Archive for August, 2008

Why No Questions?

I don’t know, Yves Smith, at NakedCapitalism, speculates:

Why No Questions About Special NYMEX Trading Session?

Excerpt:  "Reader Paul e-mailed about the special, early opening of the NYMEX to permit pre-Gustav trading. As he correctly noted:

I have NEVER heard of a US market opening early due to macro events; the usual move is to CLOSE during exceptional circumstances.

Neither have I. This looks pretty suspicious. Did some influential parties need to rearrange their positions, or did some hope to use a probably-thin market to their advantage? How many were aware of this session when it opened? How much advance notice was there, and how was this disseminated? It is almost certain no questions will be raised. Any reactions from informed readers very much appreciated.

As for the substance, Bloomberg notes that the market reaction is subdued compared to the supposed severity of the storm, although as of this writing it was a Category 3, not the feared Category 5 it seemed likely to become.

From Bloomberg:

“It’s a huge storm, and it’s got the potential to cause all kinds of problems,” said Peter Beutel, president of energy consultant Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Connecticut. “There’s a lot of concern that this is something that could really, really damage infrastructure badly, and this could be another instance of Katria-Rita or worse.”

Crude oil for October delivery rose $1.67, or 1.5 percent, to $117.13 a barrel at 5 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are up 22 percent this year.

Gasoline for October delivery gained 6.58 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $2.92 a gallon on the exchange.

To see oil “up two and a half dollars is a muted reaction to what they’re calling the mother of all storms,” Beutel said…."

More here.

Great Partisan Growth & Inequality Divides

Is our economy, in general, better off under a democratic or republican administration?   Here are some answers, courtesy of Mark Thoma, at Economist’s View. Picture in NY Times article quoted below

The Great Partisan Growth and Inequality Divides

Alan Blinder has a question for you:

Is History Siding With Obama’s Economic Plan?, by Alan S. Blinder, Economic View, NY Times: Clearly, there are major differences between the economic policies of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Mr. McCain wants more tax cuts for the rich; Mr. Obama wants tax cuts for the poor and middle class. The two men also disagree on health care, energy and many other topics. …

Many Americans … are [un]aware of two important facts about the post-World War II era, both of which are brilliantly delineated in … “Unequal Democracy,” by Larry M. Bartels…. Understanding them might help voters see what could be at stake, economically speaking, in November.

I call the first fact the Great Partisan Growth Divide. Simply put, the United States economy has grown faster, on average, under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.

The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, … show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.

Such a large historical gap in economic performance between the two parties is rather surprising, because presidents have limited leverage over the nation’s economy. … But statistical regularities, like facts, are stubborn things. You bet against them at your peril.

The second big historical fact, which might be called the Great Partisan Inequality Divide, is the focus of Professor Bartels’s work.

It is well known that income inequality in the United States has been on the rise for about 30 years now… But Professor Bartels unearths a stunning statistical regularity: Over the entire 60-year period, income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats, thus accounting for the widening income gaps over all. …

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False Data

Real or not real?… the GDP, rumors regarding Steve Jobs’ health, peak oil?  Thoughts on what’s true and what’s not, courtesy of Jason Schwarz, at Lone Peak Asset Management (posted at Seeking Alpha). - Ilene

False Data Clobbers the Markets

What is real?  Up until this point, 2008 has been a year marred by false data.  The market has had no trouble digesting the real numbers.  It’s the false numbers that have put us into a recession-like sell off.  The list of market moving inaccuracies continues to grow, here are the three latest:

1. Government GDP Report.  Why doesn’t the government just hold off a few weeks before releasing its reports?  No data is better than false data.  The latest GDP growth revision is absolutely inexcusable.  I can handle a small revision from 3.1% to 3.2% but 1.9% to 3.3%?  Wouldn’t it be better to just wait another 3 or 4 weeks and get the numbers correct?  

This isn’t the first time either.  The non farm payroll reports have provided us with some overreactions.  The carnage of 2008 actually began on January 4th when the December payroll number was released.  It came out at 18k and the Dow sold off over 800 points in ten days.  Nobody paid much attention when that number was later revised up.  We’ve lost too much market value because of seemingly negative data that was later revised.  Our estimates show that such inaccuracies have cost the Dow over 1500 points.

2. The Steve Jobs Obituary.  False rumors haven’t been limited to the financials, Nasdaq leader Apple (AAPL) has dealt with its fair share of false rumors as well. The latest cheap shot bear tactic happened on Wednesday evening with the release of a 17-page Steve Jobs obituary over at Bloomberg.  We calculate that Apple has lost approximately $30 in share price due to false rumors regarding the health of its CEO.

