Author Archive for Zero Hedge

Ahead Of Record Weekly Treasury Issuance, Traders Rush To Cover Record Shorts

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Two weeks ago, and one day ahead of the Monday 5 VIXplosion, we warned that the combination of record equity longs…

… and record Treasury shorts in the 2Y maturity and the Ultra-Long buckets…

… was “Recipe For Disaster.”

Indeed it was, and what followed next was a dramatic vol and risk-parity puke, which forced both equity and bond investors to drastically reduce their record exposure, and as Reuters’ Jamie McGeever writes, speculators have been scrambling to scale back their bets on higher yields… by a record margin.

According to the latest CFTC data, in the weekend ending Feb 13, what was until 2 weeks earlier a record net short position, saw a furious rush to cover (perhaps shorts were worried that the Fed could cut rates it stocks continued to tumble), and as a result net 2Y short positions were slashed by 76,772 contracts to 133,986: that’s less than half the record net short of 329,066 contracts just two weeks ago.

If one extends the frantic move by one week to Feb 6, the reduction in spec net short positions of almost 200,000 contracts in that period is the second largest two-week fall in bearish bets ever.

Said otherwise, suddenly nobody wants to be short the short end.

Why? According to McGeever, two factors will have figured in the decision of hedge funds and other speculators to cut their short positions in U.S. bond futures: high yields and the explosion of volatility earlier this month.

Indeed, aside from the abovementioned risk of an emergency easing move by the Fed (both JPM and BofA said that the market crash after the VIXplosion was violent enough to prompt a central bank intervention) which could send short-yield plunging, the recent surge in yields – the two-year yield hit its highest since Sept. 2008, the five-year yield its highest in eight years and the 10-year yield its highest in four years – has sent a mountain of money away from longer maturities, and into ultra-short dated fixed income instruments.

It wasn’t just the short end that saw a short covering frenzy: net short positions in 5Y bond futures were cut by over 100,000 contracts, the eighth largest weekly reduction in bearish bets on record, and the reduction in net short 10-year…
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Latvia Bank Crisis: Central Bank In Chaos As ECB Blocks Payments By Third Largest Bank

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

One day after we reported that Latvia's central bank governor – and ECB Governing Council member – Ilmars Rimsevics was detained by Latvia’s anti-corruption authority on Saturday on suspicion of accepting a bribe of more than €100,000, prompting both Latvia's Prime Minister and the president to call on Rimsevics to resign, Latvia now appears to have a full-blown banking crisis on its hands, after the European Central Bank froze all payments by Latvia's third largest bank, ABLV, following U.S. accusations the bank laundered billions in illicit funds, including for companies connected to North Korea’s banned ballistic-missile program.

Latvia's Central Bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics

The troubles started on February 14, when Latvia began investigating  ABLV over suspicions of illegal trading related to North Korea's weapons system. The investigation was launched after the Treasury Department charged the bank on Feb. 13 with having “institutionalized money laundering as a pillar of the bank’s business practices,” which proposed preventing the bank from opening an account in the U.S.

That decision immediately made ABLV a pariah to other financial institutions, effectively cutting its access to the dollar and funding flows from the world’s most important market, and forcing it to rely exclusively on the ECB as it sole-source of funds.

As the WSJ reported, in proposing the ban on ABLV, Treasury said the bank managed transactions for clients connected to several long-sanctioned North Korean firms.

These include North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, the institution that manages Pyongyang’s foreign-currency earnings, revenue that U.S. and United Nations officials say go directly to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

According to the Treasury, ABLV’s alleged illegal activity also included funneling billions of dollars in public corruption proceeds from Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine through shell company accounts.

ABLV Bank in Riga, Latvia

ABLV, Latvia’s third-largest lender by assets, is based in Riga but has an office in Luxembourg and a subsidiary in the U.S. It is also supervised directly by the ECB under a new system of eurozone bank supervision…
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Here Is Goldman’s Chart Showing Why The US Is Headed For “Banana Republic” Status

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Earlier today we discussed a report by Goldman Sachs which, when summarized, suggested that unless something significant changes in the coming years, the current US fiscal policy will lead to a debt catastrophe. In an unprecedented warning, the bank which spawned Trump’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, ironically the architect behind Trump’s fiscal strategy, warned that “the continued growth of public debt raises eventual sustainability questions if left unchecked.”

