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Posts Tagged ‘benefits’

U.K. Medical Journal Questions Avandia License

Followup on "After Avandia: Does the FDA Have a Drug Problem?"Ilene 

U.K. Medical Journal Questions Avandia License

BY JASON DOUGLAS AND STEN STOVALL, WSJ

LONDON—The British Medical Journal on Monday said GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s diabetes drug Avandia should never have been licensed and should be withdrawn from sale, a claim the company rejected.

An investigation by the journal found the U.K. Commission on Human Medicines in July advised the country’s drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, to withdraw Avandia from sale because its risks outweigh its benefits.

The probe also found members of a European panel that reviewed the drug prior to its European Union-wide approval in 2000 had concerns about the long-term risks and benefits of Avandia, also known as rosiglitazone. The journal raised concerns about the quality of the data GlaxoSmithKline used to show Avandia didn’t lead to increased heart problems compared with other diabetes drugs.

Avandia was once Glaxo’s second-biggest drug, raking in about $3 billion a year. But its sales have plunged since a U.S. study linked it to heart attacks in 2007, and second-quarter revenue was only £152 million ($235 million) as patients defected to alternatives, such as Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Actos.

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Jobs Decrease by 54,000, Rise by 60,000 Excluding Census; Unemployment Rises Slightly to 9.6%; A Look Beneath the Surface

Jobs Decrease by 54,000, Rise by 60,000 Excluding Census; Unemployment Rises Slightly to 9.6%; A Look Beneath the Surface

Courtesy of Mish 

This morning the BLS reported a decrease of 64,000 jobs. However, that reflects a decrease of 114,000 temporary census workers.

Excluding the census effect, government lost 7,000 jobs. Were the trend to continue, this would be a good thing because Firing Public Union Workers Creates Real Jobs.

Unfortunately, politicians and Keynesian clown economists will not see it that way. Indeed there is a $26 billion bill giving money to the states to keep bureaucrats employed. This is unfortunate because we need to shed government jobs.

Birth-Death Model

Hidden beneath the surface the BLS Black Box – Birth Death Model added 115,000 jobs, a number likely to be revised lower in coming years. Please note you cannot directly subtract the number from the total because of the way the BLS computes its overall number.

Participation Rate Effects

The civilian labor force participation rate (64.7 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) were essentially unchanged from last month’s report. However, these measures have declined by 0.5 percentage points and 0.3 points, respectively, since April.

The drop in participation rate this year is the only reason the unemployment rate is not over 10%. The drop in participation rates is not that surprising because some of the long-term unemployed stopped looking jobs, or opted for retirement.

Nonetheless, I still do not think the top in the unemployment rate is in and expect it may rise substantially later this year as the recovery heads into a coma and states are forced to cut back workers unless Congress does substantially more to support states.

Employment and Recessions

Calculated Risk has a great chart showing the effects of census hiring as well as the extremely weak hiring in this recovery.

click on chart for sharper image

The dotted lines tell the real story about how pathetic a jobs recovery this has been. Bear in mind it has taken $trillions in stimulus to produce this.

June, July Revisions

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from -221,000 to -175,000, and the change for July was revised from -131,000 to -54,000.

Those revisions look good but it is important to note where the revisions comes from. The loss of government jobs in June was revised from…
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Schwarzenegger on Public Pensions and the Cost of the “Protected Class”

Schwarzenegger on Public Pensions and the Cost of the "Protected Class"

Courtesy of Mish

44014, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Thursday August 26, 2010. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 38th Governor of California, is spotted walking back to his convertible after having breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Brentwood. Arnold, who could be seen snacking on a treat, wore a white button up, blue trousers, a silver wallet chain and a large wrist watch. Photograph: Pedro Andrade/Kevin Perkins,  PacificCoastNews.com   + 1

Now that Schwarzenegger is a certifiable lame duck (dead duck may be a more appropriate term) Schwarzenegger sees fit to take on public unions in a major way. It’s too late now (for him) even as he speaks the truth.

Please consider Public Pensions and Our Fiscal Future by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Recently some critics have accused me of bullying state employees. Headlines in California papers this month have been screaming "Gov assails state workers" and "Schwarzenegger threatens state workers."

I’m doing no such thing. State employees are hard-working and valuable contributors to our society. But here’s the plain truth: California simply cannot solve its budgetary problems without addressing government-employee compensation and benefits.

