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Alex Daley is the senior editor of Casey’s Extraordinary Technology. In his varied career, he’s worked as a senior research executive, a software developer, project manager, senior IT executive, and technology marketer. He’s a technologist who has collaborated on the development of... More
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  • The New Economic Collapse Video: It Makes Uncomfortable But Urgent Viewing.

    When Casey Research Chief Technology Investment Analyst Alex Daley met former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman to talk about the economy and where he sees it leading taxpayers investors and savers in the near future, he got some very intriguing insights from a man who served right at the heart of the US federal government.

    True, some if it makes for uncomfortable watching, but the message is critical if you want to keep your assets safe in what David calls calls "the great unwind."

    Watch the video and secure your money.

    Who is really pulling the strings in our politicized economy, and what should individual savers do immediately to make sure they have the best protection for their assets when the consequences unfold?

    Navigating the Politicized Economy - A Casey Research/Sprott Inc. Summit

    The forthcoming Casey Research summit features former White House official David Walker, who is speaking out against irresponsible government spending. David was the United States Comptroller General from 1998 to 2008.

    Joining David Walker will be an impressive panel of financial experts, including top market strategist Donald Coxe, celebrated bond investor Lacy Hunt, and investing legends Doug Casey, Rick Rule, and Eric Sprott... and that's just for openers.

    Together, they'll help you understand where our politicized economy is today, where it's going, and how to protect yourself and profit from the whole fiasco.

    Who should attend? Learn more about the Casey Research Summit.

    Full Transcript:

    Interviewed by Alex Daley, Chief Technology Investment Strategist, Casey Research

    Alex Daley: Hello. I'm Alex Daley. Welcome to another edition of Conversations with Casey. Today our guest is former Reagan Budget Director and Congressman David Stockman. Welcome to the show, David.

    David Stockman: Glad to be here.

    Alex: So we're here in Florida talking at the Recovery Reality Check Casey Summit. What do you think: is the United States economy on the road to recovery?

    David: I don't think we are at the beginning of the recovery. I think we are at the end of a disastrous debt supercycle that has gone on for the last thirty or forty years, really. It started when Nixon defaulted on our obligations under Bretton Woods and closed the gold window. Incrementally, year after year since then, we have been going in a direction of extremely unsound money, of massive borrowing in both the private and the public sector. We now have an economy that is saturated with debt: $54 trillion or $53 trillion - 3.5 times the GDP - way off the charts from where it was for a hundred years prior to the beginning of this. The idea that somehow all of that debt is irrelevant, as the Keynesians would tell us, is fundamentally wrong - and the reason why the economy can't get up off the mat.

    We're doing all the wrong things. We're adding to the problem, not subtracting. We are not allowing the debt to be worked down and liquidated. We're not asking people to save more and consume less, which is what we really need to do. And so therefore I think policy is just making it worse, and any day now we will have another recurrence of the kind of economic crisis we had a few years ago.

    Alex: You paint a very stark picture, but if people just stop spending, start saving, won't companies like Apple see their earnings hurt? Won't the stock market then start to tumble, people's net worth fall? Isn't that a negative cycle that feeds on itself?

    David: Sure it does, but you can't live beyond your means because it's pleasant. It's not sustainable. Clearly the level of debt that we have is not sustainable. We have a whole generation - the Baby Boom - that's about ready to retire, and they have no retirement savings. We have a federal government that is bankrupt, literally. Its [debt is] $16 trillion and growing by a trillion a year. Something's going to give. We can't pay for all these entitlements. There won't be the revenue generation in the economy to do it.

    So as a result of that, we are deluding ourselves if we think we can just continue to spend. Look at the GDP that came out in the first quarter of this year. It was only 2.2%. Most of it was personal consumption expenditure, and half of that was due to a drawdown of the savings rate, not because the economy was earning more income or generating more real output. It was because of a drawdown of savings. That is exactly the wrong way to go - an indication of how severe the crisis is going to be.

    I'm not saying the economy should stop spending entirely. I'm only saying you can't save 3% of GDP and spend 97% if you are going to get out of this fix. As the savings rate goes up both in the public sector (which means reduction of spending and the deficit) and the household sector (to seriously reduce debt burden, which has not really happened) we are going to, on the margin, spend less, save more. It will slow down the economy. It will undermine profits, I agree. But profits today are way overstated. They're based on a debt-bloated economy that isn't sustainable.

    Alex: So we can only live beyond our means for so long, as any family knows.

    David: Yes.

    Alex: Now, the government can reduce its expenses at any time by simply reducing spending, and it can reduce debt if it brings in more tax revenue. That's austerity - I think that's how they refer to it. But won't austerity cause massive joblessness? Won't there be millions more people in this country not receiving a paycheck?

    David: Yes, but the critique, the clamoring and clattering that you hear from the Keynesians (or even mainstream media, which is pretty clueless economically) that austerity is bad forgets the fact that austerity isn't an elective course. Austerity is something that happens to you when you're broke. And yes, it is painful and spending will go down and unemployment will go up and incomes will be impaired, but that is a consequence of the excess debt creation that we've had for the last thirty years. So austerity is what happens when you break the rules.

    And somehow we have this debate going on. They're making a mistake. They chose the wrong strategy. Do you think Greece chose the wrong strategy with austerity? No. No one would lend them money. That's why they ended up in the place they were. Do you think that Spain today is teetering on the brink because they said, "Oh, wouldn't it be a good idea to have austerity?" No, they had a gun to their head. They were forced to do this because the markets would not continue to lend, and even now their interest rate is again rising. The markets are losing confidence, and unless the ECB prints some more money and bails them out some more, they are going to have austerity. So the austerity upon us is the backside of the debt supercycle we had for the past thirty years. It's not discretionary.

    Alex: Austerity hasn't been forced upon us yet. The dollar is up, people are continuing to buy Treasuries - both nations and banks are buying Treasuries. To all extents and purposes, people are continuing to show massive confidence in the US government, lend it money at extremely cheap interest rates, and letting it build up its debt.

    So you are advocating that, unlike Greece or Spain taking it to the edge and having austerity forced on them, we should volunteer for austerity today? Instead of just kicking the can down the road and living high a little bit longer, until the bill collectors finally come knocking? Why go today, why start austerity now instead of doing what Greece did and going as long as you possibly can?

