By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Most people think that finance is primarily related to how much money you have. That is not true. It is much more about how you feel about how much money you have on an emotional level.

There are some individuals who have a lot of money, but still feel that it is not enough.

There are others that brag about how much money they have because they see it as a status symbol to make them look good. People buy expensive things like cars to show off their wealth. All of these things are more emotional than they are actually financial.

The media often reports on what is happening on Wall Street. Recently some of the major stock indexes have hit new highs. The evening news announces that as if it is a big thing. The goal is to make people feel good about their money.

However, every time they hit a new high, there are millions of viewers who are out of work during the pandemic.

There are many businesses that are having financial trouble. One might ask how can some news be good and other news be bad.

The reason is simple. Wall Street statistics have little relationship to the average person. It is true that many people own some stocks in their 401(k) plan.  However, those holdings are insignificant in the overall scheme of things.

The top 10 percent of wage earners own 84 percent of the stocks in the U.S. Therefore, Wall Street results pretty much affect that top 10 percent. The next 10 percent of wage earners own another 9.3 percent of stocks. That makes Wall Street news of some interest to them as well.

However the other 80 percent of the population shares the remaining 6.7 percent. Thus for 80 percent of the population what happens on Wall Street is of little real financial consequence.

That means for most of us, there is little reason to be happy or sad about what happens in the stock market. It is a lot more important to spend time looking at our individual financial situation.

Those who are unemployed gain no benefit from a rising market. Those whose businesses are in trouble get little benefit from a rising market.

When we look at our finances emotions always play some kind of role. We need to realize that those emotions should be based upon our real situation.

They should not be based upon what is happening on Wall Street unless the individual happens to be in the top 20 percent of wage earners.


New COVID cases had continued to be between 32,000 and 54,000 since August 16th. However, the number dropped to 29,000 on September 7th and 25,000 on September 8th. 

Those were the first two days below 30,000 since June 16th. The last doubling of cases was in a 41-day period. The doubling before that was in 45 days.

We now stand at 44 days and are nowhere close to doubling. So even that parameter suggests that there has been a slowdown since the July wave of cases.

Some rumors never die. There are still people spreading the false rumor that there is vast over counting of COVID related deaths.

The CDC continues to track excess deaths in 2020. They started publishing statistics on July 15th. They last updated their numbers on Sept. 2nd.

They looked at how many people died over the last few years. They compared that to expected deaths in 2020.

As of Sept. 2nd about 200,000 more people died this year than in a typical year. That is pretty close to the actual number of COVID deaths.

The source of the new rumor is another CDC report. They looked at death certificates and found that in 6 percent of COVID death certificates COVID was the only diagnosis listed. People have misinterpreted that. That is because they understand nothing about death certificates. Death certificates list the primary cause of death first. They then list other conditions the patients have.

We know that individuals with other conditions like hypertension and diabetes are more likely to die from COVID infections. Those conditions are listed on the death certificates as well. It doesn’t mean the patient died from them. It simply means that they were present.

Those individuals would not have died from their diabetes or hypertension in 2020 if they had not caught COVID.

COVID killed them.

The only thing that the 6 percent figure means is that 6 percent of the COVID deaths were in completely healthy people. Therefore, you can still die from it even without an underlying condition.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the ways we have improved COVID treatment over time. One of those was the suggestion that inexpensive steroids might be helpful.

Last week a study was released about that. What we know is that the sickest patients with COVID have a hyperactive immune reaction to the virus. It has been referred to as an “immune storm.”

Steroids help block our immune system. Apparently in this group of patients steroids appear to be beneficial in reducing mortality. They have no effect on milder cases.

As a matter of fact, they have the potential to shut off a person’s immune system that might actually be fighting the disease in those mild cases.

The bottom line is that steroids are beneficial to critically ill hospital patients and apparently offer little benefit to others with COVID infection.

Covax is a World Health Organization (WHO) plan to address distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.

So far 170 countries have signed up for it. They include Japan and the European Union. The idea is to develop a plan to find the best new COVID-19 vaccine and distribute it fairly around the world.

The United States has declined to join. They actually pulled out of WHO recently.

They do not want to support a plan created by WHO. This essentially is a gamble.

The U.S. is betting that an American manufactured vaccine will be the safest and most effective.

If they bet correctly, they will have first crack at using it. If they bet incorrectly, we could be looking at a long waiting list to get an effective vaccine after the other 170 countries get theirs.

If, as I suspect, Chinese manufactured Coronovac turns out to be the best vaccine, it might mean we would have a problem getting it.

So far we have not done well handling the virus. There is not a lot to suggest that we are going to be better than everyone else at developing a vaccine.

So the gamble may not pay off.