Thanks to huge unfunded pension and retirement health-care promises granted by past governments, and also to deceptive pension-fund accounting that understated liabilities and overstated future investment returns, California is now saddled with $550 billion of retirement debt.

The cost of servicing that debt has grown at a rate of more than 15% annually over the last decade. This year, retirement benefits—more than $6 billion—will exceed what the state is spending on higher education. Next year, retirement costs will rise another 15%. In fact, they are destined to grow so much faster than state revenues that they threaten to suck up the money for every other program in the state budget.

At the same time that government-employee costs have been climbing, the private-sector workers whose taxes pay for them have been hurting. Since 2007, one million private jobs have been lost in California. Median incomes of workers in the state’s private sector have stagnated for more than a decade. To make matters worse, the retirement accounts of those workers in California have declined. The average 401(k) is down nationally nearly 20% since 2007. Meanwhile, the defined benefit retirement plans of government employees—for which private-sector workers are on the hook—have risen in value.

Few Californians in the private sector have $1 million in savings, but that’s effectively the retirement account they guarantee to public employees who opt to retire at age 55 and are entitled to a monthly, inflation-protected check of $3,000 for the rest of their lives.

In 2003, just before I became governor, the state assembly even passed a law permitting government employees to purchase additional taxpayer-guaranteed, high-yielding


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On the Other Hand, Sometimes You Can’t Retire Too Soon

TLP: On the Other Hand, Sometimes You Can’t Retire Too Soon

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

government retirement

Those government jobs just aren’t what they used to be. FurloughsIOUs and increased scrutiny of the cost of public employees. Now, a growing number of state governments are instituting requirements that new employees work longer before being able to retire with full pensions.

WSJ:

The change comes as foreign governments from France to Morocco have either decided to increase or are contemplating a rise in the age at which private and public workers can receive government pensions.

A federal commission studying long-term U.S. fiscal issues is also entertaining the idea of changing the retirement age as one way to shore up Social Security, said a person familiar with the matter. A report is due to President Obama in December.

Individual states, meanwhile, are moving ahead as they respond to the widening gaps between the obligations made to workers and the money expected to be available to pay them, thanks to investment losses and recessionary budget pressures.

"It’s a very positive change that the age for receiving full benefits is increasing," said Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "Increasing the retirement age is the single most important thing [states] can do" to tame future pension costs, because it reduces the number of years the state is paying a benefit, she said.

Though lengthening lifespans have been expected to pressure pension systems, the looming fiscal predicament has emboldened lawmakers to demand more years from employees. Also, as many American states cut services, scrutiny has fallen on the compensation of public workers.

In Illinois, where state lawmakers voted in March to increase the retirement age for most new hires to 67 from 60, "it had everything to do with the financial straits the state is in," said Tim Blair, the executive secretary of the State Employees’ Retirement System of Illinois. "The scales have tipped."

Chalk it up as another one of those things that most people never gave much thought to when things were good. Most of all, state workers probably never thought the sweet deal would turn sour. Of course, as always, it could be worse. For some government workers, retirement comes extra early


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New York Pension Story Gaining Attention in Mainstream Press

New York Pension Story Gaining Attention in Mainstream Press

Courtesy of Trader Mark at Fund My Mutual Fund 

Man with oversize playing cards

The study I highlighted yesterday on New York pensions has hit the mainstream this morning, with a quite massive write up in the New York Times. There is a lot more detail in the story so I encourage a read through for anyone interested. (story here) Recall I was looking for the ages of these retirees so there are some eye openers in the piece! I am always fascinated by public opinion as well, so for a look through of the avalanche of comments already washing ashore go here. 

As I’ve written for the past 3 years, I believe eventually  (if trend lines continue without any fixes) we’re going to see some social issues arise in the U.S. due to the growing inequity between the public v private sectors.   Especially since it appears a massive bailout will eventually be needed to "keep promises" to this select class.  Wherever you fall on this debate, any system that pays out MORE in pension than a person ever earned in a working year is beyond belief. But when you can game the system by adding a ton of overtime in your last year – it’s all just ‘dealing with the cards we were dealt’. (On a side note I did not realize pensions were FREE of state and local taxes – maybe it’s only a New York thing, I do not know)

Much like the deficit stood in shadows for years as some vague ‘issue’ (I still doubt 8 in 10 Americans could tell you the total debt within $2 trillion), I just don’t think most Americans have a clue yet about the growing problem – hence this sort of transparency we saw in the study is going to be an eye opener for those who don’t troll in certain financial blogs.

