Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Different Breast Cancer Subtypes Account For Different Breast Cancer Mortality Rates In Black And White Women: White Women Have The Highest Rate Of The Least Aggressive Breast Cancer Subtype: Black Women Have The Highest Rate Of The Most Aggressive Breast Cancer Subtype

Different breast cancer subtypes and not differences in medical treatment account for difference in breast cancer mortality rates between Black and White women.

From the National Institutes of Health, "Breast Cancer Is Not One Disease, Experts Say: New focus on tumor subtypes could help patients, according to medical groups" by Robert Preidt:
The report [published March 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Instituteby the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries] "assesses breast cancer as four molecularly defined subtypes, not as a single disease," National Cancer Institute director Dr. Harold Varmus said in an institute news release. "This is a welcome step, [resulting from] medically important information that already guides therapeutic strategies for these subtypes," he said.
The four tumor types are: Luminal A (HR+/HER2-), Luminal B (HR+/HER2+), HER2-enriched (HR-/HER2+), and triple negative (HR-/HER2-).
Some differences in breast cancer rates and deaths between racial and ethnic groups are also tied to differences in the rates of different breast cancer subtypes emerging in those groups, the report suggests.

It said there were unique racial/ethnic group patterns by age, poverty level, geography and specific tumor characteristics. For example, rates of HR+/HER2- breast cancer -- the least aggressive subtype -- were highest among white women.

Blacks had higher rates of the most aggressive breast cancer subtype -- triple negative -- than other racial/ethnic groups,
and also had the highest rates of late-stage disease. Blacks have the highest rates of breast cancer deaths, the report noted. [Emphasis added.]

Average Latter Born Baby Boomer Held a Dozen Jobs Before Age 48

From Bureau of Labor Statisitics, Economic News Release, March 31, 2015, "Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth Among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey Summary:"
The average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly half of these jobs were held from ages 18 to 24.

These findings are from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979; a survey of 9,964 men and women who were ages 14 to 22 when first interviewed in 1979 and ages 47 to 56 when interviewed most recently in 2012-13.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Americans Favor Using Nuclear Energy To Generate Electricity

From Gallup, "U.S. Support for Nuclear Energy at 51%" by Rebecca Riffkin:
A slim majority of Americans (51%) now favor the use of nuclear energy for electricity in the U.S., while 43% oppose it. This level of support is similar to what Gallup found when it last measured these attitudes two years ago, but it is down from the peak of 62% five years ago. Current support is on the low end of what Gallup has found in the past 20 years, with the 46% reading in 2001 the only time that it sank lower.
Source: Gallup
Republicans and Democrats show the greatest differences in their views of oil and nuclear power. Sixty percent of Republicans support putting more emphasis on oil, more than double the 28% of Democrats who support it. For nuclear energy, 47% of Republicans support greater emphasis, compared with 24% of Democrats.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Group Chemically Induces The Human Eye To Have Night Vision: Is Human Sense Enhancement The Next Technological Revolution?

From Science.Mic, "A Team of Biohackers Has Figured Out How to Inject Your Eyeballs With Night Vision" by Max Plenke:
Science for the Masses, a group of biohackers based a couple hours north of Los Angeles in Tehachapi, California, theorized they could enhance healthy eyesight enough that it would induce night vision. To do this, the group used a kind of chlorophyll analog called Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), which is found in some deep-sea fish and is used as an occasional method to treat night blindness.

"Going off that research, we thought this would be something to move ahead with," the lab's medical officer, Jeffrey Tibbetts, told Mic. "There are a fair amount of papers talking about having it injected in models like rats, and it's been used intravenously since the '60s as a treatment for different cancers. After doing the research, you have to take the next step."
And then they waited. From the patent they read, the effects start kicking in within an hour. [Gabriel] Licina and Tibbetts had done their research, going so far as to post a paper called "A Review on Night Enhancement Eyedrops Using Chlorin e6." But they are, after all, a bunch of guys working out of a garage. So they went out to a dark field and tested Licina's new superpowers.

Did it work? Yes.

Friday, March 27, 2015

More International Migration Could Double World GDP

From BloombergBusiness, "Here's One Way to Double the World's $80 Trillion Economy: Scrap Migration Restrictions: Eliminating cross-border barriers could lift global GDP by as much as 147 percent" by Michelle Jamrisko:
While a freer flow of goods alone can boost global gross domestic product by a modest amount, loosening of restrictions to international migration could lift growth worldwide by 67 percent to 147.3 percent, according to economists' estimates cited in research by Mark Wynne, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (Global GDP will probably be $81.5 trillion this year, International Monetary Fund estimates show.)

