Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Special Day in L.A.:From Intern to Resident

Medical school students across the country have learned where their first phase of medical practice,or residencies,will occur.At 9 a.m. on March 17,the anxious seniors received their letters of acceptance with tears and cheers.The National Residency Matching Program matches these applicants with positions.This year,there were 16,554 applicants for more than 26,000 positions.
Among the applicants were students from USC's Keck School of Medicine.Several of them expressed satisfaction with their matches and the hands-on training they had received at Keck.As one student put it,she was a doctor from day one at Keck.Of the 163 Keck students who participated in the NRMP,116 will spend at least part of their residencies in California.Fifty of those will serve the underpriveleged at LAC+USC Medical Center,a public hospital that is the largest provider of health care in Los Angeles County.
The most popular residency among Keck students was internal medicine(29),which is encouraging,given the national shortage of primary care physicians.Other favored specialties were emergency medicine,psychiatry and pediatrics.
Residency occurs after internship and the granting of the MD degree.It is then that persons are called doctors,practicing in clinical settings under the supervision of experienced physicians in their chosen field.In the UK,residents are known as registrars.
It is a day of joyous emotion for the seniors as they see their careers unfold after many and costly years of preparation.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Google's Size Problem

Google is the largest of the large,which makes trouble for the tech titan.You will have competitors complaining about Google,points out Harry First,Professor of Law at New York University and former head of the New York state anti-trust bureau.There is always the fear they're doing that to thwart a better competitor.This clearly is a concern for Google.
Google does have some monopoly power.You can build a successful business and continue to build it as long as you do it properly.They just can't exclude competitors.
Ohio,Wisconsin and Texas are questioning Google.States may take Google to court.These states try to incentivize the federal government to do so as well.
Google is a very aggressive company.Clearly it's in the hot seat all over the world.They reach out and try to explain what they're doing,Professor First noted.
Google's attorneys have been busy in Europe,trying to fend off accusations by Microsoft and others that they have an unfair lead in search advertising.If the accusations get to a formal investigative stage,it may be difficult to stop the case,since the authorities then have a vested interest in achieving something with it,justifying the expense of the investigation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bill Richardson:Nuclear is Positive

Former Energy Secretary and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson continues to believe in nuclear energy as part of the power mix.Nuclear provides 20% of our power today,Mr.Richardson said.This is a time for debate about our nuclear plans.We have to assure the public about our nuclear plants.
Nuclear is positive because it doesn't cause greenhouse gas emissions.We have to show the public that it's safe with evacuation plans.The Diablo Canyon plant in California is safe up to an 8.9 earthquake.The reality is,security has dramatically improved and there have been no U.S. incidents since Three Mile Island.
The public and Congress are gonna have to back this.Five more nuclear reactors are slated to be built in the next 10 years,Bill Richardson pointed out.
A recent poll showed the American public evenly split about building more nuclear power plants.President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for the projects.
On March 28,1979,a partial core meltdown occurred at Unit 2 at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg,Pennsylvania.It was the worst accident in the history of U.S. commercial nuclear power.The plant is in operation to this day.

Asia This Day

Asian stocks were mixed Monday morning,with the Japanese Nikkei down 31.07 and the Australian ASX dropping 5.40,while China showed some strength as both the Hong Kong and Shanghai indexes were up modestly.
In Japan,repair work on the Fukushima reactors is still delayed because of a radioactive water leak;it can't resume until the leak is fixed,an official said.Two workers have substantial skin contamination from standing in the water.
Power shortages continue in Japan,and automakers there may cooperate,staggering production schedules to deal with the shortfall.
Sinopec,the Chinese oil and petrochemical major,reported its 2010 earnings.It posted record earnings,with net income up 14% for 2010 and 31% for Q4.Sinopec will now cut costs and expand overseas activity and investments.
Other Chinese energy firms exceeded Sinopec's results,with Cnooc reporting profits up 85% and Petrochina's 35% higher.They are less exposed to crude oil price hikes than Sinopec,which is more heavily into refining and hence restricted by government price controls on fuel.
Update:Hong Kong shares later took a tumble,falling 0.72%.Only Shanghai remained in the green.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor,Storied Actress and Entrepreneur

