Author Archive for ilene

The Great Divides

Courtesy of The Automatic Earth



EdgarDegas A la mer 1863

Something hit me this week. The maps which came out on Monday and detailed the outcome of the French elections, were telling a story, and a familiar one by now. A story of deep division. There are a number of such maps now depicting the Brexit vote in the UK, the US presidential elections, and its French counterpart.

In all three cases they leave me wondering something along the lines of: ‘Are you guys sure you want to remain in the same country with each other?’ Because to me that is not all that obvious, and I think it’ll get less so as time passes. For instance in the case of France, the ‘ideological’ differences between Macron and Le Pen are substantial to say the least, they’re worlds apart.

And if you’re worlds apart, why live in the same country? Here’s that French map:



As you see, the country is sharply divided between west (Macron) and east (Le Pen). So much so that you wonder what these people still have in common, other than their language. There’s no doubt it’s also a dividing line between the richer part of the country, and the poorer.

Thing is, that same dividing line is visible in a similar map of the November 8, 2016 US election results, in a slightly different way.



In the US it’s not east versus west, it’s coast versus interior (flyover land). But the difference is equally clear and sharp. In fact, probably what we’re looking at is that France has only one coastline, while the US has two, and in both countries people living close to the ocean are on average richer than those who live more inland.

And in both cases there is no doubt that wealth is a deciding factor in dividing the nations to the extent that they are. We see that in an ‘urban versus rural area’ comparison as well. Cities like New York, LA and Paris are strongholds for the incumbent and establishment, the parties that represent the rich.

There can be no doubt that we’ll see more of that going forward. It won’t be there…
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Naysayer Reality Check: Waymo’s Self-Driving Taxi Debuts in Phoenix, for Free

Courtesy of Mish.

Every time I do a post on self-driving vehicles, readers respond that it cannot happen and won’t happen for a decade, if ever.

It’s time for a reality check.

A quick check of my calendar shows we are not quite halfway through 2017. And a quick check of headline news shows Waymo’s Self-Driving Minivans Now Offer Rides to Real People in Arizona.

Starting today, residents of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area can sign up to go for a ride in a self-driving minivan. As often as they want. For free.

Waymo, the self-driving car startup spun off from Google late last year, announced today that it’s offering its services to members of the public for the first time. Waymo is calling it an “early rider program,” intent on cataloging how on-demand, driverless cars will factor into people’s everyday lives. Interested participants can sign up on the company’s website, and Waymo will select riders depending on the the types of trips they want to take and their willingness to use the self-driving service as their primary mode of transportation.

A Waymo test driver will be behind the wheel at all times, but the company insists that the vehicle will drive without human intervention as much as possible. Rides will only be available to residents of Phoenix and the surrounding towns, like Gilbert, Tempe, and Chandler. Waymo describes the service areas as twice the size of San Francisco.

In order to accommodate what it hopes will be “hundreds” of riders, Waymo is ordering an additional 500 Chrysler Pacifica minivans from its automaker partner, Fiat Chrysler, which it will then outfit with the laser sensors it manufactures in-house. Waymo already has 100 self-driving minivans that have been driving the streets of Phoenix and Mountain View, California, since earlier this year.

“We want as many people as possible to experience our technology, and we want to bring self-driving cars to more communities sooner,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, in a Medium post published today.

Early Rider Program

What better way is there to create demand by giving away free services. That’s just what the Google spin-off did with its Early


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Contra Einhorn

 

Contra Einhorn

Courtesy of 

I consider David Einhorn to be among the brightest, most interesting thinkers in the investment markets and I read every investor letter from Greenlight as soon as they surface. I find myself agreeing with almost everything he says.

I just have a little nitpick with his contention that market participants are repeating the early 2000 dot com bubble.

His comments, via Bloomberg, yesterday:

“The bulls explain that traditional valuation metrics no longer apply to certain stocks,” the New York-based firm wrote in a letter to clients Tuesday that was seen by Bloomberg News. “Perhaps as the prospects for tax reform have dimmed, the market has regained enthusiasm for profitless companies that aren’t at risk of paying taxes.”

and…

As for when stock values might reset, the hedge fund didn’t forecast the timing.

“There was no catalyst that we know of that burst the dot-com bubble in March 2000, and we don’t have a particular catalyst in mind here,” the firm said in the letter. “That said, the top will be the top, and it’s hard to predict when it will happen.”

 

I really don’t like the March 2000 comparison for a few reasons. Most of them aren’t worth repeating, but the overarching thing is that you need enthusiasm for there to be a bubble and pretty much everyone is miserable, or, at best, investing in the missionary position right now through index funds. No one seems to want to poke their head up and say enthusiastic things about the bull. Are the taxi drivers giving you Vanguard fund tickers?

