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Posts Tagged ‘government’

Generations of Pork: How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country

The latest tranche of loans from the EU and the IMF has helped buy debt-ridden Greece some time. But the Greeks will find it hard to get back on their feet. Their country has been ruined by three political dynasties, which created a bloated system of cronyism that is hard to change. By SPIEGEL Staff.

[...]

Regardless of whether it happens under Papandreou alone or with both politicians working together, if Greece starts economizing, it risks choking its own economy. "It’s like a cat chasing its own tail," says Greek economics professor Yanis Varoufakis.

Former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff recently warned: "If they just continue with the European Union’s austerity program, they’re going to be in slow growth or recession as far as the eye can see, and at the end of the day they’re still going to default."

And it’s not as if Greece hasn’t already adopted austerity measures. Athens managed to cut its budget deficit from 15.4 percent of its gross domestic product to 10.6 percent last year, thanks to its first austerity package. The government made cutbacks in salaries, retirement funds and social benefits, among other things.

This austerity policy also caused 200,000 people to lose their jobs last year, with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 15 percent by late March.

With pay in the private sector also often falling by 10 to 20 percent, consumption likewise dropped by nearly 10 percent and the recession intensified. It’s a vicious circle. Since taxes need to increase and spending needs to decrease, the situation is likely only to get worse.

Full article here: Generations of Pork: How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.


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“The People Vs. Goldman Sachs” – Taibbi’s Magnum Opus

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank…
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Enjoying Coffee in the Lodge with Jesse

THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse 

Enjoying Coffee at the Lodge with Jesse 

By Ilene

coffee at the lodge with JesseI have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it.  Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up. 

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Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities.  Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?

Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt.  I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.

Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?

Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward.  There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.

There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US.  Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
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China’s Coming Collapse

The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.

By Jason Kirby, Canadian Business Online (H/t David Gordon)

As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."

If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.

It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last


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Corporate Hacker Tries to Take Down WikiLeaks

Stephen Colbert reports on technothriller going on between Wikileaks, Anonymous (a "global hacker nerd brigade") and Aaron Barr. H/t Ron. – Ilene

Corporate Hacker Tries to Take Down WikiLeaks

A corporate hacker tries to take down WikiLeaks by faking documents and blackmailing American journalists.


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Stock World Weekly 2-27-11

Here’s the latest edition of Stock World Weekly:  Irresistible Forces Meet Immovable Objects. - Ilene 

Excerpt:

On Saturday, February 27, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) voted unanimously to institute sanctions on Libya, including travel bans and freezing the assets of Muammar al-Gaddafi and others associated with his regime. Protests have dragged into their twelfth day, and protestors refuse to yield in the face of utterly horrific retaliation by Gaddafi’s loyal forces. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said, “When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice – and tonight it has.”  

The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Gaddafi apparently made good on his threats to trigger a civil war, using irregular forces largely composed of hired mercenaries to launch a counterattack against protesters. “Anywhere we go there is danger,” said one woman, a 28-year-old mother of four who asked not to be named. “All we want is food and fresh water for our children but it is impossible to find. Security is the only concern of the authorities.” 

An accurate report of the death toll is impossible to obtain at this time, but on Wednesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini said, “We believe that the estimates of about 1,000 are credible.” The situation in Libya has deteriorated since then. Multiple stories coming in from all over the country have cited dozens to hundreds of casualties in each city. It appears that Libya has slipped into the abyss of complete social breakdown and civil war.

This is just one example of the tide of popular unrest that has been unleashed in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s and other central banks’ inflationary policies. The chart below shows the U.S. Adjusted Monetary Base increasing from $1.75Tn in 2009, to $2.0Tn in 2010, and now nearing $2.3Tn, an increase of $300Bn in just two months! This represents an increase of 35% in less than 18 months. (The U.S. Monetary Base is the total amount of currency that is circulating in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in reserves of member banks of the Federal Reserve System.)  

Another revolt of a more peaceful nature took place in Ireland. The long-dominant Fianna Fail party was brutally rejected by Irish voters, taking just 15.1% of the vote and losing…
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Why Did the U.S. Military Buy 500 Fake Internet Personas?

