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The Burning Questions For 2015

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

The Burning Questions For 2015

By Louis-Vincent Gave, Gavekal Dragonomics

With two reports a day, and often more, readers sometimes complain that keeping tabs on the thoughts of the various Gavekal analysts can be a challenge. So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.

1. A Chinese Marshall Plan?

When we have conversations with clients about China – which typically we do between two and four times a day – the talk invariably revolves around how much Chinese growth is slowing (a good bit, and quite quickly); how undercapitalized Chinese banks are (a good bit, but fat net interest margins and preferred share issues are solving the problem over time); how much overcapacity there is in real estate (a good bit, but – like youth – this is a problem that time will fix); how much overcapacity there is in steel, shipping, university graduates and corrupt officials; how disruptive China’s adoption of assembly line robots will be etc.

All of these questions are urgent, and the problems that prompted them undeniably real, which means that China’s policymakers certainly have their plates full. But this is where things get interesting: in all our conversations with Western investors, their conclusion seems to be that Beijing will have little choice but to print money aggressively, devalue the renminbi, fiscally stimulate the economy, and basically follow the path trail-blazed (with such success?) by Western policymakers since 2008. However, we would argue that this conclusion represents a failure both to think outside the Western box and to read Beijing’s signal flags.

In numerous reports (and in Chapters 11 to 14 of Too Different For Comfort) we have argued that the internationalization of the renminbi has been one of the most significant macro events of recent years. This internationalization is continuing apace: from next to nothing in 2008, almost a quarter of Chinese trade will settle in renminbi in 2014:

This is an important development which could have a very positive impact on a number of emerging markets. Indeed, a typical, non-oil exporting emerging market policymaker (whether in Turkey, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Argentina or India) usually has to worry about two things that are completely out


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Gun Violence In America (In 6 Uncomfortable Charts)

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

A recent report, The Annual Review of Public Health, summarizes the basic facts of firearm violence, a large and costly public health problem in the United States for which the mortality rate has remained unchanged for more than a decade. It presents findings for the present in light of recent trends. Risk for firearm violence varies substantially across demographic subsets of the population and between states in patterns that are quite different for suicide and homicide. Suicide is far more common than homicide and its rate is increasing; the homicide rate is decreasing. As with other important health problems, most cases of fatal firearm violence arise from large but low-risk subsets of the population; risk and burden of illness are not distributed symmetrically. Compared with other industrialized nations, the United States has uniquely high mortality rates from firearm violence.

SUMMARY POINTS

1. The overall fatality rate from firearm violence has not changed in more than a decade.

2. Suicide is the most common form of fatal firearm violence (64.0% of deaths in 2012) and is increasing. Homicide is decreasing.

 

3. Homicide risk is concentrated to a remarkable degree among Black males through much of the life span. Mortality rates from firearm violence are very high and unchanged in this group.

 

4. Suicide risk is highest among White males beginning in adolescence. They also account for most fatalities from firearm violence and have increasing mortality rates.

5. As compared with other industrialized nations, the United States has low rates of assaultive violence…

 

…but uniquely high mortality rates from firearm homicide and suicide.

 

Full report can be found here (PDF)





Archaea Capital’s 5 Bad Trades To Avoid Next Year

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Excerpted from Achaea Capital's Latter to Investors,

