Make It Even More Helpful
I am a regular reader of Moneylife magazine and greatly enjoy it. It is the go-to aid for me when-ever I am in doubt about financial investment matters. However, to make it even more helpful for readers/ subscribers, I would like to suggest the following:
a)  Model Long Term Portfolio: In this section, Moneylife has listed several highly rated stocks. There is a column ‘Entry Price’. However, the entry date is not given. It is not clear whether, at the time of entry, the readers were notified in any manner, so that they could take advantage of your valuable selection. In future, if you can notify this on the same page, it would be better. I know that due to the cautious approach of Moneylife, the writer may fight shy of recommending any stock. My advice is to add an indemnifying clause at the bottom of the page.
 
b) Secondly, it is not clear whether it is still worth buying the stocks from your Model Long Term Portfolio, at the CMP (current market price). Or, at what price would you recommend a new inves-tor to enter this ideal long-term portfolio list? Without this information, this entire page is only a historical record and is not of much use to an aspiring investor. Most subscribers, like me, are in this category.
 
c) Moneylife has given RoE and RoCE, in addition to MC/OP. But not P/E. P/E is the most commonly used yardstick by common investors who are not familiar with using complex analytical tools. Hence, why not omit RoCE or MC/OP and, instead, give the P/E figure? 
 
d) Moneylife has started explaining the relevance of various ratios like Book Value, etc, in the Stock Basics section.
 
Kindly give full explanations and relevance of all ratios like MC/Sales, MC/OP to benefit the not-so-erudite readers like myself. I am reading Moneylife more for Prof Hegde’s column than any other section. He is looking after my physical and mental health which, you will agree, is more important than financial health. Convey my thanks and admiration to this bold doctor.
BV Krishnan, by email
 
As you may have noticed, we have completely redesigned our coverage of stocks. Earlier, our stocks section consisted of analysis of one company in the Street Beat section; there was one item about stock manipulation, a list of value stocks and a model portfolio. You may have noticed that we have now vastly expanded the stocks section which brings you a commentary on many more stocks, sectoral updates and thematic studies. In the process, we have dropped the model long-term portfolio and Street Beat. The actionable list of stocks is now available in stockletters. These changes have been made in keeping with the emerging regulatory requirement. — Editor
 

Exclusions Galore!

This is with regard to “Is your property insured for a Nepal-like earthquake?” by Raj Pradhan. This is a very important and timely article. Hope you will also suggest specific products. I have spent days reading through the fine print of Insurers (ICICI-Lom, Bajaj-Allianz, etc). All I can see is exclusions galore.
Anand Vaidya, online comment
 

More Explanation

This is with regard to “Home Insurance: Review of New India Assurance Griha Suvidha Policy” by Raj Pradhan. The insurance rate is confusing. This needs more explanation.
Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag, online comment
 
Raj Pradhan replies:
Rs0.30 per thousand means that to buy property cover of Rs20 lakh against fire and allied perils (excluding earthquake), the premium will be Rs600pa. The property cover should be taken on a reinstatement value basis and not on the property value. It should cover the price of rebuilding the property in the condition it was before the damage.
 

Sensitise Investors!

This is with regard to “Datson’s Lab: Orphaned Investors; Unscrupulous Promoters” by Sucheta Da-lal. I know it is impossible for Moneylife to ascertain the credentials of all such companies. Howev-er, is it possible that Moneylife starts a separate column or website to sensitise investors about the risks of such entities as and when you come across them in the prospectuses? Of course, please do not do this for free—please charge—at least people who are careful about their money will not invest in such dubious deals. In short, I am asking Moneylife to do the work of SEBI, which should be dismantled forthwith—it has become a parking lot for many. Ever since Sucheta Dalal blew the whistle in the Harshad Mehta scandal, I have been following her writings. In fact, we now have a saviour like Moneylife.
Hemlata Mohan, online comment
 
Sucheta Dalal replies:
We actually do better than that... we run regular financial literacy sessions at Moneylife Foundation our not-for-profit initiative. Please join Moneylife Foundation and attend our seminars. One of the things we say is that 90% of the financial products pitched at you are useless and maybe downright harmful. 
 
