Posts Tagged ‘consumers’

Corporate Rotten Eggs

Robert Reich suggests creating a "national database of corporate crimes and settlements" to help regulators keep track of corporations that have a history of disregarding safety concerns.  As long as the fines for individual violations is less than the profits realized in the course of business, there is no incentive for these corporations to clean up their act.  To do that, the penalties need to be exceed the rewards and inflict some real pain on the corporation, owners, managers and shareholders. This is particularly important with serial offenders because the culture of the company does not change as a result of minor fines, just as the sociopathic nature of hard core criminals does not get cured by a three month stay in prision. – Ilene 

Corporate Rotten Eggs

PICTURED IS A CRACKED, UNCOOKED EGG, SHOWING THE YOLK AND THE WHITE, OR ALBUMEN, OF THE HEN'S EGG. CRACKED UNCOOKED EGG SHOWING YOLK AND WHITE

Courtesy of Robert Reich 

There are rotten apples in every industry. Or perhaps I should say rotten eggs.

One especially rotten egg is Jack DeCoster, whose commercial egg agribusiness, which goes under the homey title “Wright County Egg,” headquartered in Galt, Iowa, sends eggs all over the country under many different brands. Those eggs have now laid low thousands of Americans with salmonella poisoning, and may well infect thousands more.

DeCoster is recalling 380 million eggs sold since mid-May. Another commercial egg company, also headquartered in Iowa, and in which DeCoster is a major investor, is recalling hundreds millions more.

It’s not clear how rotten eggs are recalled. They’re not like Toyotas. They’re already in our food supply. 

But this is only the beginning of the story.  

Thirteen years ago when I was Secretary of Labor, DeCoster agreed to pay a $2 million penalty (the most we could throw at him) for some of the most heinous workplace violations I’d seen. His workers had been forced to live in trailers infested with rats and handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands. It was an agricultural sweatshop.

Several people in Maine told me the fine wouldn’t stop DeCoster. He’d just consider it a cost of doing business. Evidently they were right. DeCoster’s commercial egg business has a record that would make a repeat offender blush.

In 2003, DeCoster pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants (who don’t complain about unsafe working conditions, below-minimum-wage pay, and unsanitary facilities). DeCoster paid a record $2.1 million penalty for that one.

In the 1990s he was charged by…
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How We Get Through This Mess

How We Get Through This Mess

Portrait of a senior man in a tuxedo showing the thumbs up

Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts From The Frontline

This week I spoke to a small group of businessmen/entrepreneurs about the current economic environment, and after my presentation one asked me whether I didn’t have any good news for them, with a kind of gallows humor laugh. And I tried. But upon reflection there is more I could have said, so this week’s letter will be what I should have said to be a little more encouraging.

The group was a Vistage group in which my daughter Tiffani participates. This is an organization of 12 businesspeople (in this case all CEOs of small businesses) who meet once a month to share and learn about better business practices, accountability, planning, and all the aspects of running a business. Every person I have ever met who has been involved in Vistage has had good things to say about it. I have watched it help Tiffani a lot. She truly runs our business now, allowing me to read and write and travel and speak. I am a very lucky man and proud Dad.

I have particularly watched my partners at Altegris really truly transform their business model through their involvement with Vistage. First the CEO, Jon Sundt, joined, and now the partners have all joined Vistage groups focusing on their roles in the business. Sundt was always a good businessman, but the level of professionalism of his whole company has gone up a notch. It is a pleasure to watch them grow, and they give Vistage a large measure of the credit for their success. In fact, when I went to the Vistage web site to get the link, I saw a brief video of Sundt talking about his experience. (http://www.vistage.com/)  I am proud to be their partner.

If you have a business and could use some help and professional mentoring, you should look into finding a Vistage group that works for you. They match businesspeople in different industries but with roughly same size businesses. In tough times you need all the help you can get.

I talked to them about the current economic environment and what I saw coming down the road. Long-time readers know that I think we are in for an extended period of slow growth, high and sticky unemployment,…
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Who Knows Better?

Who Knows Better?

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Rszsentimentretailsales-1281726555

In my latest column for DailyFinance, "The Disconnect Between Consumer Confidence and Retail Sales," I argue that the yawning gap between these two measures is telling us something. Chances are, it’s saying that consumers know better than the official statistics about what’s really going on in the U.S. economy.

