Posts Tagged ‘America’

Kidnapping, Torture, and Reflections on Alleged “American Values”

Mish is on fire today with excellent posts. Here, Mish reports on the horrifying story of what the CIA did in kidnapping the wrong man, a German citizen Khalid El-Masri, and the CIA’s subsequent torture and abuse of him. Our court system failed too, citing "national security" grounds to throw out Khalid El-Masri’s case against the CIA.  (Sounds like a specious excuse to me as sensitive information wouldn’t have to be made public.) – Ilene 

Kidnapping, Torture, and Reflections on Alleged "American Values"

Courtesy of Mish 

I do not agree with using torture, nor do I believe the end justifies the means. The problem with both is that others can act the same way.

If the US can torture to extract vital information, then why can’t Iran and every other country on the planet?

It is pure hypocrisy to think that the US has a monopoly on "justified torture". Indeed, there is no such thing as "justified torture".

This has been my position forever. I bring it up because of a post Barry Ritholtz made yesterday stipulating “Torture didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information”

“Torture [at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information. Everyone [at the CIA] was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” – Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002

“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003. It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.” – Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled interrogators about the courier’s identity. …

Barry Ritholtz went on to say "Thinking that torture is wrong is not a liberal or conservative value — it is an American value."

I sure wish Barry was correct. Sadly he is not, at least right now. Both president Bush and president Obama have condoned torture.

Moreover, President Obama had a campaign pledge to shut Guantanamo Bay. Sadly, I report Guantanamo Bay is still in operation. On March 8, 2011, the Irish Times noted Guantánamo trials freeze lifted

Hina Shamsi,


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America’s Two Economies, and Why One is Recovering and the Other Isn’t.

America’s Two Economies, and Why One is Recovering and the Other Isn’t.

wall street, economyCourtesy of Robert Reich 

Next time you hear an economist or denizen of Wall Street talk about how the “American economy” is doing these days, watch your wallet.

There are two American economies. One is on the mend. The other is still coming apart.

The one that’s mending is America’s Big Money economy. It’s comprised of Wall Street traders, big investors, and top professionals and corporate executives.

The Big Money economy is doing well these days. That’s partly thanks to Ben Bernanke, whose Fed is keeping interest rates near zero by printing money as fast as it dare. It’s essentially free money to America’s Big Money economy.

Free money can almost always be put to uses that create more of it. Big corporations are buying back their shares of stock, thereby boosting corporate earnings. They’re merging and acquiring other companies.

And they’re going abroad in search of customers.

Thanks to fast-growing China, India, and Brazil, giant American corporations are racking up sales. They’re selling Asian and Latin American consumers everything from cars and cell phones to fancy Internet software and iPads. Forty percent of the S&P 500 biggest corporations are now doing more than 60 percent of their business abroad. And America’s biggest investors are also going abroad to get a nice return on their money.

So don’t worry about America’s Big Money economy. According to a Wall Street Journal survey released Thursday, overall compensation in financial services will rise 5 percent this year, and employees in some businesses like asset management will get increases of 15 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is back to where it was before the Lehman bankruptcy filing triggered the financial collapse. And profits at America’s largest corporations are heading upward.

But there’s another American economy, and it’s not on the mend. Call it the Average Worker economy.

Last Friday’s jobs report showed 159,000 new private-sector jobs in October. That’s better than previous months. But 125,000 net new jobs are needed just to keep up with the growth of the American labor force. So another way of expressing what happened to jobs in October is to say 24,000 were added over what we need just to stay even.

Yet the American economy has lost 15 million jobs since the start of the Great Recession. And if you add in the growth of…
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Living Beyond Our Means: 3 Charts That Prove That We Are In The Biggest Debt Bubble In The History Of The World

Living Beyond Our Means: 3 Charts That Prove That We Are In The Biggest Debt Bubble In The History Of The World

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse 

Do you want to see something truly frightening?  Just check out the 3 charts posted further down in this article.  These charts prove that we are now in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  As Americans have enjoyed an incredibly wonderful standard of living over the past three decades, most of them have believed that it was because we are the wealthiest, most prosperous nation on the planet with economic and financial systems that are second to none. 

