Posts Tagged ‘James Kunstler’

Where Have We been? Where Are We Going?

Where Have We been? Where Are We Going?

Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler 

       On a hot Saturday in mid-July in my corner of the country, when everyone else is cavorting on Million Dollar Beach at Lake George, or plying the aisles of the home Depot, or riding their motorcycles in faux-outlaw hordes, I like to slip away to the neglected places where nobody goes.  I seek out the places of industrial ruin – there are many around here in the upper Hudson Valley, and they are mostly right along the river itself, because there are many spots where the water tumbles and falls in a way that human beings could capture that power and direct it to useful work.

       I always bring my French easel, a wooden contraption ingeniously designed to fold up into a box, to which I have bolted on backpack straps. To me, these ruins of America’s industrial past are as compelling as the ruins of ancient Rome were to Thomas Cole and his painter-contemporaries, who took refuge in history at the exact moment that their own new nation began racing into its industrial future.

      I’ve been haunting this particular site in Hudson Falls, New York, all summer so far. Originally called Bakers Falls, it evolved over a hundred-odd years into an extremely complex set of dams, spillways, intakes, revetments, channels, gangways, and hydroelectric bric-a-brac all worked into the crumbly shale that forms the original cliff. From a vantage on the west side of the river, you can clearly read the layered history of industry as though it was a section of sedimentary rock from the Mesozoic.

blog_Hudson Falls.jpg

     One thing above all amazes me about these American industrial ruins: they’re not really very old. My grandfather was already reading law and drinking beer when some of this stuff was brand-new (or not even here yet!). Unlike Rome’s long, dawdling descent from greatness, America’s industrial fall seems to have happened in the space of a handclap. I suppose it was in the nature of the fossil fuel fiesta that these activities could only last as long as the basic energy resource was so cheap you hardly needed to figure it into the cost of doing business. Which is not to say that the human element didn’t change, too, since obviously it did – as America went…
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Wickedness Abides

James Kunstler on Dubai…"the monstrosity they built in their waterless convection-oven of a city-state makes Las Vegas look like a mere strip mall in comparison." – Ilene

Wickedness Abides

"While Dubai is not big enough to set off financial repercussions outside the Middle East, the main fear is that investors could flee risky markets all at once in search of safer havens for their money."  -- The NYT, Vikas Bajaj and Graham Bowley, reporting.

     Apart from the stark self-contradiction in this quote from The New York Times, you have to love the fatuous ‘it’s all good’ self-assurance where global banking is concerned. No problemo y’all!  A mere overdraft incident, a cash-flow hiccup… and yet "the main fear" [among whom?] is that investors [where and in what? Like, everywhere?]  could flee risky markets all at once in search of safer havens for their money [WTF?].  Gosh, well, as long as they don’t flee the New York Stock Exchange, the Hang Seng, the FTSE…. And, hey, do you suppose anybody bought any credit default swap "insurance" on the deals that financed scores and scores of super-giant condominium skyscrapers and hotels amounting to the greatest spec construction folly in the history of the world?

     Snapshots of the stupid fucking work-in-progress have been circulating around the Internet for five years, the disbelief was so monumental.  I confess, when I first saw the Palm Island I was impressed at what a superb air-strike target it presented.  And then, when the real estate assemblage of artificial islands arranged like a map-of-the-world came along, I could only imagine the megalomanical glee rising in the throat of a jet bomber pilot (nationality unspecified) as he closed in on it.

     Whom the gods would punish, they first make completely crazy. That includes us, here in the USA, by the way, but pound-for-pound Dubai is the current champeen.  The monstrosity they built in their waterless convection-oven of a city-state makes Las Vegas look like a mere strip mall in comparison. Throw in a few other affronts to nature, such as an indoor ski "mountain," a beach cooled by an under-the-sand refrigerated pipe network, golf courses that have to be hosed down with acre-feet of desalinated sea-water, and forget about "the gods" — one begins to see the


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Courting Convulsion

Courting Convulsion

Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler

      How infantile is American society?  Last night’s CBS "Business Update" (in the midst of its "60 Minutes" program) featured three items: 1.) The New Moon teen vampire movie led the weekend box-office receipts; 2.) Cadbury shares hit an all-time high; 3.) Michael Jackson’s rhinestone-studded white glove sold at auction for $350,000. Some in-house CBS-News producer is responsible for this fucking nonsense. How does he or she keep her job? Is there no adult supervision at the network?

