‘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.’
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 indices — 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 US stock market than any time since the internet bubble.
Fuelled by three-year rallies in which Microsoft and Alphabet [formerly Google] doubled, Amazon.com tripled, and Facebook surged fivefold, computer and software stocks have increased to almost 21% of the S&P 500’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.
Most likely, a stock market bust. That’s what history suggests.
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 selloff 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 humour…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 world…living 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 3:00am 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.
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?’
‘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.’
For Markets and Money, Australia
From the Archives…
Jim Rickards’ Case against Gold
By Jim Rickards | 22 August, 2016