Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’

TLP: Just This Once, I Swear

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant

politics as usual

That didn’t take long.

The Washington Post:

After Francisco "Quico" Canseco beat Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Tex.) as part of the Republican wave on Nov. 2, the tea party favorite declared: "It’s going to be a new day in Washington."

Two weeks later, Canseco was in the heart of Washington for a $1,000-a-head fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club. The event--hosted by Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.)--was aimed at paying off more than $1.1 million in campaign debts racked up by Canseco, much of it from his own pocket.

After winning election with an anti-Washington battle cry, Canseco and other incoming Republican freshmen have rapidly embraced the capital’s culture of big-money fundraisers, according to new campaign-finance reports and other records.

Dozens of freshmen lawmakers have held receptions at Capitol Hill bistros and corporate townhouses in recent weeks, taking money from K Street lobbyists and other powerbrokers within days of their victories. Newly elected House members have raised at least $2 million since the election, according to preliminary Federal Election Commission records filed last week, and many more contributions have yet to be tallied.

OK, so this is not surprising. Politics takes money if you want to win. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an old school Democrat like Charlie Rangel, a Tea Party upstart like Rand Paul or a relative unknown like Quico Canseco.

The part that’s incredible when you read stories like this is that voters get taken in, over and over. Wave after wave, from the post-Watergate Democrats to the Reaganauts to Blue Dogs and the Republican Revolution in ’94. It’s a rare case when someone comes to Congress vowing change and is able to resist the influence of the permanent political class.

Quico fell fast. Plenty more still have a chance.


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Currency Wars: Misguided US Economic Policy

Courtesy of Gordon T. Long of Tipping Points

Currency Wars: Misguided US Economic Policy

The critical issues in America stem from minimally a blatantly ineffective public policy, but overridingly a failed and destructive Economic Policy. These policy errors are directly responsible for the opening salvos of the Currency War clouds now looming overhead.

Don’t be fooled for a minute. The issue of Yuan devaluation is a political distraction from the real issue – a failure of US policy leadership. In my opinion the US Fiscal and Monetary policies are misguided. They are wrong! I wrote a 66 page thesis paper entitled “Extend & Pretend” in the fall of 2009 detailing why the proposed Keynesian policy direction was flawed and why it would fail. I additionally authored a full series of articles from January through August in a broadly published series entitled “Extend & Pretend” detailing the predicted failures as they unfolded. Don’t let anyone tell you that what has happened was not fully predictable!

Now after the charade of Extend & Pretend has run out of momentum and more money printing is again required through Quantitative Easing (we predicted QE II was inevitable in March), the responsible US politicos have cleverly ignited the markets with QE II money printing euphoria in the run-up to the mid-term elections. Craftily they are taking political camouflage behind an “undervalued Yuan” as the culprit for US problems. Remember, patriotism is the last bastion of scoundrels

An unusual Wall Street Op-ed piece appeared Wednesday October 13th , written by Yiping Huang, a Professor of Economics – China Center for Economic Research at the prestigious Peking University. He called for common sense from Americans and the G20 regarding the potential for destructive currency wars:

“The upcoming Group of 20 summit in Seoul could become a battlefield of this new conflict. But it doesn’t have to be. Rather than focus on currency manipulation, all sides would be better served to zero in on structural reforms. The effects of that would be far more beneficial in the long run than unilateral U.S. currency action, and more sustainable. …  it would be much better for the G-20 to focus on a comprehensive package centered on structural reforms in all countries. Exchange rates should be an important part of that package. For instance, to reduce the U.S. current-account deficits, Americans have to save more.


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Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System

Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, iceberg in ocean

Positive feedback loops soon reach the runaway/self-destruction stage. Concentrations of wealth and gaming-the-system are reaching just such levels.

Positive feedback loops lead to runaway scenarios. The classic example is global warming and the Arctic ice cap. As temperatures rise, the the ice melts, exposing more land or seawater. Ice reflects solar radiation, and so as it shrinks then more solar radiation is absorbed, raising temperatures more, which melts the ice faster, which then leads to more solar radiation being absorbed, and so on.

The runaway feedback loop leads to the disappearance of the Arctic ice and a much warmer planet.

