Increased breast cancer screening ‘led to over diagnosis’ researchers say

“Mammograms have doubled the number of early-stage breast cancers detected in the U.S. each year, while the rate of advanced disease has declined just 8 percent annually, according to a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine. One third of breast cancers detected and treated posed no threat to health, the research also found,” Nicole Ostrow wrote for Bloomberg late last week. Ostrow continued, “The study backs the 2009 guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that advise against routine mammograms for women ages 40 to 49 who aren’t at increased risk for breast cancer. The task force made the recommendations because of high rates of false-positive results leading to unnecessary biopsies and anxiety. Some medical and advocacy groups have opposed the guidelines on the grounds that more screening saves lives. ‘We believe we’ve supported the more conservative guidelines reducing the mammograms in a woman’s lifetime from about 40 to about 13 and thereby not only reducing the other risks but the risk of over diagnosis,’ said Archie Bleyer, the lead author of the study and chairman of the Institutional Review Board at St. Charles Health System in Bend, Oregon. Bleyer also is a clinical research professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Bank of England Carney choice ‘being met with near universal praise’

“The response to the Bank of England’s selection of Bank of Canada chief Mark Carney to be its next chief is being met with near universal praise. Given how explosive subjects of monetary policy are (at least in popular discussion) the lack of controversy is surprising,” Joe Weisenthal wrote for the Financial Post today. Weisenthal’s article continues, “A lot of attention has been paid to the fact that Carney represents a force for strong bank regulation (Canada didn’t have a banking meltdown), something the UK feels it needs given the various busts and scandals that have affected its banks. Just last month, Sid Verma of Euromoney did an extremely in-depth Mark Carney profile, examining his role as ‘Finance’s New Statesman.’ In all the discussion about Carney as a bank regulator, there really hasn’t been much talk of him as a practitioner of the interest rate setting side of central banking. It turns out he’s really solid there too.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Royal Bank of Scotland accused of misleading statements in Libor case

 “The Canadian agency investigating whether banks manipulated a key global interest rates accused Royal Bank of Scotland Group on Wednesday of failing to cooperate with its probe and of making misleading statements about it. Escalating a dispute over the Canadian Competition Bureau’s request for internal documents, the Ottawa-based agency said RBS was not cooperating fully, as the bank claimed, with the probe into possible collusion in setting the yen Libor rate,” a Reuters article wrote, published by the Financial Post last week. The article continued, “‘The suggestion that the RBS Group is ‘co-operating fully’ with the bureau is false,’ the federal agency said in a statement on its website. RBS said it has challenged the Canadian investigators’ methods for obtaining information due to confidentiality concerns, but is willing to find alternative ways of turning over the documents. ‘It is simply not accurate to imply that we do not want to cooperate with the Canadian Competition Bureau,’ the bank said in a statement. When asked why the bureau took the unusual step of going public with its spat with the bank, a spokesman said it felt compelled to react after seeing media reports of the RBS statement, included in its quarterly earnings report.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Canadian 1000 dollar banknotes thought to be in mob hands

 “More than 10 years after the $1,000 bill disappeared from circulation 946,043 of them are still out there, somewhere. The whereabouts of almost $1-billion worth of the banknotes is a mystery rekindled this month at Quebec’s corruption probe when a witness spoke of a safe over-stuffed with cash, including $1,000 notes, inside a political office. Retired on May 12, 2000, for being mostly used in criminal transactions, any $1,000 note deposited at a bank is destroyed, although the bills — nicknamed “pinkies” by gangsters because of the pinkish-purple ink — remain legal tender. Money-laundering experts believe most of the missing bills continue to circulate among criminal elites who use them to pay large debts, with the recipient, in turn, using them to pay their own debts with only a portion of the notes bleeding off into the legitimate banking system,” Adrian Humphreys wrote for the National Post last week. Humphreys continued, “‘They are used now to pay off IOUs, not as traditional cash. They are used for buying and selling but not for cashing, because they know if they cash them, it is traceable,’ said Jeffrey Robinson, a New York-based author of several landmark books on money laundering. ‘They keep paying with them, over and over, and it’s only the last guy in line who has to worry about cashing them.’ The notes were retired as part of the fight against organized crime at the recommendation of the RCMP, said Jeremy Harrison, spokesman for the Bank of Canada. Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Five men arrested in disturbing rape case in Pakistan

