Archive for 2008

Iraq War and Oil Prices

Here’s an excerpt from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism on the war in Iraq and the price of oil.  Click here for the full article.

Did the Iraq War Cause High Oil Prices?

"An oil economics specialist, Mamdouh Salameh, who advises the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation, contends that oil prices would be at less than 1/3 of their current level had the US not invaded Iraq.

We’ve noted before that Iraqi reserves somehow gets overlooked, which is odd. Iraq’s production has fallen further than Saudi Arabia’s has, but that fact is not often mentioned in polite company…

Note that Salameh does not consider the possibility that reserves may be higher than previously thought; he simply goes back to status quo ante.

From the Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip John Robb):

Mamdouh Salameh believes the oil price would now be no more than $US40 a barrel, less than a third of the current price, if not for the Iraq war…

Salameh told a British parliamentary committee last month that Iraq had offered the US a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened 10 new giant oil fields on "generous" terms, in return for lifting sanctions. "This would certainly have prevented the steep rise of the oil price," he said. ‘But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil.’"





The BackUp Plan!

In our June 19th blog we wrote "The bottom line is the flush is upon us.  What is a flush you may ask?  It is the final collapse of the indexes that pushes all the weak holders to their absolute limits and just beyond.  It causes the courageous to become meek.  Conviction is eroded and faith in the markets is destroyed.  It is painful for many.  It should not be painful for you, our members, because (we) warned of this correction and we stated we would stand aside from it.  And we will swoop in with more aggression when it is done.  We have already started to build longer term positions as evidenced by recent Trade Alerts.  In the short-term the pain may last a little longer.  If it does appear, it will be very painful for most.  But it will be necessary before the long awaited uptrend finally appears.  Fasten your seatbelts, it’s a rollercoaster ride, but the fun times are not far away now."

On June 20th, we viewed the flush that had just occurred with optimism but stated it was not a ‘Royal Flush’ and concluded "As of right now, the reward to risk ratios are not overwhelmingly positive, so we remain with our fingers on the trigger ready to jump in with greater abandon but are holding off until we have greater certainty."

Well, the best way of describing our feeling after Friday’s big declines is "PHEW!"  It was oh so tempting to believe the bottom was in Thursday and we certainly believed it might have been possible, however discipline demanded we hold off until the markets presented us with greater clarity over future direction. 

But that’s all in the past, the real question is how do we trade the market in front of us now?

Well, our preference is to return to what we call the The Backup Plan.  When the going gets tough, confusion is rife, turbulence is prevalent and the stench of panic in the air, it’s time to go back to the basics.  We thought it might prove helpful sharing our step-by-step process in finding a trade during such challenging times.

The first step is recognizing the climate is tough and that it’s okay to target lower returns while the markets are turbulent. …
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FDA Stings Pharma

Michael Steinberg at Click Broker takes a look at changes going on at the FDA with regards to approving new drugs.  A rejection of surrogate markers as being sufficient for market approval seems like a good first step in addressing a problem of drugs being promoted for chronic conditions and apparent abnormalities in markers that are correlated to disease but not proven causes, e.g., when there’s not sufficient evidence that treatment provides a net benefit to the patient.  – Ilene

FDA Stings Pharma Big and Small

 

The first shock came after Merck (MRK) and Schering-Plough’s (SGP) Vytorin ENHANCE study. Surrogate markers like cholesterol counts would no longer be enough to garner marketing approval. Genzyme (GENZ) and Isis (ISIS) received the first blow. Isis’ cholesterol drug Mipomersen would have to undergo an outcomes study before widespread usage is approved. This has caused a bit of “rethinking” in the Genzyme-Isis partnership.

The Wall Street Journal “Merck Sees Wait on Cordaptive” reports that not only is the FDA unhappy with Merck’s chosen name for its new cholesterol drug, but it also wants to wait for the results of a long-term study to be completed in 2013. The FDA most recently told GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that its Ligand (LGND) partnered PROMACTA drug for increasing platelet counts and reducing or preventing bleeding would be delayed three months, even though the drug was on fast track. GSK was seeking approval for short-term use; but the FDA was concerned that once approved, long-term use could not be prevented.

