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South Florida No. 2 in the Housing Rebound

via miamiherald.com 

The latest Case-Shiller numbers show South Florida trailing Phoenix in rising home values. Having two of the country’s worst housing bubbles helps make the recovery look stronger.


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South Florida enjoys the country’s second-best housing rebound this year.

That’s one result from the Economic Time Machine’s ranking of the latest figures from Case-Shiller, the top yardstick for the country’s housing crisis. Since January, South Florida’s Case-Shiller real estate index increased 5 percent. Only Phoenix had a better showing, with a 10 percent gain over five months. (The ETM used a two-month average to wash out monthly quirks in the Case-Shiller numbers.)

Change from a year ago Change from January Change from peak Change from May 2002
Phoenix 10% 10% -51% -2%
Los Angeles -3% 2% -39% 30%
San Diego -1% 2% -39% 12%
San Francisco 0% 4% -39% 0%
Denver 3% 3% -8% 4%
Washington, DC 2% 4% -27% 40%
South Florida 3% 5% -48% 12%
Tampa 2% 4% -45% 5%
Atlanta -16% -1% -36% -23%
Chicago -4% 0% -36% -9%
Boston 0% 1% -16% 11%
Detroit 2% -2% -46% -39%
Minneapolis 4% 4% -33% -10%
Charlotte 1% 2% -16% 6%
Las Vegas -5% 3% -61% -20%
New York -3% 0% -25% 25%
Cleveland -1% 1% -20% -9%
Portland, Ore 0% 2% -27% 21%
Dallas 3% 3% -6% 4%
Seattle 0% 3% -29% 20%
Average metro area -1% 2% -33% 11%
Change from a year ago Change from January Change from peak Change from May 2002

The ETM analysis also compared the May reading to peak levels for all 20 metropolitan areas that Case-Shiller tracks. The gap from the top of the market to now helps explain South Florida’s current rebound.

According to Case-Shiller, South Florida’s housing bubble continues to be one of the worst in the country. Values are off 48 percent in South Florida from peak levels set in 2006. That’s only slightly worse than Phoenix’s 51-percent drop, but considerably better than the ultimate bubble: Las Vegas, where values are down 61 percent.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/01/2925090_south-florida-no-2-in-the-housing.html#storylink=addthis#storylink=cpy

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The Twitter Hijacking of Stocktwits $ …The Cashtag

It’s interesting that Twitter has hijacked our creation of $TICKER ie. $AAPL. It only took four years to ‘fill‘ this hole, though a few months back they told me in a detailed email it was not a hole they wanted to fill.

You can hijack a plane but it does mean you know how to fly it.

Twitter is about advertising dollars. They have $1 billion of venture money on the line. Lot’s of pressures I am not interested in.

Go check out $HIT or $WAG (walgreen’s) on Twitter search or thousands of other features around curation that we have thought about for 4 years and implemented.

I wonder how well that will do for $FXCM (buying ads on twitter) converting hits from rappers into FOREX accounts.

CNN Money, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, Globe and Mail, Reuters, Bing, MSN trust Stocktwits with many more partners in the works. If you send a message from Stocktwits it is seen on these sites and their ticker pages.

I am disappointed of course that Twitter is hijacking our idea and time (will only confuse the masses), but Stocktwits moved beyond that basic functionality 4 years ago. In a dirty way, it’s the ultimate compliment so we will take it as such for the moment and keep rolling out functionality that makes us the best real-time communication platform for people that love stocks and markets.


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MORE: Twitter Rolls Out Clickable Stock Symbols, or “Cashtags”

via Drew Olanoff at thenextweb.com

Twitter is now rolling out the ability for you to click on stock symbols with a $ sign in front of them. Once you click them, you’ll be able to see all of the conversation about a particular company, much like you would a hashtag.

