Since Google began tracking search terms in 2004, people in the Los Angeles area have searched for the Lakers eight times more often than they’ve searched for the Clippers.The gap has narrowed since the Clippers traded for Chris Paul in December 2011, but not by that much. The Lakers have received 3.6 times more search traffic from Angelenos since October, when the current NBA season started. This in a year in when the Lakers went 27-55 and the Clippers 57-25.Having an owner like Donald Sterling, with his history of racist remarks and discriminatory business practices, won’t help the Clippers’ popularity (although it may spark more Google searches in the short term). And it’s not as if the team has been any good on the court under his ownership. Since the 1984-85 NBA season, when Sterling moved the Clippers to Los Angeles from San Diego, they are 582 games under .500, counting both the regular season and the playoffs. The Lakers are 772 games over .500 in the same period.Lately, the Clippers have been better, but it will take them some time to catch up. Even if they go 57-25 every season (and break even in the playoffs), they would need until some point in the 2031-32 season to pull themselves over the .500 line.
New biomarkers could help doctors spot Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases Citation: Researchers Build World’s Largest Disease Association Network (2009, April 15) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-04-world-largest-disease-association-network.html The Phenotypic Disease Network consists of nodes (diseases) and links between diseases. As such, the PDN can be viewed as a “map” of illness progression in space, in which patients “jump” from one disease to another along the network’s links. When an individual is affected by two diseases, the diseases share a “comorbidity relationship.” To quantify this relationship, the researchers used two different metrics: relative risk and Φ (phi) correlation. Due to intrinsic bias, the relative risk metric is more sensitive to rare diseases, while the phi correlation network is more sensitive to common diseases, and so each metric excels at a different scale.The researchers found that the structure of the disease networks could increase their understanding of illness progression in several ways. For instance, they found that patients are more likely to develop diseases close in the network to diseases they already have. In a sense, the development of a patient’s illness can be thought of as a spreading process over the network. In addition, diseases that are highly connected tend to be preceded by less connected diseases, and highly connected diseases are associated with higher degrees of mortality. In this way, a patient’s location in the network can serve as a predictor of the number of years he or she is expected to live. The researchers also found that an individual’s gender and ethnicity altered their personal disease network.Overall, the study shows that a network can serve as a valuable representation for disease progression, and offers the potential to help researchers better understand the origin and evolution of human diseases. By combining this kind of phenotypic information with genetic and proteomic information, researchers could have a broader perspective of illness progression and comorbidity relationships. Also, as healthcare becomes more delocalized, a map like the PDN could also be an ideal way to represent medical records for healthcare workers. “One possible application of medical health records is to compare the overall health status of different populations (e.g. cultural, geographical, etc.),” Hidalgo said. “Disease networks can inform us not only about the difference in prevalence between diseases, but also about differences in the strength of disease associations observed in different populations. In general, diseases have multiple causes and therefore differences in the associations between diseases are expected to be informative about the causes of diseases in different populations.”He added that, in the future, doctors could use digital flip-charts to access the medical records of a patient, in which a patient’s disease history would be represented by highlighted nodes in a disease network. Not only could the doctor see a list of the diseases that have previously affected that patient, but also other diseases that tend to co-occur with the patient’s diseases. Furthermore, the genes associated with those diseases could be only a click away.“Disease networks could also be informative for drug companies that could be interested in new potential indications of their drugs,” Hidalgo said. “They could also be helpful for hospital design, as given limited budget constraints, hospitals may want to be designed to not leave out diseases that are strongly connected to other diseases they are already treating.”More information: Hidalgo, César A.; Nicholas Blumm; Albert-László Barabási; Nicholas A. Christakis. “A Dynamic Network Approach for the Study of Human Phenotypes.” PLoS Computational Biology, April 2009, Volume 5, Issue 4, e1000353. www.ploscompbiol.org/article/i … journal.pcbi.1000353 Copyright 2009 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com.