Elizabeth Taylor was laid to rest Thursday in a private family service at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles,where her good friend Michael Jackson was interred two years ago.Dame Elizabeth,given the honorific title Dame Commander,Order of the British Empire,by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000,died Wednesday of congestive heart failure,attended by her four children at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.She was 79.
The British-born actress and businesswoman was a longtime resident of The Golden State and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007.Fans left flowers and photos on her star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame to mark her passing.The magnitude of her celebrity was matched only by her resolve to meet the health challenges that confronted her.
Two years ago,Dame Elizabeth underwent heart valve surgery.Heart valve disease often results in congestive heart failure.
Today,early surgery is more and more recommended for heart valve patients to prevent this progression and other conditions that damaged valves lead to,such as atrial fibrillation.The old way was to postpone surgery until patients became very ill,but recent research shows that does not lead to the best outcome.
Heart valve disease has nothing to do with cholesterol levels and clogged arteries.Any of a number of other factors may be involved,from birth defects to simply the aging process.Narrowing or floppy valves put stress on the heart,often with fatal consequences.The preference is to repair the valves,but replacement with animal or artificial valves may be necessary.
Dame Elizabeth was renowned in her later years for her jewelry designs,The Elizabeth Collection,as well as her perfumes,including White Diamonds,which alone has earned an estimated one billion dollars.She was also a leading AIDS activist and philanthropist.
In addition to her sons and daughters,Dame Elizabeth is survived by her brother,Howard,as well as several grandchildren and great grandchildren.Also interred at Forest Lawn are Clark Gable,Jean Harlow and Walt Disney.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Residential Real Estate Today:What Americans Think About Owning a Home

Thomas J. Wilson,Allstate CEO,has been reviewing results of a new Allstate/National Journal homeownership survey.It shows that:
1.Given all the turmoil in real estate and the decline in housing prices,how strongly home ownership is still part of the American Dream and
2.How little people understand the federal contribution to their owning a home from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The survey shows that the underlying demand for houses hasn't changed.70% of respondents would recommend buying a house.63% believe the current housing crisis is temporary.59% believe they are living the American Dream.
I think there will be continued demand for houses despite the decline in home values.Americans still believe it's a good investment.
I think you'll continue to see foreclosures.It'll take a while to work through 23 months of supply in the marketplace,Mr.Wilson feels.
Mr.Wilson is also Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oppenheimer Strategist Optimistic About Market

Brian Belski,chief market strategist at Oppenheimer&Co.,says the market overreacted to the Japan events.You have to look back at the Kobe earthquake in 1995.It is positive that the G-7 industrialized nations have intervened to support Japan.
This crisis has not altered our viewpoint.Single digits are still a good way to look at it.This is more of a transition year,a lot more volatile than portfolios are prepared for.
Look at mid-cycle areas that are more domestic-oriented,large-cap high quality companies,more toward domestic industrials that will profit from the problems in Japan.
We are on the precipice of a long term bull market,Mr.Belski believes.
Oppenheimer&Co.,Inc.,a division of Oppenheimer Holdings,is a leading investment bank and full service investment firm.For more than 125 years,they have assisted high net worth investors,businesses and institutions.
Oppenheimer Holdings(OPY)

APL Has Many Openings

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has nearly 200 openings at its Laurel,Maryland campus.A major government contractor in systems engineering for the Department of Defense and NASA,APL needs a wide range of people for its R&D mission.There are openings for positions ranging from Security Officer to Software Radio Engineer and Group Secretary/Administrator.
To view the openings and apply,visit
APL:Complex problems,systems solutions

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor Still In Hospital

Elizabeth Taylor,the celebrated Anglo-American actress,remains in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.She was admitted in early February with symptoms of congestive heart failure,a condition she was diagnosed with in 2004.
Dame Elizabeth,79,has battled a number of health issues in recent years,including osteoporosis,a benign brain tumor and pneumonia.Her mind has remained clear and she has maintained a great interest in her lines of jewelry and perfumes,both of which have been quite successful business ventures.
A leading cinematic presence from the 1950s through the 1970s,the British-born star won the Best Actress Oscar twice-for her roles in BUtterfield 8(1960) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?(1966).Her string of major achievements began at the age of 12 in National Velvet(1944).
In congestive heart failure,which is categorized as a syndrome,the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's oxygen demands,resulting in a build-up of water and sodium from the kidneys' reaction to this inadequate circulation.Potentially fatal,its symptoms may be treated with a number of medications.
A syndrome is a group of signs or symptoms that together indicate or characterize a disease or other abnormal condition.
The daughter of American parents who were living in England,Dame Elizabeth has dual U.K.-U.S. citizenship.As a close friend of the late pop star Michael Jackson,she attended his funeral in 2009.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Industrial Management:A New CFO for General Motors

