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Archive for 2009

Bernanke on 60 Minutes

Videos courtesy of Mark Thoma at Economist’s View. 

Bernanke on 60 Minutes


[Ben Bernanke's Greatest Challenge]





America Will Yield To AIG’s Demands Or Else…

Angry yet? Terrorists are rotting our country from within; AIG gets the prize for the most successful terrorist organization to date.

America Will Yield To AIG’s Demands Or Else…

Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

ter⋅ror⋅ist  [ter-er-ist]

–noun
1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
3. (formerly) a member of a political group in Russia aiming at the demoralization of the government by terror.
4. an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.
5. American International Group

Forget al-Qaida – the world’s most successful terrorist organization, by a margin of roughly $170 billion dollars, exists right here in the U.S… in fact we will make it easy for the FBI – its terrorist boot camp is located at 70 Pine Street, New York, NY 10270, and they even answer the phone at 212-770-7000. The organization in question, is of course, known as American International Group. And while the U.S. has claimed it will not negotiate with any ad hoc or designated terrorist organization ever, it has time after time succumbed to every single whim and demand that AIG has raised, from shelving out hard-earned taxpayer money to make sure the company does not disappear in the gravitational vortex of its derivatives Frankenstein, to protecting its cabal of crony amateur terrorists in waiting (read CDS counterparties who benefited from every bailout, for a complete list see here), to its employees who mindnumbingly keep receiving bonus after bonus payment. And if America was any country in Europe, with a touchy-feely sense of ethical proprietery, this article in the New York Times would have resulted in mass looting.

As the MSM disclosed a few days ago, Geithner, in a horrendous attempt to play Robin Hood for the masses pressured AIG to cut the $9.6 million its top 50 executives were going to receive. While that bit of information was purposefully circulated, the salvo that came from the NY Times was a bit of a fly in Geithner’s ointment. Turns out AIG is paying out $165 million in "retention" bonuses over the next few days, with a range of


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No Going Back

Are we in the grips of a pandemic of fear? If so, history suggests there’s no quick way out, and medical science suggests there’s no miracle cure. – Ilene

No Going Back

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

One unfortunate consequence of years of hubristically misguided monetary and fiscal policies is the popular notion that if you dig deep enough into a bag of economic tricks, you will invariably find "solutions" to whatever challenges come our way.

Yet what people often forget is that when the element of time has played a major role in spawning broad-based economic and financial woes, history suggests that the passage of days, months, and years is invariably a feature of any turnaround.

In other words, the only way you can really solve problems that were decades in the making is to stop trying to prolong the agony and, instead, allow enough time for the excesses and imbalances to work themselves out.

And even then, it might not mean the "patient" will return to the picture of health. Sometimes, the damage that has been done, or other ailments that were acquired along the way, point to a more crippling, more pervasive malaise.

In discussing today’s America, could that be what Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan is referring to in "There’s No Pill for This Kind of Depression"?

Six months after the collapse, a "pandemic of fear."

It is six months since Lehman fell and the crash (or the great recession, or the collapse—it’s time it got its name) began. An aspect of the story given less attention than it is due, perhaps because it doesn’t lend itself to statistics, is the psychic woe beneath the economic blow. There are two parts to this. One is that we have arrived at the first fatigue. The heart-pumping drama of last September is gone, replaced by the drip-drip-drip of pink slips, foreclosures and closed stores. We are tired. It doesn’t feel like 1929, but 1930. People are in a kind of suspended alarm, waiting for the future to unspool and not expecting it to unspool happily.

Two, the economy isn’t the only reason for our unease. There’s more to it. People sense something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of


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Bazooka Boomerangs: Banks Return Bailout Funds

Banks giving TARP money back – it’s too tainted, too much trouble, too many strings.

Bazooka Boomerangs: Banks Return Bailout Funds

Courtesy of Mish

In what any sensible person knew would eventually happen the moment the program was announced, Banks are now scrambling to return bailout funds.

A growing number of healthy bank chains across the country are bailing out of the $700-billion federal banking bailout program, saying it has tarnished the reputation of banks that took the money and tangled them in unwieldy regulations.

When the program began last fall, it was billed by then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson as an investment in strong banks to make them even stronger.

But not long after the program began, it became clear that the bulk of early funding was going to a handful of financially crippled giants such as Bank of America Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co., American International Group Inc. and Citigroup Corp.

"It was supposed to be a badge of honor if you were able to get this money, but now it’s a badge of honor if you didn’t take it, with all the bad publicity it has attracted," said Alan Rothenberg, chairman of 1st Century Bank in Century City.

Rothenberg’s bank took a look at the Treasury program and decided to avoid it.