    David: Because Greece is a $300 billion economy. Tiny. A rounding error in the great scheme of things. It's - last time I checked - about eight and a half months' worth of Walmart sales. Okay? That's a little different than when you have the $15 trillion heartland of the world economy, and the $11 trillion Treasury market which is at the center of the whole global financial system buckle and falter. That's the risk you're taking if you say, "Mañana. Kick the can; let's just wait for something good to happen."

    This market isn't real. The two percent on the ten-year, the ninety basis points on the five-year, thirty basis points on a one-year - those are medicated, pegged rates created by the Fed and which fast-money traders trade against as long as they are confident the Fed can keep the whole market rigged. Nobody in their right mind wants to own the ten-year bond at a two percent interest rate. But they're doing it because they can borrow overnight money for free, ten basis points, put it on repo, collect 190 basis points a spread, and laugh all the way to the bank. And they will keep laughing all the way to the bank on Wall Street until they lose confidence in the Fed's ability to keep the yield curve pegged where it is today. If the bond ever starts falling in price, they unwind the carry trade. They unwind the repo, because then you can't collect 190 basis points.

    Then you get a message, "Do not pass go." Sell your bonds, unwind your overnight debt, your repo positions. And the system then begins to contract - exactly what happened in September and October of 2008. Only, that time it was an unwind to the repo on mortgage-backed securities and CDOs and so forth. That was a minor trial run for the great unwind that is going to happen when the Treasury market is finally shattered with a lack of confidence because, on the margin, no one owns a Treasury bond: they just rent it on borrowed money. If the price starts falling, they'll get out of that trade as fast as they got out of toxic CDOs.

    Alex: So when people run away from the US, they will run away all at once.

    David: Well, if they run away from the Treasury, it sends compounding forces of contagion through the entire financial system. It hits next the MBS and the mortgage market. The mortgage market then scares the hell out of people about the housing recovery, which hasn't happened anyway. And if there isn't a housing recovery, middle-class Main-Street confidence isn't going to recover, because it is the only asset they have, and for 25 million households it's under water or close to under water.

    Alex: We saw something much like that in 2008. All the markets correlated. Stocks went down. Bonds went down. Gold went down with them. It sounds like what you're saying is that the Fed is effectively paying bankers to stay confident in the Fed, and that the moment that stops - either because the Fed stops paying them or something else shakes their confidence - this all goes down in one big house of cards?

    David: Yes, I think that's right. The Fed has destroyed the money market. It has destroyed the capital markets. They have something that you can see on the screen called an "interest rate." That isn't a market price of money or a market price of five-year debt capital. That is an administered price that the Fed has set and that every trader watches by the minute to make sure that he's still in a positive spread. And you can't have capitalism if the capital markets are dead, if the capital markets are simply a branch office - branch casino - of the central bank. That's essentially what we have today.

    Alex: Last night you told our audience that if you were elected president, the first thing you would do is quit. Or at least demand a recount, I believe were your words, which I thought was telling. Are you saying there are no policy changes we could make today that would get us out of this? Or at least that wouldn't get you assassinated?

    David: Yeah, there is a paper blueprint. People who believe in sound money and fiscal responsibility, that you create wealth the old-fashioned way through savings and work and effort and not simply by printing money and trading pieces of paper - there is a plan that they could put together. One would be to put the Fed out of business. You don't have to "end the Fed," although I like Ron Paul's phrase. You have to get them out of discretionary, active, day-to-day meddling in the money markets. Abolish the Open Market Committee.

    The Fed has taken its balance sheet to $3 trillion. That's enough for the next 50 years. They don't have to do a damn thing except maybe have a discount window that floats above the market, and if things get tight, let the interest rate go up. People who have been speculating will be carried out on a stretcher. That's how they used to do it. It worked prior to 1914. That's the first step: abolish the Open Market Committee. Abolish discretionary monetary policy.

    Let the Fed, if you're going to keep it - I don't even know that you need to do that, but if you are going to keep it - be only a standby source. As Badgett said (Walter Badgett, the great 19th-century British financial thinker): provide liquidity at a penalty rate to sound collateral.

    Now, that's what J.P. Morgan did in 1907, in the great crisis of 1907, from his library. He didn't have a printing press. He didn't bail out everybody. He didn't do what Bernanke did and say: "Stop the presses, freeze everybody, and prop up Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs and all the rest of the speculators." The interest rate, the call-money interest rate, which was the open-market interest rate at the time, some days went to 30, 40, 70% - and they were carrying out the speculators left and right, liquidating margin debt, taking out the real estate speculators. Eight or ten railroads went bankrupt within a couple of months. The copper magnates got carried out on their shields.

    This is the only way a capital market can work, but it needs an honest interest rate. And we have no interest rate, so therefore we solve nothing and we have the kind of impaired, incapacitated markets that we have today. They're very dangerous, because they're all dependent on twelve people. It is what I call "the monetary Politburo of the Western world," and they are just as dangerous as the Politburo in Beijing or the Politburo of memory in Moscow.

    Alex: A twelve-person Open Market Committee determining the future of our economy by manipulating rates. Sounds like central planning to me.

    David: It is. They are monetary central planners who are attempting to use the crude instrument of interest-rate pegging and yield-curve manipulation and essentially buying debt that no one else would buy, in order to keep this whole system afloat. It's Ponzi economics. Anybody who had financial training before 1970 would instantly recognize this as Ponzi economics. It is only because of the last twenty years we got so inured to prosperity out of the end of a printing press and massive incremental debt that people lost sight of the fundamental principles of sound money, which, there's nothing arcane about it. It's just common sense. It is not common sense to think that 50, 60, 70% of all the debt that's being created by the federal government can be bought by the Federal Reserve, stuffed in a vault, and everybody can live happily ever after.

    Alex: So the government has certainly put us in a precarious position, but I don't think they alone have put America in this position, have they? You mentioned consumer debt becoming a major burden on the economy. How do we shed ourselves of that? I mean, the federal government can repudiate its debts if we walk away from it. We might see a few wars or something from that. It could inflate its way out of it. It can tax its way out of it. But how do households get out from under the debt burden that they have today?

    David: Well, it's very tough, and they were lured into it by bad monetary policy when Greenspan panicked in December 2000. The interest rate was 6.5%; we had an economy that was threatened by competitors around the world. We needed high interest rates, not low. He panicked after the dot-com crash, and as you remember in two years they took the interest rate all the way down to 1%, and they catalyzed an explosion of mortgage borrowing, which was crazy.