Blind faith in policymakers remains a bad trade that’s still widely held. Pressure builds everywhere we look. Not as a consequence of the Fed’s ineptitude (which is a constant in the equation, not a variable), but through the blind faith markets continuing to place bets on the very low probability outcome – that everything will turn out well this time around. And so the pressure keeps rising. Managers are under pressure to perform and missing more targets, levering up on hope. As we wrote last year, bad companies were allowed to push their debt up in order to pay generous shareholder dividends and director packages that are now (in an uninspiring turn of events) higher than their free cash flow. Buybacks are “all-in” at cycle-highs, funded with shareholder money while insiders continue to cash out their own. Individual investors pressured to pick up yield became their debt or equity holders – lured by higher returns, easy-to-use ETFs, and asking no questions. And so, just as Moody’s suggested a year ago would happen (and we presented in last year’s report), high yield spreads have widened all year – in stark contrast to the gains in stocks and one of the most supportive government Bond rallies in history. The default cycle doesn’t appear to be that far off anymore, and not just in U.S. markets. Credit markets have embarked on a new fundamental narrative – bills still need to be paid, and not everyone deserves to sell new paper at the same price. Markets are illiquid, fractured, and in many cases unable to sustain any real test of selling. Meanwhile it’s business as usual at the Fed, where credibility remains intact and market participants blindly expect another magic trick for Equities in the coming year.

We think 2015 could mark a turning point in the narrative – and for the first time in eight years we’ve begun deploying capital, albeit still conservatively, in areas with the largest potential for significant dislocations—without risking much if we are wrong.

Without further delay we present our slightly unconventional annual list. Instead of the usual what you should do, we prefer the more helpful (for us at least) what we probably wouldn’t do. Five fresh new contenders for what could become some very bad…
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The Annotated History Of Russian Crises Since 1860

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

While the current episode of Russian geopolitical and economic turmoil may seem significant, the following chart from Goldman Sachs shows the tempestuous time the nation has had over the past 150 years…

 

click image for large legible version

 

And here are Goldman’s thoughts on Russia and The West now and into 2015…

Where we stand now:

Currency distress has taken center stage in Russia, with the ruble down 40%+ against the US dollar since early August. Already under fundamental pressure from sanctions and lower oil prices, the currency experienced a sharp sell-off this week in what we would characterize as a crisis of confidence. After the USD/RUB exchange rate depreciated by 10%+ on December 15 alone, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) responded with a 650bp midnight rate hike. Despite the unexpected move, the ruble has remained weak. The currency’s high volatility – part of which was likely driven by retail deposit outflows – and the sharply higher interest rate environment introduce risks to the health of Russia’s banks.

The sharp currency movements come on the back of shocks to the Russian economy from geopolitics (Russian capital outflows and sanctions that limit foreign inflows), falling oil prices, and sharp tightening of domestic financial conditions. Russian economic growth in the first three quarters of the year nevertheless stood at 0.8%yoy, indicating the economy’s resilience. The weakening of the ruble served as an important channel for the macroeconomic adjustment, keeping ruble-denominated oil prices relatively stable and shielding local balance sheets from more intense stress. However, the CBR’s large rate hike now makes it likely that FX distress migrates to domestic balance sheets.

The conflict in Ukraine remains far from resolved. The eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions are still under rebel control, having declared independence on the back of controversial referendums held in May. Presidential elections later brought pro-Western Petro Poroshenko to power, though voting did not take place in parts of the east. Large-scale violence subsided after a ceasefire in September, but sporadic clashes have continued.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and the West remain strained, and economic sanctions against Russia appear likely to remain in place in 2015. President Obama is due to sign into law new sanctions legislation, although this is unlikely to result in any meaningful escalation of sanctions, in our view.…
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I’m Not Buying It – Not The Wall Street Rip, Nor The Keynesian Rap

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

First comes production. Then comes income. Spending and savings follow. All the rest is debt…….unless you believe in a magic Keynesian ether called “aggregate demand” and a blatant stab-in-the-dark called “potential GDP”.

I don’t.  So let’s start with a pretty startling contrast between two bellwether data trends since the pre-crisis peak in late 2007—debt versus production.

Not surprisingly, we have racked up a lot more debt—notwithstanding all the phony palaver about “deleveraging”.  In fact, total credit market debt outstanding—-government, business, household and finance—-is up by 16% since the last peak—from $50 trillion to $58 trillion. And that 2007 peak, in turn, was up 80% from the previous peak (2001); and that was up 103% from the business cycle peak before that (July 1990).

Yes, the debt mountain just keeps on growing. It now stands 4.2X higher than the $13.6 trillion outstanding just 24 years ago.

