Category: Stocks

Dr. Fauci outlines 3 ways America can beat coronavirus

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, delivered some blunt messages to the public during an online video interview Thursday evening with actor Matthew McConaughey. There are three key reasons why many island nations and Asian countries, such as New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, have managed to control coronavirus, he said.

Aside from social distancing and masks, he said these countries took many correct approaches to deal with their respective outbreaks and, as a result, have created the right environment to begin opening up their economies again. Public health and economic health are not mutually exclusive, he added, or a matter of either/or. This, Fauci said, is what we can learn those countries:

1. Outdoors is better than indoors: In an interview on Instagram FB, -0.02%, McConaughey asked Fauci if certain smaller island nations have more successfully beaten back coronavirus because residents spend more time outdoors. Fauci replied, “It’s conceivable that that’s the case.” Fauci added that outdoors is far preferable for sports, restaurants and holding school classes.

Fauci also said that aiming for 100% herd immunity, instead of maintaining safety procedures and waiting for a vaccine in early 2021, would have dire consequences. “If everyone contracted it, a lot of people are going to die,” he said. “You’re talking about a substantial portion of the population. The death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable.” Instead, he outlined three key steps:

2. Shut down decisively to stop outbreaks: And asked why so many Asian countries have had relative success in controlling outbreaks of COVID-19, Fauci said, “When they shut down, they shut down like, ‘Bang!’ When we shut down, it was never in the level that the Asian countries did.” Fauci said the stop/start and disparate approaches to shutting down in the U.S. has not worked out as well.

Fauci also said it’s not a simple choice between public health and economic health. “The quicker you pull together and get it down, the quicker you get back to normal. We’re all in this together. Unless we do this together, we’re not going to get this under control,” he said. “To think that you can ignore the biologic and get the economy back, it’s not going to happen. You have got to do both.”

Actor Matthew McConaughey interviewed infectious-disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci on Instagram on Thursday evening.


3. Contract tracing helps stop community transmission. Fauci said it’s crucial to create the conditions to allow authorities to conduct contact tracing, and prevent community transmission. He used sports as an example. “If you’re in a red zone where the level of virus is so high, sure you can try to do sports normally, but the chances are you’re going to get people infected,” he said.

Young people who play or attend sports events are more likely to become “super spreaders” and behave as if they don’t have the virus and be the source of community transmissions, Fauci said in an interview on Instagram FB, -0.02% with actor Matthew McConaughey. “Many of them are going to be young, so they’re not going to get sick. They go out into the community.”

Also see: Dr. Fauci tells MarketWatch: I would not get on a plane or eat inside a restaurant

Countries like South Korea, New Zealand and China — where the virus is believed to have originated in a food market in Wuhan late last year — appear to have had more success in beating back COVID-19. Earlier this week, for example, New Zealand moved fast to lock down Auckland after the return of COVID after 102 days of reporting no new infections.

“Act as if you have COVID, and as though people around you have COVID,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference. The island nation moved quickly and decisively to respond to the pandemic, banning non-New Zealand nationals traveling from China before there were any cases in the country, and those nationals who arrived from China were forced to quarantine for 14 days.

COVID-19 has now killed at least 765,310 people worldwide, and the U.S. ranks 10th in the world for deaths per 100,000 people (50.3), Johns Hopkins University says. In sharp contrast, South Korea has had 0.59 COVID-related deaths per 100,000 people, Singapore reported just 0.48 COVID-related deaths per 100,000 people, while New Zealand had a rate of 0.45.

As of Saturday, the U.S. has the world’s highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (5,314,021) and deaths (168,458). Worldwide, confirmed cases are now at 21,183,539. The Dow Jones Industrial Index DJIA, +0.12% closed Friday with a small gain, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.01% and Nasdaq COMP, -0.20% closed slighly lower as investors await progress on a vaccine.

AstraZeneca AZN, -1.09% in combination with Oxford University, BioNTech SE BNTX, -3.32% and partner Pfizer PFE, -0.28%, GlaxoSmithKline GSK, -1.55%, Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.16%, Merck & Co. MERK, -1.51%, Moderna MRNA, +1.94%, and Sanofi SAN, -1.32%, among others, are currently working on COVID-19 vaccines.

Deep Dive: Buy in Europe, where stocks have been ‘brutally beaten up,’ says fund manager

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Three things have led Systelligence CEO Kevin Miller to begin shifting money at his fund-management firm to European stocks and away from U.S. stocks: The decline in the dollar, the underperformance of European equity markets this year compared with the U.S., and expected volatility heading into the November elections.

