It's a Roller Coaster - Down & Up
Feb 7, 2018

LEAD STORY

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied Tuesday and shot up 568 points, a day after it plunged a record 1,175 points. The late afternoon rally on Tuesday came after the market initially plunged over 500 points with the Dow fluctuating 1,167 points throughout the day. Cryptocurrencies were also affected on Monday, with Bitcoin briefly dropping below $6,000 for the first time since mid-November, but then came back on Tuesday after US regulators addressed members of the Senate on cryptocurrency.

 

 

ONE MORE TIME - CRYPTOCURRENCY...

In simple terms - it's a form of digital money that is designed to be secure and, in many cases, anonymous. It's a currency associated with the internet that uses cryptography, the process of converting legible information into an almost uncrackable code, to track purchases and transfers. The first decentralized cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which was created in 2009 (yeah, it's been around for that long), and there are now more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies available on the internet.

 

CRYPTOCURRENCY GOING MAINSTREAM?

Until recently, banks, brokerages, and exchanges had largely steered clear of it, but soaring prices of digital coins have piqued investor interest. As major financial institutions start to weave themselves into the cryptocurrency market, they are navigating the patchwork of cryptocurrency rules. The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission addressed a Senate committee yesterday stating there is potential within blockchain technology and cryptocurrency but it's in need of more policing. They were optimistic they have the regulatory oversight needed for enforcement but they don't want to do anything to hamper the development of this technology.

 

GLOBAL

Currently, countries across the globe are handling cryptocurrency differently. South Korea's new cryptocurrency rules that just came into effect this week tackle anonymity and money laundering. China has taken steps to curb cryptocurrency trading, and recent moves may eliminate trading in the country completely, but Singapore will allow it. India will be taking steps to penalize crypto payments but will also set up a government panel to examine unregulated exchanges. The UK and EU are planning a crackdown on cryptocurrency trading over concerns of money laundering and tax evasion. As you see, it's a little all over the place. However, since it's been estimated that cyberattackers managed to steal close to $400 million from investors participating in cryptocurrency since 2015, we going to keep an eye on this and how future regulations can affect business.

Rail Transportation

POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL

Although railroads note that derailment rates have fallen in recent years and that the train accident rate is down 44% since 2000, there have been a number of fatal train accidents since early December for various reasons. Railroad companies have until the end of 2018 to implement positive train control (PTC) with potential for an additional two year delay. Passed in 2008, PTC is a system that combines GPS, wireless radio, and computers to monitor trains and stop them from colliding, derailing, or speeding. PTC was designed to prevent the human errors behind roughly 40% of train accidents.

 

SLEEP CONCERNS

The NTSB reported yesterday that two recent New York City area commuter accidents were caused by the engineers who suffered from undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that's been linked to preventable accidents. The Obama administration had been drafting a rule requiring train operators, as well as truck and bus drivers be screened and treated for obstructive sleep apnea. The rule was backed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but the Trump administration withdrew that proposed rule last summer stating instead of mandating it at the federal level, it would leave it up to the individual railroad operators to test for this condition. 

Making Our Way Around the Country

WISCONSIN

A recent decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that temporary staffing employees who are injured while working for their host employer have the right to either claim workers' compensation benefits or to file a tort claim against their host employer. Previously, the only option for the injured worker was filing a workers' compensation claim under the Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Act's exclusive remedy provision. This decision exposes employers to tort liability and effects liability insurance carriers to unanticipated risks. It's likely this decision will be appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We'll keep you posted.

 

MEDICAID

Amidst the loom of a government shutdown, an inclusion of language in the House of Representatives' continuing resolution calls to repeal Medicaid third party liability policies that have the effect of eliminating the incentive for beneficiaries to pursue and settle third party insurance claims. The Medicare Advocacy Recovery Coalition (MARC), of which GB is a member, advocated for these reforms, which support Medicaid beneficiaries and remove barriers to reaching a settlement when another party is liable for their health care expenses. The government needs to pass a budget bill by Feb. 8 to avoid another federal shutdown.

 

OLYMPICS

In case you missed the 1,000s of commercials, the Winter Olympics begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Thursday, Feb. 8. With 77% of tickets sold, despite low temps, Pyeongchang is predicted to enjoy $40 billion in tourism spending in the next decade thanks to the Games. With 102 events, I'm happy my DVR records up to four channels. Good luck to all the athletes across the globe! (ICYMI: check out this commercial featuring Paralympian Lauren Woolstencroft - amazing.)

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