post

Richard Thaler: Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands

June 1, 2013

Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands



GIRLS are generally outperforming boys in high school, and then proceeding in greater numbers to attend and graduate from college. And as women take the helm as chief executives of more major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M. and PepsiCo, there are hints that the glass ceiling may be at least cracking, if not breaking.

Such developments should encourage aspiring young women to believe that social norms are changing, and that barriers to success are dropping. But a new study reveals that women’s gains on the economic front may be contributing to a decline in the formation and stability of marriages.

One reason for this decline may be that women with greater earning power have greater economic security that allows them to leave bad marriages. Yet another possibility is that many men seem to be clinging to a social norm from the “Mad Men” days: that the husband should be the primary earner in a family. Read more of this post

In the Book “Buy Side”, A Wall Street Trader’s Crash Landing

June 1, 2013

A Trader’s Crash Landing



REMEMBER Bud Fox, the callow, young go-getter portrayed by Charlie Sheen in the 1987 movie “Wall Street”? Ever wonder how Bud’s career would have gone had he lasted another 10 years or so? Frankly, me neither.

But I suspect that things might have turned out almost as badly as they did for Turney Duff, a callow, young hedge fund trader who writes of his own noteworthy flameout in a bracing new Wall Street memoir called “The Buy Side” (Crown, 320 pages). Read more of this post

Why Canadians may never realize their dream of having U.S. prices

Why Canadians may never realize their dream of having U.S. prices

Dan Ovsey | 13/05/23 | Last Updated: 13/05/23 10:36 AM ET
In 2011, an average of 3.4 million Canadians made a conscious choice to hop in their vehicles each month and make a run for the border — to shop.

That trend is likely to grow in the near future given that the federal government’s 2013 budget announced the introduction of new tariffs to be imposed on goods entering Canada from 70 different countries, costing Canadian consumers an estimated $330-million more each year in retail prices.

Cross-border shopping is far from new, of course. For decades, Canadians have been traversing the 49th parallel for deals on everything from clothing and accessories to household goods, electronics and furniture. Even when the exchange rate was unfavourable and duties had to be paid at the border, the price difference still made a cross-border shopping trip worthwhile. Read more of this post

The Future of the Web is Video

The Future of the Web is Video
by  on May 28, 2013
Video is not only the future of the web—it’s the future of digital communication, and a disruptive force across platforms. This presentation follows video’s journey on the web, then focuses on where it lives today, where it’s going tomorrow, and how different players are to leverage its potential. Emerging technologies are part of this transition, but there’s a human story at the core—how we process information and how we tell stories.

Beware the Hidden Costs in Tech; Stock-based compensation is often overlooked on Wall Street, leading to understated price/earnings ratios for companies like Google, and Facebook


Beware the Hidden Costs in Tech


Stock-based compensation is often overlooked on Wall Street, leading to understated price/earnings ratios for companies like Google, and Facebook.

When is a profit not a profit? For tech investors, that is the question.

Many highflying tech companies encourage investors to ignore significant stock-based compensation expense when calculating earnings. Investors willingly oblige.

As a result, a range of companies, including Facebook (ticker: FB), Google (GOOG), (AMZN), (CRM), LinkedIn (LNKD), and VMware(VMW), have higher price/earnings ratios than are apparent based on Wall Street estimates that generally exclude the often very significant cost of stock-based compensation. Read more of this post

Vending machines in Japan have become a stubborn barometer of the country’s struggle against deflation

May 31, 2013

One Obstacle Won’t Budge in Japan’s Fight With Deflation


TOKYO — Vending machines stocked with sodas are ubiquitous here, tucked away, it seems, in every nook and cranny of the country. They are found along Omotesando, the tree-lined shopping avenue known as the Champs-Élysées of Tokyo, and their glow lights up the back streets of hot spring towns like Hakone. They are even atop Mount Fuji, Japan’s 12,000-foot, snow-capped mountain.

The vending machines are also a symbol of the country’s big economic problem: deflation. The price of a soda in a vending machine has stubbornly remained the same for 15 years. Now, as back then, a can of Georgia Coffee, Pocari Sweat sports drink or Kirin Lemon soda typically sells for 120 yen, roughly $1.20. Some discount machines sell cans for as little as 80 yen, less than the price they fetched in the 1980s. Read more of this post

Infosys Brings Back Founder as Chairman in response to shareholder demands to revive the struggling technology company

June 1, 2013, 5:43 a.m. ET

Infosys Brings Back Founder


BANGALORE—India’s Infosys Ltd. 500209.BY +3.00% brought back its founder, N.R. Narayana Murthy, in response to shareholder demands to revive the struggling technology company.

Mr. Murthy was named executive chairman and added to the board Saturday. He will hold the post for five years. He served as the chief executive, chairman and chief mentor of Infosys before being appointed chairman emeritus in 2011. Read more of this post

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