Archive for April, 2010

RANsquawk Market Wrap Up – Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 30/04/10

Courtesy of RANSquawk Video





Chaos Engulfs Equity Markets, Investors Suddenly Flee to Bonds

Courtesy of RobotTrader

Another “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” in the making, as sudden selloffs in equity markets causes another panic run into bonds of all strips and colors, as the “Risk Off” stampede runs again.

Once again, rumors of driller bankruptcies, litigation against The Squid, massive shank jobs on earnings warnings, and other assorted maladies sends equity bulls to the exit and immediately back into bonds.

The TLT is on the brink of another breakout.  Could be another panic run in the making?

Check out the surge in TIPs.  Not really much inflation, but anything with “bond” in its name is getting bought with a vengeance.  Funny how the chart of the GLD and TIP look nearly identical”

And with foreign countries on the ropes, everyone has decided to flee into corporate bonds, could be on the brink of a breakout:

Just give this equity selloff some time.

Soon, the 10-yr. yield will be crushed under 3.5%, money market rates will be back down to .0001%, and eventually, “Animal Spirits” will re-emerge and there will be another buying panic into banks, retailers, consumer discretionary names, etc.

Note the chaos occuring in equities, as the FemBots made a mistake and started putting the 19-year old GameBoy jockeys in charge of once specific stock instead of the more traditional basket of stocks.  Because of their short attention spans, it is impossible for these guys to follow 10 stocks, so they are given just one stock to trade.

Result?  Outsized positions in individual names.  Maniacal Wildebeest trading on the 5-minute charts.  Stocks within the same sector getting the yo-yo treatment.

JPM getting smashed, but CYN skying to new highs.

Guess which bank is based in Los Angeles, has loans on overpriced real estate, and lends to Hollywood movie stars?  Yep.  CYN.

Here’s a pop:

Here’s a drop:

Same thing with the oils.

This one is up:

This one down:

I suppose we slide down to the 150-day, by then the 10-year yield will be 3.0% and anything under 1-year will be virtually 0%.  At that time the “Enterprising Speculators” will be seizing the opportunity to grab free money again and buy stocks.

All in a day’s work in the casino.





The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Know Sh*t About Securities Law or the Goldman Case- with Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture

The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Know Sh*t About Securities Law or the Goldman Case- with Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture

Lady justice with scales

Courtesy of Damien Hoffman at Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Last week Barry Ritholtz had an excellent post 10 Things You Don’t Know (or were misinformed) About the GS Case in which Barry noted that 99% of the mainstream media commentary regarding the strength of the SEC’s case is, of course, completely uninformed conjecture.

I sat down with Barry, who is a lawyer with experience in securities law, to get an insightful take on the SEC’s case against Goldman Sachs (GS):

Damien Hoffman: Barry, what annoys you most regarding the media’s commentary on the Goldman case?

Barry: The rule on securities fraud and misrepresentation is straight forward. You cannot make material misrepresentations when selling a security. You can’t say black when it’s white. You can’t say up when it’s down. John Paulson can’t say he’s long 200 million when he’s short 200 million. You just can’t and yet that’s what was done.

It doesn’t matter if Goldman lost money. So what? You can lose money. If I rear-ended a guy with my car and banged up my fender, I lose money. It has nothing to do with fault or guilt. State of mind on all that other stuff is irrelevant. The question is whether Goldman is guilty of committing some form of violation of these rules. It’s either yes or no. It’s amazing people get it so very wrong.

Damien: Which people or publications got it very wrong?

Barry: There are a lot. But, for example, the New York Times got it wrong when they talked about the loss. Market Watch got it wrong when they talked about “Mens Rea” which is mental state. There are just a few who got it wrong and misinformed the public.

You don’t have to be a specialist in this area. You just have to understand that there’s certain specifics of securities rules and litigation. If you are not familiar with that area, then, as I mentioned, pour yourself a big glass of shut-the-fuck-up and sit quietly in the corner.

