Through 22 consecutive innings — spanning from the second inning of Sunday’s loss to the San Luis Obispo Blues to the end of the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Healdsburg Prune Packers — the Humboldt Crabs scored one lone run.During the final four innings of Thursday’s game the Crabs, which entered the contest averaging less than 2.5 runs-per-game, scored a dozen runs en route to a 12-7 comeback win over the Prune Packers at Recreation Park in Healdsburg.“We’ve been struggling …
Lille inform Chelsea, PSG they’re ready to sell Thiago Mendesby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLille have informed Chelsea they’re prepared to sell Thiago Mendes next month.Last summer, Chelsea asked Lille to keep them informed of the Brazilian’s situation with the view to bringing him to England.RMC says Lille have told suitors they’re prepared to sell Thiago Mendes in January.Chelsea are in contact, along with Wolfsburg and Schalke 04.PSG are also interested in the midfielder, who they see as a replacement for contract rebel Adrien Rabiot. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
(Nikita Jack, right, with Zane Kahpeaysewat, left. RCMP officers are trying to contact Jack. Facebook photo)APTN National News UPDATESurrey RCMP investigators have been in touch with someone who had recently interacted with Nikita Jack and she appeared to be fine and not in any immediate harm, her aunt Jo-Ann Isaac said.Isaac said RCMP had contacted family members to relay the news, but would divulge little more.Isaac said police would continue the investigation.It remains unclear where Jack is at the moment. Jack’s bank card was used in Calgary, police said Tuesday.Jack’s family reported her missing to police on Feb. 12. Her family said she went missing on Feb. 10 after dropping off her three-year-old daughter at a cousin’s house in Surrey, B.C.By Jorge BarreraAPTN National NewsSurrey RCMP investigators are trying to track down a 23-year-old First Nations woman who was last seen this past Thursday after leaving her three-year-old daughter at a relative’s home in Surrey, B.C.Nikita Jack disappeared after she stopped by her aunt’s home with her daughter Hazel in the evening to pick up two pieces of mail. She told her cousin who was home that she was stepping out to flag down a friend who was coming by to pick her to go out for coffee.The RCMP has not been able to contact Jack, but banking transactions indicate her bank card was used several times over the last few days. The last transaction occurred in Calgary and her bank card was used previously to buy a bus ticket in Langley, B.C., for a trip to Kamloops, B.C.Investigators have not been able to confirm who is using Jack’s bank card. Police do not yet have visual identification of Jack using her card.“We are treating it as a missing persons case,” said Cpl. Holly Turton. “Once we have determined she is okay, our investigation will be concluded. Until we do that we are going to continue and it will be treated as a missing persons investigation.”As of Tuesday afternoon, Jack, who kept in constant contact with friends and family by text messaging, Facebook and email, had not been in touch with anyone since Thursday.Jack’s family and friends are concerned for her safety and issued a press release and photograph Monday urging the public to contact police if they spotted her.Jack is described as being “Aboriginal” in appearance and about 5’5 in height. She has two tattoos on her hands. On her left hand are the initials NJ, which stands for her name, and ZK on her right hand, which stands for Zane Kahpeaysewat, a boyfriend who has had trouble with the law.The tattoo on her right hand is infected, her aunt Jo-Ann Isaac said.Jack’s mother Angie Isaac said Jack met Kahpeaysewat in Kamloops, they broke up and got back together. Kahpeaysewat spent a stint in a B.C. jail and was released in January, said Isaac.“I met him once in Kamloops he didn’t say much to us, we didn’t have much eye contact,” said Isaac.The family believes that Kahpeaysewat may hold the answer to Jack’s current situation.“We don’t know if she is with him or where she is,” said Jack’s father Gerald Jack, his voice quivering with emotion. “We haven’t got a clue. As a father, I have been spinning like crazy. I don’t know what to think. I am afraid for her safety.”Kahpeaysewat’s travelling options, however, are limited. He is wanted by Saskatoon police for assault causing bodily harm for a domestic related situation. A police spokeswoman said the warrant out for his arrest is limited to Saskatchewan.Nikita Jack’s friend Sylvia Charlie, who visited Jack’s empty apartment, said Jack was with Kahpeaysewat last Thursday afternoon. Charlie said she took care of Hazel while the two went out for about three hours, coming back around 4 p.m.“When she came back, she didn’t seem like herself. She looked really down,” said Charlie. “She went and grabbed her daughter and hugged her and told her that she loved her.”Charlie said she then saw Jack go to the refrigerator and begin gathering photos of her and her daughter. The photos were back on the refrigerator when she returned to the apartment Sunday night, she said.A few hours after Charlie left following the babysitting stint, Jack texted her cousin asking if there was any mail for her. Jack lived with her aunt before moving out on her own.“She said she was going to come over within the half our,” said Tim Leon, Jack’s cousin.While she was with Leon she checked two pieces of mail, chatted on a cell phone and then said she had to step out to meet a friend at the end of the road who didn’t remember the address.“It was 10 to 15 minutes…and then 20 minutes and still nothing,” said Leon. “Then, I kind of got worried and started calling her, sending text messages and no answer.”Leon said Jack left a bag of Hazel’s clothes, a car seat and a stroller outside.Her daughter was inside. It was about 8 p.m.Friends and family do not believe Jack would willingly abandon her daughter.“She has a daughter she loves,” said her friend Vanetta Billy on Monday during a march in Vancouver commemorating hundreds of murdered and missing Aboriginal women. “She would not do something like this.”email@example.com
Road repairs. Funding will rise to the highest levels in Michigan history as the state addresses one of its most urgent needs. Overall, the state will have pumped more than $2 billion in additional funds into roads and bridges over a three-year period by the upcoming budget year – with more money coming in the future. Savings for taxpayers. A prison would be closed, reflecting successful efforts to reduce Michigan’s inmate population. Budgets for several state departments decline as state government becomes more efficient and eliminates waste. Overall, the House plan spends less money next budget year – continuing a trend of spending less annually while prioritizing what’s most important. Categories: LaFave News,News State Rep. Beau LaFave joined his House colleagues today in approving a state budget that reduces overall spending while still making record-high investments in schools and roads.“This is the first step in a long process, but today we put our best foot forward,” LaFave said.“People in the Upper Peninsula have emphasized the need for better roads, more money going directly into classrooms, and protection of our treasured natural resources,” LaFave said. “This budget is a blueprint for investing in our future with record K-12 school funding, increased investment in skilled trades, and funding to preserve and protect our natural resources. This is all achieved without growing state government.“The budget approved today also includes $2.6 million for additional wildlife testing to monitor the spread of diseases like chronic wasting disease, which could decimate our deer population,” LaFave said. “Hunting is a $2.3 billion industry in Michigan, and preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease is vital to the Upper Peninsula’s economy.”The House plan for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 focuses on:More than a quarter of the House’s overall budget proposal goes to K-12 schools, with $14.8 billion establishing a new record for K-12 investment – including the largest annual per-student increase in 15 years, ranging from $120-240 per student. Early literacy and support for academically at-risk students are priorities. Most schools in the communities I serve will receive $240 per student. Community colleges also receive a 1 percent funding increase to prepare students for the future. 