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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. treasuries’

Nassim Taleb Says The Financial System Is Now Riskier Than It Was Before The 2008 Crisis

Nassim Taleb Says The Financial System Is Now Riskier Than It Was Before The 2008 Crisis

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: A Black Swan sits in the water as Nicolas Ivanoff of France competes during the Red Bull Air Race Training day on April 15, 2010 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for Red Bull Air Race)

Nassim Taleb is out making waves once again, this time at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg today, where he said he was “betting on the collapse of government bonds” and that investors should avoid stocks. To be sure this is not a new position for Nassim, who in February had the same message, when he said that "every single human being" should be short U.S. treasuries. Indeed since then bonds have gone up in a straight line as the bond bubble has grown to record levels, and with the ongoing help of the Fed, is it any wonder. The only question is when will this last bubble also pop.

More from Bloomberg:

“I’m very pessimistic,” he said at the . “By staying in cash or hedging against inflation, you won’t regret it in two years.”

Treasuries have rallied amid speculation the global economic recovery is faltering, driving yields on two-year notes to a record low of 0.4892 percent today. The Federal Reserve yesterday reversed plans to exit from monetary stimulus and decided to keep its bond holdings level to support an economic recovery it described as weaker than anticipated. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 16 percent between April 23 and July 2, the biggest slump during the bull market.

The financial system is riskier that it was than before the 2008 crisis that led the U.S. economy to the worst contraction since the Great Depression, Taleb said.

Will the Black Swan author be correct? Perhaps (and given enough time, certainly), although as virtually everyone is expecting a dire outcome in both the public and private sector, courtesy of the untenable balance sheet, the surprise will most certainly have to come from some other place. And with even The Atlantic now posting cover stories on the Iran war spark, it is increasingly less likely that geopolitics will be the issue. Is every possible dire outcome priced in? If so, Taleb should focus his formidable intellect on answering just what the market is missing.


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

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

Courtesy of Mish 

Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple November 2006 Photo: Roger Parker

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

Such fears are extremely overblown for several reasons.

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

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

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

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

Capital Tsunami Is The Bigger Threat

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

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

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

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


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China and the Goldfinger Syndrome

China and the Goldfinger Syndrome

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

I have had some interesting discussions recently with correspondents about the problem which China has with its very large US dollar reserves.

To summarize what I think, China is attempting to diversify their portfolio of US Treasury dollar holdings. They are obviously accumulating ‘real goods’ including stockpiles of basic materials, gold, silver, oil and investments in the means of production in their own region and in key regions around the world.

This is more difficult than it might appear on the surface. Real goods are often strategic, and governments are sometimes reluctant to allow them to be acquired by a government considered a potential threat. The first difficulty is the strategic importance of some assets, such as the China’s offer for the purchase of Unocal.

But there is also a need for confidentiality, stealthiness if you will. If word were to leak out that ‘China is dumping its Treasuries’ there would be a run on the market and the Chinese could lose a portion of their reserve wealth rather quickly.

Now, would it matter. Well, yes. It would matter because US dollars are still the currency of choice for most international trade including the all important international commodity, oil. If you think that philosophically dollars have no value because they are just paper, I would be more than happy to dispose of them for you. Limited time offer, of course.

I also posited that China, while accumulating its real goods quietly against the constraint of perturbing the markets, could do short term hedges against the less catastrophic scenario of further dollar devaluation by going into the very deep and liquid financial assets markets, and hedging risk with CDS and other obvious investments including shorts of various types.

As anyone who has attempted to acquire a company or take a substantial position in or out of an asset or company, at some point you can affect the price, making other participants aware that the asset is in play, and end up selling or buying against yourself. In the case of China it could also trigger a run on the bank of the US, which is an immediate endgame.

With regard to the use of financial instruments, someone raised the obvious issue of counter party risk. Well, of course it is an issue. But less so if you are merely hedging…
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Niall Ferguson on America’s Death Spiral

Classic Videos: Niall Ferguson on America’s Death Spiral

Courtesy of JOHN RUBINO at Dollar Collapse

In this recent CNN interview, Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson predicts that, barring a radical change in policy, “nasty fiscal arithmetic” will send the U.S. into a “death spiral.” Some representative quotes:

“Fiscal tightening is baked in the cake. Tax increases are coming and coming soon… The US has a kind of stay of execution while the European crisis unfolds, but at some point the nasty fiscal arithmetic will get everyone, including the U.S… Treasuries are a safe haven the way Pearl Harbor was a safe haven in 1941. It’s safe until it’s not safe anymore.”