International migration is the "last frontier of globalization" while also appearing to show the least progress in recent decades, writes Wynne. While voluntary world migration showed progress between 1990 and 2010, it's been a slow climb in the post-World War II era, and nowhere near as simple as the passport-less world of a century ago, he writes.

Source: BloombergBusiness
Source: BloombergBusiness

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Long Term Unemployed College Educated Out Of Work As Long As High School Dropouts

From BloomberBusiness, "College Degree Is No Guarantee You'll Leave Ranks of Unemployed Quickly: College isn't preventing Americans from becoming long-term unemployed" by Gail Degeorge:
...once you're out of work, being better educated barely seems to improve your chances of finding a new job within half a year, a recent analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. Of those ages 25 or older with at least a bachelor's degree who were jobless last year, 37.7 percent were out of work 27 weeks or longer. That compares with 38.3 percent for those who didn't finish high school.

Percent Long Term Unemployed By Education Chart
Source: BloombergBusiness
The pattern also seems fairly consistent. In 2007 -- the 18-month recession started in December that year -- 21 percent of the jobless with college degrees were unemployed long-term, compared with 20.5 percent who hadn't completed high school. [Emphasis added.]

The Irony: An Artificial Sweetener Once Wrongly Believed To Be Cancer Causing Can Actually Inhibit Cancer Growth

From "Saccharin shows promise as cancer inhibitor" on ScienceBlog:
For decades, saccharin was wrongly labeled as a possible cancer-causing chemical. Now, nearly 15 years after it was declared safe, University of Florida Health researchers have found that the artificial sweetener can inhibit cancer cell growth.

Saccharin shows considerable promise for its ability to inhibit an enzyme upregulated in many cancers, helping tumor cells survive and metastasize, said Robert McKenna, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UF College of Medicine. After testing its effectiveness on cancer cells, researchers believe saccharin could eventually lead to the development of drugs that treat highly aggressive cancers affecting the breast, liver, prostate, kidney and pancreas. The findings were published recently in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry and are being presented Wednesday at the American Chemical Society convention in Denver.
The irony of a chemical that was once labeled a potential carcinogen now having potential as an anti-cancer agent wasn’t lost on the research team. Studies in the 1970s linked saccharin to bladder cancer in laboratory rats, according to the National Cancer Institute. Congress ordered further study and passed a law in 1977 that mandated a warning label. Later studies found that the cancer incidence in rats was irrelevant to humans, leading to a repeal of the labeling requirement in late 2000. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared saccharin safe for consumption the following year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Family Values Matter: Nigerian Immigrants More Likely To Get College And Advanced Degrees Than Average American

From The New York Times, "More Nigerian-Americans Are Reaching Highest Levels of Sports" by Jeré Longman:
Typically, these athletes have parents or grandparents who came to the United States to study or to escape the 1980s-era military regime in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, with about 175 million people living in an area twice the size of California.

About 380,000 Nigerian immigrants and their children live in the United States, up from 25,000 in 1980. They have settled in metropolitan areas like New York, Houston and Washington, and as a group, they are far more likely than the overall American population to receive undergraduate and advanced degrees, according to a 2014 analysis done for the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute.

Many in the Nigerian diaspora view sports as a kind of student-athlete ideal with its discipline, work ethic and opportunities to gain access to higher education and professional careers, the athletes, their parents and sports officials said. [Emphasis added.]

Protective Services Jobs Have The Highest Workplace Suicide Rate

From National Institutes of Health, "Workplace Suicides on the Rise, Study Finds: Police officers, firefighters at high risk, and rates are 15 times greater for men than women" by Robert Preidt:
People in protective services jobs had the highest workplace suicide rate at 5.3 per million workers. That's more than three times the national workplace suicide rate of 1.5 per million, the researchers said.

The second highest workplace suicide rate was among people in farming, fishing and forestry (5.1 per million workers), followed by those in installation, maintenance and repair occupations (3.3 per million), the study found. However, a subset of workers in this category -- those in auto maintenance and repair -- had a workplace suicide rate of 7.1 per million workers, the researchers said.

