Pension Funds Are Pulling Hundreds of Billions From Stocks

Link: https://www.wsj.com/finance/investing/pension-funds-stocks-bonds-679b8536?st=v0qwhq895irsqxn&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

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Stock portfolios at large pension funds had a blockbuster run. Now, managers are cashing out.

Corporate pension funds are shifting money into bonds. State and local government funds are swapping stocks for alternative investments. The nation’s largest public pension, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, is planning to move close to $25 billion out of equities and into private equity and private debt.

Like investors of all kinds, the funds are slowly adapting to a world of yield, where they can get sizable returns on risk-free assets. That is rippling throughout markets, as investors assess how much risk they want to take on. Moving out of stocks could mean surrendering some potential gains. Hold too much, for too long, and prices might fall.

Author(s): Heather Gillers, Charley Grant

Publication Date: 18 Apr 2024

Publication Site: WSJ

A Lawyer Abandoned Family and Career to Follow the Voices in His Head

Link: https://www.wsj.com/us-news/homeless-california-mental-illness-care-court-f63d2027

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Disruptions in mental-health care during the pandemic left many Americans vulnerable. Among people ages 18 to 44, insurance claims related to psychotic episodes rose 30% to 2 million in 2023 from 2019, according to LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a data-analytics company. Around the U.S., hospitals are overwhelmed. Emergency rooms are adding security guards. Jails serve as a last resort for those unable to care for themselves. 

Author(s): Julie Wernau

Publication Date: 23 Mar 2024

Publication Site: WSJ

New data offers a more accurate picture of lightning strikes across the U.S.

Link: https://www.fastcompany.com/91041966/us-yearly-lightning-ground-strikes-damage-prevention

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Lightning kills or injures about 250,000 people around the world every year, most frequently in developing countries, where many people work outside without lightning-safe shelters nearby. In the United States, an average of 28 people were killed by lightning every year between 2006 and 2023. Each year, insurance pays about $1 billion in claims for lightning damage, and around 4 million acres of land burn in lightning-caused wildfires.

Author(s): Chris Vagasky

Publication Date: 2 Mar 2024

Publication Site: Fast Company

4 out of 5 autoimmune disease patients are women. New study offers clue as to why

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/09/health/why-autoimmune-disease-affects-more-women-study-scn/index.html

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Why women are at greater risk of autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis is a long-standing medical mystery, and a team of researchers at Stanford University may now be a step closer to unraveling it.

How the female body handles its extra X chromosome (the male body has just one plus a Y chromosome) might be a factor that helps explain why women are more susceptible to these types of disorders, a new study has suggested. The predominantly chronic conditions involve an off-kilter immune system attacking its own cells and tissues.

While the research involving experiments on mice is preliminary, the observation, after further study, may help inform new treatments and ways to diagnose the diseases, said Dr. Howard Chang, senior author of the paper published in the journal Cell on February 1.

….

Other researchers had focused on the disorders’ “female bias” by analyzing sex hormones or chromosome counts. Chang instead zoned in on the role played by a molecule called Xist (pronounced exist) that is not present in male cells.

The Xist molecule’s main job is to deactivate the second female X chromosome in embryos, ensuring that the body’s cells don’t get a potentially toxic double whammy of the chromosome’s protein-coding genes.

“Xist is a very long RNA, 17,000 nucleotides long, or letters, and it associates with approximately almost 100 proteins,” Chang said. Xist molecules work with those proteins to shut down gene expression in the second X chromosome.

Author(s): Katie Hunt

Publication Date: 9 Feb 2024

Publication Site: CNN Health

Collision Course

Link: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/staged-car-crashes-insurance-fraud.html

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There’s a narrow path to such ostentation for the non-famous and non-college-interested who mock the idea of an actual job. Mize found his muse in the con and his ability to rope others into it. Here’s how they say it happened: He struck when you wanted cash. When totems of the middle class were slipping from reach. When you needed a down payment. To pay off credit cards. To start a business. When asking your parents for money made you feel like a failure. When you were suffocated by medical bills, neither earning enough to pay nor poor enough for government help.

