Author Archive for ilene

‘Dreamers’ could give US economy – and even American workers – a boost


'Dreamers' could give US economy – and even American workers – a boost

Courtesy of Amy HsinCity University of New York

File 20180119 80203 1iuvh1m.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Demonstrators chant slogans during an immigration rally in support of DACA. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Earlier this month, hopes were high that a bipartisan deal could be reached to resolve the fate of the “Dreamers,” the millions of undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Those hopes all but vanished on Jan. 11 as President Donald Trump aligned himself with hard-line anti-immigration advocates within the GOP and struck down bipartisan attempts to reach a resolution.

As we enter the final hours before a potential government shutdown, many Democrats are insisting that any short-term funding agreement must include a resolution for Dreamers.

One of the arguments advanced by those who oppose giving them citizenship is that doing so would hurt native-born workers and be a drain on the U.S. economy. My own research shows the exact opposite is true.

Lives in limbo

All in all, about 3.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. entered the country as children. Without options for legal residency, their lives hang in the balance.

To address this problem, the Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012. DACA gave almost 800,000 of them temporary legal work permits and reprieve from deportation. Although his successor terminated the program in September, this month a federal court halted that process, allowing current recipients the ability to renew their status.

Any cause for celebration, however, was short-lived as the Department of Justice immediately responded by asking the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. The Supreme Court has not yet announced a decision. In the meantime, the future of DACA recipients remains uncertain.

Today, the best hope for a permanent fix for the Dreamers rests on bipartisan efforts to enact the 2017 DREAM Act – for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors – which would extend pathways to citizenship to undocumented youth who entered the United States as children, graduated from high school and have no criminal record. A…
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Trump Brought the Money Back


Trump Brought the Money Back

Courtesy of 

You can be as hysterical as you want about the utter unfitness for office that the President demonstrates daily, but to be considered credible and reasonable, you’ve also got to be honest about the (rare) positives he’s been able to bring about.

The repatriation issue was a no-brainer. The Dems had plenty of time to bring the foreign cash of US companies back, and they didn’t bother even addressing it. Instead, trillions of dollars sat in accounts from London to Tokyo for years while US corporations did everything from changing their domiciles to raising debt domestically in order to put it to work.

And Trump forced a change in policy to bring the cash back. I wouldn’t go so far as saying that if the majority of what comes over is used for corporate buybacks and higher dividends that this will be a huge positive for the economy, but it’s better than having our assets idly collecting interest in foreign sovereign bonds.

Apple said this week that most of the $274 billion in cash and equivalents it holds elsewhere will be coming back to the United States – with plans for a huge new second headquarters, 20,000 more jobs and a new $5 billion investment in training / tech now being discussed. You don’t have to like the President to agree that this is a good development and that, no, it was not something that was necessarily going to happen under President Clinton.

As I said the other day, Trump didn’t single-handedly turn the economy higher, it was already headed on an upward trajectory – along with the stock market – during the entirety of Obama’s administration. But the recent burst of liveliness has to be attributed to the new attitude at the top:

Donald Trump’s singular accomplishment, in my view, is the ignition of Animal Spirits in the stock market and the real economy. Small business confidence measures shot up from the week of his inauguration and have remained elevated ever since. PE multiples expanded throughout the course of the year, which was not solely due to

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A year of Trump: how his incendiary style took the place of substance


A year of Trump: how his incendiary style took the place of substance

Courtesy of Clodagh Harrington, De Montfort University

Anyone looking for a visual representation of Donald Trump’s first year in office need only behold Time magazine’s cover marking the anniversary. Composed by artist Edel Rodriguez, it depicts Trump as a furious, bellowing mouth, his notorious hair rendered in livid flames.

For a year of poisonous rhetoric backed up with few substantial achievements, it could scarcely be more apt. Without even a glance at a policy checklist, the most casual observer knows that Trump has torn up the presidential rule book and set the shreds on fire.

