Archive for February, 2013

The Recent FOMC Minutes Should Anger Every Investor

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Vedran Vuk of Casey Research,

With gold dropping nearly 3% on February 20, we at Casey Research had to look closely at the FOMC minutes, which were partially responsible for that movement. Since there are quite a few highlights, I have split this analysis into three sections: the confusion over the minutes in the market; the ambiguous language hinting at deep problems; and a few quotes to make your blood boil.

The Confusion

A Bloomberg headline from Wednesday, February 20′s news reads Fed Signals Possible Slowing of QE Amid Debate over Risks. This headline is characteristic of most of the reporting on the FOMC minutes. Supposedly the Fed signaled a desire to end the quantitative easing earlier. There was actually no such signal.

The committee did, however, discuss possible reasons why they might want to end QE4 earlier. Here are some excerpts from the meeting:

“However, a few participants expressed concerns that the current highly accommodative stance of monetary policy posed upside risks to inflation in the medium or longer term.”

“In this regard, several participants stressed the economic and social costs of high unemployment, as well as the potential for negative effects on the economy’s longer-term path of a prolonged period of underutilization of resources. However, many participants also expressed some concerns about potential costs and risks arising from further asset purchases. Several participants discussed the possible complications that additional purchases could cause for the eventual withdrawal of policy accommodation, a few mentioned the prospect of inflationary risks, and some noted that further asset purchases could foster market behavior that could undermine financial stability.”

Wow, that sounds pretty serious. It’s like the Fed has turned a new leaf. Isn’t this a clear signal to the market that the easing will end earlier? In a word, no. Here’s the most important excerpt, which came toward the end and which many people may have breezed over or missed:

“One member dissented from the Committee’s policy decision, expressing concern that the continued high level of monetary accommodation increased the risks of future economic and financial imbalances and, over time, could cause an increase in long-term inflation expectations.”

This quote puts the rest of the comments into perspective. There was a…
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Girls Gone Filed

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

You know America is in trouble when a company that does nothing but create TV-style shows of college-age women in next-to-no clothes goes bankrupt but sure enough the company behind the “Girls Gone Wild” videos filed Chapter 11 today to protect itself from $10.3 million debt claimed by Steve Wynn’s Wynn Las Vegas LLC (after losing a slander lawsuit suggesting Wynn knowingly tricked high-end gamblers) and a $5.8 million award won by a woman who says the company used naked images of her without permission in the “Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy” DVD series. The bankruptcy enables the company “to restructure its frivolous and burdensome legal affairs,” and just like GM and UA (the company states reassuringly) it will be business-as-usual for Girls Gone Wild. In perhaps the clearest analog for America, the company had $16.3mm in debt and $50k in assets – now that is leverage-able wealth-effect.

Via Bloomberg,

The company behind the “Girls Gone Wild” videos filed for bankruptcy to protect itself from a $10.3 million debt claimed by Steve Wynn’s Wynn Las Vegas LLC and a $5.8 million award won by a woman who says the company used naked images of her without permission.

 

Last year, Wynn and his company won a slander lawsuit against Joe Francis, founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” franchise,

 

 

Francis lied when he claimed he had proof that Wynn tricked high-end gamblers, the judge ruled.

 

GGW Brands LLC said it had about $16.3 million in debt and less than $50,000 in assets.

 

 

GGW Brands filed for bankruptcy “to restructure its frivolous and burdensome legal affairs,”

 

 

“This Chapter 11 filing will not affect any of Girls Gone Wild’s domestic or international operations,” according to the statement. “Just like American Airlines and General Motors, it will be business as usual for Girls Gone Wild.”

 

 

Favazza sued Francis in 2008, claiming someone exposed her breasts while filming in a bar in St. Louis for the “Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy” DVD series, according to court documents.

 





IceCap Asset Management: “The Worst Is Over”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

From IceCap Asset Management, February 2013,

The Worst Is Over

The dark ages were an awful time. Considering the brightest days delivered constant warfare, the burning of books, and the fear of barbarians, no one ever looked forward to the darkest days.

