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Archive for 2009

Guest Post: Global Economics on Tilt – How To Protect Your Ass(ets)

Courtesy of Tyler at Zero Hedge

Guest Post: Global Economics on Tilt – How To Protect Your Ass(ets)

Submitted by Jeff Clark, Editor of BIG GOLD

Gold isn’t going to $2,000 an ounce.

Before you gag on your coffee or suffer chest pains, allow me to explain.

We’re about eight years into the bull market, and gold has breached the $1,000 level twice and has spent weeks trading above the old high of $850. Some observers are now saying that gold’s pretty much had its day and that once the recession is over, it will retreat for good.

However, the four-digit gold price we’ve seen so far is with no price inflation to speak of, no effects of the atrocious increase in the money supply, and despite a rising dollar. What happens to gold when each of those pictures gets turned upside down – high inflation, excess cash jolting the economy, and a falling dollar? After all, gold’s performance to date has been powered only by general anxiety, not by any visible erosion in the dollar’s value.

I decided to take a fresh look at calculations that could be used to appraise gold’s upside potential. No one of them, by itself, comes with compelling logic. But they all point in the same direction.

Gold’s Percentage Rise in the Last Bull Market. What if gold in this bull market repeats the percentage rise in the last bull market? In the 1970s gold rose from $35 to $850, a factor of 24.28. Our low in 2001 was $255.95. Multiply that by 24.28 and you get a gold price of $6,214 per ounce.

U.S. Gold Holdings to Money Supply: The M1 money supply consists of currency and checkable deposits. The U.S. government currently holds 286.9 million ounces of gold. If the government were to make each dollar redeemable by the amount of gold it possesses, we’d arrive at the following price for gold: $1.569 trillion ÷ 286.9 million oz. = $5,468.80 per ounce

Gold/Dow Ratio: The ratio was about “1” when gold peaked in 1980, meaning the Dow and gold were the same price. To restore that relationship at today’s stock prices would mean when the Dow is at 6,626, gold should be at $6,626/oz. Of course, we think it likely that the Dow will get a lot lower before gold peaks. But even if


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Weekend Reading

Tyler Durden’s Weekend Reading

  • The DTCC’s CNS naked short selling residue (Deep Capture) – must read for everyone curious about regulation SHO and the gimmickry going on in the equity shorting market.
  • How Lehman got its real estate fix (New York Times)
  • More glowering optimism from Templeton’s Mark Mobius, who sees an EM bull market, and a boost to Mexican EPS despite H1B1 (here and here)
  • "I can only hope this proves to be inflammatory nonsense" (Finem Respice)
  • Gold may be off to the races above $950 (Bloomberg)
  • Berkshire calls investment 4 replacement candidates’ 2008 performance subpar, to succeed internally (Bloomberg)
  • WHO prepares for a pandemic (WSJ)

And a personal note of gratitude for the amazing outpouring of support over the last two days – it has been unexpected, unprecedented and we are very thankful to have such generous readers. A personal thanks for donations by Andre, Barbara, Doss, Elaine, Hassan, John, Kevin, Kiran, Lexy, Mary, Matthew, Mugglenet.com, Scott, Sean and Sebastian.

Chartology:

The upcoming depletion of resources (New Scientist)

 





How Banks Become Condo Rental Agents

Courtesy of Mish

How Banks Become Condo Rental Agents

Last month in a Boston foreclosure sale, John Hancock Tower Lenders Took, a 65% Haircut In 3 Years . Boston is back in the news today with another foreclosure auction. This time it’s condo related, with Chorus Bank in the thick of things.

Please consider 441 Stuart Street: What Happened?

This week, the building at 441 Stuart Street was offered to the public through a foreclosure auction. The property was most recently purchased in 2004 for $37.5MM with the intent of converting the building to condominiums.

Recorded documents show that Corus Bank, a well-known condo conversion lender out of Chicago, placed $42MM in debt on the property in 2004.

The auctioner opened at $30MM and asked if there were any bids. There were not. Next he cut the bid in half and asked for $15MM, and the bids that followed were $15.1MM, $16MM, $16.1MM, and finally $17MM. There was only one 3rd party who bid the $15.1 and $16.1 against the bank. The lender bought the property back at $17MM.