At first, Jim Cramer, who’s usually smarter than this, lost his objectivity and said, “Goldman lost $90 million, how can there be a crime.” Are these people trying to put forth the legal standard that anyone…
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S&P VOLUME IS RISING – WHAT IS THIS TELLING US?

S&P VOLUME IS RISING – WHAT IS THIS TELLING US?

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

By Data Diary:

It’s been notable that volume has been stepping higher on the S&P500:

SnP500 price and volume 400x252 S&P VOLUME IS RISING   WHAT IS THIS TELLING US?

Volume peaks tend to be associated with short to medium bottoms in the index.  Similarly, troughs in volume often signal some kind of top.  Or course this relationship doesn’t always hold – a wicked example being that 2008 price avalanche where volume peaked around 8bn shares per day and then thrashed around below that level until the March 2009 floor was eventually reached.

Still is there some significance to the recent rise in activity?  Some thoughts for your consideration…

1) It’s a ‘reversion to mean’ volume – While it’s incredible (and clearly unsustainable) that volume increased over 20% per annum since the beginning of 2004, the question remains what is the underlying trend in daily volume.  On a trend basis we may still be south of that level.

2) Buy the dip – the risk compression trade is alive and well and about to enter it’s next phase.  This would have more credibility in my book if risk appetite had also blown out already.  It hasn’t.

VIX Credit spreads1 400x247 S&P VOLUME IS RISING   WHAT IS THIS TELLING US?

Credit spreads in Europe may have dissolved in a gelatinous mess, but the US credit markets remain blase about this state of affairs.  Similarly, the VIX has sprung to life but not nearly enough to signal that we are in a renewed bout of risk aversion. The relative calm can be seen a little more clearly via our risk appetite index:

Risk appetite index1 400x246 S&P VOLUME IS RISING   WHAT IS THIS TELLING US?

As an indicator, we would normally expect the index to have dipped towards -2% before the ‘panic’ volume spike was upon us.

3) Risk aversion is on the rise  - My best guess is that the rising volume is part of a change in trend – that’s it’s more likely to represent distribution than accumulation.  Witness the Merrill Lynch hedge fund position report (via Market Folly) suggesting that funds have been reducing their equity exposure. If this is the case, then it’s likely that there are a few even higher volume days in the wings. 

 


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Let The Reign Of Terror Begin

Courtesy of Econophile

From The Daily Capitalist

Congress has been looking for a scapegoat for the crash. It appears that Goldman Sachs is it. Let the show trials begin.

The government always finds someone who did something rotten, blames them for everything, they are tried and convicted with proper bloodletting, the public is satisfied, and everyone forgets about it. This is what happens after every economic crisis yet the cycles keep coming and no one seems to know why other than the usual answer that “greed” caused it.

Greed has nothing to do with the crises, boom or bust.

Greed is a human trait and as such it always exists. This trait is magnified on Wall Street where legions of young MBAs are turned loose, striving to become another Paulson, Soros, or Buffet. Nothing wrong with making money. Greed is moral issue not a legal one. Yet if greed is always there, why aren’t business cycles perpetual?

If you are a follower of J. M. Keynes, then the reason we have business cycles is “animal spirits.” Not a very satisfactory answer from such a lauded economist. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, our animal spirits, greed or whatever, turn loose and we create booms and busts. Keynes just couldn’t think it through very well.

Fortunately, Ludwig von Mises did. In 1912 he wrote his famous The Theory of Money and Credit which is a groundbreaking study of money in the Austrian tradition. It looks at individual action rather than “national” economic quantities. Begun by Carl Menger, this Austrian School created what is now known as the Marginal Revolution. It rejects the aggregate approach of looking at the economy such as espoused by Keynes. Keynes was an arrogant technician and liked the idea of manipulating things like national money supply, national demand, national wages, and like. Austrians view the economy as the behavior of billions of individuals (Mises referred to this as “human action” or by the Greek name he invented, “praxeology”). Good luck, the Austrians say, trying to figure out what the multitudes are all up to at any given time.

