Archive for 2009

Property Rights Take a Hit

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In this article, Peter Schiff discusses the practical problems with a government’s abrogation of contract and property rights for some "contrived greater good." That is deeply disturbing enough but it goes further. Our Constitution gave specific powers to different branches of government to hold the powers of government in check. The loss of these checks and balances goes beyond the financial world "twilight zone" horrors unfolding before us now, it undermines the entire structure of our governance. – Ilene

Property Rights Take a Hit

By Peter Schiff, writing at

“Crony capitalism” is a term often applied to foreign nations where government interference circumvents market forces. The practice is widely associated with tin-pot dictators and second-rate economies. In such a system, support for the ruling regime is the best and only path to economic success. Who you know supersedes what you know, and favoritism trumps the rule of law. Unfortunately, this week’s events demonstrate that the phrase now more aptly describes our own country.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Chrysler’s secured creditors based on the government’s argument that the needs of other stakeholders outweighed those of a few creditors. In this case, the Administration concluded the interests of the United Auto Workers outweighed the interests of the Indiana teachers and firemen whose pension fund sued to block the restructuring. Given the enormous financial support that the UAW poured into the Obama campaign, such partiality is hardly surprising.

When making their investment in Chrysler just a few months ago, the Indiana pension fund agreed to commit capital because of the specific assurances received from the company. In allowing this sham bankruptcy to be crammed through the courts, we have shredded the vital principal of the rule of law, and have become a nation of men, rather than one of laws.

The risk that legal contracts can now be arbitrarily set aside will make investors think twice before committing capital to distressed corporations. Oftentimes enforcing contracts imposes hardships. That’s precisely why we have contracts.

Without absolute faith that deals will be honored, it will be extremely difficult for U.S. companies to borrow money. This will be particularly true for those companies already struggling with too much debt. Without the ability to issue secured debt,
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Where Are We Now? Five Point Summary

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Where Are We Now? Five Point Summary

Courtesy of Simon Johnson of The Baseline Scenario

What happened to the global economy and what we can do about it

1. Financial markets have stabilized – largely because people believe that the government will not allow Citigroup to fail.  We have effectively nationalized any banking system losses, but we’ll let bank executives enjoy the full benefits of the upside.  How much shareholders participate remains to be seen; there will be no effective reining in of insider compensation (my version; Joe Nocera’s view).  For more on how we got here, see the Frontline documentary that airs on Tuesday and Paul Solman’s explainer wrap up.

2. The real economy begins to bottom out, although unemployment will not peak for a while and could stay high for several years.  Longer term growth prospects remain uncertain – has consumer behavior really changed; if finance doesn’t drive growth, what will; is the budget deficit under control or not (note: most of the guarantees extended to banks and other financial institutions are not scored in the budget)?

3.  More broadly, there is sophisticated window dressing in the pipeline but no real reform on any issue central to (a) how the banking system operates, or (b) more broadly, how hubris in finance led us into this crisis.  The financial sector lobbies appear stronger than ever.  The administration ducked the early fights that set the tone (credit cards, bankruptcy, even cap and trade); it’s hard to see them making much progress on anything – with the possible exception of healthcare.

4. The consensus from conventional macroeconomics is that there can’t be significant inflation with unemployment so high, and the Fed will not tighten before late 2010.  The financial markets beg to differ – presumably worrying, in part, about easy credit leading to dollar depreciation, higher import prices, and potential commodity price inflation worldwide.  In all recent showdowns with standard macro models recently, the markets’ view of reality has prevailed.  My advice: pay close attention to oil prices. 

5. Emerging markets are increasingly viewed as having “decoupled” from the US/European malaise.  This idea was wrong in early 2008, when it gained consensus status; this time around, it is probably setting

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We Waged a War Against Drugs, And Drugs Won

We Waged a War Against Drugs, And Drugs Won

marijuanaCourtesy of Mark J. Perry’s CARPE DIEM

Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:

1. We have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five times the world average. In part, that’s because the number of people in prison for drug offenses rose roughly from 41,000 in 1980 to 500,000 today. Until the war on drugs, our incarceration rate was roughly the same as that of other countries.