24Apr Rep. LaFave: Fiscally responsible budget focuses on schools, roads, and natural resources Health care. Access to mental health services will be improved so Michigan residents can live healthier, happier and more independent lives. Services to military veterans, problem-solving courts and other efforts reflecting the House CARES initiative would be enhanced. Incentives would be added to provide more doctors in underserved rural and urban areas. Community safety. The plan funds training of 130 new Michigan State Police troopers – putting our trooper strength at its highest level in 18 years. A $1.5 million investment to further reduce the backlog for testing rape kits and develop a statewide tracking system will help ensure a backlog never occurs again. School safety. More than $25 million would be added to improve school security. Campus safety: Provisions to raise standards for handling sexual assault complaints at universities are included. Veteran services. This budget increases funding county veteran service offices that provide vital information to the men and women who served our nation. Each county veterans service office is eligible for a grant of at least $25,000. Workforce development. More than $100 million is added to talent development and workforce preparation programs at the K-12 level, plus significant investments in other programs such as Going PRO. It’s part of the strategy to continue Michigan’s economic comeback, which has seen unemployment drop from 14.6 percent in June 2009 to 4.7 percent last month. Plan emphasizes what matters most to U.P. residents House Bills 5578-9 advance to the Senate as work to finalize the next state budget continues.###
Conax will exhibit at IBC on Stand 1.D69 Conax will use IBC to highlight new opportunities available to it as part of the Kudelski Group as well as to showcase the newest product features in its flagship Conax Contego security hub and its new, entry-level solution Conax GO Live and a new cost efficient secure client, Conax OTT Access.At the show, Conax says it will demonstrate the benefit of pre-integrated and secure solutions for live and on-demand services for launching OTT and multiscreen services.Solutions demonstrated will include Conax Go Live, a targeted solution for anyone wanting to securely stream live channels to iOS and Android devices. The new solution caters to operators planning an initial pay-TV service with limited investment and a fast time to market, according to Conax.Also on show will be Conax OTT Access, a secure OTT client for iOS and Android that covers the operators’ essential security needs for content such as free to air or other non-premium content. Conax OTT Access is described as cost effective and providing rapid-time-to market and is designed to be interchangeable with the Conax Hardened PlayReady Client in order to facilitate an easy upgrade when facing increased security requirements or need for additional features, according to Conax.Conax will also show the Conax Hardened PlayReady client, a secure DRM client for iOS, Android and set-tops integrating secure link protection with device access and usage control. Conax Hardened PlayReady supports key features such as Live TV and VoD, individualization, authentication and secure playback. The Conax Hardened PlayReady Client supports a wide range of devices, including iOS and Android from 2.3 onwards.Other solutions on show include a hosted online video platform with premium Conax security, Conax Xtend Multiscreen, Conax’s pre-integrated OTT ecosystem spanning live-TV, VoD, catch-up TV and nPVR over OTT, all served from the same back-end in a complete integrated multiscreen experience, and an offering for high-quality, secure CAMs.
“Loophole” lets you tap Big Oil’s cash stash…Big Oil made out like bandits when gas prices hit $4.How about using this little-known “loophole” to get some of that cash back?And not just a tiny stock dividend either — this can pay you up to three times the income most stocks or bonds pay. Even though this move has nothing to do with the stock market.Watch this video below for details. It was apparent, at least to me, that not-for-profit sellers were about in both the metals and their respective shares again yesterday.The gold price was up about twelve bucks or so just a few minutes before 9:00 a.m. in London yesterday morning…and that was the high tick of the day. From there, the price swooned five dollars or so before almost regaining its old high shortly before 1:00 p.m. GMT…about twenty-five minutes before the Comex opened at 8:20 a.m. in New York.From that secondary high, the gold price got sold off about a percent, with the low of the day [$1,714.90 spot] coming at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time. The subsequent rally ran into a not-for-profit seller at precisely 11:00 a.m…and from that point, the gold price got sold off about five bucks into the close of electronic trading at 5:15 p.m.The gold price closed at $1,721.90 spot…down 20 cents from Friday. Net volume was very light at 94,000 contracts, give or take a thousand or so.In fits and starts between the Sunday night open…and its high of the day a few minutes before 9:00 a.m. in London…the silver price rose about 45 cents. But, once again, the moment that it broke through the $34 spot price level, a not-for-profit seller showed up and sold it down about two bits.The price more or less stayed at that level until precisely 1:00 p.m. in London [twenty minutes before the Comex opened]…and then selling began anew, with the low of the day coming at 10:15 a.m. in New York.And, like gold, the subsequent rally in silver ran into a not-for-profit seller at precisely 11:00 a.m. Eastern as well. The subsequent rally ended shortly after the Comex closed for the day…and silver traded sideways for the rest of the Monday trading session.Silver closed the Monday trading day at $33.72 spot…up the magnificent sum of 13 cents. Net volume was a rather small 25,000 contracts.The dollar index gapped down about thirty basis points right at the open on Sunday night in New York…recovered most of that within an hour…and then rolled over…hitting its low of the day [78.62] at 8:45 a.m. in London [3:45 a.m. Eastern]…which happened about ten minutes before the high tick of the day in both metals.From that low, the dollar index steadily gained back about 40 basis points of its loses by the close of trading late in the New York afternoon…and the index closed a few basis points above the 79.00 mark…and is still heading higher as of this writing, which is 11:04 p.m. Eastern.The dollar index finished unchanged from its Friday afternoon close in New York.A cursory glance at the Kitco gold chart above shows that the gold price was rather reluctant to head south as the dollar headed north…and the last two sell offs of the day [7 and 11 a.m. Eastern time] look like the handiwork of not-for-profit sellers, as every time they stopped selling, the price rose. Ditto for silver…and platinum.The gold stocks gapped up at the open, but one or more not-for-profit sellers used the opportunity to beat the stocks into the red by 10:15 a.m. Eastern…and the moment that the subsequent rally made back into positive territory, there was someone waiting to sell it off once again.It’s as plain as day that the gold stocks would have finished in the black if it wasn’t for this indiscriminate selling. Sprott Asset Management’s John Embry and I [plus many others] are in full agreement on this one…that ‘da boyz’ are not only dicking with metal prices themselves, they are managing share prices as well.The HUI closed down 0.47% yesterday.The silver shares were a mixed bag yesterday…and Nick Laird’s Silver Sentiment Index actually close up 0.04%.