Posts Tagged ‘bonuses’

Why America’s Two Economies Continue to Drift Apart, and What Washington Isn’t Doing About It

Courtesy of Robert Reich

America’s two economies are getting wider apart.

The Big Money economy is booming. According to a new Commerce Department report, third-quarter profits of American businesses rose at an annual record-breaking $1.659 trillion – besting even the boom year of 2006 (in nominal dollars). Profits have soared for seven consecutive quarters now, matching or beating their fastest pace in history.

Executive pay is linked to profits, so top pay is soaring as well.

Higher profits are also translating into the nice gains in the stock market, which is a boon to everyone with lots of financial assets.

And Wall Street is back. Bonuses on the Street are expected to rise about 5 percent this year, according to a survey by compensation consultants Johnson Associates Inc.

But nothing is trickling down to the Average Worker economy. Job growth is still anemic. At October’s rate of only 50,000 new private-sector jobs, unemployment won’t get down to pre-recession levels for twenty years. And almost half of October’s new jobs were in temporary help.

Meanwhile, the median wage is barely rising, adjusted for inflation. And the value of the major asset of most Americans – their homes – continues to drop.

Why are America’s two economies going in opposite directions? Two reasons.

First, big profits are coming from overseas sales of goods and services made abroad, not here. The world’s fastest-growing markets are China and India, whose inhabitants are eager to buy “American” products, and just as eager to work for the American companies that sell them. The U.S. market is barely moving.

Increasingly, American corporations are able to extract healthy gains from their global operations without adding much in the United States except executive talent.

new world finance, ponzi, too big to fail banksSecond, American businesses are boosting productivity by having U.S. employees do more work for less pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the third quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2010, productivity rose 2.5 percent, output increased 4.1 percent, the number of hours worked was up 1.6 percent, and unit labor costs dropped by 1.9 percent.

In other words, American workers are losing even more bargaining power as a sizeable chunk of corporate profit goes into software and digital equipment that can do what people used to do – but more cheaply.

So what is Washington doing about all this?

Making the tax code more progressive so more Americans reap…
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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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SIGTARP Calls Out Tim Geithner On Various Violations Including Data Manipulation, Lack Of Transparency, “Cruel” Cynicism, And Gross Incompetence

SIGTARP Calls Out Tim Geithner On Various Violations Including Data Manipulation, Lack Of Transparency, "Cruel" Cynicism, And Gross Incompetence

Neil BarofskyCourtesy of Tyler Durden

SigTarp Neil Barofsky has just released the most scathing critique of all the idiots in the administration, with a particular soft spot for Tim Geithner.

On the failure of TARP to increase lending:

As these quarterly reports to congress have well chronicled and as Treasury itself recently conceded in its acknowledgement that "banks continue to report falling loan balances," TARP has failed to "increase lending" with small businesses in particular unable to secured badly needed credit. Indeed, even now, overall lending continues to contract, despite the hundreds of billions of TARP dollars provided to banks with the express purpose to increase lending.

On TARP’s sole success of boosting Wall Street bonuses:

While large bonuses are returning to Wall Street, the nation’s poverty rate increased from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009, and for far too many, the recession has ended in name only.

On TARP’s failure in general:

Finally, the most specific of TARP’s Main Street goals, "preserving homeownership" has so far fallen woefully short, with TARP’s portion of the Administration’s mortgage modification program yielding only approximately 207,000 ongoing permanent modifications since TARP’s inception, a number that stands in stark contrast to the 5.5 million homes receiving foreclosure filings and more than 1.7 million homes that have been lost to foreclosure since January 2009.