But that is not even close to accurate.  The reason why we have had an almost unbelievably high standard of living over the past three decades is because we have piled up the biggest mountains of debt in the history of the world.  Once upon a time the United States was the wealthiest country on the planet, but all of that prosperity was not good enough for us.  So we started borrowing and borrowing and borrowing and we have now been living beyond our means for so long that we consider it to be completely normal. 

We have been robbing future generations blind for so long that it doesn’t even seem to bother most people anymore.  We have become accustomed to living in debt.  We go into massive amounts of debt to get an education, we go into massive amounts of debt to buy a home, we go into massive amounts of debt to buy our cars, and we even pile up debt to buy holiday gifts and to purchase groceries.

Just check out the chart posted below.  It shows the total credit market debt owed in the United States.  In other words, it is a measure of what everyone owes (government, businesses and consumers). 

30 years ago, total credit market debt owed was less than 5 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 50 trillion dollars.  Total credit market debt is now at a level equivalent to about 360 percent of GDP.  This is what has been fueling the great era of "economic prosperity" that we have been experiencing….        

So what is the answer to this problem? 

The truth is that there is not an easy answer under our current system.  The only way that the U.S. economy continues to "grow" is if the debt bubble continues to "expand". …
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Currency Wars: Debase, Default, Deny!

Currency Wars: Debase, Default, Deny! 

Hiker pausing at fork in path

Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points

In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.

By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention. 

It’s called debase, default and deny.

Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into.  A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.

Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
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Our Future as Chinese Subjects?

Saturday [Sunday] Night Video: Our Future as Chinese Subjects?

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

You’ve got to hand it to whomever came up with this commercial and then put it together, it hits all the right beats – the Chinese college students laughing at the American flag!  You can just imagine the effectiveness of this imagery in certain parts of this country.

China’s been an empire in ascent and decline, on and off, for centuries – their recorded history of various dynastic eras stretches back 5000 years.  America is a two-hundred-year-old infant in comparison.  I don’t need to live in an empire per se but I am stirred by the message a bit myself, even if it leaves out the fact that China needs us as much as we need it.

Anyway, this is a phenomenal piece of hysteria and I predict it will work perfectly from a political standpoint this fall…


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Is America In Decline? 24 Statistics About The United States Economy That Are Almost Too Embarrassing To Admit

Is America In Decline? 24 Statistics About The United States Economy That Are Almost Too Embarrassing To Admit

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse (H/tip to Eddy Elfenbein at Crossing Wall Street)

Does anyone really want to hear that America is in decline?  For decades, most of us have been raised to believe that the United States is "number one" and that anyone who doubts that fact is a "gloom and doomer" that should just pack up and move to "Russia" or "Iraq" or some other country where things are not nearly as good.  But does it do us or future generations any good to ignore the very serious signs of trouble that are erupting all around us? 

The truth is that it is about time to wake up and admit how much trouble we are actually in.  The U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt.  The entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.  We are being slaughtered in the arena of world trade, and every single month tens of billions of dollars (along with large numbers of factories and jobs) leave our shores for good.  Our infrastructure is failing, our kids are less educated and our incomes are going down.  We have serious, serious problems.  At one time, the U.S. economy was so dominant that it was not even worth talking about who was in second place.  That is no longer the case in 2010.  Our forefathers handed us the greatest economic machine in history and we have allowed it to fall apart right in front of our eyes.  A national economic crisis of historic proportions is getting worse with each passing month, and yet most of our leaders seem to be asleep at the switch.  

So is American in decline?  Well, read the statistics below and decide for yourself.  The reality is that when you start connecting the dots it gets really hard to deny what is going on.

Urgent action must be taken if…
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AMAZING WAY TO RUN AN ECONOMY….

AMAZING WAY TO RUN AN ECONOMY….

the federal reserveCourtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

No wonder America is losing more and more of the wealth pie to Asia.  This quote from David Rosenberg pretty much speaks for itself:

“Brian Sack at the New York Fed stressed the need for the Fed’s actions to bolster asset inflation as to boost the wealth effect on spending (QE “adds to household wealth by keeping asset prices higher than they otherwise would be…”).  We just can’t seem to wean ourselves off this asset-dependent economy — and how directed by a Fed official that the attempt here is to bring asset values above their intrinsic value.  Amazing way to run an economy.  Whatever happened to skills, productivity, education, job creation, innovation?  Or thrift — when did that virtue become a dirty six-letter word?”

