Archive for 2009

Bailouts should be no fun

James D. Hamilton argues that private banks and other companies in line for bailout money is itself evidence that the taxpayers’ interests are not being protected. 

Bailouts should be no fun

Courtesy of James D. Hamilton at Econbrowser

If everybody wants a bailout, that’s a good indication that we’re making some mistakes.

Let’s start with first principles-- why are we talking about huge potential transfers from the government to private companies in the first place? My starting point would be the observation that U.S. output is falling significantly below what America is capable of producing. The problem is not that labor and capital are physically incapable of producing more, but instead that certain key institutions have existing legal commitments that they are unable to fulfill. Foremost among these would be in the financial sector, where liabilities threaten to exceed the market value of assets, preventing the entire sector from functioning properly. But also prominent are other crucial industries, such as the domestic auto manufacturers with a very significant burden of debt and obligations to current and retired workers. We need an unambiguous resolution of this problem, allowing these institutions to return to productivity. The sooner those unpayable commitments can be resolved, the better off we’re going to be.

How do you solve the problem of unpayable existing obligations of institutions that otherwise have the resources to make a productive contribution to total economic surplus? That of course is the function that our bankruptcy system is intended to provide. In a typical bankruptcy, the company’s owners and senior management get wiped out, some crumbs are left for creditors and workers, and hopefully the most valuable underlying assets get reallocated to alternative productive use. But bankruptcy is a very clunky process with lots of deadweight costs in and of itself. We should have significant concerns in the present environment about the possibility of such costs leading to spillover effects, forcing other institutions into bankruptcy that otherwise might have remained solvent.

There is a good case to be made for bringing the taxpayers in as a fifth player at the negotiating table along with owners, creditors, management, and workers. There are likely going to be instances in which a modest taxpayer contribution, in conjunction with substantial concessions from the other four parties, could end up


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When all else fails, blame China

In defense of China, the responsibility for the financial crisis does not lie with China.  Meanwhile, the very people who caused the financial crisis are being appointed by Obama to decide how to respond to it. Willem Buiter

When all else fails, blame China

Courtesy of Willem Buiter, writing in the Financial Times, at Willem’s ft.com/maverecon blog.

Timothy Geithner, the nominee for US Treasury Secretary, has risked damaging the global economy even before his confirmation by the full Senate.  In a written answer to questions from US senators, Geithner said: “President Obama – backed by the conclusions of a broad range of economists – believes that China is manipulating its currency”.   In the US, the words “currency manipulation” are fighting words.  If the US administration were to formally name China as a currency manipulator, a range of trade sanctions could be imposed by the US government.

The threat to world trade comes from the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988.  The section dealing with the exchange rate, bilateral current account balances and the overall current account balance is a monument to economic illiteracy.

Under the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, “The Secretary of the Treasury shall analyze on an annual basis the exchange rate policies of foreign countries, in consultation with the International Monetary Fund, and  consider whether countries manipulate the rate of exchange between their currency and the United States dollar for purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustments or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade.”

“If the Secretary considers that such manipulation is occurring with respect to countries that (1) have material global current account surpluses; and (2) have significant bilateral trade surpluses with the United States, the Secretary of the Treasury shall take action to initiate negotiations with such foreign countries on an expedited basis, in the International Monetary Fund or bilaterally, for the purpose of ensuring that such countries regularly and promptly adjust the rate of exchange between their currencies and the United States dollar to permit effective balance of payments adjustments and to eliminate the unfair advantage.”

Should the US Treasury officially determine China to be a currency manipulator, the US Administration can unleash a range of remedies, including antidumping measures, countervailing duties, and safeguards.  Although the World Trade Organization permits certain retaliatory responses from importing


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A Weekly Look at the XLF Financials

Corey Rosenbloom at Afraid to Trade reviews the XLF Financials, including an Elliott Wave analysis.

A Weekly Look at the XLF Financials with Elliott Wave

Courtesy of Corey Rosenbloom at Afraid to Trade

With a very volatile week behind us, let’s step back and take a look at the XLF Financial Sector from its 2007 peak to present.

XLF Financial SPDR:

XLF Weekly Financial Chart

The XLF actually topped in May 2007, five months ahead of the October 2007 stock market top which underscores the assumption that Financials lead the broader market.  If they continue to lead, then we’re not in a positive scenario for equities.

Price broke the November lows last week to carve in a fresh low at $8.00 per share (a level 77% off its highs), which by no means is bullish.  The one slight optimistic picture is that we painted a hammer or dragonfly doji candle at these lows, though that by no means is a good enough reason to buy.

