Archive for November, 2008

Failed Economic Theory

Here’s an article by Ben Bittrolff, the Financial Ninji, discussing the economic model upon which our economic policy is based.  The theory, neo-classical economic theory, is based on premises which are simply wrong. 

Policy Based on Failed Economic Theory: Just Stupid

Courtesy of Ben Bittrolff [ The Financial Ninja ]

I can’t stress how important it is to understand that economists are relying on hugely flawed theories and models when looking at the economy. Economic policy is being made off the neo-classical theory of economics. This is just a fancy way of describing current mainstream economic theory. This neo-classical theory of economics forms the basis for all the crap your politicians and their advisors keep trying. The greatest failed experiment of this theory is the practical implementation Keynesian and Neo-Keynesian economic policy. Today, right now you are witnessing the implementation of Keynesian theory to its absolute maximum limits with a policy of ZIRP and quantitative easing.

Of course this cannot work and it never has. Neo-classical economic theory is fatally flawed from its very first basic premises. They are:

1) People have rational preferences among outcomes that can be identified and associated with a value.
2) Individuals
maximize utility and firms maximize profits.
3) People act independently on the basis of
full and relevant information.

This entire theory and all the economic policy that is born of it hinges on these three basic premises. The first one is completely ridiculous and obvious to anybody that isn’t a socially inept, ivory tower, academic, economic nerd. (Clearly these guys have never interacted with the female species in person before. Hahaha.) The assumption is that individuals choose the best action according to stable preference functions and constraints facing them. Simply put, if you prefer beer over liquor you’ll consistently drink beer at parties. No flip flopping allowed. No randomizations allowed. No ‘living in the moment’ allowed. This brings me to premise number two. Individuals maximize utility and firms maximize profits. Basically you drink your beer to the point of being pleasantly buzzed and then you stop. You never get smashed because a massive hangover clearly does not maximize utility. The third premise states that you will act independently and have all the relevant information to make the best choices. This means that you happily drink your beer and won’t get persuaded to do a round of shots with your…
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Watching Gold

Interesting Friday morning thoughts on gold, courtesy of Tim Iacono at The Mess That Greenspan Made.

Watching and waiting for gold

Precious metals markets have been quiet today, that is, up until the last few minutes when that little line on Kitco’s live gold chart went vertical for what amounted to about a $7 gain for gold.

It could be an interesting day … we’ll see.

Citigroup’s report the other day will certainly add some fuel to the fire when it comes to the debate over the future of gold prices. They figure the yellow metal could rocket as high as $2,000 an ounce sometime within the next two years, possibly before the end of next year, as all the government stimulus money works its way into the system.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard filed this report on the Citigroup paper and GATA has hosted the document that is full of charts, but, more importantly, ends with the following:

While we believe that Gold could very well head above $2,000 we do not think that is today, tomorrow next week or next month.

We do however believe that it will happen over time as this financial/economic backdrop heads to “the wings.”

What do we mean? The excesses of the last 10 to 25 years have come to fruition in the U.S. and across the World with severe repercussions for financial markets and the Global economy. There is an increasing recognition of this at official levels and the monetary and fiscal floodgates are starting to open.

We doubt, as a consequence, that we are just going to muddle through here. Our bias is that when the dust settles on all this action the authorities will have been very successful or very unsuccessful.

In the very successful arena is the idea that “throwing the kitchen sink” at this has worked and we see signs that the Global economy is reflating/inflating. As a consequence debt will get devalued and the wash of money in the system would suggest a greater likelihood of an inflationary outlook, which will benefit Gold.

In the very unsuccessful area is that too much damage has been done to the patient and as a consequence we continue to have financial instability. This will breed further economic instability, which could lead

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Citigroup and automakers flourish in thin post-holiday trading

Today’s tickers: C, GM, F, CHK, GE, CSCO & AEM

C – Citigroup Inc. – There appears to be greater sense of confidence these days about the survival of Citigroup now that the government has ring-fenced more than $300 billion of its toxic mortgage debt. Shares jumped 11.4% to $7.82 and option traders kept it the most active equity option contract in light trading on Friday. December call option buyers favored both 7.5 and 10.0 strikes. Meanwhile trading in the January 7.5 strike puts was initiated far more from keen buyers than sellers at prices between 1.25 and 1.52.

GM – General Motors – The Detroit Free Press reports that in a time-crunched bid to come up with a plan for lawmakers by next Tuesday, GM is considering ditching brands to include Hummer, Pontiac and Saab. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that GM’s corporate jet might have been grounded in a request to cut costs. Shares are 10% better today at $5.30 as prospects for a bailout apparently are on the increase. The December 5.0 and 6.0 strike calls were most heavily traded but we did note that around half of the volume at the 5.0 strike was sold where premiums ranged between 88 cents and 1.21.