    When they cut the final rate down to 1% in May, June 2003, in that quarter - the second quarter of 2003 - the run rate of mortgage borrowing was $5 trillion at an annual rate. That was nuts! There had never been even a trillion-dollar annual rate of mortgage borrowing previously. In that quarter the run rate was $5 trillion, 40% of GDP. Why? Because the Fed took the rate down to 1%. Floating-rate product got invented everywhere. Anybody that had a pulse was being given mortgage loans by the brokers. The mortgage brokers didn't have any capital or funding. They went to Wall Street. They got warehouse lines, and the whole thing got out of control. Millions of households were lured into taking on debt that was insane, and now we have a generation of debt slaves.

    There are 25 million households in America who couldn't move if they wanted to, because their mortgages are under water. They cannot generate a down payment and the 5% or 6% broker fee that you need to move. So we've got 25 million households immobilized, paralyzed, and worried every day about when they are going to lose property, because of what the Fed did. It's a terrible indictment.

    Alex: Mobility itself is the American dream, isn't it? It's the ability to pick up and find work and then move and do all that. So now we have people who are slaves to their debt. How do we get ourselves out of this? Is this just a matter of personal financial discipline? Is there a policy move that can happen?

    David: It's policy. If we don't do something about the Fed, if we don't drive the Bernankes and the Dudleys and the Yellens and the rest of these lunatic money-printers out of the Federal Reserve and get it under the control of people who have at least a modicum of sanity, we are just going to bury everybody deeper.

    It's unfortunate. The American people are as much a victim of the Fed's massive errors as anything else. People were not prudent when they took on debt at 100% of the peak value of their property at some moment in 2004 and 2005. They were lured into it. But now we're stuck with something that didn't need to happen.

    Alex: The Federal Reserve was founded in 1914, and it saw America through World War I, World War II. It saw America through Vietnam, saw America through the biggest boom in the economic history of the world. Yet now, today, you are calling for the abolishment of the Fed. Wasn't the Fed here the entire time that America was a prosperous, growing, wealthy, technology-driven nation? What's changed?

    David: The greatest period of growth in American history was 1870-1914 - the Fed didn't exist. Right after 1870, when we recovered from the Civil War we went back on the gold standard. It worked pretty well. World War I was a catastrophe for the financial system. The Fed financed it, but I don't give them any credit for that, okay? We shouldn't have been in that war. It was a stupid thing to get involved in. But once we got involved in it, the Fed printed money like crazy, it facilitated borrowing, set the groundwork for the boom of the 1920s and the collapse of the 1930s.

    Even then though, we had great minds who coped with reality in a pragmatic way in the Fed. Even Marriner Eccles wasn't all that bad. He stood up to Truman in 1951, when Truman wanted to force the Fed to continue to peg interest rates at 2% or 2.5% when inflation was 5%. Then we had William McChesney Martin: brilliant, pragmatic. He wasn't some kind of gold-standard guy in a pure sense, but a pragmatic guy who understood that prosperity had to come out of private productivity, out of investment, out of risk-taking, and the Fed had to be very careful not to allow speculation to start or inflation to get ignited. In 1958, he invented the phrase, "The job of the Fed is to take the punchbowl away." And we had a small recession. Six months after the recession was over he was actually raising the margin rate on the stock-market loans in order to quell speculation, and raising interest rates so that the economy didn't start to inflate again.

    Now that was the regime we had until, unfortunately, Lyndon Johnson came along with his "guns and butter," took William McChesney Martin down to the ranch, and beat the hell out of him and forced him to capitulate. But here's the point I would make: In 1960, at the peak of what I call the golden era - the twilight of fiscal and financial discipline - we had $30 billion on the balance sheet of the Fed. It had taken 45 years to build that up. Then, as they began to rapidly expand the balance sheet of the Fed during the inflation of the '70s and the '80s, even then it took us until September 2008 - the Lehman collapse - to get to $900 billion. Had the balance sheet only grown at 3%, which is what the capacity of the economy to grow, I think, really is, it would have been $300 billion, so they were overshooting.

    Alex: We're three times where we should be.

    David: Where we should have been by the Lehman crisis event. In the next seven weeks, this crazy lunatic who's running the Fed increased the balance sheet of the Fed by $900 billion, in seven weeks. In other words, they expanded the balance sheet of the Fed as rapidly in seven weeks as it had occurred during the first 93 years of its existence. And that's not all, as they say on late night TV: in the next six weeks they added another $900 billion. So in thirteen weeks they tripled the balance sheet of the Fed.

    Alex: Wow, that's an incredible…

    David: So no wonder we are in totally uncharted waters, and it's being run by people who are clueless as to how to get out of the corner they've painted this country into. They really ought to be run out of town on a rail.

    Alex: I think you'd find that a lot of our viewers would agree with you on that one. You know, the average American is suffering. It looks like the average American is going to have to suffer more to get us out of this, but it seems like the only thing the Fed is interested in these days is propping up the stock market. Why is that? Where does that come from?

    David: The Fed has taken itself hostage with this whole misbegotten doctrine of wealth effects, which was created by Greenspan. In other words, if we get the stock market going up and we get the stock averages going up, people feel wealthier, they will spend more. If they spend more, there is more production and income and you get a virtuous circle. Well, that says you can create wealth through speculation. That can't be true, because if it is true, we should have had a totally different kind of system than we've had historically.

    So they got into that game, and then the crisis came in September, 2008. They panicked and pulled out the stops everywhere. As I said, tripled the balance sheet in thirteen weeks, [compared to what] they had done in 93 years. They are now at a point where they don't dare begin to reduce the balance sheet, begin to contract, or they'll cause Wall Street to go into a hissy fit. They are afraid to death of Wall Street going into a hissy fit, so essentially, the robots and the boys and girls and the fast-money traders on Wall Street run the Fed indirectly.

    Alex: So, in the 1960s, the Fed is taking away the punchbowl. Sounds like in 2010 the Fed is the one adding the alcohol. They are afraid to stop, lest everybody riot.

    David: Yes, they got the party going, and they're afraid to stop it. As a result of that you have a doomsday machine.

    Alex: At some point we are going to be forced to stop. Market forces will kick in and Europe and China and India will stop lending us money.