We see price as beneath all three key moving averages on the weekly chart, and they are in the most bearish orientation possible, though we are extended roughly $6 beneath the falling 20 week EMA which one would think would signify ‘oversold’ conditions but look at the 3/10 Oscillator – it is indicating that we’re not quite oversold and that we would have a bit more to travel down before we registered a new low.  Anything else would result in a positive divergence, which might actually be what happens.

Notice that the oscillator made a new momentum low in November, signaling lower prices were yet to come – they came this week.

A few readers have asked me to do an Elliott Wave count on the XLF and here is one interpretation – albeit a bearish one – on the XLF.  You’ll need to click on the chart for a larger image.

XLF Possible Elliott Wave Count:

Elliott Wave XLF Interpretation

What I’m showing is the more bearish of the two possibilities, similar to that on the S&P 500.  I’m showing us as having completed a fourth wave up within a larger (circled) Wave 3 down and that we are currently in fractal 5th of larger scale Third Wave down which is likely about to complete.  The only two labels missing from this count at the end (right) would be the (5) and then


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Woe Is Us

Alan Abelson at Barron’s reviews the week and discusses a recent paper on the troubles that lie ahead. H/T to Barry Ritholtz at the Big Picture.

Woe Is Us

By ALAN ABELSON, UP AND DOWN WALL STREET, in Barron’s

A new study points to more bumps ahead for the economy and the markets. A new president — and old problems.

IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT BARACK OBAMA HAD TO BE SWORN in as president twice. Chief Justice Roberts, who administered the oath, was appointed to the Supreme Court by George Bush — and he wasn’t about to add to the departing president’s sorrows by crowning his successor in his presence. So he indulged in a little syntactical hanky-panky, and Mr. Obama had to do it all over again the next day, but this time in private, so Mr. Bush’s ears wouldn’t turn even redder. Dick Cheney, always a man of staunch principle, decided he’d be damned — after all the nasty things the Dems said about him during the campaign — if he stood up when Mr. Obama was sworn in, so he arrived in a wheelchair. Bill Clinton was there, too, embracing everybody in sight but his wife…

The new administration got off to a running start, although it’s not entirely clear where they’re running to; given the state of the economy and the world, we wouldn’t blame them one whit if it’s for the nearest exit.

Most of the cabinet nominees gained quick nods on Capitol Hill. A notable exception was Timothy Geithner, who ran into a delay because he plumb forgot to pay some taxes for several years, an oversight which might strike nitpickers as unseemly for a would-be secretary of the Treasury. But Mr. Geithner won over the few congressional skeptics by standing proud and saying taxes, schmaxes, he was going to make the Chinese cry "Uncle!"

At first blush, you might not think that was a particularly persuasive pledge since we owe Beijing something like a trillion smackers. But maybe Mr. Geithner plans to threaten China that if it doesn’t make nice, he won’t borrow any more money from it.

THE SPOTLIGHT SHIFTED FROM Washington toward the end…
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Coffee Today Keeps Dementia Away

Coffee Break!

Brought to you by Brad DeLong, at Grasping Reality with Both Hands: The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist Brad DeLong: A Fair, Balanced, Reality-Based, and More than Two-Handed Look at the World.

Coffee Today Keeps Dementia Away

Time to drop the decaf for the real stuff.

MedHeadlines:

Coffee Today Keeps Dementia Away | MedHeadlines: A collaborative team of researchers from Sweden and Denmark enrolled 2,000 adults in the study 21 years ago.  Participants self-reported their dietary habits, including their daily coffee consumption.  After over two decades, more than 70% of the participants could be tracked for follow-up evaluations.  That the research team could find 1,409 now-middle-aged participants out of the original 2,000 is considered an unusually high number.

During those 21 years, 61 people developed dementia.  Of those 61, 48 developed Alzheimer’s disease.

After evaluating the effects of many health and socioeconomic factors, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol counts, the research team concluded the participants who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day were 65% less likely to develop dementia than those who drank less.  Drinking even more than five cups a day was also associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia but the number of participants drinking this much coffee was too small to be statistically significant.

While not advocating someone start drinking coffee as a preventive measure, Dr. Miia Kivipelto…

Why not?!