It is worth highlighting that for Goldman to warn that the US fiscal and debt trajectory is unsustainable is quite unprecedented, especially since it is the bank’s former President and COO who has put the US on that path.

And while we urge readers to get acquainted with Goldman’s list of concerns, all of which are very troubling, there is one specific chart which lays out clearly why the US is now headed for “banana republic” status amid developed economies when it comes to US debt sustainability, or in this case lack thereof.

That chart is below, and it shows total projected US Federal Debt on one axis, and US interest expense as a % of GDP on the other. The result is the red dot in the top right.

This is how Goldman puts it:

The US appears to be headed into uncharted territoryat least for US fiscal policyregarding the relationship between interest expense and the debt level.

As shown in Exhibit 11, interest expense considerably exceeded the current level during the late 1980s and early 1990s, though the debt level was moderate. By contrast, the debt level was slightly higher during and just after World War II than it is today, while the level of interest expense was similar.

However, we project that, if Congress continues to extend existing policies, including the recently enacted tax and spending legislation, federal debt will slightly exceed 100% of GDP and interest expense will rise to around 3.5% of GDP, putting the US in a worse fiscal position than the experience of the 1940s or 1990s.

While Goldman is absolutely correct, all else equal, we doubt all else will be equal in a few years when US debt is well above 100% of GDP, and the blended US interest expense is the highest it has ever been in US history. As we …
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Debt Cancer: More Than 80% Of American Adults Owe Somebody Else Money

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

How long can our debt levels keep growing much, much faster than the overall economy? 

We haven’t had a year of 3 percent growth for the U.S. economy since the middle of the Bush administration, but we keep borrowing money as if there is no tomorrow.  Much of the focus has been on the exploding debt of the federal government, and that is definitely something I plan to address once I get to Washington.  But on an individual level, U.S. consumers have been extremely irresponsible as well.  In fact, one new survey has found that more than 80 percent of all American adults are currently in debt

It’s no secret that America is a nation that runs on debt, but it may surprise you to learn that the overwhelming majority of U.S. adults owe money in some way, shape, or form. According to new data from Comet, here’s how many Americans have debt at present:

  • 80.9% of Baby Boomers
  • 79.9% of Gen Xers
  • 81.5% of Millennials

For most of us, it starts very early.  We were told that going into debt to get a college education would not be a problem because we would be able to pay those loans off with the good jobs we would get after graduation.

Unfortunately, those good jobs never really materialized for many of us, and now millions of former college students are absolutely drowning in debt

A study released Friday by the Brookings Institution finds that most borrowers who left school owing at least $50,000 in student loans in 2010 had failed to pay down any of their debt four years later. Instead, their balances had on average risen by 5% as interest accrued on their debt.

As of 2014 there were about 5 million borrowers with such large loan balances, out of 40 million Americans total with student debt. Large-balance borrowers represented 17% of student borrowers leaving college or grad school in 2014, up from 2% of all borrowers in 1990 after adjusting for inflation. Large-balance borrowers now owe 58% of the nation’s $1.4 trillion in outstanding student debt.


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“We Don’t Have The Culture To Manage Risks” – Largest-Ever Indian Bank Fraud Exposes Systemic Flaws

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Stocks of Indian jewelers and state-run banks have been sinking since Friday, when the full extent of what’s now understood to be the largest bank fraud case in Indian history was unveiled in a complaint to Indian federal banking regulators filed by the the Punjab National Bank, a state-owned bank based in New Delhi.

The bank discovered the first bread-crumbs in January, but the full extent of the fraud – which was carried out over seven years and involved the theft of nearly $1.8 billion – wasn’t known until very recently. And before today, when Reuters published a report fleshing out some newly uncovered details, little was known about the mechanics behind it.

The pressure has dragged the S&P BSE SENSEX – an index of some of India’s most established companies – lower.

Sensex

Last week, we learned that the fraud involved Nirav Modi, one of India’s 100 richest men and a well-known jeweler who has dressed both Hollywood and Bollywood stars, was at the center of the conspiracy. He was aided by Mehul Choksi, whose Gitanjali Group of companies was intimately involved in the fraud. Finally, the third key conspirator was PNB branch deputy manager Gokulnath Shetty, who oversaw the circulation of fake “letters of undertaking” – essentially one bank vouching that a certain client is credit-worthy and should qualify for a loan from another bank.