3. The Misinformation on Oil.  Talk about getting creative, try being an oil bull for a day.  We have heard lie after lie come from this group as they try to justify the ramp in crude prices. My favorite was the Nigerian oil crisis.  Come on.  They try to say whatever they can come up with to take the focus away from the real data.  The bottom line is that
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Market Character

Rob Hanna, at Quantifiable Edges, suggests and provides pattern-type evidence that the market may be changing character.  Although Friday’s action was not supportive of an immediately optimistic view, we can use Rob’s criteria to identify the next potential chart indication of a changing market character.  – Ilene

Clues The Market Character Could Be Changing

The market rose strongly on Thursday. NYSE advancers outpaced decliners by over 3 to 1 – the 2nd day in a row advancers accounted for over 70% of the total. I’ve noted a few times recently that rallies in the S&P 500 since the end of May have been quick to reverse. Most have not lasted more than 2 days before suffering a down day. There have been three 3-day rallies and none of four days or longer. The market has now closed up 3 days in a row. We are reaching the upper boundary of “normal”. Although I’m not betting on it, traders should be on alert for a change of character in the market.

The market may or may not pull back in the next day or two, but it appears likely to happen quite soon. Back to back days of 70% advancers are fairly rare. The fact that it happened without the S&P 500 posting a 10-day high is even more unusual. Since 1970 this has happened 20 times. Sixteen (80%) of the time the market closed below the close of the trigger day within the next four days. If you give it 10 days to work off the overbought breadth readings then 19 (95%) of the time you’d find a close lower than the trigger day. In other words, a pullback appears likely in the not-too distant future.

I believe one key to determining whether the market character is possibly changing and a new leg higher possibly beginning will be the action on this pullback. This is the 7th rally of 2-3 days since July 21st. The previous six saw a decline of at least 1.2% on the first day of the pullback. That’s not orderly and not really what you want to see. In fact, other than the July 21st 1-day mini-pullback the last “orderly” pullback that didn’t involve a sharp drop occurred on the last 3 days of April.

Seems to me it might be a good time to be thinking about taking some short exposure.

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Investor Psychology Cycle

Courtesy of Minyanville’s Prieur du Plessis. Prieur believes we are somewhere within the last two stages on the right – denial to fear, panic and contempt.  The transitions are not clear cut, it seems, but there can be a mix of denial and fear and panic, prior to full on contempt and scorn, with accompanying promises not to ever invest in the stock market again.  – Ilene

The Investor Psychology Cycle

By Prieur du Plessis

As the pendulum swings between greed and fear, investors typically behave in 1 of 2 ways: They either become over-enthusiastic during bull markets and over-despondent as the bear’s growl grows louder.

It stands to reason that in order to be a successful investor, it’s important to distance yourself from the herd mentality and to take objective decisions based on fundamental reasons.

The typical behaviour of investors is linked to the so-called investor psychology cycle (courtesy RMB Unit Trusts), as illustrated below.

Before seeking to apply the cycle to the present stock market situation, let’s consider a short definition of each of the stages. 

  • Contempt: According to the cycle, a bull market typically starts when a market is at a low and investors scorn stocks.

  • Doubt and suspicion: They try to decide whether what they have left should be invested in a safe haven, such as a money market fund. They’ve burnt their fingers on stocks, and vow never to invest again.

  • Caution: The market then gradually starts showing signs of recovery. Most remain cautious, but prudent investors are already drooling at the possibility of profit.

  • Confidence: As stock prices rise, investors’ feeling of mistrust changes to confidence and ultimately to enthusiasm. Most investors start buying stocks at this stage.

  • Enthusiasm: During the enthusiasm stage, prudent investors are already starting to take profits and get out of the stock market, because they realize that the bull market is coming to an end.

  • Greed and conviction: Investors’ enthusiasm is followed by greed – often accompanied by numerous IPOs on the stock market.

  • Indifference: Investors look beyond unsustainably high price-earnings ratios.

  • Dismissal: As the market declines, investors show a lack or interest that quickly turns to dismissal.

  • Denial: They then reach the denial stage, where they regularly

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Residential Real Estate Market Bottoms

This is an excerpt from an article posted by David J. Merkel posted on both Barry Ritholtz’s blog, the Big Picture, and his own, the Aleph Blog.  The full article can be found either here (Aleph Blog) or here (Big Picture).  