As Chris Rock said, “there’s no sex in the champagne room.”

More importantly, when Einhorn asserts that “There was no catalyst that we know of that burst the dot-com bubble in March 2000,” he’s not correct. There was one. It was a Barron’s article, published over the weekend leading into Monday, March 20th. That was the top for the Nasdaq Composite (the rest of the market – aka “Old Economy” stocks had already


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Mish Monthly Macro Video April 2017

Courtesy of Mish

Once a month I get together with Gordon Long for a videocast of the month’s hot news topics. This month we discussed the French election, Target2, and European politics.
 

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Original article here.





Police around the world learn to fight global-scale cybercrime

 

Police around the world learn to fight global-scale cybercrime

Courtesy of Frank J. CilluffoGeorge Washington UniversityAlec NadeauGeorge Washington University, and Rob WainwrightUniversity of Exeter

File 20170425 12650 umknr6

Police must join forces across international borders to take on modern cybercriminals. wutzkohphoto/Shutterstock.com

From 2009 to 2016, a cybercrime network called Avalanche grew into one of the world’s most sophisticated criminal syndicates. It resembled an international conglomerate, staffed by corporate executives, advertising salespeople and customer service representatives. The Conversation

Its business, though, was not standard international trade. Avalanche provided a hacker’s delight of a one-stop shop for all kinds of cybercrime to criminals without their own technical expertise but with the motivation and ingenuity to perpetrate a scam. At the height of its activity, the Avalanche group had hijacked hundreds of thousands of computer systems in homes and businesses around the world, using them to send more than a million criminally motivated emails per week.

Our study of Avalanche, and of the groundbreaking law enforcement effort that ultimately took it down in December 2016, gives us a look at how the cybercriminal underground will operate in the future, and how police around the world must cooperate to fight back.

Cybercrime at scale

Successful cybercriminal enterprises need strong and reliable technology, but what increasingly separates the big players from the smaller nuisances is business acumen. Underground markets, forums and message systems, often hosted on the deep web, have created a service-based economy of cybercrime.

Just as regular businesses can hire online services – buying Google products to handle their email, spreadsheets and document sharing, and hosting websites on Amazon with payments handled by PayPal – cybercriminals can do the same. Sometimes these criminals use legitimate service platforms like PayPal in addition to others specifically designed for illicit marketplaces.

And just as the legal cloud-computing giants aim to efficiently offer products of broad use to a wide customer base, criminal computing services do the same. They pursue technological capabilities that a wide range of customers want to use more easily. Today, with an internet…
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Does cooperating with ICE harm local police? What the research says

 

Does cooperating with ICE harm local police? What the research says

Courtesy of Patria de Lancer JulnesPennsylvania State University and Jennifer C. GibbsPennsylvania State University

File 20170421 12662 ud95t7

An ICE operation in Los Angeles, Feb. 7, 2017. Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP

Police need public cooperation. The Conversation

The police rely on the public to report and help solve crimes. This is especially true now that police departments face budget cuts and increasing demands on their time – an environment that pressures police to get things done through innovative partnerships with citizens.

But cooperation and partnerships rely on trust, something that’s in short supply between citizens and police. Public perception of the police and public engagement with immigrant communities are two areas we study, so we were interested in how forceful calls from local politicians and the Trump administration for the police to enforce immigration laws could impact these relationships.

You often hear police – especially in so-called “sanctuary cities” – express a concern that their jobs will become more difficult if they are forced to work with ICE.

How do they know?

Let’s look at the evidence.

Fearing police more than crime

Police-ICE collaboration across a number of states has targeted Latinos, a population already known for distrusting and fearing government.

A 2013 study by Nik Theodore of the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 45 percent of Latinos were unwilling to voluntarily offer information about crimes. Seventy percent of undocumented immigrants are unlikely to contact the police if they are victimized by crime. They feared being asked about their immigration status and possibly deported.

This fear predates the current ICE debate. A study of battered female immigrants in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s found that these women chose to suffer in silence rather than involve police.

Being associated with immigration enforcement could make this problem worse. A survey of Latino residents in California showed positive opinions of the police went down after local officers became more involved in immigration enforcement. Latino residents reported they…
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Feudalism And The “Algorithmic Economy”

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

By Thaddeus Howze via Medium.com

For the sake of this essay, feudal economic models imply the idea that a very tiny segment of the society is fantastically rich while the bulk of society works hard, has few choices about the work they do, and tend to be poorly compensated for their efforts.

feu·dal·ism: noun, historical

the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord’s land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection.

Welcome to the Algorithmic Economy, a future which uses machines to determine how effective you can be and how little they can pay you in the process.

There are no unions in this economy. There are no bosses to complain to. There are no people you can ask for redress. Because in this economy, the people doing the labor are considered the least important part of the machine and it’s best if they never communicate with someone living if it can be helped.