From the broadest possible perspective, the fraud unfolded as follows: Modi and Choksi controlled a group of fraudulent jewelry companies. Shetty would circulate “letters of undertaking” vouching for collateral that didn’t really exist. Based on these letters, the shell companies secured loans from foreign branches of India-based banks. This money then disappeared.

PNB

A fourth individual – a junior employee who worked for Shetty – is also being held but his or her involvement is still unclear.

But in the first major review of the case by an English-language media organization, Reuters said the details available overwhelmingly point to a shocking failure of oversight by both India’s banking regulators and the state-owned bank’s internal controls. As a result, criminals were able to steal early $2 billion from PNB largely because nobody was watching.

A review of bank and government documents related to the case – and interviews with current and former PNB executives, bank auditors


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How The Fed’s Inflation Policies Crucify Workers (In Pictures)

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

Every month, pundits comment on average wages. But median wages best explain how the Fed’s policies crucify workers.

The meme of the day is wage growth is accelerating.

I disputed that notion on February 7, in Acceleration in Wage Growth is a Statistical Mirage.

On February 16, I reported Congratulations Workers! You Make One Penny More Than a Year Ago.

That penny more a year is by hour, in “real” inflation-adjusted terms. The calculation is from the BLS.

Nonetheless, the Fed is not happy with wage destruction. Various Fed presidents seek still higher inflation.

Inflation Targeting

Instead of using an inflation target of 2%, San Francisco Fed President John Williams proposes the Fed use a price-level target, that would allow inflation to run higher during expansions to make up for prior shortfalls.

We need that discussion, but in the opposite sense because the Fed’s insistence inflation in a disinflationary world has seriously harmed median and average wage earners.

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) from the BLS supports this view.

The following charts are from OES data downloads at the state and national level coupled with additional CPI data from the BLS.

Data for these charts are from May 2005 through May 2016. Those are not arbitrary dates.

The latest OES data is from May of 2016 and prior to May of 2005, the OES used varying months. Having all yearly data from May allows easy comparison of wages vs. year-over-year CPI measurements.

National Hourly Wages

Wage Differentials Mean vs. Median Hourly Wages by State

Every month, analysts track the monthly jobs report for “average” wage increases. Such analysis is misleading because most of the benefits go to the top tier groups.

This behavior is not unexpected, but it makes it very difficult for the bottom half of wage earners who do not own a house, to buy a house.

Who Can Afford a Home?

The median wage rose from $14.15 in 2005 to $17.81 in 2016, a percentage increase of 25.9%.

The median new home price rose from $228,300 in 2005 to $335,400 in 2016, a percentage increase of 46.9%.

Rising Tide Lifts All Boats?

Some claim that a rising tide lifts all boats but, the median wage earner is falling further and further behind. This contributes to…
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Deutsche: “If Trust In Monetary & Political Stability Were Lost, People Would Turn To Cryptocurrencies”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Despite the establishment’s ongoing efforts to FUD ‘average joes’ around the world out of cryptocurrencies and create such negative sentiment that no patriotic-minded citizen should even ‘want’ to decentralize their wealth away from government (by bank proxy) control, we noted in surprise the frankness of The New York Fed’s economists last week, when they admitted…

If we lived in a dystopian world without trust, bitcoin might dominate existing payment methods. But in this world, where people do tend to trust financial institutions to handle payments and central banks to maintain the value of money it seems unlikely that bitcoin could ever be as convenient as existing payment means.

Which begged the question: what happens when the “trust” dies?

The answer, of course, is the very existence of cryptos: to create a world in which not one network is reliant on “trust” and the presence of a master node.

Which brings us to the question of a central-bank-issued cryptocurrency – an odd amalgum of distributed ledger and centralized control? Deutsche Bank attempts to answer the question simply – Why would we use crypto-euros? (Spoiler Alert: they’re not convinced… at all).

The rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and the decline in cash payments are the background for a new concept: digital cash issued by central banks. An old academic debate about who creates money and how is resurfacing, but what about the user’s perspective? Why would we use crypto euros?

Central banks are looking into cryptocurrencies and the underlying distributed ledger technology, as they carry responsibility for issuing physical cash, overseeing and/or providing payment clearing and settlement systems, conducting monetary policy and safeguarding financial stability.

