Archive for the ‘Phil’s Favorites’ Category

Trump: “Defining Deviancy Down” With Lots of Takers

Courtesy of Pam Martens.

Time Magazine Memoralizes One Year of the Trump Presidency (left).  Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security  Appears Under Oath Before Senate Judiciary Committee and Has Amnesia on Trump's "Sh**hole" Characterization of African Countries.

Time Magazine Memorializes “Year One” of the Trump Presidency (left). Kirstjen Nielsen (right), Secretary of Homeland Security Appears Under Oath Before Senate Judiciary Committee on January 16, 2018 and Has Amnesia on Trump’s “Sh**hole” Characterization of African Countries.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 17, 2018

If you are raising children, caring for aging parents, working multiple jobs to pay the mortgage or simply spending your free time protesting the policies of the current administration, you may have missed the latest series of scandals swirling around the so-called leader of the free world.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, “arranged a $130,000 payment” to a former porn star just weeks prior to the 2016 presidential election as part of a gag order meant to silence her from disclosing to the public an “alleged sexual encounter” with Trump while he was married to his current wife, Melania. The former porn star is Stephanie Clifford whose stage name is Stormy Daniels.

Jacob Weisberg, Editor-in-Chief of the Slate Group, appeared on MSNBC last evening and had this to say about the porn star story:

“..this whole presidency is an exercise in defining deviancy down. If this were any other presidency it would be career ending, it would be the biggest news in the world. With Donald Trump, it’s sort of not one of the worst ten things this week, that he paid hush-money to cover-up an almost year-long relationship with a former porn actress.”

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What if the price of Bitcoin is the least interesting thing about it?


What if the price of Bitcoin is the least interesting thing about it?

Courtesy of 

Over the summer, I reviewed Steven Johnson’s book about innovation, called The Invention of Air. Johnson shows us how a simple insight by one of the least technically gifted scientists in history led to a massive chain reaction of human understanding about the world we live in and how it truly works.

If you missed my synopsis, it’s here.

Anyway, Johnson dropped a monster article about Bitcoin and the Blockchain this week for New York Times Magazine and he makes the point that the daily price swings of coins may turn out to be the least interesting thing about it. This is a line of thinking I’ve been pursuing all winter (see: A Twist).

What if the return of an open-protocol internet (think email, GPS, URLs, etc) is the true promise of the blockchain? What if the ability to affirm who we are as human beings is wrested away from Facebook and the the passport issuers of countries around the world thanks to open-source technology and the peer-to-peer network? These are big questions, and worth spending the time to consider?

I send you there now, you really can’t afford to miss this:

Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble (NYT Magazine)

Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000

As if you needed another reason to worry about your bitcoins, see Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000 (TechCrunch).


Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a fascinating paper on Bitcoin price manipulation. Entitled “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” and appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Monetary Economics the paper describes to what degree the Bitcoin ecosystem is controlled by bad actors.

To many it’s been obvious that the Bitcoin markets are, at the very least, being manipulated by one or two big players. “This paper identifies and analyzes the impact of suspicious trading activity on the Mt. Gox Bitcoin currency exchange, in which approximately 600,000 bitcoins (BTC) valued at $188 million were fraudulently acquired,” the researchers wrote. “During both periods, the USD-BTC exchange rate rose by an average of four percent on days when suspicious trades took place, compared to a slight decline on days without suspicious activity. Based on rigorous analysis with extensive robustness checks, the paper demonstrates that the suspicious trading activity likely caused the unprecedented spike in the USD-BTC exchange rate in late 2013, when the rate jumped from around $150 to more than $1,000 in two months.”

Deadly California mudslides show the need for maps and zoning that better reflect landslide risk


Deadly California mudslides show the need for maps and zoning that better reflect landslide risk

Courtesy of David R. MontgomeryUniversity of Washington

File 20180115 101489 15v2ncx.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Search and rescue personnel scan a home in the aftermath of a mudslide, Jan. 13, 2018, in Montecito, California. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Scenic hill slopes can be inspiring – or deadly, as we are seeing after the disastrous debris flows that have ravaged the community of Montecito, California in the wake of heavy rains on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. At least 20 people are dead, and four remain missing. More than a hundred buildings have been destroyed or damaged by moving walls of mud and boulders that rumbled down creeks and canyons into houses and roads.