Click here to read the article. 


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Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index

Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index 

Courtesy of Doug Short 

With all the other releases on Friday, especially the 3-year revised GDP, I’m a bit late in updating my monthly Michigan Sentiment chart.


The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for July is 67.8, down significantly from the June reading of 76.0. The survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, summarizes:

Scarce jobs and stagnating incomes have been the top concerns of consumers for some time. What changed in July was their recognition that the anticipated slowdown in the economy will keep jobs scarce for some time, while their uncertainties about future prospects were increased by the policies of the Obama administration. Rather than itching to resume old spending habits, consumers have begun to actively embrace a more defensive outlook, making them more likely to further pare their debt and increase saving and reserve funds. This new defensive posture could result in even slower economic growth and fewer jobs in the future.

See the full release in PDF format here.

Because the sentiment index has trended upward since its inception in 1978, I’ve added a liner regression to help understand the pattern of reversion to the trend. I’ve also highlighted recessions to help evaluate the value of the Michigan Consumer Confidence Index as a leading indicator of the economy.

Note: The Real GDP numbers include the Second Quarter and are now updated with the BEA’s revised estimates from 2007 through First Quarter 2010.

Click to View 

Click for a larger image 

 

****

Read more about Doug Short here > 


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Should China Dump Dollars for Commodities? What about the “Nuclear Option” of Dumping Treasuries? Can Global Trade Collapse?

Should China Dump Dollars for Commodities? What about the "Nuclear Option" of Dumping Treasuries? Can Global Trade Collapse?

Courtesy of Mish 

Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple November 2006 Photo: Roger Parker

Every time there is a little blip by China in its purchasing or holding of US treasuries, hyperinflationists come out of the woodwork ranting about the "Nuclear Option" of China dumping treasuries en masse.

Such fears are extremely overblown for several reasons.

1. China’s purchasing of US assets is primarily a balance of trade issue. If the US runs a trade deficit, some other countries run a trade surplus and thus accumulate dollars. This is purely a mathematical function as I have pointed out many times.

2. If China dumps treasuries for Euro-based assets, oil-based assets, yen-based assets or for that matter anything other than dollar based assets, the problem merely shifts elsewhere and those buyers would have to do something with the dollars such as buying US treasuries or other US assets. This too is purely a mathematical function.

3. If China dumped treasuries it would tend the strengthen the RMB and China has been extremely reluctant to let the RMB appreciate. Indeed, the US is begging China to revalue the RMB upward, but China resists.

While China may make short-term moves in its reserve holdings, the odds of China dumping treasuries or dollars in size is quite remote.

Capital Tsunami Is The Bigger Threat

Michael Pettis discusses those ideas and more in The capital tsunami is a bigger threat than the nuclear option.

An awful lot of investors and policymakers are frightened by the thought of China’s so-called nuclear option. Beijing, according to this argument, can seriously disrupt the USG bond market by dumping Treasury bonds, and it may even do so, either in retaliation for US protectionist measures or in fear that US fiscal policies will undermine the value of their Treasury bond holdings. Policymakers and investors, in this view, need to be very prepared for just such an eventuality.

… the idea that Beijing can and might exercise the “nuclear option” is almost total nonsense.

In fact the real threat to the US economy is not the dumping of USG bonds. On the contrary, in the next two years the US markets are likely to be swamped by a tsunami of foreign capital, and this will have deleterious effects on the US trade deficit, debt levels, and employment.


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GDP: 3 Years of Massive Downward Revisions; Inventory Adjustments Run their Course; Where to From Here? Fed’s Counterproductive Policies

GDP: 3 Years of Massive Downward Revisions; Inventory Adjustments Run their Course; Where to From Here? Fed’s Counterproductive Policies

Courtesy of Mish 

The BEA has finally admitted something anyone with a modicum of common sense already knew: The recession was far deeper and the "recovery" far weaker than previously reported.

Please consider BEA report Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2010 (Advance Estimate) Revised Estimates: 2007 through First Quarter 2010

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 3.7 percent.