 


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The Con of the Decade Part I

The Con of the Decade Part I 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds 

The con of the decade (Part I) involves the transfer of private debt to the public (the marks), who then pays interest forever to the con artists.

I’ve laid out the Con of the Decade (Part I) in outline form:

1. Enable trillions of dollars in mortgages guaranteed to default by packaging unlimited quantities of them into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), creating umlimited demand for fraudulently originated loans.

2. Sell these MBS as "safe" to credulous investors, institutions, town councils in Norway, etc., i.e. "the bezzle" on a global scale.

3. Make huge "side bets" against these doomed mortgages so when they default then the short-side bets generate billions in profits.

4. Leverage each $1 of actual capital into $100 of high-risk bets.

5. Hide the utterly fraudulent bets offshore and/or off-balance sheet (not that the regulators you had muzzled would have noticed anyway).

6. When the longside bets go bad, transfer hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal guarantees, bailouts and backstops into the private hands which made the risky bets, either via direct payments or via proxies like AIG. Enable these private Power Elites to borrow hundreds of billions more from the Treasury/Fed at zero interest.

7. Deposit these funds at the Federal Reserve, where they earn 3-4%. Reap billions in guaranteed income by borrowing Federal money for free and getting paid interest by the Fed.

8. As profits pile up, start buying boatloads of short-term U.S. Treasuries. Now the taxpayers who absorbed the trillions in private losses and who transferred trillions in subsidies, backstops, guarantees, bailouts and loans to private banks and corporations, are now paying interest on the Treasuries their own money purchased for the banks/corporations.

9. Slowly acquire trillions of dollars in Treasuries--not difficult to do as the Federal government is borrowing $1.5 trillion a year.

10. Stop buying Treasuries and dump a boatload onto the market, forcing interest rates to rise as supply of new T-Bills exceeds demand (at least temporarily). Repeat as necessary to double and then triple interest rates paid on Treasuries.

11. Buy hundreds of billions in long-term Treasuries at high rates of interest. As interest rates rise, interest payments dwarf all other Federal spending, forcing extreme cuts in all other government spending.

12. Enjoy the hundreds of billions of…
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Disaster, By the Numbers

Disaster, By the Numbers

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Bomb with a Lit Fuse

I’ve leveled many criticisms at the so-called experts in the financial community. Apart from being blatantly conflicted, many wouldn’t know how to analyze their way out of a paper bag even if their lives depended on it. Generally speaking, they are good communicators but lousy thinkers.

But as with most generalizations, there are exceptions to the rule. Some eloquent experts do know what they are talking about, including David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff, Albert Edwards and Dylan Grice of Societe General, Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust, and John Hussman of Hussman Funds.

Based on what he has to say, another person who should probably be added to that very short list is the individual interviewed in the following Yahoo! Finance Tech Ticker report, "America’s Ticking Debt Bomb: Like Greece, ‘Only Worse,’ Pento Says":

America’s debt bomb is ticking and is likely to detonate in five years or less, says Michael Pento, senior market strategist at Delta Global Advisors.

"It could be much sooner when we hit the debt wall," Pento says. "My opinion doesn’t matter: Math tells me we’re in a serious problem."

The math Pento refers to is the Treasury Department’s recent estimate that total U.S. debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and rise to 102% of GDP by 2015. Moreover, the publicly traded debt (debt excluding intra-governmental obligations) will rise to $14 trillion by 2015, up from "just" $7.5 trillion in 2009.

At $14 trillion, the interest payments on the public debt will total about $1 trillion in 2015, he continues; even assuming solid growth and low inflation, that would equal about 30% of total government revenue. "What do you think that does to our bond market?," Pento wonders. "It leads to a dollar crisis and a bond market crisis. That’s why gold refuses to go down. "

Demand for U.S. Treasuries and the dollar currently remain high, especially in the wake of the euro’s slow-motion implosion. Pento admits timing this debt crisis is difficult but predicts we’ll be "like Greece, but worse," in four years or less, unless we make a sudden turn toward austerity.


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Tensions Mount in Asia; North Korea Prepares for Combat; South Korea Won Sinks to 8-Month Low

Tensions Mount in Asia; North Korea Prepares for Combat; South Korea Won Sinks to 8-Month Low; Futures Sink, Nikkei Hammered Again

Courtesy of Mish 

Smack in the midst of a "global recovery" tensions are heating up in Asia. Please consider Kim Jong II Orders Military to Get Ready for Combat

North Korean leader Kim Jong II ordered the country’s military to get ready for combat in a message televised nationwide last week following South Korea’s announcement that North Korea torpedoed the South’s warship.