As mountains rise, erosion tears them down. And Southern California’s mountains are rising fast, squeezed up by the action of the region’s active faults. This produces steep slopes that erode quickly, though much of that erosion happens in infrequent events, such as big rainstorms right after big wildfires.

We know that risks vary across the terrain and that some places in landslide-prone zones are more dangerous than others. In some regions the riskiest areas are well downslope or downstream of slide-prone slopes, in the places where debris runs out and comes to rest. Unfortunately, few people are aware of these risks when developers build in and around landslide-prone mountains.

A predictable disaster

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that landslides kill 25 to 50 people a year in the United States – more than earthquakes or volcanoes. Yet landslides receive far less attention and research funding than other natural hazards.

Part of the problem is that when a large earthquake strikes, the whole region feels it. But landslides tend to impact localized areas, so they rarely attract widespread attention, except in devastating cases like Montecito. Furthermore, different kinds of landslides present very different hazards. Assessing landslide risks requires an understanding of how erosional processes shape Earth’s surface in different regions.

In a general sense, the threat to Montecito was clear. Scientists and planners have known for decades that the mountains of Southern California are shaped by a cycle of fire, rain…
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Shades of green: What gig economy workers can learn from the success of romance writers


Shades of green: What gig economy workers can learn from the success of romance writers

Courtesy of Chris Larson, University of Colorado

When “Fifty Shades Freedopens in theaters on Feb. 9, fans will no doubt flock to see bad boy Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan) bested by naughty-but-nice heroine Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).

A less racy but equally thrilling story, my research shows, is how romance writers are getting ahead in the digital era.

While economists and labor scholars wring their hands over the rise of the precarious gig economy, these freelancers have developed innovative business practices over the past four decades that have set them up for success in the digital era.

Romancing the gig economy

Although few have reached the flabbergasting success of “Fifty Shades” author E.L. James, a former fan fiction writer whose net worth now totals more than US$58 million, I found that the median income for romance authors has tripled in the e-book era. And more and more are earning a six-figure income.

‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is the third film based on the steamy trilogy that originated as a self-published work of fan fiction. CC BY-SA

This uptick occurred as other types of writing became less profitable. During the same period, a survey of 1,095 Authors Guild members found that their median income from writing fell by at least 30 percent.

Clearly, romance writers know something that other authors, and many struggling freelancers, don’t. The one-third of American workers toiling in the gig economy can learn a few lessons from them.

Some 57.3 million U.S. workers freelanced in 2016, according to research firm Edelman Intelligence. Economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger found that 15.8 percent of Americans work in “alternative work arrangements” (freelancing, contracting, temp work, etc.), up from 9.1 percent in 1995. In fact, they found that all net job growth in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015 came from such work.

If you’re not already freelancing, you may be soon. Edelman predicts that given current growth rates, more than half of the American workforce will freelance…
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Nomi Prins’ New Book: Central Banks Have Become the Markets

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Nomi Prins’ latest book, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, ensures her place as one of this century’s most informed Wall Street historians. It’s the perfect segue from Prins’ earlier “It Takes a Pillage,” and her 2014 book All the Presidents’ Bankers. If you are serious about understanding the corrupting influences that have left the U.S. vulnerable to another epic financial crash, buy all three books and read them as one.

Prins is a veteran of Wall Street who has now written six books and dozens of articles to help Americans navigate the snake pit that has replaced the financial system of the United States. It all started with her first book in 2004, Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America, where she explained her motivation as follows:

“When I left Wall Street, at the height of a wave of scandals uncovering scores of massively destructive deceptions, my choice was based on a very personal sense of right and wrong…So, when people who didn’t know me very well asked me why I left the banking industry after a fifteen-year climb up the corporate ladder, I answered, ‘Goldman Sachs.’

