Archive for the ‘High Mailing Priority’ Category

Nationwide Net Neutrality Protests Planned For Thursday

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Last Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its plan to reverse net neutrality regulations that were put in place under the Obama administration in 2015. Net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs), regardless of the content that is delivered or who it was created by.

Statista's Felix Richter explains that the new proposal, named the Restoring Internet Freedom order, would no longer classify ISPs as public utilities but rather as information services, meaning that telecommunication companies such as Comcast or Verizon would be legally allowed to create so-called fast lanes for content by providers that either pay for preferential treatment or that the ISP itself has a financial stake in, such as Comcast has in NBC Universal. While the FCC argues that scrapping net neutrality rules would boost investments and innovation by limiting government regulation, advocates of net neutrality argue that the concept creates a level playing field for content providers and fear that getting rid of net neutrality would stifle competition and further increase concentration in the online media landscape.

As Statista's chart below, based on a Consumer Reports survey, shows, the majority of Americans support the current net neutrality rules and don’t think that ISPs should be allowed to regulate what content their customers can access.

Infographic: Americans Voice Support for Net Neutrality | Statista

[You will find more statistics at Statista]

Considering the Republican majority in the commission, it is expected to pass regardless of the vocal opposition from companies and consumers alike.

More than 600 demonstrations are planned at Verizon stores across the United States on Thursday amid the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to kill net neutrality.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made it clear last month that the FCC will vote on the fate of net neutrality on December 14. The rules currently prohibit internet service providers from charging extra fees, censorship and throttling website speeds.

The rollback is expected to pass the FCC vote next week. However, that is not stopping Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and the Freepress Action Fund


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The GOP doesn’t care if you like their tax plan. Here’s why

 

The GOP doesn't care if you like their tax plan. Here's why

Courtesy of David C. BarkerAmerican University School of International Service

File 20171202 5381 xenjq9.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Protesters shout their disapproval of the Republican tax bill on Nov. 28, 2017. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Congressional Republicans’ collective sigh of relief after passing tax legislation may seem confusing. Won’t voters hold them accountable in 2018 for passing such an historically unpopular bill? The answer is “no,” for several reasons.

First, the bill’s unpopularity may be somewhat overstated. A lot of the disapproval expressed in surveys is more about the bill’s sponsors than about the bill itself. In these polarized times, almost anything carrying the president’s endorsement is going to be a non-starter for more than half the population. If Trump were to designate ice cream the official White House dessert tonight, at least a third of us would stop “screaming for it” tomorrow.

This is not to say that this legislation should be more popular. But let’s face it, efforts to win over Blue America with fewer corporate tax cuts, fewer cuts for wealthy individuals, or fewer changes to popular tax breaks would have probably fallen on deaf ears in this environment.

Placating the base

More importantly, as University of Glasgow political scientist Christopher Jan Carman and I have found, Republicans in Congress simply don’t care as much about public opinion as Democrats do. The ideological convergence between voters and legislators is more than three times greater among Democratic legislators than among Republicans.

And there is good reason for this: Republican voters don’t really care either. Across several years of data, we found that Republican voters are between 20 and 30 points less likely than their Democratic counterparts to agree that elected representatives should “try their hardest to give the people what they want.”

Why? Many Republicans – voters and lawmakers alike – simply cherish their principles more than they do the preferences of a largely capricious and inattentive public. And nothing is more central to Republican orthodoxy than tax cuts for the wealthy. If they can’t cut taxes when they have control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, what…
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Senate Passes Tax-Cut Bill

 

Senate Passes Tax-Cut Bill in Milestone Move Toward Overhaul

Senate Republicans narrowly approved the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades, slashing the corporate tax rate and providing temporary tax-rate cuts for most Americans.

The 51-49 vote — achieved just before 2 a.m. Saturday in Washington and only after closed-door deal-making with dissident senators — brings the GOP close to delivering a much-needed policy win for their party and President Donald Trump. Trump has promised to sign tax-cut legislation before the end of 2017…

The True Path to Prosperity

Courtesy of Robert Reich

It’s often thought that Democrats care about fairness and not economic growth, while Republicans care about growth even at the cost of some fairness.

