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Archive for 2012

Boom & Bust Economic Cycles: An Austrian Business Cycle Theory Overview

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by CrownThomas.

Thomas Woods gives a brief overview of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory, or in short, what creates boom & bust cycles in the economy. 

“What Hayek was arguing in his important writing in the 1930′s, was that interest rates actually play a role in the economy, they’re not just arbitrary numbers. They play a coordinating function — when we save more, and interest rates consequently decline, that is the very time that it makes sense for businesses to produce goods and engage in projects that are going to bear fruit in the future”

“Simply saying let’s create more money, and lets jolt that money into the banking system and keep interest rates down, that’s not a solution to a depression, that’s the cause of the depression”

 

 

Chart: Mises





Credit default swaps are insurance products. It’s time we regulated them as such.

Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture discusses Credit Default Swaps and why they need to be regulated. For more on derivatives, read my overview here.  ~ Ilene

Credit default swaps are insurance products. It’s time we regulated them as such.

By Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture

Last week, Greece officially defaulted on its debt. (Unofficially, it defaulted long ago.) This formal default on about $100 billion triggered payment of $3 billion in credit-default swaps. These are the non-insurance insurance products that pay off in the event of a default.

Let’s take a closer look at the tortured history of the swaps and see why they should be regulated as commercial insurance policies.

Our story thus far: CDS obtained their favored status as unregulated insurance policies courtesy of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. It was sponsored by then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) — and benefited Enron, where his wife, Wendy, was a director on the board. The energy company had discovered the fast profit of trading energy derivatives, which was much easier to achieve without those pesky regulations. Late in the year, the CFMA was rushed through Congress. Passed unanimously in the Senate and overwhelmingly in the House, it was mostly unread by Congress or its staffers. On the advice of then-Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers, the bill was signed into law by Bill Clinton.

No one associated with this awful legislation has yet to be rebuked for it. Anyone who actually read this debacle and recommended it should be banned for life from having anything to do with public policy or economics.

Why? The act was a radical deregulation of derivatives. It was an example of the now widely discredited belief that banks and markets could self-regulate without problems. Management would never do anything that put the franchise at risk, and if it did, it would be suitably punished by the shareholders.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Across Wall Street, nearly all senior management involved escaped with their bonuses and stock options intact. Lehman chief executive Dick Fuld lost hundreds of millions of dollars and now must scrape by on the mere $500 million or so he squirreled away.

The act did more than change the way derivatives were regulated. It annihilated all relevant regulations. First, it modified the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 (CEA) by exempting derivative transactions from all regulations…
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Encumbrance 101, Or Why Europe Is Running Out Of Assets

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Since the much-heralded 3Y LTRO program was envisioned and enacted, we have been clear in our perspective that while this appears to have signaled a removal of downside (contagion-driven) tail-risk for banks (and implicitly to sovereigns), the market’s perceptions are once again short-termist. Missing the unintended-consequence for the sugar high is something that we have seen again and again for the past few years but we worry that this time, given the sheer size of the program, that the ECB has got a little over its skis. By demanding collateral for their bottomless pit of low-interest loans, the ECB has not only reduced banks’ necessary deleveraging needs (and/or capital raising) but has increased risk for all bond-holders (and implicitly equity holders, who are the lowest of the low in the capital structure remember) as the assets underlying the value of bank balance sheets are now increasingly encumbered to the ECB. Post LTRO, Barclays notes that several banking-systems (PIIGS) now have encumbered over 15% of their balance sheets but LTRO merely extends a broader trend among European banks (pledging collateral in return for funding) and on average (even excluding LTRO) 21% of European bank assets are now encumbered, and therefore unavailable for unsecured bond holders, ranging from over 50% at Danske (more a business model choice with covered bonds) to around 1% for Standard Chartered. As the liquidity-fueled euphoria starts to be unwound, perhaps this list of likely stigmatized banks is the place to look for higher beta exposure to the downside (especially as we see EC B margin calls start to pick up).

 

Barclays: Encumbrance at European Banks

Who cares about funding anymore? While €1trn of 3-year LTROs takes funding risk off the table near term and helps buy time in managing the European sovereign debt crisis, we think there remain several reasons to stay concerned about bank funding longer term.