“For it was not until I reached the inner sanctum of this autocratic and hypocritical organization – one too conceited to have its name or logo visible from the sidewalk of its 85 Broad Street headquarters [now relocated to 200 West Street] that I realized I had to get out…The fact that my decision coincided with corporate malfeasance of epic proportions made me realize that it was far more important to use my knowledge to be part of the solution than to continue being part of the problem.”

In Collusion, Prins walks us through the critically-important events occurring during the 2007-2009 financial crash, many of which would have been relegated to the dust bin of history if not for this book. Prins makes the case that the U.S. is headed toward another epic financial crash as a result of the unchecked powers of the U.S. central bank (the Federal Reserve) and its global counterparts who are creating dangerous new asset bubbles in an effort to paper over the last ones.

Prins convincingly shows that colluding central bankers have effectively become…
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Breaking Up Tech: Indexes doing what the economy won’t


Breaking Up Tech: Indexes doing what the economy won’t

Courtesy of 

Nobody wants to say this but I will.

The technology sector has gotten so big, so pervasive and powerful, that the stock market index creators had to break it up. Because the monopolist powers of these corporations off of the stock market and in the real world have not been checked by natural competitive forces or government intervention.

The big names in tech get bigger and bigger every year, their influence extending into all facets of modern life, no industry left untouched by the effects of this.

This has been reflected in S&P 500 in terms of market capitalization and the weighting these companies have. They’re almost a quarter of the large cap indices now. And even within the sector, a handful of enormous companies dominate. It’s like how the .01% of rich people have most of the wealth of the 1% in the world. The same thing is being mirrored across the corporate landscape.

This is actually something that the CAPEsters missed about stock market valuation – that we could one day have companies with moats so unassailable that classical valuation theory would cease to matter and comparisons to prior eras would be utterly inapplicable. Imagine telling investors in the 1980’s that someday Apple would be the world’s largest mobile phone seller and that they would earn 95% of the entire industry’s total profitability each year. How do you value that? How do you compare it to an index full of steel producers in the 1970’s ripping each others eyeballs out for every penny per tonne?

And the situation is getting more cartoonish, not less so.

As there appears to be no sign that something is going to happen in the real world to restore any sort of balance to the force, MSCI and S&P Dow Jones Indices (collectively, these two companies comprise the Global Industry Classification Standard or GICS committee) have taken it upon themselves to act. They’re going to spread things out in terms of industry group classification and re-weight the sectors. They’re reclassifying some technology companies as “communications” companies and changing an entire sector’s name from…
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Eating weed gummies at work? Marijuana rules may take a decade to sort out


Eating weed gummies at work? Marijuana rules may take a decade to sort out

Courtesy of Tamara L. McCarron, University of Calgary and Fiona Clement, University of Calgary

A customer walks into a downtown marijuana dispensary to browse the hash menu for the perfect after-lunch pick-up. Another flicks through images in an online store, planning to purchase a selection as a hostess gift.

Like it or not, this will be the reality across Canada after the proposed Cannabis Act (or Bill C-45) comes into force this summer.

Depending on which province or territory you live in, if you are of legal age to purchase marijuana, you will soon be able to drop into a licensed store or order it online from the comfort of your own home.

But the promised legalization date of July, 1, 2018, is approaching fast. Many aspects of marijuana regulation will not be finalized by then.

We are both researchers from the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary. Together with colleagues in the Health Technology Assessment Unit, we have produced a series of five evidence-based reports to help inform and support policy development in this area by the government of Alberta.

We suggest that marijuana regulation in Canada might be a 10-year project. There are some key issues that urgently need to be decided before legalization this year — such as online sales and occupational health and safety. Others — such as regulating cannabis edibles — might need to be shelved for a later date.

Concentric policy circles

In 2016, a Canadian task force was appointed to make recommendations on a new framework to support the production and sales of recreational marijuana.

