- Three major medical breakthroughs, and when they’re coming
- Sci fi come to life in a headset: The year of virtual reality
- Bankruptcies ahead: Crude drags stocks down
- A glass-half-full (or -empty) assessment from the nation’s small-business owners
- A “victim” of the war on cash… reader takes issue with our Jefferson juxtaposition… an inquiry about “the ally who betrays us”… and more!
“We are entering a golden age of medicine more profound than at any other time in human history,” says our Stephen Petranek — as we unspool the next of the Agora Financial team’s predictions for 2016.
“We’re actually on the cusp of cures for cancer, heart disease and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s that we could only dream of a mere decade ago. These are the diseases of aging, the ones that finally kill us.”
The breakthroughs, he says, will come in three stages. One of them is still several years out. The next is much closer. And the third is becoming reality right now.
Let’s start out with the longest-term breakthrough — stem cells.
When scientists master stem cell technology, “we’ll not only see miraculous cures for heart disease,” Stephen says, “but we’ll be able to repair and rebuild our organs, even cure the thousands of cases of paralysis that occur each year from spinal cord breaks.”
While the biggest breakthroughs are still several years away, Stephen’s readers are already up 280% on the undisputed leader in the field. We’ll withhold the name today out of respect to his paying subscribers to Breakthrough Technology Alert.
Nearer term, there’s gene editing in the works. We told you last month about the CRISPR technology that was the hot topic at a major scientific conference in Washington.
“Our knowledge in this field is growing exponentially,” Stephen explains. “The idea is that if you have a disease like Type 1 diabetes, or the gene mutations that could cause breast cancer, or hemophilia, or Parkinson’s, among many others, then we will be able to change the mutated genes you inherited and replace them with good copies.
“We’ve been trying to do this for more than 25 years unsuccessfully, but we’re beginning to master this process.”
Here again, Stephen sees one company leading the way. “Imagine watching your otherwise healthy 7-year-old child, or grandchild, slowly go blind by the time he or she is a teenager.” This company has a fix for that. Its scientists have found a way “to use a virus to change the mutated genes on a child’s retina so that the child can see again. It’s really miraculous.”
Stephen expects FDA approval this year — which would undoubtedly prove a major profit catalyst. Children could be cured of their blindness diseases come next year.
But the big “right now” breakthrough for 2016 is cancer immunotherapy.
“The beginning of this golden age,” says Stephen, “can be seen in the many immunological cures for cancer that are in late-stage FDA trials. Some have already been approved for use.
“We’re learning how to use our own bodies, our own immune systems, to not just treat cancers but to cure them. The director of the Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Center, where bone marrow transplants were invented, has stated that he thinks we’ll be able to cure most cancers within 10 years using immunological therapies, and I think he’s right.”
As we said last month, former president Jimmy Carter is among those already benefiting. In August, he disclosed his cancer diagnosis, saying his fate “is in the hands of God.” By December, doctors said he was cancer-free. It was immunotherapy that made it possible.
Patients are benefiting… and early investors are profiting. It’s not too late to climb aboard. Click here and you’ll learn how this breakthrough could turn into 1,782% gains over the next two years.
“I believe 2016 is going to be the breakout year for a tech that’s called virtual reality,” says Ray Blanco, the other member of our science-and-wealth team.
“You’ve probably heard of VR. It’s been the subject of science fiction films and stories almost for decades at this point, going back at least as far as the early ’90s. Virtual reality is basically the creation of a completely immersive sensory experience where a computer user kind of unplugs from this reality and exists in a digital one.”
And it was the hot thing last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — where Ray was in attendance. “VR was everywhere,” he tells us. “There were huge lines at the Oculus booth as throngs of people waited to demo the company’s Rift headset. That headset is now available for pre-order, with shipments beginning at the end of March.”
Workout of the future: The Oculus Rift, in tandem with a “gaming treadmill.”
Oculus is the property of Facebook. And it’s not the only big name moving into the VR space, says Ray. “We’ve got Microsoft, we’ve got Samsung, we’ve got Sony, we’ve got HTC and others that are all announcing that they’re launching their own VR headsets and platforms for their respective platforms.
“And we’re also seeing a frenzy of venture capital activity in Silicon Valley, with a very great many imaginative startups trying to capture a piece of what’s going to be, I think, a very fast-growing, very large technology market.”
How to play it? Find a company that has advanced graphic-processing capabilities. “A headset needs to have several times the graphics processing power behind it as even a high-resolution screen when gamers play a realistic video game.” Readers of Technology Profits Confidential picked up Ray’s favorite name in the space nearly a year ago. They’re up 48%, and he says it’s still a buy.
To the markets, where crude is once again the big story. West Texas Intermediate is down more than 3.5% as we write, plumbing fresh 12-year lows at $30.27 a barrel.
There’s no one driver behind the action today, just a dirge of bad news. BP says it plans to cut 4,000 jobs. And an outfit called Wolfe Research says up to one-third of U.S. gas and oil producers could be in line for bankruptcy and restructuring over the next 18 months. What was it Jim Rickards has been saying about junk bonds in the energy sector for a year now?
Stocks have given up early gains as oil continues its plunge toward $30. As we write, the S&P 500 is barely in positive territory, at 1,926.