 

A rising trend of encumbrance: Even before the LTROs, a growing feature in Europe was rising balance sheet ‘encumbrance’ – the pledging of collateral to one group of creditors at the expense of another. The most obvious example of this is the rise in covered bonds, accounting for 40% of debt issuance in 2011. The LTRO exacerbates this trend. Post LTRO, several banking systems


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About those derivatives

Read this with Barry Ritholtz's excellent article in the Washington Post, "Credit default swaps are insurance products. It’s time we regulated them as such.

This subject is so complex that it helps to read (and reread) the meaning of terms while trying to understand the material. It's a lot like learning a foreign language. So here is some background information describing what derivatives are, how big the derivatives markets are, and why this is a problem. ~ Ilene

Terms and Definitions:

Derivatives – A derivative is a risk transfer agreement, the value of which is derived from the value of an underlying asset. The underlying asset may be an interest rate, a commodity, equity shares, an equiity index, a currency, or virtually any other tradable instrument upon which parties can agree.

According to Wikipedia, "A derivative instrument is a contract between two parties that specifies conditions (especially the dates, resulting values of the underlying variables, and notional amounts) under which payments, or payoffs, are to be made between the parties. 

"Under US law and the laws of most other developed countries, derivatives have special legal exemptions that make them a particularly attractive legal form through which to extend credit. However, the strong creditor protections afforded to derivatives counterparties, in combination with their complexity and lack of transparency, can cause capital markets to underprice credit risk. This can contribute to credit booms, and increase systemic risks. Indeed, the use of derivatives to mask credit risk from third parties while protecting derivative counterparties contributed to both the financial crisis of 2008 in the United States and the European sovereign debt crises in Greece and Italy.

"Financial reforms within the US since the financial crisis have served only to reinforce special protections for derivatives, including greater access to government guarantees, while minimizing disclosure to broader financial markets." More here. 

Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) - A type of derivative - a credit derivative contract between two counterparties. According to Wiki, "A credit default swap (CDS) is a financial swap agreement that the seller of the CDS will compensate the buyer in the event of a loan default or other credit event. The buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments (the CDS "fee" or "spread") to the seller and, in exchange, receives a payoff if the loan defaults."

Thus, the buyer of the CDS receives a payoff from the


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India Revokes Cotton Export Ban After China Complains: Limit Down Open For “Widowmaker” Trade?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

If there was any confusion as to who calls the shots in the world, the following anecdote should provide some needed clarity. Hint: it is not the US. After last week India announced it would proceed with a Cotton export ban, two days ago China logged “a formal protest against India’s ban on cotton exports amid signs that India is rethinking the ban that was implemented a few days ago.” As a result hours ago India announced that less than a week after enacting said ban, it is now overturning it. Of course, there is the diplomatic snafu of just why it did, and for India it has to do with “protecting” the interests of its farmers, who “complained that, due to higher production this year, they were already suffering from lower prices than they had expected and needed to export to recover their domestic losses.” Of course, the farmers’ position was well-known before the ban overturn. What wasn’t known is just how vocal China would be, as suddenly it would scramble to find alternative sources as it fills its strategic cotton reserve. Turns out it was quite vocal. And India, unwilling to risk a trade war with the world’s biggest economic power, promptly relented. As a result, any and all commodity traders who bought up the widowmaker trade may find themselves staring into a limit down market post open.

From the FT:

The U-turn of the world’s second-largest producer of cotton comes as New Delhi tries to balance its relationship with Beijing, the interests of its farmers, and the concerns of its ailing textile industry.

 

“Keeping in view the facts, the interests of the farmers, interest of the industry, trade, a balanced view has been considered by the Group of Ministers to roll back the ban,” commerce minister Anand Sharma said on Sunday.

 

The abrupt move will add further volatility to the commodity after a rollercoaster two years in which prices first spiked from about 75 cents to an all-time high of more than $2 per pound only to crash to $1 per pound.