What creates the business cycle, says Mises, is the inflation of money and credit. Only the Fed can do that. This is the key ingredient that Keynes and many Classical economists missed. Turn lose the money spigot and it will flow where opportunity exists. Flood…
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If We Broke Up Standard Oil, We Can Break Up the Giant Banks

Courtesy of George Washington

Washington’s Blog

If we broke up standard oil, we can break up the giant banks.

Says who?

Senator Ted Kaufman (interviewed recently by The American Prospect’s Tim Fernholz):

You and Senator Sherrod Brown have proposed an amendment that would cap the size of the largest banks and, in effect, break them up. How do you sell this to people who are leery of what seems like a radical move?

First off, we’ve broken up things before. We broke up Standard Oil, we broke up AT&T, we broke up the accountants, too. A lot of the changes we’re talking about, the mergers, are just new. When you look at the reasons these banks are so big — and you know how big they are — remember the reason JP Morgan Chase is so big is because they bought Washington Mutual when it was in trouble, and Wells Fargo bought Wachovia, and Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch [during the crisis]. It is pretty straightforward, now that these are back on their feet, that it makes sense to break them up.

Alan Greenspan:

U.S. regulators should consider breaking up large financial institutions considered “too big to fail,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

 

Those banks have an implicit subsidy allowing them to borrow at lower cost because lenders believe the government will always step in to guarantee their obligations. That squeezes out competition and creates a danger to the financial system, Greenspan told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

 

“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil — so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.

 

At one point, no bank was considered too big to fail, Greenspan said. That changed after the Treasury Department under then-Secretary Hank Paulson effectively nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Treasury and Fed bailed out Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc.

 

“It’s going to be very difficult to repair their credibility on that because when push came to shove, they didn’t stand up,” Greenspan said.

 

Fed officials have suggested imposing a tax or


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5 Reasons We Must Break Up the Giant Banks

Courtesy of George Washington

Washington’s Blog

As everyone from Paul Krugman to Simon Johnson has noted, the banks are so big and politically powerful that they have bought the politicians and captured the regulators.

But the giant banks are not only dangerous because they skew the political system. There are five economic arguments against the mega-banks as well.

Impaired Competition

Fortune pointed out last February that the only reason that smaller banks haven’t been able to expand and thrive is that the too-big-to-fails have decreased competition:

Growth for the nation’s smaller banks represents a reversal of trends from the last twenty years, when the biggest banks got much bigger and many of the smallest players were gobbled up or driven under…

As big banks struggle to find a way forward and rising loan losses threaten to punish poorly run banks of all sizes, smaller but well capitalized institutions have a long-awaited chance to expand.

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Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/11/justice-department-plans-_n_201409.html

So the very size of the giants squashes competition.

Less Loans, More Bonuses

Small banks have been lending much more than the big boys.

The giant banks which received taxpayer bailouts actually slashed lending more, gave higher bonuses, and reduced costs less than banks which didn’t get bailed out.

Lack of Transparency in Derivatives

JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley together hold 80% of the country’s derivatives risk, and 96% of the exposure to credit derivatives.

Experts say that derivatives will never be reined in until the mega-banks are broken up.

Increased Debt Problems

As I pointed out in December 2008:

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is often called the “central banks’ central bank”, as it coordinates transactions between central banks.

BIS points out in a new report that the bank rescue packages have transferred significant risks onto government balance sheets, which is reflected in the corresponding widening of sovereign credit default swaps:

The scope and magnitude of the bank rescue packages also meant that significant risks had been transferred onto government balance sheets. This was particularly apparent in the market for CDS referencing sovereigns involved either in large individual bank rescues or in broad-based support packages for the financial sector, including the United States. While such CDS were thinly traded prior to the announced rescue packages, spreads widened suddenly on increased demand for credit protection, while corresponding financial sector spreads tightened.