The WSJ U.S. Dollar Index BUXX, -0.14% is down 8.8% since its closing high on March 23.

Here’s a comparison of performance for the MSCI Europe Index (in U.S. dollars) and the S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.01% in 2020 with dividends reinvested):


Miller and his team manage about $635 million through the six E-Valuator funds, which have stated allocations between stocks and bonds, as listed below. They are meant to be an alternative to target-date funds, which allocate between equities and bonds depending on when the investor expects to retire, but which can also have vast differences in those allocations. (Miller said that among 57 funds with 2020 targets, equity allocations ranged from 12.4% to 60.1% at the end of 2019, according to data provided by Morningstar.)

The E-Valuator funds allow the investor to decide how risky an allocation to take in a broad, global, “fund of funds” investment, and decide when to change their allocation by moving into another fund.

As the U.S. stock market neared its bottom in March, the equity components of the E-Valuator funds were moved more into U.S. stocks with an emphasis on mid-cap and small-cap exposure. Then in the first week of July, Miller decided to “take a portion of the gains off the table” and reduce overall equity exposure slightly, he said during an interview.

“Within the past few weeks we have pivoted and put more money overseas. The dollar is weak enough now, and the international markets have been brutally beaten up for a long period. A little heartbeat from them would be a sizable gain from our perspective,” Miller said.

“If you are holding an international security and the dollar goes down, you are getting a premium just in the currency exchange,” he added.

Miller expects the dollar to continue its decline.

“Every time you come out with more stimulus and print more money, your currency will get weaker,” he said. He also likes the European exposure as we head into what may be higher volatility in the U.S. before the elections in November.

When moving the portfolios’ equity allocations, Miller will use passive and active vehicles. Here are five that he listed as providing exposure to European stocks:

• FlexShares International Quality Dividend Dynamic Index Fund IQDY, -0.42%

• iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF IXUS, -0.32%

• Vanguard Total International Stock ETF VXUS, -0.48%

• PGIM QMA International Equity Fund PJRQX, -0.27%

• Baillie Gifford International Growth Fund BGESX, -0.78%

The last two funds listed above are actively managed; these are the institutional share classes, which have the lowest management fees.

E-Valuator funds

Each of the funds is designed to hold a different allocation of equity and debt securities, and to stay within the stated equity allocation ranges:

• E-Valuator Very Conservative (0%-15%) RMS Fund EVVLX, -0.19%. This fund will never be allocated more than 15% to stocks. It is rated two stars (out of five) in its Morningstar category. However, that category is U.S. funds with an equity allocation of 15%-30%, because Morningstar doesn’t have a 0%-15% category.

• E-Valuator Conservative (15%-30%) RMS Fund EVCLX, -0.18%, which is rated three stars by Morningstar.

• E-Valuator Conservative-Moderate (30% to 50%) RMS Fund EVTTX, -0.18% This was formerly the E-Valuator Tactically Managed RMS Fund. It was changed to the current allocation strategy in February 2019. It is rated two stars within its Morningstar category. However, the rating is based on three years and the fund has only been operating under its current design for a year and a half.

• E-Valuator Moderate (50%-70%) RMS Fund EVMLX, -0.17%, which is rated three stars by Morningstar.

• E-Valuator Growth (70%-85%) RMS Fund EVGLX, -0.17%, rated four stars by Morningstar.

• E-Valuator Aggressive Growth (85%-99%) RMS Fund EVAGX, -0.24%, rated three stars by Morningstar.

Miller said that the Morningstar allocation categories are also based on three-year averages. This means a fund’s current allocation might be mostly equity, even if it is in a category indicating little exposure to stocks. But the E-Valuator funds have to keep their equity allocations within the stated ranges at all times. 

Looking ahead to 2021, Miller expects “a solid year” for the U.S. economy and stock market. “I would bet heavily that in the first six months of 2021 we will have an infrastructure bill, regardless of who wins the presidential election,” he said.

Don’t miss:Value stocks, which trade lowest to growth stocks since 2001, look like a smart play as the economy rebounds

Personal Finance Daily: How the U.S. can emulate South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand to control the coronavirus and refinancing your mortgage will cost more thanks to a new fee

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Hope you have a good weekend, MarketWatchers. And don’t miss these top stories:

Personal Finance
I’m still waiting on my FIRST stimulus check. When will I get it? ‘We, the qualifying taxpayers, should not have to suffer’

‘I was the supervisor of the department that processed and reconciled parking citations. Since mid-March, the number of parking citations drastically fell due to the coronavirus pandemic.’

