Thursday, August 20, 2015

Curing Cancer

I don't want the title of this post to sound trite - but I've been thinking a lot about cancer the last couple of days. Recently, my family and I went to the lake. There, I was internally reminded to apply sunscreen on my balding head. Turns out, the day after going, I wished I had reapplied a few times. When I was 17, my dad began to receive treatment for some spots on his already bald head and, since that time, he has continually been poked and prodded by a host of dermatologists checking for cancer cells. I don't think this is uncommon - most everyone can identify someone close that is going through, or has gone through cancer.  A panel of cancer researchers have predicted that 41% of Americans will get cancer at some point. These odds are stacked against us all and they further emphasize the quickened need to find a cure. Unfortunately, I don't conduct that kind of research and can't estimate a time frame for finding a cure. However, I will predict that time to a cure is inversely related to the presence of well-functioning capital markets.

Did I just assert that financial markets will cure cancer? Yes, indirectly. The most important by product of well-functioning financial markets is that they provide a proper allocation of investment capital. They further provide large returns to the most profitable investments. Therefore, financial markets - i.e. debt and/or equity markets - produce the proper incentive for drug companies, that are so often vilified, to invest in additional R&D in attempt to find a cure as fast as possible. Why would drug companies race and compete with one another in order to find a cure? The answer to that is simple.... To make truck loads on money.

Did I just assert that the motive behind the eventual cure for cancer will be profit?  Yes, directly! Surprisingly, drug companies are not in the business of curing diseases strictly because of altruism. And, as someone who is balding prematurely and will inevitably have sun spots on my head due to my recent trip to the lake, I'm grateful for the lack of altruism by these companies. Because the profit motive will always be stronger than the altruistic motive (sad as it may seem), we are more likely to see a cure for cancer in our lifetime.

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