The FDA is starting to show concern for abuses in marketing long-term or “lifestyle” use of drugs for perceived chronic conditions that have no real efficacy, or even cause harm. The FDA is also showing reluctance to approve drugs based on minor convenience enhancements, such as less frequent dosage.

The New York Times “Release of Generic Lipitor Is Delayed” reports the growing concern by the FTC on sweetheart deals between big pharma and generic drug companies to delay generics. Pfizer (PFE) and Ranbaxy Laboratories agreed to delay generic Lipitor for almost two years for what might be construed as a payoff. Pfizer threw in slow selling Caduet into the mix.   

What we are seeing is some “free market” bending to combat European type tight cost-benefit controls. The government is slowly putting an end to the lucrative cholesterol and other continuous use


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Can You Be Satisfied Making 20% Returns Each Year?

I was having a conversation yesterday with a very wealthy man.

He is retired and has roughly $60M almost entirely in tax-free bonds that gives him roughly $4M a year to live on and he has a very nice life.  I was, of course, mortified by his investing strategy but I’m also half his age with quite a bit less than half his wealth and I asked him if he had ever considered options which, in turn, mortified him.

"Those things are a scam, you can never win," he said.  Rather than attempt to persuade him over lunch that a diversified virtual portfolio of options can perform as well as a diversified virtual portfolio of stocks or bonds, I just illustrated one simple thing to make my point and it occurred to me that many new members would appreciate the same thoughts so here is my advice to anyone who wonders if options can work for your virtual portfolio:

I asked him what company he would consider investing in.  Which one stock does he, a man who thinks the whole market is a scam to be avoided, would he be willing to risk putting 10% of his assets into.  After some consideration my friend said "GE."  Just because he thinks it’s a scam doesn’t mean he doesn’t follow the markets and he is well aware that GE has lost 30% of it’s value since October and is trading back at the price it was at in 1998 "before it went crazy."

Of course I agree with that.  GE has been caught up in the financial crisis, even though it’s only half a financial company and the forward p/e of 11 is lower than it has been at any time in the past 20 years.  GE is, of course, a company we can expect to be around for the next 20 years and has effectively been around since 1890, when it was called the Edison General Electric Company, it’s an original Dow component and a perfect choice for an 80-year old man who doesn’t trust the markets!

GE pays a taxable dividend of 4.5% but has underperformed the Dow by 30% over the past two years.  GE has been so bad lately that even I gave up on them (they have been out of all our virtual portfolios for quite some time), but that certainly doesn’t mean I feel they are going out of…
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Peak Oil Myth

We’ve been talking about this for a long time and it seems like finally others are as well.  This is an excellent article by Jason Schwarz giving solid examples of why Peak Oil is a "myth."   Please click on the links to read the full article, I’m posting two excerpts for now.  – Ilene   

The ‘Peak Oil’ Myth: New Oil Is Plentiful

The data is becoming conclusive that peak oil is a myth. High oil prices (USO) (OIL) are doing their job as oil exploration is flush with new finds:

1. An offshore find by Brazilian state oil company Petrobras (PBR) in partnership with BG Group (BRGYY.PK) and Repsol-YPF may be the world’s biggest discovery in 30 years, the head of the National Petroleum Agency said. A deep-water exploration area could contain as much as 33 billion barrels of oil, an amount that would nearly triple Brazil’s reserves and make the offshore bloc the world’s third-largest known oil reserve. "This would lay to rest some of the peak oil pronouncements that we were out of oil, that we weren’t going to find any more and that we have to change our way of life," said Roger Read, an energy analyst and managing director at New York-based investment bank Natixis Bleichroeder Inc.

2. A trio of oil companies led by Chevron Corp. (CVX) has tapped a petroleum pool deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico that could boost U.S. reserves by more than 50 percent. A test well indicates it could be the biggest new domestic oil discovery since Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay a generation ago. Chevron estimated the 300-square-mile region where its test well sits could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas.   

3. Kosmos Energy says its oil field at West Cape Three Points is the largest discovery in deep water West Africa and potentially the largest single field discovery in the region.

4. A new oil discovery has been made by Statoil (STO) in…
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Can Saudi Arabia Drive Down the Price of Oil?

Kathy Lien’s thoughts on the Oil Summit this weekend. 

Can Saudi Arabia Drive Down the Price of Oil?