    David: Yes. As I say, when the crisis comes in the Treasury market, it will be the great margin call in the sky. They'll start unwinding all of the carry trades, all of the repo. Asset prices generally will be affected, because this will ricochet and compound through the system.

    Alex: When does this happen?

    David: People looked at the housing market and the mortgage market way back in 2003 - there were some smart people looking at this. They looked at the run rate of gross mortgage issuance, the $5 trillion I was talking about, and said: "This is insane, this is off the charts, this is so far beyond anything that has ever happened before, something bad is going to come of this." It's obvious, if you pour debt into markets… I mean a lot of people leveraged 98%, or whatever they were doing at the time with so-called mortgage insurance, and just high loan to value ratios. They were driving up prices, and so there was a housing-price boom going on. It was sucking the whole middle class into speculation. So that's the nature of the system, and now they don't know how to unwind it.

    Alex: That's a pretty stark picture. So as an individual investor, what are we to do? How do we protect ourselves in this type of situation? Should I be owning bonds and staying out of stocks? Should I be owning stocks?

    David: No, I would stay out of any security markets. These are unsafe markets at any speed. It's all tied together. As I was saying when the great margin call comes and they start selling the Treasury bond, they'll take everything else with it. Real estate is priced off Treasuries. Mortgaged-backed securities are priced off Treasuries. Corporates are priced off Treasuries. Junk bonds are priced off Treasuries. Everything. The stock market will go into a panic. We don't know when the timing will come - we've never been in a world where there is $15 trillion worth of central-bank balance sheets, like we have today. The only thing I think you can conclude is preservation is the only thing you are about as an investor. Forget about yield. Forget about return. Just keep yourself liquid and preserve your capital, because you can't predict the day when, as I say, the great margin call in the sky comes down.

    Alex: So if it's not about coming out ahead, it's about coming out not behind everybody else. It's just losing a little less. What's the most effective way to do that? Do you want to hold cash? Alternative options?

    David: Yes. I don't even think there's nothing wrong with owning Treasury bills. I mean, if you want to get, for a one-year Treasury, what is the thing now? Twenty basis points or something?

    Alex: So when the great Treasury crash comes, I should own Treasury bills?

    David: Well, it doesn't mean the price of the Treasury is going to crash, no.

    Alex: Okay, so we are just going to see interest rates skyrocket on new issues. The US government is not going to be able to borrow.

    David: That's why you're short. If you're in a thirty-day piece of paper, you're not going to lose principal.

    Alex: What happens to the dollar in all of this? If I'm holding dollar denominated assets -?

    David: Well, the dollar, in theory, people would think is going to crash. I don't think it is because all the rest of the currencies in the world are worse.

    Alex: So once again, America is not that bad off.

    David: Well, we're bad off because when the financial markets reprice drastically, it's going to have a shocking effect on economic activity. It's going to paralyze things. It's going to finally cause consumption to come down. It's going to cause government spending to be retracted.

    You know, the Keynesians are right. Borrowing does add to GDP accounts. But it doesn't add to wealth. It doesn't add to real productivity, but it does add to GDP as it's calculated and published - because GDP accounts were designed by Keynesians who don't believe in a balance sheet. So they said, "If the public sector and the household sector are borrowing, let's say, $10 trillion next year, run it though GDP, you'll get a big bump to GDP." But sooner or later your balance sheet will collapse. They forgot about that one. So my point is that we've gone through a thirty-year expansion of the balance sheet, an artificial growth in GDP; now we're going to have to be retracting the collective balance sheets. That means that GDP will not grow. It may even contract, and no one's prepared for that.

    Alex: So the economy will collapse. The dollar will be okay, because we still need a medium of exchange and the dollar is the least-bad currency in the world. How does gold fit into the picture? Do you think that gold is a good asset?

    David: Yes, I think that gold is a good asset. It's the only currency that anybody is going to believe in after a while.

    Alex: Okay, so maybe hold that as an insurance policy. Do you own gold yourself?

    David: Yes, as an insurance policy.

    Alex: Where else do you invest in today?

    David: I'm preserving capital. I'm in cash. I don't think the risk of the system is worth it.

    Alex: So you are practicing what you preach, 100%?

    David: Yes.

    Alex: That's great. It's good to hear. This is excellent advice for our subscribers as well, to consider that there's a lot of potential energy built up in the system. You've articulated it well, a lot of painful policy moves ahead of us, and probably something that makes 2008 look like a preview, if you will.

    David: It was just a warm-up.

    Alex: Just a warm-up. Thank you very much.

    David: Thank you.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Jul 24 3:57 PM | Link | Comment!
  • "Why Your Health Care Is So Darn Expensive"…

    By Alex Daley and Doug Hornig,
    Senior Editors, Casey Extraordinary Technology

    The cellphone in your pocket is NASA-smart. Yet it costs just a couple hundred dollars.

    So why is it that rising technical capabilities are leading to drastically falling prices happening everywhere, except in your medical bill?

    The answer may surprise you…

    Continual microchip technology breakthroughs mean you can now do more on a phone bought for $200 than you ever could have thought of doing on a $2,000 computer just a decade ago.

    In fact, it has more computer power than all of NASA had back in 1969 - the year it sent two astronauts to the moon.

    Video games, which consume enormous amounts of computer power to simulate 3D situations, use more computer power than mainframe computers of the previous decade.

    The $300 Sony Playstation in the kids' room has the power of a military supercomputer of 1997, which cost millions of dollars.

    Warp-speed progress.

    So just think what computers can do to help doctors cure you when you're sick.

    Indeed, computers do keep us healthier and living longer.

    Illnesses are diagnosed faster. Computer scans catch killer diseases earlier, giving the patient a better survival rate than ever in history.

    New treatments are being created at an astonishing rate. All kinds of conditions that would have killed you a decade ago now are controlled and even cured, thanks to new technology.

    But with all these advances in technology, shouldn't medical care - just like the mobile phone and video games - be getting cheaper?

    Yet here we are, still paying through the nose for every powder, pill, and potion. And it seems like nothing ever gets cheaper when it comes to medical treatment.

    It Must be Price Fixing
    We're Just Making Doctors and Big Pharma Rich, Right?

    Or are we?

    It seems that the increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money than before, as you'll see in a moment. (It might surprise you).

    "The bottom line is that you are paying for extending your life and curing diseases that until recently would likely have killed you."

    A longer life has a bigger price ticket.

    But there's more to it than that.

