The Week on Wall Street
News of a new, highly virulent COVID variant triggered a market sell-off on Friday, sending stocks into negative territory for the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 1.97%, while the S&P 500 slumped 2.20%. The Nasdaq Composite index lost 3.52% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, dropped 1.68%.
FACT OF THE WEEK
One of the most celebrated icons of winter is the snowman. With another winter upon us, here are 5 interesting facts about the snowman:
A Close-to-Perfect Snowman Construction Plan was Published in the Journal Industrial Engineer
Several years ago, a group of engineering technology students and faculty at Bluefield State College located in West Virginia (where snow falls aplenty) put together a plan to design a "perfect" snowman. The idea behind the project was to show how even simple child's play could be taken and be applied to simple engineering principles. According to the paper, the most important factor in building this perfect snowman is finding the right snow. The snow ideally should be around -1 degrees Celsius (about 30 degrees Fahrenheit) so that it has enough strength to stick together but isn't completely powdery and impossible to form. The plan then goes into precise detail and measurements on how to go about constructing this "perfect" snowman.
The World's Tallest Snowman/Snow-woman was Built in Maine, USA, and Used Trees for its Arms
In 2008, the people of Bethel, Maine, made a colossal effort to top their previous record holding snowman, "Angus," and built "Olympia" as a result. At over 122 feet tall, she still holds the world record today for the tallest snowman in the world. Made with over 13,000,000 pounds of snow, she required materials such as tires, full size trees, and wreaths for her face and buttons.
The World's Smallest Snowman was just 0.01mm Tall
In 2009 , the scientists at the National Physical Laboratory in West London used the tools and knowledge at their disposal to create the tiniest snowman known to mankind. Their creation stood at only 0.01mm tall, and used technology that was created for nano-particle manipulation.
Japan holds the World Record for the Most Snowmen Built in One Hour
On the Zuriyama Observation Field located in Akabira, Hokkaido, Japan, 2,036 snowmen were constructed by hand in only one hour. A total of 1,406 people took part in building the snowmen, showing the never-ending efficiency of team work.
Locals in Zürich, Switzerland, Explode a Snowman to Predict the Arrival of Spring
This tradition involves stuffing an 11-foot tall snowman with straw, cotton, and dynamite, and seeing how long it takes for the snowman's head to explode (some people even place bets). According to the legend, the sooner the explosion, the quicker spring will arrive. It's kind of like Groundhog Day, with just much more...excitement.
Investors woke up on Black Friday to reports of a mutated COVID variant, reviving fears of potential new economic restrictions. U.S. markets were not alone, as stock prices in Europe and Asia also tumbled.
Friday’s market action saw declines in economic reopening stocks, such as travel and leisure, cyclicals, financials, and energy, while some of the so-called stay-at-home stocks and pharmaceutical stocks experienced gains. Yields retreated amid a flight to safety and the potential that this turn of events may lead to a slowdown in the Fed’s bond tapering program and a delay in contemplated rate hikes. Prior to Thanksgiving the markets had been choppy, but largely trending higher for the week, while yields had moved up with the re-nomination of Fed Chair Powell.
President Biden announced last week that he was re-nominating Jerome Powell to serve another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, ending market speculation surrounding his re-nomination.
President Biden cited the need for stability and independence in a time of uncertainty in making his decision. While Powell’s re-nomination faced resistance, Senate approval appears likely. Coincident with Powell’s re-nomination, President Biden also nominated Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, to serve as vice chair. Investors can soon expect further Fed nominations by the Biden Administration to fill vacancies created by term expirations and retirements.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
The No Surprises Act, which takes effect in 2022, will greatly reduce the number of unanticipated out-of-network medical bills that many people are hit with during emergency medical treatment.
Here’s what people need to know about the new protections.
Americans will soon be protected from many unexpected medical bills, thanks to a new law that goes into effect Jan. 1.
That legislation, called the No Surprises Act, will greatly reduce the number of unanticipated out-of-network bills that many people are hit with during emergency medical treatment. For example, if a patient finds themselves at a hospital where the anesthesiologist doesn’t participate in their plan’s network, they can be faced with costs in the thousands of dollars even though they had little or no choice in the matter.
Some insurers offer partial out-of-network coverage, but leave the person on the hook for the remaining tab, a practice called balance billing. Other insurers force patients to shoulder the entire uncovered costs.
Starting in 2022, there will be only a few cases in which a patient can get an out-of-network bill for a medical visit that they believed was covered by their insurer. (Those exceptions include ground ambulances, any non-emergency service treatments at an urgent care facility and if you’ve given informed and written consent for an uncovered treatment.) In addition, if your doctor moves out-of-network, the law requires that your insurer provide you with at least 90 days of coverage at your previous in-network rate.
The new policy covers nearly all private insurers, as well as plans on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. Balance billing is already banned under Medicare and Medicaid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working to create a complaint process for violations of this law.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Have a great week!