This weekend, Saudi Arabia will be hosting an Oil Summit in the city of Jeddah, located on the coast of the Red Sea. They have invited executives from oil companies, leaders of nations and the world’s largest oil producers.

The big question for markets is whether or not Saudi Arabia can drive down the price of oil.

So far, I’m a big skeptic. Earlier this month they announced a 200k barrel increase in oil production, but instead of sending oil prices lower, it sent them higher. The same can be said for the pressure that the US has been exerting on oil producers; oil prices only continued to trend higher. The only announcement that actually managed to drive crude lower was yesterday’s price hike from China and even that sell-off failed to last.

There are 3 things driving oil prices higher:


1. Speculation
2. Weak Dollar
3. Supply and Demand Constraints

There will be a lot of finger pointing this weekend. Saudi Arabia is the only OPEC nation with spare capacity. With Venezuela not attending and Iran at odds with Saudi Arabia on whether an oil output hike would matter to prices, OPEC as a group is not expected to hike production. Most OPEC nations blame the oil price rise on speculation.

This Summit is Saudi Arabia’s opportunity to prove to the world that they can increase capacity but what we want to know is how high these oil producing nations think oil prices can rise.

In order for oil prices to start coming down, big changes need to be made and made quickly. Drilling offshore is not the solution because it would be years before we see any results.

How to Bring Relief to US Consumers

If they really want to help consumers, the US needs to propose a similar solution as Italy. The Italians plan on raising taxes on oil companies and giving away that revenue as pre-paid discount cards worth about $620 US dollars to approximately 1.2 millions Italians. Of course, this would only work if the oil companies do not follow suit and raise prices.

If oil prices do not fall after the Jeddah Summit, not only will it keep the dollar firm, but it will also…
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The Ethanol Myth

Here’s an article on Ethanol, by Scott Reeves, Courtesy of Minyanville.

The Ethanol Myth

No apes for biofuel!

Growing demand for ethanol has driven up the cost of corn in the United States and led to clearing rainforests in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to plant oil palm, a highly productive oil seed used to make biofuel. Demand is so strong that some now fret about destruction of the natural habitat for orangutans.

It takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the ethanol provides, making biofuel the triumph of politics over logic. Congress mandates the use of the alternative fuel, creating a guaranteed market, but rising costs have hammered ethanol stocks. Nevertheless, President Bush wants to increase the use of ethanol so don’t bet on the primates in Asian rainforests. 

Oil surged to a record $139.89 per barrel Monday before falling back to $133.35 the next day. This should be good news for ethanol because the biofuel allows oil companies to add octane more cheaply than additional refining. But the market has turned thumbs down on ethanol producers VeraSun (VSE), Aventine (AVR) and Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) as the price of corn continues to rise. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), a major ethanol producer, is a diversified company and its stock recently hit a 52-week high.

The basic question: Why did anyone think ethanol made sense?

The sales pitch for biofuel is simple and intriguing: Ethanol produced from corn — good old grain alcohol -- allows oil refiners to produce greater quantities of lower octane fuel, cutting costs at the refinery. Use of ethanol as a fuel additive boosts octane, reduces tailpipe pollution and increases the volume of available fuel. About 30% of the gasoline sold in the U.S. contains 10% ethanol. Use of E85, a blend containing 85% ethanol, may increase as carmakers build more vehicles capable of using the fuel. Ford Motor Company (F) and General Motors (GM) now offer flex-fuel vehicles.

In 1979, the last year of President Carter’s administration, Congress approved ethanol subsidies in an effort to offset an embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. (Does anyone remember gas lines, the “energy crisis” and “malaise” – or care to?)

Federal subsidies for ethanol totaled about $6.8 billion in 2006 and will increase to about…
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Rough Weekly Wrap-Up II

Another week, another 400 points.

Since May 19th we are down 1,186 Dow points in a fairly relentless decline of 9%, a slide that began right on the day oil closed above $125 for the first time.  On the morning of May 19th, my opening statement was "I know I’m worried about the markets when I spend more time than usual reading the travel section of the newspaper, thinking of all the nice, relaxing places I could be this spring if I just cash out.  I hate to be doom and gloomy but I’m looking at $127 oil again this morning and I still can’t figure out how we’re supposed to be paying for this."  