(Click on image to enlarge)The CME’s Daily Delivery Report showed that only 10 gold contracts…but a rather large 127 silver contracts…were posted for delivery tomorrow. In silver it was, as usual, Jefferies as the short/issuer…and the Bank of Nova Scotia and JPMorgan as the big long/stoppers…receiving 108 of those issued contracts. UBS stopped 14 contracts.We’re about half way through February…and 585 silver contracts have already been delivered so far this month. This goes along with the 1,600 of so that were delivered in January. These are amazing amounts for these two months which, as I’ve said before, are not normal delivery months for silver.Both Ted Butler and myself would love to be flies on the wall over at Jefferies these days, as they’ve been the short/issuer on just about every one of these 2,200+ contracts delivered since the beginning of the year. That’s 11 million ounces dear reader…over five days of world silver production in total…and that ain’t chopped liver.The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday…but over at SLV, authorized participants withdrew 1,360,461 troy ounces of silver.There was a small sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday. They sold 1,500 ounces of gold eagles…500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes…and 25,000 silver eagles. The month-to-date totals aren’t worth mentioning…and the mint isn’t even close to selling a million silver eagles yet this month.Friday was pretty slow over at the Comex-approved depositories, as they didn’t receive a bar of silver…and only shipped 46,522 ounces of the stuff out the door. The link to this little bit of activity, is here.On Friday I forgot to check the short interest in silver over at the shortsqueeze.com website. I normally check it every day, but with the Commitment of Traders Report…and the Bank Participation Report to write about in Saturday’s column as well, it just never crossed my mind. However, silver analyst Ted Butler didn’t forget…and this is what he had to say about what he saw…“The first big development this week is one that caught me by surprise, although perhaps I shouldn’t have been completely surprised. I’m speaking of the new report on the short position in shares of SLV, as of the close of business January 31st. Where I was girding for an increase in the short SLV position (since we climbed nearly $4 in price for the two week reporting period), instead there was a very big decline in the short position of more than 35%. The short position in SLV declined by 9.4 million shares (ounces), from 26.6 million to under 17.2 million shares. This is the biggest two-week reduction in the SLV short position in my memory…and the first I can recall when silver prices were advancing. The decline in the SLV short position brought it down almost 50% from the high-water mark of over 36 million shares in the spring of 2011. Here’s the link to SLV’s short position over at shortsqueeze.com.”“I admit to doing a double-take when I first glanced at the numbers. As I previously reported, towards the end of December, I received a very threatening letter from lawyers representing BlackRock, the sponsor of the SLV, demanding that I cease defaming their client on the shorting SLV issue. By coincidence, on the same day I received the letter, I got a call from a fellow subscriber and friend (who is a European money manager) and when I told him about the letter, he told me that it probably meant that BlackRock was taking this very seriously and would move to get the SLV short position reduced, despite the threatening tone of the letter to me. I told my friend that I thought (and hoped) that he was correct and we would see if we were correct in future short reports as they were released.”“I can’t help but feel that the most plausible explanation for the dramatic reduction in the SLV short position (especially on rising prices) is as my European friend predicted, namely, that BlackRock came to realize that the shorting of SLV was fraudulent and manipulative and they were working to eliminate it. Of course, I don’t want to be overly optimistic…and if we witness future big increases in the short position of SLV, that would indicate [that] we were back to the old fraud and manipulation in the shorting of those shares. But let’s take it one day at a time and reserve judgment on whether we go back to the bad old ways of short selling in SLV.”Before heading into the stories I have for you today, here’s the chart of the U.S. M3 money supply updated as of Friday’s close. It’s a pretty sick looking puppy…and if this continues for any length of time, we’ll see the Fed begin QE3 pretty quick, as deflation is not on their play list. I thank Nick Laird for sending it to me.(Click on image to enlarge)Being a typical Tuesday column, I have a lot of stories for you today. I hope you have time to skim them all.Life isn’t about finding yourself…it’s about creating yourself. – Author UnknownIt was apparent, at least to me, that not-for-profit sellers were about in both the metals and their respective shares again yesterday, as both gold and silver…and the shares…would have had a much better time of it they hadn’t made an appearance. There was nothing free market about Monday’s price action.But since volumes were pretty light, it wasn’t difficult to shove the metal prices around…and as I noted further up, silver was not allowed to closed about $34 spot again.In about ten days we have option expiry for the March contract…and I’m wondering whether or not JPMorgan et al will take the opportunity to lean on the metals as we head into that date. We’ll find out soon enough I would think.Overnight, both metals declined as the dollar continued to rise…and the moment that London opened for business, both metals got sold off a bit more. As of 5:04 a.m. Eastern time, gold is down a few dollars and silver is down about 30 cents. The dollar index is up just a bit over 25 basis points…and appears to have topped out about an hour before London began trading. Volume in both metals is starting to get up there…and it’s obvious that the ‘inflate, or die’ news from the Bank of Japan had no impact on the gold price, at least not for moment. Jim Rickards is right…currency wars it is…and it’s only a matter of time before the precious metal prices begin to reflect that.That’s it for today. I’ll see you here tomorrow. Sponsor Advertisement
One Month Ago Silver34.6928.9240.25 The #1 Reason Inflation Will WinJeff Clark: I was struck at our summit by how many speakers have come to the same basic conclusions we have – that there’s really no way out of the US debt hole. That has a lot of implications, but first, in your view, how bad is it?Terry Coxon: It isn’t so bad that you should think of it as the end of the world, but there is a lot of trouble stored up, and I think “no way out” describes the situation accurately. Most of our economic trouble has been built up by government actions to solve past problems, and what they’ve done is to buy time and provide painkillers, but in doing so they’ve made the problems even worse.Jeff: Why, specifically, is there no way out?Terry: Let’s start with the Federal Reserve and the money supply. In response to the collapse of the housing bubble and most financial markets in 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve began printing like crazy. The monetary base more than doubled, and the M1 money supply at this point has risen a little over 60%. The reason we haven’t seen rapid price inflation is that people are still squirreling away dollars because they’re still very worried about the prospects for the economy. But that’ not the end of the story. The Federal Reserve will keep printing – as everyone knows by now, Mr. Bernanke has pledged allegiance to the printing press and assured the markets that the printing isn’t over and won’t be over until the economy revives.Sooner or later, the Federal Reserve will have created so much cash that many people – maybe most people – will be glutted with dollars, and buying anything will look good compared to holding on to more dollars. At that point, the urge to buy – whether it’s capital goods or consumer goods or commodities – will revive the economy, and the recession will come to an end. That will reduce the level of caution people feel to something near normal. The result will be that all of the excess money that has been created since 2008 will come pouring out. For a little while it will look like happy days are here again – the economy will seem to be booming. But then the excess cash will set off hair-curling price inflation. And that’s just the monetary side of the problem.Now look at the budget side of the federal government. They have been operating on the old Keynesian formula of deficit spending to revive a stagnant economy. What Lord Keynes perhaps never considered was that even if that prescription worked – and there is precious little evidence that it does work – there is a limiting factor over the long run. That limiting factor is the ability of the government to service debt that gets larger and larger. The US balance sheet is already at the gateway to the danger zone. When accumulated debt exceeds annual gross domestic product (think of it as annual income for the whole country), that’s where governments start to get into trouble in the capital markets.Now the budget situation – or the debt-financing situation for the US Treasury – has been made exceptionally easy by the exceptionally low interest rates that have been engineered by the exceptionally rapid growth in