If you are a Moneylifer, you would not even look at such companies. So, briefly, we would not be able to track and report on the thousands of ponzis, MLMs, and shady IPOs that hit the market. We can guide people on how to choose what is good for a long-term saver and we are doing that. Please check out the helplines and Moneylife Foundation events pages.
 

Delayed Feed? 

This is with regard to “Blowing the Whistle on Manipulation in NSE” by Sucheta Dalal. It is clear that the NSE (National Stock Exchange) goofed up in setting up its IT infrastructure. Load-balancers and time-synchronisations are the norm. They missed some of the key points which every server ad-min would take care of, like hiding the servers behind a proxy, time-synchronisation, sharing the back-end server’s IP (Internet protocol) with the outside world. The very design of a server, which prioritises the first connection, is dead wrong.
 
However, I did not understand why the TCP (transmission control protocol) affects the price feed. Unless I am missing something, TCP is reliable and ordered. Only if the NSE feed is designed to send all the ticks for a day, even if I connect at some random point in the day, is there the chance of getting a delayed feed.
 
If TCP had to give priority to the first connection, then, logically, any person first coming to any website should be able to get the best performance throughout the day. But that is not so. As the load increases, even the first connection will get delayed responses.
Pravesh Pandya, online comment
 

Is There Fear of Regulator’s Intervention?

This is with regard to “When Banks Cheat Customers” by Sucheta Dalal. Mis-selling is very common with almost all private sector banks and, by any chance, if some customers take up the issue, they silence them by either refunding their investments or consoling them with some excuses, apolo-gies and regrets. The fact of the matter is that the banks intentionally indulge in such mis-selling taking advantage of either customers’ ignorance or patience and incompetence to fight for their right and get redress. Some well-informed customers take up the issue with the banking ombuds-man or the Securities and Exchange Board of India or the Reserve Bank of India and they may or may not be getting a favourable response. However, the fact remains that the regulators have failed to prevent banks from indulging in such activities and cheating customers. The fear of regula-tors’ intervention and taking disciplinary action against wrongdoings has been missing. This is the reality and, from this angle, the approach of Moneylife to expose such wrongdoers is commenda-ble.
Gopalakrishnan TV  
 

II. Perhaps, Moneylife needs to bring this to the notice of banking ombudsman (BO), Kolkata ([email protected]), at least, to know if the issue was brought to BO’s notice and whether that office has any view on the episode. This will also indicate the problems that customers will face. The business of banking has changed over time. Multiple-tasking by banks without the skills or, at least, the willingness to be honest in dealings, is an area where ‘regulators’ and ‘supervisors’ will have to warn the public about the consequences. 

MG Warrier

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Olive Oil from Italy? Beer from Germany? Think Again
Where in the world are these products really from?
 
Who doesn’t want olive oil from Italy and freshly baked bread to bring on, say, a summer picnic? Sounds yummy, right? Don’t forget to pick up some made in the USA spoons to eat your delicious fare. And you can wash it all down with some imported liquor. Well, not so fast. These advertised claims don’t seem to hold up.
 
 
Italian olive oil: According to the complaint, the companies label various olive oil products as “imported from Italy” when, in reality, the oil is not made from olives that are grown or pressed in Italy.
 
German beer: The company agreed to include the phrase “Brewed in USA” or “Product of USA” on the bottles, cans, packaging, and website for Beck’s Beer for a period of five years
 
Russian vodka: The country of origin is often a selling point on a product label, but a company’s desire to associate a brand with a particular country is really a business decision. And consumers should do their research to find out how much of the product really comes from that country so they can decide for themselves whether, well, it’s Russian vodka or not.
 
Kentucky bourbon: A class-action lawsuit was filed against The Bulleit Distilling Co for allegedly marketing red/orange label Bulleit Bourbon as being distilled, aged, and bottled in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky when, in reality, the company does not “currently” operate a distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and the bourbon is produced by Kirin Brewing Co.
 
Poland Spring bottled water: Many people drink bottled water assuming that it’s better than the water they can get from the tap. Most of the time, however, that’s not the case. Compared to bottled water, tap is more rigorously tested for safety, better for the environment, and costs up to 2,900 times less.
 