Bill C-45 still needs final approval from the Senate. But the provinces and territories have begun the preparation for this eventual reality.

The policy environment is like three concentric circles, with each level of higher government setting the boundaries of the lower government’s regulations.

The federal government has set the minimum legal age for consumption of recreational pot at 18, but provinces can

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An Appeal to the Republican-Supporting Plutocrats of America



Courtesy of Brad DeLong


OK. It appears likely that you will “win” this round. It appears more likely than not that the tax “reform“ bill will pass, and thus that you will redistribute an extra 0.5 percent of national income from the bottom 90% to your 0.1%-0.01%—depending on how exclusively you define yourselves—selves. That will move your share of America’s resources devoted to satisfying your desires up to 5-10%, from a baseline of back in the 1970s of 1.5-3%.

Nearly all of your children will be fellow plutocrats. Many of your grandchildren will be plutocrats. But odds are more than half of your great grandchildren will not.

Since, as far as your needs and desires are concerned, your money is simply a way of keeping score, shouldn’t you be focusing more of your energy and attention on making a better America for those of your great grandchildren who will not be plutocrats to live it? Yes. And you are doing a very lousy job of that.

Moreover, you are also doing a profoundly lousy job at creating America in which your grandchildren those of your great grandchildren who will be plutocrats will be secure. Respect for the rule of law and confidence that the distribution of property is not grossly unfair and grossly rigged are essential protective supports for wealth. In their absence, the only protection for wealth is political influence. And political influence is always evanescent.

In the America the politicians you support are building, it may well become the case that one day your grandchildren are in the center of a web of political influence, and the next day they will find themselves not: Some of them will be involuntary guests at the Wichita Ritz-Carlton, The rest will try to make a run for it in the Learjet, or in the rubber boat.

So is it really wisdom on your part to want to win this round?

To be blunt: a social democratic middle-class society is much better society in which to have a large stock of entrepreneurial, inherited, or rent-derived wealth than is a communist society. But

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China wants to dominate the world’s green energy markets – here’s why


China wants to dominate the world's green energy markets – here's why

Courtesy of Chris G. PopeUniversity of Sheffield

File 20180110 46706 fdv34i.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

xieyuliang / shutterstock

If there is to be an effective response to climate change, it will probably emanate from China. The geopolitical motivations are clear. Renewable energy is increasingly inevitable, and those that dominate the markets in these new technologies will likely have the most influence over the development patterns of the future. As other major powers find themselves in climate denial or atrophy, China may well boost its power and status by becoming the global energy leader of tomorrow.

President Xi Jinping has been vocal on the issue. He has already called for an “ecological civilization”. The state’s “green shift” supports this claim by striving to transition to alternative energies and become more energy efficient.

But there are material benefits as well. China’s proactive response has impacted on global energy markets. Today, five of the world’s six top solar-module manufacturers, five of the largest wind turbine manufacturers, and six of the ten major car manufacturers committed to electrification are all Chinese-owned. Meanwhile, China is dominant in the lithium sector – think: batteries, electric vehicles and so on – and a global leader in smart grid investment and other renewable energy technologies.

This is only a start. There are modest projections that just 20% of the country’s primary energy consumption will come from non-carbon sources by 2030. Nonetheless, China’s sheer size means Beijing’s aggressive pursuit of emergent and expanding renewables markets should not be ignored. After all, dominating such markets has strong material benefits, while pioneering a green revolution provides intangible benefits in terms of state image and prestige.

So what are these benefits? First, concerns over environmental degradation are very real in China, owing to issues such as air, food and water pollution, and should be acknowledged. Beijing doesn’t want food and water scarcity or smoggy skies either, whether for altruistic environmental reasons or concerns over its popular legitimacy.