Rubbish. Growth and fairness aren’t opposites. In reality, Democrats are the party of economic growth and fairness. Republicans are the party of neither.

The only way to grow the economy is by investing in the education, healthcare, and infrastructure that average Americans need in order to be more productive. Growth doesn’t “trickle down.” It rises up.

Consider the two biggest legislative initiatives over past decade – the Affordable Care Act, achieved without a single Republican vote, and the current Trump-Republican tax overhaul, speeding ahead without a single Democrat.

The ACA extends coverage to 21 million mostly lower-income Americans, including millions of children. 

It’s largely paid for by two tax increases on the rich – a 3.8 percent increase on their capital gains taxes and other investment-related income, and a 0.9 percent surcharge on their Medicare taxes. Those tax increases are a major reason why Republicans have wanted to repeal it.

But the ACA isn’t just about fairness. Healthier Americans are also more productive workers. Children who receive health care are better learners. The Act thereby fuels economic growth and widens prosperity.  

Republicans say their tax overhaul will promote growth by increasing the profits of American corporations and investors. This is trickle-down nonsense.

Every major study (including Congress’s own Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation) finds that its benefits would go mainly to big corporations and the wealthy.

Share prices may rise for a time. They’re


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Teaching machines to teach themselves

 

Teaching machines to teach themselves

Courtesy of Arend HintzeMichigan State University

File 20171201 17338 v1mzis.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

How can computers learn to teach themselves new skills? baza178/Shutterstock.com

Are you tired of telling machines what to do and what not to do? It’s a large part of regular people’s days – operating dishwashers, smartphones and cars. It’s an even bigger part of life for researchers like me, working on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Much of this is even more boring than driving or talking to a virtual assistant. The most common way of teaching computers new skills – such as telling apart photos of dogs from ones of cats – involves a lot of human interaction or preparation. For instance, if a computer looks at a picture of a cat and labels it “dog,” we have to tell it that’s wrong.

But when that gets too cumbersome and tiring, it’s time to build computers that can teach themselves, and retain what they learn. My research team and I have taken a first step toward the sort of learning that people imagine the robots of the future will be capable of – learning by observation and experience, rather than needing to be directly told every little step of what to do. We expect future machines to be as smart as we are, so they’ll need to be able to learn like we do.

The 2012 movie ‘Robot & Frank’ features a robot that can learn on its own.

Setting robots free to learn on their own

In the most basic methods of training computers, the machine can use only the information it has been specifically taught by engineers and programmers. For instance, when researchers want a machine to be able to classify images into different categories, such as telling apart cats and dogs, we first need some reference pictures of other cats and dogs to start with. We show these pictures to the machine, and when it guesses right we give positive feedback, and when it guesses wrong we apply negative feedback.

This method, called reinforcement learning, uses external feedback to teach the system to…
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Philip Morris hides data in plain sight on dangers of new heat-not-burn product

 

Philip Morris hides data in plain sight on dangers of new heat-not-burn product

Courtesy of Stanton GlantzUniversity of California, San Francisco

File 20171118 11457 k6dlc9.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Sleek IQOS store in Korea. Minji Kim, Ph.D., CC BY-SA

For as long as smoking has been known to cause cancer and other diseases, Big Tobacco has worked to avoid the truth about its deadly and highly addictive products.

Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco. Burning the tobacco generates an aerosol of ultrafine particles that carries nicotine deep into smokers’ lungs, where it is absorbed and rapidly reaches the brain. That burning yields toxic chemicals that cause disease.

Ever since people started understanding in the 1950s that smoking kills, millions have struggled to stop smoking. The tobacco companies, desperate to keep and expand their customers, have been trying to make “safer cigarettes” since the 1960s.

They have also developed products that avoided burning, including products that heat the tobacco without combustion, e-cigarettes and even nicotine replacement therapy.

Philip Morris International’s IQOS is the latest entry into this sweepstakes.

IQOS is a hand-held electric device that generates its nicotine aerosol by heating a stick of ground tobacco and chemicals without setting the tobacco on fire. IQOS does not burn the tobacco, so it produces fewer toxic chemicals than a cigarette.

