Author Archive for ilene

In-store shopping still matters this holiday season


In-store shopping still matters this holiday season

Courtesy of Kelli HollingerTexas A&M University

File 20171115 19799 99jc2s.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

In-person shopping remains popular. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

It surprises most millennials to learn that only about 10 percent of all retail purchases are actually made online. Each semester, when I ask hundreds of undergraduate business students to estimate, they consistently guess that between a quarter and half of all retail spending happens on the internet. But this holiday shopping season, as ever in the past, the overwhelming majority of purchases will still happen within four physical walls of a store.

This should encourage the thousands of retailers anchored in strip malls, lifestyle centers and mixed use developments. The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales – not counting car, gas and restaurant purchases – in November and December this year to increase up to 4 percent over last year, to as much as US$682 billion.

Stores will need the money in order to avoid being added to 2017’s record-breaking roster of retail bankruptcies, store closures and layoffs, which included landmark brands like Toys R Us and RadioShack.

A reason to visit

Traditional retailers must give consumers good reasons to visit their stores, beyond product selection and good value. Joe Pine and James Gilmore’s 1999 book “The Experience Economy” foretold how savvy companies, like Apple and American Girl, excel by staging compelling experiences that teach, entertain or inspire customers.

The main asset of a physical store in a digital world is human staffing. Even if a shopper doesn’t want help, a smile acknowledging his or her presence encourages connection. Front-line employees can ask customers about their kids, in-laws or Thanksgiving meal planning. That can lead to an authentic personal connection through which employees can discover a shopper’s unique wants and respond with products on the shelves, or ordered and shipped for free to the customer’s home. An in-person encounter can become a seamless blend of the online and physical worlds.

Even Walmart, America’s largest retailer, is moving to a more experiential model. In hopes of boosting sales, its 4,700 stores will host …
continue reading

Retail rage: Why Black Friday leads shoppers to behave badly


Retail rage: Why Black Friday leads shoppers to behave badly

Courtesy of Jaeha Lee, North Dakota State University

The manic nature of Black Friday has at times led shoppers to engage in fistfights and other misbehavior in their desperation to snatch up the last ultra-discounted television, computer or pair of pants.

What is it about the day after Thanksgiving – a day meant to celebrate togetherness and shared feasting – that inspires consumers to misbehave?

Fellow researchers Sharron Lennon, Minjeong Kim, Kim Johnson and I have in recent years been exploring the causes of consumer misbehavior on Black Friday, historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Our latest research shows how our emotions affect our likelihood to misbehave, as well as a significant difference between men and women.

A fight breaks out in a Walmart in 2016.

Black Friday mayhem

The term “Black Friday” first appeared in the journal Factory Management and Maintenance in 1951. It signals the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, when many retailers finally go “in the black” – that is, they become profitable for the year.

More recently, Black Friday has become a setting for consumer misbehavior as shoppers compete for deeply discounted products. Fighting, pepper-spraying, dumping merchandise, ransacking stores, robberies and shootings have all been reported on Black Friday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has even issued guidelines to retailers about how to avoid injuries and deaths.

In the U.S., the most shocking example of misbehavior occurred in 2008 when a Walmart worker was trampled and killed as shoppers rushed to enter the store.

So what causes some consumers to behave so badly?

It starts with the unique characteristics of Black Friday sales promotions and the frantic retail environment they create. Retailers heavily promote their most desirable items at deeply discounted prices in order to encourage more foot traffic. Demand for those precious few items naturally exceeds supply. That imbalance can lead to aggressive consumer behavior.

But another key ingredient is sleep deprivation, which…
continue reading

How the tax package could blur the separation of church and politics


How the tax package could blur the separation of church and politics

Courtesy of Susan AndersonElon University

File 20171122 6072 1ri5exo.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

If a House provision gets enacted, churches will be able to endorse – not just pray for – political candidates. Andrew Cline/

The tax package pending in Congress includes a provision that would leave churches and other nonprofits, which by law must be nonpartisan, suddenly free to engage in political speech.

This measure, currently only in the House version of the bill, could potentially change charitable life as we know it.

As an accounting professor who teaches nonprofit taxation, I believe that this significant change deserves vigorous public debate and is too big to bury in tax legislation.