    Are We Really Living That Much Longer?

    Doctors cure your ills and repair the damage you do to yourself by accidents, old age, abuse, and general wear and tear.

    It is easy to dismiss the days of people's lives spanning a mere three decades as prehistoric... but it wasn't really that long ago.

    Consider that according to data compiled by the World Health Organization, the average global lifespan as recently as the year 1900 was just 30 years.

    If you were lucky enough to be born in the richest few countries on Earth at the time, the number still rarely crossed 50.

    However, it was just about that time that public health came into its own, with major efforts from both the private and public sectors.

    In 1913, the Rockefeller Foundation was looking for diseases that might be controlled or perhaps even eradicated in the space of a few years or a couple of decades.

    Curing the Six Killer Diseases of Childhood

    The result of this concerted public-health push included nearly eradicating smallpox, leprosy, and other debilitating or deadly diseases.

    It also included vaccines against the six killer diseases of childhood: tetanus, polio, measles, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and whooping cough.

    A simple graph illustrates the dramatic change.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    In the US, the average lifespan is now 78.2 years, according to the World Bank. In many countries in the world, it is well over 80.

    But the story isn't so simple. Like all averages, it's affected mainly by the extremes.

    For instance, in the early part of the 1900s, the data point that weighed most heavily on average lifespans was child mortality.

    Back then families were much larger, and parents routinely expected some of their children to die.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    But the flip side, as can be seen in the graph, is that for anyone lucky enough to survive childhood at the turn of the last century, life expectancy was not that much lower than it is today.

    It seems that for all of our advances in medicine,
    we only live about 20 to 30% longer.

    Not only is the increase quite small - relative, say, to the explosion in computing power over the same period of time - the amount of money we spend adding another year or two to the average lifespan is on the rise.

    So if we exclude high child mortality, we are not living all that much longer today than we once were. So where does all the money we spend actually go?

    We can get a glimpse of the answer in the following graph.

    Intuitively, one would think that there should be a relationship between the economic well-being of a country and the life expectancy of its citizens. And, as you would imagine, there is a strong correlation between wealth and health.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The important takeaway from this graph is the flattening of the curve along the top.

    What it means is that in many countries with lower GDPs, those with less to spend on health care can attain life expectancies in the 65-75 range.

    Pushing the boundaries beyond that (as the richer countries do) clearly requires much greater resources. By implication, that means spending more to do it.

    Here's something else we've discovered:

    The cost of battling the diseases of adulthood rises dramatically with age.

    How much so?

    Well, per capita lifetime healthcare expenditure in the US is $316,600, a third higher for females ($361,200) than males ($268,700).

    But two-fifths of this difference owes entirely to women's longer life expectancy.

    For everyone, nearly one-third of lifetime expenditures is incurred during middle age, and nearly half during the senior years. And for survivors to age 85, more than one-third of their lifetime expenditures will accrue in just the years they have left.

    Technologies and the cutting-edge companies that create them help to drive these costs down, while creating a profitable business for themselves and their investors.

    To take a simple example, the MRI machine invented by Raymond V. Damadian may seem expensive on the surface, but it accomplishes things that previously required a much heavier investment in time and diverse professional expertise.

    Or consider how a company like NxStage Medical a company the team at Casey Extraordinary Technology have been following closely and profiting handsomely from for quite some time.

    A business like this has revolutionized the delivery of renal care. Their home-based units save a ton of money compared with the traditional, thrice-weekly visits to a special dialysis clinic.

    Innovations like these from NxStage are changing the way patients receive care and the way a company produces income for its shareholders.

    But the problem remains that overall, medical costs continue to rise faster than improved technology can serve as a countervailing force.

    There are three easily identifiable reasons for this:

    • Diminishing marginal returns
    • Rising costs of non-technology inputs
    • Increased quality of life

    The Law of Decelerating Returns

    Technology in most arenas is a field of rapidly increasing marginal return on investment, i.e., accelerating change.

    In other words, things don't just get continually better or cheaper; they tend to get better or cheaper at a faster rate over time.

    There is a simple concept in finance, hard sciences, and any sufficiently quantitative field - anywhere that numbers dictate behavior - called "economies of scale," and it mainly refers to the idea of changing returns over time. We refer to these as "marginal returns."

    Imagine for a moment that you are a manufacturer:

    • Once you've paid off the cost of your factory or equipment - your "fixed" costs - you maybe make a widget to sell for $10, with a cost per unit of $5.
    • If you make and sell a thousand units, you make $5,000 profit. That is the marginal return.
    • But now imagine that if you make 100,000 units, your cost per unit drops to $4 - you have more negotiating power over your raw materials suppliers, you can run your staff with less slack, etc.
    • And if you can make 200,000 you save/make another dollar.

      That means you have "accelerating marginal returns" - we're used to that in technology.

    Every year Intel is able to lower the cost of the processing power it sells on the market.

    Making the chips becomes easier with time and scale, although there is fierce competition from companies like ARM Holdings and Taiwan Semiconductor to take some share.

    Fortunately for Intel, a chip is a commodity product: it's the same for nearly all consumers, and the market is global. (Not to mention the small need for highly trained service practitioners, the lack of spoilage, and other nice benefits of dealing in circuit board technology.)

    Of course medicine is not quite the same - at least not in the most important instances.

    No doctor treats a wide range of diseases. They're forced to specialize.

    • Moreover, they usually only see patients from within a certain physical radius.
    • Additionally, they must undergo never-ending education and certification.
    • They often practice in expensive buildings.
    • They require complex equipment used only by a handful of fellow specialists.

    Ultimately, there are few places to find so-called economies of scale.

    Treatment Difficulties

    The simple fact is that, in our self-centered zeal to live to the age of 80+, we have made a trade-off.

    We've left behind the diseases of youth - diseases that mostly strike once, resulting either in death or fading chances of a long life - but they've been replaced by a host of new, chronic diseases. Diseases of age. Diseases of environment. And diseases of design.

    These are the challenges companies like NxStage are dealing with every day. It's a time-intensive endeavor. It can take time, but successful medicines are big winners for investors... sometimes very big.

    The illnesses we fall prey to these days as a result of living longer - conditions such as diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and cancer - are all much more complicated than their predecessors.

    First, none is caused by a single, easily identifiable agent. There's no virus to isolate and eradicate. There's no pathogen sample to convert to a vaccine.

