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Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Courtesy of Robert Reich

This, from the Washington Post’s conservative pundit George Will:

Total spending by parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt, but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Proctor & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its last fiscal year.

Those who are determined to reduce the quantity of political speech to what they consider the proper amount are the sort of people who know exactly how much water should come through our shower heads — no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, as stipulated by a 1992 law. Is it, however, worrisome that Americans spend on political advocacy — determining who should make and administer the laws — much less than they spend on potato chips, $7.1 billion a year?

In a word, Mr. Will, yes.

The number of dollars spent isn’t the issue; it’s the lopsidedness of where the dollars come from. Even if the total were only $1000, democracy would be endangered if $980 came from large corporations and wealthy individuals. The trend is clear and worrisome: The great bulk of campaign money is coming from a narrower and narrower circle of moneyed interests.

Anyone who doubts the corrupting effect has not been paying attention. Our elected representatives have been acutely sensitive to the needs of Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund managers, and the executives of big pharma, big oil, and the largest health insurance companies. This is not because these individuals and interests are particularly worthy or specially deserving. It is because they are effectively bribing elected officials with their donations. Such donations are not made out of charitable impulse. They are calculated investments no less carefully considered than investments in particular shares of stock. They are shares in our democracy.

Why $4.2 billion and not ten times that amount? Because the high-rolling political investors don’t need to spend a dollar more in order to exert overwhelming influence.

This figure, by the way, leaves out the tens of billions of dollars dedicated to lobbying, lawyering, and public relations — all of which deliver specific legislative outcomes the campaign money fuels. The economy of Washington, D.C. depends on this gigantic flow of funds (supporting…
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Welcome To The Banana Republic: GM In Hot Water With FTC Over Misleading “Repaid Bailout” Ad When All Just TARP Shuffle

See also the post two posts ago "How is that Bailout Coming Along?" with articles by Mish and Op-Toons Review.

Welcome To The Banana Republic: GM In Hot Water With FTC Over Misleading "Repaid Bailout" Ad When All Just TARP Shuffle

automaker bailout posterCourtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge 

We are too busy maxing out our credit cards buying AAPL shares after hours into the parabolic blow out (using Sigma X of course, how else could we subpenny front run our own orders?), stacks of Kindles, 7th vacation homes with negative equity, and LBOing zero EBITDA companies to comment on this, suffice to say that if you ever needed confirmation that America is a banana republic in which fraud, corruption and lies are now the norm, here you go: Government Motors is now blatantly lying to its existing and future buyers, and everyone in the administration is complicit.

From Fox News:

General Motors is running ads on all the major networks this week claiming it has repaid its bailout from the taxpayers "in full." But the claim isn’t standing up to scrutiny from lawmakers and government watchdogs who have found that the automaker was able to repay the bailout money only by dipping into a separate pot of bailout funds.

Uhm, what’s wrong with that? That’s precisely the reason why the market is now on for an 8th straight up week. In order to make the rich infinitely rich (before there is revolution, hyperinflation or dollar devaluation), the Obama people must resort to anything and everything.

General Motors is running ads on all the major networks this week claiming it has repaid its bailout from the taxpayers "in full." But the claim isn’t standing up to scrutiny from lawmakers and government watchdogs who have found that the automaker was able to repay the bailout money only by dipping into a separate pot of bailout funds.

The TV spot may land GM in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission over its truth-in-advertising laws, which prohibit ads that are "likely to mislead consumers."

"We have repaid our government loans in full — with interest — five years ahead of the original schedule," says Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of General Motors Company, asking Americans to give the bankrupt company another look.

But a top Senate Republican has accused GM


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The Best Gift For Paranoid Times: The Back-Up Bedside Shotgun Rack

Vince Veneziani at Clusterstock presents a last minute Christmas item, for folks that have everything, and want to protect it. – Ilene

The Best Gift For Paranoid Times: The Back-Up Bedside Shotgun Rack

Bitterwallet posted video of this infomercial-esque product called The Back-Up. It’s a $40 shotgun rack that slides between your bed’s box spring and mattress – easy access for when you need to blow an intruder’s face apart.

According to The Back-Up’s official website, research shows:

  • If a shotgun is in the corner of a room or under the bed, one must turn their back on a perpetrator to access it
  • The BackUp allows for 2 second accessibility when in need. The Back-Up provides this from a lying position in bed. Just reach 8 inches along the side of the mattress, feel your gun as it is racked parallel to the floor. Simply raise the gun from the rack for use.
  • The second amendment gives the right to Americans to bear arms.