Earnings season got off to a sour start with Alcoa; it delivered a “beat” on earnings, but revenue missed expectations. AA shares are down 9%, to a level last seen in early 2009. Not coincidentally, aluminum prices are at levels last seen in early 2009.
Treasuries are rallying, sending yields down; the yield on a 10-year note sits at 2.13%, the lowest since late October.
Gold surrendered the $1,100 level after we went to virtual press yesterday, and it’s slipping further today — the bid down to $1,088.
Small-business owners are of two minds as 2015 turns to 2016, according to the latest Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business.
On the one hand, they’re feeling gloomy about profits and their expectations for the economy. On the other hand, they still plan on new capital spending and hiring for new positions.
The Optimism Index for December clocked in at 95.2 — up from November’s 94.8. That’s still well below the 42-year average of 98.
No doubt it helps that last month, Congress made permanent a $500,000 deduction for capital spending. “However, prospects for any other substantive policy changes in 2016 are not good,” says NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.
In the “single most important problem” part of the survey, taxes and regulations still take the No. 1 and 2 spots. But “quality of labor” has moved solidly into No. 3, with 15% of survey respondents saying they have openings for which they can’t find qualified workers.
Frontline report from the war on cash: A rapper from Atlanta says police handcuffed him and held him at gunpoint because he withdrew $200,000 from the bank.
Blac Youngsta — birth name Sam Benson — says he went to a Wells Fargo in the affluent Buckhead neighborhood last Friday, withdrawing the 200 large to buy a Mercedes. “Where I come from,” he told the local NBC station, “we don’t believe in taking checks to the car lot. We take cash money.
“I come out the bank, I see the police, I’m walking to my car, I see one of them point to my bag like, ‘Him,’” the rapper said. “They come bum-rushing me at the car, put me on the ground, putting guns to my head.
“I’m like, ‘What I’d do?’” he continued. “A lady was like I’m not supposed to have $200,000 on me. I’m like, ‘I’m a millionaire. How can I not have $200,000 on me?’”
Casualty in the war on cash?
[Photo from Blac Youngsta’s Facebook page]
Police say it was a case of mistaken identity: Someone at the bank called 911 to say a man was trying to cash a forged check for $24,000. Suspect descriptions got messed up. Soon as police realized their mistake, they let Benson go. A short time later, the real suspect was arrested.
And now the twist: Yesterday, Wells Fargo said Blac Youngsta wasn’t in the bank on Friday, didn’t withdraw any money and doesn’t have an account there.
What gives with the story he told the TV station? A police spokesman says, “They gave him a microphone and he did what he did.”
Oy. With friends like Blac Youngsta, the critics of racial profiling and police militarization don’t need any enemies.
Anyway, we knew something was fishy about the story when we first saw it: When does a bank allow a customer to withdraw $200,000 in cash? What bank even has $200,000 in cash on hand in the first place?
“Ouch — you had me at ‘Don’t kill your customers,’” a reader writes after seeing Chris Campbell’s essay in our Saturday edition.
“Great logical lesson for the government employees… yet it still won’t seep into their heads. It’s too logical.”
“Putting Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power into the same sentence as Thomas Jefferson,” writes a reader after our recent discussion of the 2011 Libya regime change, “is like putting Elmer Fudd, Alfred E. Neuman and Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan from Friends in the same ethical room with Immanuel Kant, Isaac Newton and Niels Bohr for a discussion. Really got the cogs in my dissonance really messed up.
“If I may kindly ask, keep techno-whiz kid Hillary, modern-day Attila Rice and Samantha ‘I’m Really Into’ Power out of the same sentence that has anyone with integrity and intellectual honesty associated with them. Just sayin’.”
The 5: OK, so we were engaged in a bit of hyperbole when we said that terrible trio figured a bunch of “budding Thomas Jeffersons” would take over the place after Gaddafi was gone.
By most accounts, those three were the most gung-ho for the war in Libya. By several accounts, the uniformed leaders of the military opposed it.
And The Washington Times — for all the Benghazi nonsense it’s published — ran a blockbuster series a year ago about how the Joint Chiefs of Staff opened back-channel communications to Gaddafi’s son in hopes of averting the war.
The lies that preceded the Libya war — e.g., Gaddafi issuing sexual performace drugs to his soldiers to carry out mass rape — were just as outrageous as the lies preceding the Iraq War. Mrs. Clinton bought into the Iraq lies, but she retailed the Libya lies herself.
(Not that we have any dog in the presidential race, we hasten to add.)
“Stop teasing!” a reader implores. “Please, WHO are the candidates for ‘the ally that betrays us’?”
The 5: Ah, yes: Jim Rickards has been hinting at this for the better part of a week. “Another surprise attack against the U.S. dollar is coming. And soon, too,” he said.
“This attack won’t be from China. Instead, this one will hurt the worst — coming from a sworn ‘ally’ of Americans.”
We’re not at liberty to say just yet. But we promise all will be revealed before next Monday. Stay tuned.
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. If you don’t see this shocking story immediately, you could lose out on a massive refund this year… and the IRS won’t tell you about it.
That’s because they’ve concocted 84 ways to “steal” your refund that could leave you helpless come tax time.
Some experts estimate those affected could lose up to a million dollars over the next 20 years.
Even if you aren’t being targeted, you need to know what the IRS is up to immediately. Read the full story…