Ever since the Kennedy era ushered in the personalised presidency, scholars of US politics have cautioned their students to beware of the shiny distractions that take up the news agenda and focus on the substance of what the executive branch is doing – the most meaningful business is often done in the shadows. But, then again, rhetoric is a powerful tool of the executive. A president’s words – and tweets – really matter.

Trump has spent the past two-and-a-half years crafting a political style which, when distilled, consists of little more than catchy soundbites and incandescent tweets. Detractors might scorn his freewheeling (to put it politely) verbal style, but from the start of his campaign, he energised his supporters in a way that his Democratic opponent could only dream of – and all while giving only the sketchiest details of how he planned to achieve anything once elected.

But, on the campaign trail, a candidate can be forgiven for lacking substance – in fact, it may be an advantage. As far as campaigns go, substance can be hard to sell – Hillary Clinton was roundly mocked for offering dull, wonky stump speeches demonstrating her grasp of complex policy problems. The Make America Great Again mantra, on the other hand, was a stroke of Reaganesque genius, vague enough that voters could read into it whatever they liked.

Governing, though, is another matter. Trump has not shifted American public opinion on any given issue, and…
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Shutdown under a unified government? Blame Trump


Shutdown under a unified government? Blame Trump

Courtesy of Jennifer VictorGeorge Mason University

File 20180120 110087 1cc7c1a.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Trump on Jan. 19, 2018. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Government shutdowns are rare.

This one is unique because the U.S. has never before experienced a shutdown under a unified government, a time when the White House and Congress are controlled by the same party.

The policy consequences of this shutdown are likely to be minimal. And, the shutdown itself will also probably be short-lived.

However, the political consequences and long-term “optics” may be significant – and are more likely to negatively impact Republicans than Democrats.

Politics are key

A government shutdown occurs when Congress and the president fail to pass required annual appropriations into law, and they also fail to pass a temporary funding mechanism known as a “continuing resolution” to keep the government funded. Without these authorizations, the agencies and departments of the federal government literally have no legal authority to spend funds – even though the law allows some “essential” government functions to keep running.

This time around, the politics of federal government appropriations are tied to the fate of two other controversial issues.

The first is DACA. Trump gave Congress six months to provide a legislative fix for the approximately 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and whose legal status is in jeopardy because the Trump administration rescinded an Obama-era executive action allowing them to stay in the country. Time is ticking for these so-called Dreamers, some of whom will lose their protective status beginning on March 5, 2018.

The second issue intertwined with the budget politics is funding of a health insurance program known as CHIP that provides services to 8.9 million children.

Republican congressional party leaders tried to push Democrats into an uncomfortable vote by forcing them to choose between negotiating a solution for DACA or funding CHIP. This maneuver had the potential to score important political points for Republicans during an election year.

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Republicans Plucked Out Chip But Let a Slew of Other Health Programs Languish

Courtesy of Ryan Grim, The Intercept

If you want a blow-by-blow of the 24 hours that led up to the shutdown at midnight, Politico (where I used to work ten years ago) has you covered. On a more general level, the explanation is simpler, and it's the one I shared the other day in this very email: whenever Paul Ryan gets clever, he flops. This business is not about being clever. Here's what happened with CHIP, the DREAM Act and the shutdown.


By Aida Chavez

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS THOUGHT they had hit on a foolproof plan to force Democrats to vote for their spending bill to keep the government open for another month. Democrats, they reasoned, love government health insurance. And Democrats love children. So surely if they plucked out the Children’s Health Insurance Program from the expiration pile and offered to renew it for six years, Democrats would leap at the chance — or at least not be able to resist it.

“I cannot see the Democrats voting against the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama.

The plan, though, proved too clever by half. It wasn’t even enough to sway Republicans. Four of them, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky all voted against the measure, joined by 44 of the 49 members of the Senate Democratic caucus. If fell nine votes short, not remotely close.

A major flaw in the GOP plan was its transparency. Strenuous effort to paint Democrats as heartless ran up against two basic questions that had no good answer. First, the program expired in September, so where was the urgency until now? But perhaps more importantly, CHIP has been a key part of bipartisan negotiations that involve a slew of popular health programs for the nation’s most vulnerable people that also expired at the same time, and negotiators had long assumed all of the programs would move together.

