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Posts Tagged ‘Citi’

Which Has a Better Ring – The Hexopoly or The Systemic Six?

Which Has a Better Ring – The Hexopoly or The Systemic Six?

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

The Financial Reform Bill, which I’ve nicknamed The Let’s Not Allow Our Largest Donors To Embarrass Us Again Act of 2010, is not a total failure, but it fails miserably to address perhaps the worst part of the crisis - Too Big To Fail.

The bill doesn’t really address the Hexopoly of Too Big To Fail Banks.  I’m also calling theseThe Systemic Six.

The big six banks (Goldie, Morgan, JP, B of A, Wells and Citi) will be limited in their hedge fund investments and trading activity, but not very limited.  The interconnectedness, however, is unchanged, and this is the very crux of the matter.

Citi was saved to prevent it from dragging Wells down, Wachovia, Merrill, Morgan were all "assisted" to prevent Goldman and JPMorgan Chase from going down, and on and on.  We were told that the dominoes were already falling after Lehman and so emergency measures (bailouts) were necessary.

And for arguments sake, let’s say this was true at the time or was the best option to prevent the Depression.  OK, fine.  But so why doesn’t the new legislation address that and seek a change for the fact that these six banks (and others) can cause such a massive chain reaction?  It’s a shocking gap in the provisions of the bill.

And don’t even get me started on the Fannie and Freddie omission (consider those cans kicked down the road).  If Finance Reform were a wedding, Fannie and Freddie would be placed at the farthest table from the action, over by the kitchen doors like the ugly cousins of the banks that they truly are.

Oh well, maybe we’ll get it right after the next economic evisceration.  For now, The Hexopoly orThe Systemic Six are here to stay. 

****

Picture credit MTTS (h/t Jr. Deputy Accountant)  


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Singling out Goldman Sachs

Singling out Goldman Sachs

vampire squidCourtesy of Steve Randy Waldman of at Interfluidity 

Regular readers know that I have few nice things to say about Goldman Sachs lately.

Goldman fully deserves the attention that the SEC has brought to it, and the attention that the Department of Justice may soon bring to it. The conduct that the firm is trying to defend is inexcusable, and its unwillingness to acknowledge that even more so.

However, it is unlikely that bad conduct was limited only to Goldman. The fact that others were misbehaving is no defense. A high crime rate doesn’t make burglary okay. But I fear that Goldman Sachs may have become a shield and lightning rod, deflecting scrutiny from other firms also in need of disinfection.

Financial firms are fragile in at least three different ways. They are financially leveraged, so they are vulnerable to deteriorating asset values. They fund illiquid assets with short-term money, so they are vulnerable to runs. A less widely appreciated fragility has to do with the degree to which the boundaries of the state and financial institutions blur. A financial institution that is at odds with the state is a freakish, frightening thing. It may suffer a loss of confidence for reasons that can’t be fully explained in economic terms. Famously, “no major financial firm has survived criminal charges.

I think it entirely possible that Goldman could go the way of Arthur Anderson or Drexel. If so, the firm will have no one to blame but itself.

Nevertheless, there is a danger that we will make a ritual sacrifice of Goldman and pretend to have exorcised our demons, while other firms that have engaged in similar conduct continue undisturbed. It would be a sad irony if, in single-minded pursuit of Goldman Sachs, we not only let other perps escape unscathed, but also hand them the windfall of a less competitive industry. Rather than forcing traumatic self-appraisal and reform at surviving banks, Goldman’s fall might lead managers elsewhere to congratulate themselves for savvy positioning, for playing the system. Competitors would swallow the corpse of Goldman Sachs, thinking they had eaten what they’d killed.

I have no reason to think that the government’s focus on Goldman is motivated by anything other than having discovered particularly bad conduct there. Nevertheless, the cynic in me cannot help but notice that, according to media reports, Jamie Dimon and the Obama Administration…
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A few good shorts

Here’s what Allan is shorting. 