F – Ford Motor Co. – Option volume at Ford surged on similar optimism over an industry bailout. Shares jumped more than 20% on the session to $2.62. Meanwhile call options traded almost 10-times as frequently as put options where trading was concentrated at the December 3.0 strike and January 2.5. With option implied volatility running at 201% on the company’s options, the premium paid to obtain buying rights at the December 3.0 strike is 30 cents. Volume there was 9,400 contracts.

CHK – Chesapeake Energy Corp. – Gas and oil producer, Chesapeake upset investors when it filed a replacement shelf document reserving the ability to raise up to $2 billion through offering more stock. The proceeds would be used for core operations but also acquisitions. The news has sent shares in the company sharply lower falling around 20% to $16.35. The potential worry for investors might be rooted in the decline in the price of crude oil since the company is in the process of developing shale sand projects in West Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Such projects aimed at retrieving marginal or difficult to reach natural oil and gas became prominent when oil…
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Black Friday?

[walmart+wacky+bfa.jpg]Black Friday for retailers is the day that sales traditionally put retailers in the black for the year (not going to happen this year of course).

It is often, but not always, the busiest shopping day of the year and, at 6am this morning, WMT's server crashed from the traffic so we're off to a good start as shoppers, no matter how depressed, start thinking about Christmas shopping – often spurred on by a list handed to them by a nephew or niece or grandchild at Thanksgiving dinner last night.  Giving the market a positive spin last week was key as it allowed the media to focus on the holiday sales, rather than the market meltdown they would have focused on had we finished Wednesday below 8,000 so let's hear is for the Plunge Protection Team!

We'll see how real this week's 20% rally was – but not today.  Today is a meaningless low-volume day where we hope to hold the 8,600 mark on the Dow and nothing more so let's say we are looking for pullbacks of less than 1.25% across the board to maintain our slightly better than neutral stance.  We took advantage of Wednesday's rally to press our short bets by rolling up our index puts and that is key to managing this market as tight downside protection, which allows us to hold off on covering the longs we are most fond of (or cover the bull side a little lighter than we would otherwise).

The market has had simply spectacular performance since last Friday with wild double-digit gains in all of the US indices and the entire MSCI World Index tacking on 13.7%, now down "only" 44.8% for the year:


I will remind you, as we discussed in yesterday's post, that the US alone has spent/committed $7.8Tn to keep the markets over that 50% off line while the rest of the world is in for about 5 or 6 Trillion Dollars as well (it's hard to quantify the real cost of bank guarantees until it's over) so how could we NOT get a small boost to the global economy.  The problem is, the boost is being applied on the famous trickle down theory as bailing out the banks is somehow supposed to eventually help the people they lend to.  What has not occurred to
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Gov’t on Hook for $8T+

Mark at Fund My Mutual Fund summarizes the government’s quickly amassing obligations, and has reached a conclusion – similar to Phil’s - that it would be more efficient and more fair for the government to have simply paid off a percentage of mortgages.  "[G]ive everyone with a mortgage a 50% payoff and all these toxic instruments in the system become "paid off" or a much smaller risk," and give government an equity interest in the homes and the taxpayer is even better off on this deal.

Bloomberg: U.S. Government Now on Hook for $8 Trillion+ 

The Federal Reserve is now Atlas…. let’s just hope they do not shrug….

During the war of the TITANS, ATLAS stormed Olympus and threatened the Gods. And as punishment for this war crime, ZEUS sentenced him to hold up the heavens and bear their weight on his shoulders forever

I was going to post this story a few days ago when the U.S. Government was ONLY on the hook for $7.7 Trillion but with yesterday’s additional $800 Billion, the entry needs to be edited (by the day it seems) The bill now could reach $8.3+ Trillion. This is staggering folks – just staggering; I don’t think people can even wrap their minds about this sort of data. It is our typical American kick the can down the road – we’ll worry about the implications of it all once we get out of this current mess – this is the U.S. mode of operation for multiple decades now. I do believe from what I am seeing lately that the Federal Reserve is now of mind of "print at all costs" – the money supply data is simply in "hockey stick" formation and they’ll deal with the ramifications of their actions at a later date. For now, they are going to print like there is no tomorrow. (and let me be clear about the headline – technically the Federal Reserve is not part of the US Government)

This is an entry to print and hand to your friends who think we are "only" giving $700B of TARP money – if they’re steaming mad about that, well that is now less than 10% of what we have exposure to. The scary thing? If we marked to market the whole banking system collapses so for all the problems we have morally with this, it might just be…
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Chesapeake Energy

Mish reports on Chesapeake Energy, Petrobras, and OPEC.  Courtesy of Mish, at Global Economic Trend Analysis.  