Nevermind the fact that the highest 3rd party bid for the property was less than 40% of the known debt, consider the fact that the number represents only about $100/foot. Remember that this property is in Copley Square. If retail prices for completed condos are $600-900/SF and construction costs run $150-250 per foot then that’s a margin of 40% or better – isn’t it?

It’s interesting that no one wants this building at $100 a square foot with completed condos going for $600 to $900 a square foot.

Corus Bankshares Receives ‘Going Concern’ Qualification

In Bank Watch (Apr. 12-18): CoStar is reporting Corus Bankshares Receives ‘Going Concern’ Qualification.

Corus Bankshares Inc. in Chicago announced that its audited financial statements for the year ended 2008 contained a ‘going concern’ qualification from its independent registered accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

Corus, with a portfolio consisting primarily of condominium construction loans, many in the hard hit areas of Arizona, Nevada, south Florida and Southern California, has seen a rapid and precipitous decline in the value of the collateral securing its loan portfolio. Thus, it is experiencing significant loan quality issues.

The net loss of $456.5 million it recorded in 2008 was primarily the result of significant increases in the provision for credit


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Weekend Reading

Tyler Durden’s Weekend Reading

  • The DTCC’s CNS naked short selling residue (Deep Capture) – must read for everyone curious about regulation SHO and the gimmickry going on in the equity shorting market.
  • How Lehman got its real estate fix (New York Times)
  • More glowering optimism from Templeton’s Mark Mobius, who sees an EM bull market, and a boost to Mexican EPS despite H1B1 (here and here)
  • "I can only hope this proves to be inflammatory nonsense" (Finem Respice)
  • Gold may be off to the races above $950 (Bloomberg)
  • Berkshire calls investment 4 replacement candidates’ 2008 performance subpar, to succeed internally (Bloomberg)
  • WHO prepares for a pandemic (WSJ)

And a personal note of gratitude for the amazing outpouring of support over the last two days – it has been unexpected, unprecedented and we are very thankful to have such generous readers. A personal thanks for donations by Andre, Barbara, Doss, Elaine, Hassan, John, Kevin, Kiran, Lexy, Mary, Matthew, Mugglenet.com, Scott, Sean and Sebastian.

Chartology:

The upcoming depletion of resources (New Scientist)

 





White House “Directly Threatened” Perella Weinberg Over Chrysler

John Carney follows up on yesterday’s article by Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge discussing the Administration’s tactics in forcing senior creditors holding Chrysler’s debt to agree to terms in the bankruptcy plan. -Ilene

White House "Directly Threatened" Perella Weinberg Over Chrysler

Courtesy of John Carney at ClusterStock

obama-geithner-happy_tbi.jpgThe White House threatened to use the White House press corps to besmirch the reputation of one of the financial firms that holds Chrysler debt, according to a prominent New York bankruptcy lawyer. If true, the explosive charge shows that the White House was willing to go much further than is widely known to have its way in the attempt to restructure the Detriot automaker.

"One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight…That was Perella Weinberg," Tom Lauria, the head of the bankrutpcy department for top New York City lawfirm White & Case, told a WJR 760 radio host.

Perella Weinberg had been one of the firms that was resisting the Obama administration’s plans for restructuring, alongside Stairway Capital and Oppenheimer Funds. The group had argued that their position as senior creditors gave them legal rights to be paid in full before junior creditors were paid. They had put forth a counter-offer under which they would have received far less than the face-value of the debt they held, but more than the Obama adminstration had proposed. This compromise deal was rejected by the administration, and the holdouts were characterized by the president himself as unwilling to make sacrifices for the common good.

After intense political pressure, Perella Weinberg defected from the dissenters and agreed to the administrations plans. The majority of senior creditors, including several large banks such as JP Morgan Chase, had already agreed to the plan. Some critics charge that the administration used its leverage as the provider of TARP funds to force banks to comply. Lauria’s charges suggest that the administration had to get even rougher with financial firms that haven’t taken bailout money.

The suggestion that the adminsitration would direct the White House press corps, composed of newspaper reports and other journalists who cover the Whtie House, to ruin the reputation of holdouts is sure to raise the…
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Its source of funds comes from issuing cash

Courtesy of Tim Iacono at The Mess That Greenspan Made

Its source of funds comes from issuing cash

Sometimes it’s funny to read how economists describe what the Federal Reserve is doing in their ongoing quest to save the world from the effects of global deleveraging which they both enabled and condoned. This story by an anonymous economist at The Economist blazes a new trail in describing the massive increase in the Fed’s balance sheet – how it’s a good thing.

