The U.S. recently threatened Mexico with new tariffs unless it did more to stem the tide of immigrants coming from Central America. This “weaponizing” of tariffs for policy ends spooked many, including economists, investors and the Republican controlled Senate. Mexico apparently agreed to do something, taking tariffs off the table temporarily. Meanwhile, the Fed is preparing to leap into the breach, signaling its willingness to cut short term rates in an effort to boost the economy. Apart from these weightier topics, we have informative and fun notes on various topics like “best places” to live, breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research, a travel advisory, craft chocolate and even a diet book (to offset the chocolate article?). The anti-trust and big technology note is wonkier but has important perhaps crucial implications.
- Weaponizing Tariffs a Risky Game? Using the threat of tariffs to force Mexico to step up its efforts to help manage the immigrant crisis may have succeeded. The details of any commitments have not been disclosed yet. But this type of pressure is potentially and materially disruptive to the economy of the countries involved and makes it difficult, if not impossible, for companies involved with trade to plan. CNBC
- A Preemptive Strike by the Fed? The Fed needs to get ahead of the curve (pun intended) as quickly as possible. Its December 2018 rate hike was a mistake. Now it may be faced with a compelling need to reverse course quickly by cutting rates. New York Times One writer compared this strategy to the quant baseball strategy of using your best reliever earlier in the game and not waiting until the ninth inning. For non-baseball fans, this is simply to say that it is better to get ahead of a problem than to wait until it’s on top of you. CNBC
- Best Places to Live and Retire: We hope that you take these lists with a grain of salt. We view them as a source of ideas but as entertainment too. For what it’s worth, Portland (Maine) ranks as the 19th best place to retire. For our Sarasota friends, “SRQ” ranked 3rd as a place to retire. US News
- Anti-Trust and Big Tech: Keep an eye this one. Congress, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have renewed interest in investigating the largest technology companies regarding anti-trust concerns. Along with many, I happily use Apple technology, Google software, and Amazon shopping and entertainment services. But the power being accumulated by these companies and others (e.g. Facebook and Instagram) over our daily lives and potentially our civic lives is staggering. CNN
- Medicare and Foreign Travel: If you are traveling abroad and Medicare eligible, know that Medicare does not generally cover health care services and supplies while out of the country. Start by understanding the limitations of Medicare and then by checking with your Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage coverage. You may then decide that you need third party specialized travel insurance. Medicare and Foreign Travel
- Potential Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments: Will we see a breakthrough in the next few years? Pfizer may have walked away from a potential breakthrough because its patent on a promising drug in question was about to expire. Washington Post Another research team is testing a promising vaccine on mice. CBS
- Craft Chocolate! Move over craft beers, craft chocolate is the next revolution. Not personally wild about chocolate, but I enjoy it and can see the appeal. Axios
- The Obesity Code: This book by Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist, offers the most intriguing theory about weight management that I have ever read. His thesis is that obesity is a hormonal issue (primarily insulin). I lack the qualifications to endorse it but did find it immensely interesting, as did a good friend/client who mentioned it to me. In full disclosure, I have experimented with intermittent fasting (i.e., skipping breakfast), one of Dr. Fung’s suggested strategies for regulating excess insulin. It generally works for me for weight loss but isn’t a magic bullet and is a challenge to sustain. Probably best to talk to your doctor first! Dr. Jason Fung
- Quote I Like: “The grass is greener where you water it.” source unknown
Feel free to send us feedback on any topic or make a request or to forward the notes on to anyone who might be interested.