Archive for the ‘High Mailing Priority’ Category

South Korea Introduces World’s First Robot Tax

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In case you missed it, South Korea has introduced what is being called the world's first tax on robots amid fears that machines will replace human workers, leading to mass unemployment. Of course, one can't actually tax robots so what they're actually doing is changing the corporate tax code to provide disincentives for capital investments in technology.  Genius plan if we understand it correctly. From The Korea Times:

Amid worldwide debate on the use of robots for work and possible consequent unemployment issues, the government made a first move that may help slow down automation in industries, according to sources, Monday.

In its recently announced tax law revision plan, the Moon Jae-in administration said it will downsize the tax deduction benefits that previous governments provided to enterprises for infrastructure investment aimed at boosting productivity.

Currently, enterprises that have invested in industry automation equipment are eligible for a corporate tax deduction. Companies can have part of their corporate tax ? between 3 percent and 7 percent of the investment ? deducted under the policy, with the rate varying by the size of their business.

This sunset policy was scheduled to expire at the end of the year. But the government suggested extending it to the end of 2019 while decreasing the deduction rate by up to 2 percentage points.

Let that sink in for a moment…South Korea is literally looking to change its tax code to deter corporations from making capital investments "aimed at boosting productivity." 

Robot Tax

Of course, it's not just financially challenged politicians who have managed to convince themselves that taxing productivity gains is a great idea…Bill Gates is fully onboard as well.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is one of the well-known advocates of a robot tax. In an interview this February, he said governments should levy a tax on the use of robots in a goal to fund retraining of those who lose jobs and to slowdown automation.

"For a human worker who does $50,000 worth of work in a factory, the income is taxed," Gates said. "If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you'd think that we'd tax the robot at


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Why crowds aren’t always wise: Lessons from mini-flash crashes on Wall Street

 

Why crowds aren’t always wise: Lessons from mini-flash crashes on Wall Street

Courtesy of Alexander Munk, University of Michigan and Erhan Bayraktar, University of Michigan

Blink. About 300 milliseconds just passed, the same time required for a lightning bolt to travel 100,000 feet, a satellite to fly two miles or a stock price to swing from US$10 to $0.0001 and back.

Wait, what?

Indeed, that actually happened to the shares of the software company Qualys a few years ago. Similar mini-flash crashes involving substantial, instantaneous price moves take place about 12 times a day.

Remember the flash crash back in 2010, when hundreds of stocks temporarily went bonkers and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dove 1,000 points in a few minutes? Mini-flash crashes are the same thing yet on a smaller scale, with perhaps only one company’s shares going haywire for a fraction of a second.

But they’re just as consequential, both for the individual stock and in the aggregate. Such bizarre events seem to contradict our basic beliefs about the fairness of values, the sophistication of modern markets and the oft-cited wisdom of the crowd. What’s going on?

To find out, we developed a mathematical model to explore how all of these ideas fit together. We initially presumed that as long as there were lots of sharp investors with broad-ranging market views, mini-flash crashes would be fairly uncommon.

Surprisingly, we observed a “too many cooks spoil the broth”-type effect instead. Even the wisest crowd, if it’s large enough, can rapidly devolve into a mad herd and bring on these wild events.

Mini-flash crashes in a nutshell

Over 20,000 mini-flash crashes have been recorded since 2006, the year they really took off. Some were bigger than others, but many were pretty severe.

They’re momentary, but if you get caught in one, you might incur substantial trading losses, reputational damage, fines and legal woes.

More broadly, they may erode investors’ trust in markets, violate Nobel Prize-winning theories and even escalate into full-blown
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Amazon and Walmart Battle for Retail’s Future

 

Amazon and Walmart Battle for Retail’s Future

Courtesy of John Mauldin, MauldinEconomics

In true Outside the Box fashion, my good friend Neil Howe has reconsidered the escalating war between Amazon and Walmart for the future of retail, and in true Neil fashion he has come up with some surprising insights. One of the takeaways here, he says, is that market “duopolies” can save consumers money – so you and I had better hope the battle isn’t resolved anytime soon. Did you know that one in five US consumers is now an Amazon Prime member? But don’t count Walmart out, Neil warns.