Now you can click on ticker symbols like $GE on twitter.com to see search results about stocks and companies

Loving our new roll out! Ticker symbols now LIVE! Check out the convos around $APPL $FB 

Now $ + stock symbols (like $GOOG $APPL) are clickable on twitter.com. Feels so nice to see it working on production!!

Sadly, the embeds haven’t been updated to reflect the feature yet.

For example, when you click on $AAPL in a tweet, you’ll be directed to all of the conversations and mentions of that company. A few Twitter employees shared their glee with the wrong symbol for Apple ($APPL). Right now, it looks like Twitter is only making actual stock symbols clickable, as a test of $thenextweb didn’t do the trick.

Twitter   Search AAPL 520x489 Twitter rolls out clickable stock symbols, or Cashtags, so you can keep up with your investments


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More Investors Eyeing Wine, Art Funds for Hedging

via NYPOST.com

Don’t like how stocks and bonds are performing? Here’s an asset you can wrap your arms around — literally.

Rising fears that traditional investing has become a lose-lose proposition have a growing number of wealthy folks seeing dollar signs in niche funds that invest in art, wine, musical instruments and even classic cars.

They’re known as “collectible” funds or “treasure” funds, and while they come with plenty of skeptics and potential pitfalls, they’re also promising returns reminiscent of the days before the Great Recession.

Sergio Esposito, founder of Union Square’s wine shop Italian Wine Merchants, said the wine fund he helped start in 2010, The Bottled Asset Fund, has been doing so well he hopes to launch another next year.

ART OF THE DEAL: Sergio Esposito, in his Manahattan office, is seeing sparkling returns on his $8.2 million Bottled Asset Fund. Other funds invest in fine art and rare antique cars.

ART OF THE DEAL: Sergio Esposito, in his Manahattan office, is seeing sparkling returns on his $8.2 million Bottled Asset Fund. Other funds invest in fine art and rare antique cars.

After selling its first batches of wine this year, the $8.2 million fund is now seeing profits upward of 30 percent, he said.

Try getting that out of the S&P 500 or even smart-money hedge funds.

It’s not just wine funds that are promising mouthwatering returns.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/vintage_returns_M3VjPkRiMdc8S0BY37Wp7I#ixzz221u2xpDs

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The Coming Tyranny of Digital Data

via The New Republic & Mr. Verbeek’s book 


Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things 
By Peter-Paul Verbeek 
(University of Chicago Press, 183 pp., $25)

JUST WEST OF SEOUL, on a man-made island in the Yellow Sea, a city is rising. Slated for completion by 2015, Songdo has been meticulously planned by engineers and architects and lavishly financed by money from the American real estate company Gale International and the investment bank Morgan Stanley. According to the head of Cisco Systems, which has partnered with Gale International to supply the telecommunications infrastructure, Songdo will “run on information.” It will be the world’s first “smart city.”

The city of Songdo claims intelligence not from its inhabitants, but from the millions of wireless sensors and microcomputers embedded in surfaces and objects throughout the metropolis. “Smart” appliances installed in every home send a constant stream of data to the city’s “smart grid” that monitors energy use. Radio frequency ID tags on every car send signals to sensors in the road that measure traffic flow; cameras on every street scrutinize people’s movements so the city’s street lights can be adjusted to suit pedestrian traffic flow. Information flows to the city’s “control hub” that assesses everything from the weather (to prepare for peak energy use) to the precise number of people congregating on a particular corner.

Songdo will also feature “TelePresence,” the Cisco-designed system that will place video screens in every home, office, and on city streets so residents can make video calls to anyone at any time. “If you want to talk to your neighbors or book a table at a restaurant you can do it via TelePresence,” Cisco chief globalization officer Wim Elfrink told Fast Company magazine. Gale International plans to replicate Songdo across the world; another consortium of technology companies is already at work on a similar metropolis, PlanIT Valley, in Portugal.

The unstated but evident goal of these new urban planners is to run the complicated infrastructure of a city with as little human intervention as possible. In the twenty-first century, in cities such as Songdo, machine politics will have a literal meaning—our interactions with the people and objects around us will be turned into data that computers in a control hub, not flesh-and-blood politicians, will analyze.