Fundamentals of Residential Real Estate Market Bottoms

By David J. Merkel. David is Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp SecuritiesHe writes daily commentary at Aleph blog.

Excerpt:  "This piece completes a series that I started RealMoney, and continued at my blog.  For those with access to RealMoney, I did an article called The Fundamentals of Market Tops, where I concluded in early 2004 that we weren’t at a top yet.  For those without access, Barry Ritholtz put a large portion of it at his blog.  I then wrote another piece at RM applying the framework to residential housing in mid-2005, and I came to a different conclusion: yes, residential real estate [RRE] was near its top.  Recently, I posted a piece a number of readers asked me to write: The Fundamentals of Market Bottoms, where I concluded we weren’t yet at a bottom for the equity markets.   

This piece completes the series for now, and asks whether we are at the bottom for RRE prices. If not, when, and how much more pain?

Before I start this piece, I have to deal with the issue of why RRE market tops and bottoms are different.  The signals for a bottom are not automatically the inverse of those for a top. Tops and bottoms for RRE are different primarily because of debt investors.  At market tops, typically credit spreads are tight, but they have been tight for several years, while seemingly cheap leverage builds up.  There is a sense of invincibility for the RRE market, and the financing markets reflect that. Bottoms are more jagged, with debt financing expensive to non-existent. 

As a friend of mine once said, “To make a stock go to zero, it has to have a significant slug of debt.”  The same is true of RRE and that is what differentiates tops from bottoms.  At tops, no one cares about the level of debt or financing terms.  The rare insolvencies that happen then are often due to fraud.  But at bottoms, the only thing that investors care about is the level of debt or financing terms.

Why Do RRE Defaults Happen?

It costs
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Chancellor Darling

Here’s an article by Mish discussing the UK’s economic crisis, beginning with Chancellor Alistair Darling’s comments.  – Ilene

Chancellor Darling: UK In Worst Economic Crisis For 60 Years 

The Telegraph is reporting Britain in grip of worst economic crisis for 60 years, admits Alistair Darling.


Britain is in the grip of its worst economic crisis for 60 years, Alistair Darling has admitted.The Chancellor of the Exchequer warns that the slump is going to be "more profound and long-lasting than people thought".

In an astonishingly frank interview, Mr Darling admits that voters are "p***** off" with Labour and says the party must recover the "zeal" which won it three successive general elections.

Since taking up the post, Mr Darling is said to have faced a crisis "every week", including the collapse of Northern Rock and the loss of millions of people’s personal details from HM revenue & Customs.

There have been clear tensions between the Treasury and Number 10 in recent months and many of his comments will be read with dismay in Downing Street.

Mr Darling makes clear that he was not the source of a story earlier this month that he might temporarily suspend stamp duty in order to stimulate the housing market. The leak – which the Treasury suspects came from Downing Street – backfired and led to accusations that the uncertainty caused had actually caused home sales to stall.

The Chancellor says he has spent all his political life trying to avoid "this kind of interview". But his advisers have long claimed that he does not conform to his "boring" caricature and have chosen the eve of the new political season to improve his public image. However, many of his comments will be seized upon by his opponents.

Mr Darling says the economic times we are facing "are arguably the worst they have been in 60 years." "And I think it’s going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought," he adds. Further evidence that Britain is on the brink of recession emerged this week.

A report into house prices showed they had dropped 10 per cent in the last month – the biggest drop in prices since 1990.

And on Thursday David Blanchflower, a member of

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Feels Like a Recession

Weekend Reading…  Here’s an analysis of the latest GDP numbers by Menzie Chinn, courtesy of the Econbrowser.   

Why Does It Feel Like a Recession?

The preliminary GDP release today provided a number of surprises. The first surprise was not that GDP was higher than the advance release (given the June trade figures reported earlier this month), but rather that at 3.3% it exceeded the 2.8% (SAAR) of the consensus [0]. The second surprise is that the reduction in imports comprises an even larger proportion of the overall growth.

Let’s turn first to the surprise. The change in the contribution due to net exports was anticipated, given the release of the monthly trade figures for June, which were unavailable at the time of the advance release. However, one big change was in the contribution of inventories. Apparently, they decreased by a smaller amount (-1.44 ppts vs. originally estimated -1.92 ppts). While this increases GDP in 08Q2, this might suggest a bigger reduction in output in the current quarter, as producers seek to match inventory stocks to anticipated output.