In the areas of payments and savings, digital cash would compete against bank deposits, physical cash and private cryptocurrencies to win over consumers.

Unless its use was strongly pushed by regulation, digital cash would need to convince users by offering better and more convenient payment solutions than other payment systems. In particular, it would need to match current low fee levels and high safety standards for regulated consumer payments.

In an environment of high trust in public institutions, consumers would probably not be concerned if digital cash offered little data privacy.

For savings purposes, consumers would simply base their choice between digital cash and bank deposits on


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OPEC Pops The Question – Will Russia Say “I Do”?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Herman Wang via Platt's "The Barrel" blog,

OPEC is drafting an agreement to tie Russia into a so-called “super group” of oil producers.

Details on the proposal are vague and the Kremlin’s willingness to consider such a betrothal is uncertain, despite some positive vibes between Russia and OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia at the moment.

In trying to formalize a permanent marriage to a powerful but unpredictable partner like Vladimir Putin, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo is no doubt aware of the stakes of a divorce.

Any end to the production cut pact is likely to be messy with several countries having touted in recent weeks their plans to boost their production capacity in short order.

And for Saudi Arabia, it is counting on keeping Russia on side as its highly anticipated public listing of state oil company Aramco looks to be delayed.

Talk of the super group “pushes away the conversation that [OPEC] wants to be avoided: what is the exit strategy?” noted veteran OPEC watcher Jamie Webster, senior director at Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Energy Impact.

As the oil market has tightened, OPEC and its allies have remained coy on outlining how they plan to exit their output cut deal, save some vague pledges not to open the taps all at once.

Rather, they have obfuscated on the matter – first by declaring that their target of drawing down inventories to the five-year average may be changed, and now by announcing that the draft agreement with Russia and the other non-OPEC partners is in the works.

Perhaps it’s not a huge surprise, given that OPEC has never defined any exit strategy from previous production cut accords but has merely looked the other way on cheating until talk of the cuts simply faded away.

Barkindo has made no secret of his desire to “institutionalize… a permanent framework” of cooperation with non-OPEC, as he said in London last October.

The output cut deal, which is scheduled to run through the end of 2018, commits the 24-country OPEC/non-OPEC coalition led by Saudi Arabia and Russia to cutting 1.8 million…
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Telegram Could Raise A Staggering $2 Billion In Biggest-Ever ICO; Is It Just Another Scam?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Telegram, the messaging app favored by both cryptocurrency enthusiasts and ISIS recruiters, has completed its presale of Gram tokens, raising a stunning $850 million from VIP investors from Silicon Valley and crypto community.

That sum alone qualifies it as the largest ICO ever – far surpassing the ~$230 million raised by Tezos, which is now mired in litigation over its failure to keep many of its promises to investors…

chart

…But as Telegram’s founders have insisted, the presale is only the beginning: If TechCrunch’s calculations are correct, the company could raise close to $2 billion after sales are opened to the public.

That’s an enormous sum for a company that has no revenue, and that it’s founders insist should be kept free to users – and free of ads – for as long as possible. Telegram was founded by CEO Pavel Durov and his brother Nikolai, two of the creators of VKontakt, better known in the US as the “Russian Facebook.”

Citing a document submitted to the SEC earlier this week that shows the money raised by Telegram is “for the development of the TON Blockchain, the development and maintenance of Telegram Messenger and the other purposes,” TechCrunch points out that the Gram tokens are described in the document as “purchase agreements for cryptocurrency.”

And while it might be reassuring to some that Telegram appears to be complying with the still-vague regulations surrounding ICOs, which were released last summer when the agency released its report on the DAO hack, one Forbes columnist warns that investors who expect their investment – or Telegram – to turn a profit may be sadly mistaken.

Telegram

The reason for the ICO’s popularity, Jason Bloomberg explains, is because Telegram is the preferred means of communication for crypto traders and other members of the crypto community. While it’s not the only secure messaging app, the decision of the Durov brothers to dedicate much of the $300 million fortune they cashed out of VKontakt to maintaining the app as a free service has helped burnish its appeal. The Durovs fled Russia in 2014 after a “fallout” with some of their former investors.