     Meanwhile, over at The New York Times this morning, Paul "Nobel Prize" Krugman writes:

"Most economists I talk to believe that the big risk to recovery comes from the inadequacy of government efforts; the stimulus was too small, and it will fade out next year, while high unemployment is undermining both consumer and business confidence."

     Disclosure: I’m not one of the economists that Mr. Krugman talks to (nor am I an economist). But it’s sure interesting to know that the ones palavering with Mr. Krugman imagine that that the US can possibly return to an economy based on the fraudulent securitization of reckless debt. Does Mr. Krugman think that the production housing industry can resume paving over the nether exurbs with half-million-dollar houses (to be bought with no money down loans by the sheet-rockers working inside them)? Does he think all those people receiving cancellation notices from their credit card issuers are in a position to flash their plastic at the Gallerias this Friday? Or ever will be again?  Is he perhaps misusing the term "recovery?"  After all, that is generally taken to mean resuming a prior state, which is, in turn, presumed to be a healthy prior state. Is that what the economy of the past decade was?  And, incidentally, what exactly is a "consumer?" And why, at the highest levels of journalism in this land, do we refer to citizens that way? As if the American people have no other purpose except to buy things? Or is that the only way an "economist" can imagine them?

      I’m sorry to burden the reader with so many questions, but the idiots running the mainstream news media in this land are not doing it and somebody has to. 

      If a "recovery" is not in the cards, then what exactly is going on out there?

      What’s going on in the US economy…
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Marching Toward Zombieland

Marching Toward Zombieland

low angle view of two young men and women coming down a buildings steps

     When sober-minded individuals begin to regard an enterprise within a nation as "an enemy of the people" you can bet that some serious blood is going to flow.  This is now essentially the situation for the Goldman Sachs company, which last week announced third-quarter earnings of over $3 billion largely derived from converting zero percent loans from taxpayers into zero risk profits off of anything paying more than zero percent in interest, revenue, or dividends.

     The "people" across this big country may not have a clue how any of this is done, and there may be much to fault them on from the care-and-feeding of their own bodies to the content of their dreams, but you can’t argue with the fact that they are heavily armed to an extreme. And although it may be hard to measure with precision, one might venture to state that they are increasingly pissed off. How else explain popular entertainments like "Zombieland?"

     The political part of what has to date appeared to be an economic problem is resolving into a crisis of authority and legitimacy.  When those in charge of a nation’s livelihood prove to be comprehensively false and dishonest, the economic automatically turns political. Nobody believes the bankers anymore, of course, and nobody believes the interlocutors of the bankers – the Federal Reserve chairman, the Secretary of the Treasury, the heads of the SEC and a dozen other regulatory bodies – and increasingly the charming figure in the White House cannot be believed on these issues of the nation’s livelihood.

     The questions lately revolve around whether the nation is destroying itself by inflation or deflation – by the willful destruction of the value of our currency to evade the repayment of debt, or by the hapless destruction of households, companies, and governments by default and bankruptcy.  It’s a fire-or-ice debate. Either way the nation is going down as a viable enterprise. The fiction that we can return to a Crate-and-Barrel credit card orgy has sustained the false of heart and mind for some months now, but even that pleasant reverie will come to an end as the foreclosures mount.  Only remember, men living in their cars who have lost nearly everything else will still have guns.

      All these tensions…
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World War Three Anybody?

World War Three Anybody?

alan greenspanCourtesy of James Howard Kunstler

     When Alan Greenspan predicted three percent economic growth showing up in the reported figures for the third quarter of 2009, did he mean executive compensation packages?  Maybe the lesson here is: don’t ask a crackhead to predict the future supply of crack. Greenspan’s greatest success may be to drive economics into such disrepute that it will be cut loose from the universities and only be taught by mail order or internet subscription from the same outfits that offer PhD’s in astrology.  That is, before the universities themselves go broke.

     The predicament that the USA finds itself will not be "solved" at the scale of operation that we’re accustomed to, and we should just stop wasting precious time and dwindling resources in the idle hope that it will be.  The failure to recognize this dynamic is the most impressive part of the meltdown.  The only thing that the federal government is likely to prove in the process is the ineffectiveness of its actions as applied to any of the raging current problems from the killing burden of hyper-debt to the brushfires of geopolitics. Congress will only make the health care system more complex. Both congress and President Obama will do everything possible to keep housing prices unaffordable — in a quixotic effort to protect the collateral of the big banks. Capital will continue to vanish in the black hole of default.