The real story in the report was not the continuing ratcheting down of GDP forward estimates, but rather massive backward revisions, most of them negative, dating back three full years.

Revision Lowlights

  • For 2006-2009, real GDP decreased at an average annual rate of 0.2 percent; in the previously published estimates, the growth rate of real GDP was 0.0 percent. From the fourth quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2010, real GDP increased at an average annual rate of 0.2 percent; in the previously published estimates, real GDP had increased at an average annual rate of 0.4 percent.
  • For the revision period, the change in real GDP was revised down for all 3 years: 0.2 percentage point for 2007, 0.4 percentage point for 2008, and 0.2 percentage point for 2009.
  • For the revision period, national income was revised down for all 3 years: 0.4 percent for 2007, 0.6 percent for 2008, and 0.4 percent for 2009.
  • For the revision period, corporate profits was revised down for all 3 years: 2.0 percent for 2007, 7.2 percent for 2008, and 3.9 percent for 2009.
  • For 2007, the largest contributors to the revision to real GDP growth were a downward revision to PCE, an upward revision to imports, and a downward revision to state and local government spending;
  • The percent change from fourth quarter to fourth quarter in real GDP was revised down from 2.5 percent to 2.3 percent for 2007, was revised down from a decrease of 1.9 percent to a decrease of 2.8 percent for


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Marc Faber: Relax, This Will Hurt A Lot

Marc Faber: Relax, This Will Hurt A Lot

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Marc Faber closed out this week’s Agora Financial Symposium with a speech that pretty much recapitulated the view that the end of the world is if not nigh, then surely tremendous dislocations to the existing socio-political and economic landscape are about to take place (with some very dire consequences for the US). His conclusive remarks pretty much summarize his sentiment best: "We’ve had a trend for most of the past 200 years: GDP of countries like China and India went down while the West surged. That’s now changed. Emerging economies will go up, and your children in the West will have a lower standard of living than you did. Absolutely. We won’t sink to the bottom of the sea. But other countries will grow much faster than us. The world is very competitive, and the odds are stacked against us. Americans, with their inborn arrogance, will not let it go that easily, so there will be lots of tension going forward." While long-time fans of Faber will not be surprised by the gloom and doom (not much boom) here, anyone else who still holds a glimmer of hope that at the end of the day the CNBC spin may be right, is advised to steer clear of Faber’s most recent thoughts.

And while we do not have the full presentation yet, the salient points have been recreated below courtesy of the Motley Fool. For those who desire a far more in depth presentation from the inimitable Mr. Faber, we direct you to his June 2008 capstone presentation: "Where is the boom, and the doom" – link here.

On reality: My views are not all that negative. I think they’re just realistic. I want to face reality. You have people like Paul Krugman who thinks we should have another bubble to pull us out of this. He actually said that. But he said the same thing in 2001. And you know how that turned out.

On unintended consequences: The Fed doesn’t seem to have learned anything at all from its mistakes. Their current policy of cutting rates to zero is designed to create sustainable growth, but they’ve created larger and larger volatility in markets. There are many unintended consequences of their actions.

The oil bubble of 2008 is a good example. In 2008, the price…
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DEFLATION!!

DEFLATION!!

Deflated globe

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

By Comstock Partners:

Wow!  We see the word “Deflation” everywhere; we see it in every financial publication and hear it every time we turn on financial TV.  We see that the pundits who were bearish because of runaway inflation have just recently included deflation as well as inflation to be the problem.   We were talking and warning about the ramifications of deflation as far back as the late 1990s.  That was when we authored the “Cycle of Deflation” (see 1st chart).  Whenever we used the word deflation back then, and through 2001, Microsoft Word did not recognize the word and then spell check would constantly try to get us to replace this unusual word with inflation or some other word that started with “de…. .”

comstock41 DEFLATION!!

You may wonder why we would bring up the fact that we were so early in deflationary warnings which are really only just now becoming recognized as a threat.  At that time, we believed that the deflation about which we were warning during the biggest financial mania of all times would have taken place when the bear market started in 2000 and the recession hit in 2001.  However, the Fed decided to make sure deflation did not take place by lowering fed funds from 6 ¼ % to 1% and, then kept it there for a year.  Remember, 2002 was when Bernanke gave the helicopter speech where he implied that he would do whatever it took to control deflation-”even drop money out of helicopters.”  Well, what they did was exacerbate a housing bubble that was already in force and started a second financial mania with stocks following the housing market into the stratosphere.