    These are diseases born of the complexity of our bodies and the challenges of understanding what our bodies, as they grow older than our predecessors could ever have hoped, are capable of fighting off.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    These conditions cost considerably more to treat than the traditional infectious disease does. More labor is involved. More time. And available drug treatments rarely cure in a few doses, if ever.

    So, chronic conditions breed chronic costs.

    Of course they do; that's their nature.

    Keeping someone with lung cancer alive for twice as long as would have been the case 30 years ago is a great feat, but it comes at considerable additional cost in terms of the time devoted by the many healthcare professionals involved.

    And that means troubling questions like this must be asked: If every patient can live twice as long, but it takes twice as many net people-hours to care for them, has there been a net gain for society?

    The Driving Force

    Our medical progress has been won through a major increase in net costs per person.

    In 1987, US per capita spending on health care was $2,051. That's $3,873 in 2009 dollars.

    But in 2009, actual spending amounted to $7,960 per capita. Why?

    Some of that is attributable, pure and simple, to rising costs that have outpaced inflation.

    In 1986, the average pharmacist made $31,600, or $66,260 in 2012 dollars. Today, the real average salary is $115,181 - nearly double.

    On the other hand, it's not universal.

    Radiologists, for example, have seen their salaries drop from an inflation-adjusted $425,000+ to $386,000 in the same period.

    Also, costs for surgeries and diagnostics are not a clear-cut contributor.

    Data are hard to compile as costs vary greatly:

    • California recently saw charges for appendectomies in the range of $1,500 to $180,000.
    • In Dallas, getting an MRI at one center can be more than 50% more expensive than another across town.

    Most indications seem to point to lower, not higher, real costs over time for most common conditions.

    Average hospital stays post appendectomies have fallen from 4.8 to just 2.3 days in the past 25 years, for instance. That's thanks largely to insurance requirements, as well as better sutures, pain medicines, and surgical equipment.

    As hard as procedural costs are to compare, the outcomes are much more clear-cut.

    In cancer, the improvement has been significant in some cases and less dramatic in others.

    For those diagnosed with cancer in 1975-'77, the five-year survival rate was 49.1% (and only 41.9% for males).

    For those diagnosed between 2001 and 2007, five-year survival increased to 67.4% for both sexes and jumped to 68.1% for men.

    Even if you're diagnosed when over age 65, you have a 58.4% probability of living another five years.

    Prognoses, however, vary widely with disease specifics.

    If you contract pancreatic cancer, for instance, your prospects are the grimmest.

    It's likely to be terminal very quickly. Among the most recently diagnosed cohort, a meager 5.6% survived for five years. That's more than double the rate from 30 years ago, but small comfort.

    Liver cancer sufferers' five-year survival rate has more than quadrupled, but only from 3.4 to 15%.

    Lung cancer is also still a near-certain killer. In the 2001-'07 group, a meager 16.3% survived for five years, only a slight tick up from the 12.3% rate of 30 years ago.

    Brain cancer is quite lethal as well, with only 34.8% surviving for five years today - more than 50% better than the 22.4% rate of 30 years ago, but not great.

    On the other side of the ledger, breast-cancer victims are doing very well.

    90% survive for at least five years if diagnosed after 2001, vs. 75% in 1975-'77.

    And prostate-cancer treatments have been the most spectacularly successful. Five-year survival is fully 99.9% of those diagnosed in the past ten years, vs. only 68.3% in 1975-'77.

    Longer survival rates are, of course, impossible to document in recently diagnosed patients, since we're not there yet. But to give you some idea, here are the 20-year survival rates for the above cancers, taken from the NCI's 1973-'98 database:

    Pancreas, 2.7%; liver, 7.6%; lung, 6.5%; brain, 26.1%; breast, 65%; and prostate, 81.1.%.

    These are big steps forward, no question. They enhance not only the length but the quality of life, as well.

    However, with each rising year of average age, we increase our medical expenses rapidly.

    When we eradicated the big childhood killers, we solved most of the easy problems.

    As a result we all live longer. And we all live to face the much more complicated and much more expensive to treat diseases of age.

    At that point, it isn't lifestyle changes that are keeping us alive - it's machines and doctors and medicines doing a lot of the heavy lifting in order to grant us those precious extra days.

    It's the Hippocratic Oath writ large:

    Physician, thou shalt do whatever it takes to prolong life, no matter the price.

    All of that costs money, and lots of it.

    So we are not dying of the most dreaded ailments as quickly as we once were.

    But that's not due to much in the way of real advances in curing the major chronic illnesses of our time - heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and AIDS.

    The truth is that we've primarily extended the amount of time we can live with them.

    Mexico's health minister, Dr. Julio Frenk, noted the irony here when he said, "In health, we are always victims of our own successes." We are living longer... and we're costing a lot more in the process.

    Doug Hornig

    Senior Editor

    Doug Hornig is the editor of Casey Daily Resource Plus, a frequent contributor to both Casey Research's BIG GOLD, the go-to information source for Gold investors and Casey Daily Dispatch, a simple and fast way to keep up with the ever-changing investing landscape.

    Doug is not just an investment writer, however. Doug is an Edgar Award nominee, a finalist for the Virginia Prize in both fiction and poetry, and the winner of several open literary competitions, including the 2000 Virginia Governor's Screenwriting contest.

    Doug has authored ten books, done investigative journalism for Virginia's leading newspaper, and written articles for Business Week, The Writer, Playboy, Whole Earth Review, and other national publications.

    Doug lives on 30 mountainous acres in a county that has 14,000 residents and a single stop light.

    Alex Daley

    Chief Technology Investment Strategist

    Alex Daley is the senior editor of the technology investor's friend, Casey Extraordinary Technology.

    In his varied career, he's worked as a senior research executive, a software developer, project manager, senior IT executive, and technology marketer.

    He's an industry insider of the highest order, having been involved in numerous startups as an advisor to venture capital companies. He's a trusted advisor to the CEOs and strategic planners of some of the world's largest tech companies, and he's a successful angel investor in his own right, with a long history of spectacular investment successes.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Jul 19 4:04 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Is The Generational Divide In Technology Widening?

    My son doesn't know how to use a mouse.

    He doesn't even know what one is. As far as he's concerned, it's a furry animal he's only seen in books and running around the floor of the Newark airport.