Fast forward 1,600 years, and the darkest days of the European debt crisis are finally over – not because the bad debt has been written off or due to the consolidation of all debt, but simply because everyone has said so.

First up to declare the worst is over was European Commission Vice President Ollie Rehn who announced “the worst is over”.

Next up, everyone’s favourite socialist president Francois Hollande of France confirmed “tonight I have the confirmation that the worst is behind us”.

The French President was then confidently followed by the meticulous German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble who droned “we have the worst behind us“.

And then to leave no doubt whatsoever, the scandal plagued Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy convincingly reported “I’m totally and absolutely convinced that the worst has passed”.

And, just in case everyone needed a little extra convincing and confirming, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi blasted his favourite Journey song and told reporters everywhere to start believing because “the darkest clouds over the euro area have subsided”.

And that my friends, is how you solve the biggest debt crisis in the history of the World. If you say something often enough, pretty soon you’ll start to believe it. And when it comes to Europeans talking about the swift and miraculous resolution to their debt crisis, no one is singing off-key. Well almost nobody.

Since it is Europe, contradictions never run short. Just 4 short weeks prior to declaring “we have the worst behind us”, Wolfgang Schauble warned “the worst is yet to come.” Whatever very bad thing happened during those four weeks must have been a doozy, as it certainly caused Mr. Schauble to change his tune.

Of course, this was nothing compared to the moment of clarity shared by France’s Labour Minister, Michel Sapin who described his country as being “totally bankrupt”.

And, just to keep things real we should always remember Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s confession that “when it becomes serious, you have to lie”.

Exactly who is telling lies and who is…
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All Of This Whining About The Sequester Shows Why America Is Doomed

Courtesy of Michael Snyder of Economic Collapse

If we can't even cut federal spending by 2.4 percent without much of the country throwing an absolute hissy fit, then what hope does America have?  All of this whining and crying about the sequester is absolutely disgraceful.  The truth is that even if the sequester goes into effect, the U.S. government will still take in more money than ever before in 2013 and it will still spend more money than ever before in 2013.  So it is a bit disingenuous to call what is about to happen "a spending cut", but for the sake of argument let's concede that point.  Even if the budget really was being "cut" by 85 billion dollars, that only would only amount to a "cut" of 2.4 percent to federal spending.  It would barely make a dent in the federal budget deficit for 2013.

The U.S. government would still accumulate about as much new debt in fiscal year 2013 as it did in all the years from the inauguration of George Washington to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan combined.  Our debt to GDP ratio would continue to soar.  The sequester cuts would essentially only be a minor bump on the road to financial oblivion.  But if you listen to Barack Obama and his allies, they would have you believe that we are facing a great national crisis because of these impending cuts.  They would have you believe that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs and that many government agencies will no longer be able to operate effectively.  They would have you believe that "granny won't get her lunch" and "roofs blown off by Hurricane Sandy won't get repaired".

Well, if all of that is true, then what in the world would our country look like if we actually cut a trillion dollars from the federal budget this year and started living within our means?

Have you ever known people that are already hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and yet go out and regularly blow thousands more dollars on wild shopping sprees?

Such debt addicts may be very proud of their new homes, their new cars, their new clothes and all of their fancy electronic gadgets, but it was all purchased with debt.  When a "day of reckoning" finally arrives, many debt addicts lose absolutely everything and end up in the street.

That…
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The Fed Balance Sheet: What is Uncle Sam’s Largest Asset?

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from dshort: I’ve updated the quiz based on today’s Q4 Flow of Funds release. Hint: The correct answer is the same as it was for the last quiz, just more incredible.


Pop Quiz! Without recourse to your text, your notes or a Google search, what line item is the largest asset on Uncle Sam’s balance sheet?

A) U.S. Official Reserve Assets
B) Total Mortgages
C) Taxes Receivable
D) Student Loans


The correct answer, as of the latest Flow of Funds report is … Student Loans.