As a proxy for “production” I am using non-durable manufactures rather than the overall industrial production index for three good reasons. The former excludes utility output, which incorporates a lot of weather related noise, and also excludes oil and gas production, which, as we are now learning, embodies a whole lot of debt. Besides, if the US economy has any hope of growing, non-durables should not still be migrating off-shore at this late stage of the global cycle; nor are they subject to fashion or lumpy replacement cycles like cars and refrigerators.

Moreover, the virtue of the industrial production index is that it is a measure of physical output, not sales dollars which reflect inflation. And unlike indicators that are deflated into “real” terms, it is not distorted by Washington’s fudging and finagling of the prices indices.

So how are we doing on production of things the American economy consumes day-in-and-day out?  Well, at the most recent data point for November, production had soared…….all the way back to where it was in January 2003!

That’s right. Domestic output of food and beverages, paper, chemicals, plastics, textiles and finished energy products (e.g. gasoline), to name just a few, has experienced no net growth for nearly 11 years.

Now that’s a lot more informative than the Keynesian GDP accounts, which presume that government output is actually worth something and that do not know the difference between current period “spending” derived from production and “spending” funded by hocking future income, that is, by borrowing.

Stated differently, the current capitalism suffocating regime of…
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The Baltic Dry Index Has Never Crashed This Fast Post-Thanksgiving

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

We are sure it’s nothing – since stock markets in China and The US are soaring – but deep, deep down in the heart of the real economies, there is a problem. The Baltic Dry Index has fallen for 21 straight days, tumbling around 40% since Thanksgiving Day.  

 

 

This is the biggest collapse in the ‘trade’ indicator (which we should ignore unless it is rising) since records began 28 years ago…

As The Index itself hovers very close to the post-crisis lows…

 

Charts: Bloomberg





Junk Bonds Are Going To Tell Us Where The Stock Market Is Heading In 2015

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

Do you want to know if the stock market is going to crash next year?  Just keep an eye on junk bonds.  Prior to the horrific collapse of stocks in 2008, high yield debt collapsed first.  And as you will see below, high yield debt is starting to crash again.  The primary reason for this is the price of oil.  The energy sector accounts for approximately 15 to 20 percent of the entire junk bond market, and those energy bonds are taking a tremendous beating right now.  This panic in energy bonds is infecting the broader high yield debt market, and investors have been pulling money out at a frightening pace.  And as I have written about previously, almost every single time junk bonds decline substantially, stocks end up following suit.  So don’t be fooled by the fact that some comforting words from Janet Yellen caused stock prices to jump over the past couple of days.  If you really want to know where the stock market is heading in 2015, keep a close eye on the market for high yield debt.

If you are not familiar with junk bonds, the concept is actually very simple.  Corporations that do not have high credit ratings typically have to pay higher interest rates to borrow money.  The following is how USA Today describes these bonds…

High-yield bonds are long-term IOUs issued by companies with shaky credit ratings. Just like credit card users, companies with poor credit must pay higher interest rates on loans than those with gold-plated credit histories.

But in recent years, interest rates on junk bonds have gone down to ridiculously low levels.  This is another bubble that was created by Federal Reserve policies, and it is a colossal disaster waiting to happen.  And unfortunately, there are already signs that this bubble is now beginning to burst

Back in June, the average junk bond yield was 3.90 percentage points higher than Treasury securities. The average energy junk bond yielded 3.91 percentage points higher than Treasuries, Lonski says.

 

That spread has widened to 5.08 percentage points for junk bonds vs.


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China’s Stocks Worth 50% More Than Rest Of BRICS Combined

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Thanks to the massive surge of speculative trading account openings, Chinese stocks are up 28% in the last month and a stunning 52% since China unleashed ‘QE-Lite’.

 

This has sent the total market capitalization of China’s stocks soaring relative to the rest of the BRICS.

 

In fact, Chinese stocks are now worth 55% more than Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa combined… the most ever.