Neil missed Camp Kotok this year, and we missed him. This weekend you will get some of my takeaways from the give and take of the many great conversations that ensued out on the lake, around the campfire, and in the lodge. It takes a full day to get to Camp Kotok in the wilds of Maine and another day to get back. That time is a significant investment, but it’s worth it in terms of the insights per hour that I get in conversing with and listening to real experts in other fields debate in their own space. And for whatever reason, this year more people were coming up to me and asking my opinions. 

If you want to read more from Camp Kotok attendees, you should sign up for my Over My Shoulder service, where I’ll be featuring research from Camp Kotok alums all next week. Here’s the link.

The tables at Camp Kotok were laden with rich food and heavenly desserts. And snacks and pancakes. And lots of fried fish at lunch. Shane and I are home until the end of August, which gives me a chance to get into the gym regularly and back on a real healthy diet. Shane grills most nights. She is the queen of very spicy jalapeno-grilled chicken. I do tend to gain weight on the road so home time is VERY helpful.

You have a great week!

Your deep in love with his wife’s home cooking analyst (and she likes mine pretty well, too!)

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box

Amazon and Walmart Battle for Retail’s


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Pollution Solutions

Electric cars address only a small part of the problem – we need to rethink the whole crazy transport system.

Courtesy of George Monbiot

Published in the Guardian 2nd August 2017, The car has a chokehold on Britain. It’s time to free ourselves

We tell ourselves that we cherish efficiency. Yet we have created a transport system whose design principle is profligacy. Metal carriages (that increase in size every year), each carrying one or two people, travel in parallel to the same destinations. Lorries shifting identical goods in opposite directions pass each other on 2000-mile journeys. Competing parcel companies ply the same routes, in vans that are largely empty. We could, perhaps, reduce our current vehicle movements by 90% with no loss of utility, and a major gain in our quality of life.

But to contest this peculiar form of insanity is, as I know to my cost, to be widely declared insane. Look at how advertising is dominated by car companies, and you begin to understand the drive to ensure that this counter-ergonomic system persists. Look at the lobbying power of the motor industry and its support in the media, and you see why successive plans to address pollution seemed designed to fail.

Suggest a neater system, and you will be shouted down by people insisting that they don’t want to live in a planned economy. But in this respect (and others) we do live in a planned economy. These days transport planners make a few concessions to cyclists, pedestrians and buses, but their overriding aim is still to maximise the flow of private vehicles. Rather than encouraging the more efficient use of existing infrastructure, they keep increasing the space into which inefficiency can expand.

The government’s new pollution plan notes that its actions will be limited, as “we must maintain discipline on public spending”. Yet it sustains what the Department for Transport boasts is the “biggest upgrade to roads in a generation”. Launched in 2014, at the height of David Cameron’s austerity programme, this plan promised to “triple levels of spending by the end of the decade”, with £15bn for 100 new road schemes.

New roads do not solve traffic congestion. They exacerbate


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Eclipsing the occult in early America: Benjamin Franklin and his almanacs

 

Eclipsing the occult in early America: Benjamin Franklin and his almanacs

Courtesy of Carla J. MulfordPennsylvania State University

File 20170807 2667 6m8q7c

Franklin’s lifelong quest was spreading scientific knowledge to regular people. Mason Chamberlin, CC BY

By the time he was 20 years old, colonial American Benjamin Franklin had already spent two years working as a printer in London. He returned to Philadelphia in 1726. During the sea voyage home, he kept a journal that included many of his observations of the natural world. Franklin was inquisitive, articulate and interested in mastering the universe.

During one afternoon calm on September 14, Franklin wrote,

“as we sat playing Draughts upon deck, we were surprised with a sudden and unusual darkness of the sun, which as we could perceive was only covered with a small thin cloud: when that was passed by, we discovered that that glorious luminary laboured under a very great eclipse. At least ten parts out of twelve of him were hid from our eyes, and we were apprehensive he would have been totally darkened.”

Total solar eclipses are not rare phenomena; every 18 months on average one occurs somewhere on Earth. Franklin and his shipmates likely had seen eclipses before. What was different for Franklin and his generation was a new understanding of the causes of eclipses and the possibility of accurately predicting them.

Earlier generations in Europe relied on magical thinking, interpreting such celestial events through the lens of the occult, as if the universe were sending a message from heaven. By contrast, Franklin came of age at a time when supernatural readings were held in suspicion. He would go on to spread modern scientific views of astronomical events through his popular almanac – and attempt to free people from the realm of the occult and astrological prophecy.

