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Posts Tagged ‘financial industry’

GRAPES OF WRATH – 2011

Excellent article comparing current situation with lead up to the Great Depression.  Well worth reading. – Ilene 

Courtesy of Jim Quinn at The Burning Platform

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” – John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath

  

John Steinbeck wrote his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at the age of 37 in 1939, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize for literature. John Ford then made a classic film adaption in 1941, starring Henry Fonda.


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Happy High Frequency Trading Day!

Happy High Frequency Trading Day!

high frequency trading Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

Michael Peltz has a mammoth 13-pager on High Frequency Trading in the latest issue ofInstitutional Investor magazine.  The article is chock full of important information, including the 25 stocks most played with by high frequency traders (Sprint, Las Vegas Sands, Bank of America…). 

It also contains some killer quotes.  Here are a couple before I send you over to read the whole thing:

An exchange between the writer and financially-savvy Senator Ted Kaufman:

“We have a 300-pound gorilla in the room, and we’re saying that we’re going to keep it in a cage somewhere,” he told me. “This thing will be 600 pounds.”

“But isn’t part of the problem that there are 300 gorillas?” I asked, referring to the fact that an estimated 200 to 400 firms do high frequency trading.

“Good point,” he replied. “We have all these gorillas, and guess what? We put them in zoos where the people running the zoos don’t have enough information and authority to take care of them.”

Seth Merrin of LiquidNet, a block trading marketplace:

“The institutions are the equivalent of the British army, walking down the battlefield wearing bright red.  The high frequency traders are the Americans hiding in the woods in camouflage, picking them off. If the British army hadn’t changed its tactics, they would have lost every subsequent war.”

There are some HFT defenders in the piece, spouting the usual rhetoric about how wonderful their liquidity is (a claim that I believe was invalidated during the Flash Crash as the robots drooped their heads like marionettes with cut strings just when their liquidity was needed most), but these defenders are industry insiders for the most part.

Anyway, get acquainted with the players involved and the terminology – this debate is just beginning.

Source:

Inside The Machine (II) 

Picture credit: Jr. Deputy Accountant  


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Goldman Sachs: Overreach, Hubris, and the Inevitable Blowback

Jesse converses with his pit-dwelling friend and shares what he learned at the Cafe. – Ilene 

Goldman Sachs: Overreach, Hubris, and the Inevitable Blowback

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

"We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays…

We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life. In this process evil things formerly accepted will not be so easily condoned…"

Franklin D Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address, January 1937

The hubris associated with the trading crowd is peaking, and heading for a fall that could be a terrific surprise. It seems to be reaching a peak, trading now in a kind of euphoria.

I had a conversation this morning with a trader that I have known from the 1990′s, which is a lifetime in this business. I have to admit that he is successful, moreso than any of the popular retail advisory services you might follow such as Elliott Wave, for example, which he views with contempt. He is a little bit of an insider, and knows the markets and what makes them tick. 

He likes to pick my brain on some topics that he understands much less, such as the currency markets and monetary developments, and sometimes weaves them into his commentary, always without attribution. He has been a dollar bull forever, and his worst trading is in the metals. He likes to short gold and silver on principle, and always seems to lose because he rarely honors his first stop loss, which is a shocking lapse in trading discipline.

His tone was ebullient. The Street has won, it owns the markets. They can take it up, and take it down, and make money on both sides, any side, of any market move. I have to admit that in the last quarter his trading results are impeccable.

We diverged into the dollar, which he typically views as unbeatable, with the US dominating the international financial system forever. He likes to ask questions about formal economic terms and relationships, or monetary systems and policy. He


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Exposing The Story Behind Goldman’s Record Profits – Part 2: The Role Of The Taxpayer

Exposing The Story Behind Goldman’s Record Profits – Part 2: The Role Of The Taxpayer

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Do Goldman employees deserve any compensation, much less the $16 billion paid out in salaries and bonuses in 2009 when one considers that the firm would not only have no money to pay, but would be defunct had the US taxpayer not stepped in and bailed them out? Should this money have been used to prepay the firm’s $20 billion TLGP exposure instead, thus truly making the firm independent of taxpayer support, instead of just claims to Goldman’s public funding independence? Will the wave of public anger, now that President Obama has suddenly and inexplicably done a 180 degree turn and sides with the middle-class instead of the financial executives, take Goldman down at the next black swan occurrence? Is Goldman hypocritical in claiming it did not need a bailout after it rushed to become a bank holding company? Is Goldman a doomed business model which relies solely on the existence of the "greater fool" to sell to? Will its monopolist and ever-larger dominant status result in an implosion in the financial industry (especially with the DOJ continuing to deny there is any anti-trust problem)? All these questions and more seek answers in the just released Part Two of the PBS series "Is taxpayer money behind profits at Goldman Sachs."