THE Federal Reserve does not set out to make bumper profits. But its 2008 annual accounts, released on April 23rd, would turn many a hedge-fund manager green with envy.

Like Wall Street’s finest, the Fed makes money on a spread. Its main source of funds comes from issuing cash, since currency in circulation is, in effect, an interest-free loan by the public to the central bank. The interest it earns on its loans and securities is almost pure profit, or “seigniorage,” most of which it remits to the Treasury. Last year the central bank reported a whopping $43 billion in operating income.

That should make you all feel better – the Fed’s turning a profit.

The fact that it buys Treasuries with money it borrows from the Treasury Department shouldn’t minimize the importance of the central bank’s bottom line, nor should the idea that a good portion of the central bank’s $1.4 trillion increase in assets has been purchased with money created "out of thin air".

*****

Here’s the story in the Economist, and here’s the press release from the Federal Reserve discussing their finances.  Do we have any economists/accounts that can resolve or explain the two views? – Ilene

 





Geithner’s New Bank Fix Is Bogus, Too

Courtesy of Henry Blodget at ClusterStock

Geithner’s New Bank Fix Is Bogus, Too

timgeithner-24march09-signs_tbi.jpgTim Geithner has a clever new way to recapitalize the banks that failed the stress test: Convert the taxpayer’s preferred stock to common stock. 

From Geithner’s perspective, this technique has several advantages:

  • The banks will suddenly seem healthy, because their assets-to-common equity ratios will rise.
     
  • Geithner doesn’t have to ask Congress for more baillout money yet.
  • Taxpayers won’t understand that they’re giving up a nice dividend and a safer security just to make the banks look better.
  • If Geithner is right that what’s wrong with the banks is just a temporary liquidity problem, the taxpayer should do well when the stocks rise. (We don’t think he’s right.)

Unfortunately, the plan also has two major flaws:  First, it’s smoke and mirrors. Second, the taxpayers are even more exposed than they are now.

Why?

Because the banks will still have the same amount of crap assets on their balance sheets, and they’ll have no more capital available to absorb these losses.  The only thing that will change is that the taxpayer will now get hit first as these losses flow through the balance sheet, instead of getting hit second, as is the case now.  The banks’ bondholders, meanwhile, will still be protected to the tune of 100 cents on the dollar (by administration policy).  Which means that if the common equity is wiped out by the losses, the government will have to dig into the taxpayer’s pockets to cover any shortfall.  (See Paul Kasriel’s detailed explanation below).

In other words, Geithner has hatched yet another plan to avoid dealing with the bank problem once and for all. 

How would he do that?

As we’ve argued, we think the best way would have been to seize the banks and restructure them.  Since Geithner has opted against the route, however, the next best way would be to convert unsecured bank debt to equity, not just the taxpayers’ preferred stock (the taxpayers’ preferred stock should have been senior to all the bondholders, but that’s spilt milk at this point).

Doing that would give the banks a much bigger equity cushion with which to absorb losses.  It would split the bank ownership up among current common shareholders, taxpayers, and current debtholders, which would help Geithner avoid having to take full control.  It would also, finally,


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Sell in May and go away: fact or fallacy?

Courtesy of Prieur du Plessis at Investment Postcards from Cape Town - Ilene

Sell in May and go away: fact or fallacy?

Where is the stock market heading? Has the rally that started in early March been exhausted? These are the key questions on all investors’ minds as financial markets remain caught between the frantic actions of central banks to get the cogs of the credit system and economy turning again on the one hand, and a still shaky economic and corporate outlook on the other.

It is therefore no wonder that even so-called “pop analysis”, including some legendary axioms, is resorted to in a quest for direction. And besides “buy low and sell high” few other axioms are more widely propagated than “sell in May and go away”. A Google search revealed an astounding 127,000 items featuring this phrase.

As equities have seen a particularly strong six-week rally, followed by what looks like the start of a consolidation/retracement of some of the recent gains, investors are justifiably questioning the market’s next move. And they nervously wonder whether this May will not only herald longer days in the Northern Hemisphere, but also live up to its reputation as the advent of a corrective phase in the markets.

The important issue, however, is whether this axiom actually has any scientific basis at all. Analyzing historical returns, the figures vary from market to market, but long-term statistics seem to show that the best time to be invested in equities is the six months from early November through to the end of April of the next year (”good” periods), while the “bad” periods normally occur over the six months from May to October.