2. We have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. One reason many prominent economists have favored easing drug laws is that interdiction raises prices, which increases profit margins for everyone, from the Latin drug cartels to the Taliban. Former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia this year jointly implored the United States to adopt a new approach to narcotics, based on the public health campaign against tobacco.

3. We have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment.

It’s now broadly acknowledged that the drug war approach has failed.

 ~Nicholas Kristof in yesterday’s NY Times

MP: Note the "War on Drugs" is actually a war against generally peaceful American citizens who decide to buy, sell or ingest drugs that are somewhat arbitrarily considered to be illegal by government officials, e.g. cannabis sativa, an annual, dioecious flowering herb that grows naturally all over the world.



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The $3.6 Trillion Leveraged Loan Wall of Debt

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The $3.6 Trillion Leveraged Loan Wall of Debt

Courtesy of Mish

The Deal Magazine has an interesting discussion about That Worrying Wall Of Debt.

The leveraged loan market got accustomed to big numbers over the past decade. There’s $3.6 trillion, the amount of leveraged loans made since 2000, according to Thomson Reuters’ Loan Pricing Corp. There’s 735-fold, the amount of growth between 2003 and 2007 in the volume of collateralized loan obligations — the funds that helped fuel the loan market’s surge after the tech and telecom bust of 2001. And there’s $375 billion, the amount of bank debt used to fund leveraged buyouts completed between 2005 and 2007.

But right now, the leveraged loan market is fixated on one number: $430 billion, the amount in leveraged loans due to mature between 2012 and 2014. Despite the big numbers of the past, this might be simply too big. Indeed, the $430 billion figure is already worrying lenders, borrowers and loan-market investors alike as they struggle with the possibility that a large portion of those loans will neither be repaid nor refinanced, raising the specter of a wave of defaults among the debt-fueled LBO borrowers of 2005 through 2007.

As one executive at a private equity firm describes it, the availability of so much cheap debt profoundly affected how sponsors did business because it encouraged them to change their focus. "The PE firms were not investing in specific industries," he says. "They were investing in the capital markets."

This strategy was predicated on faith that loans could be continually refinanced, that exit options in the form of the equity markets or mergers and acquisitions fueled by more financing would be easily available and lead to profits that justified the outsized risk the sponsors were taking. There was also the belief that an ever-expanding economy would allow companies to keep increasing their Ebitda and pay down debt. The strategy had more than a few similarities with the one used by people who borrowed in increasing amounts to finance home purchases and hoped for either a quick flip or continually rising prices that would make debt more manageable.

The article discusses various ways that this debt can be paid back, but I am inclined

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California Foreclosure Moratoriums An Exercise Of Stupidity

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California Foreclosure Moratoriums An Exercise Of Stupidity

Courtesy of Mish

Except for bankruptcy attorneys, most want the massive spike in foreclosures to end. However, it is impossible to wish foreclosures away or for that matter legislate them away. Unfortunately, economic illiterates do not understand the dynamics.

Please consider CA Lawmakers Impose 90-Day Foreclosure Moratorium.

California is imposing a 90-day moratorium on housing foreclosures under a new law that takes effect Monday.

The law is expected to make lenders try harder to keep borrowers in their homes. Loan companies must prove they tried to modify the delinquent loans before they can begin foreclosing.

But supporters acknowledge the California Foreclosure Prevention Act won’t stop thousands of foreclosures from eventually happening. There have been more than 365,000 foreclosures in California since early 2007, with many more already scheduled.

This bill is no more likely to work than a bill declaring poverty to be illegal or the sky to be green.

Home prices will bottom when they bottom, unemployment will bottom when it bottoms, and foreclosures will stop when they stop. Those are simple economic facts.

The 90 day extension gives anyone sitting on the edge of walking away as well as those wanting a reduction in principle an incentive to stop paying their mortgage, safe and secure in the fact they cannot be thrown out of their house for another 90 days.

