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3am at the Emergency Room

Aug 23, 2016


OUZILLY, France - 'There's a word for it,' said Elizabeth...

'When you just realise that there is nothing you can do. You feel a sense of relief, and peace. You just give up.

'That's the way I felt when I was going over the horse's head.'

Cavalry Honor

We are in the hospital at Montmorillon, sitting at Elizabeth's bedside. She was jumping a horse on Saturday and was thrown off.

Dizzy, disoriented, but in keeping with the honour of the cavalry, she got up, dusted herself off...and mounted her horse again.

Later, she collapsed in such pain that she lost consciousness and was taken by ambulance to the hospital, with her husband close behind.

We probably could have called in sick this morning. But there is not much to do in the waiting room of an emergency room; we might as well catch up on the financial news.

Alas, there is not much this time of year.

Last week, we reported that all three most widely watched US stock market indexes - the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq - had hit simultaneous highs. It hadn't happened since 1999.

Now, a Bloomberg headline tells us: 'Tech Dominates the S&P 500 Like No Time Since Dot-Com Bust'...

  • Don't look now, but technology companies are exerting more control over the U.S. stock market than any time since the Internet bubble.

    Fueled by three-year rallies in which Microsoft and Alphabet [formerly Google] doubled, tripled, and Facebook surged fivefold, computer and software stocks have increased to almost 21% of the S&P 500 Index's value, near a 15-year high.

Valuations are high too...

As we've been reporting, only three times in its history - in 1929, 2000, and 2007 - has the S&P 500 been more expensive relative to the past 10 years of earnings (the so-called CAPE ratio).

So, we're in rarely explored territory.

What next?

Most likely, a stock market bust. That's what history suggests.

But wait...

Never before have investors had so much support from the central banks.

It will probably result in more records broken - but only after a stock market sell-off causes the feds to panic.

No Broken Bones

Meanwhile, back at the hospital...

Fortunately, the X-rays show no broken bones or internal organ damage.

And Elizabeth has already recovered her sense of humor...if not her mobility.

Medical care here in France is almost free. It is a single-payer system. About 80% of all expenditures are covered by the government.

The French complain about it. But from our limited experience, it seems to work remarkably well.

France spends roughly 50% less of GDP on health care as the US, the world's highest spender. And the French have a longer life expectancy.

According to the World Health Organization, the French rank ninth in the to an average of 82.4 years of age. Americans, by comparison, rank 31st in the world (one place ahead of Cuba and one place behind Costa Rica). We live an average of 79.3 years.

We stayed in the emergency room until 3am on Saturday night.

It was not at all like the emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where so many shooting, stabbing, and beating cases are treated that the Army used to train its field doctors there.

Montmorillon is a small town. The hospital here is fairly new. It is clean, well-organised, and quiet. No sirens whined on Saturday night. No shooting victims. No doctors yelling orders to nurses and technicians.

Instead, it was very calm.

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State of the Art

There was only one other patient - an old man who had fallen from his bicycle.

He was dressed in shabby clothes. He was dirty. He talked almost constantly, often repeating himself. He sat on a gurney and got up occasionally to look out the door, holding his pants up as he walked.

'Did you have any alcohol before your accident?' the doctor asked.

'No...nothing...just a glass of wine.'

'Just one glass?'

'Well...a couple...'

'Only a couple?'

'I don't remember... I don't count them...'

The doctors and nurses are courteous and professional. Wires, screens, scanners - they work with all the paraphernalia of state-of-the-art medicine.

We were invited to stand behind the screen and watch as Elizabeth had her bones scanned. The scanner head was articulated so it could take pictures from different angles, as the patient lay immobile on the table.

We watched on the monitor. It was a relief to see that none were sticking out in inappropriate ways.

'We have a lot of riding schools in the area,' the technician confided.

'About once or twice a month, we bring in someone who has been roughed up by a horse. Most of them are young people. They recover quickly. With older people, it's a bit harder.'

Elizabeth grimaced...then smiled.

'Yes, a friend warned me that I should stop galloping and jumping. I probably should have listened.'

BILL BONNER Founder, Agora Inc

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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3 Responses to "3am at the Emergency Room"


Aug 24, 2016

In this age of digital media, option of soft copy through email should be available for overseas clientele. Infact you provide all of your bouquet of service through email. would appreciate if consider the option of pdf format.



Aug 23, 2016

Interesting and refreshing.Pl keep up the good work.



Aug 23, 2016

One thing I do not understand, why do people invest when fundamentals do not look good!!!
Maybe, I think this way just because I have very strong INTJ personality. Just kidding!!

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