A few good shorts

X – Short Trade of the Week, April 12

*****  

FAS – Still floating above 100
 
******
 
GS – a break of 155, then 145, then…….
 
******
 
 BAC – too big too rude too arrogant to survive
 
******
 
 
C – some cheap puts if Sell pans out
 
*******
 

YHOO – fresh signal 

 

Allan’s newly launched newsletter, “Trend Following Trading Model,” goes with the trend-following trading system he’s been working on for years. Most trades last for weeks to months. Allan’s offering PSW readers a special 25% discount. Click here.  For a more detailed introduction to the Trend Following Trading Model newsletter and trading system, read this introductory article.

 

File photo of Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs at the end of the iPhone OS4 special event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino

p.s. Market Club sent out three videos yesterday on AppleOil and Gold.

Summary (but watch the videos):

Apple"the hottest stock in the world."

Oil: "crude oil has been very choppy."

Gold: "this market is setting itself up for a large move to the upside." But not tomorrow. 

 


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Where’s Rico?

Where’s Rico?

Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler

goldman sachs     It’s interesting and instructive to read The New York Times’ lead story this morning, TOP GOLDMAN LEADERS SAID TO HAVE OVERSEEN MORTGAGE UNIT. While it pretends to report all the particulars of the huge scandal growing out of Friday’s SEC action against Goldman Sachs, the story really comes off as an attempt to create an alibi for the so-called "bank." It pretends that some kind of an intellectual struggle was going on among GS executives as to whether the housing market was doing just fine or poised to tank — therefore muddling the company’s intent in setting up investment deals based on sketchy mortgages designed to blow up so that a favored big customer, John Paulson, could collect on the deal insurance known as credit default swaps.

     The truth is that anyone with half a brain could see the securitized mortgage fiasco coming from ten-thousand miles away. I said as much in Chapter Six ("Running on Fumes: the Hallucinated Economy") of my book The Long Emergency [The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century ], which was published in 2005 but written well before that in 2002-4. And I had had no work experience whatsoever in banking generally or Wall Street investment banking in particular.

     One week before the SEC action against GS, the Pro Publica website published a story about virtually the same kind of mischief being run out of the Chicago-based hedge fund Magnetar led by a clever young fellow named Alec Litowitz. Like Goldman Sachs, Magnetar deliberately constructed investments (bundles of bundled mortgage-backed securities called collateralized debt obligations) that were certain to fail so that Magnetar could collect on credit default swaps that amounted to a bet against products they themselves had participated in creating. There was no question that Litowitz and his employees did this absolutely on purpose. Nor is there any question that they aggressively sold positions in these CDOs to credulous investors like Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and others.

     The question that now begs to be answered is: why is this activity not being investigated and prosecuted under the federal RICO statutes against racketeering? The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was designed to punish exactly this kind of behavior, whether the defendant’s name ended in a vowel or not.…
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Banks Come Back For Another Bailout in Ireland While the US ‘Manages Perceptions’

Another great introduction to news by Jesse. (I so often find myself in total agreement with Jesse on these matters!) – Ilene 

Banks Come Back For Another Bailout in Ireland While the US ‘Manages Perceptions’

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

banksThe whole notion of bank bailouts is a tremendous injustice when not accompanied by personal bankruptcy and civil and criminal prosecution for those banks managers who created them.

In addition, the owners of the banks, whether through debt or shares, should be wiped out and the bank place in a proper receivership while its books are sorted out.

The US is an accounting mirage. The notion that it will make money from its stake in Citi is a sleight of hand. The enormous subsidies to the banks both in terms of direct payments, indirect payments through entities like AIG, and subsidies such as the erosion of the currency and the deterioration of the real economy, will never be repaid.

The real model of how to handle a banking crisis is in the Scandinavian nationalization of the banks, or even better, the disposition of the Savings and Loans in the US.