More than 100 banks were approved by federal regulators to get money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and then backed out before getting any, a senior Treasury official disclosed.

But a growing number of banks that have received the money now want to give it back.

"The TARP money is tainted and we don’t want it," said Jason Korstange, a spokesman for Minnesota-based TCF Financial Corp., which received $361 million and announced this month that it wanted to pay it back. "The perception is that any bank that took this money is weak. Well, that isn’t our case. We were asked to take this money."

The bank issued a toughly worded statement earlier this year, saying that the money had put the financially strong banking chain at a "competitive disadvantage" and that the bank now believed it was "in the best interest of shareholders" to return it.

Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp., which took $1.5 billion, seems even more anxious for a quick exit. It found itself the


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HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%

Shocking statistic, HIV rates in D.C. higher than in West Africa.

HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%

Considered a ‘Severe’ Epidemic, Every Mode of Transmission Is Increasing, City Study Finds

By Jose Antonio Vargas and Darryl Fears, Washington Post Staff Writers

At least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the 1 percent threshold that constitutes a "generalized and severe" epidemic, according to a report scheduled to be released by health officials tomorrow…

"Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District’s HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work in Zimbabwe. "They’re on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."…

So urgent is the concern that the HIV/AIDS Administration took the relatively rare step of couching the city’s infections in a percentage, harkening to 1992, when San Francisco, around the height of its epidemic, announced that 4 percent of its population was HIV positive. But the report also cautions that "we know that the true number of residents currently infected and living with HIV is certainly higher."….  Almost 1 in 10 residents between the ages of 40 and 49 has the virus.

The report notes that "this growing population will have significant implications on the District’s health care system" as residents face chronic medical problems associated with aging and fighting a disease that compromises the immune system.

[For comparison, the HIV infection rate estimates (2007) for the United States was 0.6%, Canada, 0.4%, Uganda 5.4% and South Africa, 18%.  For a map of HIV infection rates per country, click here. ]

 





The G20 Lets Us Down

Simon Johnson at The Baseline Scenario reports on the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors and discusses the dire situation in Europe.G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, Getty Images

The G20 Lets Us Down

Courtesy of Simon Johnson at The Baseline Scenario

I’m continually amazed by how easy it is for government officials to hoodwink most of the news media.  All it takes is for a couple of leading finance ministers to get on roughly the same page, and we’re reading/hearing about “substantial progress” or “major steps forward.”  If someone provides an articulate background briefing to a leading newspaper on the supposed debate within a group of countries, this becomes the dominant news story.Disaster

Saturday’s G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors is a leading example.  It was a disaster - we face what officials readily concede is the biggest financial and economic crisis since the 1930s, yet this conclave agreed on precisely nothing that will make any difference.  If the G20 heads of government summit on April 2nd is a similar failure, we will be staring at the real possibility of a global catastrophe.  Yet the spinning storytellers of the G7 have still managed to get much of the press peering in entirely the wrong direction.

For more on what would the right direction, take a look at my piece in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.

The media coverage of the G20 finance ministers meeting this weekend was dominated by the apparent battle between those who support more fiscal stimulus and those who want to impose more regulations on the financial system.

This, we are led to believe, is the big debate facing the full G20 heads of government summit early next month: the US is pushing for a bigger global fiscal stimulus (2pc extra government spending from everyone, to be monitored by the IMF), while the continental Europeans are holding out for greater regulation. Gordon Brown is trying hard to cast himself as the broker for any apparent deal.

However, don’t be fooled by all this sound and fury.


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The Great Bond Bailout

Justin Fox discusses the classic question surrounding losses – who pays? – in the context of bank bailouts.

The Great Bond Bailout

By Justin Fox, courtesy of TIME Magazine

citigroup bailout, photo: Richard Drew / AP

 

You’re ticked off about the bank bailouts. Furious. You think somebody — other than you and your fellow taxpayers — needs to pay. Let’s try to work out who that somebody ought to be.  

The banks’ shareholders don’t make a promising target. The stock prices of Citigroup and Bank of America, to name two especially dramatic examples, are down more than 90% from their 2007 peaks. There are arguments, relating to incentives for executives and future shareholders, for wiping out current shareholders at the most troubled banks. But that won’t pay for anything — the shareholders simply don’t have much more value to cough up. Same goes for those who work in the business. Many have lost their job and life savings, and most have seen their salary cut. Yes, there have been egregious bonuses and golden parachutes — and we ought to claw them back — but that won’t pay for a trillion-dollar (or more) bailout. Which leaves … the folks who loaned the banks money. The banks’ creditors have been the clearest beneficiaries of the bailouts — leaving them with the most wherewithal to contribute. (See 25 people to blame for the financial crisis.)