A man smokes an IQOS. ThamKC/Shutterstock.com

Because IQOS is a new tobacco product, it needs the Food and Drug Administration’s approval to sell it in the United States. Philip Morris submitted its massive application to the FDA on May 24, 2017. As required by law, FDA has made most of the application available for the public to review. The FDA will then consider the comments to determine if IQOS “as it is actually used by consumers, will significantly reduce harm and the risk of tobacco-related disease to individual users” and to the population as a whole. FDA can approve IQOS only if it meets this standard.

As someone who has worked…
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The economics of ridiculously expensive art

 

The economics of ridiculously expensive art

Courtesy of Bronwyn CoateRMIT University

File 20171120 18547 8pon72.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi recently sold for US$450 million. AAP

What would possess someone to buy Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for US$450 million? You might think it’s an investment – after all it was previously sold for just US$10,000 in 2005.

From an economic point of view, art can be an investment. Although the research shows art investing has mixed results. Art also has what economists refer to as “psychic benefits”. It is something to be enjoyed, experienced or flaunted, and this may be the key to the high price paid for Salvator Mundi.

Art as an investment

As an investment, art’s performance varies wildly, depending on a number of factors. For instance, artworks associated with movements that are currently fashionable will outperform other types of art.

Contemporary art is currently outperforming impressionist art, for example. The strong demand for contemporary art coupled with limited supply has resulted in some previously overlooked artists, such as Keith Haring, being embraced by collectors.

But it is typically the works of leading artists that are in hot demand.

Recent analysis found that just 25 artists (including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter) account for US$1.2 billion of the US$2.7 billion in worldwide art auction sales for contemporary art sold at auction this year.

Only two women, Agnes Martin and Yayoi Kusama, made it onto the top 25 contemporary artists list. This is indicative of issues around gender representation in the arts and the processes by which artists careers and reputations are established.

Works by Warhol (left) and Basquiat make up a major proportion of auction sales this year. Shutterstock

Academic studies of art as an investment have mixed results. For instance, research of the Canadian art market found that the returns are lower than investing in the stock market. However, the study identifies other benefits to having art in your portfolio, such as it…
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Bitcoin’s surge intensifies need for global regulation of cryptocurrencies

 

Bitcoin's surge intensifies need for global regulation of cryptocurrencies

Courtesy of Iwa SalamiUniversity of East London

File 20171129 29117 1cb8off.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Shutterstock

The news that bitcoin had broken the $10,000 barrier reflects the way that mainstream investors have been flocking to cryptocurrencies over the past year. But amid the excitement, regulators are fretting about criminals who are increasingly using cryptocurrencies to escape detection from law enforcement.

Why is digital currency so appealing to miscreants? Cryptocurrencies are a recent phenomenon and – as with all new technology – it takes time for regulators to catch up. Bitcoin was the first to gain an international reputation as a digital currency that could be used to settle transactions after it was anonymously created in early 2009.

Cryptocurrencies are decentralised, meaning that they are issued without a central administering authority. They are cryptography-based, distributed open source and function on a peer-to-peer basis.

Significantly, the underlying protocols on which most cryptocurrencies are based do not require or provide user identification and verification. Also the historical transaction records generated on the blockchain (the technology behind bitcoin, which serves as a public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions) are not necessarily associated with an individual’s identity.

Cryptocurrencies are also – by definition – convertible virtual currencies, as they can be exchanged for fiat money such as pounds, dollars and euros and this facilitates their use for settling commercial transactions.

Bitcoin is now an acceptable form of payment in exchange for goods and services by household names such as Microsoft, Expedia and Subway. At the same time, blockchain technology is being adopted by more businesses.

Private transactions enabled by the use of bitcoin are key to understanding the growth of cryptocurrencies among consumers. However, this advantage is keeping regulators and law enforcers awake at night.

Flipped coin

The infamous Silk Road case drives this point home. Bitcoin was used to purchase drugs through the dark web – transactions that weren’t spotted by the authorities.