the money supply. When the economy starts to revive, interest rates will go up, and then the cost to the US Treasury of rolling over its now $16 trillion in debt will become a noticeable element in the overall budget. That pushes the government closer to a debt spiral, where the rise in interest rates makes it more expensive to service debt, which means the debt accumulates even faster. At that point, doubts about the ability of the government to service the debt over the long run forces another kick up in the government’s borrowing costs. It becomes a nasty and vicious feedback cycle that is similar to what is going on now in Greece and Spain. This is a predicament the US government is just whistling about. They’ve closed their eyes to the risk.So between the built up inflationary pressure that will come roaring out when the economy revives and the constantly growing US government debt, there is no solution to the economy’s problems that is politically acceptable.Jeff: Some economists think we’ll eventually grow our way out of this. We’re still the superpower of the world and still generate a lot of GDP, so can’t growth eventually pay back all this debt?Terry: In principle, such a thing is possible, but it would require political measures that are impossible. They would have to throw out most regulation of the economy, sell off an empire of unneeded real estate, stop using soldiers, ships, and planes as pieces in a “big boys’ really big chess set,” and starting saying “no” to the many people – both rich and poor – who now live off the government.Jeff: Why aren’t more economists expressing concern or even outrage over the predicament we’re in? It seems so obvious.Terry: If you studied economics when you went to school, the economics department probably was within a short walk of the science building, where they studied physics and chemistry. That leaves people with the false impression that economics is a hard science like physics or chemistry, where there are clear, proven principles anyone can test and everyone can agree on. In fact, economics today is about where medicine was in the 17th century, when people were debating whether the blood circulates through the body or just sits there. That was the level of knowledge by the best minds of the day, and it is the level of understanding by economists today. So you shouldn’t be surprised that most economists are sure that most other economists are wrong.Jeff: So what happens – high inflation? There are some strong deflationary signals in the economy right now.Terry: Even if there are episodes of deflation, they will just inspire even faster money printing. In the contest between inflation and deflation, inflation always gets another turn until it wins.Jeff: Good point. Is inflation imminent? The CPI is still pretty low.Terry: Well, it’s never going to be imminent in the sense that today it’s not happening and next week it is happening. It’s more like a river rising. And when you see the economy start to revive, the rate of price inflation will start rising noticeably in a year or year and a half.Jeff: This has obvious investment implications.Terry: Yes. You and your family should think about how to protect yourselves, and the formula sorts out to something very simple. One, you need some gold in your financial life, and two, you don’t need any bonds in your financial life.Jeff: Yes. Anything else?Terry: Well, those are the most obvious – gold yes, bonds no. You should also keep a good holding of cash in your investment portfolio, because there probably will be one or more replays of what we saw in 2008 and 2009. And when that happens, you will be glad you have cash because you can take advantage of the bargains.Conventional stocks are a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, the equity market welcomed the restarting of the printing press. On the other hand, the equity markets, as they go up, are diverging from economic reality. So I suggest thinking of a portfolio of conventional stocks as a machine that sits in your office and churns out ten-dollar bills, but eventually is going to blow up. If you want to take the risk that you’ll know when to get out, well, at the end of the day, if you’re right and you get out in time, you will be glad that you invested in conventional stocks. If you are thinking about a portfolio that you can just put away and forget about, then conventional stocks should not be part of it.Jeff: Bernanke said the $40 billion of bond-buying every month is open ended, implying it could last awhile. Any sense for how long it goes on before the economy revives?Terry: Open-ended is an extraordinary thing to announce. The fact isn’t surprising, but I am surprised they would ‘fess up to it.The picture I have is someone sitting next to a pile of damp firewood, lighting matches and just throwing them on. Eventually those matches are going to dry out the firewood, and then you will get a big blaze; and that’s what the Federal Reserve is doing to the economy right now. The difficulty is that if you’re in charge of printing all the new dollars, you won’t know that you’ve printed enough until you’ve printed way too much.Jeff: That implies gold and silver prices have a long way to go yet.Terry: Yes, I certainly believe so.Jeff: What kind of price levels do you expect?Terry: The only reasonable thing that I can say is, a lot higher. The reason that it doesn’t do much good to put a number on it is that we don’t know how long rapid rates of inflation will run.Jeff: What about gold stocks? If you’re lukewarm on the stock market, can gold stocks still do well?Terry: The basic answer is, if you want to own stocks right now, don’t own red stocks, don’t own blue stocks, own gold stocks.Jeff: Silver is considered a monetary metal, too, but is there a scenario under which gold does well but silver does poorly?Terry: Yes: runaway inflation and a very sick economy that is not consuming a lot of silver. That could leave silver behind, but it would have to be a very ugly economic situation.Jeff: But wouldn’t the Fed just print more money and make silver as attractive as gold?Terry: Not necessarily. The demand for gold is financial demand, period. Silver is a different story altogether. It is partly financial demand and partly industrial consumption.Jeff: What odds do you give for something like that happening?Terry: I don’t expect that to happen. If it happens at all, it’s years away.Jeff: So the bottom line to all this is, make sure you own enough gold.Terry: That’s exactly right.Gold and Silver HEADLINESMining Investment to Grow Ever More Complex and Costly, Industry Leaders Fear (Mineweb)Baker & McKenzie surveyed more than 300 senior mining industry leaders across six mining jurisdictions – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Indonesia, and South Africa. The key themes in the study were the complexity of the legal and regulatory environment, political stability, resource nationalism, access to infrastructure, and skilled labor. A common thought expressed by the majority of the respondents across these jurisdictions is that “investing in mining is becoming more difficult and less certain,” and they believe that mining sector investment will continue to be more complicated.This research confirms what other mining industry surveys report. Resource nationalism, named the #1 threat for mining, is expected by the majority of respondents (78%) to increase over the next 20 years. That’s why it is so important to understand investor friendliness of any given jurisdiction. And navigating the political landscapes is exactly what we do in International Speculator and BIG GOLD.Silver ETF Holdings Nearing Record Levels (Silver Institute)The Silver Institute reports that silver ETF holdings have totaled more than 608 million ounces with a value of US$20.5 billion through September 15. Investors have added more than 32 million ounces to their silver ETF accounts so far this year. Investor demand was one of the most important factors cited in silver’s recent price rise.