Chesapeake Energy, Largest US Natural Gas Producer, Runs Out Of Cash

YahooFinance is reporting Chesapeake Energy may sell $1.8B stock to get cash.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, seeks to raise up to $1.8 billion through common stock sales in an effort to fund its drilling and exploration activities and mitigate the impact of lower natural gas prices on cash flow.

In two filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Wednesday, the company said it will issue shares worth as much as $1 billion before fees and also registered 50 million shares worth at most $791 million for potential sale.

Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Chesapeake said it will use proceeds from the $1 billion offering for general corporate purposes, including fund exploration, development and other capital expenditures.

The move would dilute holdings of shareholders, who already suffered through a substantial decline in Chesapeake’s stock price this year. Shares closed at $20.24 on Wednesday, off 73 percent from the stock’s $74 52-week high set this summer.

But the company said cash flow, borrowings and cash on hand have not been enough to pay for capital expenditures.

Chesapeake has used up the remaining financing available under its $3.5 billion bank credit facility and only $251 million is left of another $460 million credit line. Credit markets remain tight with financial institutions under duress.

CHK Daily Chart

click on chart for sharper image

This is the same silliness we saw with banks and financials. The companies kept paying unsustainable dividends and buying back shares at ridiculous prices. They did not raise money when they could but rather when they were forced to.

Can anyone ever get this right?

Petrobras Cash Shortage

In Brazil, Petrobras Cash Shortage Led to Tax Loan.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA was forced to borrow 2 billion reais ($881 million) from Brazilian state-owned discount bank Caixa Economica Federal as it faced “momentary difficulty” paying taxes, Energy Minister Edison Lobao said.

Petrobras, as the state-controlled oil company is known, said record profit in the third quarter resulted in a 11.4 billion-real tax bill in October, about 5 percent more than the 10.8 billion reais of cash it had on hand

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Clues to Aging in Red Wine


Red wine with your turkey dinner?…  This article discusses the protein sirtuin (subject to a post yesterday explaining how loss of regulation leads to chaos) which is activated by resveratrol, an ingredient of red wine. 

Scientists Find Clues to Aging in a Red Wine Ingredient’s Role in Activating a Protein 


A new insight into the reason for aging has been gained by scientists trying to understand how resveratrol, a minor ingredient of red wine, improves the health and lifespan of laboratory mice. They believe that the integrity of chromosomes is compromised as people age, and that resveratrol works by activating a protein known as sirtuin that restores the chromosomes to health.

The finding, published online Wednesday in the journal Cell, is from a group led by David Sinclair of the Harvard Medical School. It is part of a growing effort by biologists to understand the sirtuins and other powerful agents that control the settings on the living cell’s metabolism, like its handling of fats and response to insulin...

Sirtris, a company Dr. Sinclair helped found, has developed a number of chemicals that mimic resveratrol and are potentially more suitable as drugs since they activate sirtuin at much lower doses than resveratrol. This month, one of these chemicals was reported in the journal Cell Metabolism to protect mice on fatty diets from getting obese and to enhance their endurance in treadmills, just as resveratrol does.

Though the sirtuin field holds considerable promise, the dust has far from settled. Resveratrol is a powerful agent with many different effects, only some of which are exerted through sirtuin. So drugs that activate sirtuin may not be as splendid a tonic for people as resveratrol certainly seems to be for mice…

Sirtuin’s normal role is to help gag all the genes that a cell needs to keep suppressed. It does so by keeping the chromatin, the stuff that wraps around the DNA, packed so tightly that the cell cannot get access to the underlying genes.

But sirtuin has another critical role, one that is triggered by emergencies like a break in both DNA strands of a chromosome. After a double strand break, sirtuin rushes to the site to help knit the two parts of the chromosome back together. But in this salvage operation,

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Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick note for the  day as I'm off with family.

Yesterday was great and we ended up 60:40 bullish as we held our levels (surprising all of us) and we have more evidence that the rally is real as international markets are up across the board despite a terrible terrorist attack in India (that market is closed today for the emergency) that has left 100 people dead and hundreds more injured.  It's been a while since terror was our top concern but it's a stark reminder that, even at the best of times, we need some disaster protection in our virtual portfolio.