But buried in Songdo’s millions of sensors is more than the promise of monitoring energy use or traffic flow. The city’s “Ambient Intelligence,” as it is called, is the latest iteration of a ubiquitous computing revolution many years in the making, one that hopes to include the human body among its regulated machines. More than a decade ago, Philips Electronics published a book called New Nomads, which described prototypes for wearable wireless electronics, seamlessly integrated into clothing, which would effectively turn the human body into a “body area network.” Today, researchers at M.I.T.’s Human Dynamics Lab have developed highly sensitive wearable sensors called sociometers that measure and analyze subtle communication patterns to discern what the researcher Alex Pentland calls our “honest signals,” and Affectiva, a company that grew out of M.I.T.’s Media Lab, has developed a wristband called the Q sensor that promises to monitor a person’s “emotional arousal in real-world settings.”

Now we can download numerous apps to our smartphones to track every step we take and every calorie we consume over the course of a day. Eventually, the technology will be inside of us. In Steven Levy’s book In the Plex, Google founder Larry Page remarks, “It will be included in people’s brains … Eventually you will have the implant, where if you think about a fact it will just tell you the answer.” The much-trumpeted release of the wearable Google Goggles was merely the out-of-body beta test of this future technology.


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Lap Dances Galore Expected in Tampa for G.O.P. Convention

via NYTimes.com

TAMPA, Fla. — Over at the back door of the 2001 Odyssey, a limo-size tent with flaps — especially designed for discretion and camera-shy guests — is ready to go up. Déjà Vu is welcoming extra “talent” from around the country in its V.I.P. rooms.

And Thee DollHouse is all Americana: women plan to slip out of red, white and blue corsets and offer red, white and blue vodka. The headliner that week is expected to bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain ex-governor from a wilderness state, known for her strong jaw and devotion to guns and God.

“She’s a dead ringer for her,” said Warren Colazzo, co-owner of Thee DollHouse. “It’s just a really good gimmick to get publicity.”

As Tampa gears up for the Republican National Convention, the biggest party it has ever held, the city and its businesses are primping and polishing for the August arrival of tens of thousands of visitors. Like it or not — mostly not, for city officials — Tampa’s well-known strip clubs have joined the welcome wagon.

Club owners here say they have schmoozed with their counterparts in former host cities, like Denver, and have been told that revenue pours in during conventions, sometimes quadrupling earnings from a Super Bowl week. As for party affiliation, this is one place where the country’s caustic partisan differences fall away, owners say.

Angelina Spencer, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives, which serves as a trade association for strip clubs, said an informal survey of convention business in New York and Denver had determined that Republicans dropped more money at clubs, by far.

“Hands down, it was Republicans,” she said. “The average was $150 for Republicans and $50 for Democrats.”

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HURT: An Open Letter to Christopher Nolan, Sean Penn and Warner Brothers

COMMENTARY BY CHARLES HURT via WashingtonTimes.com 

It is all so perfectly fitting that in the wake of a murderous rampage in which 70 people are shot —12 fatally, including a 6-year-old girl — and countless families are sacked with unspeakable grief, you would take the time to share with us your feelings.

Because, really, at this moment, all that matters to most of us is what a bunch of smutty purveyors of violent fantasy, half-rate actors and an industry of sick narcissism is feeling at this moment.

Director Christopher Nolan, speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of “The Dark Knight Rises,” you told us how much you love going to the movies and how they are “one of the great American art forms.”

You are devastated that such an “innocent and hopeful place” — here you are talking about the movie theaters that play your twisted movies — would be violated in such an “unbearably savage” way. I mean, really, who could think up such monstrous hatred and nihilistic violence? Umm, have you watched any of your own movies lately?