Via NYTimes:

  • In Yonkers, more than 100 retired police officers and firefighters are collecting pensions greater than their pay when they were working. One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with


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Padded Pensions and What to do About Them

Padded Pensions and What to do About Them

Courtesy of Mish

The New York Times article Padded Pensions Add to New York Fiscal Woes has been making the rounds. At least 20 people sent me the link. Let’s take a look at few snips, then a look at a followup Times article on addressing the problems.

In Yonkers, more than 100 retired police officers and firefighters are collecting pensions greater than their pay when they were working. One of the youngest, Hugo Tassone, retired at 44 with a base pay of about $74,000 a year. His pension is now $101,333 a year.

It’s what the system promised, said Mr. Tassone, now 47, adding that he did nothing wrong by adding lots of overtime to his base pay shortly before retiring. “I don’t understand how the working guy that held up their end of the bargain became the problem,” he said.

According to pension data collected by The New York Times from the city and state, about 3,700 retired public workers in New York are now getting pensions of more than $100,000 a year, exempt from state and local taxes. The data belie official reports that the average state pension is a modest $18,000, or $38,000 for retired police officers and firefighters. (The average is low, in part, because it includes people who worked in government only part time, or just a few years, as well as surviving spouses getting partial benefits.)

Some will receive the big pensions for decades. Thirteen New York City police officers recently retired at age 40 with pensions above $100,000 a year; nine did so in their 30s.

The Times article is 4 pages long so please give it a closer look.

Legal Theft

Undoubtedly Mr. Tassone is not as stupid as he sounds. He knows full well he gamed the system, but it was legal.

Tassone argues he held up his end of the bargain. Excuse me for asking what end is that? Public unions are legalized mobs. They coerce votes from corrupt politicians willing to buy there patronage.

There is no "public end" because there is no one working on the public’s behalf. Indeed the public in general has been crucified with never ending tax hikes to support union thugs who pack every school board in the country, and promise Armageddon if police or firefighters get laid off.

The public is


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32 States Borrow $37.8 Billion Total to Make Unemployment Payments

32 States Borrow $37.8 Billion Total to Make Unemployment Payments; CA Tops List at $6.9 Billion; Bill to Extend Benefits Until DEC in Congress

Courtesy of Mish  

Inquiring minds are reading the Economic Policy Journal for clues on how much states are borrowing to make unemployment insurance claims.

The totals are not pretty. As of May 20, the total balance outstanding by 32 states plus the Virgin Islands is $37.8 billion.

The CINN Group accounts for $14 billion of it.

California $6.9 Billion
Illinois $2.2 Billion
New York $3.2 Billion
New Jersey $1.7 Billion

The worst 4 grouping accounts for $17 billion, nearly 45% of the total.

California $6.9 Billion
Michigan $3.9 Billion
New York $3.2 Billion
Pennsylvania $3.0 Billion

Other Notables

Florida $1.6 billion
Indiana $1.7 billion
North Carolina $2.1 Billion
Ohio $2.3 Billion
Texas $1.0 Billion
Wisconsin $1.4 Billion

I bet the entire amount is forgiven. Any takers?

Note that the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Extended to June 2, 2010 is about to run out.

But Wait! More Free Money Cometh

The Public Policy Examiner reports Unemployed must wait for Congress to preserve benefits.

A vote on a new end for unemployment benefits will not come until next week. On Thursday morning, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI) proposed amending H.R. 4213 to extend benefits until December 31, 2010.

The amended bill, American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, would extend COBRA health benefits until the end of the year.

Other plans accompany the benefits extension effort. Rep. Bob Filner (Dist. 51) plans to help San .Diegans in economic trouble by passing George Miller’s Local Jobs for America Act. Filner says the city would get 3,263 jobs, with more jobs expected in the other county communities. The bill targets communities with high unemployment.

Rep. Susan Davis (Dist. 53), on Wednesday, was one of three legislators introducing the COBRA Health Benefits Extension Act, H.R. 5324. The unemployed could receive COBRA benefits past the standard 18 months, as long as they needed. At least until Obama’s health exchanges arrive.