Ptolemy’s Earth-centered universe with the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn orbiting our planet. Andreas Cellarius, CC BY

Beyond divine heavens with modern astronomy

Ancient people conceived…
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The demise of Moore’s Law, The “Big Flip,” and the crisis of expertise

Is software the new hardware? And when an algorithm system decides not to give us a job, will we have the right to know why? 

The demise of Moore's Law, The “Big Flip,” and the crisis of expertise

[David Brin is an astrophysicist, futurist, and best-selling author. He serves on advisory boards (e.g. NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program) and speaks and consults on a wide range of topics. David's international best-selling novels include The PostmanEarth, and Existence. For more, visit the Contrary Brin blog and David's website.]

Courtesy of David BrinContrary Brin

2017 may be viewed as the year of a “big flip,” when our progress in computation and Artificial Intelligence swerved from hardware – which improved for forty years along the exponential curve called Moore’s Law — over to software, which has lagged for decades. Preliminary signs indicate that new methods – plus the availability of prodigious machinery and data sets – may empower software to take some giant leaps. Moreover, this is happening at the same time that Moore’s Law experiences its long predicted “S-Curve” tapering-off.

I’ll explain. But first, a related topic.  Here’s a deeply thoughtful and well supported missive on expertise, especially scientific, and the troubled way in which expert views are often over- or under-appreciated: The Crisis of Expertise by Tom Nichols, author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.

Tom Nichols doesn’t address vexatious issues like the War on Science, a politically propelled vendetta that has metastasized into a broad-front attack upon all fact-using professions. Nor does he explore the fascinating tradeoffs between two centuries — the 20th, which featured a Professionalization of Everything — and the 21st, whose amazing Rise of the Amateur’ I document elsewhere.

No, this rumination by Nichols zeroes in, thoughtfully, on the difficulty of truth-seeking and reliable verifiability in science, especially when it gives advice to policy.

Beyond Moore's Law

The demise of Moore’s Law: “The computing industry is adjusting to the loss of two things it has relied on for 50 years to keep chips getting more powerful. One is Moore’s Law, which forecast…
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ICOs On Track To Raise $1.7 Billion As Firms Ignore SEC’s “Tokens Are Securities” Ruling

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Two weeks ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission declared that the virtual tokens issued during an initial coin offering, an increasingly popular funding mechanism for blockchain startups, are considered securities and are therefore subject to a litany of regulatory strictures, including the need to register any pending offerings with the agency.  

The SEC’s decree was expected to slow the pace of new ICOs, as startups scrambled to hire legal counsel and figure out how, exactly, to comply with the new rules, as we reported. However, blockchain analysts reasoned that the agency’s ruling was a good thing for the market’s long-term health, and that the increased scrutiny would help confer more legitimacy on the shady ICO market, which is fraught with hacking attacks and scams. SEC oversight benefits entrepreneurs by encouraging more risk-averse investors to buy their tokens. It helps investors by weeding out fraud.

However, it seems we underestimated the market’s willingness to simply ignore the whims of US regulators. Despite being the world’s largest economy and one of the largest markets for crypto assets, the New York Times is reporting that “the cautionary words of American regulators have done little to chill a red-hot market for new virtual currencies.”

“…even after the commission said it was looking closely at projects that may violate its rules, programmers are still embarking on new offerings at a torrid pace. Most of the offerings have little legal oversight and some appear to conflict with the commission’s basic advice.

‘The broader detail and the silences in the report should give many people pause and that doesn’t seem to have happened yet,’ said Emma Channing, the general counsel at the Argon Group, which helps projects in the industry raise funds. ‘I don’t understand why everyone isn’t as concerned as I am.’

Since the guidance was released on July 25, 46 new coin offerings have been announced and an additional 204 are moving toward fund-raising, according to data Tokendata.io.”

Despite the SEC’s ruling, the ICO market remains on track to surpass all historical VC investment in the blockchain space by year end, which stands at $1.7 billion since 2010, according to a team of analysts at Pitchbook. In


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If This is 1929…

 

If This is 1929…

Courtesy of 

Eight days before the market bottomed in July 1932, Ben Graham wrote an article in Forbes, Should Rich But Losing Corporations Be Liquidated? In it he wrote, “More than one industrial company in three selling for less than its net current assets, with a large number quoted at less than their unencumbered cash.” At a time when the CAPE ratio was just above 5, many businesses were worth more dead than alive.