“Police in Pakistan have arrested five men after a village council ordered a father to hand over his nine-year-old daughter as compensation in a rape case, officers said Friday. A group of elders in the remote rural area of Bahalak in Punjab province made the ruling to settle a year-long dispute between a farm worker and an influential local landowner, local police station chief Mohammad Khalid told AFP,” an Agence France-Presse article wrote, republished by The Globe and Mail late last week. The article continued highlighting the disturbing culture of rape that exists in Pakistan, “The worker, Arshad, who goes by one name, was accused of involvement in the abduction and rape of landowner Ali Sher’s daughter, Khalid said. ‘The jury on Sunday decreed that Arshad would marry (off) his daughter Sidra to Ali Sher’s 22-year old son Maqsood,’ he explained. ‘Arshad agreed verbally but Sidra, who is too young, remains with her family,’ he said. The marriage was not formally solemnised but the village council made Arshad agree to pay Sher 400,000 rupees ($4,000) – a vast sum for a farm labourer in Pakistan – if he did not honour the ruling.” Violence against women in Pakistan is quickly becoming a global topic – the story of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai who survived a gunshot to the head during an assassination attempt by Taliban militants has become a lightning rod for global activists seeking education rights for girls and women across the South Asian country. Read the full Agence France-Presse article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

IMF official suggests reducing debt, but not too quickly

“Pulling out of the global financial crisis may at times clash with the goal of making sure that it does not happen again, making the whole process more difficult, the International Monetary Fund’s No. 2 official said in a speech in London. Ending the crisis means boosting demand and restoring jobs and growth. But creating a stronger global economy requires reducing debt in many advanced economies, which can crimp demand, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said in a speech at London’s Chatham House think tank,” a Reuters online article wrote yesterday. The article continued, “‘Deleveraging in many advanced economies … will dampen demand, particularly if it happens simultaneously in many sectors in many countries,’ Lipton said, according to prepared remarks. ‘This crisis is proving very hard to end.’ Indebted households, banks and governments must shed debt, but doing it too quickly will undercut the recovery, he said. Countries should put the break on austerity programs in the short-term if growth is faltering – as long as they have credible plans to cut debt in the medium-term. ‘Deleveraging is necessary, but it should be implemented at a speed and in a way that minimizes the impact on growth,’ he said. The IMF has said austerity programs that cut too far, too fast would hurt fragile growth, and has backed giving indebted euro zone countries like Greece and Portugal more time to balance their budgets.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Local BC paper reviews charitable eclectic Big Band

“The damp weather couldn’t keep jivers from dancing the evening away at the Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG) on Saturday, October 20 for another “Village Music at the BAG” series. With doors opened wide, patrons of all ages corralled into Thor Froslev’s cozy fireplace lit gallery to behold the talents of the regionally named Sea ‘T’ Sky Big Band,” Anne Bright writes for The Squamish Reporter. The article continues, “There were visitors from as far away as Chilliwack and the Okanagan, all to tune into the fairly new band. Sea ‘T’ Sky Big Band has 16 local players, and one vocalist, ranging in age from 18 to 81. The youngest member, Naiomi Lu, plays the trumpet and the oldest, retiree Dick Grooms, plays the saxophone. They deliver a fun mixture of tunes ranging from the 1930’s to the songs of today. At the BAG, band members seem to enjoy themselves as much as the audience.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

How will the markets react after US election is called?

