Hong Kong To Hedge Its Bets

Grind for September 14th
“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
– Bertrand Russell


The Headline

The rate of uninsured Americans is increasing

The Grind

For the first time in more than 10 years, the rate of Americans without health insurance is increasing.

According to federal data, the number of uninsured Americans increased from 25.6 million people (7.9%) in 2017 to 27.5 million people (8.5%) in 2018.

That’s about the same number of people who lost Medicaid coverage during the same time period.

“As the economy continues to slowly improve, people’s incomes were maybe going up a bit and that was enough to pull them out of Medicaid but not enough for job-based coverage,” explains Rachel Garfield, an executive at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Details

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the increase in uninsured Americans comes “despite a growing economy with strong wage growth and thousands of new jobs.”

Factors contributing to the increase include:

— Changes to Medicaid eligibility requirements in some states

— Higher monthly premiums

— The elimination of the individual mandate

From 2017 to 2018, the average premium for healthcare plans purchased through the ACA marketplace increased by 34%.

“It’s just too expensive,” says Grace-Marie Turner, head of the Galen Institute. “People are siphoning themselves off.”

Young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 are the most likely to be uninsured.

The Takeaway

With healthcare a key issue in the upcoming election, we can expect Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to portray the coverage decrease as one of the reasons we need to switch to a government-run system.

The ideal response from GOP candidates will be to blame high premiums and lost coverage on the ACA and fight for a replacement that produces lower costs through competition.

Taking Bets

The Headline

Hong Kong offers to buy the London Stock Exchange

The Grind

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) this week announced its offer to purchase the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for $36.6 billion in cash and stock.

The unsolicited offer comes at a bad time for both governments, as Hong Kong struggles with widespread civil unrest and London nears the Brexit deadline without a deal.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, “A combination with the London Stock Exchange would create a global leader in capital flows and financial data by connecting developed and emerging markets in the East and West.” The move would also derail the LSE’s plans to acquire Refinitiv Holdings Ltd. for $14.5 billion in stock.

The Details

SEHK Chief Executive Charles Li on Wednesday said the offer has nothing to do with the protests in Hong Kong. “You don’t choose timing, you choose what is the right thing to do…This has nothing to do with Hong Kong’s situation.”

London said it would consider Hong Kong’s offer, but remains committed to the Refinitiv deal.

For the deal to work, Hong Kong would have to guarantee that all sensitive information would be safe from Chinese interference.

“Any regulator would need to think carefully about the implications of the political situation and Beijing’s increasing control over Hong Kong,” says David Webb, a private investor in Hong Kong. “This strikes me as an aspirational proposal that probably won’t go through.”

Did you know… The first computer mouse was invented by Doug Engelbart in around 1964 and was made of wood.