By Alex Daley, Casey Research The average interest rate for a savings account today is 0.45%. It wasn’t that long ago that one could easily earn 5% in a well-chosen savings account, like those offered by ING Direct, or bump that up by a point or two by putting money away in a CD. Thanks to the largesse of our Federal Reserve and the antics of bankers around the country and world, those days are over, probably for a very long time. Interest rates are at an all-time low, and they look poised to stay there for a while. It’s just about impossible for a saver to find the kind of yield that will beat inflation, let alone be enough to provide an income one can live on. Savings and CD rates are at extreme lows. Bonds aren’t much better. The S&P 500 dividend yield sits at 1.97%. Yet the interest rates that banks charge for consumer loans – other than mortgages, which are artificially low thanks to government subsidies – are still quite high. Federal Reserve statistics peg a 24-month personal-loan interest rate at an average of 10.92% at the end of 2011, down just under 1.5% from 2007 highs. With credit cards the rate is even higher, an average of 12.78% as of the end of November 2011. The agreement between banks and savers has always been one of mutual convenience. Savers put their money on deposit with a bank, and in exchange the bank pays interest while keeping that money safe, generating income from lending it out. That income comes from all sorts of sources, ranging from mortgages to commercial business loans, but consumer credit is and has always been a large part of that equation. In fact, today consumer credit outstanding in the United States is just north of $2.5 trillion. (Commercial banks hold nearly $1.1 trillion of those debts; finance companies more than $500 billion; credit unions over $225 billion; and now the federal government is in the game, with $453 billion on its books, up more than fourfold since 2008. The remainder is held in savings institutions, nonfinancial businesses, and pools of securitized assets.) In the past, as banks made more and more money from their loan operations, they were able to share more with savers. They competed based on interest rates, even offering higher rates of return to customers willing to sacrifice liquidity and lock up their money for a few months or a few years in savings accounts with minimum balances or certificates of deposit with early-termination fees. However, these days that accord seems to have fallen apart. With official inflation hovering above 3%, and the real rate – including the types of things every consumer needs to buy, like energy and food – well above 6%, half-a-percent interest simply doesn’t make the grade. Banks continue to charge high interest rates, yet federal policy leaves the individual investor or saver holding the bag. However, thanks to technology, new alternatives have been developed that allow individuals to earn some serious interest without having to turn to the stock market and the higher-yield, higher-risk securities one can find there. While I make my living investing in the stock market and welcome all of the liquidity, volatility, and options that come with it, I also realize that many savers would prefer something much closer to the model they get with a certificate of deposit. And even for us avid investors, any alternative market where one can consistently earn high single-digit and even double-digit yields is quite welcome… especially one with very little correlation to the stock market when things go bad. It’s a new idea but is based on the familiar technologies of the Internet; it’s known as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. The premise is simple: cut the bankers out of the loan market and keep the difference for yourself by making loans directly to other consumers. I know, that sounds rather risky. When I see my neighbor pull up in his driveway with a shiny new car that I can guarantee costs more than his annual salary, the idea of loaning money directly to other consumers seems a little crazy. However, that’s where the real innovation lies. With peer-to-peer lending, an individual investor doesn’t make a single $10,000 loan. Instead, he can buy 400 different loans, taking only $25 of risk per loan, for example. Services that offer this option pull together large numbers of investors, who each take a small slice of large numbers of loans, thereby distributing risk much like an index fund. The result is usually a steady and expected rate of return after fees and defaults. And there are plenty of defaults. Consumer credit is a risky space, after all. With peer-to-peer lending one can choose among unsecured loans only. However, despite what you may have gathered from your last attempts to find a parking space at Home Depot on a Saturday, the majority of people are good. And those good people have a tendency to pay back their loans. As an investor, these P2P services allow you to pick loans by risk category. Credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, income verification, and all the familiar tools of the professional lender are there, allowing you to make decisions about what kind of loans to buy and which to avoid. This allows individual investors to tailor a portfolio to their own risk tolerance. Whether selecting all the individual loans by hand, or using the bulk investing tools each of the suppliers provide, a portfolio can be built in a variety of ways: from only investing in “A” grade loans with single-digit interest rates and predictably low defaults, to