Damn, I am sure glad there is a nascent economic recovery. Otherwise, who knows how bad this could get.


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Union Battles In Las Vegas, Simi California, Hawaii, Massachusetts

Union Battles In Las Vegas, Simi California, Hawaii, Massachusetts

Courtesy of Mish

Union battles over benefits are starting to appear all over the place. Here are a few stories from the past two days.

USA, Nevada, Las Vegas, The Strip at dusk, elevated view

Las Vegas: City firefighters launch campaign against cutbacks

Las Vegas’ firefighters union has taken a hard stance against the city’s budget cuts, alleging that reductions will hurt emergency responses along with fire insurance rating for homes and businesses.

City officials, meanwhile, said the union is engaging in irresponsible “scare tactics” at a time when the city is facing economic difficulties.

The back-and-forth comes as the city readies for a series of town hall meetings scheduled from January to March to hear resident feedback on what city services are most important.

It also comes as the city is considering back-to-back 8 percent salary rollbacks and freezes for all employees, including firefighters, although a union official declined to comment today on the union’s positions on these wage proposals.

The union has created a Web site as well as a radio advertisement warning that cuts could increase response times, result in fewer people on duty, reduce the city’s ability to respond to disasters and hurt the city’s fire insurance rating, which is at the highest level.

This discussion is just one part of the ongoing wrangling over the city’s budget, which has seen an ever-widening deficit since the economic downturn began.

The city has already cut operating costs, eliminated vacant positions and announced some layoffs. City management has also proposed an 8 percent wage rollback in each of the next two budget years to avoid layoffs, a proposal being evaluated by the unions that represent city workers.

My recommendation to Las Vegas is to declare bankruptcy and let the unions see what they can get in court.

Simi California: Simi, police union agree to contract

The Simi Valley City Council on Wednesday approved a new agreement with the Simi Valley Police Officers’ Association for an 18-month employee contract that includes a 3 percent salary decrease for sworn police officers and sergeants.

The unanimous approval came after the council went into a closed session meeting late Wednesday afternoon with attorneys and representatives from both the city and police association.

Significant provisions of the MOU approved Wednesday include:

For fiscal year 2009-2010, the base


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California’s $100 Billion Whooping

California’s $100 Billion Whooping

Courtesy of Leo Kolivakis at Pension Pulse

 
California's $100 Billion Whooping

As if California didn’t have enough to deal with its budget crisis, now the FT reports that the two largest pension funds in the US have recorded steep losses following the turmoil in stock markets, with the value of their combined portfolios shrinking by almost $100bn:

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) were hit by the real estate slowdown and the slump in global equities. Calpers said the fall in the value of its assets was the most severe in its history.

“This result is not a surprise; it is about what we expected, given the collapse of markets across the globe,” said Joe Dear, investment chief at Calpers.

The value of Calpers assets fell 23.4 per cent for the year to June 30, raising concerns that state employees and local governments might have to increase their ontributions to cover the shortfall.

But Calpers presented a bullish view. “The system has more than enough cash through contributions and income from investments to meet our present liabilities, so we are in a good position to ride out the current downturn and come out stronger,” said Mr Dear.

The market value of Calpers assets was $180.9bn (£110bn) on June 30, down from $237.1bn on the same date the previous year. The value of the portfolio had fallen to $160bn in March of this year but rebounded by $20bn by the end of June thanks to a partial recovery in equity markets.

Both organisations shifted a portion of their portfolios out of equities and into fixed income and real estate during the year to take advantage of lower prices.

Calpers also said it was “realigning relationships with hedge funds and private equity partners”. This would lead to “reduced fees, better alignment of interests, and more mutually beneficial long-term relationships”.

The value of Calpers real estate and private equity investments fell by 35.8 per cent and 31.4 per cent respectively in the year to June 30.

Calstrs was hit by the same macro-economic factors, with the value of its assets falling from $162.2bn to $118.8bn in the 12 months to June 30.