In other words, by assuming huge portions of the risk from banks trading in toxic derivatives, and by spending trillions that they don’t have, central banks have put their countries at risk from default.

Now, Greece, Portugal, Spain and many other European countries – as well as the U.S. and Japan – are facing serious debt crises. See this, this and this.

By failing to break up the giant banks, the government is guaranteeing that they will take crazily risky bets again and again and again.

We are no longer wealthy enough to keep bailing out the bloated banks. We have serious debt problems. See this, this and this.

(Anyone who claims that Chris Dodd’s proposed “reform” legislation will prevent banks from getting bailed out again is wrong. If the giant banks aren’t broken up now – when they are threatening to take down the world economy – they won’t be broken up next time they become insolvent, either. And see this.)

Unfair Competition and Manipulation of Markets

Moreover, Richard Alford – former New York Fed economist, trading floor economist and strategist – recently showed that banks that get too big benefit from “information asymmetry” which disrupts the free market.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz noted in September that giants like Goldman are using their size to manipulate the market:

“The main problem that Goldman raises is a question of size: ‘too big to fail.’ In some markets, they have a significant fraction of trades. Why is that important? They trade both on their proprietary desk and on behalf of customers. When you do that and you have a significant fraction of all trades, you have a lot of information.”

Further, he says, “That raises the potential of conflicts of interest, problems of front-running, using that inside information for your proprietary desk. And that’s why the Volcker report came out and said that we need to restrict the kinds of activity that these large institutions have. If you’re going to trade on behalf of others, if you’re going to be a commercial bank, you can’t engage in certain kinds of risk-taking behavior.”

The giants (especially Goldman Sachs) have also used high-frequency program trading which not only distorted the markets – making up more than 70% of stock trades – but which also let the program trading giants take a sneak peak at what the real (aka “human”) traders are buying and selling, and then trade on the insider information. See this, this, this and this. (This is frontrunning, which is illegal; but it is a lot bigger than garden variety frontrunning, because the program traders are not only trading based on inside knowledge of what their own clients are doing, they are also trading based on knowledge of what all other traders are doing).

Goldman also admitted that its proprietary trading program can “manipulate the markets in unfair ways”. The giant banks have also allegedly used their Counterparty Risk Management Policy Group (CRMPG) to exchange secret information and formulate coordinated mutually beneficial actions, all with the government’s blessings.

Again, size matters. If a bunch of small banks did this, manipulation by numerous small players would tend to cancel each other out. But with a handful of giants doing it, it can manipulate the entire economy in ways which are not good for the American citizen.





John Taylor: "Switzerland, Surrounded Again"

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Switzerland, Surrounded Again
April 29, 2010
By John R. Taylor, Jr.
Chief Investment Officer

In the late 1930’s the Fascist and National Socialist tide rose around the democratic confederation of Switzerland and, with the fall of France in 1940, completely surrounded it until late 1944. A careful reading of Swiss history, as Europe was being swallowed by this right-wing tide, shows a sharp influx in refugees and a dramatic increase in population that burdened the local infrastructure, which was still coping with the rigors of the Depression. There are thousands of anecdotal memoirs of the horrors of those times and the stresses that the Swiss were under. Although the Swiss accepted many, many more were turned away, and for those Jews not accepted their rejection most certainly ended in death.

The story is tragic and the Swiss made harsh decisions when faced with waves of desperate people fighting for their lives. In the end, the Swiss fought hard to retain their freedom as all around them lost theirs, compromising with those that encircled them on the one hand and threatening them on the other. By centering their armies in the mountains, in the national redoubt, and being willing to sacrifice the cities and destroy all the passes and tunnels which were critical to the Germans and Italians, the Swiss held their enemies at bay. Every Swiss city worth its salt has a street named after General Guisan who led the Swiss Army through that war.