“Investors and analysts are bullish on expectations that additional central banks will do more to attempt to stimulate economies in order to increase consumption and spur employment, leading to even greater investor attention on the 4,000 year allure of silver as a safe haven and a store of value,” said Michael DiRienzo, Executive Director of the Silver Institute.We agree that investor interest for silver will drive the price higher. TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange)12,383.6012,116.9211,955.01 Gold1,784.501,639.501,793.00 Copper3.773.463.75 Oil91.8796.6885.92 Silver Stocks (SIL)25.2620.5626.29 TSX Venture1,345.721,239.321,703.78 One Year Ago Rock & Stock StatsLast Dear Reader,Economist Terry Coxon and BIG GOLD Editor Jeff Clark had some interesting discussions during the recent Casey Research Summit on Navigating the Politicized Economy. They noticed a near-consensus among the speakers that there’s no way out for the over-indebted US government – or the Eurozone for that matter – which has consequences for all participants in the global economy. Below, you can read why Terry (and others) are convinced there’s no way out, why he’s convinced the problem will end in inflation, and what the investment implications are for gold and silver.How do we profit from that? Even as you receive today’s Daily Dispatch, Jeff and I will be flying down to Mexico to look at a silver mine one of our companies recently acquired. Due diligence: pick right and sit tight. That’s how we do it – and you can too.If you want to learn more about the Casey Research process or pick our brains in some other way, please consider joining Doug Casey, our Chief Energy Investment Strategist Marin Katusa, and myself next month in New Orleans. We’ll all be speaking at the New Orleans 2012 Investment Conference, which will be held October 24-27. You won’t want to miss Doug’s debate against James Carville and Charles Krauthammer – it’s sure to be a memorable event. The markets are getting really interesting, so you’ll be sure to learn a lot.Sincerely,Louis JamesSenior Metals Investment StrategistCasey Research Gold Producers (GDX)54.8146.3864.28 Gold Junior Stocks (GDXJ)25.4621.4635.10
In This Issue.* Gold & Commodities plunge even further. * Currencies join in with stocks and commodities. * RBA talks about low inflation. * U.S. data cupboard returns.And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts!Will The Healing Last?Good day. And a Tom Terrific Tuesday to you! What a horrific scene in Boston at the Boston Marathon Finish Line yesterday. On Patriot’s Day in Boston, someone or some group planted bombs near the finish line and set them off yesterday as thousands of participants attempted to finish and spectators watched. Here’s what I know at this point: The White House says the explosion will be handled as an act of terror. Three people have lost their lives and over 100 are injured with at least 8 in a critical condition. So far, no group has come forward to take responsibility for the attack.So, it’s with sadness that I begin today’s letter. I have to think that we as a country have been pretty lucky that we don’t experience this type of stuff like they do in the U.K. So, let’s keep the people in Boston in our thoughts, and move on to the markets.Well. Yesterday, I told you about how Gold was down $80 in the morning. Then as the morning went along, it seemed some healing was happening and Gold began to bounce, but that bounce had little to the ounce and soon Gold was back on the slippery slope as I left the office for the day. The Gold to stocks trade, didn’t carry through as even U.S. stocks got taken to the woodshed yesterday, It was all about buying Treasuries, as the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.67% (remember for bonds yield and price move in opposite directions, so as the yield falls, the price goes up)There are more thoughts out on the street about why Gold is falling like a rock from the sky, but I think I’ll stick with my theory that the “boys” on Wall Street are behind all this, and probably with the blessings, wink and nod from the Gov’t. they saw an opening to drive the price down, and they did. And will continue to do so, until they feel that Elvis has left the building. (masses have panicked and sold). That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!Long time readers know that I have quoted my friend, Bill Bonner, many times over the years, and so in this time of crazy theories about what’s going on, I turn to Bill to see what he thinks. By the way, one of the theories out there, plays well with my conspiracy tendencies. It goes like this. The Big Boys in concert with the U.S. Gov’t are driving the price of Gold lower, so that the U.S. can buy it cheaper, and therefore have the Gold to deliver to Germany. Hey. I’ve heard of crazier things that turned out to be fact! OK.. any way. here’s a snippet of what Bill Bonner had to say about the Gold selling that the NY Times reported on yesterday.NY Times- “So Wall Street is growing increasingly bearish on gold, and investment that banks and others had deftly marketed to the masses only a few years ago.”Bill Bonner’s response – “Ha-ha. Do you remember Wall Street deftly marketing gold to the masses a few years ago? Show us the ads! Give us the broker’s phone logs! Prove it! The fact is, the masses never got anywhere near gold. Not even close. Most people have never seen a gold coin.. Which is why we’re nowhere near a top. Wall Street never marketed gold deftly.. or any other way. Not even in its usual greedy, heavy-handed fashion. And the masses never bought it. Just the opposite. Yes, dear reader, we hope Goldman and SocGen are right. We’d like to see gold crash down around $1,300… or lower. First, because this would mark a real correction in the bull market. It’s been going on for 12 years without a serious correction. Not a healthy situation. We’d like to get the correction out of the way… shaking out the Johnnies-come-lately and the two-bit speculators. Then, the final stage in the bull market could begin.”I usually get the ship righted after reading Bill’s thoughts. Any way.This selling has been a paper event. Yes, an ETF liquidation, and that’s what leads me to believe that when the paper selling is over, the physical demand which has remained strong all during the 20% drop in Gold’s price since reaching a high of $1,921 a couple of years ago, will take over, and a slow grinding recovery will take place. When will that happen? I don’t know. Better asked of the “boys” who are doing the paper selling.OK. So, yesterday, the Commodities and Commodity Currencies were the assets on the chopping blocks, the rest of the currencies held their own. Well, the selling of the Commodities and Commodity Currencies became too much to bear, and eventually the selling spilled over to the rest of the currencies. The thing I found to be surprising though was the selloff in U.S. stocks yesterday. That was not something I expected during this sell Gold and risk assets timetable.But that was yesterday. But it’s not the end of the world, just a slight change of plans. This morning, I’m seeing some healing once again, with Gold up $35, the euro back to 1.31, and the Aussie dollar (A$) up 1/2-cent. Yesterday, I said something about the A$ that I was shocked that thousands of readers didn’t throw right back in my face. I said that the A$ was down $1. YIKES! That should have been 1-cent! Thanks for not spanking me with that faux-pas!The A$ move higher is curious, given the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) meeting minutes that printed last night, in which the RBA talked about how the lower inflation gives them room to cut rates, and then made a statement about how the A$ had remained “high”. The markets like to get all lathered up over these meeting minutes that Central Banks print a month after the meeting took place. I find that laughable, but then, it’s the markets, it’s not as if these guys are rocket scientists! But that’s the norm in the markets, Shoot Rudy, they do the same thing with backwards looking data!It’s been some time since I talked about the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. And that’s probably a good thing! But this morning in Germany, the Chancellor told a crowd something that I think she should be commended for. Let’s listen in. “We know that there will have to be victims from this austerity in many countries. But, I believe that in the long term we’ll have to have a growth strategy without always having to pile on debt. The piling up of debt is often made into a type of obligation to serve the principle of growth. All of that is false. It’s not sustainable in the long term.”I think that Ms Merkel had U.S. Treasury Sec Lew in mind with those comments, as it was just last week that Mr. Lew, told the Eurozone Finance Chiefs that they needed to shift toward generating economic expansion like the U.S. has done through monetary measures. You know, we have no idea where all these monetary measures are going to take us, but I would pin my colors to the mast that calls for mass problems, and not the mast that says we’ll be just fine from all these stimulus measures.The