We recommend watching Part One of the PBS series in advance of the clip below.

 


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I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

"If you wanted (as Paul Krugman and some of the questioners at the FCIC hearings did) to know just why things went awry, you’re wasting your time, says the Epicurean Dealmaker: Top bankers are "smart, scary smart," but they have little interest in why things are – and rather plenty of interest in how they can take advantage of the way things are."  Phil

Bank teller

See also Trust No Bankers.

A study of recent—and not so recent—financial reform and regulation yields two rules. Rule No. 1: The banks have no idea what kind of regulation is good for them. Rule No. 2: If you ever think the banks have a point, remember Rule No. 1…

Tom Lindmark summarizes:

So there you have it from one of their own. They just didn’t have time to think about how paying exorbitant amounts of money to themselves that they earned from a game the government rigged for them, after the government bailed them out would play out. They weren’t stupid or foolish, just preoccupied with making money. As TED says, that is what they’re all about.

And here is TED’s full inside story:

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

Courtesy of The Epicurean Dealmaker

"Aesthetics is for artists what ornithology is for birds."

— Barnett Newman

Good morning, class.

Our quote for the day comes from Barnett Newman, painter, artist, and member of the loosely affiliated post-war group of US artists known as the Abstract Expressionists. Mr. Newman was widely regarded by many—none more so than himself—to be one of the smartest and most intellectual of this group, which contained other, less articulate1 but arguably more talented artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Mr. Newman is credited with unleashing this bon mot upon an unexpecting world in the course of discussing art critics, art criticism, and aesthetics—the philosophy of art and beauty.

* * *

I recalled this quote to mind today when I read Paul Krugman’s latest broadside against all things—and people—financial in The New York Times. In his jeremiad, "Bankers Without a Clue," Mr. Krugman picks apart the recent testimony by four Wall Street CEOs at the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and asks the rhetorical question

Do the bankers really


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Trust No Bankers

Age old conflicts revisited. But of no surprise, bankers, like other groups of professionals, do not have a compelling history of self-regulation. – Ilene

Trust No Bankers

great depressionThe financial industry has always been wrong about the dangers of regulation.

By Daniel Gross at Slate

Predictably, Wall Street and the banking industry don’t like President Obama’s plan to tax banks to help pay for the bailout. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, an Obama supporter, said, "Using tax policy to punish people is a bad idea." Republicans generally denounced it, with RNC Chairman Michael Steele noting "this money has already been paid back by the banks" and calling it a "punitive tax" that "will hurt Americans’ savings and discourage job creation at the worst of economic times."

It would be a lot easier to accept this line of reasoning if JPMorgan Chase didn’t have about $40 billion in FDIC-guaranteed debt outstanding, and if the Federal Reserve didn’t have $27 billion of Bear Stearns assets on its balance sheet (which it had assumed to help JPMorgan take over Bear). Big banks might have paid back the money they borrowed under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but they’re still benefitting hugely from the bailouts and taxpayer supports enacted after the crisis.

But there’s an even better reason to dismiss their concerns. A study of recent—and not so recent—financial reform and regulation yields two rules. Rule No. 1: The banks have no idea what kind of regulation is good for them. Rule No. 2: If you ever think the banks have a point, remember Rule No. 1.

This rule dates almost to the beginning of American history…

The same dynamic returned in the 1930s, after Wall Street and the commercial banking sector had essentially destroyed itself. The banking industry had proved utterly incapable of ensuring the safety of its customers’ deposits. Yet when the Roosevelt administration proposed the establishment of an industry-funded Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Francis Sisson, then president of the American Banking Association, called deposit insurance "unsound, unscientific, unjust, and dangerous." After all, "overwhelming opinions of experienced bankers are emphatically opposed to deposit guaranties which compel strong and well managed banks to pay the losses of the weak."…

As it grew, the financial industry gained more of a voice in Washington and took a bigger role in shaping policy.