Plucking out CHIP may have only added to the uncertainty rather than diminished it. And it was a cost-free offer from Republicans: a new…
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Citigroup: The Poster Child of Bad Mortgages

Courtesy of Pam Martens

By Richard Bowen

Richard Bowen, Testifying Before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

Richard Bowen, Testifying Before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

This past Sunday the PBS documentary produced by WNET, New York, about Sherry Hunt, one of my former chief underwriters (Sherry blew the whistle on Citigroup four years after I was thrown out for warning about their bad mortgages), and myself aired on KERA Channel 13, Dallas PBS.

The documentary, entitled “The Whistleblower,” is the first episode in a three-part PBS series called Playing by the Rules: Ethics at Work. It has aired in New York and several other cities around the country and in Dallas this past weekend, with most of the PBS stations airing it this month. You can watch it here and on the WNET website.

Sherry Hunt was a vice president and chief underwriter at CitiMortgage in O’Fallon, Missouri. Since 2005 she had flagged defects; 50 % of the loans she saw had defects, fraudulent defects. She complained and was ignored. I became her boss in 2006 and learned of her concerns which were also expressed by others.

I dug deeper, and it was worse than I could ever have imagined. While we reported that 95% of our mortgages met our policies, in reality, 60 % (growing to 80 %) of the mortgages did not. And yet Citi was certifying to the purchasers of many billions of dollars of these mortgages that they met our policies.

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The data war behind net neutrality


The data war behind net neutrality

Courtesy of Roger KamenaL'Université TÉLUQ; Daniel LemireL'Université TÉLUQ , and Nicolas ScottUniversité de Montréal

File 20180111 101508 dojgri.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Ajit Pai, former Verizon lawyer turned head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), rolled back President Barack Obama’s net neutrality policy in December. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In the social and political saga surrounding the question of net neutrality, what is often overlooked is the data war going on behind the scenes. The real fuel behind the debate is the enormous volume of data we generate with each search and click.

As a marketable commodity, large-scale audience data has completely transformed the global economic landscape in less than a decade. The emergence of GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) germinated a disruptive new business model that capitalizes on what many consider to be the new oil: Data.

Based on a study published by eMarketer in September 2017, we can see how user-data companies (UDC) now hold the top five positions among the largest brands in the world.

In 2006, five of the top 10 brands were retailers. By 2017, nine of the top 10 brands in the world were UDCs.

The business of user data

The nature of the data business model can be understood by the relationship between its three core pillars: The internet user, who generates the data; the content publisher, who offers the internet user a service (often free) in exchange for personal data; and the advertiser, who buys data from content publishers in order to run more effective marketing campaigns.

The schema below attempts to illustrate the nature of this internet user data paradigm:

Credit: Adviso Conseil Inc.

Clearly, the winners in the 2017 repeal are the large U.S. telecommunications companies, who happen to be the glue, as internet providers, between the internet user and the publisher (Google, Facebook). They stand to gain an enormous strategic advantage with the end of net
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Quantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers


Quantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers

Courtesy of Sebastian DeffnerUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County

File 20180105 26163 urueyr.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

How fast can quantum computing get? Research shows there’s a limit. Vladvm/

Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies are to continue building ever-faster computers, something will need to change.

One key hope for the future of increasingly fast computing is my own field, quantum physics. Quantum computers are expected to be much faster than anything the information age has developed so far. But my recent research has revealed that quantum computers will have limits of their own – and has suggested ways to figure out what those limits are.

The limits of understanding

To physicists, we humans live in what is called the “classical” world. Most people just call it “the world,” and have come to understand physics intuitively: Throwing a ball sends it up and then back down in a predictable arc, for instance.

Even in more complex situations, people tend to have an unconscious understanding of how things work. Most people largely grasp that a car works by burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine (or extracting stored electricity from a battery), to produce energy that is transferred through gears and axles to turn tires, which push against the road to move the car forward.

