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Comments on the State of the Economy

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Since I've moved to the west coast, watching CNBC has been a bigger part of my morning routine.  Typically, I find out a few details about companies, but nothing that enormously helps me in making better financial decisions.  Essentially, it's entertainment for me - yes, I'm a big nerd, but you knew that.

Today, it's been extremely interesting and here are a few things that I learned:

  • Light Sweet Crude Oil got very close to $50 a barrel.  This impacts gas prices and is coming down to $50 has got to be a multiple year low.  Yesterday it was at $52 and I think that was a 20 month low.  I'm going to use this information and not fill up my gas tank completely until this price makes it through the system.
  • Ben Bernanke's Senate budget committee meeting - This was great time spent.  I'm the first one to get lost in the terminology of politics, but it seemed that the questions were posed for the general public to understand - and Bernanke answered them that way.
  • One of the questions to Bernanke was from Senator Sanders about the growing wealth inequality in America.  It's true that the middle class in America is disappearing as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Bernanke acknowledged that is a problem and it seems that Brazil is the biggest company with a similar wealth inequality.
  • One of the senators said that 5% of the people use 50% of the Medicare money.  When they looked into a sample of that 5% (the chronically ill) they found that they were "on average" 16 prescription medications.  When looked at those medications they could have been reduced to just 8 when all the conflicting and unnecessary drugs were eliminated.  The problem cited was that these people had too many specialist doctors and one didn't know what tests and drugs the other were prescribing.  Both the Senator and Bernanke seemed to agree that increased health care technology could solve this problem and save the economy millions by reducing these inefficiencies.  I could agree more with this and have been saying it for close to 15 years now (since I was a pharmacy technician at 16).
  • It came up a couple of time during that meeting that Americans are just not saving enough. Almost every study seems to dictate that's the case.  The solution suggested was better education.  One could conclude that no matter what country you are from, if you are reading this today, you are on the right track.  While education is part of it, action is what matters.  So start saving today!

Posted on January 18, 2007.

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