Iran     Something’s got to give in the remaining three months of 2009.  My guess is that attention will shift overseas for a while. This will not be due, as many probably think, to a cynical effort by the government to divert attention from the financial fiasco, but because the intrinsic tensions in the Middle East are reaching the snapping point.  Iran is being called out on its nuclear program.  If, from the start, it had just maintained the need for electric generating power in the face of dwindling fossil fuel reserves, they might have gone unchallenged.  As it happened, though, the elected leader of Iran made too many intemperate remarks about wiping other nations off the face of the earth, and this has only prompted the leaders of other nations to take his remarks at face value and presume that Iran’s nuclear program was devoted to armaments, not electric power generation.

     So, now the USA…
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The Season of the Witch

Here’s a weekly dose of economic poetry by James Kunstler. – Ilene

The Season of the Witch

season of the witchCourtesy of James Howard Kunstler

      In my father’s house are many mansions. Surely one of them has a room with no elephants in it….     

      Not to crunch too many metaphors right here at the top, but a consensus seems to be firming up in the animate jello of the Internet that we have entered the Season of the Witch.  An odor of ripeness fills the virtual air — something between dead carp and apples baking.  Whatever else appears to be going on in the upper stories and verdigris-tinged turrets of capital finance — currency rackets, gold switcheroos, interest rate arbitrage games, concealment of losses under rugs and behind curtains, Chinese fire drills performed by Spanish prisoners, executive three-card-monte set-ups, boardroom work-arounds, accounting quicksteps, Peter-to-Paul-shuffles, check kitings, pigeon drops, Ponzi schemes, hugger-muggers, bezels, shucks, jives, and enough monkeyshines to make Lord Greystroke cry for mercy — apart, in other words, from business-as-usual, such as it is these days, on Wall Street, there is a rising collective sense of anxious expectation that things are about to shake loose in the sad-ass shell of what remains of our economy.  And the most perplexing part is that there hardly seems any safe place to preserve one’s savings.

     The showmen over at the Financial Sense website, have put on an excellent month-long series of interviews and debate podcasts between leading inflationistas and deflationistas — Daniel Amerman, Peter Schiff, Robert Prechter, Mark Faber, "Mish" Shedlock, Harry Dent — and after weeks of sedulous listening I still remain flummoxed as to where to stash the dwindling cash.

     Harry Dent was a curious case in point this week.  He has made some howlingly wrong calls before (e.g. in 2006, predicting a Dow 40,000 at the conclusion of the post-2001 bubble).  Perhaps he missed the crack-up aspect of the most recent boom. He did not foresee the long gruesome meltdown of late 2007 to March 2009, or rather, his timing was off, since he called for the commencement of a new Great Depression in 2010.  (And I hasten to insert here that my own timing of events has not been so great either.) Anyway, Dent sees a "winter" of finance and economy looming from here forward, characterized by extreme deflation, based…
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The Labor Day Blues

James Kunstler discusses his Sunday morning moment-of-nausea. I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and James is always up to the task of identifying causes.

The Labor Day Blues

    One national moment-of-nausea this Labor Day weekend struck Sunday morning, when CNN’s John King led off his 10 a.m. State of the Union show with a valentine to ABC’s Diane Sawyer, on her becoming anchor of that network’s evening news. (This was the most important news of the week???)  The old legacy networks have taken on the role of dishing out reassurance to an anxious and insecure public as job number one, and the subtext of the Sawyer lede was that a Mommy figure would soon be in place to soothe the multitudes even as the nation free-falls into bankruptcy and disorder.  This is supposed to be a counterpoint to the chorus of smug, braying rabble-rousers who inflame the crowds on Fox News and MSNBC, and CNBC — the Glen Becks and Keith Olbermans and Dennis Kneales — who work the anger regions of the brain.
     The inherent conflicts arise from a nation that simply cannot bring itself to try getting its house in order.  Instead of adult leadership, we prefer good parent / bad parent therapy — a psychodrama of alternating messages of reassurance and punishment that provides distraction from problems and conundrums too horrible to face. One unfortunate result is the evaporating legitimacy of anyone or anything in authority, and that is extremely dangerous at a time like this because it creates the perfect opportunity for the rise of a corn-pone Hitler who will beat a path straight into a national ordeal-by-fire, and make everybody feel better by telling them clearly what to do.
    President Obama rolls out his much-awaited message on health care reform to a joint session of congress this week after a summer of chaotic and often mendacious debate.  The system now running is so unjust and ruinous that a citizenry unmedicated by psychotropic drugs would have burned down the insurers by now (and perhaps torched their doctors’ BMWs).  As a tactical matter, the best Mr. Obama can do about the "public option" is to endorse it while kicking the can down the road, since the stark insolvency of the US treasury obviates any real ability to make it happen.