Nature has multiple feedback loops, and so the solar radiation flux may be acting to reduce temperatures as the positive feedback of melting ice raises temperatures. But the point is that positive feedback is self-reinforcing and it speeds up processes as it gathers momentum.

We can see runaway feedback loops in the economy and society, not just in Nature. One of the key runaway feedbacks in the U.S. is the concentration of wealth and political power.

As wealth has become concentrated in the top 1/10th of 1%, then the political power that can be purchased with that wealth also rises, which then enables the wealthy to increase their wealth via "Federal entrepreneurship" and other means.

The political process--once potentially a force resisting or moderating wealth--has been completely captured by an ever-expanding army of lobbyists, the fast-spinning revolving door between the Central State and corporations and unprecedented levels of corporate/Elites campaign contributions.

The judiciary, theoretically a force which could have resisted this concentration of wealth and political power, has also been co-opted by a marriage of ideology and wealth/power. Thus the courts have gutted every attempt at limiting corporate/insider influence over the processes of governance; the courts have enabled corporations to have the "right to free (paid) speech" unburdened by the obligations that go with such rights.

The wealth/power feedback has reached runaway levels. "Reforms" are gutted in backroom deals, votes to benefit the banking/mortgage/foreclosure industry are done on voice calls to evade public scrutiny, and a thousand other games and tricks are played daily to subvert the common good for the benefit of the few and their armies of technocrat toadies.

The other positive feedback loop approaching runaway levels is the Entitlement/Welfare State, both
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The Normalization of Sociopathology in America

The Normalization of Sociopathology in America 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

The moral rot at the center of American life results from a normalization of pathologies--sociopathic and psychopathic states and behaviors are now "normal" or incentivized. Moral behavior is institutionally punished.

My entry on the moral rot which has taken hold in all socio-economic levels of America drew a number of insightful responsesRunaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System (October 13, 2010).

While the American/Western worldview holds that we are autonomous individuals exercising free will at every moment, in reality we are all heavily programmed by our socio-economic class conditions. What is so striking about present-day America is the way in which the narcissistic, no-moral-compass social pathologies of entitlement, denial and fabrication of "truth"/reality has been "normalized" (accepted as normal behavior and thinking) in all social classes.

Before we analyze that further, let’s get some direct experiences from three observant readers.

First up in Freeacre, one of the proprietors of the excellent Trout Clan Campfire blog:

Here are my examples (of the feedback loops you described):

Thirty-one years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, a friend in San Francisco explained to me that I should go down and apply for welfare. He told me the the social workers basically tell you the right answers to give when applying. They ask the question and you just say agree with whatever it is. That’s the game. (I didn’t do it, choosing to marry the father of our child and live a life of penury instead…)

2) We finally were able to buy a house in Portland. Our next door neighbor lived in one exactly like ours. But, she was divorced and had two kids. Her kids went to church school for free, got free clothing and medical care, her mom collected her rent from the state, she got food stamps, and on and on. Her ex even got a penile implant due to an unfortunate motorcycle accident! We ended up losing our home and car and having to declare bankruptcy due to our son’s medical bills for cancer.

3) Years later, when my husband got cancer and I had to pay his COBRA payments up front, I had hardly any money for food or the house payment from my job at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. When I inquired what we could do to qualify for some assistance, the social


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TLP: ‘What’s All This Dirt Doing in the Yard?’

TLP: ‘What’s All This Dirt Doing in the Yard?’

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

lobbyists

Lobbying is typically thought of as a game of influence. Can you get paid to get someone to do what you want them to do, even if you don’t give a shit if they do it or not. These days, as the political winds look to be shifting, lobbying includes a bit of gambling.

NYT:

With Democrats in danger of losing control of Congress, some prominent lobbying shops, trade groups and contractors are already moving to bring more Republicans on board to bolster their political fortunes.

Lobbyists, political consultants and recruiters all say that the going rate for Republicans — particularly current and former House staff members — has risen significantly in just the last few weeks, with salaries beginning at $300,000 and going as high as $1 million for private sector positions.

“We’re seeing a premium for Republicans,” said Ivan H. Adler, a headhunter for the McCormick Group in Washington who specializes in placing lobbyists. “They’re the new ‘It’ girl.” …

If Republicans succeed in regaining control of the House and perhaps even the Senate, firms seeking influence over federal policies are looking to gain an edge by tacking toward the right. That will become particularly important, they say, if Republicans try to roll back some of the major initiatives in health care, business regulation and other areas that Democrats have pushed through Congress in the last year.