Workplace suicides were 15 times higher for men than for women, and almost four times higher for workers aged 65 to 74 than for those 16 to 24. In comparison, the overall suicide rate outside the workplace was 144 per one million people.

Suicides in the military were not included in the analysis due to data collection issues, according to the authors of the study, published March 17 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Unhappy Hospitals Respond To Financial Incentives

Economists understand that financial incentives matter and that people and entities, even hospitals and doctors, respond to those incentives. Unfortunately, government, legislators, regulators, advisors, the mainstream news media and the general public seem to always be either surprised, dismayed or in denial that money influences behavior.

From The Wall Street Journal, "Medicare Panel Faults Payment Fix as Too Weak: Seeks to change financial incentives on hospital discharges" by Christopher Weaver, Anna Wilde Mathews and Tom Mcginty:
Long-term-care hospitals get smaller payments for short visits, but after patients stay for a certain number of days the payments jump to much larger lump sums.

That gives the hospitals "a strong financial incentive to keep patients" until they qualify for higher payments, "and they appear to respond to that incentive," the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, called MedPAC, said in a report Friday.
Mark Miller, MedPAC’s executive director, said in an interview that the commission’s aim is “to get decisions made on the best clinical basis for the patient and not have practice patterns and discharge decisions driven by purely financial incentives.” The panel said Medicare could act to remove that incentive by eliminating the profitable jump in payments to the hospitals.
Long-Term Hospital Discharges
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Public Pensions Unfunded Obligation Increased Since 2008 Financial Crisis

From The Wall Street journal, "Pension Fight Comes to a Head in Memphis: Public Workers Take Grievances to the Streets" by Timothy W. Martin:
Pension showdowns are brewing elsewhere, as a stock market rising to records isn’t closing funding gaps triggered by big investing losses from the 2008 financial crisis. New pension accounting rules show hundreds of billions in additional obligations.

U.S. public pension liabilities ballooned by 32.7% in the years following fiscal 2008 while assets increased only 14.4%, according to preliminary fiscal 2014 data from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. That leaves public retirement systems with enough to cover 73.5% of future obligations as compared with 85.2% in 2008, according to the data.
Public Pension Funding Obligation Shortfall Chart
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Baby Boomers Accidental Drug Overdose Deaths Increased 11 Fold Between 1990 and 2010: Greater Than Any Other Group

From The Wall Street Journal, "Aging Baby Boomers Bring Drug Habits into Middle Age: Older adults are abusing drugs, getting arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at increasingly higher rates" by Zusha Elinson:
Older adults are abusing drugs, getting arrested for drug offenses and dying from drug overdoses at increasingly higher rates. These surges have come as the 76 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reach late middle age. Facing the pains and losses connected to aging, boomers, who as youths used drugs at the highest rates of any generation, are once again—or still—turning to drugs.

The trend has U.S. health officials worried. The sharp increase in overdose deaths among older adults in particular is “very concerning,” said Wilson Compton, deputy director for the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The rate of death by accidental drug overdose for people aged 45 through 64 increased 11-fold between 1990, when no baby boomers were in the age group, and 2010, when the age group was filled with baby boomers, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mortality data. That multiple of increase was greater than for any other age group in that time span. [Emphasis added.]

Friday, March 13, 2015

With A Smaller Naval Budget, Navy Will Need To Base More US Ships And Crews Overseas

From Congressional Budget Office, "Preserving the Navy's Forward Presence With a Smaller Fleet," Report, March 13, 2015:
In support of its mission to deter conflict or fight in wars if necessary, the Navy considers it a core responsibility to maintain a forward presence—to keep some of its fleet far from U.S. shores at all times in areas that are important to national interests. Toward that end, at any given time, about one-third of the fleet is deployed overseas. The rest of the Navy’s ships are in or near their home ports in the United States for maintenance, training, or sustainment (a period in which a ship is in port but ready to deploy quickly). Most of the ships that contribute to the Navy’s current forward presence of about 100 ships sail from ports in the United States; 31 others are now stationed permanently in foreign countries or at overseas U.S. military bases. In the future, the Navy expects to boost the proportion of ships that it bases abroad.
What Size Fleet Could the Navy Maintain With Smaller Shipbuilding Budgets?
CBO assessed the effects of three smaller annual shipbuilding budgets—$16 billion, $14 billion, and $12 billion—for the next 30 years. In all three cases, by 2044, the fleet would be smaller than would be the case under the Navy’s current plan (click figure to expand):
Source: CBO