South Korea’s President Lee Myung Bak said yesterday the country will push for United Nations censure against North Korea for the March 26 sinking of a naval ship, which killed 46 sailors. A multinational team concluded on May 20 that North Korea fired a torpedo to split apart the 1,200-ton Cheonan.

Tensions are rising in the Korean peninsula following the report, with both sides threatening counter-measures should they come under attack. South Korea plans to define North Korea as its “main enemy” when it maps out military strategy, Yonhap reported today, citing a government official it didn’t identify.

South Korea’s Won Sinks to 8-Month Low

Inquiring minds may be interested to note South Korea’s Won Sinks to 8-Month Low on Tensions With North.

South Korea’s won slumped to an eight-month low on growing hostilities with the North over the sinking of one of the South’s warships with the loss of 46 lives.

The U.S. yesterday announced plans to conduct joint anti- submarine exercises with South Korea as “a result of the findings of this recent incident.” Japan will consider imposing financial sanctions on North Korea, Finance Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference in Tokyo today.

“We won’t see the bottom of this fall until we hear some good news on North Korea,” said Cho Hyun Seok, a currency dealer at Kookmin Bank in Seoul. “The won’s exchange rate can go as high as 1,260 won per dollar.”

The military exercises are among steps the U.S. and South Korea are pursuing, including possible further United Nations sanctions, in response to the March sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan. The U.S. and South Korea say evidence shows the explosion was caused by a North Korean torpedo.

Asian Stocks Fall to 10-Month Low, Won Dives, Commodities Drop 

Please consider Asian Stocks Fall to 10-Month Low, Won Dives, Commodities Drop

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index


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SHOULD YOU SHORT THE TREASURY MARKET?

SHOULD YOU SHORT THE TREASURY MARKET?

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Good thoughts on the credit markets from this week’s episode of Wealth Track.  Nassim Taleb has described treasuries as a “no brainer” short position.  Marc Faber refers to treasuries as junk bonds.  Bond experts David Darst and Robert Kessler provide their outlooks for obtaining yield in a de-leveraging world:

Source: Wealth Track 


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What the PBoC cannot do with its reserves

What the PBoC cannot do with its reserves

GREAT WALL OF CHINA BADALING BEIJING CHINA

Courtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets 

It is a real toss-up as to which generates more bizarre comment in the international press: Beijing’s long-feared dumping of US Treasuries, or the use and value of the PBoC’s central bank reserves.  The revelation last week that Chinese holdings of US Treasury obligations fell in December by $34.2 billion, to $755.4 billion, generated a frisson of fear and excitement, leading one prominent newspaper to worry that “If there is one thing that gets investors twitchy, it is the fear that China is losing its appetite for US government bonds.”

And shouldn’t they get twitchy?  After all this reduction in Chinese holdings of Treasury bonds comes from the USG’s TIC data, so it must be true that China is dumping dollars, right?

No need to twitch, it means no such thing.  First of all, the data from which this was derived indicates national ownership of USG bonds only to the extent that foreigners are directly registered holders.  It says nothing about what happened to the large amount of bonds held by the PBoC and other Chinese investors indirectly or in street names. Those could have easily gone up by more than the reduction in bonds directly held by Chinese investors in their own name.  If the PBoC had let maturing Treasury bonds get repaid, for example, and reinvested the proceeds into the USG bond market through another account, or in a street name, its total holdings would have actually increased even though its registered holdings would have declined.

More importantly, the TIC numbers completely fail to disclose whether China’s reduced holding of USG bonds was matched by increased holding of other dollar assets, thereby increasing the pool of capital available to fund USG bonds by an amount equal to its reduced Treasury holdings.  If Chinese investors decide to take on more risk, for example, they might sell USG bonds and use the proceeds to buy corporate bonds.  Of course the seller of these corporate bonds will then have cash, which must be put to work, and ultimately this ends up back in the USG bond market.

China did not reduce its dollar holdings

So was China a net seller of dollar assets in December?  Almost certainly not.  Just look at the PBoC balance sheet.  PBoC reserves rose in December by


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Senior Chinese Military Officers Join Iran In Delivering “Punch” To U.S., Propose Selling Treasuries As Arms Sales Punishment

Senior Chinese Military Officers Join Iran In Delivering "Punch" To U.S., Propose Selling Treasuries As Arms Sales Punishment

Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

People's Liberation Army soldiers take part in combat drills in Beijing

And you were worried about Iran. China’s People Liberation Army has come out and openly said that the nuclear option, i.e., selling US Treasuries, is now on the table and should be exercised as "punishment" for U.S.’ arms sales to Taiwan. China undoubtedly realizes that this is a prime example of sado-masochism as the resultant plunge in Treasuries that would follow would hurt the US certainly, but also have a "mild to quite mild" impact on China’s $700 (and likely much greater) UST holdings. Game theory 101 just got interesting.