Under the laws of classical physics, there are theoretical limits to these processes. But they are unrealistically high: For instance, we know that a car can never go faster than the speed of light. And no matter how much fuel is on the planet, or how much roadway or how strong the construction methods, no car will get close to going even 10 percent of the speed of light.

Explaining special relativity.

People never really encounter the actual physical limits of the world, but they…
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Climate change and weather extremes: Both heat and cold can kill


Climate change and weather extremes: Both heat and cold can kill

Courtesy of Garth HeutelGeorgia State UniversityDavid MolitorUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Nolan MillerUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

File 20180118 158550 9luhro.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Extreme cold weather in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 3, 2018. AP Photo/David Goldman

Climate change is increasing the frequency and strength of some types of extreme weather in the United States, particularly heat waves. Last summer the U.S. Southwest experienced life-threatening heat waves, which are especially dangerous for elderly people and other vulnerable populations.

More recently, record-setting cold temperatures engulfed much of the country during the first week of 2018. This arctic blast has been blamed for dozens of deaths. Some scientists believe that Arctic warming may be a factor in this type of persistent cold spell, although others question this connection.

In a recent working paper, we studied the effect of temperature extremes on elderly mortality, using comprehensive data from Medicare covering about 35 million beneficiaries. Analyzing daily patterns at the ZIP code level, we estimated how daily temperature changes affect elderly mortality as a way to predict how people may adapt to climate change.

Our key finding is that both heat waves and cold snaps increase mortality rates. For example, the mortality rate from a day with average temperatures between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit is higher by about 1 death per 100,000 individuals than a day with an average temperature between 65 and 70 degrees. Deaths also increase, by about one-half per 100,000 individuals, on days when the average temperature is less than 20 degrees.

Several prior studies have found similar results. This means that communities need to plan for the higher risk of deaths from both hot and cold weather extremes.

Heutel et al, 2017, CC BY-ND

Shivering in Florida, sweating in North Dakota

People and communities have many options for adapting to climate change. They can install air conditioning, or change the urban environment – for example, by planting trees to cool city streets. They may…
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Ahead of government shutdown, Congress sets its sights on not-so-comprehensive immigration reform


Ahead of government shutdown, Congress sets its sights on not-so-comprehensive immigration reform

Courtesy of Matthew WrightAmerican University

File 20180119 80197 1vw54m4.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Senators meet with President Donald Trump to discuss immigration on Jan. 9, 2018. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

For a moment, it looked as though 2018 might be the year that ended a three-decade streak of failure to pass so-called “comprehensive immigration reform.”

On Jan. 11, a bipartisan group of six senators brought forth a plan for comprehensive reform that would include US$2.7 billion for border security, a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” brought to the country without authorization as children, a limit on those Dreamers sponsoring their parents for citizenship and a reallocation of “diversity visas” to immigrants with recently terminated Temporary Protected Status visas.

Prospects for the deal have dimmed since President Donald Trump, who had previously expressed sympathy for Dreamers, abruptly torpedoed it. But the rudiments of a workable deal are still in place. If it ends up succeeding, it will be in no small part because it sidesteps the one issue that has deadlocked comprehensive reform since the 1990s: undocumented immigrants.

The only remotely viable path to a “comprehensive” deal, it seems, is to leave millions of undocumented immigrants who are not Dreamers out in the cold.

The ‘amnesty’ stumbling block

Americans of all political stripes, and their elected officials, have long agreed that the U.S. immigration system is “broken.” Yet since the last major round of reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, efforts at “comprehensive immigration reform” spearheaded by presidents of both parties and enjoying bipartisan congressional support have gone nowhere. America’s foundational laws regarding immigrants have remained largely intact since Lyndon Johnson occupied the White House. They are the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, later amended by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, and the Immigration Act of 1990.