On the Treasury’s scam in minimizing publicized AIG losses, and on Geithner as a Wall Street puppet whose actions are increasingly destroying public faith in the government:

While SIGTARP offers no opinion on the appropriateness or accuracy of the valuation contained in the Retrospective, we believe that the Retrospective fails to meet basic transparency standards by failing to disclose: (1) that the new lower estimate followed a change in the methodology that Treasury previously used to calculate expected losses on its AIG investment; and (2) that Treasury would be required by its auditors to use the older, and presumably less favorable, methodology in the official audited financials statements. To avoid potential confusion, Treasury should have disclosed that it had changed its valuation methodology and should have published a side-by-side comparison of its new numbers with what the projected losses would be under the auditor-approved methodology that Treasury had used previously and will


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CalPERS Bumped Pay as Fund Dived?

Courtesy of Leo Kolivakis at Zero Hedge 

Cathy Bussewitz of the Huffington Post reports, CalPERS Bumped Pay as Fund Dived (HT: Peter):

 
 

As its investment portfolio was losing nearly a quarter of its value, the country’s largest public pension fund doled out six-figure bonuses and substantial raises to its top employees, an analysis by The Associated Press has found.

Board member Tony Olivera said the California Public Employees’ Retirement System tried to reduce the bonuses but was under contractual obligations to pay them.

CalPERS’ plunging value came as stock values tumbled around the world, the state’s economy suffered its worst decline in decades and basic state services faced severe budget cuts.

Virtually all of CalPERS’ investment managers were awarded bonuses of more than $10,000 each, with several earning bonuses of more than $100,000 during the 2008-09 fiscal year. The cash awards were distributed as the fund lost $59 billion.

Steve Deutsch, director of pensions and endowment at Morningstar Inc., said many public pension plans award performance bonuses, and called CalPERS’ performance during 2008-09 "middle of the road."

"It’s absolutely very widespread, but very low profile in terms of being acknowledged, discussed, or disclosed by the plans," Deutsch said.

The revelations prompted two key Republican lawmakers to call for more oversight of how CalPERS and other state pension funds compensate employees and make investment decisions, while a Democratic lawmaker promised legislation to control salaries and bonuses.

CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco said bonuses are based on the fund’s performance over five years, not just the year immediately preceding the bonus, in order to encourage managers to seek long-term investments rather than short-term gains. He said bonuses in the 2008-09 fiscal year were 50 percent lower than in 2006-07 and that the market declines will continue to dampen bonuses in future years.

"Incentives are part of total compensation and critical to the fund’s long-term success as well as recruitment and retention of skilled investment professionals," Pacheco said in an e-mail.

Bonuses also were paid to employees who are not part of the fund’s investment team, including a public affairs officer who received bonuses of nearly $19,000 a year two years in a row and a human resources executive who received bonuses topping $16,000 both years.

The number of CalPERS executives making $200,000 a year or more


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30 Statistics That Prove The Elite Are Getting Richer, The Poor Are Getting Poorer And The Middle Class Is Being Destroyed

30 Statistics That Prove The Elite Are Getting Richer, The Poor Are Getting Poorer And The Middle Class Is Being Destroyed

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse 

Not everyone has been doing badly during the economic turmoil of the last few years.  In fact, there are some Americans that are doing really, really well.  While the vast majority of us struggle, there is one small segment of society that is seemingly doing better than ever.  This was reflected in a recent article on CNBC in which it was noted that companies that cater to average Americans are doing rather poorly right now while companies that market luxury goods and services are generally performing exceptionally well.  So why aren’t all American consumers jumping on the spending bandwagon? 

Well, it seems that there are a large number of Americans who either can’t spend a lot of money right now or who are very hesitant to.  A stunningly high number of Americans are still unemployed, and for many other Americans, there is a very real fear that hard economic times will return soon.  On the other hand, there is a significant percentage of Americans who are blowing money on luxury goods and services as if the economy has fully turned around and it is time to let the good times roll.  So exactly what in the world is going on here?

Well, in 2010 life is very, very different depending on whether you are a "have" or a "have not".  The recent article on CNBC referenced above described it this way….