Petrol Currencies that include: Norway, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and even the U.K. not only had to deal with the selling in the Commodity Currencies, but also the selling and the subsequent drop in price of Oil. The WTI Oil price which is the one I quote in the currency roundup each day is below $90 (at $88) and the Brent Oil price has fallen below $100. Still a long way from the $40 oil I was promised 2 years ago.Another thing weighing on the markets is the renewed war rhetoric from N. Korea. News of N. Korea’s warning to S. Korea that a “strike will start without any notice” is not doing the risk asset any favors this morning. But, a recovery in the risk assets, like I told you about above is going on, so maybe the markets are beginning to think of N. Korea’s warnings like the boy who cried wolf. probably not a good idea, but it is what it is.And for those of you keeping score at home, the Chinese have added another country to their roster of countries that they trade with and exchange each other’s currencies, leaving out U.S. dollars from the terms of trade. This time it’s France. OK, the agreement hasn’t actually been signed yet, but like the other countries that were added to China’s roster, once the verbal announcement has been made, the actually signing is just a formality. France is actually getting a leg up on the competition by doing this. You see, Paris would love to be the offshore renminbi / yuan trading hub in Europe, beating out London. So, getting into bed with the Chinese now, might serve them better when the time comes.As I told you yesterday, the U.S. Data Cupboard has some items to yield to us today. Two of my faves. Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, Housing Starts, and Building Permits will all print their results for March today. We’ll also see the stupid CPI reports and you can bet your sweet bippie that some Gov’t official will make certain to point out that inflation in the U.S. is still not a problem. I do expect to see some more rot on the vine exposed, in the Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization reports. And once again, I’ll do my best Alfred E. Newman, and say, recovery? What recovery?Then There Was This. Caroline Baum, a columnist for Bloomberg News, has always been a fave read of mine. Yesterday, she submitted this article on Japan, and the U.S. Treasury. It’s a good read, so here’s a snippet.“With a new president and central bank governor in place, Japan has finally decided to get serious. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a “monetary regime change” including a 2 percent inflation target. On April 4, following its regular meeting, the Bank of Japan made its “quantitative and qualitative monetary easing” official.The BOJ will double the monetary base by purchasing about 7.5 trillion yen of Japanese government bonds per month. It plans to extend the average maturity of its portfolio from three to seven years. And it will continue such actions until it achieves its inflation target.In other words, the BOJ is doing exactly what the Federal Reserve is doing.And for this it gets a warning from the U.S. Treasury “to refrain from competitive devaluation and targeting its exchange rate for competitive purposes”?Chuck again. yes. this a case of the kettle calling the pot black. I just don’t see how the U.S. can do the “do as we say, not as we do” thing, and then beat on Japan for doing what they said to do.To recap. The selling continued all through the day yesterday in Gold and then the other currencies joined in. But that was yesterday, and today, we’re seeing some healing in the price of Gold and the currencies. The gold selloff has been an ETF, paper event, folks. not physical gold. I keep saying that.Currencies today 4/16/13. American Style: A$ $1.0374, kiwi .8490, C$ .9790, euro 1.3120, sterling 1.5310, Swiss $1.0790, . European Style: rand 9.1335, krone 5.7335, SEK 6.3875, forint 224.85, zloty 3.1365, koruna 19.7105, RUB 31.34, yen 97.85, sing 1.2355, HKD 7.7620, INR 54.14, China 6.2408, pesos 12.17, BRL 2.005, Dollar Index 82.15, Oil $88.22, 10-year 1.71%, Silver $23.52, and Gold $1,386.39That’s it for today. With all the news stations going 24/7 on the Bombing in Boston last night, I was taken back, in my mind, to 2001. The strange chills returned with each news update. At least I was able to watch my Cardinals and get my mind off that stuff for a couple of hours. I made my presentation on our business yesterday, I guess it went OK, nobody threw darts at me! I have one more day of “stuff” to do and write in my office today, and then back out to the trade desk! So, did you get your taxes filed? I actually came out about even this year, which is always a good thing for me, but somehow, I paid a higher tax rate than the President. I’ll stop there, before I say something that gets me in trouble! I hope you have a Tom Terrific Tuesday , and keep those folks in Boston in your thoughts.Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837
But it’s infuriating to use. The system is comprised of not one, but two 7-inch screens. One’s a touchscreen, while the other isn’t. One is hidden from the sun under a hood; the other is invisible in the glare of sunlight. There are still a few physical controls, too… but only for some of the least often used things, like adjusting the auto-climate control, not for common things like changing the radio station. These problems haven’t gone unnoticed by the automotive and technology press, which regularly deride the companies for falling so woefully short in the design department, letting gimmicks substitute for building it right. But that’s because these companies have taken on a herculean task, trying to build complex operating systems and third-party apps… a job that is best tackled by thousands of engineers as it is with Windows at Microsoft, iOS at Apple, and Linux’s hordes of volunteers and foundations. With quite a bit of time logged behind the wheel of a Tesla, which boasts an amazingly easy to use, single giant touchscreen, it’s shocking to use the competition’s systems. They’re hastily assembled messes of whiz-bang features that don’t really work. In the age of the iPhone, that’s just not acceptable. And it’s an experience so bad that it’s beginning to hurt people’s perceptions of the traditional automotive companies, driving customers elsewhere or at least to opt for fewer features. But I don’t make this point just to rant. It’s to demonstrate two things: First, we’re nowhere near the end of the technological ramp. Even some of our most expensive and advanced technologies are absolutely awful. Anyone who’s tried to use one of those brand-new state health exchanges—actually, pretty much any product Oracle makes (and the company made quite a few of those health exchanges, I might add)—or Nissan’s new telematics system can attest to that. Add in all the other frustrating and inefficient aspects of our lives, and it’s abundantly clear there are still a great deal more technological advances to be made, letting alone the giant markets like health care and education that have only been grazed by tech so far. Second, the success or failure of a technology has increasingly less to do with what it’s capable of. More and more often, it’s about how realistically accessible its benefits are. As buyers get used to the more elegantly designed and intuitive generation of smartphones and tablets, they expect the same simplicity in other areas. I’m not saying that some minimalist mantra is taking over the corporate world or our home lives. We’re not going to start sitting down to dinner on tatami mats, using only one pair of shoes, and eschewing the big comfy chairs in the conference room. Rather, buyers are becoming savvier in understanding that a system’s design and the ease of use of its features are just as important a consideration in buying technology as its capabilities. Better design can mean more productivity gains, or lower costs, or both. (For end users, it can also mean they don’t go off on rants about their awful new cars and just get that much closer to never buying a traditional vehicle again…) And the companies that are embracing better design for their products seem to be winning the war for customers. The iPhone’s staying power amidst a cadre of competitors with lots of whiz-bang new features is an obvious example. So is Salesforce.com, which competes with big and expensive systems from Oracle and SAP by offering a “no software” pledge and easy-to-use website. The result: meteoric increases in revenue as Salesforce’s customers opt for less over more. Or