When will I get my extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits? Why isn’t everyone out of work eligible under Trump’s proposal?

Trump signed an executive order calling for an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits — but it’s best to read the small print.

Does sunshine kill coronavirus? Was it made in a lab? Will antibiotics help? These are the most popular myths and conspiracy theories about COVID-19

Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, some people are on edge, while others are just plain confused.

Dr. Fauci outlines 3 ways the U.S. can emulate South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand — and control coronavirus spread

The infectious-disease expert told actor Matthew McConaughey, ‘We’ve been through a Depression, we’ve been through a World War. We pulled together through 9/11.’

THE BIG MOVE: I work in Silicon Valley, but my job is now remote. I can finally live somewhere cheaper. Where should I go?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many Americans to move in search of bigger, more affordable homes.

If you didn’t get a $500 stimulus check for your child, it should be coming soon

The IRS is correcting oversights due to a programming error — but a watchdog is complaining some will still have to wait.

Yale University accused of discriminating against white and Asian-American students in admissions

If Yale and the Department of Justice can’t come to an agreement in two weeks, the DOJ says it’s prepared to file a lawsuit.

Refinancing your mortgage will cost more thanks to a new fee from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are rolling out a new ‘adverse market fee’ in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Critics of the move say it will cost homeowners thousands of dollars.

These WFH tech employees moved to another state and kept the same job

There is a fevered competition among America’s second- and third-tier cities for workers in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs. Nothing new about that — it’s been going on for years. But with COVID-19 raging across the U.S., there’s a new twist to recruiting efforts that makes moving a more compelling offer.

Elsewhere on MarketWatch
Dare Trump to sign a post office bill? Pelosi muses on an option

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the prospect Friday of trying to pass a stand-alone bill to give the U.S. Postal Service additional cash to cope with the coronavirus and ensure smooth mail-in balloting.

Cheap and fast screening tests could be a game-changer in fighting COVID-19 pandemic

Screening tests with even moderate levels of accuracy can slow the spread of the coronavirus and help schools and workplaces reopen.

The stock market would love a Democratic sweep in November

Democrats would support more stimulus and spending.

Here’s a pandemic stock tip: Buy on the rumor of a COVID-19 vaccine, sell on the news

Wall Street’s ‘smart money’ heads for the exit when retail buyers rush the door, writes Mark Hulbert.

Retirement Weekly: Whatever retirement looks like for you, health savings accounts can help you get there

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In today’s world, a one-size-fits-all idea of retirement doesn’t fit everyone. Rather than defining retirement as the total conclusion of a 40-year working career, individuals are increasingly retiring early, taking multiple smaller retirements, or working longer and only partially retiring.

Thankfully, there’s a savings vehicle that offers specific benefits for each of these retirement concepts. Health savings accounts, or HSAs, provide powerful features to help account holders easily reach their successful version of retirement,…

Retirement Weekly: News and analysis for those planning for or living in retirement

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From MarketWatch:

Here’s how savers — both Republicans and Democrats — should vote to avoid a huge hit to their nest eggs: The presidential election is approaching — which candidate is the best choice for your future savings?

Social Security could be vulnerable under President Trump’s plan for payroll taxes: As it stands, the executive order wouldn’t affect the program too much. But that’s if everything goes according to plan.


Retirement Weekly: Traditional long-term care policies can still work

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I recently wrote that the market for long-term care insurance, which was growing rapidly 20 years ago, has shrunk dramatically. When the market boomed, insurers bet that over time policyholders would let their policies lapse.

Instead, many more people who had long-term care insurance (which covers the cost of skilled care and assisted living or nursing home facilities) held on to their policies, and when they tapped into them to pay for care, insurers sometimes had to pay out benefits in the six-figure range. So, the companies…

Retirement Weekly: How retirees can get off their treadmill

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Retirees these days are caught on a treadmill.

Their retirement portfolios have become addicted to low and declining interest rates, both to preserve and possibly increase the value of their bondholdings but also to keep the stock bull market chugging along. Yet those ever-lower interest rates mean that it now takes more money to purchase the same retirement standard of living.


If you didn’t get a $500 stimulus check for your child, it should be coming soon

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Stimulus checks were supposed to pay $1,200 to eligible adults and $500 apiece for dependent children, but an Internal Revenue Service error skipped the $500 payments for some families through mid-May.

Now that the glitch has been fixed, these families are about to get the long-awaited money for their kids.

The IRS is distributing the previously unsent $500 payments and plans to send out all those payments by the end of the August.