But let’s return to trade. Figure 1 illustrates real GDP growth in ppts SAAR (blue bars), and the contributions from Net Exports (red line) and Imports (green line).

Figure 1: GDP growth q/q at annual rates (blue bars), contribution from net exports (red line), and contribution from imports of goods and services (green line). Source: BEA GDP advance release of 28 August 2008.

Interestingly, the change in trade sectors accounts for almost all of growth (in the advance, it accounted for more than all GDP growth). And while the proportions coming from export growth and import shrinkage are about the same, here I think absolute percentage point contributions are important. Reductions in real imports now are calculated to contribute 1.45 ppts, as opposed to the earlier estimate of 1.26 ppts. Of course, some of this reduction is due to the weaker dollar, as journalistic accounts have stressed. But unlike exports, imports are — according to macroeconomic estimates — highly insensitive with respect to exchange rates, and much more elastic with respect to income [1]. So I suspect that real income is either actually stagnant or falling, or perceived to fall in the near future (I’m not so Keynesian as to think only current income matters). Figure 2 depicts the log real dollar exchange rate (calculated
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Citigroup rallies leaving cautious put plays in its wake

Today’s tickers: C, AIG, XLF, DELL, NCX, XLK, MRVL, VPRT, FNM, PMCS, AFL

C – Citigroup Inc. – Despite a 4.1% rally to $18.87 at Citigroup option traders are still in defensive mode perhaps adopting a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ attitude. October 15 and 17.5 strike puts have been well sought after trading on combined volume of more than 7,600 contracts.

AIG – American International Group Inc. – It’s kill or cure for AIG according to options patterns evident on Thursday. With shares higher by 2.3% at $20.45 we’re sniffing out what appears to be a long strangle on the stock using options in the November contract. The trade involves volume of 14,000 contracts of the 20 strike put and the 24 strike call. In buying both of these the investor seeks to see shares in AIG significantly shift out of its torpor at relatively depressed levels. If we’re right that this is a long strategy, the breakevens on the trade are at $15.70 and $28.30 calculated by using the value of the net premium of 4.3 to implement the trade. The investor expects the company to shake off its illness, meaning its shares will recover dramatically to leave the upper breakeven behind. Or it expects the current weight of bad news to bring the share price to its knees following a similar path to that followed by the GSEs. Further out in the January 2010 35 strike straddle an investor likely sold a 2,000 contract straddle at a net 17.50 premium. While this is well away from the money today, this may reflect the anticipation of ultimate recovery for the company and a gradual pull back to a central share price of $35.00. The losses on the trade mount beneath an expiration-time share price at $17.50 to zero, while the investor’s captured premium is eroded should the shares rally as high as $52.50 beyond which losses would accrue. Implied volatility on AIG today stands at 71.1%.

XLF – Financial Select Sector SPDR – Volume totals 811,000 lots in frenzied options trading in the Financial SPDR. Its shares are now 2.8% higher after several deep breaths of air could be taken today. The GDP report exhibited stronger economic growth. The ratings agencies managed to insure more bonds while the GSEs once again traded better. The fund stands at $21.14 at 1:20ET. Earlier we reported a heavy amount of call…
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Friday Already?

What an exciting week this has been.

I'm very bullish today after hearing Obama's speech last night (and here's a cool view of it) as it's very exciting to have the prospect of a leader who can actually inspire people.  Whether you agree with the guy or not, he's a great orator and we could really use a President who can rally people to a cause and make this country great again.  I've said for a long time that what we mainly have wrong with this economy is a crisis of leadership as it would not take much action to fix housing and energy issues – just the conviction to do something about it.

Without leadership, fear drives the markets and the hyenas use fear to manipulate stocks because it's easy to stampede a populace that is treated like sheep by their leaders.  Yesterday the sheep were herded out of AAPL as Bloomberg "accidentally" published Steve Jobs' obituary.  You would think this sort of nonsense would prompt a very serious SEC investigation but apparently Bloomberg get's to say "oops" and no one even asks who published the story, who edited the story, who OK'd the story (or do things in Bloomberg just randomly get published all the time?) and who those people are getting checks or gifts from.  Despite being obviously false, this allows the hyenas to churn rumors through their usual outlets regarding Steve Jobs' health, which is now an issue again because he isn't dead.