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant

The answer to the question "why does the government need software to create a bunch of fake Internet "people?" is probably quite simple, and while Daily Kos seems to feel it has to do with attacking progressives, I’m afraid the aim of the purchase is far more subversive and far-reaching. Leave it to libtards to take it personally and ignore the fact that there is an ongoing war against Americans, waged by their own government, that has so far claimed our privacy, freedom and now our economic well-being. 

I also remind Daily Kos here that the American progressive is already an extinct creature, replaced by leftist maniacs too drunk on their own perceived invincibility to realize that they’re the ones holding the torches as Rome burns. I have no problem with progressives and could probably play one on TV as I believe in crazy ideas like advancing knowledge and equal rights and am fascinated by the sociology of economics, all matters progressives tend to say they are into. I believe gays should be allowed to marry but churches should be allowed to say they refuse to marry them (that’s the whole separation of church and state we seem to have forgotten about). Just as the true conservative has been replaced with a holier-than-thou army of Christian fundamentalist freaks who obviously haven’t read a Bible lately since the one I read said something about "love your brother" and "judge not lest ye be judged," we are once again losing the battle by fighting amongst ourselves over semantics instead of attacking the true enemy. 

But what if the enemy could replicate itself to infinity and invade our most sacred space of information exchange, the Internet? Worse, what if they already have?

We have known for a long time this happens. It’s why sketchy IP addresses show up in my stats and comments appear on politically-charged websites that seem to paint the OP as a kook or set up a critical mass of straw men to otherwise discredit the point of the article. I’ve seen it in practice and it’s usually more sad than frightening. Real commenters get so caught up in their feelings they let their emotions bleed through the keyboard. Real commenters are idiot Americans who were churned through our sub-par public school system and don’t know…
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Ron Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program; Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

Courtesy of Mish

MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program

Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.

“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.

“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.

Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.

If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


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Mubarak’s Acts of Cowardice; Obama Calls Mubarak for 30-Minutes; Cell Service, Internet Total Shutdown; Anarchy in Cairo; How Long can Mubarak Last?

Courtesy of Mish

The situation in Egypt has gone from bad to worse. Cairo is in a state of near-anarchy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s cowardly disruptions to the internet and cell phones have made things worse.

Egyptian citizens unable to get news on the internet or cell phones have only one place to get it now, the street.

President Obama called Mubarak in a 30-minute phone call. Obama’s message was "Ultimately, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people."

If that was a hint, Mubarak did not get it. Instead, Cairo is in flames as protesters have turned more defiant.

Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt

The New York Times reports Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt

With police stations and the governing party’s headquarters in flames, and much of this crucial Middle Eastern nation in open revolt, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt deployed the nation’s military and imposed a near-total blackout on communications to save his authoritarian government of nearly 30 years.

Friday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars. All came surging out of mosques after midday prayers headed for Tahrir Square, and their clashes with the police left clouds of tear gas wafting through empty streets.

By nightfall, the protesters had burned down the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo, and looters marched away with computers, briefcases and other equipment emblazoned with the party’s logo. Other groups assaulted the Interior Ministry and the state television headquarters, until after dark when the military occupied both buildings and regained control. At one point, the American Embassy came under attack.

Six Cairo police stations and several police cars were in flames, and stations in Suez and other cities were burning as well. Office equipment and police vehicles burned, and the police seemed to have retreated from Cairo’s main streets. Brigades of riot police officers deployed at mosques, bridges and intersections, and they battered the protesters with tear gas, water, rubber-coated bullets and, by day’s end, live ammunition.

Cairo in Near-Anarchy

The Washington Post reports Cairo in near-anarchy as protesters push to oust president

The Egyptian capital descended into near anarchy Friday night, as the government sent riot police, and then the army, to quell protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators determined to


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Stock World Weekly

Here’s the newest: Stock World Weekly Newsletter. Comments welcome! – Ilene 

Jobs Cartoon

Archives here. 


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Zero Hedge

The Clinton Global 'Graft' Initiative (Summarized In 1 Chart)

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Via Doug Ross at DirectorBlue blog,

In 2010, when Barack Obama said, "I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money," he definitely wasn't referring to the Clintons.

Because it wasn't enough for Bill Clinton to sell sensitive missile technology to the Red Chinese for campaign donations. It wasn't enough for Hillary Clinton to ...