Yet money alone doesn’t completely explain why the people closest to Mize entered the ring. Mize had a way of making himself your center of gravity, the one from whom you wanted approval, mentorship, love. Mize could be fun, even thrilling. But getting all that meant pleasing him. And pleasing him meant fraud.

Author(s): Lauren Smiley

Publication Date: 3 Oct 2022

Publication Site: NY Mag

Dallas officials question lingering private investments in police and fire pension fund portfolio

Link: https://www.keranews.org/news/2024-02-09/dallas-officials-question-lingering-private-investments-in-police-and-fire-pension-fund-portfolio

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The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System — which as been severely underfunded for years — still has about 25% of its assets tied up in private investments.

That’s according to pension system official’s briefing during Thursday’s Ad Hoc Committee on Pensions meeting.

Those include investments in an energy fund, natural resources — and assets in real estate. The private investments were deemed “legacy” assets that the pension system still maintains.

It was risky private investments that landed the system in the situation it’s in now — with over a billion dollars in unfunded liabilities.

“Currently we’ve gotten that down to 26%,” Dallas Police and Fire Pension System Chief Investment Officer Ryan Wagner said during the meeting.

Author(s): Nathan Collins

Publication Date: 9 Feb 2024

Publication Site: KERA News

Phantoms never die: living with unreliable population data

Link: https://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~andrewc/papers/JRSS2016B.pdf

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The analysis of national mortality trends is critically dependent on the quality of the population, exposures and deaths data that underpin death rates. We develop a framework that allows us to assess data reliability and to identify anomalies, illustrated, by way of example, using England and Wales population data. First, we propose a set of graphical diagnostics that help to pinpoint anomalies. Second, we develop a simple Bayesian model that allows us to quantify objectively the size of any anomalies. Two-dimensional graphical diagnostics and modelling techniques are shown to improve significantly our ability to identify and quantify anomalies. An important conclusion is that significant anomalies in population data can often be linked to uneven patterns of births of people in cohorts born in the distant past. In the case of England and Wales, errors of more than 9% in the estimated size of some birth cohorts can be attributed to an uneven pattern of births. We propose methods that can use births data to improve estimates of the underlying population exposures. Finally, we consider the effect of anomalies on mortality forecasts and annuity values, and we find significant effects for some cohorts. Our methodology has general applicability to other sources of population data, such as the Human Mortality Database.

Keywords: Baby boom;Cohort–births–deaths exposures methodology; Convexity adjustment ratio; Deaths; Graphical diagnostics; Population data

Author(s): Andrew J.G.Cairns, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK David Blake, Cass Business School, London, UK Kevin Dowd Durham University Business School, UK and Amy R. Kessler Prudential Retirement, Newark, USA

Publication Date: 2016

Publication Site: Journal of the Royal Statistical Society

J. R. Statist. Soc. A (2016) 179, Part 4, pp. 975–1005

Drug Overdose Mortality by Usual Occupation and Industry: 46 U.S. States and New York City, 2020

Link: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr72/nvsr72-07.pdf

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Objective—This report describes deaths from drug overdoses in 2020 in U.S. residents in 46 states and New York City by usual occupation and industry. August 22, 2023

Conclusions—Variation in drug overdose death rates and PMRs by usual occupation and industry in 2020 demonstrates the disproportionate burden of the ongoing drug overdose crisis on certain sectors of the U.S. workforce.

Methods—Frequencies, death rates, and proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) are presented using the 2020 National Vital Statistics System mortality data file. Data were restricted to decedents aged 16–64 for rates and 15–64 for PMRs with usual occupations and industries in the paid civilian workforce. Age-standardized drug overdose death rates were estimated for usual occupation and industry groups overall, and age-adjusted drug overdose PMRs were estimated for each usual occupation and industry group overall and by sex, race and Hispanic-origin group, type of drug, and drug overdose intent. Age-adjusted drug overdose PMRs were also estimated for individual occupations and industries.