This pragamatic approach, its cheaper just to pay them all off than to sort them out, is a child of the Rubinomics of mid 1990′s in the States, in which it was determined to be better to prop up the stock markets, often by buying the SP futures, than it was to allow the market to reach its level, and then deal with the financial carnage of a market crash. Here is a review of a paper by Rubin’s protege Larry Summers.

From the Horse’s Mouth: Lawrence Summers On Market Manipulation In Times of Crisis

The fourth position, which Summers calls pragmatic, in his own words, “is the one embraced implicitly, if not explicitly by policymakers in most major economies. It holds that central banks must always do whatever is necessary to preserve the integrity of the financial system regardless of whether those who receive support are solvent or can safely pay a penalty rate. This position concedes that some institutions may become too large to fail. While lender-of-last-resort insurance, like any other type of insurance, will have moral hazard effects, I argue that these may be small when contrasted with the benefits of protecting the real economy from financial


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Senator: Which Part Of “Too Big To Fail” Do You Not Understand?

Senator: Which Part Of “Too Big To Fail” Do You Not Understand?

Courtesy of Simon Johnson at Baseline Scenario

When a company wants to fend off a hostile takeover, its board may seek to put in place so-called “poison pill” defenses – i.e., measures that will make the firm less desirable if purchased, but which ideally will not encumber its operations if it stays independent.

Large complex cross-border financial institutions run with exactly such a structure in place, but it has the effect of making it very expensive for the government to takeover or shut down such firms, i.e., to push them into any form of bankruptcy.

To understand this more clearly you can,

The Citigroup situation is simple.  They would like to downsize slightly, and are under some pressure to do so.  It is hard to sell assets at a decent price in this environment, so why don’t they just spin off companies – e.g., quickly create five companies in which each original shareholder gets a commensurate stake?

The answer is that Citi’s debt is generally cross-guaranteed across various parts of the company.  US and foreign creditors have a claim on the whole thing, more or less (including the international parts), and you can’t break it apart without upsetting them.  The cross-border dimensions make everything that much more knotty.

Senator Kaufman explains what this means – essentially the “resolution authority” proposed in the Dodd legislation is meaningless.  How would any administration put a huge bank into any kind of “resolution” (a FDIC-type bank closure, scaled up to big banks) when it knows that doing so would trigger default across all the complex pieces of this multinational empire?

You could do it if you are willing to accept the costs – and if you understand there are big drawbacks to providing an unconditional bailout of the 2009 variety.  But will a future administration be willing to take that decision?  The Obama administration was not – and big finance will only become bigger and more complex as we move forward.

If you look into the eyes of the decision-makers from spring 2009, they honestly believe that taking over Citi or Bank of America would have caused greater financial trouble and a worse recession.  You can argue about their true motivation all you want; this…
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SP Daily Chart – Backing Off Resistance at the Breakout But Still Above Support

SP Daily Chart – Backing Off Resistance at the Breakout But Still Above Support

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

The quiet backstory is that the Five and Seven Year Treasury Auctions did not go all that well, with Zimbabwe Ben and his Primary Dealer Pranksters scarfing up a good share of the auctions, with a chunk even going to their London subsidiaries so it would not be completely awkward.

The headline action is centered on the Dow Industrials, with the psychological 11,000 number tantalizingly close. The Industrials are the bright, shiny spinner designed to loosen the pockets of mom and pop, to lure them out of their bonds and cash, and into overpriced equities.

One really has to question whether there can be any serious market decline while Timmy is considering selling the Treasuries stake in Citi. One might even wonder if this entire ropeline rally from 1045 is not in support of a major plop of something not very palatable into the public domain.

ORCL after the bell.

On the news front, according to Zerohedge the London FSA is beginning an investigation into the front-running of block trades

We do not know if the SEC is on board with this yet. Perhaps someone can post the FSA’s notice of investigation on PornHub. Maybe the US ought to consider outsourcing their Financial Consumer Protection Agency to London. It makes more sense to have it there than with the Fed.