This is just like something out of a dark and dystopian science fiction novel, except its likely happening to you, right now. If it isn’t, unless you are very fortunate, it will be, soon. I write about the near-future in my speculative fiction. Often these are my most unpopular stories because they paint technology in a less-than-ideal light.

In a world in desperate need of positive imagery, a number of famed science fiction writers such as David Brin are recommending writers look at creating more beneficial, beneficent and Utopia-oriented stories, where people see the future as something to look forward to rather than promoting the more popular (and definitely easier to write) dystopias.

I have heard David Brin and know this work does need to be done, but having the extensive background in computer technology that I do, I still feel compelled to point out just how powerful and how much effect technology can have on


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Phil on Nasdaq

 





Housing’s Echo Bubble Now Exceeds The 2006-07 Bubble Peak

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

If you need some evidence that the echo-bubble in housing is global, take a look at this chart of Sweden's housing bubble.

A funny thing often occurs after a mania-fueled asset bubble pops: an echo-bubble inflates a few years later, as monetary authorities and all the institutions that depend on rising asset valuations go all-in to reflate the crushed asset class.

Take a quick look at the Case-Shiller Home Price Index charts for San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, OR. Each now exceeds its previous Housing Bubble #1 peak:

Is an asset bubble merely in the eye of the beholder? This is what the multitudes of monetary authorities (central banks, realty industry analysts, etc.) are claiming: there's no bubble here, just a "normal market" in action.

This self-serving justification--a bubble isn't a bubble because we need soaring asset prices--ignores the tell-tale characteristics of bubbles. Even a cursory glance at these charts reveals various characteristics of bubbles: a steep, sustained lift-off, a defined peak, a sharp decline that retraces much or all of the bubble's rise, and a symmetrical duration of the time needed to inflate and deflate the bubble extremes.

It seems housing bubbles take about 5 to 6 years to reach their bubble peaks, and about half that time to retrace much or all of the gains.

Bubbles have a habit of overshooting on the downside when they finally burst. The Federal Reserve acted quickly in 2009-10 to re-inflate the housing bubble by lowering interest rates to near-zero and buying over $1 trillion of mortgage-backed securities.

When bubbles are followed by echo-bubbles, the bursting of the second bubble tends to signal the end of the speculative cycle in that asset class. There is no fundamental reason why housing could not round-trip to levels below the 2011 post-bubble #1 trough.

Consider the fundamentals of China's remarkable housing bubble. The consensus view is: sure, China's housing prices could fall modestly, but since Chinese households buy homes with cash or large down payments, this decline won't trigger a banking crisis like America's housing bubble did in 2008.

The problem isn't a banking crisis; it's


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1st Quarter GDP Estimates: ZeroHedge, Mish, GDPNow, Nowcast, ISM, Markit

Courtesy of Mish

On Friday, April 28, the BEA will release its preliminary estimate for first quarter GDP.

Prior to that release, here is a compilation of six estimates from ZeroHedge, GDPNow, Nowcast, ISM, Markit, and me.

GDPNow Forecast: 0.5 Percent — April 18, 2017

FRBNY Nowcast: 2.8 Percent — April 21, 2017

Model Flaws

  1. Nowcast uses no hard auto data: This is a serious error. Autos account for 20% of retail sales and fleet sales are also very important.
  2. Nowcast has an incorrect reliance on unemployment rate: People dropping out of the labor force and actual employment rising can both move the number in the same direction. Both things cannot mean the same thing.
  3. ISM vs PMI: Both reports measure the same thing, yet those reports signal very different things. At least one of them is wrong. GDPNow and Nowcast both rely on ISM even though the PMI reports have been more accurate, at least recently.
  4. The GDPNow and Nowcast models both suffer from an inability to think. The weather provides a nice example. In December, the weather was unusually cold, causing Industrial Production numbers to soar (heat and electric production), for the entire upcoming quarter. I estimated in advance, January would take away those numbers. My assertion played out, at least for GDPNow. I still cannot account for Nowcast.

ISM vs PMI

I discussed the difference between ISM and Markit’s PMI estimates recently, for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing (services).

Continue reading here…





 
 
 

ValueWalk

Whitehall Locked Down After Police Arrest A Man Near Parliament

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Police in the Whitehall neighborhood of London are on high alert after arresting a man who was said to be carrying a knife in the area around Parliament. Officials are telling the media that they’re investigating exactly what happened, but early reports indicate that no one was injured in the incident.

falco / PixabayKnives seen on the ground outside Whitehall

Photos that are circulating on social media show two knives and a backpack lying on the ground at the scene. Police are now questioning the suspect and have placed Whitehall on lockdown. Government buildings in Whitehall are also locked down, and witnesses reportedly told Metro...