*****

To be fair, there’s another side to the equation. But personally, I’ll take the hallucinations any day! – Ilene

Caffeine Can Cause Hallucinations, at Life Science by LiveScience Staff

People who take in the caffeine equivalent of three cups of brewed coffee (or seven cups of instant) are more likely to hallucinate, a new study suggests.

The researchers found that people with a caffeine intake that high, whether it came from coffee, tea, chocolate or caffeinated energy drinks or pills, had a three-times-higher tendency to hear voices and see things that were not there than those who consumed the equivalent of a half-cup of brewed coffee (or one cup of instant coffee).

Though most people who drink loads of coffee are not known to hallucinate seriously, when these types of experiences interfere with daily functioning, they are considered to be psychotic…

Continue here.

 





Ramifications for Decades to Come

Not surprising, little labor of love is also expensive!

Ramifications for Decades to Come

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

Since the economic hurricane made landfall in the U.S., the response has been somewhat predictable.

Americans have slashed purchases of big ticket items such as cars and boats. They have cut back on spending for vacations, restaurant meals, and other discretionary items. They are repairing and recyling and trying to get the most out of what they already own. They are looking to pare down debt and save more of what they earn.

But things don’t end there. Many people are also making more fundamental adjustments in the patterns of their lives.

In "Report: Birth Rates Fall In Tough Economy," CBS reveals that today’s hard times are spurring a demographic shift that will have ramifications for decades to come.

The recession is leaving some doctor’s offices empty. More women are putting motherhood on hold and recent reports show contraceptive sales are through the roof.

The data runs about two years behind, we won’t know for sure until 2011, but it appears that with the economic slowdown has come something of a pregnant pause.

We all know that children are not cheap.

"It’s a labor of love," says one parent.

What’s love got to do with it? Many prospective parents are changing their plans when it comes to pregnancy. Planned Parenthood has seen an increase in patients, but they say economic effect is more because of lost jobs and health care.

CBS station KOVR-TV spoke with Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, who says the birth rate does appear to fall with economic declines. After the most recent recession in the early 1990s, the birth rate steadily declined through 1997, where it held relatively strong through 2006, the latest data available through the CDC.

After the Great Depression and the 1970s gas shortage, the nation saw record-lows in birth rates.

There are reports that health care facilities are offering free contraceptives and are seeing more taken, and that OBGYNs are seeing less business.

"No more kids," says Lizett Rodriguez, who is a mother of a five-month-old.

Data on birth rates today isn’t the only trend suspected of changing, although numbers aren’t yet available, adoption and abortion rates could be figures to watch as well.

 





Special Report – An Inside look at PSW Picks

If you are a free article reader or basic member and you ever wondered if it's worth subscribing to our premium service I would humbly (well not so humbly) submit to you our list of Friday's featured trades.

In our member section, we discuss dozens of trade ideas every day but the ones I pick as generally recommended are set in bold type against my normal blue background so they are easily and quickly identifiable.  This system will be the backbone of the alert system we are finally rolling out in March but the fact is that NOTHING will get you information faster than being on-line live during a trading day and hearing a trade idea the moment I type it, especially for our momentum or day trades.  The advantage of hearing a trade idea in context of the conversation we have regarding the markets is something that can never be replicated by a text alert sent to your mobile phone or Email 5 minutes after the fact – yet that seems to be the backbone of most services out there

To make good calls on the market you have to have a premise and my premise all week was that we may test 8.000 or even lower but we would not stay there because the situation is fundamentally different than it was in October or November, when we fell to lows on fear and uncertainty.  There is still plenty of both in the market but there is also money – $8,000,000,000,000 worth of it that has been pumped into the market either through direct bailouts or indirect loan guarantees, rate adjustments etc. that the Fed and the Treasury have been able to push through.  $8Tn is a LOT of money – it's enough money to make 8M people millionaires.  That's right, our government has spent enough money bailing out the banks to have given 8% of all US households $1M cash – for bears to get on TV and tell you that this will not make a difference in the economy is simply ridiculous.  For analysts to get on TV and tell you that it isn't going to be inflationary is also ridiculous, which is why we've been buying gold for a month!

I said in the morning, as we looked to open down almost 200 points pre-market:  "While it is very tempting to
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Firms That Got Bailout Money Keep Lobbying

What a mess this bailout is turning out to be. So should banks receiving bailout money be permitted to spend millions on lobbying? "Pressing federal policy makers risks the appearance of recycling public money to advance a private agenda,…" A risk? I’d say "recycling public money to advance a private agenda" is exactly what it is. New rules are needed when the government-owned companies seek favors from their owners--the government. The issue is conflicts of interest, the favors are sought from parties directly benefiting from the favors. – Ilene

Firms That Got Bailout Money Keep Lobbying

The financial giant Bank of America says it is no longer lobbying the federal government about its unfolding bank bailout. After receiving $45 billion in bailout money, lobbying was just too unseemly. 