This led us to take the money and run on our 2nd $10,000 Virtual Portfolio of the year at just $16,039 and we closed our $250,000 Stocks Virtual Portfolio as it had gained 62.34% for the year and we closed our year's initial Day Trading Virtual Portfolio, up 314% after 5 months.  It was the right move – Our Short-Term Virtual Portfolio did well as it contained our bearish bets but the Long-Term Virtual Portfolio  has been flat in the month since I got pessimistic and our Stock Club Portflolio, also long-term, is down 7% from it's first trade on April 19th. 

We did manage to make some improvement in our second $25,000 Virtual Portfolio of the year (the first one doubled in a month so we took the money and ran), which I decided not to close as it was at just $29,451 and, since it mirrored most of the $10KP trades, I wanted to keep them running for those who didn't want to close out the positions.  It has been a tedious month of trading but we do have the $25KP up to $44.837, which is not a terrible result for such an awful month.

Even our Complex Spreads Virtual Portfolio, which has our Apple and Google All-Star positions, is up just 21% for the month, despite our playing Apple pretty much perfectly through the latest dip and recovery.  So overall it has been an awful month of trading and this very much heightens the probability that next time I think it's a good time to take a vacation, that I will, in fact, be out the door!

Going with your gut is a very important part of being…
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Kevin’s Five Things

Some interesting observations by Kevin Depew, on Bottled Water, Philly Fed, Creative Accounting, Tightening Credit and Shoplifting, courtesy of Minyanville. 

Kevin Depew’s Five Things You Need to Know to stay ahead of the pack on Wall Street:

1. Socionomics of Bottled Water

Forbes calls it "Bottlemania." BusinessWeek thrust the issue into it’s so-called "Debate Room,": "Bottled Water IS a Big Drain, Pro or Con?" New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg intends to co-sponsor a resolution to prohibit city spending on bottled water. Meanwhile, Americans drank more than 30,000,000,000 bottles of single-serve water last year. What’s going on here? After all, the bottled water industry is, technically, 30 years old. Suddenly, bottled water is a ripoff? A waste? Or worse, dangerous? What changed?

One thing. Social mood.

Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with tap water, and there never has been. As the BusinessWeek article points out, we pay up to 4,000 times more for bottled water than tap water, and more than three times what we pay for gasoline; all this for water that is far less regulated and which frequently tests worse than tap water in both taste and purity. Pepsi’s (PEP) Aquafina label bottled water is actually tap water. So is Coca-Cola’s (KO) Dasani bottled water.

So why do we suddenly care now? Simple, as social mood continues to darken and turn against symbols of excessive wealth and consumption, the former icons of bull market glee and prosperity begin to tarnish in the public eye.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with bottled water other than its cost over tap water. For 30 years it’s been fine to pay for the convenience and fashionable appearance of water in a bottle. Now, however, it’s something to rail against as mood shifts. Social mood will seek to portray this as a war against waste and excessive cost, but it’s actually grounded in the psychological need to vilify the old signs of overconsumption in order to accept the reality of cutting back. The acceptance of that reality is easier if we are able to manufacture something "wrong" with that which is just beyond our economic reach.

So sit back with a tall glass of refreshing tap water and enjoy the rush to disassociate from yet another fading idol of the bull market.

2. Philly Fed: Don’t Mind Us, We’re Not Passing
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Your Money & Your Brain

Your Money & Your Brain

In the July/August 2008 issue,
Journal of Indexes:  Money and Your Mind

[The following is an excerpt from Jason Zweig's recent book, Your Money & Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich, Simon & Schuster, August 1, 2007.]  

- I’ve taken a few excerpts, go here to read the full reprint.  – Ilene

Pecuniary motives either do not act at all—or are of that class of stimulants which act only as Narcotics. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

From Babel To Bubble

In the Mesopotamian galleries of the British Museum in London sits one of the most startling relics of the ancient world: a life-size clay model of a sheep’s liver, which served as a training tool for a specialized Babylonian priest known as a baru, who made predictions about the future by studying the guts of a freshly slaughtered sheep. The model is a catalog of the blemishes, colors, and differences in size or shape that a real sheep’s liver might display. The baru and his followers believed that each of these variables could help foretell what was about to happen, so the clay model is painstakingly subdivided into sixty-three areas, each marked with cuneiform writing and other symbols describing its predictive powers.