“Investors will have their hands full regardless of who wins the U.S. election Tuesday. Here’s what five top analysts think might happen on the markets in the aftermath,” David Pett writes for the Financial Post. Pett continues with views from five economists and strategists to get an idea of how the markets will react as the week goes on after the US election. “Julian Jessop, chief global economist, Capital Economics Mr. Jessop said the conventional wisdom of investors seems to side with Republican presidents, because investors presumably perceive such administrations to be more business-friendly. But while returns have been higher in the first year of a Republican presidency, U.S. equities have on average actually performed slightly better over the full term when a Democrat has occupied the White House. That said, Mr. Jessop thinks a Mitt Romney win over Barack Obama looks like the better outcome this time around, saying his plans would result in a more favourable tax treatment of equities, especially for high earners. “Romney’s plans also include a commitment to dramatically increase domestic energy production and partner closely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020,” he wrote. Thomas Lee, portfolio strategist, J.P. Morgan Mr. Lee told clients that a close election bodes well for equity markets no matter who ends up winning, but returns may be more positive if Romney is victorious based on his research. Equity markets have gained an average 3.3% in the two months following any close election, he said, but gained 6% if the challenger wins. “That makes sense as a close race suggests a degree of dissatisfaction with the incumbent party and therefore incremental optimism if the challenger wins,” he wrote. “Assuming flat markets into election day, this would suggest a post-election rally of 45 points on an Obama win and 85 points on a Romney win.” Mr. Lee added a Romney win would benefit small-caps, domestic cyclicals, financials and health-care stocks. An Obama win, on the other hand, would be good for high-dividend payers and global cyclical stocks.” For the rest of Pett’s article click here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

F1 ‘Supremo’ may be charged with bribery over $44 million payout

“Europe’s most glamorous sport—known for its dashing drivers, high-tech cars and exotic locales—is heading into a hairpin turn. Prosecutors in Munich are considering whether to charge Formula One Group Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone for bribery in connection with $44 million he paid to a banker in 2006-07. A decision, which has been hanging over the sport for months, is expected in the coming weeks,” David Crawford and Laura Stevens wrote yesterday for the Wall Street Journal. Crawford and Stevens continued, “An indictment of the 82-year-old, known in Formula One as ‘Supremo,’ would likely force him out of the sport he has dominated for decades as an owner, manager and public face. More worrisome for Formula One, Mr. Ecclestone’s legal troubles threaten to upend the multibillion-dollar racing circuit’s ties to major sponsors, teams and fans. Mr. Ecclestone said last week that he takes the allegations ‘very seriously’ and is ‘absolutely’ not guilty. He has acknowledged making the payment but said he only did so because he was blackmailed.” It may be remembered that Ecclestone was involved in a mugging a few years ago, “The 80-year-old billionaire was attacked outside the headquarters of his business empire Formula One Holdings in Knightsbridge, central London, on Wednesday night as Fabiana Flosi [31-year-old Brazilian girlfriend] looked on in horror.  He had to be taken to hospital with a head injury after the ambush, during which £200,000 worth of jewellery is believed to have been stolen,” the Daily Mail reported back in 2010. Read the full Wall Street Journal article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

New Jersey Governor on Obama, ‘president has been outstanding’

“Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a fierce critic of Barack Obama, praised the president and the federal government’s response to the massive storm Sandy, which caused widespread damage and power outages along the East Coast,” Susan Heavey wrote for Reuters earlier this week, republished by The National Post. Heavey’s coverage continued, “Christie has attacked Obama repeatedly on the campaign trail and said the Democrat does not deserve a second term in the White House, instead backing Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 election. But just hours after the worst of the storm knocked out power for 2.4 million people in New Jersey, just south of New York City, Christie applauded Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in interviews on major television networks. ‘The president has been outstanding in this. The folks at FEMA … have been excellent,’ said Christie, once thought to be a contender for the White House or possibly Romney’s vice presidential pick. Christie’s praise came a week before the presidential election, with polls showing the race as a dead heat. ‘I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment,’ Christie later told reporters in a press conference about the storm damage. ‘I’ve got bigger fish to fry.’ Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Monday night, leaving behind a trail of flooded homes, toppled trees and downed power lines in the nation’s most densely populated region. At least 30 people were reported killed along the eastern seaboard. Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath as well as Romney’s response to it have the potential to become political issues and both campaigns are taking care to avoid missteps.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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