You may have seen this movie before.


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Gerard Celente – The Anti Kool Aid

Gerard Celente – The Anti Kool Aid

Courtesy of Trader Mark, at Fund My Mutual Fund

I first saw Gerard Celente on one of those Fox Business shows when the network was new and I was exploring what it was offering. (As an aside Fox Business debut pretty much marked the top in the S&P 500!)  A quirky fellow… but I found many of his views intersected with mine. I went to go look at his website after the interview and I was pretty impressed with his old calls.  Quite a bit of is social rather than just pure economics so being a student of humankind, I find his broader talking points quite fascinating.  He is not afraid to say things that makes Americans uncomfortable – and hopefully makes them think if they are open minded about the society we have created.  You will recognize many similar themes to what has been seen in these web pages the past 3+ years.  Long time readers will recall the coming "pooring of America" I often cited back in the early days of the website as the U.S is broken into an elite ‘capital owner’ class and "everyone else".   [Dec 8, 2007: Do the Bottom 80% of Americans Stand a Chance?]  

Corporations are now "people" (per the Supreme Court), lobbyists rule the land (and create the rules), and almost every major industry in America is an oligarchy as ‘anti trust’ is something found only in textbooks.  It’s not just banks, let’s be clear. Of course if you dare talk about wealth and income disparity or power concentration, you are immediately called a socialist (or worse… a "European"!) and the conversation ends.  But of course it is spoken about (in quiet whispers) in the halls of our investment banks.  [Sep 7, 2009: Citigroup 2006 - America, A Modern Day Plutonomy]

Since Celente makes my views look like Kool Aid Drinker in Chief, I hesitated to post some of his interviews until they were in a business format.  CNBC would never have a…
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Wall Street Uses Your Money To Lobby Against You. What.

Wall Street Uses Your Money To Lobby Against You. What.

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

You know how, like, your grandparents have no choice but to buy the convertible bonds of casino companies and trade Chinese penny stocks because the rate on their money market fund is basically 2 basis points?

Yeah.

So, the reason for the seemingly endless drought in responsible yield options for savers is that banks needed to "reflate" themselves and "rebuild their balance sheets" for the good of the system.  Yeah "The System", that’s the ticket.  So rates were brought down to effectively zero in an effort to stabilize housing and ensure liquidity for businesses who wanted to borrow or hire.

And since the part about stabilizing housing and helping business owners to hire people was a scam and was demonstrably unsuccessful, we can really only point to the reflating banks part and say that something has been accomplished.

Except the banks are doing a lot more than shoring up balance sheets with the zero-cost dollars they have been gorging on over the last 18 months – in addition to reporting record profitability and almost record compensation levels, they’ve also been attempting to buy both sides of the aisle, lobbying like there’s no tomorrow in our nation’s capital.

Get a load of this (from CNN Money):

The financial industry has spent $251 million on lobbying so far this year as lawmakers hammered out new rules of the road for Wall Street, according to the latest lobbying reports compiled by a watchdog group.

The financial sector spent more than any other special interest group from April through the end of June — a whopping $126 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ latest estimates. Wall Street banks, as well as insurance and real estate firms, hiked the amount they spent on lobbying by 12% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.

And really, what are you going to do about it?  Probably nothing, because this has been going on for almost 2 years and you are busy DVRing True Blood and downloading apps that map out the closest Chipotle locations.

Lobbying is what industries do when pending legislation threatens their future profitability.  This is perfectly normal, except in the case of the banks they are using your money to lobby against protections that may save you from the next Frenzy-Depression combo that is surely around the corner.

And it is Your…
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TLP: Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Convenient Way to Do Some Political Schmoozing

TLP: Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Convenient Way to Do Some Political Schmoozing

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

cigar lobbyists politics

HuffPo is blowing smoke in the eyes of a congressional networking group that the blog contends is backed by lobbyists, possibly in violation of congressional rules. Tough to get your maduro lit when you poke around like that.

HuffPo:

Lobbyists for major banks, insurers, pharmaceutical firms, energy companies and at least one foreign government have been helping organize lavish gatherings of staffers and members of Congress since early 2009, funneling K Street money through an officially chartered staff organization called the Congressional Cigar Association.