We wish Greenspan and Bernanke would have let the tremendous overleveraging (even at that time) unwind with the recession and, even though it would have been very painful, let the public repair their balance sheets as they either paid off or defaulted on their debt.  At that time, the total debt (public and private) was a very high 280% of GDP vs. 260% of GDP at the worst of the Great Depression.  Clearly, the unwinding of the debt back then would have been very painful had the Fed not intervened, but now the debt problem is much larger.  Now that the debt has just about doubled they have to deal with a much bigger…
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Frugality the New Reality in Australia; Predatory Customers Addicted to Discounts

Frugality the New Reality in Australia; Predatory Customers Addicted to Discounts

Courtesy of Mish 

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:  A man views the discounted items for sale in a branch of Books Etc which has gone into administration on November 27, 2009 in London, England. The nationwide book chain, along with its sister brand 'Borders', is seeking a buyer for all of its 45 stores. Increased competition from supermarkets and online bookstores are being blamed for the chain's decline. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

I have commented many times on US Consumer and Corporate Frugality but inquiring minds might be interested in happenings down under. Frugality has gone global.

Predatory Customers Addicted to Discounts 

The Herald Sun reports Retailers could take years to recover because customers addicted to discounts.

A bargain frenzy since the global financial crisis has led consumers to expect and accept only slashed prices.

The dire forecast, from market research company TNS director Chris Kirby, comes as bored staff in some stores are put to work cleaning, tidying and changing window displays because of a lack of customers.

At some sites, especially fashion outlets, stock is discounted by up to 70 per cent as soon as it hits shelves to attract shopper interest.

"Consumers are no longer willing to accept the first price they find. They know there’s a good chance of finding it cheaper somewhere else," Mr Kirby said. "In essence the industry is training us to become professional, if not predatory, consumers."

The caution came as a Commonwealth Bank economic index that tracks credit and debit card transaction value trends across a wide range of industries reported the weakest spending since the height of the global financial crisis in early 2008.

Desperate Retailers Slashing Prices by 75 Percent 

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: A '75% Off' sign is seen February 12, 2009 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rebounded 1.0 percent in January after dropping for six months in a row, according to the Commerce Department.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Please consider Retailers slashing prices by 75% as Queensland sales slow

One retail organisation, the United Retail Federation, said the slump was at its worst in Queensland, where small retailers were struggling to move stock, even after heavily discounting items.

The bleak picture is at odds with scenes of hundreds of shoppers queuing at lay-by counters to take advantage of major toy sales.

Thousands of bargain hunters queued at Big W stores for the start of its two-week toy sale, which ended last week.

One Gold Coast shopper complained of a four-hour wait at her local Big W store, and of being hit in the ankles with shopping trolleys in the stampede.

Target will follow with its toy sale from July 22 to August 4, having already released its 72-page catalogue offering 120 half-price bargains.

But Australian Retailers Association director Russell Zimmerman said retailers generally were finding it difficult to clear stock, even at hefty discounts. "It’s tough out there and retailers are finding it harder


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CNBC Host Accuses Guest Of Just Trying To Scare The Crap Out Of Everyone

CNBC Host Accuses Guest Of Just Trying To Scare The Crap Out Of Everyone

Courtesy of Gregory White at Clusterstock 

CNBC’s Simon Hobbs fought it out with Michael Pento today about the reality of the current economic situation in the U.S.

The fireworks start around 3:25, when Hobbs starts questioning the current generation of CEO’s for misunderstanding our post crisis world. Pento argues that right now people aren’t spending. Hobbs says that in Latin America and Asia, they are. 

Pento then argues that consumers are going to be paying down debt for several years, and that the U.S. will be weak through that time period. The two then fight it out over the U.S. AAA rating and taxes.

At 6:00 minutes in, Hobbs says, "You’re just peddling the power of nightmares," and "Wars are fought because of that sort of attitude."

Pento goes on to make points about how people need to take the threat of U.S. sovereign debt seriously.

