The Real Reason You and Your Neighbor Make Different Covid-19 Risk Decisions



Research has also found being extroverted or introverted affects how people make decisions about Covid-19 precautions. A recent study of more than 8,500 people in Japan published in the journal PLOS One in October 2020 found that those who scored high on a scale of extraversion were 7% less likely to wear masks in public and avoid large gatherings, among other precautions.

Scientists believe that a person’s propensity to take risks is partly genetic and partly the result of early life experiences. Studies of twins have generally found that about 30% of the difference in individual risk tolerance is genetic. Certain negative childhood experiences including physical, emotional or sexual abuse, parental divorce, or living with someone who was depressed or abused drugs or alcohol are linked to risky behavior in adulthood like smoking and drinking heavily, other research has found.

And scientists have discovered that the brains of people who are more willing to take risks look different than those of people who are more cautious. In a study published in the journal Neuron in 2018 that involved scanning the brains of 108 young adults, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that participants who made riskier choices on a gambling task had differences in the structure and function of the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in detecting threats, and the prefrontal cortex, a region involved in executive functioning.

Author(s): Andrea Petersen

Publication Date: 19 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Annual Report on the Insurance Industry — 2021




Figure 15 shows that the average risk-based capital ratio for the L&H sector declined slightly in

  1. Specifically, statutory capital and surplus was 4.26 times the level of minimum required
    regulatory capital on average in 2020 compared to 4.31 times the required level in 2019.

L&H sector net income of $22 billion in 2020 was less than one-half of 2019 levels, affecting the
potential for capital generation. The sector reported a nearly 10 percent increase in death and
annuity benefit expenses, which contributed to a ratio of total benefit expenses to premiums
earned of 50 percent in 2020, rising substantially from 44.4 percent in 2019. According to Fitch
Ratings, life insurer operating results in 2020 were largely impacted by higher claims paid,
primarily due to increased mortality from COVID-19.24

Certain leverage ratios indicate that L&H insurers faced balance sheet pressures in 2020. The
greater financial flexibility afforded by steady leverage ratios has enabled insurers to consistently
fulfill policyholder obligations by: (1) returning a profit by investing the premiums received
from underwriting activities; and (2) limiting the risk exposure from the policies underwritten.
Insurers also employ reinsurance in order to move some of the risks off their own balance sheets
and on to those of reinsurers. Figure 16 provides a view of the L&H sector’s general account
leverage for the last 10 years.

Author(s): Fderal Insurance Office

Publication Date: September 2021

Publication Site: U.S. Dept of the Treasury

Insolvency Cost Information Files



File Explanations:

Insolvency Costs Workbook – This Microsoft Excel workbook contains individual spreadsheets for all insolvency cases along with various summary schedules and assessable premium data.

Insolvency Costs Report – This PDF file contains all commentary and notes for the insolvency cost report. It includes general descriptions of categories, brief comments on individual insolvency cases, assessment and premium tax offset provisions, and premiums by state. Also included are the spreadsheets from the Costs Excel workbook, thus creating one comprehensive report. You will need Acrobat Reader to open and read this file.

Insolvency Costs Report – Comments – This file is no longer provided beginning with 2003 since all information is included in the Report PDF file. This Microsoft Word document contains all commentary and notes for the insolvency cost report. It includes general descriptions of categories, brief comments on individual insolvency cases and premium tax offset provisions.

Date Accessed: 20 Sept 2021

Publication Site: National Organization of Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Associations

A Call for More Proportionality in Pandemic Coverage



My late wife spent the last two and half years of her life in a nursing home with a form of early onset dementia. While she was in her fifties, almost everyone else there was elderly. In each of the three winters she was in the home, the place was closed to visitors at some point because of flu. This added heartbreak to heartbreak, but it was entirely reasonable. Nearly three in four flu deaths in the last pre-pandemic season occurred among seniors. Someone aged 65 or more who contracted the flu had a chance of dying of it of about one in 120. (By contrast, while more than 85% of the breakthrough deaths are among those over 65, the COVID death rate for fully vaccinated seniors is one in about 25,000.)

That is to say that the risk of death from flu in a nursing home was almost a thousand times as large as the risk of death from COVID to the overall vaccinated population, and the risk of dying from the flu if you caught it as a senior was more than 200 times greater than the risk from COVID if you are currently disease-free, similarly aged and fully vaccinated.

Author(s): Richard J. Tofel

Publication Date: 2 September 2021

Publication Site: Second Rough Draft

On the Interpretation of Vaccine Efficacy Rates




With COVID-19 vaccines now being widely available in the U.S., I’ve seen various interpretations of vaccine efficacy rates. As one example, the paper disseminating the study on the efficacy of BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccine BNT162b2 states in its results section:

BNT162b2 was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19

The intent of this post is to clarify the interpretations of such numbers.

