‘TIS THE SEASON

Love the Pope (see last Friday’s post).

Less crazy about John McCain’s choice to lead the world in the event of his demise.  Click any of the 19 ornaments on this Christmas tree to hear snippets from her new audio book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.

HEALTH CARE PROGRESS

I’ve gotten a lot of pretty angry emails from folks upset at losing their current coverage.  See Jim L., below.

My hope is that, for most when the dust settles, Obamacare is going to prove not such a bad thing after all — maybe even, for some of them (and for their loved ones and coworkers and country — and for their housekeeper who comes once a week, whom they love, who never previously had coverage for her family) quite a good thing.  And a thing we can all work together over the months and years to come to improve.

Jim L.:  “We discussed last week how I was offered crappy plans solely covering in-network, none of which offered my doctor (or any other decent doctor).  And how my previous, private insurer was about to skyrocket my rates.  Here’s an update.  I just returned to the NY site, and find that they’ve added new plans, including one recognizable (though fairly lousy) insurer (Empire Blue Cross) whom my doctor does accept….plus others which do cover (with enormous deductibles) out-of-network care.  I preferred my previous plan, which I’m not going to be able to afford (it’s already at the upper limit of my budget), so this is still not optimal for me, and so I reassert my conclusion that Obamacare favors the lowest end and squeezes middle class freelancers.  But it’s no longer untenable for me, which is good news.

Hardly a rave; but six weeks into the launch, discernible progress.

Artie:  “You asked us to correct you if you’re wrong about the Bronze plan effectively providing more than 60% coverage.  I’m no expert, but I do think that your comments on the bronze plan are correct.  And there is one more plus to consider: the out-of-pocket maximum is lower than you stated for people of lower income, at least in New York.  According to the New York healthcare site, if your annual income falls somewhere between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line, you get a break.  For example, if your income is between 100% and 200% of the poverty level, the out-of-pocket annual limit is just a third of the full $6,350/$12,700 cap you referenced.”

FORMULA FUNDS

Ross Morgan: “My brother received an email in his TD Ameritrade and here is my understanding of it:  The International Funds will be completely liquidated if approved at the next board meeting.  Domestic Funds will be reorganized and wrapped up into the GOTHAM TOTAL RETURN FUND, which as I understand it was a product that Joel Greenblatt developed as a hedge fund proxy (long/short equity).  This leaves me with a bunch of questions:  Has Joel Greenblatt lost patience with his own product?  How do we as individual investors reconcile these new changes?  Go back to Vanguard or in my case, Fairholme and Gabelli Asset Fund?  Who wins the bet between you and Less Antman?  (Just joking.)  My employees are invested in these products, along with my parents, grandparents, and brother’s.  What’s one to do?”

☞ We’ve done nicely with the domestic funds; crappy (about break even) with the international.  I think Joel thinks he can produce better results long/short than just long – and I love that, so will be rolling over the domestic funds into his Total Return Fund, and maybe adding the proceeds of the  international funds as well.  I think he’s closing down the international funds because they just don’t seem to have borne out the validity of his strategy.

The bet was constructed to run until the next edition of The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need (which it has only at this exceptionally late date occurred to me to rename The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need So Long As You Buy Each New Edition) goes to press, which will not be for some time.  Just eyeballing it, it looks to me as though we may be running about neck and neck.  But I’ll ask Less to do a little digging and give us a status report.

 

 

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