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Geithner as Martyr to an Ungrateful Nation: Bo Cutter’s Tragicomic Portrayal of Tim as a ‘Man for all Seasons” (Part 2)

Here’s part 2 of William Black’s article about Tim Geithner, and Bo Cutter’s painting him as a tragic martyr figure. If you’re on the Favorites page, scroll down for part 1 or click here. – Ilene

Geithner as Martyr to an Ungrateful Nation: Bo Cutter’s Tragicomic Portrayal of Tim as a ‘Man for all Seasons” (Part 2)

By William Black, Courtesy of New Deal 2.0

58960658, tim geithnerThis is the second installment in my comments on Bo Cutter’s essay defending Treasury Secretary Geithner. Bo was a managing partner of Warburg Pincus, a major global private equity firm and led President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) transition team. He was Bob Rubin’s deputy at the National Economic Council. The first installment discussed Bo’s extraordinary indictment of the finance industry.

Bo views Geithner as a martyr subjected to unfounded, ungrateful attacks for his actions that prevented the Second Great Depression. Bo doesn’t have much use for Americans that are upset with the senior managers of the finance industry. (This is a bit weird because Bo denounces these senior managers as universally incompetent, cowardly, and unethical.)

[L]iberals hate [Geithner] because he did not take over or dismember the banks, and publicly execute their senior managements.

This passage tells us nothing about liberals, but much about Bo and his peers’ fears of the public. The finance leaders know they are guilty of destroying much of the global economy — while growing extraordinarily wealthy in the process. They know that their primary means of destruction was accounting “control fraud.” They cannot understand why the public has not turned on the finance industry and demanded that the fraudulent financial leaders be prosecuted and their immense gains from fraud recovered. They also cannot understand why we allow the continued existence of systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs). Geithner, Paulson, and Bernanke have warned that the failure of any SDI could cause a global crisis. Under their logic, SDIs are ticking time bombs that will cause recurrent global crises.  Geithner, like Paulson, is making the SDIs much larger and much more dangerous by using them to acquire other large, failed financial institutions. This policy is insane. Virtually no one (that isn’t on their payroll) supports the continued existence of SDIs and no one publicly argues they should…
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Bought and Paid For

Bought and Paid For

lobbyingCourtesy of Washington’s Blog

Lobbyists from the financial industry have paid hundreds of millions to Congress and the Obama administration. They have bought virtually all of the key congress members and senators on committees overseeing finances and banking.

This is easy to confirm in black-and-white. See for yourself: here, here, here, here, here and here.

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Nicole Gelinas says:

The too-big-to-fail financial industry has been good to elected officials and former elected officials of both parties over its 25-year life span

And economic historian Niall Ferguson says:

Guess which institutions are among the biggest lobbyists and campaign-finance contributors? Surprise! None other than the TBTFs [too big to fails].

No wonder two powerful congressmen said that banks run Congress.

No wonder two leading IMF officials, the former Vice President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, and the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City have all said that the United States is controlled by an oligarchy.

With the exception of a handful couple of Congress members who have the American people’s interest in mind, Congress is bought and paid for.

Note: A friend on the Hill made an important point to me by email.

Maxine Waters and Ron Paul get almost nothing [from the financial lobby. Sherman, Kucinich, Grayson and Kaptur are some other congress members who have not been bought and paid for].

The story isn’t just that a lot of members are bought and paid for, it’s that some aren’t.

 


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Regulation in Defense of Capitalism

Rick Bookstaber writes an excellent essay on Wall St. economics addressing why our economic system does not reflect true capitalism. As explored recently, this supports the premise that we do not have fair and free markets. (E.g., see Don’t Blame Free Markets, They Never Existed.) – Ilene

Welcome to Rick, and for more by Rick, please visit his blog.

Regulation in Defense of Capitalism

capitalism isn't working Courtesy of Rick Bookstaber

Will regulation hobble capitalism? I think the opposite is true. Properly done, government regulation of the financial industry will move the industry closer to the capitalist ideal. By capitalism, I mean where those who take the risks and put up the money get the fruits of their labor. And, importantly, where those who take the risks and put up the money actually do take the risks, bearing the full costs of failure as well as success.

Capitalism means bearing the costs

I sometimes miss the rugged beauty of Utah, where I spent some of my pre-Wall Street years. From my house on the foothills of the Wasatch mountains, I could see the cliffs of Mount Nebo to the south, nearly fifty miles away. Ten miles north, the western face of Mt. Timpanogas, capped with snow into early summer. To the west, the sun reflecting on Utah Lake. Oh, and on the eastern shore of the lake, the black smoke billowing out the stacks of Geneva Steel.