World War II was fought over the control of people, whether they lived or died, their philosophical beliefs, and their land. In the end, the Swiss were willing to give up almost everything to not succumb to the National Socialists. Today, the Swiss are in a less stark, but surprisingly similar spot. They are surrounded by another all-encompassing concept: the euro. At first glance this might seem comical, but the German government stands ready to pay very large sums of money to any thief who can produce a list of German account holders at Swiss banks and the Italians are photographing the license plates of all cars crossing into Switzerland to check them against their tax records. Government agents and spies are involved as well. As far as we know there are no deaths in this war, but there are many financial losses, jail terms, and bankruptcies. In the past, the…
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John Taylor: “Switzerland, Surrounded Again”

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Switzerland, Surrounded Again
April 29, 2010
By John R. Taylor, Jr.
Chief Investment Officer

In the late 1930’s the Fascist and National Socialist tide rose around the democratic confederation of Switzerland and, with the fall of France in 1940, completely surrounded it until late 1944. A careful reading of Swiss history, as Europe was being swallowed by this right-wing tide, shows a sharp influx in refugees and a dramatic increase in population that burdened the local infrastructure, which was still coping with the rigors of the Depression. There are thousands of anecdotal memoirs of the horrors of those times and the stresses that the Swiss were under. Although the Swiss accepted many, many more were turned away, and for those Jews not accepted their rejection most certainly ended in death.

The story is tragic and the Swiss made harsh decisions when faced with waves of desperate people fighting for their lives. In the end, the Swiss fought hard to retain their freedom as all around them lost theirs, compromising with those that encircled them on the one hand and threatening them on the other. By centering their armies in the mountains, in the national redoubt, and being willing to sacrifice the cities and destroy all the passes and tunnels which were critical to the Germans and Italians, the Swiss held their enemies at bay. Every Swiss city worth its salt has a street named after General Guisan who led the Swiss Army through that war.

World War II was fought over the control of people, whether they lived or died, their philosophical beliefs, and their land. In the end, the Swiss were willing to give up almost everything to not succumb to the National Socialists. Today, the Swiss are in a less stark, but surprisingly similar spot. They are surrounded by another all-encompassing concept: the euro. At first glance this might seem comical, but the German government stands ready to pay very large sums of money to any thief who can produce a list of German account holders at Swiss banks and the Italians are photographing the license plates of all cars crossing into Switzerland to check them against their tax records. Government agents and spies are involved as well. As far as we know there are no deaths in this war, but there are many financial losses, jail terms, and bankruptcies. In the past, the…
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Culture of Deceit: Why Dick Fuld So Needlessly and Recklessly Perjured Himself Before Congress

Culture of Deceit: Why Dick Fuld So Needlessly and Recklessly Perjured Himself Before Congress

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

"Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence." 
Henri-Frederic Amiel

Yet another whistle blower who had been completely ignored by the SEC just stepped forward.

A Bloomberg analyst reported around noon NY time that they had verified Mr. Budde’s story, and that indeed Dick Fuld easily had received cash in excess of $500 million in compensation for the period in question, higher than even Henry Waxman had asserted in his charts during Dick Fuld’s testimony.

Mr. Budde, a former counsel who was frustrated and plain fed up with the culture of personal greed and deceit among the Lehman executives stepped forward again to tell his story after being completely ignored by the SEC and the Lehman Board of Directors.

Now, I have some sympathy for Dick Fuld. I mean, when you are making the big bucks owed to a master of the universe, and you eat widows and orphans for breakfast, what does it really matter if it is $300 million, or $550 million, or even the one billion that some estimate was the true total compensation? What is a few hundred millions when you wipe your behind with Cohiba cigars, and gargle with Cristal Brut 1990?(Oh yeah, that’s class, real class. I must finally be somebody, and not just some schmuck from the Bronx. I’ll show them, show them all.)