The rapid growth in student debt has been an ongoing topic in the financial press. One stunning chart that continues to haunt me illustrates the rapid growth in federal loans to students since the onset of the great recession. Here is a chart based on data from the Flow of Funds Table L.105, which shows the Federal Government’s assets and liabilities.

As I point out on the chart, the two callouts are for Q4 2007, the quarter in which the Great Recession began (December 2007) the most recent quarter on record, Q4 2012. The loan balance has risen and astonishing 467 percent over that timeframe, most of which dates from after the recession.

This chart only includes federal loans to students. Private loans make up an even larger amount. Last year the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) posted an article with the attention-grabbing title: Too Big to Fail: Student debt hits a trillion.

But back to our quiz. Student loans may be a liability on the consumer balance sheet, but they constitute an asset for Uncle Sam. Just how big? Over 37 percent of the total federal assets, about 4.7 times the 7.9 percent for the total mortgages outstanding and over three times the size of Taxes Receivable.

Of course, assets are, sadly, the trivial side of Uncle Sam’s Flow of Funds balance sheet — about 1.42 Trillion. The liability side totaled 13.47 Trillion at the end of Q4.

The big news of late has been the Dow setting all-time highs. However, the student loan bubble, the biggest slice in Uncle Sam’s asset pie, will haunt us for many years to come.

 

 

 

 





Italy Is Not Spain – It’s Worse

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

With Rajoy quietly gloating at his political fraud being off the front-pages thanks to Italian elections, it seems the more we dig into Italian reality, the weaker the story becomes. The meme of the last few years has been that “at least we’re not as bad as Greece” and rightly so, for as Bloomberg’s Niraj Shah notes today, Greece’s poverty rate is a stunning 31% (against Holland’s 15.7%). However, while all eyes have been focused on Spain’s dismal economy, the sad reality is that Italy is worse than Spain in that its poverty rate is a breath-taking 28.2% (relative to Spain’s 27%) – even though the unemployment rates in the two nations are vastly different (Spain 26% and Italy 11.2%). Given this fact it is perhaps not surprising that the ‘people’ voted against austerity and furthermore, that Italy’s CDS has pushed above Spain’s for the first time in over a year.

 

 

Chart: Bloomberg Briefs





Hidden profits, hidden rents

Hidden profits, hidden rents

Courtesy of Steve Randy Waldman of Interfluidity

Evan Soltas has a very good post on the explosive growth of the financial industry since the end of World War II. As a share of GDP, in terms of profits, and in terms of payroll, postwar America has been truly been a golden age for bankers, brokers, and fund managers.

In fact, it’s even better than it looks!

Soltas begins with a graph:

The graph above shows that the financial industry now makes roughly half of all nonfarm corporate profits in the U.S., a share which has risen five-fold since the end of World War II.

“Profit” is always something of a sticky subject. We talk about it all the time, like we have any idea what it means. Usually we don’t. There is, for example, the distinction between “accounting profit” and “economic profit”. Accounting profit is what a firm, under generally accepted accounting principles, can claim to be the earnings that accrue to shareholders. Economic profit is revenue that exceeds the true cost, defined as the value of the next-best opportunity, of all inputs. According to theory, in a competitive market, economic profits should be relentlessly pushed toward zero while accounting profits should stay positive but very near the broad market return on capital placed at comparable risk.

In general, only accounting profit is measured while only economic profit is interesting. When we think of economic profit, we need not restrict ourselves to shareholders, who represent just one class of claimants on an enterprise. Suppose there is an industry whose firms about break even in accounting terms, but whose unionized workers, even those without hard-to-find skills, capture salaries much larger than they likely would outside of the industry. Is the industry “profitable”?

In an economic sense, it is very profitable. It generates sales that far exceed the opportunity cost of its inputs. But for institutional reasons, those profits are captured by workers rather than accruing to equityholders, and so are missed by accounting measures. It’s pretty clear that, in its heyday, the US auto industry was like this. The industry generated a great deal more “value” than was captured by its shareholders. The internal negotiations between firm stakeholders over the distribution of economic profit has no bearing on the existence of that profit.

