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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ValueWalk

4th Circuit Shoots Down Travel Ban; Trump's Fatal Mistake

By JOHN F. BANZHAF. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals shot down President Trump’s travel ban 10-3, leaving the earlier-imposed freeze largely in place, because it allegedly discriminated against Muslims, but the result might have been avoided had the President’s lawyers not made what appears to be a fatal mistake, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Trump’s lawyers could have seriously undercut if not eviscerated the argument that the ban intentionally and unconstitutionally discriminated against Muslims by simply adding one or more non-Muslim countries to his second executive order, says Banzhaf, who predicted this very result.

...

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Zero Hedge

Foreign Central Banks Are Quietly Scooping Up US Treasurys

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Back in February, we wrote that over half a year after we first reported last August that foreign official institutions - central banks, sovereign wealth funds and reserve managers - are liquidating US Treasurys in record amounts, a process that only accelerated into year end when official entities sold a record $405 billion in US paper in...



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Phil's Favorites

Fed Eyes Second Quarter Recovery, Expects Trump Fiscal Policy Will Expand Economy

Courtesy of Mish.

Data supporting the second quarter recovery thesis is nonexistent. Four out of four of the recent hard data economic reports have been negative.

Soft data diffusion indexes do not look so hot either.

Earlier today the Census Bureau reported the trade deficit widened. The same report shows retail and wholesale inventories declined by 0.3% each.

Advance Wholesale Inventories

Wholesale inventories for April, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $592.0 billion, down 0.3 percent (±0.4 percent)* from March 2017, and were up 1.8 perce...



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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

OPEC Boss Embraces Shift to Top Diplomat (The Wall Street Journal)

During a turbulent year for oil prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ top official, Mohammad Barkindo, has embraced a role as the global energy industry’s chief diplomat.

Eurozone ‘still fragile’ despite growth spurt, warns European Central Bank (The Telegraph)

Europe’s sovereign debt crisis might seem like a distant memory as the eurozone economy ...



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Chart School

Gold supply and demand battle near resolution

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Energy builds up during a long slow sideways pattern which allow money managers to accumulate or distribute float, very soon either the demand or supply side is going to get knocked out. Soon we well have a winner! Both the moving averages and Gann angles show the tight APEX, a break out either way will happen. Our bias is to the upside.

If you review a hand full of gold stocks (say ABX, NEM, GG, HMY) you can see higher lows, and consolidations tightening after a period of volatility, this means those that wish to sell from the recent rally have done so, there done! Now the time for the next move is very near. The good news is that most big money managers missed the 2016 rally, and they are getting ready for the next move higher (we believe).

...

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Members' Corner

Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves

Interesting discussion of what affects our behavior. 

Description: "How can humans be so compassionate and altruistic — and also so brutal and violent? To understand why we do what we do, neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky looks at extreme context, examining actions on timescales from seconds to millions of years before they occurred. In this fascinating talk, he shares his cutting edge research into the biology that drives our worst and best behaviors."

Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves

Filmed April 2017 at TED 2017

 

p.s. Roger (on Facebook) saw this talk and recommends the book ...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of May 22nd, 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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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Soars Above $2000 For First Time Ever

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Bitcoin is now up over 100% in 2017, amid global political uncertainty and increased interest in Asia, suddenly spiking above $2000 this afternoon for the first time ever...

That is a year-over-year gain of more than 350%. The move comes, as CoinDesk notes, amid a broader boost in the cryptocurrency market, which broke the $60bn barrier today. The increase has taken place amid strong surges from Ripple's XRP, which seeks to lower costs in enterprise cross-border payments, and ethereum's ether token, a cryptographic asse...



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Biotech

Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today

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

Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today

Courtesy of Ian HaydonUniversity of Washington

Precision editing DNA allows for some amazing applications. Ian Haydon, CC BY-ND

There’s a revolution happening in biology, and its name is CRISPR.

CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) is a powerful technique for editing DNA. It has received an enormous amount of attention in the scientific and popular press, largely based on the promise of what this powerful gene e...



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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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Mapping The Market

Bombing - Right or Wrong?

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

I am telling you Angel – makes no sense… BTW:

Republicans Love Bombing, But Only When a Republican Does It

By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

A few days ago I noted that Republican views of the economy changed dramatically when Donald Trump was elected, but Democratic views stayed pretty stable. Apparently Republicans view the economy through a partisan lens but Democrats don't.

Are there other examples of this? Yes indeed. Jeff Stein points to polling data about air strikes against Syria:

Democr...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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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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