debt-consolidation loans for consumers with much lower credit scores, paying much higher interest but coming with significantly higher defaults as well, and everything in between. At Lending Club, the largest of the new breed of peer-to-peer loan providers, which now funds over $36 million in loans per month, investors with more than 800 notes in their account have all earned positive income after fees, with 93% of those investors earning between six and 18% interest. The net annual return in its various classifications of loans (where A is low credit risk and G is highest), after both defaults and fees, is as follows: Lending Club is not alone in this business, either. Its competitor Prosper offers similar products and similar rates of return. Prosper has funded some $300 million in loans since its inception in 2006 through the end of 2011, compared to the $500 million funded by Lending Club in the same time frame. Smaller upstarts like Lonio and LendFriend are putting their own twists on the market as well. Even charities are getting into the game. Organizations like Lendesk and Kiva allow people to make low- or no-interest microloans to people in developing economies. That’s fine for your annual charity budget, if you have one. However, when we’re talking real investments, we are focused solely on those that can generate a decent return for us. These companies make their money on a combination of small fees to borrowers for successfully funding the loan, and to sellers as a processing fee for collecting the interest, handling collections, etc. In all, their fees are small as they are spread out across a large number of loans, usually in the range of 1-2%, depending on loan value. Compared to the 8-9% spread banks are keeping for the same service today, the comparison for investors is excellent. Like a long-term CD, your funds are locked up in the loans for three to five years, but the return is much better. However, for these services to work for investors, they must work for borrowers as well. And they do, mainly by passing on some of those Internet economies of scale. Some of the savings that P2P lenders realize from cutting out the many middlemen in the banking industry are also passed along to borrowers. This makes their rates extremely attractive and keeps a flow of new candidate loans in the system. Of course, just as banks are doing fewer and fewer loans for things like auto buying (where it is difficult to compete with captive finance corporations which are willing to incentivize interest rates to move product), Lending Club and Prosper attract borrowers mostly for major purchases and debt consolidation. On Lending Club, more than 67% of the loans are for paying off credit card debts. Other loan types for borrowers and investors include home improvement, small business, and major purchase financing. The reason the technology works is the same reason the Internet works for any large-scale e-business, such as Amazon.com. Because these lenders operate entirely virtually, they save massive amounts on not having to build, maintain, and staff branches all around the country. Instead, they connect borrowers to sellers entirely online, using largely automated systems, and thus can keep their costs extremely low. They can also handle much larger volume than any one bank branch, and they can reach large amounts of territory from a single location. Granted, SEC and local regulations for the companies are still onerous, and thus their services are not available in all the states – including my own, Vermont. But most major-population states are within their reach. The marketing couldn’t be simpler: everybody – investors and borrowers alike – would love to get one over on the bank or credit card company. And these P2P lenders allow both sides to do exactly that. That has resulted in a rapidly increasing base of both. Loans on record at Lending Club have been increasing at a rapid pace, and competitor Prosper grew loans by 178% last year. That kind of growth is attracting big-name investors. Peter Thompson, director at Thomson Reuters and owner of Thomvest, just put $25 million into investments at Lending Club and took an equity stake in the company. While not quite as big a name as he is, I can say that I have been an active investor utilizing both services myself (never as an equity investor, only as a customer) for a number of years. I still actively use Lending Club today, and my own return on capital – after fees, charge-offs, and taxes – across a large number of notes has been a solid 7.5% net annualized. Also take into account that I am not a particularly aggressive investor when it comes to these notes. My technology portfolio more than takes care of my appetite for high risk/reward. This is just a portion of what I consider my “safe” portfolio. What the Internet has done to retail, to music, to movies, and many more industries, it is now starting to do to banks. I for one am glad to see it happening. Better yet, I’m especially glad to be able to profit from it. [If you decide to follow the same route, it seems Lending Club is currently offering a 2% bonus for new accounts to help boost your yield a few more points. We could not find anything similar for Prosper.] This article was originally published in the Casey Daily Dispatch. Sign up today for more insightful articles about investing, technology, energy, metals and big-picture, contrarian analysis of current trends… all completely free. Learn more and sign up now.