Excellent points! Below, video of the commercial:

 

******* 

Caution:  If you’re taking this drug, featured by The Onion, do not place the shotgun rack by the bed.  Same if you have a volatile partner.


FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful

 


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Crazymaker: Journal of American Media and Lifestyle

Fun post for the evening, by Charles Hugh Smith, in case you missed it earlier. – Ilene

Crazymaker: Journal of American Media and Lifestyle

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

If you wonder why our society is so schizophrenic--look no further than Crazymaker Journal.

I happened upon a fascinating new online publication: Crazymaker, the Journal of American Media and Lifestyle. I have to say the content set me back on my heels; rarely do I see such an honest portrayal of the carefully mixed messages dished out as "news" and "entertainment".

crazymaker journal

Gregory Bateson addressed how a cognitive "double bind" could create a schizophrenic state of anxiety and dysfunction.

Their findings indicated that the tangles in communication often diagnosed as schizophrenia are not necessarily result of an organic brain dysfunction. Instead, they found that destructive double binds were a frequent pattern of communication among families of patients, and they proposed that growing up amidst perpetual double binds could lead to learned patterns of confusion in thinking and communication.

Human communication is complex; 90% of it is nonverbal (see also Albert Mehrabian) and context is an essential part of it. Communication consists of the words said, tone of voice, and body language. It also includes how these relate to what has been said in the past; what is not said, but is implied; how these are modified by other nonverbal cues, such as the environment in which it is said, and so forth.

For example, if someone says "I love you," one takes into account who is saying it, their tone of voice and body language, and the context in which it is said. It may be a declaration of passion or a serene reaffirmation, insincere and/or manipulative, an implied demand for a response, a joke, its public or private context may affect its meaning, and so forth.

This is an apt description of the craziness created by media/marketing messages every minute of every hour of every day in the USA. Bake a super-rich cake, and oh my, why are you so fat? Now you have to torture yourself with diets which don’t work.

Girls: want to look hot and sexy? if you don’t, you’re a loathesome loser.

Guys: not ripped with bulging muscles? Too bad--you’re a loathesome loser, too. Image and exteriors are everything!

The media profits from selling marketing/adverts. Marketing
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Microsoft-Yahoo Deal A Logistical And Regulatory Nightmare

Microsoft-Yahoo Deal A Logistical And Regulatory Nightmare

Courtesy of Henry Blodget at Clusterstock

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The official details of the Microsoft-Yahoo deal aren’t much different than the leaks we reported last night. 

Here’s our take: 

  • The deal is significantly worse than expected for Yahoo, as the company will get no money upfront. 
  • The deal is positive for Microsoft, but largely because Microsoft was nowhere in search without it.  Saving the upfront payment is also a help.
  • Ironically, the deal will likely be positive for Google, which will now likely benefit from months of purgatory as Microsoft and Yahoo work to clear regulatory scrutiny and then go through the massive challenge of trying to integrate their sales forces and technology.   Google itself will also now be able to argue persuasively that there is a big, viable (if discombobulated) competitor in the market.

Conceptually, the idea of Microsoft and Yahoo combining forces is smart.  Neither alone has enough share of the search market to be a "must buy," and search relevance and pricing improves with scale.  Both companies would likely just continue to lose share ad infinitum without a deal, so they have little to lose by working together.  And Yahoo will gain some cost savings, at least for a while.

That said, we think the structure of the deal could end up being a disaster.

The deal calls for Yahoo to handle sales and Microsoft to handle technology.  This separation of responsibilities is likely to create headache upon headache for both sides.  When a Yahoo client is unhappy with the technology execution, will Yahoo salespeople call Microsoft engineers to complain?  When Microsoft is unhappy with the way Yahoo is selling search, will Microsoft’s engineers call Yahoo to complain?  When the combination misses targets, will investors call Microsoft or Yahoo to complain? (Both?) When Microsoft licenses Bing to Ask or AOL, will Yahoo’s salespeople sell premium search for those companies, too?  What if Ask and AOL are unhappy?  Who will they call to complain?