The CCA, founded by Republican staffers and sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), is chartered by the House Administration Committee to encourage networking among congressional staff. Its most recent gathering was held Tuesday at a townhouse just steps from the Capitol, where staffers were feted by Miami Cigar & Company.

As evening fell, guests lounged in the garden out back, sipping cold drinks and puffing away on what smelled like high-end cigars. Gary Pesh, owner of Old Virginia Tobacco and a member of the Congressional Cigar Association, said the event is just an excuse to "get together and have fun." When asked about the conflict of interest inherent in allowing lobbyists to fund a congressional staff organization, dozens of attendees just continued wordlessly on up the red brick steps. "This is approved by the House, so we’re good," one staffer said. (Another staffer told HuffPost that filming wasn’t allowed, though she was standing under a sign warning passersby that the area was under video surveillance.)

At least half a dozen lobbyists have been closely involved in the operation of the ostensibly staff-driven organization, a review of emails, documents and lobbyist disclosure reports finds. By helping to fund and organize the group’s activities, K Street lobby shops are given privileged access to senior-level staffers and members of Congress in intimate settings where they lobby on behalf of their clients. The association is overwhelmingly Republican, as is the cigar-smoking habit it is organized around.

The cigar group is run by a six-member board. In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, congressional ethics rules were implemented to require that "all officers must be employees of the House or Senate" and that the ethics committee approve all gifts of monetary value offered to the association.


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Government for Sale: How Lobbyists Shaped the Financial Reform Bill

Government for Sale: How Lobbyists Shaped the Financial Reform Bill

By Steven Brill, courtesy of TIME 

government for sale, time

The following is an abridged version of an article that appears in the July 12, 2010, print and iPad editions of TIME.

Two weeks ago, along a marble corridor in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, I watched about 40 well-dressed men (and two women) delivering huge value for their employers. Except that we, the taxpayers, weren’t employing them. The nation’s banks, mortgage lenders, stockbrokers, private-equity funds and derivatives traders were.

They were lobbyists — the best bargain in Washington. Capitol Tax Partners, for example, is one of 1,900 firms that house more than 11,000 lobbyists registered to operate in Washington. Last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), firms like Capitol Tax were paid a total of $3.49 billion for unraveling the mysteries of the tax code for a variety of businesses. According to Capitol Tax co-founder Lindsay Hooper, his firm provided "input and technical advice on various tax matters" to such clients as Morgan Stanley, 3M, Goldman Sachs, Chanel, Ford and the Private Equity Council, which is a trade group trying to head off a plan to increase taxes on what’s called carried interest, a form of income enjoyed by the heavy hitters who run venture-capital and other types of private-equity funds. (Time Warner, the parent company of TIME magazine, is also a client of Capitol Tax Partners.)

Since 2009, the Private Equity Council has paid Capitol Tax, which has eight partners, a $30,000-a-month retainer to keep its members’ taxes low. Counting fees paid to four other firms and the cost of its in-house lobbying staff, the council reported spending $4.2 million on lobbying from the beginning of 2009 through March of this year. Now let’s assume it spent an additional $600,000 since the beginning of April, for a total of $4.8 million. With other groups lobbying on the same issue, the overall spending to protect the favorable carried-interest tax treatment was maybe $15 million. Which seems like a lot — except that this is a debate over how some $100 billion will be taxed, or not, over the next 10 years.

And what did the money managers get for their $15 million investment? While lawmakers did manage to boost the taxes of hedge-fund managers and other folks who collect carried interest as part of their work,…
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BOVE: WALL STREET WINS ON FIN REG, MAIN STREET LOSES

BOVE: WALL STREET WINS ON FIN REG, MAIN STREET LOSES

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Dick Bove says the passing of financial regulation is a huge positive for the banks. He lays out his bull case for the banking sector and why this bill is not critically bad for bank earnings.  This could result in a near-term rally in the banks, but is ultimately bad for consumers as banks will simply sidestep the rules and pass along costs to consumers.   Bove concludes that a recession is likely now and that the passing of this bill was nothing more than a sideshow and more political pandering.  Unbelievable….We should just kick every incumbent out right now.  Obama claims this was a big victory for his administration, but the truth is that he cratered to the bank lobbyists once again.  Bove says this bill will not stop another crisis from occurring.  What an embarrassment….