 

The wild price swings triggered a spate of contract defaults by farmers and textile mills, and losses for top cotton traders including Noble Group of Hong Kong


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Current Round of Trading Jobs

Courtesy of Declan Fallon

Some of the Trading Jobs on offer are:

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Weekly Market Commentary: Finishes Week Near Highs

Courtesy of Declan Fallon

It was a good week for indices as market breadth offered a swing low while parent indices closed near their highs.  The Nasdaq was the best case in point.

The Nasdaq dug its heels at 2,900 on lower volume helped by decent technical strength.

Lending weight for a continuation of the Tech rally is the swing low in the Percentage of Nasdaq Stocks above the 50-day MA.  A similar pattern emerged in 2010 which was the basis for a new reaction high in the Nasdaq.

The Russell 2000 was able to find support at the former neckline head-and-shoulder pattern, turned support.

While the S&P positioned itself for a challenge on 2008 highs.

Although the concern is a swing high in the Bullish Percents, which suggests lower prices ahead for the S&P.

There is a bit of a divergence in market breadth; S&P breadth is pointing towards a top, while the Nasdaq is favoring a trade-able bottom.  Despite this, further gains would appear to be favoured given the strong position of the Nasdaq and S&P.

—--

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Weekend Reading – Mopping Up Liquidity Already?

Is it time to tighten already?

Volker Kauder, the head of Germany's leading Parliamentary group thinks so, saying: "I hope that the ECB acknowledges its limits and quickly rakes in the money later."  Mr. Kauder's warning follows similar comments made by Ms. Merkel at the most recent summit of European leaders on March 2. Responding to warnings by Brazil about a "tsunami of cheap money" flooding global markets, Merkel said during a news conference that she was certain that the ECB had now ended its program of issuing cheap 3-year loans to banks. Merkel also reassured critics that the ECB would not repeat such measures again.

The ECB's balance sheet is now nearly 1/3 of the Euro-Zone economy, 50% worse than the Fed's 19% stake in the US and even the Bank of England has "only" pumped their balance sheet to 21% of the UK GDP.  On Friday, through some interesting number juggling, Germany's Federal Statistics Office announced that the country's deficit plunged in 2011 and, at 1 percent, is now well within EU limits.  They are now ratcheting up the pressure for other nations to follow suit.  As pointed out by Mish:

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has already announced his own budget target of 5.8% of GDP in 2012, ignoring the EMU mandate of 4.4% on the way to an alleged 3% in 2013. Rest assured 4.4% will not be met, nor will 5.8%.  Last year's deficit was 8.5% and with Spain heading into a monster recession, 7.0% might be a more reasonable expectation for 2012.  

This may all be just internal noise to placate the hawks in Germany or it may be stage one of panic over the 2.5% plunge in the Euro last week – despite Greece being "fixed" again.  The bottom line is, without similar balance sheet inflation from the BOE and the Fed next week, the Euro still has a long way to fall and we know how a bouncing Dollar plays havoc with the markets.  

Portugal is already showing a 2.8% CONTRACTION in GDP for the final 3 months of 2011, 1.3% worse than Q3 and no one thinks it's getting better in Q1.  Their statistics agency said domestic demand and investment fell sharply, while growth in exports slowed.  Portugal's largest export partner is Spain, who are just beginning…
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Aircraft Carrier Enterprise Sets Off On Final Journey – Direction Iran

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Today at noon Eastern, the storied aircraft carrier Enterprise, aka CVN-65, left its home port of Naval Station Norfolk one final time for its final voyage with a heading: Arabian Sea, aka Iran. There in a week it will join CVN 72 Lincoln and CVN 70 Vinson, as well as LHD 8 Makin Island, all of which are supporting any potential escalation of “hostilities” in the Persian Gulf region. As a reminder, back in January we learned that the Enterprise’s final voyage will be in proximity to Iran, and in the meantime, the aircraft carrier held extended drills off the Florida coast to attack a “faux theocracy”  consisting of fundamentalist “Shahida” states. Why the Arabian Sea in about 7-10 days will be home to not two but three aircraft carriers and a big deck amphibious warfare ship is very much an open question, although we may have some thoughts. 

More:

Thousands of sailors will deploy today from Norfolk on the USS Enterprise for the last time on Sunday.