Chris Liddell,the widely respected chief financial officer of General Motors,has announced his resignation.Company treasurer Dan Ammann has been chosen to succeed Mr.Liddell.
Harry Wilson,a former member of the White House auto task force,said Mr.Ammann knows the company quite well.I would expect him to be long term.
The speculation was that Mr.Liddell was looking beyond the CFO position.That was reasonable given his age and accomplishments.He certainly did a good job in his 14 months at the company.
GM's was the biggest cultural change of any organization in U.S. corporate history.It went from mediocrity to success,which was played out on the world's biggest stage.
Mr.Liddell was the only outsider there.The others were holdovers.
The challenges GM and Mr.Ammann will face are:
1.Maintaining its high level of profitability
2.Continuing to revamp its product line
3.Stabilizing its executive ranks.
General Motors(GM)

Canadian Banks:Cramer's Top Pick

CNBC's Jim Cramer has announced his favorite Canadian bank.It is Toronto Dominion Bank,the nation's 2nd largest.TD recently raised its dividend and beat its earnings estimate.
TD is a conservative,deposit-rich bank,Cramer pointed out.With most of its exposure in Ontario,it attracts a great deal of natural resource clients.
The bank has 25% of its business in the U.S.,and is buying Chrysler Financial for 3.6 billion dollars.This will improve its loan/deposit ratio.TD has no headline risk,in Cramer's opinion.
Despite Cramer's call,the typical Cramer bounce in a stock he selects didn't seem to materialize when he announced it.This leads to a certain train of thought:Don't they like Canada?Don't they trust Canada?Are they bored by Canada?
Toronto Dominion Bank(TD)

Asia This Day:Japan Quake Business Effects-plus an update

Japan is bracing for rolling power blackouts today.Several nuclear plants are offline-one of them permanently,crimping the country's electricity supply.Japan needs 40 million kilowatts,but has been reduced to 10 million.In consequence,there will be 3-hour blackouts for each district.The central business district in Tokyo,where government offices are located,will not be affected.
There is also a shortage of fresh food,water,candles,batteries and rice.Relief supplies are beginning to make their way northward,but many areas have yet to see any.
Cooling efforts continue at four nuclear reactors.U.S. officials said that contamination is not expected to reach America's shores,even though 180,000 Japanese have been evacuated from the reactor zones.Singapore is testing all food imports from Japan for radiation.The imports are predicted to become more expensive as their supply dwindles.
The Japanese stock market reopened Monday,with the Nikkei 225 index down 4.46 at lunchtime.The more broadly based Topix index fell 5.85,while the yen rose 0.45 against the U.S. dollar.Construction stocks were up as high as 62%.
Citigroup said Japanese industrial production would fall 1-2% because of the quake,but will ultimately benefit as reconstruction gets fully underway.Societe Generale feels that the quake will lower bond yields,but the Japanese economy will recover.
The Bank of Japan moved its scheduled meeting up an hour.It is injecting trillions of yen into the system to ensure liquidity.
Update:Nils Diaz,former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,says the Japan nuclear accident is relatively low level.He ranked it as a 2 or 3 out of seven.The Japanese workers have it well in hand,carefully releasing small amounts of radiation.It isn't an uncontrolled event such as Ukraine's Chernobyl accident was in the 1980s.As well,the Japanese reactors are more advanced in design and are recovering from a natural disaster,not human error as occurred at Chernobyl or Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
Toyota and Nissan have shut production down for the moment.Toyota's stoppage will mean a cut of 40,000 vehicles.On the other hand,Toshiba is restarting a chip factory,though Sony has shuttered facilities.
iShares Japan Index Fund(EWJ)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lupus Patients,Maryland Firm Have Big Day