    While I've known this for some time, it recently moved from the back of my mind to front and center following a brief car trip a few days ago. From the back seat, my eldest son - who for some inexplicable reason loves to watch the instructions tick by on the screen of the GPS unit sitting on the dashboard - requested that I program the unit to give us directions home. I politely declined, pointing out that I couldn't be messing around with the screen as I was already driving. He followed up with that well-known, youthful naïveté that borders on soul-piercing in its effectiveness to point our shortcomings in ourselves and our world by asking:

    "Why can't you just tell it where you want to go? Like the Xbox."

    "I don't know, son…"

    Unhappy with the answer he'd received, the conversation then turned in the direction of endless questions about computers versus video games versus the car's GPS. In all the hubbub of explaining to my eldest about the differences between them, especially how we interact with them, my youngest, despite spending many an hour on particularly snowy Vermont days upstairs in the home office playing Curious George games on the computer, piped in abruptly:

    "Dad! Why would your computer have a mouse in it?! You're just making that up!"

    A lot has been made over the past few years of so-called "digital natives" - children who were born and raised in the age of the computer. Kids like Mark Zuckerberg, who was born in 1984, seven years after the release of Apple's first computer. For all of his life (and mine; if I'm being honest, I'm not that much older than Zuck), computers have been part of human existence.

    We were both part of the first digital generation. But still, even then the computer was something distinct from everyday life. It was culturally defining. It was epochal, some might even say. But it was by no means universally prevalent.

    One of my fondest childhood memories is of the arrival of a fresh, new Tandy 1000 SL one Christmas morning. I remember it well. 50-odd lb., 13-inch CRT monitor. Big honking base "CPU." Keyboard… and no mouse. That came later, with the next-generation model.

    The arrival of the Tandy was the moment we went from a family without a computer to a family with one. I look back at it, and I like to think it compares to the arrival of the first television set in many households in the 1940s and 1950s. The family gathered around the set to watch Ed Sullivan, neighbors aglow with jealousy.

    We were by no means the first on the block to own a computer. Still, at that stage many a family didn't yet have one. Maybe Dad or Mom used one at work, and of course, our small suburban school had a little "lab" of them, used to mainly to teach typing. So I'd used them before, on occasion, but the power of the device - and my borderline addiction to it - was not apparent until it invaded the home. Or at least my home (there is probably a good "nature vs. nurture" debate in the evolution of the computer geek).

    But it wasn't much like the arrival of the television at all. I only found out years later that my mother had to work hard to convince my father that it was more than his choice description - "a $3,000 pet rock." We never huddled around the phosphorescent glow of the screen as a family. My brother ignored it nearly entirely (maybe that was only because I hogged it?). The same was true for the majority of children in the original group of digital natives: the computer was part of, but mostly peripheral to, the average child's life. It was only a select set who really made it a part of their everyday lives.

    Yet today that seems to have changed, simply by the ubiquity thrust upon the current generation of children. Computers, in the looser definition of the word that includes smart phones, tablets, traditional PCs, interactive video players, GPS devices, game consoles, and a host of other consumer and business tools and toys, are everywhere. Our car stereos become speakerphones and road maps on demand. We even use touchscreens to order lunch at deli chains and burrito joints. Living a day free of interaction with a computer is now much more difficult than it was for the first digital cohort.

    Quantifying the impact of this generational shift is difficult, if not downright impossible. But we can garner quite a bit of insight from the anecdotal experiences we have with our own children today. I am a father of two wonderful sons, ages four and six. As you can imagine, given my geekish tendencies and a career centered on being up to date on some of the most advanced technologies around, my home is replete with the latest gadgets - everything from the run-of-the-mill consumer electronics to quad copters and 3D printers.

    Amongst the most prized of those gadgets (from the perspective of my six-year-old at least) are the video game consoles. We have a Wii, a Playstation, and most notably for this story, an Xbox with the Kinect attachment, hooked into the surprisingly modest-sized television in the living room. (I've never been a prime time TV or sports addict, so a TV bigger than the 37-inch LCD is one of those things I occasionally think of grabbing, but never bother to.)

    For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Xbox with Kinect allows you to eschew the traditional joystick and instead use gestures to control the game. No controllers. No remotes. Just stand in front of the three-eyed digital camera contraption and it senses where your head, heads, feet, etc., are and where they are moving to. The resulting paths of motion are translated by the console into swipes that slide content along the screen, kicks that send virtual soccer balls flying, and (thanks to some munificent math by game designers) Olympic-record-breaking long jumps you'd never be capable of in real life.

    The Kinect is not the only sensing device on the market. The video below highlights another one, the Leap Motion:

    This video shows the power of these devices firsthand. Like the Kinect, like the multi-touch screens of the iPhone, iPad, Androids, and other devices, the Leap Motion captures far more than just the location of a single dot. Instead it maps a wide variety of motions onto a map of intended actions. It attempts to allow for natural gestures to become the language in which we communicate with our computers.

    It's not uncommon these days for kids to experience computing without the traditional tethers of keyboard and mouse, or even remote controls and game controllers. These novel, unwired interfaces are not only coming to market, they are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous.

    Take another keyboard- and mouse-free device for instance: the iPad. Just a little over two years after its introduction, the touchscreen-centric iPad is the number-one selling non-phone personal computer in the world. It outsells - in sheer volume of units shipped - the total of all computers shipped by any one of the top PC makers in the world: HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc. That's all their many models of desktops and laptops rolled into one:

    Or consider the iPhone, which is the number-one selling phone in the world, hands down. Its next closest competitors virtually all sport touchscreens as well. Now, 50% of all phones sold in the US are smartphones, and virtually all are powered by touchscreen interfaces.

    But iPad- and iPhone-like touch-based devices are just supplements for most households in the developed world (in developing nations, like most in Africa and large swaths of Asia, increasing numbers of households count their smartphones as the first and sole computing device). In the West, the touchscreen-centric devices add to their owners' computers, but still rarely wholesale replace them. The Western world, even at home, is still dominated by Windows and traditional Macs.

    However, recently Microsoft announced that its Windows 8 desktop operating system, due out this fall, will be fully touch enabled. In other words, its interface will look much more like the iPhone than it does the traditional Windows interface hundreds of millions of people know today. In fact, it will look exactly like the interface on the new Windows phones, dubbed "Metro."