But hard-to-track criminal activity isn’t the only…
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This is Not Normal

 

This is Not Normal

Courtesy of 

Netflix, Facebook and Amazon are each up 60% in the first 11 months of the year. Apple, is up 50%. Google, the laggard, is up just 34%. These five stocks have added over $900 billion in market capitalization in the first eleven months of the year.

The tech-heavy index, of which these companies represent one third of, is up 33% year-to-date, and is on pace to close higher for the ninth year in a row. With double digit returns in six out of those nine years, the NASDAQ 100 has grown 21.5% a year for over this period, turning $1,000 into over half a bitcoin.

This sort of run would have been completely unthinkable coming out of the GFC [Great Financial Crisis]. At the bottom in 2009, none of these FAANG stocks were in the top ten in market cap for the S&P 500, Netflix wasn’t in the index, and Facebook was private. This is a totally ridiculous comparison but it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want, the 201-500 biggest stocks in the S&P 500 at the time had a market cap equal to what these five companies added in the first 11 months of this year.

The chart below shows that the total market cap of the S&P 500 in March 2009 was $6 trillion, and the cumulative market cap for the 300 smallest companies in the S&P 500 were less than what five companies added in eleven months this year.

People talk a lot about how to survive a bear market, but surviving a meltup can present similar psychological challenges. This doesn’t have to end tomorrow, but it can’t continue like this forever. Enjoy it while it lasts because nothing about this is normal.





Five Ways To Short Bitcoin

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Looking to put bitcoin’s rise in context? How about this: Over the last five years, the world’s most valuable digital currency has risen an astonishing 11,000,000%. Furthermore, since Jan. 1, it has climbed 950%, compared with a total return of 18% for the S&P 500.

Given the torrid pace of bitcoin’s climb, one would imagine that there are few traders left who possess the wherewithal to short the digital currency. And until recently, the options to short bitcoin were mostly offered through unregulated exchanges, and very risky given bitcoin’s volatility.

But increasingly, mainstream exchanges have begun offering bitcoin-based derivatives that could make it easier for retail traders to short the digital currency. CME Group has said it will introduce a suite of bitcoin-linked products by the end of the year, and LedgerX, the first CFTC-approved Swap Execution Facility (or SEF), traded more than $1 million in bitcoin swaps and options during its first week.

In Switzerland, one exchange has introduced options that make it easier for investors to profit if the bitcoin price drops. But other more creative ways to short the digital currency have existed for a while now – in some cases, for years.

“All the options to short in common markets are becoming available in the bitcoin market,” said Charles Hayter, co-founder of market tracker CryptoCompare. “There’s pretty good liquidity for shorting bitcoin. The main difference with shorting the Nasdaq for example, is it will be a lot more volatile, so there’s a lot more risk. The rate to borrow will also be a bit higher."

With bitcoin on the cusp of breaking above $10,000 for the first time, here’s a list of popular options for shorting bitcoin, per Bloomberg.

Contracts for Difference

"One of the most popular ways to short bitcoin is through CFDs, a derivative that mirrors the movements of the asset. It’s a contract between the client and the broker, where the buyer and seller of the CFD agree to settle any rise or drop in prices in cash on the contract date.

'CFD is currently a great market if you want to short bitcoin, especially ahead of that milestone 10K mark, which we think will bring some retracement,'


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Mauldin: The Bonfire Burns On

Courtesy of John Mauldin, MauldinEconomics.com

“Life invests itself with inevitable conditions, which the unwise seek to dodge, which one and another brags that he does not know, that they do not touch him; but the brag is on his lips, the conditions are in his soul. If he escapes them in one part they attack him in another more vital part. If he has escaped them in form and in the appearance, it is because he has resisted his life and fled from himself, and the retribution is so much death.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”

Bonfires are fun to watch, but they eventually burn out. Human folly apparently doesn’t, so we just keep adding to the absurdities. The volume of daily economic lunacy that lights up my various devices is truly stunning, and it seems to be increasing. I shared a little of it with you in last week’s “Bonfire of the Absurdities.” Since it’s a holiday weekend and I was traveling all week, today I’ll just give you a few more absurdities to ponder.

Now, on with the absurdities.