take a service like Dropbox. Despite an onslaught of fierce competition from giants like Google and Microsoft, the “little folder-sharing company that could” has been growing like a weed—official numbers are few and far between for the still-private company, but most surveys show it with penetration rates 2 to 10 times that of its larger rivals. Success in technology involves more complexities than investing in the commodities with which we may be more familiar. If you dig a hunk of iron out of the ground, chances are your iron is a lot like everyone else’s. Sure, there will be minor variations in the quality or the cost of extraction, but at the end of the day, it’s just a hunk of metal. The same goes for a retail company selling brand-name products, like a car dealer selling the same Jetta as the next guy. The market sets the price, quality is irrelevant (it’s the same thing), and you spend your life trying to differentiate on service alone. Once upon a time, Amazon’s pair of shoes was no different than Foot Locker’s. That led to “showrooming,” where a customer walked into Best Buy, picked out a TV or stereo, then bought it on his or her smartphone from Amazon for 12% less. Even though it pioneered the practice, Amazon saw the threat of showrooming to its own business, as more and more brands started to control channel prices. Amazon can bully the poorly run book publishers into letting it set the price, but not Microsoft on the Xbox. Amazon’s advantage was lost when it couldn’t be cheaper, and so the company shifted gears and started making products of its own. From Amazon Basics cables that cost a fraction of those ripoffs at Walmart, to the Kindle readers and tablets, to original movies and series made just for its Prime subscribers, Amazon has moved beyond its status as just a middle-man retailer and also become a maker and marketer of products… products it hopes are superior enough to win and retain customers better than my Nissan radio will. That new focus has helped Amazon grow from $5 billion behemoth into a $20 billion a quarter juggernaut over the past five years: Sounds great on paper… and done well, it’s the kind of thing that gets you talking about and recommending a car to others. Problem is, it never works. The system was designed with good intent but is both horribly buggy and poorly designed. Neither my wife’s nor my phone can reliably connect. When they do, the simple act of making a phone call almost never works—the other day, an attempt to call out froze the whole system and I had to “reboot” the car at a stop light just to get my radio back. Remember those old jokes about what if Microsoft made cars? Seems life is starting to imitate art. Worse still, to make those more advanced apps work at all, we must install a middle-man application called Nissan Connect. It runs in the background on our phones and is supposed to make connections to the car better. But it doesn’t. My phone recognizes the car maybe 1 out of 10 times. My wife’s sees it half the time, but it won’t ever let her connect regardless of recognition, because she apparently doesn’t have a paid subscription—to a service that cannot be signed up for anywhere we can find and for which I would never imagine anyone would pay. Instead of honing the experience and making it work, the engineers seem to have spent their time adding in hidden features for future monetization. Worse still, the navigation system lags, missing turn indicators, and crashing along with everything else. Thus, the “infotainment” system—or “telematics” as the car industry likes to call it internally—is beyond useless: it’s borderline dangerous. Now, these features were all of a few hundred dollars of the total cost for my Rogue, included with a bunch of other options. It’s just simple software, so it makes sense it would be pretty cheap. Here’s what’s amazing: the company charges $7,000 extra to get the same options on an Infinity SUV (and about $5,000 on the Pathfinder, which is really just a bigger Rogue). I know because despite my frustration with the infotainment portion of the system, we absolutely love the cameras and sensors. For those alone we started looking at Nissan’s luxurious sister line to replace our other car. That exorbitant add-on pricing sent us across the street to the Acura dealership, where we picked up an MDX. It’s a great truck that hauls all our people and stuff in luxury and style. And it, too, sports an awful electronics system. Unlike the Nissan, I’m able to connect without a problem every time. Pandora works flawlessly, with full control over the app without the need for any special manufacturer application. Nothing ever crashes. It’s Honda reliable, as it should be. It even looks pretty cool. Earlier this week, David Galland emailed you a link to a speech I gave in San Antonio. In it, I covered three of my favorite stock picks for today and why I like those companies. The central theme behind all of it was—no surprise to longtime readers—growth. No matter how good a technology is, no matter how revolutionary, no matter how complex… if you cannot find buyers, then it matters little to me as an investor. However, those companies with a formula to steadily increase revenues quarter after quarter can surmount almost any market and overcome all sorts of hurdles. Figuring out which technologies will sell well is one of the most overlooked aspects of finding great investments. But how do you know which will sell and which won’t? The answer to that question begs another. Have you ever noticed how much awful technology exists in the world? I do. Maybe I’m just too close to the subject, but I make it a point to personally check out every new technology I can manage to try safely, and to get a demo of or data on whatever I cannot use myself. So maybe that’s why I see it all the time. Take automotive technology, for instance. I’m not talking engines and shocks and struts right now. This isn’t another lecture on Tesla’s game-changing innovations. I’m talking about the electronics in every other car on the road. This year I’ve bought two new cars. Both suck. For those not familiar with that technical term, I mean to say that their usefulness, and thus marketability, is impeded by substandard design. The first, a Nissan Rogue, is a wonderful car in many ways. We love the 360-degree cameras, lane-drift warnings, blind-spot detectors, and other safety features that have saved us from bumps and bruises many a time already. (Driving in Puerto Rico, where we spend most of our time, is hazardous to your health and paint job.) But it also has a navigation system and “apps.” The radio has morphed into a hub for accessing Google, Pandora, and other services. The company’s digital media sales, largely fueled by the Kindle product line, have now grown to be as big as the entire company’s revenues at the beginning of this shift. Product design and differentiation is not the be all and end all for achieving the kind of success needed by a technology company that pays back for shareholders. There’s still a whole host of other factors that must properly align—the classic mix of people, promotion, and the other “Ps” of success that Doug Casey has espoused for years in natural resources investing, as well as a few that are unique to the technology markets, such as Intellectual Property. But when evaluating the prospects for success or failure of a new technology, it all begins with understanding the product and its target market: Who will buy it? How many of them are there? How much will they pay? How does it stack up to the competition? And so on… That’s the first and most important difference between finding great technology vs. finding a company that makes for a great investment: the quality and usefulness of its products. However, it’s the least appreciated or understood… which is why we’ve written an all-new guide on how to evaluate speculative investments in the technology sector. Modeled on Doug Casey’s classic 8 Ps formula, it’s a step-by-step manual to the process we use when starting our own due diligence on a potential investment. We’re making it available completely free, no strings attached. Click here and give it a read for yourself. At a minimum, it will help you understand how we’ve racked up market-beating returns year after year in Casey Extraordinary Technology. And if we’ve done our job with it, then it will help guide you through exploring the sector on your own, let you avoid some bad investments, and hopefully allow you to find your own personal Amazon, Salesforce, Netflix, or Google, and garner some 1,000%-plus gains to show for it.
