Quote of the Week

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” – David Allen

Technical Corner  

Having a vaccine for this Covid-19 nightmare would be a very cool thing. Moderna Inc announced yesterday that they had developed a vaccine that appears to be effective. They only tested it on eight people, so it is early. That announcement, along with reassuring comments by Fed Chairman Powell on 60 Minutes the night before, drove the Dow up by almost 1000 points on Monday. However, remember the markets were down five of the last seven weeks, including down 2.59% last week. I think Monday was a head fake as today (Tuesday) the Dow sold off 350 points.

I am especially concerned about the US coming out too early. Everything I have read says most epidemiologists are horrified by America’s rush to reopen the economy and abandoning much of the social distancing that has helped contain the virus. They all say what a safe reopening requires: a low level of infection, abundant testing, and the ability to trace and isolate the contacts of new cases quickly. We don’t have any of those things yet.

The epidemiologists could be wrong and everything somehow works out. Yet,  at every stage of the crisis, they have been spot on, while predictions of a quick end to the pandemic by politicians and their minions have proven tragically wrong. If the experts are right again, a premature opening could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths and backfire in economic terms and we would have to shut down again.

Just as an example, 108 million in China’s northeast region plunged back under lockdown conditions as a new and growing cluster of infections causes a backslide in China’s return to normal. Remember, China had supposedly gotten control of the epidemic. If you don’t think it will happen here, I hope you saw on the news last weekend of the bar in Wisconsin with people packed in elbow to elbow without face masks. That is how clusters start.

If you have been watching the financial news channels, the talk is once we get slow the virus or get a vaccine, the economy will bounce back in a “V” fashion. Not so fast. A recent survey by Facebook states that 33% of all small businesses are gone for good, and only 47% of all small business owners say they will hire back all of their employees when we get back to “normal.” Over four million American households are now skipping their mortgage payments, according to Marketwatch.com. The problem isn’t going to be on the supply side. The problem will be on the demand side.

Tom’s Thoughts

Health Care Scams

It seems that I have been getting an increased number of scam emails lately.  Must be that with all the restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crooks have more time to practice their trade.  The following article from AARP addresses health care scams.  Stay well.

Protect Yourself From Coronavirus Scams

As the novel coronavirus spreads so, too, have coronavirus scams plugging phony cures. The companies touting colloidol silver as a defense against the outbreak or selling bogus COVID-19 testing kits are part of a long and ignoble tradition of exploiting people’s health fears for profit.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines health fraud as the deceptive advertising, promotion or sale of unproven products claimed to be effective in preventing or treating a condition or illness. Scammers use ads in multiple media, bogus websites, direct mail, email and social media to push herbs, oils, pills, powders, supplements and teas with supposed properties to cure chronic diseases, ease pain, melt away pounds or ward off infection.

Health fraudsters follow the headlines, taking advantage when an outbreak like coronavirus, Ebola or swine flu makes global news. In the first quarter of 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) logged more than 8,400 complaints of coronavirus-related scams, with victims reporting losses of nearly $6 million.

Along with peddling snake oil, scammers might offer actual medications without a prescription, or impersonate national and international agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in phishing emails designed to get your personal data.

But their business goes beyond periodic pandemics. Health scammers are always active with spurious pitches for miracle cures, preying on people with serious, chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer and diabetes.

These deceptions don’t only raise false hopes and lighten victims’ wallets. They can cause real harm, leading people to delay or stop proven courses of treatment or take substances that can have harmful unlisted ingredients or dangerous interactions with medications they’re already taking.

Warning Signs

  • A remedy, supplement or treatment is touted as a quick, sure-fire fix for a wide range of unrelated illnesses and health issues.
  • Ads, emails and other communications include testimonials from “doctors” or “real people” about the amazing results they’ve seen from the product.
  • Pitches include terms like “ancient remedy,” “natural cure,” “new discovery” or “scientific breakthrough.” They also might hint at government or health care industry conspiracies to prevent people from getting these miracle products.
  • The product comes with a “no risk” money-back guarantee.

DOs

  • Do be skeptical. If claims made for an untested or little-known health product sound too good to be true, they probably are.
  • Do closely check email and web addresses in messages purporting to be from major health organizations like CDC and WHO.
  • Do go to the CDC and WHO websites for reliable, up-to-date information on disease outbreaks and other national and global health issues.
  • Do research unfamiliar treatments:
  • Search for the company name or treatment online with the word “scam,” and check the claims with trusted sources of medical news and information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau and your state’s attorney general to see if a product or its marketer has generated consumer complaints.
  • Check with the FDA to see if a product is federally approved.
  • Consult a doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional before trying a new medication or treatment.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t let labels like “herbal” and “natural” sway you. Just because a remedy is natural does not mean it is safe or effective, especially in treating a serious illness.
  • Don’t give in to pressure to act quickly. Health fraudsters rely on scare tactics or short-term “special offers” to close deals.
  • Don’t try a product based on a money-back guarantee. Promised refunds don’t make an untested treatment any safer or more effective, and they often come with small-print strings that make it difficult to get your money back.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links in unsolicited emails or texts about medical products or global health crises. They could unleash malware on your device.

More Resources

  • Report health scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Call 877-382-4357 or file an online complaint.
  • The FDA website includes a section on health fraud with advisories on the latest scams and agency actions to combat them.

 “Money Scams & Fraud.” AARP, April 2, 2020 , https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020/health-miracle-cures.html

 

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These are the opinions of Larry Lof and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Due to our compliance review process, delayed dissemination of this commentary occurs.

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