From Reuters

Senior Chinese military officers have proposed that their country boost defense spending, adjust PLA deployments, and possibly sell some U.S. bonds to punish Washington for its latest round of arms sales to Taiwan.
 
The calls for broad retaliation over the planned U.S. weapons sales to the disputed island came from officers at China’s National Defence University and Academy of Military Sciences, interviewed by Outlook Weekly, a Chinese-language magazine published by the official Xinhua news agency.

The interviews with Major Generals Zhu Chenghu and Luo Yuan and Senior Colonel Ke Chunqiao appeared in the issue published on Monday.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plays no role in setting policy for China’s foreign exchange holdings. Officials in charge of that area have given no sign of any moves to sell U.S. Treasury bonds over the weapons sales, a move that could alarm markets and damage the value of China’s own holdings.

While far from representing fixed government policy, the open demands for retaliation by the PLA officers underscored the domestic pressures on Beijing to deliver on its threats to punish the Obama administration over the arms sales.

"Our retaliation should not be restricted to merely military matters, and we should adopt a strategic package of counter-punches covering politics, military affairs, diplomacy and economics to treat both the symptoms and root cause of this disease," said Luo Yuan, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences.

Not only that, but China is now openly escalating vis-a-vis Taiwan.

Chinese has blasted the United States over the planned $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan unveiled in late January, saying it will sanction


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Zero Hedge

Howard Marks On "The Lessons Of Oil"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Select excerpts from the latest note by Oaktree's Howard Marks "The Lessons Of Oil"

The following list is designed to illustrate the wide range of  possible implications of an oil price decline, both direct consequences and their ramifications:

  • Lower prices mean reduced revenue for oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Brunei, causing GDP to contract and budget deficits to rise.
  • There’s a drop in the amounts sent abroad to purchase oil by oil-importing nations like the U.S., China, Japan and the United Kingdom.
  • Earnings decline at oil exploration and production companies but rise for ...


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Phil's Favorites

Competitive Theories: "Deflation Warning" vs. "Inflation is Nearly Everywhere"

Courtesy of Mish.

Theory #1: Break-Even Rates Provide "Deflation Warning"

Bloomberg is sounding a Deflation Warning as 2-Year Break-Even Rates Go Negative.

Break-even rates are the difference between treasuries and the same-duration Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). The break-even rate turned negative yesterday for the first time since 2009.

In theory, break-even rates reflect investors’ expectations for inflation over the life of the securities.

When break-even rates are negative, it's an indication investors expect price deflation for the duration, in this case for two years.

From Bloomberg ...
The drop in the break-even rate followed a Labor Depart...



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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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Chart School

Relief Bounce in Markets

Courtesy of Declan.

Those who took advantage of markets at Fib levels were rewarded.  However, this looked more a 'dead cat' style bounce than a genuine bottom forming low.  This can of course change, and one thing I will want to see is narrow action near today's high. Volume was a little light, but with Christmas fast approaching I would expect this trend to continue.

The S&P inched above 2,009, but I would like to see any subsequent weakness hold the 38.2% Fib level at 1,989.


The Nasdaq offered itself more as a support bounce, with a picture perfect play off its 38.2% Fib level. Unlike the S&P, volume did climb in confirmed accumulation. The next upside c...

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Digital Currencies

Chart o' the Day: Don't "Invest" in Stupid Sh*t

Joshua commented on the QZ article I posted a couple days ago and perfectly summarized the take-home message into an Investing Lesson. 

Chart o’ the Day: Don’t “Invest” in Stupid Sh*t

Courtesy of 

The chart above comes from Matt Phillips at Quartz and is a good reminder of why you shouldn’t invest in s...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of December 15th, 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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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Energy sector rains on bulls' parade, but skies may clear soon

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

Courtesy of Scott Martindale of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Stocks have needed a reason to take a breather and pull back in this long-standing ultra-bullish climate, with strong economic data and seasonality providing impressive tailwinds -- and plummeting oil prices certainly have given it to them. But this minor pullback was fully expected and indeed desirable for market health. The future remains bright for the U.S. economy and corporate profits despite the collapse in oil, and now the overbought technical condition has been relieved. While most sectors are gathering fundamental support and our sector rotation model remains bullish, the Energy sector looks fundamentally weak and continues to ran...



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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 this week's Stock World Weekly.

Click here and sign in with your user name and password. 

 

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Option Review

SPX Call Spread Eyes Fresh Record Highs By Year End

Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...



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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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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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