Lupus,a complex autoimmune disorder that pits the body's own defenses against itself,faced its first new adversary in more than 50 years Wednesday when the Food and Drug Administration approved Benlysta.The drug,a product of Rockville,Maryland biotech firm Human Genome Sciences and British business partner GlaxoSmithKline,carries a caution on the label that the medication has not been proven effective for treating African Americans to the FDA's satisfaction.
Nonetheless,it is believed the drug could garner billions of dollars for the two pharmaceutical companies,launching Human Genome into the major leagues of the industry.There is no competition for Benlysta at this point,being the first of a new class of drugs,the BLYS-specific inhibitors.
In its trials,Benlysta was found to help about 35% of those who suffer from the chronic inflammatory disease,which can be life-threatening.The FDA approval is seen as a win for Maryland's I-270 corridor as a whole,where the D.C. Metro Area's biotech industry is concentrated.It may well encourage more capital flow to the corridor as entrepreneurs and investors respond to the elevation in stature.
Human Genome's stock gained 13.05% on Thursday in the face of a broader market selloff.
Human Genome Sciences(HGSI),GlaxoSmithKline(GSK)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Texas Instruments,Intel Upgraded

Texas Instruments has been upgraded to overweight from neutral by JP Morgan.It has a new price target of 47.00.The upgrade stems from the impending end to the semiconductor inventory correction.
RW Baird has raised Intel from neutral to outperform.The price target has been raised from 25.00 to 27.00.The upgrade is because of continued rebounds in demand for Intel's products.Wells Fargo seconds this view of Intel.
Meanwhile,outside the semi space,Google continues to look for acquisitions.These are to be small,innovative firms along the lines of last year's purchases.
Texas Instruments(TXN),Intel Corporation(INTC),Google(GOOG)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tech Founder's Vision:From Netscape to the Cloud

Marc Andreesen,co-founder of the early Internet firm Netscape,notes that everyone thinks we're in a tech bubble,which means we must not be.I don't think we've seen the innovators yet,let alone the idiots.
The industry rewards ingenuity,aggressiveness,innovation.The successful are successful because they are so good at innovation.
In the last five years,500 million people have switched browsers.We're basically reinventing browsers around the services people like to use,such as Facebook.
Cloud computing means moving out into the Internet,using Gmail and Google documents instead of Microsoft Outlook.It's a very big architecture change,with matching companies springing up.
There are more than two billion people on the Internet.I think the perception of tech has caught up to the reality.
Marc Andreesen co-founded Netscape with Jim Clark,being one of the inventors of the browser that became Netscape.Today,Netscape is a holding company of AOL,consisting of a web browser,discount Internet service provider and popular social news website.Netscape moved from Mountain View,California to Dulles,Virginia.

Home Furnishings Careers

nextday Blinds,the area's leading window coverings retailer,has immediate career openings for Managers,Assistant Managers and Sales Professionals in their Maryland and Virginia showrooms.Onsite interviews will be held at their Rockville showroom on Monday,March 7 from 10am-2pm.
12204 Rockville Pike
Rockville,MD 20852
Candidates shpuld posess excellent communications skills and the desire to work in a fast paced sales environment where the customer comes first.Home furnishings experience a plus.They offer paid training and great commission potential,as well as medical,dental,flex spending,life insurance,employee discount and 401(k).
Those who cannot attend please send resumes to
nextday Blinds:Exactly right.Completely you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Letter to My Readers

Dear Readers,
Please note that this Friday's post will be published in the International Daybook blog,available in the link list in the left column.It deals with a distinguished researcher at the University of Maryland Baltimore,Dr.Claire M. Fraser-Liggett,one of America's leading women in science,and the new Institute for Genomic Sciences she heads,which is of global stature.
On a personal level,it is possible I will be on medical leave for at least part of the month of April.In that case,the posts may be fewer or absent entirely.I am dealing with heart valve disease.
If I am away for awhile next month,it would be a good time for readers to go back into the archives and catch up on their reading.As well,a number of current articles by other journalists will be available in the left hand column.You can still get plenty of information here and I will keep you informed about my status as best I can.
I really appreciate all of your interest in these important topics.
Andrew Taylor
P.S. For those who are interested in biotech,the exchange-traded fund listed below has long been a favorite.It covers 126 holdings.
iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index Fund(IBB)