Johnson Amendment

Tax law currently bars religious and secular charities alike from engaging in political activity, which the government defines as attempting to influence legislation or intervening in a campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) specific candidates.

Nonprofits caught breaking this law may pay back taxes or lose their tax-exempt status.

Known as the Johnson Amendment, this provision dates back to 1954, when then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson led the effort to get this restriction on the books. More nonprofits say they welcome this as a form of protection from political pressure than object to it as a restriction on their rights.

President Donald Trump vowed as a candidate to repeal the Johnson Amendment to give church leaders the ability to speak about politics without penalty. But repealing a law takes an act of Congress and power he lacks.

As a step in that direction, he issued an executive order directing the IRS not to enforce it for religious institutions.

The tax bill’s proposed change would actually repeal the Johnson Amendment, and it would apply to all charitable organizations, including churches and other houses of worship like mosques and synagogues. It came as an unwelcome surprise to most charities, which have been openly rejecting it.

“Charitable nonprofits don’t want to be dragged into the toxic political wasteland,” said Tim Delaney, who leads the National Council of
continue reading

Austerity, Bloodletting and Incompetence

Courtesy of The Automatic Earth.

Nicolas de Staël Mer du nord 1954

Punxsutawney Phil Hammond, the UK chancellor, presented his Budget yesterday and declared five more years of austerity for Britain. As was to be expected. One doesn’t even have to go into the details of the Budget to understand that it is a dead end street for both the country and for Theresa May’s Tory party.

So why the persistent focus on austerity while it becomes clearer every day that it is suffocating the British economy? There are many answers to that. Sheer incompetence is a major one, a lack of empathy with the poorer another. Conservative Britain is a class society full of people who dream of empire, and deem their class a higher form of life than those who work low-paid jobs.

When you see that the British Parliament has even voted that animals don’t feel pain or emotions, you’d be tempted to think it’s a throwback all the way back to the Middle Ages, not just the British Empire. They’re as lost in time as Bill Murray is in Groundhog Day. Only worse.

But perhaps incompetence is the big one here. The inability to understand that if your economy is not doing well, you need to stimulate it, not drain even more of what’s left out of it. The people in government don’t understand economics, and therefore rely on economic theory for guidance. And the prevailing theories of the day prescribe bloodletting as the cure, so they bloodlet (let blood?). Let it bleed.

This is not a British problem, it’s pan-European if not global. Neither is the UK Tory party the only one being killed by it, all Conservative parties share that faith. They’re just lucky that their left wing opponents have all committed hara kiri, and joined their ranks when it comes to economics. All of Europe’s poorer have lost the voices that were supposed to speak for them, to economic incompetence.

Obviously, the US democrats did their own hara kiri years ago. One might label -some of- Bernie Sanders’ views left-wing, but he’s trapped in a system that won’t let him breathe.

All of this leads me to question the following:

A letter in the Guardian published on Sunday called on Chancellor Philip Hammond, ahead of his budget presentation on Wednesday, to…
continue reading

The way we tell the story of Hollywood sexual assault and harassment matters


The way we tell the story of Hollywood sexual assault and harassment matters

Courtesy of Sarah L. CookGeorgia State University

File 20171013 3561 6jyds4.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Hollywood women who have spoken out against sexual harassment.

Reporter Paula Froelich claims she once observed Harvey Weinstein assault a woman at a book party. Her editor responded with, “Maybe it’s not really a story.”

As it turns out, Weinstein and others are becoming a never-ending story, as more women reveal experiences with powerful men – not just in Hollywood, but across multiple industries. This story typically has two acts. First come the women’s reports – followed by the inevitable dismissal and undermining of them.

As a scholar who has studied violence against women for more than 20 years and watched public outrage over harassment and assault wax and wane, my question is: Could this time be different?

Of course, the volume of reports is new. Never before have we witnessed such an outpouring. It’s also new to see organizations such as the newsroom at NPR or the Academy of Motion Picture Artists hold leadership accountable for failing to act.

But other aspects of this cultural moment are all too familiar. Already, the act of making a report of harassment or assault has been termed “Weinsteining,” and the collective action of women who have done the reporting has been termed the “Weinstein effect.” The use of these terms removes the women from the stories, and maintains a narrow focus on a singular perpetrator.