A study of the MSCI World Index, a commonly used benchmark for global equity markets, reveals that since 1969 “good” periods returned +6.5% per annum while investors were actually in the red by -1.0% per annum during the “bad” periods.

“Sell in May and go away” also holds true for the US stock markets. An updated study by Plexus Asset Management of the S&P 500 Index shows that the returns of the “good” six-month periods from January 1950 to March 2009 were 7.9% per annum whereas those of the “bad” periods were 2.5% per annum.

A study of the pattern in monthly returns reveals
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The Cause of the Financial Crisis

Jesse’s Café Américain cites Jamie Galbraith’s article The Causes of the Crisis, adding some of their own comments.  - Ilene  

The Cause of the Financial Crisis

Jamie Galbraith leaves out a couple of key component of the ramp up to this crisis.

The corruption of the political process, increasingly dependent on large campaign contributions, by the large corporate interests set the stage for the erosion of public regulation of markets and the rule of the law.

And of course, Alan Greenspan, without whom this disaster would almost certainly have not been possible.

Dr. Greenspan, at the Federal Reserve, with a bully pulpit and a printing press.

Texas Observer
Causes of the Crisis
James K. Galbraith
May 01, 2009

…This is a panel on the crisis. Mr. Moderator, you ask what is the root cause? My reply is in three parts.

First, an idea.

The idea that capitalism, for all its considerable virtues, is inherently self-stabilizing, that government and private business are adversaries rather than partners…; the idea that regulation, in financial matters especially, can be dispensed with. We tried it, and we see the result.

Second, a person.

It would not be right to blame any single person for these events, but if I had to choose one to name it would be… former Senator Phil Gramm. I’d cite specifically the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act—the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—in 1999, after which it took less than a decade to reproduce all the pathologies that Glass-Steagall had been enacted to deal with in 1933.

I’d also cite the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, slipped into an 11,000-page appropriations bill in December 2000 as Congress was adjourning following Bush v. Gore. This measure deregulated energy futures trading, enabling Enron and legitimating credit-default swaps, and creating a massive vector for the transmission of financial risk throughout the global system. …

Third, a policy.

This was the abandonment of state responsibility for financial regulation… This abandonment was not subtle: The first head of the Office of Thrift Supervision in the George W. Bush administration came to a press conference on one occasion with a stack of copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. A chainsaw. The message was clear. And it led to the explosion of liars’ loans, neutron loans (which destroy people but leave buildings intact), and toxic waste. That these were terms of art in finance


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US Equity Rally in Context From the Start of the Bear Market

Thoughts circulating at Jesse’s Café Américain on the current rally – bear market rally or something more promising? – Ilene

US Equity Rally in Context From the Start of the Bear Market Le Café Américain

Courtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain

So far the rally appears to be 9/10ths short covering and momentum speculation.

In order to proceed further and break through some formidable overhead resistance real buying by insitutions and individuals must appear and the volume adjusted cash flows must turn more positive.

In other words, so far a typically impressive bear market rally that may be getting overextended without a serious revaluation of the ecoomic outlook. Next week’s Jobs Report may help in that assessment.

The insiders and hedge funds still holding equities would greatly enjoy the stock piggies (institutions, 401k’s and private investors) coming back into the markets so they can continue to unload their increasingly worthless assets.

Here is the big picture. It is ‘possible’ that this is not a bear market which we are experiencing.

However, there is a dramatic spread between ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ that even our mighty Fed and Treasury cannot easily diminish with their printing presses.





 

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

NYSE Margin Debt Storms Back To All Time Highs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

A month ago we explained why ordinary margin debt (such as that tracked by the NYSE) is largely irrelevant as it completely ignores the leverage of the largest investor class (aside from the Primary Dealers who use Fed reserves as collateral against which to purchase equity index futures), namely hedge funds and whose leverage blows out ordinary retail investors out of the water. Nonetheless, NYSE margin debt is still useful as an indicator of prevailing retail and less than sophisticated investor leverage, and thus euphoria, in the market.

It is from this perspective that we observe how after...



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Chart School

Gasoline Price Update: Down Another Five Cents

Courtesy of Doug Short.