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Chart School

Indices Maintain Breakouts But Semiconductors Breakdown

Courtesy of Declan.

There wasn't a whole lot of action during the cash market session as indices held on to most of their premarket gains. The only index to come up short was the semiconductor index. It confirmed a wedge breakdown, and it's looking increasingly likely a double top is in play. A retest of the 200-day MA would appear to be the favored outcome going forward. The S&P hasn't quite negated the 'bull trap' and the risk is a triple top if this weakness in the Semiconductor Index spreads to the Nasdaq, Large and Small Caps. The technical picture remains okay plus it looks to be enjoying the start of a relative advantage against the Russell 2000. ...

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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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Phil's Favorites

Failure to Communicate: Science

This is discouraging. There seems to be a prevailing attitude, even among very intelligent people (personal observation), that science is just another subject of equivalence to religion, or apparently astrology, in explaining life in the big universe. Or, subjects that are not within the realm of science are imagined to be a science based on a misunderstanding of what science is.  

This misunderstanding of science may reflect a failed education system, and unfortunately, we may be traveling backwards. The highest percent of non-skeptics were in the youngest age group where a majority of people think astrology is at least "sort of" scientific.

In China, in contrast, 92% of people polled said they do not believe "in horoscopes." The exact question the researchers asked may in part explain the discrepant results. And I wonder, did some Americans get Astrology confused with Astronomy? Also not good.

...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

King Dollar slipping below support, say Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

King Dollar has been on a role since last summer, up over 20% in less than a year. When looking back on the US$, the rally has been rare and nearly historic. Majority of the rally took place inside the steep rising channel above. Over the past month the US$ might have put in a double top. Over the past few days, the US$ has slipped a little below rising support at red arrow above.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

As you can see from the table abo...



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Digital Currencies

Why Bitcoin's male domination will be its downfall

Here's an interesting argument by Felix Salmon, although I think he is taking two correct observations and mistakenly attributing a cause-and-effect relationship to them: Bitcoin is going nowhere because women are not involved.

More likely, in my opinion, women are not involved in bitcoin because bitcoin is going nowhere (and they know it). Or maybe, simply, bitcoin is going nowhere and women are not involved. 

Why Bitcoin's male domination will be its downfall 

By Felix Salmon

Nathaniel Popper’s new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin. As its subtitle proclaims, the book tells the story of the “misfits” (the first generation of hacker-l...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of April 20th, 2015

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: Earnings and GDP temporarily take investor spotlight off the Fed

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

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

As we get into the heart of earnings season and anticipate the GDP report for Q1, the investor spotlight has been taken off the Federal Reserve and timing of its first interest rate hike, at least temporarily. Even though Q1 economic growth will undoubtedly look weak, the future remains bright for the U.S economy – even though many multinationals will struggle with top-line growth due to the strong dollar – and any near-term selloff resulting from weak economic or earnings news should be bought yet again in expectation of better results for the balance of the year. High sector correlations remain a concern, reflectin...



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Promotions

Watch the Phil Davis Special on Money Talk on BNN TV!

Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene

 

The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below. 

Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets) Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies) Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...

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Market Shadows

Kimble Charts: South Korea's EWY

Kimble Charts: South Korea's EWY

By Ilene 

Chris Kimble likes the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped (EWY), but only if it breaks out of a pennant pattern. This South Korean equities ETF has underperformed the S&P 500 by 60% since 2011.

You're probably familiar with its largest holding, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, and at least several other represented companies such as Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp.

...



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Mapping The Market

S&P 500 Leverage and Hedges Options - Part 2

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Saillard.

In my last post (Part 1 of this article), I looked at alternative ETFs that could be used as hedges against the corrections that we have seen during that long 2 year bull run. Looking at the results, it seems that for short (less than a month) corrections, a VIX ETF like VXX could actually be a viable candidate to hedge or speculate on the way down. Another alternative ETF was TMF, a long Treasuries ETF which banks on the fact that when markets go down, money tends to pack into treasuries viewed as safe instruments. In some cases, TMF even outperformed the usual hedging instruments like leveraged ETFs. There could of course be other factors at play since some of 2014 corrections were related to geopolitical events which are certain...

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Pharmboy

2015 - Biotech Fever

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

PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs!   The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down!  The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months.  What could go wrong?

Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.

Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies.  A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...



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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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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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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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