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The mess in Venezuela. Good news for our banks. The urgency of getting a second opinion.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves on the planet. It is a basket case, among the worst on the planet. Food is scarce. Children are starving to death. It relies on its oil to fund the government, to import oil equipment spares (oil is nationalized) and to buy medicines. Oil production dropped  30% last year. It’s been dropping for years. Venezuela is about to default on its sovereign debt. Debtors will seize its oil ships.

Hence more pressure on the oil patch.

Crude Oil WTI closed last week at $63.47, up substantially in the last three months. Here’s a chart showing oil versus Nasdaq. Guess which one has gained most?

OILChart

Schlumberger (SLB) is yielding 2.62% and showing a nice recovery in the past year:

slbyear

What a deal … for my bank

My bank is paying me a grand 0.01% interest on my “savings” account and lending my hard-earned money at 4.125% for 15-year fixed, or 4.5% for 30-years.  Even Blind Freddie could make oodles of money with these economics.

Here’s a chart of GS versus BAC, JPM and XLF (the finance ETF) over the last five years. Based on this alone, it seems the bargain bank is GS.

Banks

Why do you need that operation?

Thousands of Americans are wheeled into operating rooms for a surgery that isn’t necessary. The motivation is simple: Surgeons get paid big for surgery. A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed records for 112,000 patients who had a cardioverter defibrillator implanted. That’s a device that corrects heartbeat irregularities. Researchers found no medical evidence to support installing the device in 22.5%  of the cases.

Solution: Get yourself a second opinion.

Between 2009 and 2010, researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patients who consulted the Clinic for a second opinion. They found 88% of the cases the first doctor’s opinion was said to be wrong. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was wrong. Just that it was different. Only in 12% of the cases did the second opinion actually align with the first opinion.

Get yourself a second opinion.

Good health reads

+ How to Prevent Falls by Jane E. Brody of the New York Times. Click here. 

From Michael Wolff’s book,  Fire and Fury:

Two days before the meeting, Roger Ailes fell in his bathroom and hit his head. Before slipping into a coma, he told his wife not to reschedule the meeting with Peter Thiel. A week later, Ailes, that singular figure in the march from Nixon’s silent majority to Reagan’s Democrats to Trump’s passionate base, was dead.

You’re Over 75, and You’re Healthy. Why Are You Taking a Statin? by Paula Span. Click here. 

+ 5 Easy, Breezy Skin Care Tips for Guys this Winter. By Bee Shapiro. Click here. 

Great marketing

GreatMarketing

The tour runs from May 28 to June 4, 2018. Promotion line is “Join the Israeli Adventure of a Lifetime.

Heck. Why not?

Favorite recent New Yorker cartoons

control Horizon rgifts

HarryNewton
Harry Newton, now celebrating his grandson Peter’s second birthday:

PeterSecondBirthday
Amazing he’s happy with the “healthy,” boring stuff his parents feed him. No sugar. No salt. No bread. No donuts. Just grains, raisins and vegetables. Yuch!

To his credit, he does have more teeth than I do. Real ones, too.