The organisation wrote down the value of its property holdings rather than spread the


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More State Woes…

More State Woes…

Courtesy of Jake at Econompic Data

Urban.org provides a nice background on Unemployment Insurance benefits and the problems certain states faced at the end of 2008:

The states finance UI benefits with payroll taxes paid by employers into state trust funds maintained at the U.S. Treasury. State balances earn interest income. The Treasury also makes loans to states whose trust funds have been exhausted. At the end of 2008, trust fund balances were low in several states, and three (Indiana, Michigan, and South Carolina) had already borrowed to maintain benefit payments to eligible workers.

Those states were just the beginning. Economic Populist with the details:

$10.9 billion. That’s the amount of money currently lent by Federal Department of Labor (DOL) to a group of 15 states whose unemployment insurance (UI) trust funds have run dry.

loans to states from federal unemployment account

How did we get here? Back to Urban.org (bold mine):

For the aggregate U.S. economy, the highest-ever payout rate was 2.22 percent of payroll experienced during January-December 1982. Before the current recession, reserves across 51 state UI programs totaled $37.6 billion in December 2007 and represented just 0.80 percent of total payroll for the year. The RRM at the end of 2007 was 0.36, that is, the reserve ratio of 0.80 percent divided by the high cost rate of 2.22 percent. Reserves totaled about a third of the recommended actuarial standard and represented roughly four months of benefits at the highest-ever payout rate.

In other words, based on the level of unemployment insurance needed in the 1982 recession, states only had about 4 months worth of unemployment ready to pay out. Thus, the following can’t be a surprise. Back to Economic Populist:

And it’s about to get a whole hell of a lot worse. By the end of the year that number will likely have have grown to 35 states. Total DOL emergency loans to states at that time? Nearly $50 billion dollars. The situation will be far worse for some states than others. The states appearing in red on the map below are those that will need DOL loans to keep unemployment benefits rolling.

What’s $50 billion amongst friends?

Source: DOL


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Zero Hedge

Pity the Sub-Genius

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tim Knight from Slope of Hope.

From the Slope of Hope: They say be careful what you wish for. And, as is often the case, "they" are right.

As a kid, I wished the world favored the smart. I was a smart kid, and it seemed like the world - at least my world - was dominated by bullies and airheads. Might made right, just like in the times of ol...



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Phil's Favorites

"Eagle Cam": Aerial View of London via Video Camera Attached to an Eagle

Courtesy of Mish.

An eagle got an impressive birds-eye-view of London this week, flying over the city's most iconic landmarks using a Sony HDR-AZ1VR Action Cam attached to its back.



Link if video does not play: Action Cam Footage Shows Eagle Flying Over City of London

The BBC reports Eagle With Camera Flies Over London
An eagle with a camera attached has flown across London and offered a new perspective on some of the capital's best-known landmarks.

The footage was recorded over a week by an Imperial Eagle called Darchan.

The animal has been brought to London from the French Alps by The Freedom Project to mark the 50th anniversary of the International Union for Conservation of ...



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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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The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from dshort: With yesterday's release of the Consumer Price Index for October, I've updated Real Retail Sales for October.

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:

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  • Real Retail Sales
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    Click here for the full report.




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    Swing trading portfolio - week of November 17th, 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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    Sector Detector: Investors make up new rules for their new market paradigm

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

    Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

    By Scott Martindale

    Investors in U.S. equities seem to have embraced a new market paradigm in which upside spikes come more swiftly than the downside selloffs. Remember when it used to be the other way around? When fear was stronger than greed? The market is consolidating its gains off the early-October V-bottom reversal, and no one seems to be in any hurry to unload shares this time around, with the holidays rapidly approaching and all. After all, there are bright blue skies directly overhead giving hope and respite from the early freeze blanketing the country.

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    Stock World Weekly

    Stock World Weekly

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    The newest Stock World Weekly is ready. Click here for the this weekend's reading and sign in with your PSW user name and password. 

    Picture credit: AnnaER at Pixabay. 

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    Ukraine Central Bank Bans Bitcoin "To Protect Citizens" From Financing Terrorism

    If you would have supposed that Ukraine had enough problems to make banning bitcoins a backburner issue, you'd have been wrong. The rationale, "to protect consumers' rights" makes little to no sense... The other one, "to keep money in the country" makes more sense. 

    Ukraine Central Bank Bans Bitcoin "To Protect Citizens" From Financing Terrorism

    Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

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    Yamana Gold call options sink

    Yamana Gold call options sink

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    Biotechs & Bubbles

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

    Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.

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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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