But it is worth also considering the geopolitical implications of climate change leadership. Take the US for example, historically the largest carbon emitter. The country had previously been active…
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Phil's Favorites

Amazon Unveils 20 City Finalists For HQ2, Expects To Create 50,000 Jobs In Winning City


Amazon Unveils 20 City Finalists For HQ2, Expects To Create 50,000 Jobs In Winning City

Courtesy of Zero Hedge 

On Thursday morning, Amazon announced that it had reviewed 238 proposals from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to host HQ2, the company’s second headquarters in North America, and has has chosen the following 20 metropolitan areas to move to the next phase of the process (in alphabetical order):

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chica...

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Zero Hedge

Amazon Unveils 20 City Finalists For HQ2, Expects To Create 50,000 Jobs In Winning City


Amazon Unveils 20 City Finalists For HQ2, Expects To Create 50,000 Jobs In Winning City

Courtesy of Zero Hedge 

On Thursday morning, Amazon announced that it had reviewed 238 proposals from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to host HQ2, the company’s second headquarters in North America, and has has chosen the following 20 metropolitan areas to move to the next phase of the process (in alphabetical order):

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chica...

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How Motivation Works

By joniferdingcong. Originally published at ValueWalk.

In this complimentary webinar, learn about the power of motivation in the workplace from Columbia University Professor of Psychology and Business Tory Higgins, an expert on motivation and decision-making.

]]> Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF

Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues

You’ll learn:

- Why “carrots” and “sticks” incentives are not enough to motivate people to do better work
- How promotion-focused and prevention-focused people pursue goals differentl...

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Digital Currencies

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Thinks About Crypto Currency


How a Criminal Defense Attorney Thinks About Crypto Currency

Courtesy of 

You are all in for a very special treat today. On the heels of last week’s guest post, in which the Unassuming Banker looked at crypto from a traditional IB’s view, I’ve got a new guest post from a friend of mine who is about to give you a perspective on the nascent asset class you’ve not read before. 


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Insider Scoop

5 Biggest Price Target Changes For Wednesday

Courtesy of Benzinga.

  • Goldman Sachs raised Groupon Inc (NASDAQ: GRPN) price target from $4.70 to $5.40. Groupon shares closed at $5.03 on Tuesday.
  • Barclays boosted the price target for Pure Storage Inc (NYSE: PSTG) from $19 to $22. Pure Storage shares closed at $16.16 on Tuesday.
  • Stifel increased the price target for Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) from $161 to $184. Deere shares closed at $167.54 on Tuesday.
  • Mizuho raised the price target on QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... more from Insider

Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 14, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

After 3 days of mild “rest” – and the first down day of the year (!!) for the S&P 500, bulls came back with bells on Thursday and Friday, driving indexes to record highs yet again.  This is starting to get “parabolic”… some shades of the type of things we saw in 1999.  (See the S&P 500 and NASDAQ charts below)  The S&P 500 gained 1.6% and the NASDAQ 1.7% for the week.

“This reminds me of January 2000,” said Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist, at Capitol Securities Management, which manages $4 billion in assets, referring to the nearly unceasing climb to records for stocks and the unease it can inspire.  “It’s scary, the unrelenting advance,” he added.

“The move isn’t about fundamentals...

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How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain - new study

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


How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain – new study

Courtesy of Thomas E CopeUniversity of Cambridge

Harmful tau protein spreads through networks. Author provided

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating brain illness that affects an estimated 47m people worldwide. It is the most common cause of dementia in the Western world. Despite this, there are currently no treatments that are effective in curing Alzheimer’s disease or preventing its relentless progressio...

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Mapping The Market

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like 'Science-Based,' 'Diversity'

By Jean-Luc

These are the policies of a theocracy, not a modern democracy:

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like ‘Science-Based,’ ‘Diversity’

The Trump administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using words like “science-based,” “diversity,” and “transgender” in their official documents for next year’s budget, according to the Washington Post.

Senior CDC budget leader Alison Kelly met with the agency’s policy analysts on Thursday to announce ...

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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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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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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.


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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FeedTheBull - Top Stock market and Finance Sites

About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

Learn more About Phil >>

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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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