These cutesy terms also diminish the agony women face when deciding whether to make a formal complaint to an authority. Those who have been victimized report fear of reprisal or of being disbelieved, and feel shame, guilt and embarrassment. These fears and reactions are evident across women’s recent accounts. Many spoke of years of torment, fear, shame and guilt, including physical reactions like nausea when recalling the event.

Let me be clear. Such fears are rational. Though some actors allegedly victimized by Weinstein or James Toback continued in the industry and found success, many others were excluded from major films, and a…
continue reading

The Year of Living Dangerously


The Year of Living Dangerously

Courtesy of Joshua Brown

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.”
– Helen Keller


Stocks trading at record highs and approaching record valuations not seen since the biggest bubble in American history, seventeen years ago. You just don’t understand the new economy – total addressable market, user count, revenue growth and scale are all that matter now. 

Sixty new closing record highs for the Dow Jones Industrial Average so far in 2o17 out of a total 224 business days. And we’re heading into the seasonally strong period, what the hell are you doing not in Facebook and Netflix?

Tencent surpasses Facebook in market capitalization at $523 billion. Amazon’s market cap explodes from $350 billion in January to $550 billion in November. Apple’s market cap takes out $900 billion, surely on the way to an unprecedented trillion bucks. Wal-Mart closes the acquisition of, a company with barely any revenues and negative profits – and it’s market cap subsequently jumps by $70 billion (not a typo) over the ensuing twelve months. The old math is out the window, it’s worth what I say it’s worth. 

Bonds hover near highs too, around the world, with unthinkably low yields to pay back their investors for the risks they’re taking. Too much money sloshing around, it’s gotta go somewhere. 

Market volatility is non-existent, it’s been replaced with political volatility. We’re trading memes and scandals. The new Vix is the retweet count of a dick pic story. “No more, please!” you plead, as one by one, your heroes in sports, journalism, Hollywood, and business are ripped down off their pedestals, bathrobes open and text histories exposed. Oh my god, Charlie Rose? 

The Republicans have normalized child molesters. As long as you never admit to it, it didn’t happen. Bill Clinton and Al Franken, as lecherous as they may be, were also pretty dumb…
continue reading

Rebuilding the Caribbean will be pricey, but some are vying to finance its recovery


Rebuilding the Caribbean will be pricey, but some are vying to finance its recovery

Courtesy of Masao AshtineUniversity of the West Indies, Mona Campus

File 20171121 6072 at6kae.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

If Caribbean governments can’t afford to rebuild their islands, maybe big tech firms can?

November 20 marked the end of the Atlantic hurricane season, but for the Caribbean, it’s only the beginning of a painful recovery process.

In early September, Hurricane Irma largely destroyed Barbuda and several neighboring Lesser Antilles islands. Two weeks later, Maria took a final fatal stab at Barbuda and entirely knocked out Puerto Rico.

According to The Economist, damage from Irma alone tallies up to US$13 billion. Totals for the entire 2017 hurricane season remain unclear, but Puerto Rico Gov. Roberto Rosello’s recent request for $94.4 billion in aid gives some sense of Maria’s toll.

No matter the final price tag, recovery is sure to be unpayable in a region where 30 percent of people live in poverty and the per capita gross domestic product averages under $9,000 a year, versus $57,000 in the United States.

And while France, Holland and the United Kingdom have come to the assistance of their territories in the region, independent Caribbean nations like Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Cuba have no such obvious sponsors. Their economies shattered by storms – and, in some cases, shackled by debt – some Caribbean nations fear they may never recover.

But behind the scenes, numerous international players are actually racing to rebuild the Caribbean, from tech companies and wealthy individuals to far-flung countries.

‘Send Tesla’

Big corporations see an opportunity in the Caribbean’s recovery. Tesla, in particular, seems to have a vision for how the region could rebuild in a more renewable and resilient way.

As an energy and environment researcher, I’m certain that renewables would make Caribbean islands better able to withstand future storm impacts. Whether Tesla can achieve that is another question.