In the ten-years leading up to the crash in 1929, the CAPE ratio went from a low of 5.02 up to 32.56. Today, it’s as close to the 1929 peak as it’s ever been, with the exception of the late 1990s. “The CAPE ratio in the United States has never gotten above 30 without a subsequent market crash” would be a true statement. Perhaps misleading, with a sample size of two, but true nonetheless. So is it possible that today is 1929 redux?

What would have to happen for companies to be selling for less than their net current assets? I don’t have the slightest idea. An asset bubble built on the back of artificially low rates seems like the obvious answer, so that can’t be right, but if it is, I warned ya. But honestly, for the market to fall 90%, I’m thinking aliens, an asteroid, or another world war seem the most likely culprits.

hoover-2

The aftermath of the depression was a gold mine for value investors. Well, really for any investors, but for those that measured intrinsic value, it was nearly impossible to miss. From The White Sharks of Wall Street:

Here was a company being offered for sale for less than the cash in its pocket! All a fellow had to do was borrow the purchase price, buy the company, and use the company’s own cash to pay off the loan- it was like getting the company for free. Why wasn’t everyone lining up to bid against him? The answer lies partly in the psychological baggage that American industry carried out of the Depression. Despite the almost unprecedented prosperity brought by government wartime contracts, many American business leaders believed that


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For Venezuela, there may be no happily ever after

 

For Venezuela, there may be no happily ever after

Courtesy of Miguel Angel LatoucheUniversidad Central de Venezuela

File 20170726 30134 v6vbn4

In the face of rising protest, Venezuela’s government has called on the military to squelch dissent. Efecto Eco /Wikimedia, CC BY

Last week, over seven million Venezuelans both at home and abroad voted against president Nicolas Maduro’s proposed Constituent Assembly, which would have empowered his administration to rewrite the country’s constitution.

But the logic of Venezuela’s republican institutions broke down long ago. This informal, unsanctioned referendum had no constitutional basis, and the government paid it little mind, promising to push ahead with the controversial plan despite overwhelming popular discontent.

Now opposition leaders have called for a 48-hour strike to keep the pressure on.

Both the July 16 vote and the general strike are an attempt to make rules for the grassroots exercise of democracy – a sign that Venezuelans have not yet forgotten this system of governance, despite mounting incivility that has left more than a hundred dead in just over three months of daily protests.

The perverseness of life here is no longer limited to the everyday turmoil of scarce resources, medicine shortages or spiralling crime. In Venezuela, the social contract has officially been shredded.

Venezuelans have drifted from a nightmare into an unreal world, as though living in the magical realism of Jorge Luis Borges, where anything is possible and everything can be invented.

Chronology of the absurd

In these profoundly liquid times, even political clashes in Venezuela have gone postmodern, creating something close to anarchy on the streets.

Each day, acting spontaneously and with no clear leadership, fighting factions in cities across Venezuela may (or may not) block streets of their own volition, penetrate university campuses and crush their opponents, trampling the basic standards of social coexistence.

Masked young demonstrators clash anonymously with state forces and destroy urban infrastructure, from street lights and sewers to the public transit.

The state, in turn, overreacts, relying on disproportionate use of police force and judicial overreach to try to stem…
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The Cost Of Light Through The Ages

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

"Could all historians (and economists) please just turn their attention away for a short moment?! " asks Der Spiegel's Guido Mingels, as he reflects on the evolution in the costs of making light work through the ages (spoiler alert – it appears deflation is a 'good' thing).

Let's talk straight: All man had achieved before 1800 isn't really worth mentioning. Easy peasy stuff. For thousands of years nothing really happened.

These days, you visit a museum and are expected to marvel at an ancient plow or a knight's armor, when back then they didn't even have electric lighting. No switch, anywhere!

The history of artificial lighting accompanies and enlightens the Anthropocene, as some call the times from the year 1800 onwards, when mankind started showing off what its real capabilities were. Without light in the coal pits and in the factories, which from then on could be lit at all times, the industrial revolution would have had to have been postponed.

The costs for the production of light, one of the most important enablers of progress, have dropped in a way that is hardly imaginable. The environmental economists Roger Fouquet and Peter Pearson have retraced this development for England.