Who are these creditors? The biggest group, with outstanding loans of about $9 trillion, is depositors like you and me. When you deposit money, you’re lending it to the bank. Those deposits were explicitly insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $100,000 before the crisis, and the banks paid for that insurance (though not in full, given that FDIC coverage has been raised to $250,000 and seems effectively without limit at bigger banks) and passed the cost on in the form of lower interest rates than on, say, an uninsured money-market account. That, plus the fear that panicked depositors could start a devastating run on the banking system, explains why we’re going to continue to be protected. (See the worst business deals of 2008.)

But banks also borrow on wholesale markets, mainly by issuing bonds. About $2.6 trillion of bank funding in the U.S., 20% of the total,


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Latest AIG Outrage: $450 Million In Bonuses

Another episode in the twilight zone of the bailout world…

Latest AIG Outrage: $450 Million In Bonuses To Group That Blew Up Firmedwardliddyap.jpg

Courtesy of Henry Blodget at ClusterStock

Here’s Exhibit A why the government shouldn’t be bailing out firms like AIG: The company says it is "contractually obligated" to pay $450 million in bonuses to the group that wrote the credit default swaps that have already cost U.S. taxpayers $170 billion.

Timothy Geithner howled in protest--but to no avail.  AIG merely reduced the bonuses modestly and explained that taxpayers had better let it pay them, or taxpayers would never get any of their money back.

This, needless to say, is outrageous: If AIG had gone bankrupt (in an orderly fashion), these bonuses would not be paid.  The executives holding the contracts would just get in line with AIG’s other creditors.  And U.S. taxpayers would not be out $170 billion and counting and enduring insult after injury every week from the national embarrassment known as AIG.

Washington Post: Insurance giant American International Group will award hundreds of millions of dollars in employee bonuses and retention pay despite a confrontation Wednesday between the firm’s chief executive and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

But the company agreed to revise some executive payments after what chief executive Edward M. Liddy called a "difficult" conversation.

The bonuses and other payments have been exasperating government officials, who have committed $170 billion to keep the company afloat — far more than has been offered to any other financial firm.

The issue came to a head when Geithner called Liddy and told him the payments were unacceptable and had to be renegotiated, an administration official said.

In a letter to Geithner yesterday, Liddy agreed to restructure some of the payments. But Liddy said he had "grave concerns" about the impact on the firm’s ability to retain talented staff "if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury."

Lawyers at both the Treasury Department and AIG have concluded that the firm would risk a lawsuit if it scrapped the retention payments at the AIG


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Update on the Two Competing SP500 Elliott Wave Interpretations

Corey Rosenbloom revisits the Elliott Wave chart patterns on the SP500.

Update on the Two Competing SP500 Elliott Wave Interpretations

Courtesy of Corey Rosenbloom at Afraid to Trade

In a much anticipated post, I wanted to revisit the “Which Elliott Fourth Wave are we in Currently?” debate that I mentioned last December.  I followed that post up with a mid-January update, “Two Competing Elliott Wave Counts on the S&P 500“.  This post reflects the mid-March update of the two interpretations and how they have both played out in the markets.

Let me summarize the interpretations.

1.  The Bullish Interpretation

States that we are Ending the 5-Wave decline that Began in 2007 (that we are in a Primary Wave 5 down… technically Wave (4) of circled 5.

I call this “bullish” because it means we just need one more swing down (in the Elliott Structure) to complete the 5-wave decline.

2.  The … Bearish Interpretation

States that We are Still in an Extended Third Wave off the 2007 High (that we are an a Primary Wave 3).

I call this bearish because it implies that we are close to finishing the Primary 3rd Wave before embarking on a large ABC up… then we will begin a 5-wave decline to take us to lower lows than we’re seeing now.  It’s also likely to trick so many people because the Primary 4th Wave rally is expected to be sharp (violent) and will lead so many people to believe we’ve put in a bottom… only to see price rip to new lows once the 4th Wave completes.

1.  The “Bullish” Scenario:

Summary: The circled waves reflect a Primary Degree and that we are just one more swing away from completing this 5-Wave sequence of a Major C Wave (reference monthly charts).

It states that we’re currently in (4) of circled 5 of Cycle C.

Ending target:  600 – 650 within two/three months.

2.  The “Bearish” Scenario

Summary:  We are STILL within Primary Wave 3, and need Primary Wave 4 (perhaps up to 1,000 or 1,100) and then will need to complete Primary Wave 5 (to take us down to 500… or less.…
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The Swiss Start Their Engines

John Mauldin, a recognized expert and leader on investment issues, updates his thoughts on the market in Thoughts from the Frontline, an excellent, weekly online newsletter. (More here.)