Consumer spending in the U.S. has turned into a tale of two cities in 2010, with an entire segment of consumers splurging confidently on the finer things in life, while another segment, concerned about unemployment and with little or no discretionary income, spends only on bare necessities.
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SP 500 Daily Chart and The Planet of the Apes

SP 500 Daily Chart and The Planet of the Apes

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

The SP futures declined to briefly touch a channel trendline that goes all the way back to the intraday spike lows of October 2009!

The market is rallying sharply now, and if it can retake the old support, now resistance, around 1105 it has a good chance of setting a new uptrend back to the top of the channel. This could just be a dead cat bounce. I was looking at some of the indicators last night, and they were at record oversold levels going back at least four years, including the crash.

Was all this a trading gambit mixed with petulance over the financial reform package? In a normal market I would say "nonsense." But this market is thin, like a Ponzi scheme, driven by high frequency trading and artificial liquidity. The few genuine investors are being chased and shot down like the human beings in The Planet of the Apes. The Wall Street gorillas have all the horses, nets and rifles, courtesy of the government, the regulators, and the Fed.

The smackdown in gold and silver ahead of option expiration next week, and the miners’ option expiration today, was some of the most blatant and heavy handed market manipulation I have seen in a long time.

The US is badly in need of adult supervision and behavioural modification. Not the much maligned people, the long suffering public which seeks only to go about its daily business creating wealth in the real economy in the face of mounting hardships, but rather the corrupt and irresponsible government, and the pampered princes of Wall Street, who are engaged primarily in wealth extraction and redistribution, primarily for themselves.

Washington can pass all the reforms it wishes. But until it obtains the will and the regulators to enforce the laws, including the existing laws, it is all merely a show to placate the public and maintain a misplaced confidence in ‘extend and pretend’ sustained by self-serving neo-liberal economic mythology.

June Futures Daily Chart
 

"Meanwhile, the financial sector is to be enriched by the translation of junk economics into international policy. Living in the short run is the financial sector¹s time frame while distracting the attention of indebted populations from calculations that Wall Street understands quite well: the debts cannot be paid in the end.

But they can be paid in


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Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle

Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle

Goldman Sachs and other big banks aren’t just pocketing the trillions we gave them to rescue the economy – they’re re-creating the conditions for another crash

By MATT TAIBBI 

Matt Taibbi "wall street bailout hustle" Rolling StoneOn January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America’s pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman’s role in precipitating the global financial crisis.

The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a "bailout tax" on banks. Maybe this wasn’t the right time for Goldman to be throwing its annual Roman bonus orgy.

 

Not to worry, Blankfein reassured employees. "In a year that proved to have no shortage of story lines," he said, "I believe very strongly that performance is the ultimate narrative."

Translation: We made a shitload of money last year because we’re so amazing at our jobs, so fuck all those people who want us to reduce our bonuses.

Goldman wasn’t alone. The nation’s six largest banks — all committed to this balls-out, I drink your milkshake! strategy of flagrantly gorging themselves as America goes hungry — set aside a whopping $140 billion for executive compensation last year, a sum only slightly less than the $164 billion they paid themselves in the pre-crash year of 2007. In a gesture of self-sacrifice, Blankfein himself took a humiliatingly low bonus of $9 million, less than the 2009 pay of elephantine New York Knicks washout Eddy Curry. But in reality, not much had changed. "What is the state of our moral being when Lloyd Blankfein taking a $9 million bonus is viewed as this great act of contrition, when every…
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Here’s a Suggestion for AIG and Its $100 Million Bonus Plan

Here’s a Suggestion for AIG and Its $100 Million Bonus Plan

Workers Arrive At The Offices Of Troubled Insurance Company AIG

Courtesy of PETER COHAN at Daily Finance

The Washington Post reports that American International Group (AIG) is poised to pay workers in its Financial Products Group (FPG) a $100 million bonus today. FPG sold credit default swaps (CDSs), a form of bond insurance, without reserving against the possibility that it would have to pay claims on them. And that group is primarily responsible for America’s $182.3 billion AIG bailout in September 2008.