Speaking of hyenas, we're still on hurricane watch as Tropical Storm Gustav is keeping hope alive in the oil patch.  I will again remind people that 2 consecutive hurricanes – Katrina and Rita, just one month apart, only spiked oil to $80 and then it fell back to the $50s and that was when the US consumed 5% more oil per day (1Mb).  This concept of hurricanes affecting the price of oil is another example of the crisis of leadership in this country.  Price gouging is clearly illegal during disasters yet not one investigation was conducted by this administration into the behavior of the US oil cartel during the storms that set this country on a path to $100 oil, which has cost US consumers alone and additional $1.4Tn (how much we've paid over $60 a…
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Zero Hedge

Why Is Maduro Still Pushing The Petro?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by William Luther via The American Institute for Economic Research,

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes that Venezuela’s “National Superintendency for the Defense of Socio-Economic Rights is reportedly pressuring stores to accept the government’s new digital fiat currency, the petro.” The Venezuelan government claims its digital...

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The Technical Traders

Is The Technology Sector Setting Up For A Crash? Part IV

Courtesy of Technical Traders

As we continue to get more and more information related to the Coronavirus spreading across Asia and Europe, the one thing we really must consider is the longer-term possibility that major global economies may contract in some manner as the Chinese economy is currently doing.  The news suggests over 700+ million people in China are quarantined.  This is a staggering number of people – nearly double the total population of the entire United States.

If the numbers presented by the Chinese are accurate, the Coronavirus has a very high infection rate, yet a moderately small mortality rate (2~3%).  Still, if this virus continues to spread throughout the world and infects m...

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Phil's Favorites

Why Trump's post-impeachment actions are about vengeance, not retribution


Why Trump's post-impeachment actions are about vengeance, not retribution

President Trump fired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for testifying in his impeachment trial. AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Courtesy of Austin Sarat, Amherst College

Since the end of his Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump has carried out a concerted campaign against ...

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Biotech & Health

Deep learning AI discovers surprising new antibiotics


Deep learning AI discovers surprising new antibiotics

A colored electron microscope image of MRSA. NIH - NIAID/flickr, CC BY

Courtesy of Sriram Chandrasekaran, University of Michigan

Imagine you’re a fossil hunter. You spend months in the heat of Arizona digging up bones only to find that what you’ve uncovered is from a previously discovered dinosaur.

That’s how the search for antibiotics has panned out recently. The relatively few antibiotic hunters out there ...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

King Dollar Going To Lose Strength Here? Gold & Silver Hope So!!!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Is King$ and the Euro facing important breakout/breakdown tests at the same time? It looks like it in this chart!

The US$ trend remains up, as it has created a series of higher lows since the start of 2018. The opposite can be said for the Euro, as it has created a series of lower highs since early 2018.

The US$ is currently testing the top of its 18-month rising channel, as the Euro is testing the bottom of its falling channel.

What King$ and...

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Insider Scoop

The Daily Biotech Pulse: Heron Pain Drug Review Extended, Disappointment For Teva In Tourette Syndrome Study

Courtesy of Benzinga

Here's a roundup of top developments in the biotech space over the last 24 hours.

Scaling The Peaks

(Biotech Stocks Hitting 52-week highs on Feb. 19)

  • Adverum Biotechnologies Inc (NASDAQ: ADVM)
  • Akebia Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: AKBA)
  • Ana... more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year


Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

‘We have you surrounded!’ Wit Olszewski

Courtesy of Gavin Brown, Manchester Metropolitan University and Richard Whittle, Manchester Metropolitan University

When bitcoin was trading at the dizzying heights of almost US$2...

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What US companies are saying about coronavirus impact

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

With the coronavirus outbreak coinciding with the U.S. earnings seasons, it is only normal to expect companies to talk about this deadly virus in their earnings conference calls. In fact, many major U.S. companies not only talked about coronavirus, but also warned about its potential impact on their financial numbers.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Coronavirus impact: many US companies unclear

According to ...

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Chart School

RTT browsing latest..

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Please review a collection of WWW browsing results. The information here is delayed by a few months, members get the most recent content.

Date Found: Tuesday, 01 October 2019, 02:18:22 AM

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.

Comment: Wall of worry, or cliff of despair!

Date Found: Tuesday, 01 October 2019, 06:54:30 AM

Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.

Comment: Interesting.. Hitler good for the German DAX when he was winning! They believed .. until th...

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Members' Corner

How to Stop Bill Barr


How to Stop Bill Barr

We must remove this cancer on our democracy.

Courtesy of Greg Olear, at PREVAIL, author of Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia


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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires


Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:


The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:


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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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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.