The VIX came down hard, breaking below the 50 dma and that's what we like to see accompanying an up move in the markets.  We still have a long way to go to get to "normal" volatility levels, around half of where we are now but we can certainly be thankful for this week's market move, which seems to have done a lot to restore investor confidence.  Whether this is a real bottom or simply a bear market bounce remains to be seen but we just had a 20% up move in the S&P off Friday's low – that is close to 3 normal years worth of growth!  Of course that is small comfort to people who's virtual portfolios were ravaged by the downturn but we need to keep things in perspective and manage our expectations.

My expectations were that you can't spend $7.8 Trillion (that's $7,800,000,000,000) without somewhat stimulating a $13Tn economy and here's a great chart that shows how your tax dollars (and it's over $70,000 per taxpayer) are being spent.  To be fair, it's not really "spent," just committed, as the government is: 

  • Insuring $3.1Tn in bank debt (like C's $306Bn of loans and securities), money market funds, FDIC accounts and up to $200Bn of FRE/FNM losses.
  • Lending $1.7Tn under the TAF program (low interest, short-term loans) and TALF (aimed at business investors) as well as through the discount window.
  • Investing $3Tn, half of which is in the commercial paper market plus the infamous TARP with "only" $600Bn used to buy mortgage-backed securities.  This is, of course, the stuff NOBODY wants and the government is buying the dregs of the dregs.

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Case Shiller and CAR Analysis

Housing prices — overview of declines in various cities.  These numbers do not include the latest, which would reflect worsening of conditions in October and November. 

Case Shiller and CAR Analysis November 2008 Release 

Courtesy of Mish

California Association of Realtors C.A.R. Data

The following chart is from my friend "TC" who has been monitoring California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) and DQNews data. C.A.R. data contains resale single family residences and new homes. DQNews data contains resale single family residences and new homes.  (Click on charts for sharper images.)

Median nominal prices in CA are now down 47% according to CAR and 42% according to DQNews – and those declines are in less than 18 months!

Case-Shiller is a more accurate way of looking at home prices than median prices. Case-Shiller data follows.

Case Shiller November Release

Inquiring minds are considering the Case Shiller Home Price Release for November 2008.

New York, October 28, 2008 – Data through August 2008, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, shows continued broad based declines in the prices of existing single family homes across the United States, a trend that prevailed throughout the first half of 2008 and has continued into the second half.

The chart below depicts the annual returns of the U.S. National, the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite Home Price Indices. The decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index – which covers all nine U.S. census divisions – remained in double digits, posting a record 16.6% decline in the third quarter of 2008 versus the third quarter of 2007. This has increased from the annual declines of 15.1% and 14.0%, reported for the 2nd and 1st quarters of the year, respectively. The 10-City and 20-City Composites continue to set new records, with annual declines of 18.6% and 17.4%, respectively.

click on chart for sharper image

Case-Shiller Declines Since Peak

The following charts were produced by my friend "TC" who has been monitoring Case-Shiller Data. Although individual cities topped at varying times, the top-10 and top-20 city composites peaked in a June-July 2006 timeframe.

Case-Shiller Declines Since Peak Current Data

click on chart for sharper image

Case-Shiller Declines Since Peak
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Aging Process & Financial Mess

Interesting analogy between the aging process and the meltdown of the global economy – the common denominator being loss of regulation.  

The Aging Process and the Current Financial Mess 

Courtesy of Stormy, at Angry Bear.

I just could not resist posting this latest tidbit about the aging process:

Like our current financial crisis, the aging process might also be a product excessive deregulation.

Nearly a decade ago, Sinclair and colleagues in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lab of Leonard Guarente found that a particular sirtuin in yeast affected the aging process in two specific ways—it helped regulate gene activity in cells and repair breaks in DNA. As DNA damage accumulated over time, however, the sirtuin became too distracted to properly regulate gene activity, and as a result, characteristics of aging set in.

"Too distracted" is clearly too anthropomorphic a phrase, but in a curious way, it fits the present crisis. But wait.

The researchers have added an "enlightening" twist to the idea of "distraction":

The problem for the cell, however, is that the sirtuin has another important job. When DNA is damaged by UV light or free radicals, sirtuins act as volunteer emergency responders. They leave their genomic guardian posts and aid the DNA repair mechanism at the site of damage.

"Distraction" is now operationally defined.

The marvelous genetic aging metaphor is ready for completion. All we have to do is to define what is presently keeping the overseers of our economic system from paying attention to the real problem.

Once we thought of the world in mechanical terms; now the world of genetics is opening a new way of looking at the world. 