The California-based electric-car company has committed to sending to the island hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems, which could be paired with solar panels to get the electric grid…
continue reading

Why the FCC’s proposed internet rules may spell trouble ahead


Why the FCC's proposed internet rules may spell trouble ahead

Courtesy of David ChoffnesNortheastern University

File 20170914 24296 1yz229k.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

How fast is that video really coming in? hvostik/

As the Federal Communications Commission takes up a formal proposal to reverse the Obama-era Open Internet Order, a key question consumers and policymakers alike are asking is: What difference do these rules make?

My research team has been studying one key element of the regulations – called “throttling,” the practice of limiting download speeds – for several years, spanning a period both before the 2015 Open Internet Order was issued and after it took effect. Our findings reveal not only the state of internet openness before the Obama initiative but also the measurable results of the policy’s effect.

The methods we used and the tools we developed investigate how internet service providers manage your traffic and demonstrate how open the internet really is – or isn’t – as a result of evolving internet service plans, as well as political and regulatory changes. Regular people can explore their own services with our mobile app for Android, which is out now; an iOS version is coming soon. We’re working with the French equivalent of the FCC to promote our measurement tools in France to help audit whether French ISPs are compliant with local net neutrality protections. Other countries, including the U.S., could follow the French lead, using our tools to evaluate their internet service quality.

Rules take effect

Before the Open Internet Order took effect in 2015, companies running cellular networks were allowed to use throttling to manage how much data their networks needed to handle at any given time. To do this, some companies capped users’ download speeds, which could cause video to stream at lower quality, with less-sharp images that were blurry during action sequences.

But there were limited rules governing how the mobile companies enforced those caps: We found some providers slowing down YouTube videos but not Netflix or other video services. This is an example of a major concern net neutrality supporters have: that internet providers might give preference to traffic from…
continue reading

If Trump wants nuclear war, virtually no one can stop him


If Trump wants nuclear war, virtually no one can stop him

Courtesy of Dennis JettPennsylvania State University

File 20171122 6027 1vm9pt.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

An anti-war protester wears a mask showing US President Donald Trump in Berlin, Germany. AP Photo/Michael Sohn

The general in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal, John Hyten, recently said he would resist carrying out an illegal order from the president to use those weapons.

His comments echoed the ones made a few days earlier by one of his predecessors, retired Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler. At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Nov. 14, Kehler asserted that nuclear operations officers would refuse to implement an unlawful order.

While the generals are no doubt military men of integrity, my four decades of experience as a diplomat and scholar of American foreign policy suggest there is no law that would make a presidential order to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea illegal.

Here’s why.

No applicable law

Congress has the constitutional responsibility for declaring war, but it has not done so since World War II. That has not prevented every president since then from engaging in military conflicts large and small. Even American participation in the Korean War was not authorized by Congress. So, the absence of a formal declaration of war against North Korea is no barrier to a nuclear strike.

The War Powers Resolution attempted to rein in the president’s prerogatives when it comes to armed conflict. It requires the president to explain to Congress why he is using military force within 60 days of his doing so. But that 1973 law has often been ignored, kicks in only months after military action has been initiated and is considered by some to be unconstitutional.

In recent years, Congress has often acted to allow the president to use military force without a declaration of war. After 9/11, it passed an Authorization for the Use of Military Force to permit the president to go after those involved in the terrorist attacks that day. President Bush used that authorization in his rationale for invading Iraq, even though there was no connection to the attack. President…
continue reading

Zimbabwe beware: the military is looking after its own interests, not democracy


Zimbabwe beware: the military is looking after its own interests, not democracy

Courtesy of Enock C. MudzamiriUniversity of South Africa

File 20171121 6031 14lazje.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Zimbabwe National Army commander Constantino Chiwenga, second from left, addressing the media. EPA-EFE/Aaron Ufumeli

November 2017 will go down in the history of Zimbabwe as the beginning of the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37 year tyranny. A tumultuous week finally culminated in his resignation on November 21st. One cannot understate the widespread jubilation at the demise of Mugabe and his desire to create a dynasty for himself through his wife Grace.

But the optimism is misplaced because it doesn’t deal directly with the dearth of democracy in Zimbabwe.