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The sleek, tile-based interface is meant to work on touch screens that vary in size from phone to wall uses. And all at the tip of your fingers. The multi-touch revolution is literally remaking the computer as we know it. And more and more often, users - children especially - will be able to simply eschew the mouse and even the keyboard.

    That's because it's not just touch that Microsoft is eyeing. The same gesture and voice technologies that control the Xbox will also be brought to Windows 8 as well.

    The company already produces a Kinect for Windows, and hackers have been busy working on connecting the device to older versions of Windows and to a whole host of other devices, including robots:

    With devices like the Leap Motion following the Kinect, gestures may someday become as common as the touchscreen is today.

    You'll be able to use your machine's microphone to control it as well. Microsoft already brought speech recognition to cars with Ford and Fiat's infotainment systems, and now it plans to make it ubiquitous in every device it touches.

    We've just begun what promises to be a wholesale revolution in the way we interact with computers, as big or larger than the introduction of the mouse and graphical user interface, yet already, the first crop of these devices is beginning to change the entire way we think about interacting with computers, from top to bottom.

    First, it's not that we have "a" computer; we now have multiple computers. And they carry names like "phone," "tablet," and "Xbox." With each, we touch the screens, talk to them, wave at them, and expect them to understand what we're doing. Increasingly, they even interact back with us through speech or by navigating our physical world.

    By the time my sons reach 8 and 10 - I was 10 when I received my Tandy, which came standard with a 256-color video graphics setup that I thought was pretty awesome at the time - the term "click here" will have about as much personal relevance to them as "turning" the channel or "dialing" the telephone.

    The fact that I had to "sit down at the keyboard" to type up this message is even a half-truth. I've been bitten by the speech recognition bug, and the majority of what you read here was spoken aloud to my computer, which did the typing for me, whilst I paced around my office.

    For me, that's still novel. But for my sons, who have known nothing different in their short lives, gestures and voice controls and touchscreens are so common that they now expect as much from every new device they encounter. To them, it makes no sense that they cannot just talk to the GPS (something which, now that it's been pointed out to me, seems equally preposterous given its position inside the car where inevitably both of my hands will be otherwise occupied at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel).

    The touchscreen is for them - sons of a geek - the lowest common denominator. Everything does that. Speech? Gestures? Why not?

    User interface expectations are built very early on. Painted on the blank canvas that is a screen, they often come to be based on metaphors we know from our previous lives. Once comfortable with the way things work, it takes a pretty large benefit for us to change our behaviors (if that were not the case, the iPad onscreen keypad would have used the Dvorak layout, which has been proven time and again more efficient for typers than the QWERTY keyboard, which was invented to minimize mechanical movement and thus repairs of mechanical typewriters - like the metric system for most American people, it's just not enough better to make it worth even considering).

    It is likely for this exact reason that, despite my penchant for gadgets, we still live in an iPad-free household. It's because Dad (i.e., me this time) doesn't like the thing. I find it terribly constrained. I cannot bear to type on the screen. There's no easy way to position the screen to a good angle. But most of all, I hate not having a file system where I can download a presentation and leaf through it, making small changes, adding slides, etc. The idea that a computer doesn't contain folders and files is as foreign to me as the lack of voice control in the car's GPS system is to my sons.

    Luckily, as one of the technological one-percenters from my own, original digital-age group, adjusting is easier for me than for most.

    I almost never thumb in a message on my Android phone. I rely instead on the excellent voice recognition built in (I only wish there was a button on the phone to hold to put it into voice mode, like on the iPhone).

    I use the Kinect voice controls regularly... so much so that given the choice between hopping around the nice "Metro" interface of the Xbox with my voice commands and trying to surf through cable channels, I end up watching "reruns" (another of those archaeologically rooted technical terms) on Netflix, via the Xbox, every single time. (Bonus: I never have to find that darned remote again!)

    My youngest son, sneaking upstairs for some additional fun with Curious George's online games, has (largely unnoticed by me until now) made the same choice with the computer in my office. He's elected to exclusively use the giant touchscreen I installed up there - as a geeky thing for me to explore and mostly never use - as his sole input device. To him, the mouse on the desk might as well be the furry little creature, as it is has just as little to do with the computer as its mammalian namesake.

    No, for my two young sons, their Tandy moment will not involve a black screen with blinking cursor. They may not even have a Tandy moment; or they may have had many much smaller ones already. Maybe, just maybe, they may never even know what it's like to understand a colossal leap forward in technology stepping into their lives seemingly overnight. After all, for them, computing is already an immersive experience - one where you interact with dozens of devices, each purpose-built for its task, each designed to work around you, rather than you having to bend to their somewhat quirky and limited means of interaction.

    While members of my generation were the original "digital natives," things will look much different viewed through the eyes of our own children. What to expect of computers has changed in a seeming flash. But still, the geek in me knows deep down that it is precisely because many of the most inclined in their generation - like me, Zuck, and millions of others in the prior age cohort - will be as frustrated by the limitations of what today's adults dreamt up that they too will work to throw them out and replace them with something even further, inspired not by Star Trek, whose vision of the user computer interface wasn't much beyond what's in the Xbox and iPad, but maybe by Ready Player One… or even Harry Potter.

    The implications of this trend loom large for investors as well. The new paradigm for computing is about natural interaction. And any company that ignores it will ultimately limit its market going forward. PCs ate the mainframe. The Blackberry destroyed the mobile phone. The iPhone wiped out the Blackberry. The Xbox trounced the Wii. What will the next major shift in the interface bring? Time will tell, but our experiences thus far suggest the mouse will likely play a lesser role, and our hands, voices, and maybe even just our minds will play a much larger one.

    I'm excitedly awaiting the arrival on my doorstep of a novel "learning" thermostat (yes, I'm that kind of geek). Just adjust the temperature by turning the dial as you go in and out, as you wake and get ready to sleep, and it learns your patterns, creating a constantly adapting program to both make you comfortable and save energy. It adjusts to weekends - it knows what date and time it is. The weather - it knows where you live. When you aren't home - it has motion sensors. Cool stuff.

    But when it arrives, I am sure my son will ask why I have to "turn the dial" in the first place. Why can't I just tell it to make it cooler? Why not, indeed…

    As amazing as these advances are, they all are driven by the brilliant individuals whose visionary dreams guide their work. To be in on the companies most likely to survive the stiff competition in tech, an investor must understand this and keep up with the ever-shifting front lines of the tech wars.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Jun 07 7:09 PM | Link | Comment!
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