And, in the selfless modesty that is the hallmark of an Academy Awards ceremony, you tell us that your “feelings” about the massacre are so deeply profound that the mere words of the English language built up over hundreds of years are simply not up to the task of describing them. Wow. You do have a gift for fantasy.

But the real clue that you remain shrouded in guilt-free delusion is when you mention the “senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.”

Senseless? Really? If by “senseless” you mean carried out almost precisely from the scripts of your own movies, then, sure, it was “senseless.”

As for you, Sean Penn, you paragon of endless moralizing, we would like to thank you, too, for underwriting last week’s ultra-violence and real-life carnage at the movie theater. One of the last scenes that 6-year-old saw in her precious life was a trailer for your movie.

In the final clip of a trailer filled with orgiastic bloodshed, you have some classy “actors” with machine guns unload from behind a movie screen into a crowd seated in a theater, watching a film. Ring a bell, Sean? Sound familiar?

I realize how busy you are, so loudly and obnoxiously jet-setting around to save the world, but do you have time to think about what you have done here? What your life amounts to at this moment?

No, you did not pull the trigger in this case. You did not don the gas mask. But you were the inspiration, and you are the architects.

Your celebrations of diabolical mayhem and pornographic violence prey on the fantasies of sick, fragile minds. You insulated them from the painful reality of bloodshed. You have inspired mass murder. You are the Osama bin Laden of this travesty.

This, of course, is all legal and has made you a fabulous fortune. But, never forget, this is who you are. It is what you do. This is your legacy.

When you die, your gravestones should read: Here lie men who created such horrific, meaningless violence in such realistic scenes that a sicko carried it out for real and shot 70 people, killing 12, including a 6-year-old girl.


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via TMZ.com

Sent Massacre Plans to
Professor BEFORE Shootings
James Holmes spelled out details of his planned massacre in a notebook which he mailed to a University of Colorado psychiatrist … more than a week before he opened fire in the Aurora movie theater.

Police and FBI discovered the notebook while searching a mail room on the Aurora campus on Monday … but it had reportedly been sitting there unopened since July 12 — EIGHT days before the shootings that killed 12 people and injured 58.

The package was sent from Holmes, and according to a FOXNews.com source … “Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people. There were drawings of what he was going to do in it — drawings and illustrations of the massacre.”

The source says the drawings including gun-wielding stick figures shooting other stick figures.

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Bloomberg Might Be Coming for New Yorkers’ Booze Next

via NYPOST.com

The next city health-care crackdown: alcohol abuse.

Having attacked smoking, trans fats and sugary drinks, the Bloomberg administration is ramping up its campaign against alcohol abuse, The Post has learned.

The city Health Department will be conducting a massive, 50-question telephone survey of New Yorkers to get a better handle on the level of alcohol abuse in the city.

“We routinely conduct surveys about important health issues to learn more about them, and underage and excessive drinking are serious health issues,” said Health Department spokesman Sam Miller.

Typically, the department asks a handful of questions about drinking and drugs as part of an annual survey that queries residents about many other medical issues.

But this poll will put a heavy emphasis on booze, along with some questions on drug use, indicating the city is delving deeper into the drinking problem.

“Issues to be explored include behavior patterns around unhealthy alcohol consumption and awareness of existing alcohol-related laws and standards,’’ the department told bidders hoping to conduct the poll.

The poll, which should be completed by the end of September, will “oversample” young adults to make comparisons between 18- to 20-year-olds and 21- to 29-year-olds, health officials said.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/nanny_mike_next_target_real_boozy_6khvdPpGlJlwVgazASV5lJ#ixzz21eRpVhnW

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How Iran Silences Its Citizens on the Web

via mashable.com

Chris DeVito is the director of Iran180, a nonprofit seeking to change the Iranian government’s treatment of its citizens. His writing and analysis has appeared in major news outlets, including Foreign Policy and The Huffington Post.