Freshly baked bread: Three class-action lawsuits were transferred to federal court in January 2015 against three different supermarket chains for allegedly falsely marketing bread as freshly made and made in the stores when the bread was actually made somewhere else, delivered to the stores frozen, and re-baked or partially baked at the store
 

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Transparency Program Obscures Pharma Payments to Nurses, Physician Assistants
New data on drug and device company payments to doctors largely excludes nurse practitioners and physician assistants, though they play an ever-larger role in health care. One advanced-practice nurse pleaded guilty last month to taking drug company kickbacks
 
This story was co-published with NPR's Shots blog.
 
A nurse practitioner in Connecticut pleaded guilty in June to taking $83,000 in kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for prescribing its high-priced drug to treat cancer pain. In some cases, she delivered promotional talks attended only by herself and a company sales representative.
 
But when the federal government released data Tuesday on payments by drug and device companies to doctors and teaching hospitals, the payments to nurse practitioner Heather Alfonso, 42, were nowhere to be found. 
 
That’s because the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act doesn’t require companies to publicly report payments to nurse practitioners or physician assistants, even though they are allowed to write prescriptions in most states.
 
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are playing an ever-larger role in the health care system. While registered and licensed practice nurses are not authorized to write prescriptions, those with additional training and advanced degrees often can. 
 
A ProPublica analysis of prescribing patterns in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D, shows that these two groups of providers wrote about 10 percent of the nearly 1.4 billion prescriptions in the program in 2013. They wrote 15 percent of all prescriptions nationwide (not only Medicare) in the first five months of the year, according to IMS Health, a health information company.
 
For some drugs, including narcotic controlled substances, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are among the top prescribers.
 
“Nurse practitioners see patients, order tests, recommend procedures and prescribe medications,” Dr. Walid Gellad, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and co-director of its Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, wrote in an email. “It seems straightforward to think that their relationships with the pharmaceutical and device industries are of as much relevance as physicians, dentists, chiropractors, etc.”
 
He added, “If the purpose of the act is to shine a light on the relationship between industry and the health care sector, then you’ve left out an important component of that sector.”
 
When the Sunshine Act was drafted, those involved say, nurse practitioners weren’t part of the discussion. “Physician groups were among the stakeholders who were very engaged,” said Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “Nursing groups weren’t part of the policy discussions and weren’t ultimately covered by the law.”
 
Still, Coukell said, “To the extent that a lot of prescribing now is done by health professionals who aren’t physicians, and a lot of marketing is directed at them, they ideally should also be part of the disclosure.”
 
Asked whether payments to these providers should be reported, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages the disclosure system, said: “Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are currently not covered recipients under the statute for Open Payments.”
 
A representative of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group, declined comment.
 
Although payments to nurse practitioners are not required to be reported under the law, a handful of companies did so anyway. Of the 606,000 providers who received payments in 2014, several hundred self-identified as nurse practitioners or physician assistants. The rest were doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors. (Some of the self-identified nurse practitioners and physician assistants actually appear to be doctors, but have misclassified themselves.)
 
Alfonso was employed as an advanced-practice nurse at Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby, Connecticut. An investigation revealed that she was a heavy prescriber of Subsys, an expensive drug used to treat cancer pain, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut said. Between January 2013 and March 2015, she wrote more than $1 million in Subsys prescriptions to Medicare patients alone, more than any other prescriber in Connecticut, prosecutors alleged.
 
“Interviews with several of Alfonso’s patients, who are Medicare Part D beneficiaries and who were prescribed the drug, revealed that most of them did not have cancer, but were taking the drug to treat their chronic pain,” the U.S. attorney’s
office said in a press release.
 
Prosecutors said Alfonso was paid as a promotional speaker by Subsys’ maker, Insys Therapeutics Inc., for more than 70 dinner programs at a rate of about $1,000 per event. “In many instances, the dinner programs were only attended by Alfonso and a sales representative for the drug manufacturer,” the U.S. attorney said in the release. “In other instances, the programs were attended by individuals, including office staff and friends, who did not have licenses to prescribe controlled substances. For the majority of these dinner programs, Alfonso did not give any kind of presentation about the drug at all.”
 
The charge against Alfonso carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled… Continue Reading…
 
Courtesy: ProPublica
 

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