A long-anticipated end game of the present global crisis Gold got quietly sold down once trading started in the Far East on their Friday, with the low of the day coming shortly before lunch in Hong Kong. Then equally as quietly gold began to rally a few dollars until shortly after 11 a.m. BST in London—and from there it traded flat until the London close at 11 a.m. EDT. Gold rallied in fits and starts from that point—and even rallied a decent amount in the electronic market after the Comex close. For that to happen on a Friday is unusual to say the least. Gold closed virtually on its high tick of the day. The CME Group recorded the low and high ticks as $1,291.00 and $1,308.90 in the August contract. Gold finished the Friday trading session at $1,308.30 spot, up $14.40 from Thursday’s close. Net volume was only 84,000 contracts, which was pretty light. The gold stocks opened down a bit, but that lasted less than ten minutes—and except for a bit of a sag in the early afternoon, powered higher for the remainder of the Friday trading session. The HUI finished up 2.68%—and on its absolute high tick. The silver price dipped about 20 cents in the early going in the Far East, but then recovered back to the $20.40 spot price market by 10 a.m. Hong Kong time—and it traded within a nickel of that amount right up until the rally began around 10:30 a.m. in New York. Silver, like gold, came close to finishing on its high tick of the day as well. The low and high were recorded at $20.35 and $20.81 in the September contract. Silver finished the day at $20.745 spot, up 38 cents from Thursday. Volume, net of July and August, was pretty decent at around 39,000 contracts, of which 3,000 contracts may or may not have been roll-overs out of September into more distant months. The performance of the silver equities was very similar—sans the afternoon sag—and Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed up a very decent 3.63%—also on its high of the day. The dollar index closed late on Thursday afternoon in New York at 80.87—and rolled over a bit once trading began in the Far East on their Friday morning. But minutes before the 8 a.m. BST London open, the index began to head higher, with its 81.07 high tick coming just before 12:30 p.m. in New York. It gave up a few basis points after that, but did manage to close at the 81.04 mark, up 17 basis points on the day. But we’re far from being out of the woods yet—and I’m extra cautious about reading too much into yesterday’s price action. All options—up, down and sideways are still out there—but with the Commercial net short positions in gold and silver still sky high, I have to use past as prologue and assume that there’s more down-side pain yet to come. However, I’d love to be proven wrong. On the political side of things, I must admit that I’m growing more apprehensive by the day. The way that the West, led by the U.S., is pushing Russia into a financial and economic corner I find frightening. Even though the U.S. intelligence community has come out and said that there’s no evidence that flight MH17 was the result of anything the Russia’s did, either directly or indirectly, that’s not stopping the West from assuming guilt regardless. International law is being thrown out the window, as the U.S. drives for a casus belli. If it comes to that, or even close to that, one would assume that current financial, economic and monetary situation as it exists today would be one of the first casualties. In a Russia Today story I posted yesterday, Russia’s ambassador to the U.K. said that “sanctions would not serve the interests of the countries concerned, including the U.S., and would “trigger a long-anticipated endgame of the present global crisis.“ If that isn’t a warning of some sort, then I don’t know what is. To me, it’s a clarion call to get my own financial affairs in order—and be prepared for the worst. And the worst could come at any time with little or no warning. I urge you to keep a close eye on the situation from this day forward. A current passport and money outside your country of domicile should be the first things on your list. On that cheery note, I’m done for the day—and the week. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend—and I’ll see you here on Tuesday—and on Wednesday elsewhere. Since this is my Saturday column, I get the chance to empty my in-box of stories that I’ve been saving all week because of length or content reasons. I have quite a few, so edit away! The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists. – Ernest Hemingway Today’s pop ‘blast from the past’ doesn’t need any introduction, nor do the two ladies who sing it. But you have to be of a certain vintage to know it was one of their big hits back in 1976. Alas, I’m of that vintage myself. The link is here. Enjoy! While I’m at it, here’s their first Top 10 hit on America’s Billboard Top 100 during the same year. Today’s classical ‘blast from the past’ is one I posted many years back, but thought worth posting again as things start to unravel in eastern Europe once again. It was written for the 1941 film “Dangerous Moonlight“. The history behind this composition is absolutely fascinating—and you can read about it here. Ultimately this piece of music was such a hit, that it made the unusual