In a normal business, you pay bonuses to top-performing employees if the business earns a hefty profit. So, of course, AIG must have earned a profit, right? Not exactly. It lost $99 billion in 2008 and $5 billion in the first three quarters of 2009. So why do these people now deserve a bonus?

AIG defenders might argue that the $100 million bonus — an average of only $500,000 per employee — is a great deal because FPG’s 200 employees were originally scheduled for a nearly $200 million bonus this March after getting $168 million last year, according to the Post. Do the folks at FPG deserve even that $100 million for contributing to a company that has generated over $100 billion in losses in the last two years?  

Continue here.>>

 


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Morgan Paying Out 62% of Revenues in Bonuses and Pay While Average Families Face ‘Years of Pain’

Morgan Paying Out 62% of Revenues in Bonuses and Pay While Average Families Face ‘Years of Pain’ 

Courtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain

bernankeOne has to wonder how much of that ‘revenue’ is merely the result of artificial mark to market accounting and prop desk speculation, and not real cash flow from commercial banking operations.

That is not the pay method for a bank. That’s a hedge fund. And that would be all very well and good if they were a hedge fund and responsible for their own failures and successes, but they are obtaining the discount window and federal guarantees and subsidies from the taxpayers as though they were a commercial bank.

This highlights the problem with this ‘trickle down’ approach that characterizes neo-liberal stimulus versus the approach of, let’s say, the Roosevelt administration, that of putting people to work and keeping their savings safe as the first priority.

The US and UK are packing the banks with public money to ‘save the system.’ Their hope seems to be that as the banks recover, they will start lending to the private sector again, and eventually this money will trickle down to the public as real wages generated by organic economic activity.

Another approach would have been to guarantee the people’s savings in banks and Credit Unions, the cash value of insurance policies, and money market funds, up to let’s say $2,000,000 per individual and $5,000,000 per couple.

Keeping the people whole, the government would have then been able to effectively place the banks in receivership as required, and work them through the resolution of their problems, handing out some stiff losses to shareholders and speculators and the debt-holders.

No mechanism to do this? They could have nationalized the banks temporarily with a single executive order, as readily as it took Hank Paulson and Tim to type up a ten page document to give away $700 billion. The guarantees on all savings and private investments would have prevented a panic from the public, but quite a few more bankers and hedge funds might have taken the hard results of their recklessness.

This would have placed all the bailout money in the hands of the people, who could have chosen where they wished to place it after the nationalization process as the banks were either shuttered or restored. We would have ended up with


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Oligopolistic Banking System and Compensation

Outrageous results displayed in colorful charts, by Jake at Econompic Data.

I have no problem with people who work hard, work smart, innovate and produce great things, making lots of money, but this isn’t that (see e.g. Morgan Paying Out 62% of Revenues in Bonuses and Pay While Average Families Face ‘Years of Pain’ and Joseph Stiglitz on ‘Ersatz Capitalism’ and Moral Bankruptcy). - Ilene

Oligopolistic Banking System and Compensation

At this stage, most of us are familiar with the idea that compensation within the financial services industry has grown much faster than compensation outside the system. As can be seen below, this trend has largely gone uninterrupted throughout the crisis.

Financial services weekly salary

And while this level of compensation remains exorbitantly high across all of financial services, the lack of competition among the largest banks has caused compensation within the industry to become even more concentrated.

Before specifically detailing those firms, lets go to Wall Street Pit:

The Journal reported that based on its analysis — which includes banking giants J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and Citigroup, securities firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and exchange operators CME Group Inc. and NYSE Euronext Inc. — executives, traders and money managers at 38 top financial firms can expect to earn nearly 18% more than they did last year, and slightly more than they did in the record year of 2007.

While 18% seems like a massive jump (it is) from a level that was already too high (in my opinion), it ignores the broader issue of what has resulted from a government (i.e. taxpayer) guarantee on the downside risks of those banks deemed too big to fail… a MASSIVE increase in compensation (the joys of a "too big to fail" title for the select few).