The financial industry is not heavily unionized, but the lack of a union doesn’t mean


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Who’s to Blame?

Courtesy of Bruce Krasting

I think the President has done an excellent job of scaring the crap out of everyone over the sequester. The administration has used all of the key department heads to get on national TV and warn the country that some very terrible things are about to happen. Liberal Senators and Congressman have all chimed in with the fear talk. But today we went totally over the top.

maxine

 

Maxine Waters has said that the sequester could cost as many as 170,000,000 jobs. That would be some feat Maxine, there are only 150m workers in the country. I doubt the sequester will put them all out of work, much less the extra 20m.

The CBO did a quick review of the sequester today. The cuts for the balance of the fiscal year come to $42b; an amount that is equivalent to 45 points on Apple’s market capitalization. I have trouble believing that the country is going to fall off the cliff with a 2% cut in government spending.

The sequester was designed to be a meat axe. The assumption by most observers was that it was would be such a dumb thing to implement, that both sides would come up with a more workable alternative. This sets up the worst-case scenario where a relatively small reduction in spending results in headline problems. While Ms Water’s projections will not be realized, there could be flight delays, disruptions in the food supply and other visible issues.

If some of the scare talk about the sequester becomes a reality, there is going to be hell to pay. The question is, Who is going to get blamed?

Obama won the election. Mitt got 47% of the votes, Obama got 51%. There is no mandate behind that result. Of those over 18, only 58% voted. The 120 million who did not vote may not have cared about the election, but their voices might be heard if the grocery store runs out of meat. I would not be surprised if some of the 30 million teenagers get involved.

The answer to the question of who gets blamed is, “All of them”. I see a silver lining in that outcome. As stupid as the sequester is, I hope it causes all sorts of distortions. I want Obama to take every step possible to make it as painful…
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Icahn Thanks Ackman For “Very Big Mistakes”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

As if today’s collapse in JCP’s stock price, Bill Ackman had his nose bloodied both figuratively and numerically when his now arch-nemesis appeared on Bloomberg TV to explain his gaining two seats on the board and option to purchase 25% of Herbalife. While obviously not full of the to-and-fro fireworks of their recent encounter, Icahn had quite a few jabs at Ackman record lately, “he has made a few very big mistakes,” and thanked him for his big mistake in “giving us an opportunity to buy a company at a discounted price.” The interview was full of Icahn’s normal bluster but he once again brought up the fact that this whole 300-page dog-and-pony show was undertaken right before year-end, “I do not understand why someone… talks about the fact that he is short,” for obvious reasons, “except to say that it certainly helped his year-end numbers.”

 

 

Icahn on the news that he can purchase up to 25% of Herbalife and nominate two people to its board:

“Yes, that is correct. We are excited. As we have said, this is not one where we do not like management. We do like management quite a bit. Here you have a company that is growing at 10% a year, I believe. Frankly, I do not understand the criticism that Ackman makes about it. We have done a lot of work on it. We have looked through what he says. Even when it comes to lawyers, he claims that Sullivan & Cromwell has agreed that it was a pyramid scheme, but I do not believe that a firm of that stature would ever have said that. He has no evidence concerning that. Our attorneys say they have looked at it and they doubt very much any large legal firm would say that. We think Sullivan & Cromwell is a fine firm, but they are not specialists in the area of the FTC which deals with the Bureau of Consumer Protection. We have done a hell of a lot work on this and we’re excited by it. Again, we are looking forward to going on the board and working with the company. We’re very supportive of them.”

On what Herbalife needs to do to convince Wall Street that…
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Treasury Yield Snapshot: 10 Year Yields Have Moved a Bit Lower

Courtesy of Doug Short.

What’s New: I’ve updated the charts below through February’s close. The S&P 500 is 1.6% below its closing high set six sessions ago on February 19th. Many market watchers have been expecting a correction, and we have seen some increased volatility since the interim high. For the past four days the yield on the 10-year note has slipped back to the 1.90 level after four weeks hovering around 2.00. At this point the bond market appears to be on alert as we enter March.