 

Artwork (Ben) courtesy of Jr Deputy Accountant 


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How The FDIC Is Killing Short Sales: The Story Of OneWest, IndyMac & Taxpayer Funded Sweetheart Deals

You may have seen this video before as it’s been on Zero Hedge and here at the Favorites, but the text below is from The Daily Bail and includes a little more description of the how the deal works.  If this is true, it is truly outrageous. – Ilene 

How The FDIC Is Killing Short Sales: The Story Of OneWest, IndyMac & Taxpayer Funded Sweetheart Deals (VIDEO)

 

 

Listen to the deal OneWest Bank got from the FDIC to take over failed and seized Indymac.  Don’t forget who is fundng the FDIC these days — taxpayers.  Sheila’s been out of capital for months, so the bill comes to all of us now.  An absolute don’t miss clip.  Then do your best to spread it elsewhere.

The IndyMac Slap In Our Face  >>

—--

Background reading:

Is The FDIC Killing Short Sales?

As some of you already know, I blogged recently about being interviewed recently by our local NBC news affiliate.  To read the blog, click here.  Basically, IndyMac Bank (now OneWest Bank), is holding one of my clients hostage, demanding a $75k promissory note, or they will proceed to foreclosure.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they were doing this.  The BPO came in at the contract price of $275k, with a net to IndyMac of $241k.  What advantage could there possibly be for them to proceed to foreclosure?

Yesterday, I figured it out.  You see, IndyMac was taken over by the FDIC and sold to OneWest Bank in March/2009.  Guess who the investors are behind OneWest?  George Soros, Michael Dell, Steve Mnuchin (former Goldman Sachs executive), and John Paulson (hedge-fund billionaire).  

Now, listen to the deal they got from the FDIC….

Basically, they purchased all current residential mortgages at 70% of par value (70% of the outstanding loan amounts).  They purchased all current HELOCS at 58% of Par Value!!!

Next, in order to "sweeten the pot", the FDIC stepped…
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Citigroup Plans “Crisis Derivatives”

Citigroup Plans "Crisis Derivatives"

Courtesy of Mish

Bomb with Lit Fuse

Proving that it has learned nothing from the arrogance of Chuck Prince and Citi’s subsequent demise, Citi plans crisis derivatives.

Credit specialists at Citi are considering launching the first derivatives intended to pay out in the event of a financial crisis. The firm has drawn up plans for a tradable liquidity index, known as the CLX, on which products could be structured that allow buyers to hedge a spike in funding costs.

Like the untraded US rates liquidity index (USRLI), the CLX is constructed as a sum of the Sharpe ratio – deviations from the mean divided by volatility – of various market factors, such as equity volatilities, Treasury rates, swap spreads, corporate bond swaption-implied volatilities, and structured credit spreads. Citi will make the CLX tradable by using fixed historical values for the mean and volatility parameters, eliminating the need for costly recomputation from lengthy time series.

Although the design of the index serves as a proxy measure for liquidity, Terry Benzschawel, a managing director of quantitative credit trading strategy at Citi in New York and head of the team researching the product, says it also tracks more traditional measures such as bid-ask spreads, trading volumes and the USRLI. He compares the potential impact of CLX to that of the interest rate swaps market.

"The great thing about the index is that it hedges your funding costs while being very simple to trade. I believe it will reduce the systemic risk in the industry, akin to how the advent of swaps means people don’t worry about interest-rate exposures any more – they just pay a fee to hedge it," he says.

Chris Rogers, chair of statistical science at Cambridge University, said the only participants able to sell CLX-based products would probably be those who are too big to fail.

"This is basically a kind of insurance product. The main issue is: how good is the party issuing it? If it’s going to be paying out huge numbers in the event of a crisis, will it be able to meet it obligations? Insurers can buy reinsurance for their liabilities, but the buck has to stop somewhere – there’s a limit to how much a private insurer can pay out. Only the government can cover unlimited losses," he says.