 


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Zero Hedge

The Real Story Behind Goldman's Q2 Trading Loss: How A $100M Gas Bet Went Awry

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Goldman Sachs FICC-trading income was an unexpectedly ugly blemish on what was already a poor Q2 earnings report. And while the FDIC-backed hedge fund initially blamed the decline on lower trading revenues, lack of volatility and depressed client activity...

... there was more to the story. T...



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ValueWalk

The Entire Medical Industry Is About To Change

By The Sovereign Investor. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The doctor straightened and pulled the stethoscope from her ears. “I don’t hear anything on the right side.”

Sometimes silence is a good sign. When it comes to listening to my husband breathing, it’s not.

One quick X-ray later and we discover that his right lung had collapsed. There was also air putting pressure on his left lung.

The fix was easy. The doctor inserted a slender tube into his chest, sucking out the air. His lung reinflated in a matter of minutes.

I caught the doctor later and asked her why this had happened. When the pain started, he’d been watching TV.

She shrugged and admitted that sometimes it was just something that happened to men who are tall and thin.

Of course, the answer to the question of “How do we avoid this?”...



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Phil's Favorites

Investment Advice in Four Words: Have Patience, Avoid Bubbles

Courtesy of Mish.

A relations manager for Ted Thomas reached out last week and asked: “What is your most valuable advice to people who are beginner investors so that they can get great results in the long term?”

The answer form had no formatting options. Here is a detailed response, with links.

Have Patience, Avoid Bubbles

The TINA theory (there is no alternative other than stocks and bonds) is a path to poor returns.

Cash and gold are indeed options. I discussed TINA in Median Price-to-Revenue Ratio Higher in All Deciles vs 2007, 90% vs Dot-Com Bubble: THE Choice

I recently discussed gold in ...



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Insider Scoop

Things To Like, Things To Watch At The Gap

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related GPS 20 Stocks Moving In Friday's Pre-Market Session A Peek Into The Markets: U.S. Stock Futures Edge Higher Ahead Of Consumer Sentiment Repor...

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Chart School

Volatility on the Rise

Courtesy of Declan.

Today's losses look big on current charts but in a historic context, they weren't too severe. However, big red bars are not to be ignored and 'market leading' Small Caps have felt the full brunt of the selling from July which is bad news for the broader market.  Today's losses in the Russell 2000 undercut the 200-day MA leaving 1,345 as next support (of which I would not be too confident of it holding).


If the Russell 2000 gives up 1,350s then a drop to 1,150s could be on the cards. Things could get ugly if this scenario pl...

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Digital Currencies

Ukrainian Lawmakers Disclose $45 Million In Bitcoin Holdings

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As Ukraine's crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service.

Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country's democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of August 14th, 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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Biotech

Editing human embryos with CRISPR is moving ahead - now's the time to work out the ethics

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

Editing human embryos with CRISPR is moving ahead – now's the time to work out the ethics

Courtesy of Jessica BergCase Western Reserve University

There’s still a way to go from editing single-cell embryos to a full-term ‘designer baby.’ ZEISS Microscopy, CC BY-SA

The announcement by researchers in Portland, Oregon that they’ve successfully modified the genetic m...



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Members' Corner

Why we need to act on climate change now

 

Why we need to act on climate change now

Interview with Jan Dash PhD, by Ilene Carrie, Editor at Phil’s Stock World

Jan Dash PhD is a physicist, an expert at quantitative finance and risk management, and a consultant at Bloomberg LP. In his thought-provoking book, Quantitative Finance and Risk Management, A Physicist's Approach, Jan devotes a chapter to climate change and its long-term systemic risk. In this article, Ilene interviews Jan regarding his thoughts on climate change and the way it can affect our futu...



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Mapping The Market

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

This would be excellent news for AAPL and GOOG to a lesser extent although not inconsequential:

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years 

In five years, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion last year, according to a report released today by app measurement company App Annie. What explains the growth? More people are spending more time and -- crucially -- more money in apps. While on average people aren't downloading many more apps, App Annie expects global app usership to nearly double to 6.3 billion people in the next five years while the time spent in apps will more than double. And, it expects the...



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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. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...



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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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FeedTheBull - Top Stock market and Finance Sites



About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

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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