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End of Summer Blues

End of Summer Blues

     In my larval, pre-blogging days, I always faced the back-to-school moment with abject dread. It meant returning to a program of the most severe, mind-numbing regimentation in the ghastly New York City public schools after a summer of idyllic unreality in the New Hampshire woods, where I went to a Lord of the Flies type of summer camp. And so here I am, many decades later, still uneasy as the final page of the August calendar flies away in a hot Santa Ana wind, and a great hellfire closes in on the far eastern reaches of Los Angeles, and the American money system falls into a peculiar limbo, and every fifth person is out of work, or going bankrupt, or glugging down the seawater of default, or being denied coverage by health insurance that he-or-she has already shelled out ten grand for this year, or getting shot in a trailer park.

     I was in Los Angeles for a few days last week, as chance had it, marveling at the odd disposition of things there. I’ve been there many times over the years, but you forget how overwhelmingly weird it is. Altogether the LA metro area has the ambience of a garage the size of Rhode Island where someone happened to leave the engine running. To say that LA is all about cars is kind of like saying the Pacific Ocean is all about water. But one forgets the supernatural scale of the freeways, the tsunamis of vehicles, the cosmic despair of the traffic jams. The vistas of present-day LA make the Blade Runner vision of things look quaint in comparison.

LAX      You motor out of the LAX airport – personally, I love the name "LAX" because it so beautifully describes the collective ethos of the place – and you discover quickly that the taxi cab’s windows are not that dirty, it’s the air itself colored brown like miso soup. Going north on the 405 freeway, you see the looming Moloch of the downtown skyline through the brown miso soup. And you begin to understand why the products of the film industry are so fixated on the theme of machine apocalypse. Downtown LA looks like just such a gigantic machine as the FX crews would dream up, as if a day will come when those gleaming mirrored office towers will pull themselves


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The Fog of Numbers

The Fog of Numbers

Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler 

There’s something happenin’ here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
….
-- Buffalo Springfield

One of main reasons behind the vast confusion now reigning in the USA, our failure to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to us (or what to do about it), is our foolish obsession with econometrics — viewing the world solely through the "lens" of mathematical models.  We think that just because we can measure things in numbers, we can make sense of them.

     For decades we measured the health of our economy (and therefore of our society) by the number of "housing starts" recorded month-to-month.  For decades, this translated into the number of suburban tract houses being built in the asteroid belts of our towns and cities.  When housing starts were up, the simple-minded declared that things were good; when down, bad. What this view failed to consider was that all these suburban houses added up to a living arrangement with no future.  That’s what we were so busy actually doing. Which is why I refer to this monumentally unwise investment as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world

     Even this interpretation — severe as it is — does not encompass the sheer damage done by the act itself, on-the-ground and to our social and cultural relations.  Suburbia destroyed the magnificent American landscape as effectively as it destroyed the social development of children, the worth of public space, the quality of civic life, and each person’s ability to really care about the place they called home.

     It’s especially ironic that given our preoccupation with numbers, we have arrived at the point where numbers just can’t be comprehended anymore.  This week, outstanding world derivatives were declared to have reached the 1 quadrillion mark.  Commentators lately — e.g. NPR’s "Planet Money" broadcast — have struggled to explain to listeners exactly what a trillion is in images such as the number of dollar bills stacked up to the planet Venus or the number of seconds that add up to three ice ages plus two warmings.  A quadrillion is just off the charts, out of this world, not really subject to reality-based interpretation. You might as well say "infinity."  We have flown up our own collective numeric bung-hole.

     The number problems we face are…
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Hunky Dory

Another excellent article in the James Kunstler series chronicling our sinkage into a delusional abyss.