I’m thoroughly disgusted with the response of government over the last 24 months….

Source: Gluskin Sheff

Pic credit: Jesse’s Café Américain


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Is America a plutonomy?

Is America a plutonomy? – Salon.com

It’s dangerously unstable when 5 percent of American earners account for 35 percent of all consumer spending

By Michael Lind

Has the American economy turned into a "plutonomy"?

In 2005, three Citigroup analysts — Ajay Kapur, Niall MacLeod and Narendra Singh — answered yes. They explained: "Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S … Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time." According to the Citigroup experts, a plutonomic economy is driven by the consumption of the classes, not the masses: "In a plutonomy there is no such animal as ‘the U.S. consumer’ or ‘the UK consumer,’ or indeed the ‘Russian consumer.’ There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the ‘no-rich,’ the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie." The Citigroup analysts speculated that a plutonomic world economy could be driven by the spending of the world’s rich minority, whose ranks are "swelling from globalized enclaves in the emerging world."

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Is America a plutonomy? – U.S. Economy – Salon.com – Phil’s Favorites.


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America’s Lost Decade – Another One in Progress Now

America’s Lost Decade – Another One in Progress Now

Courtesy of Mish 

The US used to point the finger at Japan’s "Lost Decade" saying "It won’t happen here." But it did. Median wages are nearly 5% lower in real terms than in 2000, the poverty rate is at a 15 year high, and the S&P 500 is about 20% lower than it was a decade ago.

Pleased consider the Wall Street Journal article Lost Decade for Family Income

The downturn that some have dubbed the "Great Recession" has trimmed the typical household’s income significantly, new Census data show, following years of stagnant wage growth that made the past decade the worst for American families in at least half a century.

The bureau’s annual snapshot of American living standards also found that the fraction of Americans living in poverty rose sharply to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008—the highest since 1994. Some 43.6 million Americans were living below the official poverty threshold, but the measure doesn’t fully capture the panoply of government antipoverty measures.

The inflation-adjusted income of the median household—smack in the middle of the populace—fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009, even worse than the 1970s, when median income rose 1.9% despite high unemployment and inflation. Between 2007 and 2009, incomes fell 4.2%.

Lost Decade Lowlights

  • Americans living in poverty rose sharply to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008
  • Poverty level is the highest since 1994
  • 43.6 million Americans are living below the official poverty threshold
  • Inflation-adjusted income of the median household fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009
  • The number of 25-to-34-year-olds living with their parents rose 8.4% to 5.5 million in 2010 from 2008
  • Child poverty rose to 23.8% for kids under six in 2009, compared to 21.3% a year earlier

Census Bureau Charts

Here are a few select charts from Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, Issued September 2010.

click on any chart for sharper image

Real Incomes 1967 to 2009

Poverty Rates 1959 to 2009

In general, the chart shows the "War on Poverty" was a failure regardless of what political party was in office. The odd pair of Clinton and Nixon did the best, while Carter and George W. Bush the worst. Reagan and George H. Bush both had roller coasters ending about where they started, while Ford essentially experienced a flatline.

Since the…
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INNOVATION: America has a Structural Problem

This is a terrific article (yellow highlighting mine), courtesy of Gordon T. Long, The Tipping Point  - Ilene 

INNOVATION

America has a Structural Problem 

It’s a STRUCTURAL problem not a CYCLICAL problem! 

It’s a DEMAND problem not a SUPPLY problem! 

 

 

I gave President Barrack Obama six months to roll-out his doomed Keynesian policies, twelve months to discover they were flawed and eighteen months to realize that the solution to America’s problems must lie within a different economic framework. I had hoped by the end of twenty-four months to see new policies closer to an Austrian economic philosophy emerge. I was wrong.