Geneva Steel was built to produce steel during the war effort, and kept in operation until seven years ago. It teetered at the edge – and at least two times over the edge – of bankruptcy, closing for good in 2002. Left behind were assorted furnaces, presses and scrap metal sold to a Chinese steel producer, and a giant pond of toxic sludge.

Fortunately, we’ve learned a thing or two about toxic sludge in steel production. The steel producer, in this case the original parent of the Geneva plant, U.S. Steel, has to set aside a fund to pay for the clean-up. The sludge is part of the production process, and the clean-up is a cost of production, even though it is a cost that is not realized until many years down the road. As a result, steel costs are a little higher and the shareholders fare a little worse than if this longer-term expense were not forced onto…
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Feds in a Box – Unwinding May Not Be So easy

Feds in a Box – Unwinding May Not Be So easy

unwindingCourtesy of Chris Martenson

One of the key questions is, "Can the Fed ever unwind all of the positions it has taken on from failed banks and Wall Street firms?"

This is an important question, because if the answer is "No, at least not precisely when they wish to do it," then it raises the risk that all that hot money will prove immune to efforts to recall it and it will whiz around creating all sorts of monetary trouble.

fed's punch bowlNow that the Fed has declared that the recession has ended and green shoots are everywhere, the next obvious part of this journey will have to be the unwinding of the massive amounts of stimulus and thin-air money that has been injected into the system.

Certainly after watching the risk-money out-chasing junker stocks well up off their lows, we can surmise that the speculative animal juices are flowing again and that the Fed might want to consider taking away the punchbowl.

Instead, today the Fed bought another $18.8 billion net ($32.4 billion gross) in agency mortgage-backed securities, which represents the exchange of thin-air money for GSE MBS paper.

So far, all that we know about is that the Fed is talking about how to take the punchbowl away but that bankers are warning the Fed to "go slow."

Fed Tries to Prepare Markets for End of Securities Purchases

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve is trying to prepare investors for an end to its housing-debt purchases, while keeping interest rates near zero, reflecting an economy pulling out of a recession with little momentum.

Federal Open Market Committee members discussed extending the end date of the agency and mortgage-backed bond programs, minutes of the group’s Aug. 11-12 meeting showed yesterday. The move would be aimed at avoiding disruptions in housing credit at a time when recovery prospects are clouded by rising unemployment and slowing wage gains, analysts said.

While the economy is projected to expand this quarter, central bankers had “particular” concern about the job market, signaling that the FOMC may need to see a peak in the unemployment rate before it begins withdrawing monetary stimulus. Some policy makers saw dangers of “substantial” declines in the inflation rate, yesterday’s report showed.

“They need to see labor markets improve and inflation stabilize, and not fall,


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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of November 25th, 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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Zero Hedge

Swiss Gold Initiative: Good Idea with Unintended Consequences

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Gold Standard Institute.

by Keith Weiner

 

There is now a very interesting initiative on the Swiss ballot, which will require the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to hold 20 percent of its reserves in gold. The voters will decide on November 30. I won’t predict the vote, but I want to discuss the likely impact of a yes vote.

Much of the analysis of this initiative is about the price of gold. A typical prediction is that it will go up, as SNB buying will exceed supply. However Mike Shedlock ...



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Phil's Favorites

"Regin" World's Most Advanced Cyber Snoop Hits Russia, 4 Other Countries; Western Intelligence Agency Likely Responsible

Courtesy of Mish.

Telecom companies in Russia and Saudi Arabia have been hit by the world's most sophisticated hacking software to date.

Symantec believes a Western intelligence agency is responsible.

Please consider World’s Most Advanced Hacking Spyware Let Loose
A cyber snooping operation reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm and billed as the world’s most sophisticated computer malware is targeting Russian and Saudi Arabian telecoms companies.

Cyber security company Symantec said the malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet, which was developed by US and Israel government hackers in 20...



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Chart School

Overreaching Enthusiasm?

Courtesy of Declan.

Bullish monetary policy rumblings from China and Europe had kick started a bright opening for markets, but the feel good factor gradually wore off as the day lengthened, and in the end, the day felt oddly bearish. The S&P closed with a bearish inverse hammer, which could turn into a bearish shooting star if there is a gap down on Monday. Volume climbed to register technical accumulation, but this could mark significant overhead supply if sellers come back tomorrow. I have widened the Fib levels for the next decline. Note, pending MACD trigger 'sell,' although other technicals are in good shape.


The Nasdaq did alright as it emerged from a secondary handle. The 'b...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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