Imagine you live in a country where there is heavily restricted access to the Internet. Websites deemed objectionable are blocked. Even when government censors don’t directly vet content, writers practice a high degree of self censorship. The few publications that deviate from this standard are regularly shut down, and those responsible for producing them face potentially serious legal repercussions.

This is the daily reality for citizens of Iran, where access to the Internet has been limited since the presidential elections in 2009, when Twitter and YouTube users informed the world about what was happening on the ground in Tehran. As the government in Iran faces increasing external pressure from a range of international actors, it is clearly grasping for any and all tools to assert its authority at home. This has meant cracking down on all online activity. The abuses fall into four distinct categories.

  • 1. Censorship: The basis of censorship in Iran, both overt and self-imposed, lies in the law. The constitution makes clear that “publications and the press have freedom of expression, except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of [the state and religion].” Furthermore, writings “critical of the government and not in the best interest of the community” are illegal. Violating these provisions can be considered a capital offense. These standards are so broad, that any and all speech, including speech on the web, can easily be categorized as a violation.
  • 2. Monitoring the Web: The Iranian government makes monitoring web activity an important element of its authoritarian toolkit. The government makes explicit use of web monitoring software, and actively tracks usage manually from public access points. It collects passwords, login details, and other information from individuals, and tracks social network usage.
  • 3. Tampering with the Architecture: The Iranian government poses tremendous challenges to those seeking to transmit information online or even conduct a basic Google search. The government requires all internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain licenses. All ISPs must purchase their bandwidth via government controlled access service providers. These effectively government-controlled ISPs are also required by law to deploy filtering systems targeting content deemed “objectionable.” ISPs are then held liable if any “illegal” content ends up on a site. An inter-agency panel of political appointees determines what is acceptable. In Iran, home internet connections operate at a snail’s pace, with a maximum speed of just 128 kilobytes per second, and 56 kilobytes on average.
  • 4. Distributing False or Counter Information: On top of all this, the few websites Iranians can view without obstruction feature content produced by government entities. The purpose of this effort is to make it clear to Iran’s citizens that the government’s authority extends everywhere, even cyberspace. Regime officials have claimed to sponsor more than 10,000 blogs.

These challenges are becoming more significant. In recent months, the government has announced that it intends to pursue a national intranet, which some believe is meant to replace the world wide web. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei also said that he intends to create a Supreme Council of Virtual Space to monitor and oversee internet policy, and digital rights activists have uncovered software designed to track Iranian dissidents.


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Why Theater Gunman’s Online Ammo Purchases Went Unnoticed

via mashable.com

Government officials do not have the hardware or the authority to collect and analyze the artillery receipts, health records and other data that could have signaled a threat was headed toward an AMC movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last week, former federal officials said.

Nor do Americans have the stomach to grant the government such intrusive powers, they added.

Experts point to a review of the FBI’s handling of the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas massacre, which was released hours before the Colorado shooting. The report revealed the FBI did not have the technology to perform the kind of analytics that could have raised red flags about Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the psychiatrist charged with murdering 13 soldiers and civilians at the Army’s most populous military base in November 2009.

Both Hasan and the suspected theater shooter, James Holmes, a neuroscience graduate student, were trained to save lives, not take them. On the surface, they seemed unlikely criminals.

There were signs of abnormal behavior in Holmes before he allegedly murdered at least 12 moviegoers. CNN reported that Holmes bought online more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, a Blackhawk urban assault vest, a Blackhawk Omega Elite triple pistol magazine, a Blackhawk Omega Elite M16 magazine pouch and a Blackhawk Be-Wharned silver knife.


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Despite Horrific Shooting ‘DARK KNIGHT RISES’ Set to Rake in $160 MILLION

via TMZ.com

Dark Knight Rises” is on track to pull in north of $160 million for the 3-day opening, despite the tragedy surrounding the flick … this according to reports.

The major Hollywood studios aren’t reporting official box office numbers yet out of respect for those affected by the massacre in Aurora on Friday … but The Hollywood Reporter is estimating the film will take in a solid $160 million.