It's time again for my weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Rounded to the penny, Regular and Premium both dropped another five cents, the fourth week of price declines. Regular is up 35 cents and Premium 34 cents from their interim lows during the second week of last November.

According to GasBuddy.com, two states (Hawaii and Alaska) have Regular above $4.00 per gallon, down from three last week, and three states (California, Oregon, Washington) are averaging above $3.90, unchanged from last week. South Carolina has the cheapest Regular at $3.24.

How far are we from the interim high prices of 2011 and the all-time highs of 2008? Here's a visual answer.

...

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Option Review

Kellogg Call Options Active Ahead Of Earnings

Shares in packaged foods producer Kellogg Co. (Ticker: K) are in positive territory on Monday afternoon, trading up by roughly 0.20% at $65.48 as of 2:20 p.m. ET. Options volume on the stock is well above average levels today, with around 12,500 contracts traded on the name versus an average daily reading of around 1,700 contracts. Most of the volume is concentrated in September expiry calls, perhaps ahead of the company’s second-quarter earnings report set for release ahead of the opening bell on Thursday. Time and sales data suggests traders are snapping up calls at the Sep 67.5, 70.0 and 72.5 strikes. Volume is heaviest in the Sep 72.5 strike calls, with around 4,600 contracts traded against sizable open interest of approximately 11,800 contracts. It looks like traders paid an average premium of $0.37 per contrac...



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Phil's Favorites

Marc Chandler: FX and Energy on CNBC Squawk Box

Courtesy of

This Cool Video is a clip from my appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning. I offered a nuanced view, suggesting that while the dollar appears to be at a turning point, unless US yields find better traction, it is difficult to be too bullish on the dollar.  


  ...

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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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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Bold bulls dare meek bears to take another crack

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Once again, stocks have shown some inkling of weakness. But every other time for almost three years running, the bears have failed to pile on and get a real correction in gear. Will this time be different? Bulls are almost daring them to try it, putting forth their best Dirty Harry impression: “Go ahead, make my day.” Despite weak or neutral charts and moderately bullish (at best) sector rankings, the trend is definitely on the side of the bulls, not to mention the bears’ neurotic skittishness about emerging into the sunlight.

In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up some actionable trading ideas, incl...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of July 28th, 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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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

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

Our weekly newsletter Stock World Weekly is ready for your enjoyment.

Read about the week ahead, trade ideas from Phil, and more. Please click here and sign in with your PSW user name and password. Or take a free trial.

We appreciate your feedback--please let us know what you think in the comment section below.  

...

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Digital Currencies

BitLicense Part 1 - Can Poorly Thought Out Regulation Drive the US Economy Back into the Dark Ages?

Courtesy of Reggie Middleton.

An Op-Ed piece penned by Veritaseum Chief Contracts Officer, Matt Bogosian

This past weekend (despite American Airlines' best efforts), Reggie and I made it to the Second Annual North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago. While there were some very creative (and very ambitious) ideas on how to try to realize the disruptive Bitcoin protocol, one of the predominant topics of discussion was New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky's proposed Bitcoin regulations (the BitLicense proposal) - percieved by many participants at the event as an apparent ...



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Market Shadows

Danger: Falling Prices

Danger: Falling Prices

By Dr. Paul Price of Market Shadows

 

We tried holding up stock prices but couldn’t get the job done. Market Shadows’ Virtual Value Portfolio dipped by 2% during the week but still holds on to a market-beating 8.45% gain YTD. There was no escaping the downdraft after a major Portuguese bank failed. Of all the triggers for a large selloff, I’d guess the Portuguese bank failure was pretty far down most people's list of "things to worry about." 

All three major indices gave up some ground with the Nasdaq composite taking the hardest hi...



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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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Promotions

See Live Demo Of This Google-Like Trade Algorithm

I just wanted to be sure you saw this.  There’s a ‘live’ training webinar this Thursday, March 27th at Noon or 9:00 pm ET.

If GOOGLE, the NSA, and Steve Jobs all got together in a room with the task of building a tremendously accurate trading algorithm… it wouldn’t just be any ordinary system… it’d be the greatest trading algorithm in the world.

Well, I hate to break it to you though… they never got around to building it, but my friends at Market Tamer did.

Follow this link to register for their training webinar where they’ll demonstrate the tested and proven Algorithm powered by the same technological principles that have made GOOGLE the #1 search engine on the planet!

And get this…had you done nothing b...



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About Phil:

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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