 

Nearly 5,500 Sailors aboard the ships of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (ENT CSG) are scheduled to deploy from Naval Stations Norfolk and Mayport, Fla., March 9, 11 and 12, to support operations with the U.S. Navys 5th and 6th Fleets.

 

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), commanded by Capt. William C. Hamilton Jr., will depart from Naval Station Norfolk for the ships 22nd and final deployment March 11.  

CVN 65 will not be alone:

After the Enterprise leaves Sunday, three Norfolk-based guided-missile destroyers will head out Monday — the USS Porter, USS Nitze and USS James E. Williams.

 

The strike group is commanded by Rear Adm. Ted Carter Jr.

 

Carrier Air Wing 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, will be embarked aboard the Enterprise.

 

The Enterprise was launched September 24, 1960, by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. and commissioned November 25, 1961.

 

Its record of high-profile service began with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Since then, it has served in countless missions around the world.

The aircraft squadrons of CVW 1 embarked aboard Enterprise are: Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 Red


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Greece Defaults, What Next? (SPY, IWM, GLD, VGK, EWG)

Courtesy of John Nyaradi.

 Greece Defaults, What Next? (SPY, IWM, GLD, QQQ, EWG)

 Global stock markets and ETFs shrug off Greek default and now wonder what comes next.

In a volatile week, global stock markets and ETFs grappled with the meaning of Greece’s default amid uncertainty over what happens next.

Although Friday was a placid day, it’s hard to imagine that a $3 Billion “credit event” can go ignored, as Lehman Brothers’ default was a $7 Billion and was one of the triggers of the near collapse and subsequent multi-trillion dollar bailout of the global financial system.  We’ll talk about all of this and more as we look at the question of, “What next?”

On My  Wall Street Radar

S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY)

chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

In the chart of the S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) above, we can see that RSI remains near overbought levels, MACD is in decline, indicating short term weakness in momentum and that the index is locked in a tight trading range  between 1340 and 1370.  The S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) has been in this tight, sideways channel since early February, and the longer this channel goes on, the more energy is being stored for the eventual breakout that will surely come.

The Economic View From 35,000 Feet

Last week brought mixed news on the global economic front.

On the plus side, the Greek situation seemed to be resolved, at least for the time being, the February Non Farm Payrolls report showed improvement and ISM Services Index rose.

On the negative side, initial jobless claims on Thursday ticked up and missed expectations, the U.S. January Trade Deficit jumped unexpectedly which will hurt U.S. economic growth,  global economic growth continues to show slowing in China and Europe.  Speaking of Europe, European ETFs were down for the week, with the iShares MSCI Germany Index (NYSEARCA:EWG) losing 0.95% for the week and Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF (NYSEARCA:VGK) losing 1.3% for the week as confidence in the Greek solution seemed to be lacking on the Continent.

Looking ahead, one can be quite sure that market players will now turn their attention to Portugal and Spain and the reaction to the Greek default as the news settles in and more details become known.  Already on Friday there was talk of Greece needing yet another bailout and the execution of the credit default swaps payouts will take center stage.

U.S. indexes…
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Zero Hedge

"Timestamp Fraud": A Rigged Market Explained In One Simple Animation

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

The topic of High-Frequency-Trading quickly dissolves into a smorgasbord of mnemonics and 'inside-baseball' technical terms - just complicated enough to lose everyone that matters or should care about its implications. Despite the fair-and-balanced defense from the mainstream media business channels (sponsored by the belief in the status quo fair markets that 'America the free' is known for), the fact is that HFT does front-run (perfectly legal under the umbrella protection of Reg NMS) order flow, but there may be one more wrinkle - one which would cement the Michael Lewis (accurate) allegation that the market is rigged.

Because if...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Summary

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

The set-up coming into this past week was clean: SPX and NDX exhibited breadth extremes from which they usually bounce and April Opex is a seasonally strong week (post).

In the event, SPX rose nearly 3%. In the process it exhibited a familiar pattern: overnight gaps in the past 4 days accounted 60% of the week's gain. Cash hours, when liquidity is greatest, was not where the meat of the gains took place. That was even more true for RUT and NDX which only posted cash hour gains during two of the four days.