The $500 payments will go to households that registered for stimulus checks and claimed at least one qualifying dependent child using the non-filer tool — but did so before May 17. Up until that point, an error in the non-filer tool skipped the $500 payments.

After May 17, the stimulus checks sent to people using the non-filer tool did contain the money for dependents, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said.

The IRS started sending the direct deposits for the overlooked dependents on Aug. 5 and began mailing out paper checks and debit cards on Aug. 7, the FTC said. Households waiting for the dependent stimulus money can track their payment’s progress on the IRS website.

Families waiting for the cash don’t need to take extra steps or file additional paperwork, according to the FTC and National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins, who heads a watchdog agency within the IRS. People who are still waiting for their dependent stimulus money by late August should contact Collins’ office, she said.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service’s hotline is 1-877-777-4778 and its website can be found here.

IRS officials have previously said up to 450,000 recipients missed out on the dependent stimulus money.

IRS officials have previously estimated up to 450,000 recipients missed out on the money for their kids due to the glitch, according to a Government Accountability Office report in late June.

By this point, the IRS has distributed approximately 160 million stimulus payments, totaling $270 billion.

Though talks continue on another stimulus bill, there are others who are waiting to be paid the first time — and some could be seeing their money sooner than others.

The IRS is also re-issuing stimulus payments to taxpayers who had an “injured spouse” form on their jointly-filed returns. During tax time, these forms give the IRS a notice to send a portion of the joint refund to the spouse who does not have past-due obligations, like child support.

When it comes to stimulus checks, Collins said, the IRS is sending the so-called “injured spouse’s” portion of the money to them if it was wrongly withheld. The money should arrive by the end of August, her office said. Anyone who’s still waiting for the money by the end of this month should contact Collins’ office.

Taxpayers who have filed the “injured spouse” paperwork (Form 8379) shouldn’t have to do anything extra to get their money. But people who are eligible for the relief, but haven’t submitted a form need to file one, she said.

But there are some adjustments the IRS cannot immediately make, according to Collins.

For example, the IRS may have decided someone was ineligible for a stimulus payment because they made too much on their 2018 tax returns. (Full payments applied to individuals making under $75,000 and married couples filing jointly who made less than $150,000.)

The person’s 2019 income may have dropped so that they became eligible for the stimulus money. But if the IRS already made its eligibility decision, the individual will have to wait until next tax season for their stimulus check.

Collins said people in this situation, and other scenarios, shouldn’t have to hold on until next tax season for their stimulus money.

“IRS has agreed to correct [economic impact payment] errors in certain categories of cases. However, many eligible individuals have not received all or part of their EIPs due to circumstances the IRS has not agreed to resolve,” Collins’ office said in a blog post earlier this week. “We continue to urge the IRS to resolve all EIP cases this year for those taxpayers still waiting.”

CityWatch: ‘Am I going to breathe right today?’

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A couple of weeks of suffering and most COVID-19 patients are on their way to recovery. The fever breaks. The breathing improves. Food even tastes like food again.

And then there are the long-haulers. It sure beats dying, but you don’t want to be a long-hauler.

Gabriela Ochoa Perez had no reason to think a term like that would ever apply to her. She was a healthy, energetic 20-year-old, born and raised in Colombia, pursuing her dream of being an actor in New York. When she first tested positive for the novel coronavirus on April 17, her symptoms were all the familiar ones.

“I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and covering my mouth and my nose,” she said. “I couldn’t stand up without my heart rate going to 130-something. I lost my smell and taste. It wasn’t fun. But it was all the things I expected, and I figured it would probably last a couple of weeks.”

She got medical care. She did what she was told. She stayed inside and made sure she didn’t pass the infection onto others. She gave her body’s immune system time to bulk up again and reassert its rightful dominance.

Only it didn’t.

A month passed. Two months passed. Then three and now almost four.

‘I test negative now,” she said. “I’m definitely better than I was. But I can’t go out without a tank of oxygen. I can’t act. When I speak, it feels like I’m rushing too much. I still get fevers. I still can’t do much of what I used to do. I’m not getting fully better, even after four months.”

People kept saying: “Be patient,” and she tried to be. “But there is only so much one can take. I just wish I knew what was going on.”

So do a lot of researchers, physicians and other medical professionals.

As they try to unwind this brand-new virus, many mysteries remain. Why are certain people asymptomatic? Do they have fiercer immune systems or are they lucky in some other way? Why is the virus fatal to some otherwise healthy people? While many COVID-19 deaths are predictable —the old, the obese, the severely preconditioned — quite a few aren’t. What explains those viral lightning strikes? And what about children? How differently does the virus mess with them?