Leverage, American Style

When I asked my “kitchen cabinet” of friends for instances of the absurd, Grant Williams sent a monumental slide deck. I guess I should have expected that, as the absurd is one of his specialties. My computer almost melted trying to download the deck, but it finally finished and was worth the wait. Here is just one example of craziness.

This chart is straightforward: It’s outstanding credit as a percentage of GDP. Broadly speaking, this is a measure of how leveraged the US economy is. It was in a sedate 130%–170% range as the economy industrialized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It popped higher in the 1920s and 1930s before settling down again. Then came the 1980s. Credit jumped above 200% of GDP and has never looked back. It climbed steadily until 2009 and now hovers over 350%.

Absurd doesn’t do this situation justice. We are mind-bogglingly leveraged. And consider what the chart doesn’t show. Many individuals and businesses carry no debt at all, or certainly less than 350% leverage. That means many others must be leveraged far higher.


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Zero Hedge

Senior DOJ Official's Wife Worked At Oppo Research Firm That Produced "Trump Dossier"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In what looks to be another embarrassing blow to the FBI’s (already dubious) credibility, Fox News reported Monday night that the senior DOJ official who was demoted last week after allegedly trying to conceal his contacts with the firm that compiled the infamous “Trump dossier” has deep ties to the firm through his wife.

As it turns out, Nellie Oh...



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Phil's Favorites

Life expectancy in Britain has fallen so much that a million years of life could disappear by 2058 - why?

 

Life expectancy in Britain has fallen so much that a million years of life could disappear by 2058 – why?

Courtesy of Danny DorlingUniversity of Oxford and Stuart Gietel-BastenHong Kong University of Science and Technology

via shutterstock.com

Buried deep in a note towards the end of a recent bulletin published by the British government’s statistical agency was a startling revelation. On average, people in the UK are now projected to live ...



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Digital Currencies

No, Bitcoin Won't Boil The Oceans

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Elaine Ou via Bloomberg.com,

Concerns about the cryptocurrency's energy use are overblown...

While much of the world marvels at bitcoin’s meteoric rise, another part is focused on an environmental byproduct:

The sheer amount of electricity that crypto-currencies use.

By some estimates, bitcoin’s consumption ...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Dec 10, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

Before we talk about the stodgy ole stock market, anyone see that Bitcoin?  $11K last week – $16K this week…. and as I write this bitcoin futures are up over $18K. Just another week in the life…. (here is what you need to know about bitcoin futures)

Back to your regularly scheduled program… the S&P 500 rested a bit while a small correction rolled through the massive winners of 2017 in mega cap tech land, but in the end all was well again by Friday.

“The Nasdaq Composite Index was getting a little frothy, so it&...



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Insider Scoop

Vetr Recommends Walgreens As A Strong Buy

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related WBA Wall Street's M&A Chatter From December 6: DaVita Medical Group, Cleantech-Brighten Holdings, Walgreens-GuoDa Pete Najarian Sees Unusual Options Activity In Walgreens And AT&T The Vetr community has downgraded $WBA to 4-Stars (Vetr) ...

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Biotech

DNA has gone digital - what could possibly go wrong?

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

 

DNA has gone digital – what could possibly go wrong?

Courtesy of Jenna E. GallegosColorado State University and Jean PeccoudColorado State University

Modern advances come with new liabilities. Sergey ...



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ValueWalk

Tax Bill May Spark Exodus From High-Tax States

Courtesy of FinancialSense.com via ValueWalk.com

The following is a summary of our recent podcast, “Exodus – The Major Wealth Migration,” which can be listened to on our site here on on iTunes here.

It’s looking increasingl...



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Members' Corner

An Interview with David Brin

Our guest David Brin is an astrophysicist, technology consultant, and best-selling author who speaks, writes, and advises on a range of topics including national defense, creativity, and space exploration. He is also a well-known and influential futurist (one of four “World's Best Futurists,” according to The Urban Developer), and it is his ideas on the future, specifically the future of civilization, that I hope to learn about here.   

Ilene: David, you base many of your predictions of the future on a theory of historica...



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Mapping The Market

Puts things in perspective

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

Puts things in perspective:

The circles don't look to be to scale much!

...

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OpTrader

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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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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