 

Though, even the Wall Street Journal recently featured an article on the re-emergence of the Austrian School of Economic philosophy, it would appear that President Obama’s administration still neither gets it, nor I am afraid ever will. Key defections by his leading economic advisors, talk of the need for QE II and a Stimulus II, and a political collapse in public confidence suggests a growing awareness that Keynesian policies are not working, as many predicted they wouldn’t. Obama’s exciting rhetoric of Hope and Change has left myself and the majority of recent polled Americans disillusioned and disappointed. What I see the administration failing to grasp is twofold:

 

I-America has a Structural problem, not a cyclical business cycle problem. Though the cyclical business cycle was greatly worsened by the financial crisis, I would argue that the structural problem facing the US is actually a contributor to what caused the financial crisis.


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Zero Hedge

The Physics Of Energy & The Economy

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Gail Tverberg via Our Finite World blog,

I approach the subject of the physics of energy and the economy with some trepidation. An economy seems to be a dissipative system, but what does this really mean? There are not many people who understand dissipative systems, and very few who understand how an economy operates. The combination leads to an awfully lot of false beliefs about the energy needs of an economy.

The primary issue at hand is that, as a dissipative system, every economy has its own energy needs, just as every forest h...



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Chart School

Bears Win Day - Just...

Courtesy of Declan.

There wasn't a whole lot of change by the close of business, but intraday strength was clawed back in worrisome fashion. The end result was to leave spike highs in markets.

The S&P finished with a MACD 'sell' trigger, but on lower volume. The 'sell' trigger was below the bullish zero line, which makes it a strong signal.


The Nasdaq closed with a 'black' candlestick, which would be more bearish if it occurred at a swing high, but it's still a warning. Technicals are all in the bear camp.

...

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Phil's Favorites

"Buy High, Sell Low" - The Psychology Of Loss

Courtesy of Lance Roberts of Real Investment Advice

In this past weekend’s newsletter, I discussed the formation of a very important “head and shoulders” topping pattern in the market.

I know…I know. As soon as I wrote that I could almost hear the cries of the “perma-bull” crowd exclaiming “how many times have we heard that before.” 

They would be right. The problem with the majority of technical analysis, in my opinion, is that time frames are too short for most investors. When looking at technical price patterns using daily data, there have been numerous occasions where analysts have spotted “Head and Shoulder” patterns, “Hindenberg Omens,” and &ldqu...



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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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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

How Low Can Central Banks Go? JPMorgan Reckons Way, Way Lower (Bloomberg)

There are no limits to how far central banks can ease monetary policy.

Dollar languishes near three-and-a-half-month lows ahead of Yellen testimony (Business Insider)

The dollar nursed losses around three-and-a-half-month lows on Wednesday, pressured by fears of a global economic slowdown following recent falls in oil prices and growing concerns about the health of European banks.

...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Transports working on breakout, after being hit very hard!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

When it comes to getting hit hard, the Dow Jones Transportation Index fits the bill over the past year. Few if any major indices have fallen harder, over the past 12-months.

Below looks at the DJ Transportation Index/S&P 500 ratio over the past decade. The ratio reflects that over the past year, the index has been much weaker than the broad markets.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The ratio hit channel resistance at (1) a year ago and decline almost as hard a...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of February 8th, 2016

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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ValueWalk

Why Most Investors Fail in the Stock Market

 

Why Most Investors Fail in the Stock Market

Courtesy of ValueWalk, by  

Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.

Panic. Worry. Sell.

In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our  mind and ignored it.

If you read Howard Marks latest memo, ...



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Digital Currencies

2016 Theme #3: The Rise Of Independent (Non-State) Crypto-Currencies

Courtesy of Charles Hugh-Smith at Of Two Minds

A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.

We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.

The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.

This doesn't just open t...



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Sabrient

Sector Detector: New Year brings new hope after bulls lose traction to close 2015

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

Chart via Finviz

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.

Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...



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Promotions

PSW is more than just stock talk!

 

We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more!

PhilStockWorld.com features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

If you are looking for non-mainstream, provocatively-narrated news and opinion pieces which promise to make you think -- we feature Zero Hedge, ...



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Pharmboy

Baxter's Spinoff

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

Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).

The Baxalta Spinoff

By Ilene with Trevor of Lowenthal Capital Partners and Paul Price

In its recent filing with the SEC, Baxter provides:

“This information statement is being ...



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Mapping The Market

An update on oil proxies

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Saillard

Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself. 

Since...



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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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