Infographic: The Cost of Light Through the Ages | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

One hour of light (referred to as the quantity of light shed by a 100 watt bulb in one hour) cost 3200 times as much in 1800 in England than it does today, amounting to 130 euros back then (or a little more than 150 dollars).

In 1900, it still cost 4 euros (close to 5 dollars).

In the year 2000, we arrived at a cost of 4 euro cents (5 U.S. cents).

You can also put this into relation with the amount of time that an average worker needed to labor during different ages in order to earn enough for the 100 watt bulb to glow for an hour – just like the economist William Nordhaus has done in one of his classic essays.

The people of Babylon, in 1750 B.C., who used sesame oil to light the lamps, had to work for 400


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ValueWalk

Stone House Partners Up 157% YTD

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Stone House Partners performance update for the month of August 2017.

Low key concentrated hedge fund – backed by a few big names.

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Zero Hedge

Indian, Chinese Soldiers Clash Following Alleged Chinese "Incursion"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In what may be the first documented clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers who have been piling up across the border between the two nations over the latest territorial dispute, Reuters reports that "Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in an altercation" in the western Himalayas on Tuesday, "further raising tensions between the two countries which are already locked in a two-month standoff in another part of the disputed border."

...

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Phil's Favorites

Why We're Doomed - Our Economy's Toxic Inequality

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, OfTwoMinds blog

Why are we doomed? Those consuming over-amped "news" feeds may be tempted to answer the culture wars, nuclear war with North Korea or the Trump Presidency.

The one guaranteed source of doom is our broken financial system, which is visible in this chart of income inequality from the New York Times: Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart.

While the essay's title is our broken economy, the source of this toxic concentration of income, wealth and power in the top 1/10th of 1% is more specifically our broken financial system.

What few observers understand is rapidly accelerating inequality is the on...



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Digital Currencies

Ukrainian Lawmakers Disclose $45 Million In Bitcoin Holdings

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As Ukraine's crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service.

Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country's democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by...



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Insider Scoop

Watch These 3 Huge Call Purchases In Wednesday Trade

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related Lululemon Is Opening Its First Detroit Store, Joins Downtown's Retail Avenue Martin Shkreli Calls Merck CEO Ken Frazier 'Self-Indulgent,' 'Pathetic' Ron Bar...

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Chart School

Time to Short?

Courtesy of Declan.

We had the profit taking sell-off and then the bounce but is now the time for shorts to come in more aggressively? After yesterday's gapped gains there was a significant slow down in the market advance. This action presents an opportunity for shorts to attack.

The Semiconductor Index is one of the most attractive indices for shorts. The massive June bearish engulfing pattern remains dominant and offers guidance going forward. Tuesday's doji has the makings of a bearish harami cross.  Technicals are bearish and aligned in shorts favor.

...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of August 14th, 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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Biotech

Editing human embryos with CRISPR is moving ahead - now's the time to work out the ethics

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

Editing human embryos with CRISPR is moving ahead – now's the time to work out the ethics

Courtesy of Jessica BergCase Western Reserve University

There’s still a way to go from editing single-cell embryos to a full-term ‘designer baby.’ ZEISS Microscopy, CC BY-SA

The announcement by researchers in Portland, Oregon that they’ve successfully modified the genetic m...



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Members' Corner

Why we need to act on climate change now

 

Why we need to act on climate change now

Interview with Jan Dash PhD, by Ilene Carrie, Editor at Phil’s Stock World

Jan Dash PhD is a physicist, an expert at quantitative finance and risk management, and a consultant at Bloomberg LP. In his thought-provoking book, Quantitative Finance and Risk Management, A Physicist's Approach, Jan devotes a chapter to climate change and its long-term systemic risk. In this article, Ilene interviews Jan regarding his thoughts on climate change and the way it can affect our futu...



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Mapping The Market

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

This would be excellent news for AAPL and GOOG to a lesser extent although not inconsequential:

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years 

In five years, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion last year, according to a report released today by app measurement company App Annie. What explains the growth? More people are spending more time and -- crucially -- more money in apps. While on average people aren't downloading many more apps, App Annie expects global app usership to nearly double to 6.3 billion people in the next five years while the time spent in apps will more than double. And, it expects the...



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Promotions

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.

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???

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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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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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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