The main stumbling block has been hostility, mainly on the Republican side, to normalizing the status of millions of immigrants living in the country without permission. This hostility developed fairly recently, driven almost entirely by pressure to please a small but rabidly anti-immigrant base. George W. Bush largely escaped pressure to harden his relatively…
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Zero Hedge

Beijing Outraged As US Warship Sails Within 12 Miles Of Contested Island


Beijing Outraged As US Warship Sails Within 12 Miles Of Contested Island

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

The new year is barely three weeks old and already the US Navy’s “freedom of navigation” operations are eliciting furious threats of retaliation from the Chinese military.

Since President Donald Trump took office one year ago, the Navy and Air Force have increasingly sought to test the Chinese military response in the Pacific by sailing or flying within a certain perimeter - usually 12 miles - of one of China’s disputed territorial holdings in the South China Sea, according to ...

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How to Tell If Someone's Bluffing: Body Language Lessons from a Poker Pro

By jafransp11. Originally published at ValueWalk.

When it comes to body language, it’s never an exact art. The things I’m going to suggest, they’re all guidelines. But that said there are some certain things that as a poker player I’ll look for. And the most important thing is, first of all, to get a baseline of somebody. It’s impossible to tell whether the behavior someone is showing is meaningful or not if you don’t know how they naturally behave. So the first thing I’ll do when I sit down at the table is looking at what my opponents are doing when they’re not in a hand: are they naturally quite gregarious, are they confident when they interact with the waitress, or are they naturally quite quiet and shy? How do they sit? Are they naturally closed off? Are they very languishing”—...

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Phil's Favorites

'Dreamers' could give US economy - and even American workers - a boost


'Dreamers' could give US economy – and even American workers – a boost

Courtesy of Amy HsinCity University of New York

Demonstrators chant slogans during an immigration rally in support of DACA. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Earlier this month, hopes were high that a bipartisan deal could be reached to resolve the fate of the “Dreamers,” the millions of undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Those hopes ...

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Insider Scoop

Wall Street Previews Netflix's Q4 Earnings: Rising Subscriber Numbers Drive Bullish Projections

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related NFLX Needham's Laura Martin: Amazon Prime Price Increase Won't Affect Netflix, Roku Upcoming Netflix Earnings:... more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are just the Beanie Babies of the moment


Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are just the Beanie Babies of the moment

Courtesy of Vitaliy Katsenelson, Contrarian Edge

If you invested in the markets circa 1999, it is hard to observe the Bitcoin mania and not experience the feeling that you’ve seen this movie before and know how it will end – in losses and tears. The internet was a great idea that convinced a lot of great minds to invest capital and energy into businesses that have transformed the world – Amazon, eBay, Cisco, PayPal … the list is very long (though in fairness the list of non-survivors is even longer – but they are not here to remind us of their nonexistence).


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Chart School

Short Covering Driving Gains in Semiconductors and Nasdaq 100

Courtesy of Declan.

The Nasdaq 100 breakout cleared channel resistance, the fifth significant breakout in four months. All technicals are posting new near-term highs which also meant the short generated on the tag of the rising channel is negated.

The Semiconductor Index also enjoyed a substantial breakout as short covering drove traders out of their positions. Technicals see an improvement with a relative gain against the Nasdaq 100.


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How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain - new study

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


How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain – new study

Courtesy of Thomas E CopeUniversity of Cambridge

Harmful tau protein spreads through networks. Author provided

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating brain illness that affects an estimated 47m people worldwide. It is the most common cause of dementia in the Western world. Despite this, there are currently no treatments that are effective in curing Alzheimer’s disease or preventing its relentless progressio...

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Mapping The Market

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like 'Science-Based,' 'Diversity'

By Jean-Luc

These are the policies of a theocracy, not a modern democracy:

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like ‘Science-Based,’ ‘Diversity’

The Trump administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using words like “science-based,” “diversity,” and “transgender” in their official documents for next year’s budget, according to the Washington Post.

Senior CDC budget leader Alison Kelly met with the agency’s policy analysts on Thursday to announce ...

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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...

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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 ...

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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...

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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...

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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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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 >>

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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 >>