This bill is pure idiocy and will not stop a single foreclosure. Instead, the bill will increase late pays and foreclosures. It’s an exercise of sheer stupidity.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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Dow Theory Nonconfirmation in Transports and Industrials

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Dow Theory Nonconfirmation in Transports and Industrials

Courtesy of Corey Rosenbloom of Afraid to Trade

There’s interesting chatter in the “Dow Theory” community as to whether we’re experiencing a non-confirmation in the Industrials and Transports currently – namely, the Industrials are at a new high for 2009 and are above the 200 day SMA while the Transports are not.  Let’s take a look at both.

Dow Jones Industrial Index:

One may also ask the question “Is there a ‘Three Push’ Reversal pattern forming in the Dow Jones?”  It would appear so, with three consolidating ‘pushes’ or impulses up that have formed on three lower highs in the 3/10 Momentum Oscillator.  That alone is a serious non-confirmation of higher prices.

We also see a volume divergence setting in underneath price, with volume in the Dow Jones Index (1.1 Billion today) reaching a level that is clearly below the recent average – more importantly is the “trailing off.”

One can also see the multitude of ‘dojis’ (often known for their ‘reversal’ signal) that have formed over the last two weeks – that is showing signs of serious indecision.

In terms of Dow Theory, the Industrials have made a new high and have risen above their 200 day Simple Moving Average which is classically bullish… but the Transports Index has not.

Dow Jones Transportation Index:

Again, while the Dow recently formed new highs for 2009, the Transports could neither break above their May highs nor its 200 day simple moving average.

A negative momentum divergence has also formed as well as a negative volume divergence.

I could have easily titled this post “Major Sell Signal in the Dow Jones Index” but I dare not be so bold, given the ability of the market to rise against a negative fundamental and technical backdrop.

From a chart (technical) standpoint, the chart is literally screaming “sell signal,” but still we operate in a world of probabilities and stranger things have happened, so do continue to guard your risk and do your own analysis for additional insights.

Corey Rosenbloom, CMT
Afraid to


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Key Quotes from Biden on the Stimulus

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Key Quotes from Biden on the Stimulus

Courtesy of TIME, Mark Halperin

From NBC’s "Meet the Press":

"No one realized how bad the economy was. The projections, in fact, turned out to be worse. But we took the mainstream model as to what we thought — and everyone else thought — the unemployment rate would be."

"Everyone guessed wrong at the time the estimate was made about what the state of the economy was at the moment this was passed."

"The bottom line is that jobs are being created that would not have been there before."

"Can I claim credit that all of that’s due to the recovery package? No. But it clearly has had an impact."

Photo: Getty, courtesy of TIME


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How to Earn a Free PSW Membership (and Make Money Too)

20,000 referrals!

That's pretty good and up 1,000 since May 1st so thanks so much to all who have participated this year.  Unfortunately, I could write out the names of the participants and thank them individually with far less words than I will actually use in this post!  Still in our first year of the PSW Report we now have over 20,000 Email subscribers.  Thank you so much to Members who referred their friends to Free Trial Newsletter Subscriptions using this very simple member link

Amazingly, even with the incentive of locking in either a bonus 20% discount or a Free Newsletter Subscription through next quarter for referring just ONE person, many people did not refer anyone.  I saw the movie "UP" with my kids last year and, if that grouchy old man can make a friend, I'm sure you guys can find one too - so I'm going to give everyone a second chance this month to earn their bonus 20% discount by referring 5 people to our FREE EMail Newsletter.  

My goal is to get 50,000 people on the newsletter list.  OK, actually my real goal is to get 100,000 but we'll start with 50,000 and work from there!  If you are a newsletter subscriber, this affects you too as the free trial subscription lasts 3 months but you can keep it FREE by referring another person.  All that is required is your friend's name and EMail address put in the little box and, like magic (if you can accomplish this feat 5 consecutive times) you will save 20% on your next renewal (if you haven't already gotten the bonus discount of course) or extend your FREE newletter subscription.  The person you are sending the newsletter to must "Opt In" (accept your invitation).  Once they do, you'll see the credits right on your member page.  This is IN ADDITION to any other discounts you already have on our new system (which also gives members a discount based on time as a member).