Prior to Friday’s theater shooting, the film was estimated to pull in around $170 million, according to THR.

Despite the lower number, it will still make Christopher Nolan‘s third “Batman” installment the highest grossing 2D release of all time … and will beat the opening of last year’s “Dark Knight“, which capped out at a $158.4 million in its first weekend.

The Avengers” still takes the crown for best opening ever … raking in $207.4 million.

Official numbers will be posted Monday AM.

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Heavy Rains Leave Dozens Dead in Beijing

via nytimes.com

BEIJING — The heaviest rainfall in six decades caused widespread havoc in the capital over the weekend, killing at least 37 people and forcing the evacuation of 50,000 others from waterlogged neighborhoods and villages, according to the state news media.

More than six inches of rain fell overnight Saturday into Sunday, collapsing roofs, downing power lines and turning highway underpasses into ponds that engulfed scores of cars and buses. About 80,000 passengers at Beijing Capital International Airportwere stranded overnight after fierce thunderstorms forced the cancellation of 500 flights, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The sewerage system of Beijing, a city poised on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is ill-equipped to handle heavy precipitation; residents in low-lying areas are accustomed to dealing with minor flooding after rainstorms. Officials said the rain, which began at noon and stretched into the early morning, was the heaviest since 1951.


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Statue of Disgraced Joe Paterno Taken Down on Penn State Campus

via espn.com

The Joe Paterno statue was removed Sunday morning from its pedestal outside Beaver Stadium, and it will be stored in an unnamed “secure location,” Penn State president Rodney Erickson announced. Erickson also said the Paterno name will remain on the university’s library.

Shortly before dawn in State College, Pa., a work crew installed chain-link fences to barricade access to Porter Road outside Beaver Stadium and covered the fence with a blue tarp.

The work crew then removed the 7-foot, 900-pound bronze statue by forklift and placed it into the lower level of the stadium. Erickson released his highly sensitive decision to the public at 7 a.m. ET Sunday.

Workers lifted the 7-foot-tall statue off its base and used a forklift to move it into Beaver Stadium as the 100 to 150 students watched, some chanting, “We are Penn State.”

The decision came 10 days after a scathing report by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh found that Paterno, with three other top Penn State administrators, had concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The Freeh report concluded their motive was to shield the university and its football program from negative publicity.

Meanwhile, the NCAA said that that it would levy “corrective and punitive measures” against Penn State. The organization announced Sunday that it would spell out the sanctions on Monday but disclosed no details.

The Paterno family issued a statement only hours later saying the statue’s removal “does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State community.”


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WARNING SIGNS: Gun Club Owner Rejected Aurora Shooter

via sfgate.com

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes applied to join a Colorado gun range but never became a member after the owner became concerned over his “bizarre” message and behavior.

Owner Glenn Rotkovich says Holmes emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 and there were no overt warning signs in that form.

Holmes said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, so Rotkovich followed up by calling Holmes’ apartment to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week.

Rotkovich got Holmes’ answering machine and says “it was bizarre — guttural, freakish at best.”


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More Americans Put Off Medical Treatment as Costs Rise

via CNBC.com

The sluggish economy is prompting more Americans to put off medical tests, prescriptions and so-called elective procedures—like knee or hip replacements—and related health care companies are feeling the pain.

Image Source | Getty Images

Many patients are deciding to delay testing or treatment either because they lack insurance, face higher out-of-pocket costs or are afraid to take time off work, health care analysts say.

“One of the more the dramatic shifts in this economy has been a slowdown in health-care consumption,” says economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial. “It’s become discretionary spending in the U.S. because people are really pulling back.”

Ask a patient about going without care and the word discretionary takes on new meaning.

“I waited a long time to get Neupogen injections because it was so expensive,” said Mary Laidman, breast cancer survivor. “It was supposed to increase my white cell count during chemotherapy. Insurance didn’t cover it, and it was about $6,000 out-of-pocket.”


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