After a sharp drop and a strong bounce, where does that leave the markets? Let's run through each of our market indicators...



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Insider Scoop

Nike Laying Off Fuel Band Team, According to CNET

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Nike (NYSE: NKE) is laying off 70-80 percent the engineers who created its FuelBand Fitness Tracker. according to a post that first surfaced on the social network Secret and was reported Saturday by CNET. Approximately 55 of the 70 employees on Nike's Digital Sport hardware team are reportedly being cut.

View full article http://www.cnet.com/news/nike-fires-fuelband-engineers-will-stop-making-wearable-hardware/

Posted-In: CNETNews Rumors

...

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Phil's Favorites

"Insatiable" Idiocy from the Economist on What to Do About Russia; Warmongers Can't Think

Courtesy of Mish.

In "Insatiable" the Economist says "The cost of stopping the Russian bear now is high—but it will only get higher if the West does nothing".

Economist: Mr Putin has used the Ukrainian crisis to establish some dangerous precedents. He has claimed a duty to intervene to protect Russian-speakers wherever they are. He has staged a referendum and annexation, in defiance of Ukrainian law. And he has abrogated a commitment to respect Ukraine’s borders, which Russia signed in 1994 when Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons. Throughout, Mr Putin has shown that truth and the law are whatever happens to suit him at the time.

Mish: What a bunch of one-sided hypocritical nonsense. The ...



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Market Shadows

Canary In the Yen Shaft: $10 trillion JGBs; No Bids!

Two guest authors, David Stockman and long-time contributor John Rubino, write about the current state of Abenomics. 

Canary In the Yen Shaft: $10 trillion JGBs; No Bids!

By  

This one matters a lot. Abenomics was predicated on a lunatic notion—namely, that the economic ills from Japan’s massive debt overhang could be cured by a central bank bond buying spree that was designed to be nearly 3X larger relative to its GDP than that of the Fed. Yet anyone with a modicum of common sense and market...



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Option Review

Wild Ride For Chipotle

Shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (Ticker: CMG) opened higher on Thursday morning, rising more than 6.0% to $589.00, after the restaurant operator reported better than expected first-quarter sales ahead of the opening bell. But, the stock began to falter just before lunchtime on concerns the burrito-maker will increase menu prices for the first time in three years. The price of Chipotle’s shares have since fallen into negative territory and currently trade down 3.5% on the session at $532.89 as of 1:50 p.m. ET.

Chart – Shares in Chipotle cool by lunchtime

...

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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

What the Market Wants: Positive News and Stocks at Bargain Prices

Courtesy of David Brown, Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last week’s market performance was nasty again, especially for the Small-cap Growth style/cap, down 4%.  Large-caps faired the best, losing only 2.7%.  That’s ugly and today’s market seemed likely to be uglier today with escalating tensions over the weekend in Ukraine. 

But once again, positive economic trumped the beating of the war drums. Retail Sales jumped up 1.1% over a projected 0.8% and last month’s tepid 0.3%, which was revised up to 0.7%.  While autos led, sales were up solidly overall.  Business inventories were about as expected with a positive tone.  Citigroup (C) handily beat estimates to add to the morning’s surprises.  As a result, the market was positive through most of the day, led by the DJI, up 0.91%, and the S&P 500, up 0.82%.  NASDAQ had a less...



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Digital Currencies

Facebook Takes Life Seriously and Moves To Create Its Own Virtual Currency, Increases UltraCoin Valuation Significantly

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Reggie Middleton.

The Financial Times reports:

[Facebook] The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval in Ireland for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process. 

The authorisation from Ireland’s central bank to become an “e-money” institution would allow ...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of April 14th 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, comments are found below each post.

Here is the new Stock World Weekly. Please sign in with your user name and password, or sign up for a free trial to Stock World Weekly. Click here. 

Chart by Paul Price.

...

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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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Pharmboy

Here We Go Again - Pharma & Biotechs 2014

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

Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.

And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.  Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014?  The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.

As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...



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FeedTheBull - Top Stock market and Finance Sites



About Phil:

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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About Ilene:

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.

Market Shadows >>