Members are already seeing the benefits of expanding our subscriber base, we have been able to build new relationships, bring in more writers and enter into arrangements like our new reports from the Value Walk with regular reports from from OpTrader, etc.  Our plan is working perfectly – we are building up subscribers and bringing on great new services but we have to keep it going so please - refer a friend this week! 

The idea behind…
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Tomgram: Michael Klare, Goodbye to Cheap Oil

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Tomgram: Michael Klare, Goodbye to Cheap Oil

Courtesy of Tom Engelhardt’, with guest author Michael T. Klare

Buckle your seatbelt, you may be going nowhere — and it could be a very bumpy ride. Oil futures have just passed $71 for a barrel of "light, sweet crude oil" (sweet for energy stocks, anyway) on its way to… well, we don’t know exactly where, but it won’t feel good, not at the pump and not in the economy either. In the Midwest and scattered other locations, gas prices are already at the edge of $3.00 a gallon and the height of summer isn’t even upon us.

Much of this sudden rise has been fueled by OPEC production cuts, investor dreams of a global economic recovery (and so a heightened desire for energy), and the enthusiasm of market speculators. Explain it as you will, the price of crude, which hit a low of about $32 a barrel in December, as the planet seemed to meltdown economically, has doubled in recent months.

Oil is like the undead. Just when you think it’s gone down for the count, it rises from the grave ravenous. As Clifford Krauss of the New York Times reported recently, gas prices have risen 41 days in a row, and yet the price at the pump is still "lagging behind the increase in the price of oil." According to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, consumers are now shelling out one billion dollars a day to keep their tanks full. (It was $1.5 billion last summer when the price of a barrel of oil hit an astronomical $147.)

Whether this is the energy version of irrational exuberance and a mini-bubble to be burst as further economic bad times hit or the reality of our near future, sooner or later, far worse is in store on the energy front, as Michael Klare, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking World: The New Geopolitics of Energy, makes clear. But don’t listen to him. Instead, check out his latest energy scoop — the real news he found buried in the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy, whose seers have put irrational exuberance

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Ron Paul on HR 1207

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Congressman Ron Paul on the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, HR 1207:




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Zero Hedge

Canada Walks Out Of European Trade Talks, "Deal Impossible"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With 'trade' at the center of any substantive differences between US presidential candidates, 1000s protesting 'trade' deals across Europe, 'trade' collapsing in China, and lame-duck Obama trying to push his 'trade' agenda, it is perhaps shocking that Canada’s trade minister walked out of talks to finalize a trade pact with the European Union, saying it now seems the bloc is incapable of reaching such agreements and that Canadian officials are returning home.

As Bloomberg reports, Chrystia Freeland spoke to reporters Friday after negotiations with the European Commission and the leader...

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Milo Event At GWU Rescheduled (To Worse time Slot) Without Any Notice

By JOHN F. BANZHAF. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Tonight’s Speech At GWU Provokes National Controversy
Effort to Require His Pledge to Refrain From Hate Speech Rejected
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 21, 2016): It now appears that the time of the event announced below has been suddenly changed at the last minute to 5:30-6:30 PM from the originally scheduled 7:00-9:00 PM time, although no notification was sent to ticket holders showing the old time, and there was no announcement anywhere else.


Photo by LeWeb14

Thus, for reasons still unknown, it seems that many students eager to hear this controversial speaker will be very disappointed. Also, students are likel...

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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World


Financial Markets and Economy

Crude Rally May Clinch Top Stock Market Status for Canada in ’16 (Bloomberg)

Gold’s best run since 2010 pushed Canadian equities to the top spot among developed-market stocks this year. Fifty dollar crude will give them an opportunity to stay there.