Coronavirus update: Global cases edge close to 21 million; U.S. counts more than 1,000 deaths to extend a 2-week streak

Then you get around to the myriad ways the coronavirus undermines the human body: the organs it attacks, the strength of its grip, the dramatically differing slopes of recovery, the preconditions it shrugs at and the ones it cruelly exploits.

Can you get it twice or three times? No one knows. How long do the antibodies last? No one knows. How much protection do they provide? No one knows. How much help will a vaccine really be? Again, no one knows.

Truly, the questions do not end, and now we have another one: Why are some people who seem to have beaten the infection still not getting well? What explains the long-haulers?

Read: Is it safe yet to work and go back to school in New York?

“A whole host of people do not get better after two weeks,” said Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist in Manhattan and founder of the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation. “Many of them are young, healthy people like Gaby, the last people you would expect.” They’ve packed his practice, he said, arriving with a wide range of lingering symptoms. 

Greenspan recently launched what he calls the COVID Rehabilitation & Recovery Bootcamp, an online resource for patients whose symptoms just won’t go away. The no-cost program ( suggests exercises, breathing techniques and other wellness therapies and also provides patient education and support. There also is guidance from other medical specialists.

Also see: Dr. Fauci outlines 3 ways U.S. can emulate South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand — and control coronavirus spread

“This coronavirus is extremely opportunistic,” Greenspan said. “Not only does it affect the respiratory system, but it also affects the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal system and any other system that is your potential weakness. The virus will find that weakness and exploit it.” Which is why the nagging cases require a broad, interdisciplinary approach.

If COVID hadn’t been such a crisis, he said, far more of these patients would have been treated in emergency rooms and intensive care units. “But those facilities were overloaded, and too many of these patients were essentially sent home and told to fend for themselves,” Greenspan said.

In many cases, they are still fending.

As for Gabriela Ochoa Perez, she said she’s taking the virus far more seriously than many of her young friends are. She said she’s open to almost anything that might help return her fully to health.

“I’ll get through it. I know I will,” says Gabriela Ochoa Perez.

Courtesy Gabriela Ochoa Perez

“COVID has changed my life,” she said, “in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I’ll get through it. I know I will. But it sure is taking a long time. I’m definitely ready to wake up in the morning and not have to worry, ‘Am I going breathe right today?’”

Ellis Henican is an author based in New York City and a former newspaper columnist.

Brett Arends's ROI: 7 out of 10 nursing homes say: ‘We can’t go on’

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The COVID-19 pandemic is plunging U.S. nursing homes into a major financial crisis and many of them could go out of business, says a survey released by the industry’s trade association, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, or AHCA/NCAL.

80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

In a poll of nearly 500 nursing home operators, 72%, said they couldn’t keep going for another year under current conditions while 55%, said they were running at a loss. As politicians on Capitol Hill grapple with another rescue package, nearly all nursing home operators—92%—say they’ve received financial aid during the crisis, and 58% say they’ll face “significant” financial problems when it ends.

University of Alabama Health Administration professor Robert Weech-Maldonado, an expert in the field of nursing home economics, says the findings of the survey are credible and even unsurprising. The pandemic has forced homes to spend a lot more money, especially on extra staff and personal protective equipment.

“Nursing homes operate with low profit margins, so a crisis like this can really upset the whole industry,” he said. “This can be particularly the case for high Medicaid nursing homes, [many of which] were struggling financially even before the pandemic. Many of these nursing homes happen to be located in minority communities, which are also being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.”

The effects are felt all the way up the chain as well. Welltower WELL, +1.46%, a $24 billion REIT that owns nursing homes and senior living facilities, has seen its stock collapse by a third since the start of the year, even counting the rebound. Since the crisis broke it has rushed to raise more than $2 billion cash to shore up its balance sheet. The stock of most other REITs in the nursing home business are down significantly for the year, many by a third or more.

Nursing homes have been ground zero for the COVID crisis. The disease is particularly lethal to the elderly. Preliminary data from the federal government estimates that through July 26 nursing homes had accounted for 43,000 or 30% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths. But some of the figures are disputed and many say the true toll is higher.

The question is going to be where this leaves the industry and indeed the aging population. The over-75 U.S. population is forecast to double over the next 20 years to about 5.5 million, which is more than three times the current number of nursing home beds. Meanwhile costs have already been rising sharply and at the moment it costs on average about $100,000 a year to stay in a nursing home.

How many elderly Americans can afford that? Yet even at those prices, the industry can’t make money.