The Swiss Start Their Engines

Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts from the Frontline

This week we look at the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan is going through major upheavals, and they will have consequences all over the world. And what are those wild and crazy Swiss central bankers up to? It’s time for another round of competitive devaluation. And of course I have to look at the recent Barron’s cover story, about how stocks are cheap. There’s a lot to cover…

Where Have My Earnings Gone?

Barron’s probably jinxed the stock market by stating why they think the Dow won’t fall to 5000, although we do have what I hope is the start of a nice bear market rally. Part of their reasoning is that stocks are cheap. They assign a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of a lowly 13, based upon 2009 estimated earnings of $51 in operating profits, which they suggest is historically low. And I agree that 13 is toward the low end and would represent a good long-term buying opportunity – if indeed it was 13.

Actually, if you want to get really bullish, go to S&P’s web site and look at their estimated earnings for 2009. They calculate a P/E of 10.89 on 2009 estimated operating earnings.

As I have written over the years, the long-term P/E studies all use "as-reported" earnings, or earnings that are reported on tax returns. Operating earnings are of the EBBS variety, or Earnings Before Bad Stuff (or whatever you want to designate as the BS component). Companies like to tell us to ignore all those "one-time" writedowns, which seem to happen a lot more than once these days.

Going back a few decades, operating and as-reported earnings were very closely aligned. That relationship began to change in the mid-’90s, as management wanted to make a more bullish case, which certainly helped with their stock options. And the difference between operating and as-reported earnings is now wider than ever.

The difference between estimates for 2009 operating and as-reported earnings is almost exactly 100%. Which means that analysts are projecting there is going to be a lot of Bad…
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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at jennifersurovy@yahoo.com with any questions.

Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!

 
 

Zero Hedge

It's Not Just Spying - How The NSA Has Turned Into A Giant Profit Center For Corrupt Insiders

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Dear NSA Employees, You Now Have a Green Light to Loot and Pillage. It’s Time to Get Paid:

 

Are you just another one of those frustrated NSA employees who feels that unconstitutionally spying on your fellow citizenry under false pretenses isn’t giving you same thrill it once did? If so, have no fear.

 

Are you are sick and tired of having to spilt ...



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Chart School

Time for the Pullback?

Courtesy of Declan.

Sellers were going to make an appearance at some point and today was the day they paid a visit. Whether a larger pullback emerges will depend on events over the coming days, but today's selling did emerge at some natural attack points for shorts.

The S&P finished with a 'bearish cloud cover,' but it did manage to hold declining resistance turned support, and the 20-day MA has entered the fray as an area for bears to work. But this wasn't the most bearish of the indices, and today's finish actually gives bulls a long play tomorrow (for a bounce off support).  Technicals also suggest a bounce.


While the S&P may give bulls something tomorrow, th...

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Option Review

LUV Options Active Ahead Of Earnings

There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...



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Phil's Favorites

Larry Swedroe: Use Valuations for Expected Returns, Not Market Timing

Larry Swedroe: Use Valuations for Expected Returns, Not Market Timing

Courtesy of 

When forecasting investment returns, many individuals make the mistake of simply extrapolating recent returns into the future. Bull markets lead investors to expect higher future returns, and bear markets lead them to expected lower future returns. But the price you pay for an asset also has a great impact on future returns. Consider the following evidence:

The average historical P/E ratio for the market has been around 15. A study covering the period from 1926 through the second quarter of 1999 found that an investor buying stocks when the market traded at P/E ratios of between 14 and 16 e...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Insider Scoop

UPDATE: Brean Capital Initiates Coverage On GrubHub

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related GRUB UPDATE: JMP Securities Initiates Coverage On GrubHub Inc Benzinga's Top Initiations Making Money With Charles Payne: 09/25/14 (Fox Business)

Brean Capital initiated coverage on GrubHub Inc (NYSE: GRUB) with a Hold rating.

Analyst Tom Forte noted that "catalysts for the stock include an accelerat...



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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Sharp selloff in stocks sets up long-awaiting buying opportunity

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.

Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...



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Digital Currencies

Goodbye War On Drugs, Hello Libertarian Utopia. Dominic Frisby's Bitcoin: The Future of Money?

Courtesy of John Rubino.

Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?

With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of October 20th, 2014

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Market Shadows

Falling Energy Prices: Sober Look takes a Sober Look

Falling Energy Prices: Sober Look takes a Sober Look

What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices?  In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly. Just sign in with your PSW user name and password. (Or take a free trial.)

#457319216 / gettyimages.com

 

...

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Promotions

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Pharmboy

Biotechs & Bubbles

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.

First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...



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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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