  • Under the $16 billion budget, by 2044, the fleet would consist of 251 ships, 17 percent fewer than under the Navy’s current plan;
  • Under the $14 billion budget, it would be 230 ships, 24 percent fewer than under the current plan; and
  • Under the $12 billion budget, it would be 208 ships, 31 percent fewer than under the current plan.
How Could the Navy Maintain Its Forward Presence Under Smaller Shipbuilding Budgets?
The Navy could maximize its forward presence with smaller budgets by expanding the use of three methods that it currently applies to boost overseas operations:
  • Deploying ships for longer periods,
  • Basing more ships and their crews overseas, and
  • Assigning more than one crew to some ships to permit longer deployments.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Government Is Most Important US Problem: Gallup Poll

From Gallup, "Americans Name Government as No. 1 U.S. Problem" by Justin McCarthy:
Americans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans' mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.
Source: Gallup
Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.

My Posted Wall St Journal Comment On FCC Net Neutrality Rules

My posted comment to an article in The Wall Street Journal, "Net Neutrality’s Babes in Toyland: Netflix, Google and Tumblr sent the Internet into Washington’s heart of darkness." by Daniel Henninger:
Regulation protects those who are already in the business and successful. Of course, Netflix, Tumblr and other successful Internet companies want the FCC to use common carrier rules. It protects them, the existing companies, from competition, unforeseen technological change and erosion of profitability. The entitled left has now legally protected its entitlement. No newcomers are allowed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cohabiting Parents Now Account For A Clear Majority Of All Births Outside Marriage

From The Wall Street Journal, "Cohabiting Parents at Record High: Sociologists fret that more children risk losing out on the economic benefits of living in married households" by Neil Shah:
Just over a quarter of births to women of child-bearing age—defined here as 15 to 44 years old—in the past five years were to cohabiting couples, the highest on record and nearly double the rate from a decade earlier, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2011 to 2013.

By contrast, the share of births involving women who are unmarried and not cohabiting fell slightly over the same period, data from the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth show.

The result: Cohabiting parents now account for a clear majority—59%—of all births outside marriage, according to estimates by Sally Curtin, a CDC demographer. In all, 40% of the 3.93 million births in 2013 were to unmarried women.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Electricity Consumption And Economic Development Are Closely Linked

From Mckinsey & Company, Insights & Publications, "Powering Africa: There is a direct correlation between economic growth and electricity supply. If sub-Saharan Africa is to fulfill its promise, it needs power—and lots of it." by byAntonio Castellano, Adam Kendall, Mikhail Nikomarov, and Tarryn Swemmer:
Countries with electrification rates of less than 80 percent of the population consistently suffer from reduced GDP per capita (Exhibit 1). The only countries that have electrification rates of less than 80 percent with GDP per capita greater than $3,500 are those with significant wealth in natural resources, such as Angola, Botswana, and Gabon. But even they fall well short of economic prosperity. Whether people can obtain electricity (access), and if so, how much they are able to consume (consumption) are the two most important metrics that can indicate the degree to which the power sector is supporting national development.

Exhibit 1

Electricity consumption and economic development are closely linked; growth will not happen without a step change in the power sector.

Source: McKinsey & Company

Monday, March 9, 2015

CBO Expects Lower US Productivity And Wages Due To Highest Federal Debt Levels Since 1950

From Congressional Budget Office, "Updated Budget Projections: 2015 to 2025," Report, March 9, 2015:

Source: CBO

Under the assumption that current laws will generally remain unchanged, the budget deficit is projected to decline in 2016, to $455 billion, or 2.4 percent of GDP, and then to hold roughly steady relative to the size of the economy through 2018. Beyond that time, however, the gap between spending and revenues is projected to grow faster than GDP: The deficit in 2025 is projected to reach $1.0 trillion, or 3.8 percent of GDP, and cumulative deficits over the 2016–2025 period are projected to total $7.2 trillion.
With such deficits, CBO projects that federal debt held by the public would amount to 73 percent or 74 percent of GDP over the next several years—more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and more than in any previous year since 1950 (see figure below). By 2025, in CBO’s baseline projections, federal debt rises to 77 percent of GDP.
Source: CBO
Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the nation: When interest rates returned to more typical, higher levels, federal spending on interest payments would increase substantially. Moreover, because federal borrowing reduces national saving over time, the nation’s capital stock would ultimately be smaller and productivity and total wages would be lower than they would be if the debt was smaller. [Emphasis added.]