The chart below details the compensation for all of those 38 firms, grouped here by JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, and "Other" (all others). BUT, slice off Citi and "other" and we can see that the remaining four make up more than 100% of that 18% jump (let it be known that the data below is not an apples to apples comparison – as Felix points out these charts don’t account for the fact that JP Morgan and Bank of America have swallowed


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Phil's Favorites

Will the Supremes Save Democracy From Minority Rule?

 

Will the Supremes Save Democracy From Minority Rule?

Courtesy of  and

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

The Supreme Court now has the power to put a decisive end to extreme gerrymandering — if Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four liberal-leaning justices can craft a clear and manageable standard to identify when partisan mapmakers go too far.

But what if it doesn't? What happens if Kennedy sides with the conservative justices, who in the oral arguments for ...



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Zero Hedge

One River CIO "We're Willing Participants In Our Own Demise"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With the world's focus falling on Beijing this week, where president Xi Jinping give a glowing account of China's future during the 19th Party Congress, boasting that “the banner of scientific socialism with Chinese characteristics is now flying high and proud for all to see," not all are impressed by China's vision of the world in which China sees itself as increasingly taking over from the US as the world's superpower. And it's not just stories about China's neverending behind the scenes bailouts of anything that may telegraph a hard landing for...



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ValueWalk

Moody's Says Hartford Could Default As Early As November

By Gary St. Fleur. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The historic headquarters of insurance giants like Aetna, and Cigna, Hartford Connecticut now faces a potential financial catastrophe.

On Thursday, October 19, it was announce that the likelihood of Hartford Connecticut, to meet its obligations for the month grows continually bleak. Moody’s has produced a press release stating their position that Hartford Connecticut is likely to default by month’s end.

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Digital Currencies

An Evening in Wonderland

 

An Evening in Wonderland

Courtesy of 

 

 

You walk halfway across Rivington Street and in the middle of the block there’s an alley leading north, and then, inexplicably, it curves northwest. It’s remarkable in that on the Isle of Manhattan there aren’t any alleys. And this one is whimsical. Lights are strung overhead and artwork decorates the sides of the buildings as you make your way through. And then, at the end of Freemans Alley, you come to a tucked away restaurant in the back corner. It’s called Freemans (what else?).

If the setting for last night&rs...



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Chart School

Gold Cycle Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Why has gold not fallen below $1000 (well so far), what is the golden canary telling us?

Previous Posts:
SP500 Kitchin Cycle says trouble brewing - Update
SP500 How much higher ?

In short, the old heads out there know there is a ying for a yang! Currently the SP500 screaming higher, massive debt, low very !VIX. But as well all know this wont last forever, and the flip side could be very scary. Hence the hedge into metals, and building of the 4.5 year gold base, and as a ...

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Insider Scoop

There Could Be 109% Upside In uniQure As Company Advances Gene Therapy Into Clinical Trials

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related QURE 32 Stocks Moving In Friday's Mid-Day Session Wall Street's M&A Chatter From October 19: Uniqure, Ulta, Sally Beauty,...

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Mapping The Market

Puts things in perspective

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

Puts things in perspective:

The circles don't look to be to scale much!

...

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Biotech

Circadian rhythm Nobel: what they discovered and why it matters

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

 

Circadian rhythm Nobel: what they discovered and why it matters

Courtesy of Sally Ferguson, CQUniversity Australia

Today, the “beautiful mechanism” of the body clock, and the group of cells in our brain where it all happens, have shot to prominence. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their work on describing the molecular cogs and wheels inside our biological clock.

In the 18th century an astronomer by the name of Jean Jacques d'Ortuous de Ma...



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Members' Corner

Day of Last Dances

News today has been relentlessly terrible. A horrific mass murder happened last night in Las Vegas. (Our politician's abject failure to address gun control is beyond sickening.) And today, reports that Tom Petty died of a heart attack, followed by reports that Tom Petty is not dead, and now reports confirming that Tom Petty has passed away. 

...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

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

Click here for the full report.




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

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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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