“We are very sensitive to the fact that we have taxpayer money,” said Shirley Norton, a spokeswoman for the company.

Citigroup, recipient of another $45 billion, made the opposite call. While trying to keep a low profile, the company is still fielding an army of Washington lobbyists working on a host of issues, including the bailout. In the fourth quarter, it spent $1.77 million on lobbying fees, according to its lobbyists’ filings.

The different approaches from the two banks that have received the most money underscores the growing dilemma facing private companies, which increasingly deal with the federal government not only as rule-maker but also as shareholder, lender and trading partner.

Pressing federal policy makers risks the appearance of recycling public money to advance a private agenda, while staying on the sidelines could put a company at a comparative disadvantage.

Citigroup and Bank of America are hardly the only two financial firms to confront the issue. During the last three months of 2008, at least seven other firms receiving bailout funds — American Express, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, KeyCorp, Morgan Stanley, PNC and


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Behind Geithner’s China-Currency Charge

Here’s a commentary in TIME on Tim Geithner’s comments before the Senate accusing China of manipulating its currency. Conclusion: More rhetoric than substance. – Ilene

Behind Geithner’s China-Currency ChargeTim Geithner

On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Tim Geithner sent a little thrill up the leg of all the American trade unions that worked so hard to get Barack Obama elected. The Treasury Secretary–designate — whose appointment, despite his embarrassing tax travails, was waved through to the full Senate yesterday by the Finance Committee — declared in a written statement to the committee that China was guilty of "manipulating" its currency for trade advantage.

For all the pressure the Bush Administration put on Beijing to increase the value of the renminbi (RMB), which increases the price of Chinese-made goods in export markets and thus in theory should help diminish China’s massive trade surplus, the U.S. Treasury has never formally cited China for currency manipulation. Doing so under U.S. law would compel the White House to open formal negotiations with China over its currency policy. Trade hawks in Congress, pushed by union allies and some manufacturing lobbies in Washington, have long pined for this. But the Bush Administration resisted, preferring to fold the currency issue into the broader biannual "strategic economic dialogue" (SED) started by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. That less confrontational setting was more likely to produce results on the currency issue than any forum that smacked of the U.S. putting Beijing on trial for "manipulation," the Bushies believed. In fact, over the past two years, the RMB did rise nearly 20% against the dollar. (Read "China’s Trade Slump Worsens in December.")

Geithner’s rhetoric before the Senate raises the question: Is the less confrontational approach now history? The short answer: in tone, perhaps. But in substance, not a whole lot is likely to change. The young Treasury Secretary–designate knew the "manipulator" line would get a lot of attention, as it has…

But beyond tougher rhetoric, is the new Administration really likely to get tough with China on trade, as so many union supporters of Obama hope? Unlikely. In fact, it’s hard to think of anything business and investors on both sides of the Pacific would welcome less right now than a U.S.-China trade rumble. Both countries are in the…
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Extreme Leverage In Reverse

Are we "standing on the brink of the largest debt crisis in history?" Mish makes the case for a possible global systemic crash.

Extreme Leverage In Reverse Portends Global Systemic Crash

Courtesy of Mish

Inquiring minds are investigating a visual comparison of banks’ market caps valuation as of January 20, 2009 vs. the second quarter of 2007.

Bank Market Cap Comparison

Note: I had posted a draft version of the chart that follows.
Here is the corrected copy with thanks to Financial Times Alphaville.

click on chart for sharper image
chart courtesy of JP Morgan and Bloomberg.

Extreme Leverage In Reverse

The chart is an illustration of extreme leverage in reverse.

Bear in mind that fallout from Alt-A, prime home equity, credit cards, small business, and commercial real estate are still on the way.

The global banking system is clearly insolvent as discussed in Fed and BOE Shell Games to Bailout Insolvent Banks and British banks are ‘technically insolvent’ (and other secrecies).

Possible Systemic Collapse

My friend BC pinged me with these thoughts:

US banks levered cash to loans at 25:1 and liabilities at 33:1 at the credit bubble peak. The long term historic average ratios are about 5-7:1, and 7-10:1 respectively.