ScienceDaily — Researchers have uncovered what may be a universal cause of aging, one that applies to both single cell organisms such as yeast and multicellular organisms, including mammals. This is the first time that such an evolutionarily conserved aging mechanism has been identified between such diverse organisms.

The mechanism probably dates back more than one billion years. The study shows how DNA damage eventually leads to a breakdown in

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Phil's Favorites

Rogue science strikes again: The case of the first gene-edited babies


Rogue science strikes again: The case of the first gene-edited babies

Chinese scientists led by He Jiankui claimed they used CRISPR to modify human embryos that eventually were born as twin girls. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Courtesy of G. Owen Schaefer, National University of Singapore

The idea of scientists tinkering with the genes of babies was once the provenance of science fiction, but now it’s apparently entered the realm of reality: On Nov. 26, Chinese scientist He Jiankui reported the historic live births of ...

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Zero Hedge

Trump Administration Considering Issuance Of 50, 100-Year Treasuries

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

The last time the US was seriously considering issuing ultra-long dated bonds - those with a maturity of 50 and 100 years - was back in late 2016 and early 2017, when yields were near the record lows hit in recent days. As we reported back in November 2016, shortly after Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as US Treasury Secretary, the former Goldman banker proceeded to roil the bond market when he told CNBC he would look at extending the maturity of future Tr...

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Insider Scoop

Heavy Volume Drives Low-Float Stock Plus Therapeutics Up 200%

Courtesy of Benzinga

Plus Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: PSTV) is the latest and one of the most extreme recent examples of the powerful combination of low float and heavy trading volume.

Plus shares traded higher by more than 215% on Friday. The biotech stock more than tripled after the company reported ... more from Insider

Lee's Free Thinking

Long Term Stock Market Chart Perspective

Courtesy of Lee Adler

After a big day like yesterday, I like to get a little long term stock market chart perspective. (Yes, this stilted verbiage is for search engine optimization ).

We do that with a monthly bar chart, which I update when relevant in Lee Adler’s Technical Trader. That’s in addition to the regular daily bar/cycle charts covering the past year, and a weekly cycle chart covering the past 4 years.

I wrote on July 14, in reference to the price and indicator patterns on the weekly chart:

The market has overshot a 3-4 year cycle projection in terms of both price and time. There are no long term projections. A 4 year cycle high is ideally due now. A 4 ye...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

S&P About To Decline 14%, Catching Up With The Crude Oil Declines?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

This chart looks at the performance of the S&P 500, Crude Oil and the Yield on the 10-Year note over the past 4-months.

Crude Oil has declined around 14% more than the S&P during this time frame. Yields have declined, even more, around 36%. The is a huge spread between these assets over this short of a time period.

A few importa...

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Chart School

Bitcoin 2019 fractal with Gold 2013

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Funny how price action patterns repeat, double tops, head and shoulders. These are simply market fractals of supply and demand.

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Ref: US Crypto Holders Only Have a Few Days to Reply to the IRS 6173 Letter

Today's news from the US IRS has been blamed for the recent price slump, yet the bitcoin fractal like the gold fractal suggest the market players have set bitcoin up for a slump to $9000 USD long before the IRS news hit the wire.

Get the impression some market players missed out on the b...

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The Technical Traders

Global Central Banks Move To Keep The Party Rolling - Part III

Courtesy of Technical Traders

This section of our multi-part article regarding current and past central bank actions, we are going to attempt to look at key elements of the past and present to highlight what we believe may turn out to be an incredible “setup” in the global markets. 

This setup is almost like a complex chess game where two skilled players battle for control and near the end of the game, one player is left with the King, a Rook, and a Pawn while the other player has a dramatic advantage with stronger chess pieces.  Yet, as the game continues, the weaker player is able to remove one or two of the stronger players key pieces and move his pawn to his opponent’s side to r...

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Digital Currencies

New Zealand Becomes 1st Country To Legalize Payment Of Salaries In Crypto

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been on a persistent upswing this year, but they're still pretty volatile. But during a time when even some of the most developed economies in the word are watching their currencies bounce around like the Argentine peso (just take a look at a six-month chart for GBPUSD), New Zealand has decided to take the plunge and become the first country to legalize payment in bitcoin, the FT reports.

The ruling by New Zealand’s tax authority allows salaries and wages to b...

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:


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DNA testing companies offer telomere testing - but what does it tell you about aging and disease risk?

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


DNA testing companies offer telomere testing – but what does it tell you about aging and disease risk?

A telomere age test kit from Telomere Diagnostics Inc. and saliva. collection kit from 23andMe. Anna Hoychuk/

Courtesy of Patricia Opresko, University of Pittsburgh and Elise Fouquerel, ...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...

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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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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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