Author(s): Yeng Miller-Chang

Publication Date: 15 July 2021

Publication Site: Math, Music Occasionally, and Stats

Wealth and Insurance Choices: Evidence from US Households




Theoretically, wealthier people should buy less insurance, and should self-insure through saving instead, as insurance entails monitoring costs. Here, we use administrative data for 63,000 individuals and, contrary to theory, find that the wealthier have better life and property insurance coverage. Wealth-related differences in background risk, legal risk, liquidity constraints, financial literacy, and pricing explain only a small
fraction of the positive wealth-insurance correlation. This puzzling correlation persists in individual fixed-effects models estimated using 2,500,000 person-month observations. The fact that the less wealthy have less coverage, though intuitively they benefit more from insurance, might increase financial health disparities among households.

Author(s): Michael Gropper, Camelia M. Kuhnen

Publication Date: 16 July 2021

Publication Site: University of North Carolina

Is life insurance a human capital derivatives business?




Life and disability insurance, as well as annuities, traditionally have been analyzed as products providing protection against random losses. This article proposed that these products can be viewed as derivative instruments created to address the uncertainties and inadequacies of an individual’s human capital, if human capital is viewed as a financial instrument. In short, life insurance (including disability insurance and annuities) is the business of human capital securitization.

Author(s): Krzysztof M. Ostaszewski, PhD, MAAA, FSA, CFA

Publication Date: 2003 — vol 26, pp. 1-14

Publication Site: Journal of Insurance Issues

The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins



Wuhan is also home to China’s foremost coronavirus research laboratory, housing one of the world’s largest collections of bat samples and bat-virus strains. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, was among the first to identify horseshoe bats as the natural reservoirs for SARS-CoV, the virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002, killing 774 people and sickening more than 8,000 globally. After SARS, bats became a major subject of study for virologists around the world, and Shi became known in China as “Bat Woman” for her fearless exploration of their caves to collect samples. More recently, Shi and her colleagues at the WIV have performed high-profile experiments that made pathogens more infectious. Such research, known as “gain-of-function,” has generated heated controversy among virologists.


By spring of 2021, the debate over COVID-19’s origins had become so noxious that death threats were flying in both directions.

In a CNN interview on March 26, Dr. Redfield, the former CDC director under Trump, made a candid admission: “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped.” Redfield added that he believed the release was an accident, not an intentional act. In his view, nothing that happened since his first calls with Dr. Gao changed a simple fact: The WIV needed to be ruled out as a source, and it hadn’t been.

Author(s): Katherine Eban

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

Publication Site: Vanity Fair

St. Francis Dam Disaster – Frank Black and the Catholics


It’s not just a song, it’s a history lesson!

St. Francis Dam Disaster by Frank Black and the Catholics off of the album Dog in the Sand (2001 Cooking Vinyl)

Many of the pictures were culled from

They have a lot of info on the St. Francis Dam disaster and it’s worth checking out if you want to see more.


Author(s): Skippy .Bob

Publication Date: 1 December 2013

Publication Site: YouTube

CDC’s slow, cautious messaging on Covid-19 seems out of step with the moment, public health experts say


When the CDC issued new guidelines recently on when people still need to wear masks, the guidelines were seen as so conservative that they prompted a primetime rant on “The Daily Show.”

“I know science is difficult … but who’s running messaging at the CDC?” asked the show’s host, Trevor Noah.

Some public health experts are asking the same question. Most experts interviewed for this story say the agency has struggled to take advantage of the latest scientific findings to communicate as rapidly as possible with the American public. And when the guidance is issued, it tends to be overly cautious.


Still, public health officials say the conservative nature of the agency’s approach to Covid is a marked departure from how it deals with other major public health issues, like HIV and opioid use disorder.


Multiple experts told STAT that they fear the CDC’s recommendations are becoming irrelevant for most Americans. They worry, too, that guidelines, like the CDC’s advice on masking, so seriously underplay the benefits of getting vaccinated that they risk dissuading people from getting a shot in the first place.

Author(s): Nicholas Florko

Publication Date: 11 May 2021

Publication Site: Stat News

Insuring Another Disaster


Leave it to California lawmakers, however, to cast aside thousands of years of complex commercial history in a misguided attempt to fix an admittedly legitimate insurance problem. Thanks to Proposition 103, a 1988 ballot measure, California already has a distorted insurance market that gives the insurance commissioner czar-like powers to approve rate increases and impose rate decreases.

Because of that law, insurers have a tough time adjusting rates to manage their risks. It’s a long, cumbersome, and antagonistic government process to adjust rates. Their other lever for ensuring solvency is to reduce their underwriting risks by, say, not writing fire-insurance policies to homeowners who live in high fire-risk areas or car insurance policies to drivers with multiple DUIs.


Instead, California Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-Marin County, has introduced Assembly Bill 1522, which would prohibit insurers from canceling insurance policies solely because a home or business is located in a high-risk wildfire area. It epitomizes California’s economically illiterate edict approach.

Author(s): Steven Greenhut

Publication Date: 29 April 2021

Publication Site: The American Spectator