I know I have trouble keeping track of what I have exactly in my own wallet at times, especially after paying the kids a couple of quid to walk the dog. And $200 million is hardly a significant sum anymore in the rapidly expanding compensation universe change on Wall Street. There is the locus of Bernanke’s inflation, the FIRE sector, where the liquidity has been channeled, for years.

But what interests me most is why did Dick Fuld perjure himself over something so obviously verifiable, and largely irrelevant? Doesn’t he file tax returns? Did he mess up using Turbo Tax like other board members of the NY Fed are said to have done? Or was he just a little bit ashamed of taking huge sums from a company that he ran into the ground in a Ponzi scheme? On the other hand Goldman execs…
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Phil's Favorites

China's worldwide investment project is a push for more economic and political power

 

China's worldwide investment project is a push for more economic and political power

Courtesy of Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, Rochester Institute of Technology

Inspired by the ancient Silk Road, China is investing in a massive set of international development projects that are raising concerns about how the country is expanding its power around the world.

Initially announced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the so-called “Belt and Road Initiative” has China planning to invest in e...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bank Index Breakout? Stock Market Bulls Sure Hope So

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

One of the most important sectors of the stock market is the banking industry and bank stocks.

When the banks are healthy, the economy is likely doing well. And when bank stocks are participating in a market rally, then it bodes well for the broader stock market.

In today’s chart, we look at the Bank Index (BKX).

As you can see, the banks have been in a falling channel for the past 20 months. As well, the banks have been lagging the broader market during this time as well – see the Ratio in the bottom half of the chart above.

That said, th...



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Zero Hedge

Russia Scraps "Climate Change Plan" After Uproar From Businesses

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

The Russian government has abandoned key provisions of a new "climate change" legislation package after the country's leading businesses - most operating in the "not quite" ESG arena - mounted a significant protest, according to Russian daily Kommersant (via the Moscow Times).

The abandoned legislation included quotas on carbo...



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Insider Scoop

Citigroup Appoints New Head Of Asia Pacific Business

Courtesy of Benzinga

American multinational financial services corporation Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) has appointed Peter Babej as the new chief executive officer of its Asia Pacific region, a memo sent to staff by Citi global CEO Mike Corbat shows. Babej previously served as the bank’s global head of financial institutions group.

He joined Citi in 2010 to co-head the company’s financial institutions...



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The Technical Traders

Market Trend Change Triggered Today

Courtesy of Technical Traders

CLICK HERE TO GET REAL TIME TRADE ALERTS!

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Chart School

Review of Andrew CardWell RSI with Wyckoff price waves

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

RSI measures relative strength of price action of a set period versus prior set periods. It helps review the price swings or waves, the power of each price thrust into new ground, or lack of it. Price thrust like many things relies on energy, and energy is not a constant, it has a birth, a life and a death and relative strength helps us see that cycle. 

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Digital Currencies

Zuck Delays Libra Launch Date Due To Issues "Sensitive To Society"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by William Suberg via CoinTelegraph.com,

Facebook is taking a much more careful approach to Libra than its previous projects, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed. 

“Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon [and] not have this take many years to roll out,” he said. “But ...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Look Out Bears! Fed New QE Now Up to $165 Billion

Courtesy of Lee Adler

I have been warning for months that the Fed would need new QE to counter the impact of massive waves of Treasury supply. I thought that that would come later, rather than sooner. Sorry folks, wrong about that. The NY Fed announced another round of new TOMO (Temporary Open Market Operations) today.

In addition to the $75 billion in overnight repos that the Fed issued and has been rolling over since Tuesday, next week the Fed will issue another $90 billion. They’ll come in the form of three $30 billion, 14 day repos to be offered next week.

That brings the new Fed QE to a total of $165 billion. Even in the worst days of the financial crisis, I can’t remember the Fed ballooning its balance sheet by $165 bi...



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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

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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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