journey from the movie screen to the concert hall. This performance is by Swedish virtuoso pianist Patrik Jablonski—and he’s accompanied by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, which is as it should be. The link is here. Well, both gold and silver had nice bounces off their respective 200-day moving averages—and as I mentioned in The Wrap on Friday, that was one of the price scenarios that might occur. I was also happy that there wasn’t much volume associated with yesterdays price action—and I was surprised to see that a lot of it occurred after the 1:30 p.m. EDT Comex close. On a Friday, the price normally flat-lines as the traders head out the door for the weekend—but not this time. Here are the 6-month gold charts for both metals showing Friday’s volume and price activity. The RSI readings on both are virtually identical. Sponsor Advertisement The platinum price didn’t do much until noon in Zurich—and then it, too, chopped quietly higher—and finished up 12 bucks on the day. It was more or less the same trading pattern in palladium—and it closed up 9 bucks. Here are the charts. Freegold Ventures Limited is a North American gold exploration company with three gold projects in Alaska. Current projects include Golden Summit, Vinasale and Rob. Both Vinasale and Golden Summit host NI 43-101 Compliant Resource Calculations. An updated NI 43-101 resource was calculated on Golden Summit in October 2012 and using 0.3 g/t cutoff the current resource is 73,580,000 tonnes grading 0.67 g/t Au for total of 1,576,000 contained ounces in the indicated category, and 223,300,000 tonnes grading 0.62 g/t Au for a total of 4,437,000 contained ounces in the inferred category. In addition to the Golden Summit Project the Vinasale also hosts a NI 43-101 resource calculation which was updated in March 2013. Indicated resources are 3.41 million tonnes averaging 1.48 g/t Au for 162,000 ounces, and Inferred resources are 53.25 million tonnes averaging 1.05 g/t Au for 1,799,000 ounces of gold utilizing a cutoff value of 0.5 grams/tonne (g/t) as a possible open pit cutoff. Please send us an email for more information, [email protected] The CME’s Daily Delivery Report showed that 5 gold and 2 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the Comex-approved depositories on Tuesday. The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here. There are only a small handful of gold contracts—and a bit over 150 contracts in silver that are still open in the July delivery month. There were no reported changes in GLD yesterday—and as of 7:47 p.m. yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV, either. The U.S. Mint had a tiny sales report. They sold 1,000 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes. Month-to-date the mint has sold 34,000 ounces of gold and 1,640,000 silver eagles. That divides out to a silver/gold ratio of 48 to 1. Bullion sales so far this month have been abysmal, especially silver eagles. There was a tiny amount of gold moved within the Comex-approved depositories on Thursday, as 3,000 troy ounces were reported received—and 582 troy ounces were shipped out. I shall dispense with the link on this. Silver activity was far more substantial, as 1,187,607 troy ounces were reported received—and 616,446 troy ounces were shipped out. All the activity was at Brink’s, Inc. and CNT. The link to that action is here. And not that means anything, there was 165,045 troy ounces of silver transferred from Registered to Eligible over at HSBC USA. There sure wasn’t much in yesterday’s Commitment of Traders Report for positions held at the close of trading on Tuesday, July 22. In silver, the Commercial net short position increased by well under 1 million ounces, which is barely a rounding error. Nothing to see here. Ted Butler said that JPMorgan increased their short-side corner in the Comex futures market by 1,000 contracts—and is now up to 20,000 contracts, or a 100 million ounces of paper silver. There wasn’t much change in gold, either. The Commercial net short position increased by a smallish 3,285 contracts, or 328,500 contracts. The new Commercial net short position now stands at 16.02 million troy ounces. JPMorgan increased their long-side corner in the Comex gold market by 3,000 contracts—and their new long position sits at 25,000 contracts, or 2.5 million troy ounces. So despite all the price action of the last ten days, the Commercial net short position in silver is still at nosebleed levels—and basically unchanged from last week’s COT Report—and the situation in gold is only marginally better. Based on the current COT structure, it doesn’t look good. But as Ted Butler has said on many occasions, one of these days the numbers in the COT Report won’t matter. However, until that day comes, all I can do is use the past as prologue and assume that history will repeat itself, with one eye ever-watchful for a black swan. Here’s three 5-year Comex silver charts courtesy of Nick Laird. The first chart shows the Commercial short position the highest it’s been in more than five years. The second chart is the Non-Commercial/Technical fund traders—and they hold their biggest long position since back in late 2010. The last shows the Commercial net short position. It’s not the highest it’s ever been in the last five years, but as I said in the COT commentary a few paragraphs above, it’s certainly at “nosebleed levels.”