As far as the first assumption is concerned, it’s something natural for absolute majority of people: we all tend to take too many things for granted, including our health and excellent body shape. If you are one of those people, there’s a very easy way for you to dispel this illusion. Just compare the ideal human forms you see, let’s say, in Hollywood movies, with the bodies of the folks in your favorite Thimothy’s or Taco Bell or McDonalds or with the bodies of people queuing up at Disney World. See the difference?
As for the second assumption, to a surprising degree, there’s good news: it’s never too late to turn your life around as long as you don’t wait for the next opportune moment (like next Monday) and start NOW. Human body has an amazing ability to heal itself, provided the underlying damage is not too great.
Numerous medical researches have found that dropping negative habits and introducing timely changes into your lifestyle will undoubtedly lead to big improvements.
Doctors believe that about 70% of all chronic deseases – from diabetes and high blood pressure to heart desease and even some cancers – can be warded off with some timely, sensible changes in lifestyle.
Consider these remarkable medical research findings:
Women who consume as little as 225 g of fish a week cut their risk of suffering a stroke almost in half.
Eating more fruits, vegetables and fiber changes the blood’s sensitivity to insulin within two weeks, helping decrease the risk of diabetes almost immediately.
If hitherto sedentary 40-year-old women start walking briskly for half an hour a day, four days a week, they will enjoy almost the same low risk of hart attack as women who have been exercising conscientiously their entire lives.
The very day you quit smoking, the carbon monoxide levels in your body drop dramatically. Within a week your blood becomes less sticky and your risk of dying suddenly from a heart attack starts to decline. Four or five years later, the chance you will have a heart attack falls to nearly that of someone who has never smoked.
When you come to think of all the distructive and often irreparable effects that these unhealthy habits have on human bodies, it’s only natural to start wondering why people keep doing it to themselves? However, indisputable facts remain:
Nearly 50 million Americans continue to smoke.
More than 60% of Americans are obese or overweight (which is a dramatic increase from 47% only 20 years ago).
One in four Americans gets no regular exercise at all.
The question why people knowingly indulge in unhealthy habits has been in the spotlight of health experts and psychologists for a good number of years, and they have come up with a few important findings. We’d like to bring to your attention one of them.
Psychologists believe that behind most of the bad things we do to our bodies as adults are two main ideas that we carry with us all the way from childhood:
We fondly assume that we are indestructible.
We are sure that whatever damage we inflict on our delicate biological systems can be undone later, as soon as we finally decide to turn our lives around and become a new person starting next Monday.
Every single day terrifying facts about human health and declining life expectancy hit the headlines of major newspapers and magazines all over the world. I believe, you too have come across at least one of this kind of headings in the past few days:
It has been estimated that almost three-quarters of the American population is overweight.
High-Fat Diets account for 60% of cancer deaths in women and 40% of cancer deaths in men.
About 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, 12 million have coronary heart disease and 7 million heart attacks and almost 5 million strokes are reported each year. Almost 1 million Americans die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) each year, which is about 2500 deaths EACH DAY).
Obesity is a direct cause of about 20-25% of the health care expenditures related to heart disease.
Smoking kills 152,000 women every year.
The sad truth is that in most cases the root of all evil is in bad, unhealthy habits like eating all the wrong things and eating too much, drinking too much, smoking, sleeping too little, exercising too little if at all, worrying too much, relaxing too rarely, etc.
As pernicious as this may sound, the very fact that it has a common name, ?window dressing,? implies that it is a practice well known to executives and sophisticated investors, specifically the type of investors most likely to react to quarterly reports. The risk that does not appear on the statement is already known to large investors
The fact that the SEC is trying to portray what had become standard acceptable accounting procedures as toxic in one or two isolated cases rather than admit that most heavily financialized firms engage in the practice betrays a latent desire to intervene in markets in ways that cannot be defended candidly. The situation remains clear as something that sophisticated investors knew already, and it has become a way for the SEC to get involved more intrusively in corporate accounting and justify economic intervention for the sake of regulation and to the detriment of shareholders, who will bear the brunt of the additional expenses as the lost profits pass to investors.
In the past several weeks, the SEC has attempted to single out certain key firms on Wall Street like Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and others that took recovery funds as having engaged in deceitful accounting with a practice known as a ?Repo 105 transaction.? When testifying before the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker testified that, ?based on the requests [made to 19 key banks about repo transactions], no information has come to our attention that would lead the staff to conclude that inappropriate practices were widespread.?
But, the Wall Street Journal reported that the vilified practice was really just standard form on the Street.
?Three big banks ? Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc. ? are among the most active at temporarily shedding debt just before reporting their finances to the public, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows. The practice, known as end-of-quarter ?window dressing? on Wall Street, suggests that the banks are carrying more risk most of the time than their investors or customers can easily see. This activity has accelerated since 2008, when the financial crisis brought actions like these under greater scrutiny, according to the analysis. The Journal reported last month that 18 large banks, as a group, had routinely reduced their short-term borrowings in this way.?
Dry as this may sound, what it means is that the SEC is now telling investors two things: investment-grade cash must be very liquid to be safe, and government Treasuries are one of the only safe and liquid investments. But the industry response remains abundantly clear: when ultra-low risk funds with expected returns in the range of 0.18% drop below $1 per share, it shows distaste for the product. Likewise, Vanguard has stopped offering many of its funds for reasons of profitability. Many of the remaining funds presently operate at a loss as managers have lost the flexibility to push for higher yields.
So, every savvy investor, if offered a higher safe return elsewhere, will pull his cash from these funds, and the industry has obliged. For the past decade, high-interest savings accounts have grown in popularity, and at present, most of them offer returns ten times greater than the money market funds, and the savings accounts come with FDIC insurance. The returns are still a pittance, but for high-balance and risk-averse clients, the switch will occur.
The snafu for the industry comes from the nature of the firms to which and from which capital will flow. Liquid capital will leave brokerages and go to discount banks often owned by credit card companies. The problem enters in that large banks with large capitalization requirements like Citibank, Wells Fargo, and Chase will lose reserves to companies that do not have problems meeting regulatory requirements. In short, the SEC regulations not only decrease an investor?s potential cash returns, they likewise push capital from the institutions that need it the most to remain globally competitive.
Thanks to the recent swathe of banking regulation, investors can expect the money market funds associated with their brokerage accounts to become less and less temping as cash management products, with disastrous consequences for the system as a result. At the moment, these funds serve as a place to park uninvested funds while looking for an appropriate opportunity or as a longer-term location to store cash as a risk hedge in a larger portfolio plan. Most brokerage clients might not even consider it an investment; thanks to automatic sweeps of cash in accounts, clients can earn interest on their uninvested balances.
As anybody with such an account can attest, the returns have tanked in the past decade, and thanks to investors? friends at the SEC, they stand only to drop farther. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, ?under the new rules, established by the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, money funds must hold more liquid assets and limit their investments to only the highest-quality securities. In addition, they must reduce the average maturity of the securities they hold.? More specifically, a certain portion of the fund portfolio must be convertible to cash in one business day (10%), and another portion must either mature in less than 60 days or be convertible to cash in a week or less (30%).