And according to the prospectus cited above, as well as public comments made by the brothers, it appears the Durovs see the ICO…
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Deutsche Bank To Fire Up To 500 Amid Tumbling Trading Revenues

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The drip-drip-drip death spiral of what was once the world's most systemically dangerous bank continues as Bloomberg reports Deutsche Bank has started cutting at least another 250 jobs at its corporate and investment bank units.

These new firings, which could widen to more than 500, according to Bloomberg's sources, comes after bonus payments that Chief Executive Officer John Cryan said were on the “generous” side, helped push the business in the red.

Cryan is trying to motivate and retain top investment banking staff, while keeping a lid on costs following three straight years of losses.

But with revenue at a seven-year low, even a relatively small increase in compensation can cause losses at the securities unit.

Chief Financial Officer James von Moltke has urged a return to more disciplined cost management after the lender scrapped a target for this year.

And these "generous" bonuses follow a 27% collapse in trading revenues and the disastrous debacle surrounding China's HNA liquidating its holdings of the giant German bank.

Imagine how "generous" these bonuses would have been if things were really bad?

As Michael Huenseler at Assenagon noted previously:

"The results are disappointing again and we don’t see anything encouraging in them, reinforcing our doubts in the bank’s strategy and management…There’s no silver lining."

Bloomberg notes that bank officials declined to comment.

For context, Deutsche Bank’s corporate and investment bank employed 17,251 front office full-time staff at the end of last year.

While Deutsche's share price continues to languish, the last week or so has seen a more concerning re-ignition of short-term counterparty risks as Deutsch Bank's 1Y Sub CDS spreads have blown out…

Or does someone know something about a short-vol position that DB may be holding?

And even more worrying for the bank itself is the total decoupling of short-term default risk from Germany's systemic risk…

In other words – you're on your own Mr. Cryan.





 
 
 

ValueWalk

Bill Nygren's Stock Picks

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Bill Nygren, Harris Associates U.S. equities CIO and Oakmark Funds portfolio manager, shares his top stock picks and long-term investment strategy.

H/T Dataroma

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Phil's Favorites

Alarm Bells Sounded on Wall Street's Derivatives

Courtesy of Pam Martens.

Andy Green, Managing Director,  Economic Policy Center for  American Progress

On February 14, the week after the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced two separate days of more than 1,000-point losses, the House Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment convened a hearing to discuss various legislative proposals to return to the wild west era of derivatives trading on Wall Street. (Many, including Wall Street On Parade, believe that we’ve never left that era – the risks have simply been hidden behind a dark curtain. See related articles below.)

One lonely voice f...



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Zero Hedge

Top South Korean Crypto Regulator Found Dead "From Unknown Cause"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The struggle between the South Korean Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice over the future of cryptocurrency regulation - a debate that mostly played out during December and January - terrified crypto traders who feared the South Korean government was on the verge of - wittingly or unwittingly - devastating the market.

Headlines about a pending ban in South Korea helped drive the bitcoin price more than 60% lower in January - its largest monthly drop in years - but now that the debate has been settled, the price has been steadily climbing again,...



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Chart School

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HP Enterprise Misunderstood By The Street, Loop Capital Markets Says In Upgrade

Courtesy of Benzinga.

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Digital Currencies

As Bitcoin Nears $11,000, Here's A History Of Its Biggest Ups And Downs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The cryptocurrency rebound off Feb 5th's bloodbath lows (below $6,000 for Bitcoin) has been impressive, as a 'mysterious' massive buyer 'bought the dip' and momentum took care of the rest.

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What is 'right to try,' and could it help?

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

 

What is 'right to try,' and could it help?

In this March 18, 2011 photo, Cassidy Hempel waved at hospital staff as she was being treated for a rare disorder. Her mother Chris, left, fought to gain permission for an experimental drug. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

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Mapping The Market

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

Via Jean-Luc

How propagandist beat science – they did it for the tobacco industry and now it's in favor of the energy companies:

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack. One of these was to fund research that supported the industry and then publish only the results that fit the required narrative. “For instance, in 1954 the TIRC distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy’ to nearly 200,000 doctors, journalists, and policy-makers, in which they emphasized favorable research and questioned results supporting the contrary view,” say Weatherall and co, who call this approach biased production.

A second approach promoted independent research that happened to support ...



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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.   

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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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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.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

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???

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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.




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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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