The last thing we…
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In Other News, Larry King is Selling Divorce Insurance

In Other News, Larry King is Selling Divorce Insurance

Courtesy of Ken Houghton at Angry Bear  

Bomb with Lit Fuse

Many months ago, I quoted the brilliant Janet Tavakoli‘s book Credit Derivatives and Synthetic Structures:   

The trader then went on to tell me that Commercial Bank of Korea would sell credit default protection on bonds issued by the Commercial Bank of Korea.
"That’s very interesting," I countered, "but the credit default option is worthless."
"But people are doing it," persisted the trader.
"That’s because they don’t know what they’re doing," I affirmed. "The correlation between Commercial Bank of Korea and itself is 100 percent. I would pay nothing for that credit protection. It is worthless for this purpose."
The trader mustered his best grammar, chilliest tone, and most authoritative voice: "There are those who would disagree with you." (p. 85)

Apparently, that anonymous trader—or another money-losing risk-mispricing hedge fund manager—is now running The Big C:   

Credit specialists at Citi are considering launching the first derivatives intended to pay out in the event of a financial crisis. The firm has drawn up plans for a tradable liquidity index, known as the CLX, on which products could be structured that allow buyers to hedge a spike in funding costs….

"The great thing about the index is that it hedges your funding costs while being very simple to trade. I believe it will reduce the systemic risk in the industry, akin to how the advent of swaps means people don’t worry about interest-rate exposures any more – they just pay a fee to hedge it," he says.

Because if funding dries up, The Big C will be there to support you!

I thought this was an attempt to make money on a premium, but it isn’t:   

Like a swap, the contracts envisaged by Citi would be entered into without an up-front premium, with money changing hands according to the index’s movements around a fair strike value.

So the model is actually that you pay a higher cost of funds during good times, and during bad times, depend on the ability of your counterparty to make you whole.

When banks do it, it’s called "deposit insurance," and it is valuable because in the worst-case scenario, the U.S. Treasury can print money. Since—the last time I checked—Citigroup …
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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

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

Here's the Happy Thanksgiving Edition of Stock World Weekly!

Click on this link and sign in with your PSW user name and password. 

Picture via Pixabay.

...

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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 old. My high IQ and love of learning were no match for popular dolts, so a portion of my childhood was wasted just trying to disappear into the background.

Unknown to me at the time, much of the adult world operated the same way. It didn't take a ...



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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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Chart School

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:

  • Industrial Production
  • Real Personal Income (excluding Transfer Payments)
  • Nonfarm Employment
  • Real Retail Sales
  • ...

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    All About Trends

    Mid-Day Update

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

    Click here for the full report.




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

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    OpTrader

    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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    Sabrient

    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.

    In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer...



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    Digital Currencies

    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.

    The Hryvnia has collapsed to new record lows near 15/USD this morning. The Central Bank and bankers "agreed to keep UAH at 15-16/USD" but are &qu...



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    Option Review

    Yamana Gold call options sink

    Yamana Gold call options sink

    By Andrew Wilkinson at Interactive Brokers

    A four-year low for the spot price of gold has had a devastating impact on Yamana Gold (Ticker: AUY), with shares in the name down at the lowest price in six years. Some option traders were especially keen to sell premium and appear to see few signs of a lasting rebound within the next five months. The price of gold suffered again Wednesday as the dollar strengthened and stock prices advanced. The post price of gold fell to $1145 adding further pain to share prices of gold miners. Shares in Yamana Gold tumbled to $3.62 and the lowest price since 2008 as call option sellers used the April expiration contract to write premium at the $5.00 strike. That strike is now 38% above the price of the stock. Premium writers took in around 16-cents per contract o...



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    Pharmboy

    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.

    First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...



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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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