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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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Zero Hedge

NatGas Crashes Most In 10 Months As Polar Vortex Arrival Delayed

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Natural Gas prices are down over 11.5% in the last 2 days, falling to their lowest price since January 2013, as a familiar tale of excess production in the face of ebbing demand looms large. As WSJ reports, BNP Paribas' Teri Viswanath notes "the delayed return of cold weather has simply curbed all buying interest," and this was exaggerated by technical selling as the market broke previous support around 3.50. Ironically, given its detrimental impact on GDP, Macquarie points out, "it is increasingly apparent to us that weather will need to b...



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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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Phil's Favorites

Bank Revenues Plummet 17% In October And November According To Citi

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

“our reported results will be down in the high-teens, which is a lot, but… our core performance, in terms of year-over-year performance is 4% down”

      - JPM CFO Marianne Lake

“the environment right now … we expect to be down this quarter and versus last year, we expect to be down in this business, but it's consistent with the opportunities that we see our customers are taking”.

      - BAC CEO Brian Moynihan

It appears that the Q4 earnings season "bloodbath" ...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of December 22nd, 2014

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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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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Chart School

Can you make a living trading Springs and UpThrusts?

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

We tell the truth about trading springs and upthrusts, no holding back!

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NOTE: readtheticker.com does allow users to load objects and text on charts, however some annotations are by a free third party image tool named Paint.net

Investing Quote...
 

..“The market always tells you what to do. It tells you: Get in. Get out. Move your stop. Close out. Stay neutral. Wait for a better chance. All these things the market is continually impressing upon you, and you must get into the frame of mind where you are in reality taking your orders from the action of the market itself — from the tape.”&hel...



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Digital Currencies

Chart o' the Day: Don't "Invest" in Stupid Sh*t

Joshua commented on the QZ article I posted a couple days ago and perfectly summarized the take-home message into an Investing Lesson. 

Chart o’ the Day: Don’t “Invest” in Stupid Sh*t

Courtesy of 

The chart above comes from Matt Phillips at Quartz and is a good reminder of why you shouldn’t invest in s...



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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Energy sector rains on bulls' parade, but skies may clear soon

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

Courtesy of Scott Martindale of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Stocks have needed a reason to take a breather and pull back in this long-standing ultra-bullish climate, with strong economic data and seasonality providing impressive tailwinds -- and plummeting oil prices certainly have given it to them. But this minor pullback was fully expected and indeed desirable for market health. The future remains bright for the U.S. economy and corporate profits despite the collapse in oil, and now the overbought technical condition has been relieved. While most sectors are gathering fundamental support and our sector rotation model remains bullish, the Energy sector looks fundamentally weak and continues to ran...



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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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Option Review

SPX Call Spread Eyes Fresh Record Highs By Year End

Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...



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Market Shadows

Official Moves in the Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio

By Ilene 

I officially bought 250 shares of EZCH at $18.76 and sold 300 shares of IGT at $17.09 in Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio yesterday (Fri. 11-21).

Click here for Thursday's post where I was thinking about buying EZCH. After further reading, I decided to add it to the virtual portfolio and to sell IGT and several other stocks, which we'll be saying goodbye to next week.

Notes

1. th...



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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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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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