A few months ago, I wrote a check for $12,000 but couldn’t figure out exactly why.The payment was to secure a place for my mother at Sligo Creek Center, in Takoma Park, Md. It’s a nursing home and rehab center owned by Genesis Healthcare.My mother was about to be discharged from Holy Cross Hospital, in nearby Silver Spring, after a fall. Medicare wouldn’t pay for her rehabilitation care.So before the Sligo Creek Center would let her through the door, I had to prepay for a month — $12,000 — or nearly $400 a night.Now, my mother had paid into Medicare her entire working life, and since she retired, the Social Security Administration has automatically deducted $130 for her basic Medicare premium from her $1,650 monthly check. On top of that, she pays about $300 a month for a prescription drug plan and supplemental “Medigap” insurance.But because of dueling rules and laws that have been well-known to Medicare officials and members of Congress for years, none of that covered my elderly mother when she needed care.This is a story of how money, outdated laws and federal budget rules can interfere with patient care and leave elderly patients vulnerable.The fallI found my mother lying on the floor of her apartment one evening in early January. I had stopped by because she didn’t return my calls. It was Wednesday, and she had fallen sometime in the previous 24 hours.She was awake, but confused. Her lips were chapped, her skin was too pink, and her thick white curls were a mess on her head. I needed help getting her up and into bed. When my husband and I couldn’t do it, we called the local fire department.There were no obvious injuries and she was speaking coherently, so I spent the night with her and tried to care for her the next day, thinking she just needed rest and food. But it soon became clear she needed medical help.She couldn’t walk, couldn’t even move her left leg. Her confusion was getting worse. Her doctor recommended I take her to the emergency room at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.An ER doctor there examined her, saw that she couldn’t move her leg, couldn’t really even hold her body upright and had trouble with her memory. He said he would admit her to the hospital’s observation unit to figure out what was going on. He mentioned she might need rehab care to get up and walking again.The word observation triggered an alarm deep in my brain. I had read that patients on observation status sometimes weren’t eligible for rehab care, and I told the doctor that I was concerned.He said he and the hospital “do all they can to be sure their patients’ care is covered.” I was reassured.My mother spent four nights at Holy Cross. She was on IV antibiotics for an infection. She got nine X-rays, two MRIs, scans of her carotid arteries and lungs, and a CT scan. Hospital staffers drew blood no less than six times because they were concerned she might have had a mild heart attack or stroke that had caused her to fall.Administrative mazeOn the day they decided to release her, a social worker named Jay called to say the doctors were recommending she go to an inpatient rehab center — and then he said Medicare wouldn’t pay for it.My mother was caught in an administrative wonderland where she slept at a hospital for four nights, but the paperwork said she was an inpatient only one of those nights. Medicare’s rules, dating back to the 1960s, require people to spend three nights in a hospital before the federal program will pay for inpatient rehabilitative care.It would cost upward of $12,000 a month, Jay told me.I sped to the hospital in a rage. I demanded to know why they were releasing her when she still couldn’t walk. Further, I wanted to know, why were they calling her an “outpatient” when she was sleeping in their bed, under their blankets, wearing their hospital gown and being cared for by their staff.Here were some of the things a parade of social workers and nurses told me that day.The doctor couldn’t admit her as an inpatient because she didn’t have a qualifying diagnosis.Her status was changed from observation to inpatient on the third day because Medicare requires that.They could not change her status to inpatient for the entire stay because they didn’t want to be audited.She couldn’t go to acute rehabilitation, which Medicare pays for, because there was no evidence she had had a stroke or heart attack.They didn’t say much about her medical care. It was all about the rules.For the record, my mother has no money. She lives on Social Security. She has no car, no house, no savings. My siblings and I help pay her bills.And now they were saying she had to leave the hospital. But she obviously couldn’t go home.Holy Cross kept her one more night — at no charge — while we figured out where she could go. They said she could apply for Medicaid, and a social worker handed me a 17-page application. I picked a handful of rehab centers from a list, after a quick search of reviews on my iPhone. One was full, one rejected her because she was listed as “Medicaid pending,” and finally, Genesis Healthcare said they would take her — on the condition that I come by with a $12,000 check that day.So I did.Rules, rules, rulesSo now I was out $12,000 — borrowed from a home equity line of credit — and I wanted to know why.And here’s what I learned.Medicare, in its zillions of pages of guidelines and regulations, has two competing rules. The first says patients must spend three nights as a hospital inpatient to qualify for inpatient rehabilitation or skilled nursing care once they’re discharged. The second encourages hospitals to keep patients on observation status or risk being audited.The reason? Medicare pays more for short inpatient stays than short outpatient stays. But once a patient has been at the hospital for a number of days, that calculus flips, and outpatients end up costing more. So in its effort to control costs, Medicare forces hospitals to justify their decisions about inpatient and outpatient status.”It was always kind of assumed that when you go to the hospital, people know what hospital care is,” says Judy Stein, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy. “Hospital admission is when you’re admitted to the hospital.”Her group is leading a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services, seeking to give patients the right to appeal their status as observation patients.Stein says the use of observation status has grown dramatically in the past decade, in part because Medicare has become far more aggressive in going after hospitals the agency said were inappropriately — and expensively — admitting patients who didn’t need hospital care.A study in the journal Health Affairs found that the number of Medicare patients who spent three or more days in a hospital under observation rose 88 percent from 2007 to 2009. That increase came just after Congress authorized Medicare to use contractors to audit hospitals for overcharges. But the trend in observation care has continued.A report by the HHS inspector general found that in fiscal year 2014, more than 633,000 Medicare beneficiaries spent three or more days in the hospital but were considered outpatients, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year. A separate report found that in 2012, about 24,000 patients went to skilled nursing homes or rehab centers and had to pay their own way.New UnitHoly Cross built a dedicated observation unit around 2011, according to Yancy Phillips, the hospital’s chief quality officer, who spoke to me at length about the use of observation status.That was where my mother spent those four nights. She had her own room, with glass doors that were covered by a curtain. The nurses station was right outside her door. It looks like a cross between a traditional patient floor and the emergency room. Doctors came around at least once a day.Phillips says that Holy Cross has no financial motive to classify patients like my mother one way or another because Maryland law requires the same payment for the same services. It’s the only state with such rules.But the hospital still has to follow Medicare’s rules when it comes to inpatient and observation care.”There’s really no financial advantage to us except if we get the status wrong,” he said. “Medicare has come back to us and said, ‘No, no, no, this should not have been an inpatient.’ “When that happens, Medicare pays nothing at all.To avoid losing money, Holy Cross, like many other hospitals, uses “decision support” software — in this case a package called InterQual, sold by McKesson — that guides doctors or case managers in making the call on whether a person should be admitted or kept on “observation.”The programs are designed to ensure that hospitals don’t get dinged by Medicare for overcharging or providing inappropriate services.Phillips says doctors use their own judgment about whether a patient should be admitted. But he also acknowledges that InterQual is embedded in the electronic health record software used at Holy Cross. It was likely this program that concluded that my mother didn’t meet Medicare’s criteria for inpatient care.The thing about all this is that this problem is well-known to everybody involved.But lawmakers and Medicare haven’t taken action to fix it.A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., have proposed bills multiple times that would simply require Medicare to count all the time patients spend in a hospital toward its requirements for nursing care.The House version attracted 162 co-sponsors from both parties, but neither bill has gotten a hearing on Capitol Hill or been close to a vote.Jonathan Blum, the former Medicare director at CMS, suggests another fix: Get rid of the three-night requirement altogether.”It’s really an artifact,” he said. “It was put in place as a budgetary control and it was designed when the average length of a hospital stay was seven, eight or nine days.”Everyone I talked with agrees that the root of the problem is money. There has been no formal analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, but most people believe that eliminating the three-night requirement would end up costing the government more money.”These are insurance rules. They’re policies. They can be changed,” says Phillips of Holy Cross Hospital. “But it would have enormous financial implications for the country. And we may have an appetite for tax cuts, but I don’t see that we have an appetite for something that would increase Medicare costs.”It’s not clear that it would cost more, however. Two pilot programs from the late 1970s showed mixed results from eliminating the three-night rule, with Medicare costs rising in Massachusetts, but falling in Oregon, according to an article in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.That article concluded, however, that the rule may be preventing patients from getting appropriate care.And that would have been the case with my mother, who couldn’t have written a $12,000 check to secure a rehab bed for herself.Two weeks into her therapy at the Sligo Center, my mother fell again. This time, she broke her hip and needed hip replacement surgery. Because she didn’t stay the whole month getting rehab care, I got a refund of about $6,000.Under Medicare’s rules, that surgery meant she was automatically eligible for post-surgical rehab care. So after she was released from the hospital, she went to a new center — no deposit required. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.