Results—Drug overdose mortality varied by usual occupation and industry. Workers in the construction and extraction occupation group (162.6 deaths per 100,000 workers, 95% confidence interval: 155.8–169.4) and construction industry group (130.9, 126.0–135.8) had the highest drug overdose death rates. The highest group-level drug overdose PMRs were observed in decedents in the construction and extraction occupation group and the construction industry group (145.4, 143.6–147.1 and 144.9, 143.2–146.5, respectively). Differences in drug overdose PMRs by usual occupation and industry group were observed within each sex, within each race and Hispanicorigin group, by drug type, and by drug overdose intent. Among individual occupations and industries, the highest drug overdose PMRs were observed in decedents who worked as fishers and related fishing occupations and in fishing, hunting, and trapping industries (193.1, 166.8–222.4 and 186.5, 161.7–214.1, respectively).

Author(s): Billock RM, Steege AL, Miniño A.

Publication Date: August 22, 2023

Publication Site: CDC, National Vital Statistics System

Reports of COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events in Predominantly Republican vs Democratic States

Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2816958?utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_term=032924

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Abstract:

Importance  Antivaccine sentiment is increasingly associated with conservative political positions. Republican-inclined states exhibit lower COVID-19 vaccination rates, but the association between political inclination and reported vaccine adverse events (AEs) is unexplored.

Objective  To assess whether there is an association between state political inclination and the reporting rates of COVID-19 vaccine AEs.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional study used the AE reports after COVID-19 vaccination from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database from 2020 to 2022, with reports after influenza vaccines from 2019 to 2022 used as a reference. These reports were examined against state-level percentage of Republican votes in the 2020 US presidential election.

Exposure  State-level percentage of Republican votes in the 2020 US presidential election.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Rates of any AE among COVID-19 vaccine recipients, rates of any severe AE among vaccine recipients, and the proportion of AEs reported as severe.

Results  A total of 620 456 AE reports (mean [SD] age of vaccine recipients, 51.8 [17.6] years; 435 797 reports from women [70.2%]; a vaccine recipient could potentially file more than 1 report, so reports are not necessarily from unique individuals) for COVID-19 vaccination were identified from the VAERS database. Significant associations between state political inclination and state AE reporting were observed for all 3 outcomes: a 10% increase in Republican voting was associated with increased odds of AE reports (odds ratio [OR], 1.05; 95% CI, 1.05-1.05; P < .001), severe AE reports (OR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.24-1.26; P < .001), and the proportion of AEs reported as severe (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.20-1.22; P < .001). These associations were seen across all age strata in stratified analyses and were more pronounced among older subpopulations.

Conclusions and Relevance  This cross-sectional study found that the more states were inclined to vote Republican, the more likely their vaccine recipients or their clinicians reported COVID-19 vaccine AEs. These results suggest that either the perception of vaccine AEs or the motivation to report them was associated with political inclination.

Author(s):David A. Asch, MD, MBA1,2; Chongliang Luo, PhD3; Yong Chen, PhD2,4,5Author(s):

Publication Date: 29 Mar 2024

Publication Site: JAMA Network Open

Ominous Technical Trends for US Treasury Bulls, Three Durations

Link:https://mishtalk.com/economics/ominous-technical-trends-for-us-treasury-bulls-three-durations/

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Image courtesy of Stockcharts.Com, inset by Centerpoint Securities, annotations by Mish.

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Technical patterns on 2-year, 10-year, and 30-year US treasuries all suggest yields are heading higher. Let’s also discuss the supporting fundamental case.

Centerpoint explains “An ascending triangle chart pattern is a bullish technical pattern that typically signals the continuation of an uptrend. They can signal a coming bullish breakout above an area of resistance after it has been tested several times.”

Many people do not believe in technical patterns, others believe in nothing else. Certainly, technical patterns fail often enough.

My take is they work best as entry and exit point strategies, especially when fundamentals align.

Author(s): Mike Shedlock

Publication Date: 3 Apr 2024

Publication Site: MishTalk