*  *  *

It appears The PBOC needs to force delever again…





The Housing Bubble Explained in One Little Gem of an Excerpt…

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Thad Beversdorf via First Rebuttal blog,

For some reason I feel like this is a good time to review what we can expect when our government and its agencies attempt to create wealth out of thin air.  We can see the absurdity and hubris of our policymakers who believe they can circumvent economic laws in the following excerpt from the “The National Homeownership Strategy: Partners in the American Dream”.  This is a document that was put together by HUD and some other private and public stakeholders at the request of President Clinton way back in 1995.  Isn’t it amazing how poor policies that seem so right at the time, to some, end up kicking us in the ass for decades.  And as much as the government has gotten comfortable with the storyline suggesting banks are responsible for the entire mortgage bubble mess of the mid 2000′s, it was, in fact, all started by government agenda.  Have a look at this little gem which I am suggesting is the document that led us to the economic devastation from which we are yet to crawl out.  

For many potential homebuyers, the lack of cash available to accumulate the required downpayment and closing costs is the major impediment to purchasing a home. Other households do not have sufficient available income to to make the monthly payments on mortgages financed at market interest rates for standard loan terms. Financing strategies, fueled by the creativity and resources of the private and public sectors, should address both of these financial barriers to homeownership.

And while we all love a bit of creativity in life, maybe best to avoid creativity in an effort to ignore risk fundamentals.  Yet our government was certain it could defy gravity.  A child could tell you that if a person doesn’t have sufficient money to pay back a loan, well they shouldn’t have a loan in the firsplace.  And so to force banks to lend depositors’ money to borrowers who have neither the required down payment nor the cash-flow to cover monthly payments is simply absolute unadulterated stupidity.  Most of us, if we had been made aware of that thought process, would have put a stop to it straight away.

So what lesson did we learn the hard way?
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When Shale Hedges Fail: The Downside Of Three-Ways

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

“[Shale Oil]Producers are inherently bullish,” warns one energy-hedging firm, and that truth belies the weakness in the apparent hedging programs many over-optimistic energy firms are facing now. We hear day after day that, in the short-term, low prices can be handled “because they’re hedged,” but producers were so exuberant about the direction of oil prices they didn’t do simple linear hedges (swaps or futures) to manage price movements, but instead, as Bloomberg reports, used the so-called “three-way collar.” Simply put instead of a floor and a ceiling for prices, there is a 3rd (bullish) leg of low-strike sold puts that subsidized the cost of the hedge… unless the price of oil goes below that strike, in which case the hedge fails and, as a lot of producers are finding, they are now losing money.

 

As Bloomberg reports,

Tumbling oil prices have exposed a weakness in the insurance that some U.S. shale drillers bought to protect themselves against a crash.

 

At least six companies, including Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD) and Noble Energy Inc. (NBL), used a strategy known as a three-way collar that doesn’t guarantee a minimum price if crude falls below a certain level, according to company filings. While three-ways can be cheaper than other hedges, they can leave drillers exposed to steep declines.

 

“Producers are inherently bullish,” said Mike Corley, the founder of Mercatus Energy Advisors, a Houston-based firm that advises companies on hedging strategies. “It’s just the nature of the business. You’re not going to go drill holes in the ground if you think prices are going down.”

 

The three-way hedges risk exacerbating a cash squeeze for companies trying to cope with the biggest plunge in oil prices this decade.

This is what the three-way looks like in practice…

Pioneer used three-ways to cover 85 percent of its projected 2015 output, the company’s December investor presentation shows. The strategy capped the upside price at $99.36 a barrel and guaranteed a minimum, or floor, of $87.98. By themselves, those positions would ensure almost $34 a barrel more than yesterday’s price.

 

However, Pioneer added a third element by selling a put option, sometimes called a subfloor, at $73.54. That gives the buyer


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Zero Hedge

The Burning Questions For 2015

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

The Burning Questions For 2015

By Louis-Vincent Gave, Gavekal Dragonomics

With two reports a day, and often more, readers sometimes complain that keeping tabs on the thoughts of the various Gavekal analysts can be a challenge. So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.