What makes this artifact so astounding is that it is as contemporary as today’s coverage of the financial news. More than 3,700 years after this clay model was first baked in Mesopotamia, the liver-reading Babylonian barus are still with us—except now they are called market strategists, financial analysts, and investment experts. The latest unemployment report is ”a clear sign” that interest rates will rise. This month’s news about inflation means it’s ”a sure thing” that the stock market will go down. This new product or that new boss is ”a good omen” for a company’s stock.

Just like an ancient baru massaging the meanings out of a bloody liver, today’s market forecasters sometimes get the future right—if only by luck alone. But when the ”experts” are wrong, as they are about as often as a flipped coin comes up tails, their forecasts read like a roster of folly:

  • Every December, BusinessWeek surveys Wall Street’s leading strategies, asking where stocks are headed in the year to come. Over the past decade, the consensus of


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Zero Hedge

Auto Shares Surge As Fiat, Renault Confirm Merger Talks

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With President Trump in Japan for a state visit and most of Europe headed to the polls to vote in the quinquennial EU Parliamentary elections, there was enough news to keep market watchers occupied during what was supposed to be a quiet holiday weekend in the US. 

But on top of these political headlines, on Saturday afternoon, the news broke that Italian-American carmaker Fiat Chrysler had approached France's Renault with a merger proposal that would leave the shareholders of each carmaker with half of the combined company, in a tie-up that would create the world's third-largest au...



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Phil's Favorites

Trump and the problem with pardons

 

Trump and the problem with pardons

Courtesy of Andrew Bell, Indiana University

As a veteran, I was astonished by the recent news that President Trump may be considering pardons for U.S. military members accused or convicted of war crimes. But as a scholar who studies the U.S. military and combat ethics, I understand even more clearly the harmful long-term impact such pardons can have on the military.

My researc...



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Insider Scoop

Jefferies Sees 60-Percent Upside In Aphria Shares, Says Buy The Dip

Courtesy of Benzinga.

After a red-hot start to 2019, Canadian cannabis producer Aphria Inc (NYSE: APHA) has run out of steam, tumbling more than 31 percent in the past three months.

Despite the recent weakness, one Wall Street analyst said Friday that the stock has 30-percent upside potential. 

The Analyst

Jefferies analyst ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

DAX (Germany) About To Send A Bearish Message To The S&P 500?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Is the DAX index from Germany about to send a bearish message to stocks in Europe and the States? Sure could!

This chart looks at the DAX over the past 9-years. It’s spent the majority of the past 8-years inside of rising channel (1), creating a series of higher lows and higher highs.

It looks to have created a “Double Top” as it was kissing the underside of the rising channel last year at (2).

After creating the potential double top, the DAX index has continued to create a series of lower highs, while experiencing a bearish divergence with the S...



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Chart School

Brexit Joke - Cant be serious all the time

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Alistair Williams comedian nails it, thank god for good humour! Prime Minister May the negotiator. Not!


Alistair Williams Comedian youtube

This is a classic! ha!







Fundamentals are important, and so is market timing, here at readtheticker.com we believe a combination of Gann Angles, ...

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Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream - the battle is on to bring them under global control

 

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream – the battle is on to bring them under global control

The high seas are getting lower. dianemeise

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

The 21st-century revolutionaries who have dominated cryptocurrencies are having to move over. Mainstream financial institutions are adopting these assets and the blockchain technology that enables them, in what ...



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Biotech

DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

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

 

DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

A map of DNA with the double helix colored blue, the landmarks in green, and the start points for copying the molecule in red. David Gilbert/Kyle Klein, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of David M. Gilbert, Florida State University

...



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ValueWalk

More Examples Of "Typical Tesla "wise-guy scamminess"

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Stanphyl Capital’s letter to investors for the month of March 2019.

rawpixel / Pixabay

Friends and Fellow Investors:

For March 2019 the fund was up approximately 5.5% net of all fees and expenses. By way of comparison, the S&P 500 was up approximately 1.9% while the Russell 2000 was down approximately 2.1%. Year-to-date 2019 the fund is up approximately 12.8% while the S&P 500 is up approximately 13.6% and the ...



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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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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

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. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>