Hunky Dory

     Whenever the herd mentality lines up along a compass point leading to "permanent prosperity," or a yellow brick road lined with green shoots, or something like that, I tend to see the edge of a cliff up ahead. We are now completely in the grips of the deadly diminishing returns of information technology.  The more information comes to us about How Things Are, especially from TV, the more confused or wrong the conventional view gets it.
      A broad consensus has formed in the news media and among government mouthpieces and even some "bearish" investors on the street that "the worst is behind us" in this tortured economy.  This view is completely crazy.  It will only lead to massive disappointment a few weeks or months from now, and that disappointment might easily transmute to political trouble.  One even might call the situation tragic, except a closer look at the sordid spectacle of what American culture has become — a non-stop circus of the seven deadly sins — suggests that we deserve to be punished by history.
     The reason behind this mass delusion is not hard to find: it’s based on wishing, especially the wish to retain all the comforts, conveniences, luxuries, and leisure that had become normal in American life.  These are now ebbing away in big gobs for most of the population — while a tiny fraction of the well-connected pile on ever larger heaps of swag, enjoying ever more privilege. Those in the broad bottom 95 percent were content as long as there was a chance that they, too, could become members of the top 5 percent — by dint of car-dealing, or house-building, or mortgage-selling, or some other venture enabled by easy credit and a smile.  Those days and those ways are now gone.  The bottom 95 percent are now left with de-laminating houses they can’t make payments on, no prospects for gainful work, re-po men hiding in the bushes to snatch the PT Cruiser, cut-off cable service, Kraft mac-and-cheese (if they’re lucky), and Larry Summers telling them their troubles are over. (If I were Larry, I’d start thinking about a move to some place like the Canary Islands.)
     Too many disastrous things are…
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Phil's Favorites

What Doug Jones's win means for Mitch McConnell, Steve Bannon and the Democrats

 

What Doug Jones's win means for Mitch McConnell, Steve Bannon and the Democrats

Courtesy of David C. BarkerAmerican University

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls for Roy Moore to step aside. He later said “let the voters decide.” AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Here’s the thing about selling your soul: The devil had better deliver. It’s one thing to be damned; it’s another to be a damned loser.

This is the difficult lesson that the Republican National Committee and much of the GOP are learning right now, in the wake of Ro...



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Zero Hedge

Alibaba Launches Giant Car Vending Machines In China

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Shares of Alibaba fell on Thursday morning, despite an exciting news story involving the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut, which is rushing to shake up the way people buy cars in China. Alibaba seems to be taking a page from Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, with the continued push into physical retail. The plan outlined by Alibaba, is to open two giant car vending machines in early 2018, shaped like a futuristic tubular building with a giant cat’s head on top.

Having monopolized the online world, Alibaba continues to push offline with investments in Chinese bricks and mortar retailers.

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said back in November, “physical store...



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Chart School

Tape Reading - Dow Jones Price Waves

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

This is a continuation of price wave analysis.

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RTT Volume wave analysis like this helps the retail investor find price action that is true. The reference to 'tape reading' is by the definition of Richard Wyckoff (section 5M of the Wyckoff Course), you can learn more about RTT Volume Wave here.





NOTE: readtheticker.com does allow users to load objects and text on charts, however some annotations are by a free third party image tool named Paint.net ...

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Insider Scoop

Attention Contrarians: This Analyst Says JD.com Set Up Could Be In Your Favor

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related JD Want Some Exposure To China's Growth? Stifel Says Buy JD Or Alibaba Q3 13F Roundup: How Buffett...

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Biotech

Designer proteins that package genetic material could help deliver gene therapy

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

 

Designer proteins that package genetic material could help deliver gene therapy

Courtesy of Ian HaydonUniversity of Washington

Delivering genetic material is a key challenge in gene therapy. Invitation image created by Kstudio, CC BY

If you’ve ever bought a new iPhone, you’ve experienced good packaging.

The way the lid slowly separates from the box. The pull...



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Digital Currencies

Not A Bubble?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Meet The Crypto Company - up almost 20,000% since inception in September...

To a market cap of over $12.6 billion...

Grant's Interest Rate Observer drew the world's attention to this 'company' yesterday.....



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ValueWalk

Tax Bill May Spark Exodus From High-Tax States

Courtesy of FinancialSense.com via ValueWalk.com

The following is a summary of our recent podcast, “Exodus – The Major Wealth Migration,” which can be listened to on our site here on on iTunes here.

It’s looking increasingl...



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Members' Corner

An Interview with David Brin

Our guest David Brin is an astrophysicist, technology consultant, and best-selling author who speaks, writes, and advises on a range of topics including national defense, creativity, and space exploration. He is also a well-known and influential futurist (one of four “World's Best Futurists,” according to The Urban Developer), and it is his ideas on the future, specifically the future of civilization, that I hope to learn about here.   

Ilene: David, you base many of your predictions of the future on a theory of historica...



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Mapping The Market

Puts things in perspective

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

Puts things in perspective:

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

...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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



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Promotions

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

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

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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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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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