The latest Freddie Mac Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey puts the 30-year fixed at 3.51%, down from 3.56% the week before. That’s 20 basis points above its historic low, which dates from the third week in November.



Here is a snapshot of selected yields and the 30-year fixed mortgage starting shortly before the Fed announced Operation Twist.

For a eye-opening context on the 30-year fixed, here is the complete Freddie Mac survey data from the Fed’s repository. Many first-wave boomers (my household included) were buying homes in the early 1980s. At its peak in October 1981, the 30-year fixed was at 18.63 percent.

The 30-year fixed mortgage at the current level is a confirmation of a key aspect of the Fed’s QE success, and the low yields have certainly reduced the pain of Uncle Sam’s interest payments on Treasuries (although the yields are up from recent historic lows of this summer). But, as for loans to small businesses, the Fed strategy is a solution to a non-problem. Here’s a snippet from the latest NFIB Small Business Economic Trends report:

Six percent of the owners reported that all their credit needs were not met, unchanged from December. Thirty-one (31) percent reported all credit needs met and 3 percent reported that financing was their top business problem. Thirty-one (31) percent of all owners reported borrowing on a regular basis, up 2 points from December and historically low. A net 7 percent reported loans “harder to get” compared to their last attempt (asked of regular borrowers only), 2 points lower than December. The average rate paid on short maturity loans was 5.5 percent, stuck at much the same level for years


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Zero Hedge

Visualizing The 150 Apps That Power The Gig Economy

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Go back in time a decade, and you’d have a tough time convincing anyone that they would be “employed” through an app on their phone.

And yet, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins explains, in a short period of time, the emergence of the smartphone has enabled the gig economy to flourish into a multi-trillion dollar global market. And by leveraging apps like Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy, it’s estimated that ...



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Phil's Favorites

What's going on with Blue Apron?

By Ilene 

The Blue Apron business model appears, perhaps, flawed. While the service is convenient, I think it would appeal mostly to very busy people who don't have time to shop for food -- but enjoy cooking -- and have enough money that the trade off between paying for food delivery vs. spending time shopping is worth it. Here's the unfortunate stock chart and some numbers from Yahoo:

The company has been losing money, and is projected to lose money again next year. Revenue is projected to decrease in 2019 from the 2018 level, but pick up again in 2020, though still below 2018's revenue. Maybe a larger company that could integrate APRN's services into its existing infrastructure should acquire APRN and save it from its apparent...



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Chart School

Palladium minor cycle bottom

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Once again RealVision TV posts another trade idea, long palladium. We shall review it with our RTT cycle tools and parallel channels.







Any trader will be concerned with the supply shock at $1800 which pushed down price quickly. Profit taking maybe, sure! The question, is there more supply out (or more profit taking) there ready to dump on the market, either now or after any minor advance. This why waiting for the 'C' wave of the A-B-C to form over some more time is a good idea, and once done, we want to see solid buying moving price up before acting, after all we do not want to be early or a lonely bull (Richard Wyckoff logic). 

The parallel channel highl...

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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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Kimble Charting Solutions

Banks Sending Bearish Message To Stocks, Says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Quality bull markets prefer to see Banks stronger than the broad markets or at least keeping up with it. Concerns often crop up when banks reflect relative weakness compared to the S&P.

This chart looks at the Bank Index (BKX) over the past few years, reflecting a falling channel of lower highs and lower lows has taken place inside of falling channel (1). This falling channel has now been in play for the past 15-months.

The index hit the bottom of the channel in December of 2018 and a counter-trend rally took place. The rally off the December lows saw the index hit the top...



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Insider Scoop

Analyst: US Sanctions 'May Not Kill Huawei'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that limits how "foreign adversaries" conduct business with U.S. companies.

What Happened

The Department of Commerce said China's Huawei and 70 related companies will be included in the "Entity ...



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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:

 

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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.

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