First, contrary to popular sentiment that the coup was meant to usher in a new era of political liberalisation and democracy, the takeover is actually meant to deal with a succession crisis in Zanu-PF. The military made this clear when it said that it was dealing with criminals around Mugabe. And the party’s secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa indicated that removing Mugabe from the party’s Central Committee was an internal party matter.

Secondly, I would argue that the military resorted to a “smart coup” only after its preferred candidate to succeed Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was fired from the party and government.

The way in which the military has gone about executing its plan upends any conventional understanding of what constitutes a coup d'etat. It’s a “smart coup” in the sense that the military combined the frustrations of a restive population, internal party structures and international sympathy to remove a sitting president. It thereby gained legitimacy for an otherwise partisan and unconstitutional political act – toppling an elected government.

This begs the question: Is the military now intervening for the collective good or for its own interests?

Why the military intervened

It is baffling to imagine how the military has suddenly become the champion of democracy and regime change in Zimbabwe.

It’s clear that what motivated the military commanders was a fear of losing their jobs and influence after their preferred successor…
continue reading


Phil's Favorites

In-store shopping still matters this holiday season


In-store shopping still matters this holiday season

Courtesy of Kelli HollingerTexas A&M University

In-person shopping remains popular. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

It surprises most millennials to learn that only about 10 percent of all retail purchases are actually made online. Each semester, when I ask hundreds of undergraduate business students to estimate, they consistently guess that between a quarter and half of all retail spending happens on the internet. But t...

more from Ilene

Zero Hedge

Stocks Surge On Biggest Short Squeeze Since Election As Dollar Dumps To Worst Year Since 2009

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Stocks are at record highs (so is debt) so get out and consume America...

Ugly week for China...

German stocks just could not decide what to do this week after Merkel's mishaps...

But solid EU PM...

more from Tyler

Digital Currencies

Ethereum Surges To New Record Highs - Bigger Than Capital One, ICE, & eBay

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Following its big surge Thursday, Ethereum has broken through the psychologically important threshold of $400, establishing a new all-time high - currently hovering above $450.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph


more from Bitcoin

Chart School

Happy Thanksgiving :) Friday Should Be A Winner

Courtesy of Declan

Thanksgiving Wednesday was never going to generate an exciting day but it was good to see early week gains retained. Upcoming Thanksgiving Friday is typically a day when Junior traders go wild and decent gains are posted - even if trading volume is light. With last week's lead action I wouldn't be surprised if this pattern was to repeat.

Tech Indices have been leading the charge in recent days and I would look to the Nasdaq and Nasdaq 100 to be the primary chargers on Friday. Technicals are firmly in the green.

The Nasda...

more from Chart School

Insider Scoop

8 Stocks To Watch For November 22, 2017

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related CRM 9 Stock's Moving In Tuesday's After Hours Session Salesforce Falls Despite Q3 Beat The Vetr co... more from Insider


The two obstacles that are holding back Alzheimer's research

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


The two obstacles that are holding back Alzheimer's research

Courtesy of Todd GoldeUniversity of Florida

Family members often become primary caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. tonkid/

Thirty years ago, scientists began to unlock the mysteries regarding the cause of Alzheimer’...

more from Biotech


Robert Mugabe Under House Arrest, Military Takes Control Of Zimbabwe

By Andjela Radmilac. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Zimbabwe’s head of state, 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, has been placed under house arrest after what seems to be a military coup took place in the nation’s capital.

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsRobert Mugabe is safe

Following numerous reports on social media late Thursday night about the increased military presence in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, the country’s military took...

more from ValueWalk

Members' Corner

An Interview with David Brin

Our guest David Brin is an astrophysicist, technology consultant, and best-selling author who speaks, writes, and advises on a range of topics including national defense, creativity, and space exploration. He is also a well-known and influential futurist (one of four “World's Best Futurists,” according to The Urban Developer), and it is his ideas on the future, specifically the future of civilization, that I hope to learn about here.   

Ilene: David, you base many of your predictions of the future on a theory of historica...

more from Our Members

Mapping The Market

Puts things in perspective

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

Puts things in perspective:

The circles don't look to be to scale much!


more from M.T.M.


Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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 ...

more from OpTrader


NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!


We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...

more from Promotions

Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.


EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...

more from Kimble C.S.

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...

more from David

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...

Learn more About Phil >>

As Seen On:

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 >>