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Affordable Care Act Insurance Premium Subsidies Will Become The Largest Refundable Tax Credit Ever In A Few Years

From Tax Foundation, "How Big Are the Subsidies in King v. Burwell?" by Alan Cole:

Insurance Premium Credit Subsides Projections By Year
Source: Tax Foundation
By the Joint Committee on Taxation’s most recent estimates, the subsidies were only $15.5 billion, total, in 2014, the first year of their existence. (Most people haven’t even filed their individual taxes for 2014 or determined exactly the final amount.) However, the Committee has that number fast increasing to over $100 billion before the end of the decade. That would make these subsidies the largest refundable tax credit ever. [Emphasis added.]

Lowest Income Earners Benefit The Most From Rubio-Lee Tax Plan

From Tax Foundation, "The Rubio-Lee Plan Would be Good for Everyone, Especially Low Income Earners" by Kyle Pomerleau:
If you take all the pieces of the Rubio-Lee tax plan together, it actually produces the largest increase in after-tax income for the lowest income earners, not the highest.

According to our analysis, the bottom decile of taxpayers will see an increase in after-tax income of 44.2 percent, a percentage increase in income nearly four times larger than the top 1 percent’s increase in after-tax income. But the plan doesn’t just increase the after-tax income of the top and the bottom. All taxpayers will see higher after-tax incomes due to this plan.

And if you account for the increased economic growth that the plan will produce, income for all taxpayers will increase even more. The bottom decile will see a 55 percent increase in after-tax income.
Rubio Lee Tax Plan Distributional Effects
Source: Tax Foundation

Thursday, March 5, 2015

US Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, "Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan"

From US Senate, "Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan" by US Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio:

Lee-Rubio Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan

College Degree Average Return On Investment By Career Field

From BloombergBusiness, "The Career With the Biggest Financial Payoff" by Akane Otani:

Average ROI By Career Field Chart
Source: BloombergBusiness
To figure out how return on investment for a bachelor's degree varies with career choices, PayScale tracked the median salary for people in the U.S. who completed its salary survey online who had graduated between 1995 and 2014. For each career, it looked at the difference in 20-year earnings between someone who had a bachelor's degree and someone with only a high school diploma. From that differential, it then subtracted the cost of college to arrive at the ROI number.

The analysis excluded careers that require advanced degrees, like law and medicine—which explains in part why health care, otherwise a field that can pull in sky-high salaries, was middling on PayScale's list.

After computer, math, architecture, and engineering-related careers, employees working in the business and finance fields were projected to see the third-biggest ROI. They'll earn $331,345 over 20 years, according to PayScale, followed closely behind by workers in sales, marketing, and public relations, who are expected to have a net ROI of $318,212. [Emphasis added.]
In Payscale's discussion of its methodology, its computation correctly includes the extra 4 years of wages of a high school graduate compared to the 4 years of lost wages of a college graduate while attending college. The numbers exclude anyone with a postgraduate degree beyond a college degree.

Payscale's computation is consistent with others that have found a positive ROI for a college degree. Also see my May 15, 2011, blog post, "Four Year College Degree Expected Wage Premium: No Signs Of Tuition Bubble."

A positive ROI for a college degree explains parents and students' willingness to pay higher college tuition, to take on college debt and to enroll in college preparation courses.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NASDAQ Index Has To Reach 6786 To Surpass Its 2000 Year High Of 5000 On An Inflation Adjusted Basis In 2015 Year

Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI calculator, in inflation adjusted amounts, a NASDAQ index value of 5000 in the year 2000 is equivalent to a value of 6786 in the year 2015.

US Infrastructure Spending Has Been A Fairly Constant Share Of GDP For 30 Years

From CBO, "Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014," Report, March 2, 2015:

Source: CBO
Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure Has Been a Fairly Constant Share of Economic Activity for 30 Years
As a share of GDP, public spending on transportation and water infrastructure over the past three decades has hovered at about 2.4 percent, which is 0.6 percentage points lower than the peak of 3.0 percent in 1959. That share rose briefly in 2009 and 2010, to 2.7 percent, as a result of the temporary increase in federal outlays brought about by the enacting of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). [Emphasis added.]