Moreover, historically, the ratio of real estate loans to cash averaged 1.25 to 2 (!!!) on a sustained basis, whereas the ratio at the unprecedented hyper-leveraged point in 2007-2008 reached 12-13:1, with real estate loans as a share of all bank loans reaching almost 60%. Real estate loans/GDP topped out at 26-27% (!!!).

Were the banks’ cash ratio to "unreal" estate loans to return to the historically sustainable range, banks would either need to (1) triple and quadruple their cash assets from $1T to $3T-$4T and/or (2) write down real estate assets commensurately or a combination thereof.

Wells Fargo is loaded to the rafters with eventually non-performing residential and commercial real estate loans in the US Pacific Northwest, the last region of the country to enter the Kuznets Cycle bust to date.

Consider what virtually no growth in real estate loans combined with a tripling or quadrupling of banks’ cash assets means to the real estate market and US overall investment, consumption, government receipts, and payrolls going forward.

The negative effects of bank liquidation and reverse leverage risk outright


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ValueWalk

#1 Performing Global Macro Hedge Fund Sees More Shorts Opportunities Ahead As China Bursts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Crescat Global Macro Fund update to investors on 1/19/2019

Crescat Global Macro Fund and Crescat Long/Short fund delivered strong returns for both December and full year 2018 in a difficult market. Based on ...



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Zero Hedge

Johns Hopkins, Bristol-Myers Face $1 Billion Suit For Infecting Guatemalan Hookers With Syphilis 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A federal judge in Maryland said Johns Hopkins University, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Rockefeller Foundation must face a $1 billion lawsuit over their roles in a top-secret program in the 1940s ran by the US government that injected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis, reported Reuters.

Several doctors from Hopkins an...



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Phil's Favorites

Divisive economics

 

Guest author David Brin — scientist, technology consultant, best-selling author and futurist — explores the records of Democrats and Republicans on the US economy in the following post. For David's latest posts, visit the CONTRARY BRIN blog. For his books and short stories, visit his web...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock declines did not break 9-year support, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

We often hear “Stocks take an escalator up and an elevator down!” No doubt stocks did experience a swift decline from the September highs to the Christmas eve lows. Looks like the “elevator” part of the phrase came true as 2018 was coming to an end.

The first part of the “stocks take an escalator up” seems to still be in play as well despite the swift decline of late.

Joe Friday Just The Facts Ma’am- All of these indices hit long-term rising support on Christmas Eve at each (1), where support held and rallies have followed.

If you find long-term perspectives helpf...



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Digital Currencies

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

 

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

Blockchain technologies can empower people by allowing them more control over their user data. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Ajay Kumar Shrestha, University of Saskatchewan

Blockchain has already proven its huge influence on the financial world with its first application in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It might not be long before its impact is felt everywhere.

Blockchain is a secure chain of digital records that exist on multiple computers simultaneously so no record can be erased or falsified. The...



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Insider Scoop

Cars.com Explores Strategic Alternatives, Analyst Sees Possible Sale Price Around $30 Per Share

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related 44 Biggest Movers From Yesterday 38 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Mid-Day Session ...

http://www.insidercow.com/ more from Insider

Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 13, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

In last week’s recap we asked:  “Has the Fed solved all the market’s problems in 1 speech?”

Thus far the market says yes!  As Guns n Roses preached – all we need is a little “patience”.  Four up days followed by a nominal down day Friday had the market following it’s normal pattern the past nearly 30 years – jumping whenever the Federal Reserve hints (or essentially says outright) it is here for the markets.   And in case you missed it the prior Friday, Chairman Powell came back out Thursday to reiterate the news – so…so… so… patient!

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reinforced that message Thursday during a discussion at the Economic Club of Washington where he said that the central bank will be “fle...



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Members' Corner

Why Trump Can't Learn

 

Bill Eddy (lawyer, therapist, author) predicted Trump's chaotic presidency based on his high-conflict personality, which was evident years ago. This post, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump even became president, 5 Reasons Trump Can’t Learn. ~ Ilene 

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...



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Biotech

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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

 

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from www.shutterstock.com

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create “designer” humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the atom.

...

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Mapping The Market

Trump: "I Won't Be Here" When It Blows Up

By Jean-Luc

Maybe we should simply try him for treason right now:

Trump on Coming Debt Crisis: ‘I Won’t Be Here’ When It Blows Up

The president thinks the balancing of the nation’s books is going to, ultimately, be a future president’s problem.

By Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the nationa...



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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:

 

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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 >>