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Zero Hedge

Pending Home Sales Drop In March - Stagnant For 2 Years

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes declined in March after rising a month earlier by the most since 2010, as perhaps the seasonal exuberance gives way to affordability constraints. Despite NAR's comments that "home shoppers are coming out in droves this spring," it is evident from the chart below that pending home sales have been stagnant for almost two years.

2013 deja vua ll over again?

...



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Phil's Favorites

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

Euro-Area Economic Confidence Surges to Highest in a Decade (Bloomberg)

Euro-area economic confidence jumped to the highest in almost a decade this month, a testament to a continued improvement that may soon prompt a policy shift at the European Central Bank.

European Bank Bulls Seek ECB Tapering Hints as France Risk Fades (Bloomberg)

Investors are waiting to see whether Mario Draghi joins in the optimism that has engulfed the region&r...



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Chart School

Markets Consolidate

Courtesy of Declan.

After two days of gains it was time for consolidation in markets. The Russell 2000 didn't get this memo and added a third day of gains managing a new closing high.


The S&P finished with a doji which tagged all-time high resistance. Technicals haven't changed from yesterday and relative performance has continued to weaken. The index just has to survive profit-taking and perhaps aggressive shorts looking to take advantage of the resistance tag.

...

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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

Oil prices rebound after big draw in U.S. crude inventories (Reuters)

Oil prices rebounded from early losses on Wednesday after U.S. government data showed a larger-than-expected falloff in crude inventories, which encouraged buying after prices slid for several days on worries that a global crude glut was persisting despite cuts in output by producing countries.

Lucky, Good or Tipped Off? The Curious Case of Government Data and the Pound (The Wall Street Journal)

Some investors could be trading with knowledge of U.K. official statistics before they are publi...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

S&P 500; Dangerous place to run out of gas!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Could the “Weekly Closing Highs and Lows” of last year, be impacting stock prices in 2017? The Power of the Pattern thinks so! Below looks at the S&P 500 over the past couple of years. where we applied Fibonacci to the “Weekly Closing Highs and Lows” of last year.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The S&P 500 ran into the 161% extension level at (2) and it stopped on a dime, at the end of February. Following a small decline the rally the past two weeks has it testi...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of April 24th, 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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Digital Currencies

BDC's Crypto Corner

Hello fellow PSW-ers, it's biodieselchris here. I've been interested in cryptocurrencies (informally, "cryptos" or "coins") since 2011 when I first heard about Bitcoin, Since that time I've become somewhat of a subject matter expert and personal investor in Bitcoin and other alternative cryptocurrencies ("altcoins"). I have even started one of my own!

I've been posting comments about cryptos in Phil's daily post from time to time. Recently, Phil and I got on a call and he asked if I would like to run a blog on his site specifically about cryptos, which I thought was a great idea. My goal would be to educate members on what I know about how coins work, how I research coins (what I find interesting), how exactly one can invest (buy, hold, and sell) coins and a basic, easy-to-follow general how-to on all things crypto. In addition, other members have expressed an interest in learning more directly...



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Members' Corner

Should I buy that stock?

Courtesy of Phil Stasukaitis (pstas)

I was asked by my local investment club to do a presentation on "how to buy a stock?" As I pondered the question, I began by noting all the elements that I monitor regularly and which come in to play as part of my decision process. As the group is comprised novices to experts, I tried to gear my discussion to cover both basics and more advanced concepts.

Four Part Discussion

  1. Macro Economic Indicators
  2. Market Indexes
  3. Fundamental Analysis
  4. Technical Analysis

1. Macro Economic Indicators

We'll start with reviewing some basic concepts and measurements that have direct effects on the stock market. 

A. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

...

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Mapping The Market

Bombing - Right or Wrong?

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

I am telling you Angel – makes no sense… BTW:

Republicans Love Bombing, But Only When a Republican Does It

By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

A few days ago I noted that Republican views of the economy changed dramatically when Donald Trump was elected, but Democratic views stayed pretty stable. Apparently Republicans view the economy through a partisan lens but Democrats don't.

Are there other examples of this? Yes indeed. Jeff Stein points to polling data about air strikes against Syria:

Democr...



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Biotech

CAR-T & CRISPR - the Future is Now

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

PSW Members....it has been a while since my last post, but since many have all been on the board following the chat, it is time for a scientific lesson in a few of the companies we are long.  In addition, another revolution is coming in the medical field, and it will be touched upon as well.

CAR-T - stands for Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and the T is for T-cell.  

From the picture above, T-cells are one cell type of our immune system that fight off infection as well as they are one player at keeping rogue cells from becoming cancerous. Unfortunately, cancer somehow evades the immune system and so it begins.

CAR-T came along in the late1980s via a brilliant scientist, Zelig Eshhar...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

...

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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...

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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 >>