In our opinion, sales and technology are way too tightly linked in this business to split responsibilities between two huge companies that each have other things to worry about.  We think the execution of the deal will be a nightmare.

yahoo and microsoftSee Also:  First Take On


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Chart School

Secular Bull and Bear Markets

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Was the March 2009 low the end of a secular bear market and the beginning of a secular bull? At this point, over five-and-a-half years later, the S&P 500 has set an inflation-adjusted record high based on monthly averages of daily closes.

Let's examine the past to broaden our understanding of the range of historical trends in market performance. An obvious feature of this inflation-adjusted series is the pattern of long-term alternations between up-and down-trends. Market historians call these "secular" bull and bear markets from the Latin word saeculum "long period of time" (in contrast to aeternus "eternal" — the type of bull market we fantasize about).


...



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Zero Hedge

A World Without The Welfare State

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted Richard M. Ebeling via The Cobden Centre,

We live in an era in which few can even conceive of a world without the welfare state. Who would care for the old? How would people provide for their medical needs? What would happen to the disadvantaged and needy that fell upon hard times? In fact, there were free market solutions and non-government answers to these questions long before the modern Big Government Welfare State.

In fact, before the arrival of modern welfare state, voluntary, private-sector institutions had evolved to serve as the market providers for many of those “social services” now...



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Phil's Favorites

If It Ain't Broken, Don't Fix It: Religious Freedom Act Take II

Courtesy of Mish.

Religious Freedom Act Take II

I received a number of emails in response to Indiana Legalizes Discrimination on Grounds of "Religious Freedom".

The bill, signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence openly encourages discrimination based on sexual preference although Pence incredulously denies that claim. Pence now recognizes the need to "clarify" the legislation.

One of the better email responses came from reader Mark who wrote ...
The Constitution plainly states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom is sacrosanct. The only restrictions placed on religious freedom are...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

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

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Defensive sectors lead hesitant market, but traders honor long-standing bullish support

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last week, the major indexes fell back below round-number thresholds that had taken a lot of effort to eclipse. There has been an ongoing ebb-and-flow of capital between risk-on and risk-off, including high sector correlations, which is far from ideal. But at the end of it all, the S&P 500 found itself right back on top of long-standing support and poised for a bounce, and Monday’s action proved yet again that bulls are determined to defend their long-standing uptrend line.

In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up some actionable trading ideas, including a sector rotation strategy using ETFs and an enh...



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Insider Scoop

MKM Sees Consolidation In Subscription Software Space

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related N 7 Market-Moving Tech Ratings Changes That Just Happened At Brean Capital BNP Paribas Initiates NetSuite At Underperform

NetSuite Inc (NYSE: N)'s recently announced sales partnership with The Ultimate Software Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTI) suggests that a consolidation wave may hit ...



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Digital Currencies

Federal Agents Investigating Bitcoin Money Laundering Stole Over $1 Million In Bitcoin

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

This is one of those sad times when The Onion realizes it has badly, and permanently, missed its IPO window.

Just released from the Department of Justice

Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud

Agents Were Part of Baltimore’s Silk Road Task Force

Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that al...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of March 30th, 2015

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

Watch the Phil Davis Special on Money Talk on BNN TV!

Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene

 

The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below. 

Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets) Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies) Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...

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Market Shadows

Kimble Charts: South Korea's EWY

Kimble Charts: South Korea's EWY

By Ilene 

Chris Kimble likes the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped (EWY), but only if it breaks out of a pennant pattern. This South Korean equities ETF has underperformed the S&P 500 by 60% since 2011.

You're probably familiar with its largest holding, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, and at least several other represented companies such as Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp.

...



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Option Review

Cypress Semi Draws Bullish Option Plays

Bullish trades abound in Cypress Semiconductor options today, most notably a massive bull call spread initiated in the July expiry contracts. One strategist appears to have purchased 30,000 of the Jul 16.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.89 each and sold the same number of Jul 19.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.22 apiece. Net premium paid to put on the spread amounts to $0.67 per contract, thus establishing a breakeven share price of $16.67 on the trade. Cypress shares reached a 52-week high of $16.25 back on Friday, March 13th, and would need to rally 4.6% over the current level to exceed the breakeven point of $16.25. The spread generates maximum potential profits of $2.33 per contract in the event that CY shares surge more than 20% in the next four months to reach $19.00 by July expiration. Shar...



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Pharmboy

2015 - Biotech Fever

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

PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs!   The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down!  The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months.  What could go wrong?

Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.

Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies.  A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly.

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

 

...

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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

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

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

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

Thank you for you time!




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About Phil:

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

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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