1. A Chinese Marshall Plan?

When we have conversations with clients about China – which typically we do between two and four times a day – the talk invariably ...



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Phil's Favorites

Russia Not Selling Gold, It's Buying; Reflections on Extremely Sloppy Reporting

Courtesy of Mish.

On December 17, ZeroHedge asked Will Putin's Next Step Be To Sell Gold?

On December 18, ZeroHedge answered his own question wrongly with Russia Has Begun Selling Its Gold, According To SocGen.

I did not believe that when I saw it yesterday, and I sure don't today after viewing a few charts from Nick at Gold Charts "R" Us.

Russia Gold Reserves Up 600,000 Ounces for November

...



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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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Insider Scoop

Oppenheimer Initiates Coverage On Twitter, Believes Stock Is Appropriately Priced At Current Levels

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Analysts at Oppenheimer initiated coverage of Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) Friday by issuing a Perform rating and setting a $36.00 price target. Twitter is a global social networking platform with over 280 million active users.

The Numbers

While Oppenheimer analysts fully recognize the strength in Twitter as a company, they believe that Twitter’s stock is appropriately priced at current levels. “While TWTR is the best Internet platform for real-time content discovery, we believe that the stock’s current valuation of 10x 2015E sales, a 52% premium to peers, fully reflects future prospects based on current growth rates.”

Insider Dumping

Between November and December 2014, Twitter insiders have sold more than $...



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Chart School

Relief Bounce in Markets

Courtesy of Declan.

Those who took advantage of markets at Fib levels were rewarded.  However, this looked more a 'dead cat' style bounce than a genuine bottom forming low.  This can of course change, and one thing I will want to see is narrow action near today's high. Volume was a little light, but with Christmas fast approaching I would expect this trend to continue.

The S&P inched above 2,009, but I would like to see any subsequent weakness hold the 38.2% Fib level at 1,989.


The Nasdaq offered itself more as a support bounce, with a picture perfect play off its 38.2% Fib level. Unlike the S&P, volume did climb in confirmed accumulation. The next upside c...

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Digital Currencies

Chart o' the Day: Don't "Invest" in Stupid Sh*t

Joshua commented on the QZ article I posted a couple days ago and perfectly summarized the take-home message into an Investing Lesson. 

Chart o’ the Day: Don’t “Invest” in Stupid Sh*t

Courtesy of 

The chart above comes from Matt Phillips at Quartz and is a good reminder of why you shouldn’t invest in s...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of December 15th, 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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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Energy sector rains on bulls' parade, but skies may clear soon

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

Courtesy of Scott Martindale of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Stocks have needed a reason to take a breather and pull back in this long-standing ultra-bullish climate, with strong economic data and seasonality providing impressive tailwinds -- and plummeting oil prices certainly have given it to them. But this minor pullback was fully expected and indeed desirable for market health. The future remains bright for the U.S. economy and corporate profits despite the collapse in oil, and now the overbought technical condition has been relieved. While most sectors are gathering fundamental support and our sector rotation model remains bullish, the Energy sector looks fundamentally weak and continues to ran...



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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's this week's Stock World Weekly.

Click here and sign in with your user name and password. 

 

...

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Option Review

SPX Call Spread Eyes Fresh Record Highs By Year End

Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...



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Market Shadows

Official Moves in the Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio

By Ilene 

I officially bought 250 shares of EZCH at $18.76 and sold 300 shares of IGT at $17.09 in Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio yesterday (Fri. 11-21).

Click here for Thursday's post where I was thinking about buying EZCH. After further reading, I decided to add it to the virtual portfolio and to sell IGT and several other stocks, which we'll be saying goodbye to next week.

Notes

1. th...



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Pharmboy

Biotechs & Bubbles

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

Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.

First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...



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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at jennifersurovy@yahoo.com with any questions.

Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!




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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.

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