Would Cutting Corporate Tax Rates Really Grow the Economy? (The Atlantic)

One of the things Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump disagree most strongly about is how to stimulate the economy. Donald Trump has one idea that conservative economist...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bio-Tech; In more trouble if this fails, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

At one point in time, actually for years, Bio-Tech (IBB) was a market leader. From the 2009 lows to 2015, IBB out gained the S&P by more than 250%. Since the summer of 2015, Bio Tech has remained a leader, a “downside leader!” IBB has lagged the S&P by over 35% in the past 15-months.

Is the downside leadership over for IBB? Below updates the pattern on IBB


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Phil's Favorites

EU Sanction Madness and Merkel's Blatant Hypocrisy

Courtesy of Mish.

A battle over sanctions is brewing in the EU this evening.

The EU lead by European Council president Donald Tusk seeks more sanctions on Russia over Aleppo.

However,  Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi Pushes Back on Sanctions because Italy was stung more by sanctions than other nations.

The European Union said it was too soon to consider imposing sanctions on Russia for the bombing of rebel-held areas of Syria, while maintaining the threat of action if Vladimir Putin doesn’t back down.

After the first of two days of talks in Brussels, EU leaders said “all available options” remain on the table, without mentioning sanc...

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Members' Corner

The Orlando Massacre Part 3

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

A continuation of a Naybob of IT's Natterings from Part 1 and Part 2...

While many Christian churches expressed grief and offered free funeral services for the victims of the Orlando shooting, the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church held an anti-gay protest during the funeral of the victims.

But the Westboro Baptist Church's protest rally was blocked by about 200 people who formed a human barricade on the main street in downtown Orlando, ...

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Insider Scoop

Exclusive: Ecoark Looks To Tackle The $160 Billion Food Waste Problem

Courtesy of Benzinga.

The fresh food supply chain undergoes a ton of waste. The loss in fresh food nearly costs producers and retailers $160 billion in the US alone. Despite this huge sum, the market to cut down this waste has largely gone unaddressed by corporate America.

Ecoark Holdings Inc (OTC: EARK) is taking steps to address this market and it could ultimately be a win for several parties: the grower, the retailer and the c... more from Insider

Chart School

Neutral Day for Indices

Courtesy of Declan.

Markets were unable to build on premarket gains, but did manage to finish the day where they started.

The S&P closed with a narrow range doji, a doji which finished below Friday's bearish black candlestick. The pattern of the last five days is playing more in bears favour, but with support around 2,115 holding there is still a chance a broad swing low is in play; confirmation comes on a move above 2,160. Trading volume sided with bulls on a confirmed accumulation day.

The Nasdaq was able to push above Fri...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of October 17th, 2016

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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Mapping The Market

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

Via Jean-Luc

Good article on investing success:

The Most Overlooked Trait of Investing Success

By Morgan Housel

There is a reason no Berkshire Hathaway investor chides Buffett when the company has a bad quarter. It’s because Buffett has so thoroughly convinced his investors that it’s pointless to try to navigate around 90-day intervals. He’s done that by writing incredibly lucid letters to investors for the last 50 years, communicating in easy-to-understand language at annual meetings, and speaking on TV in ways that someone with no investing experience can grasp.

Yes, Buffett runs an amazing investment company. But he also runs an amazing investor company. One of the most underappreciated part of his s...

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Digital Currencies

Gold, Silver and Blockchain - Fintech Solutions To Negative Rates, Bail-ins, Currency Debasement and Cashless

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

By Jan Skoyles

I was so pleased yesterday by the announcement that I have joined the Research team at GoldCore as it meant that I could finally start talking about it and was back in a role that lets me indulge in my passion by researching and geeking out on all things gold, silver and money.


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Epizyme - A Waiting Game

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

Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer.  One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."

Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.  

Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.'  Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color).  Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan 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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PSW is more than just stock talk!


We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more! features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

If you are looking for non-mainstream, provocatively-narrated news and opinion pieces which promise to make you think -- we feature Zero Hedge, ...

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