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Phil's Favorites

Carillion Q&A: The consequences of collapse and what the government should do next

 

Carillion Q&A: The consequences of collapse and what the government should do next

Courtesy of John Colley, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick

Construction giant Carillion has gone into liquidation. The UK’s second-largest construction firm was one of the government’s biggest contractors, involved in huge infrastructure projects like the HS2 rail link and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. It also provides services across the public sector such as running libraries, schools and prisons. Here’s what you need to know about Carillion’s collapse.

Why did the government keep placing...



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ValueWalk

Nebraska Furniture Mart in the 1980s

By The Acquirer's Multiple. Originally published at ValueWalk.

little gem of a 1980s NBC News story about Rose Blumkin, better known to folks in Omaha as “Mrs. B.”. Rose Blumkin apparently was a fixture in Omaha, and ran a HUGE furniture store in Nebraska. Please don’t confuse Mrs. Blumkin with that dirty word “BLUMPKIN”. That’s not nice.

]]> Get The Full Warren Buffett Series in PDF

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The post Nebraska Furniture Mart in the 1980s appeared first on ...



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Zero Hedge

North And South Korea Agree To Form Joint Team, Will March Together At Olympic Opening Ceremony

 

North And South Korea Agree To Form Joint Team, Will March Together At Olympic Opening Ceremony

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

In a decision that Yonhap called an "unprecedented breakthrough", North and South Korea have agreed to form their first joint Olympic team and will march together under a unified flag during the opening ceremony. The two Koreas agreed to form a joint women's ice hockey team to take part in the Winter Olympics to be held February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, the two ...



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Digital Currencies

What if the price of Bitcoin is the least interesting thing about it?

 

What if the price of Bitcoin is the least interesting thing about it?

Courtesy of 

Over the summer, I reviewed Steven Johnson’s book about innovation, called The Invention of Air. Johnson shows us how a simple insight by one of the least technically gifted scientists in history led to a massive chain reaction of human understanding about the world we live in and how it truly works.

If you missed my synopsis, it’s here.

...



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Insider Scoop

5 Biggest Price Target Changes For Wednesday

Courtesy of Benzinga.

  • Goldman Sachs raised Groupon Inc (NASDAQ: GRPN) price target from $4.70 to $5.40. Groupon shares closed at $5.03 on Tuesday.
  • Barclays boosted the price target for Pure Storage Inc (NYSE: PSTG) from $19 to $22. Pure Storage shares closed at $16.16 on Tuesday.
  • Stifel increased the price target for Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) from $161 to $184. Deere shares closed at $167.54 on Tuesday.
  • Mizuho raised the price target on QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ: ...


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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 14, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

After 3 days of mild “rest” – and the first down day of the year (!!) for the S&P 500, bulls came back with bells on Thursday and Friday, driving indexes to record highs yet again.  This is starting to get “parabolic”… some shades of the type of things we saw in 1999.  (See the S&P 500 and NASDAQ charts below)  The S&P 500 gained 1.6% and the NASDAQ 1.7% for the week.

“This reminds me of January 2000,” said Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist, at Capitol Securities Management, which manages $4 billion in assets, referring to the nearly unceasing climb to records for stocks and the unease it can inspire.  “It’s scary, the unrelenting advance,” he added.

“The move isn’t about fundamentals...



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Biotech

How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain - new study

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

 

How Alzheimer's disease spreads throughout the brain – new study

Courtesy of Thomas E CopeUniversity of Cambridge

Harmful tau protein spreads through networks. Author provided

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating brain illness that affects an estimated 47m people worldwide. It is the most common cause of dementia in the Western world. Despite this, there are currently no treatments that are effective in curing Alzheimer’s disease or preventing its relentless progressio...



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Mapping The Market

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like 'Science-Based,' 'Diversity'

By Jean-Luc

These are the policies of a theocracy, not a modern democracy:

Trump Admin Bans CDC From Using Words Like ‘Science-Based,’ ‘Diversity’

The Trump administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using words like “science-based,” “diversity,” and “transgender” in their official documents for next year’s budget, according to the Washington Post.

Senior CDC budget leader Alison Kelly met with the agency’s policy analysts on Thursday to announce ...



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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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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!

 

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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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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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