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The Middle Class is Dying in America


The middle class in America has officially fallen below 50% of the population.

Income disparity is hindering the recovery as 99.9% of the gains funnel up to the top 10%.

Families that take home less than $50,486 after taxes plunge deeper into debt each year.

Here's why the economy isn't recovering:

According to the latest PEW Poll, the middle class has gone from 61% of the population to less than 50% of the population in the past 4 decades and, even worse, now make 33.8% less income share than they used to.  The bottom 30% make the same 9% of the national income they made back in the 70s – so the poor are still poor but the middle 61% used to split 62%, so 30% for 30% of the middle class.  Now, 50% split 43% or 25.8% for 30%.

That means that we now have double the amount of people (70M) making the same 9% of all income in the lowest bracket (the fastest growing group!) and we have 50% more people in the middle class fighting over a pie that has shrunk 33%.  Who has gained from all this?  Do you really need to ask?  The upper class ($125,609/yr to join this club), has grown from 20M to 50M working people and their share of the income has grown from 28% to 49% – all at the expense of the 190M people who are less fortunate.

That's why you (and most of my readers are in the "Upper Class") think "everyone" is doing better – because 50M people is probably everyone you usually associate with.  Middle Class people make $41,869 a year – how far away from your salary is that?  Can your family live on $41,869?  If so – you must be middle class and thank goodness you have that skill because I don't even think my kids (13,15) could live on that!  

As you can see from this handy chart – the average American family cannot live on $41,869 because the average family spends $50,486 AFTER TAXES and that's with a magical $17,115/yr house and $2,929 health care.  So the average family has to have two working parents and, of course, the average family just slips further and further into debt each year and it never gets paid off because they sure don't get raises that keep up with inflation, do they?  

My kids (not to brag) are both honors students but that's in part because we spend more like $1,000/yr on books, not $100 and we have spent way more than $1,000 on tutors and other educational experiences and we've gone on trips that have broadened their horizons and they've had the best health care (my oldest daughter was premature) and we drive the safest cars – these are all the tiny ways that the rich are able to give their children every advantage in life over the kids who have just $100/yr to spend on books, etc.  

As a bleeding-heart liberal parent, I don't allow my kids to think for a minute that they don't lead privileged lives and of course we donate those books and toys and clothes etc but there's only so much individuals can do to balance the scales.  That's a function of Government and, since Nixon and Reagan shifted the balance to favor the rich – this country has become insanely imbalanced, with the top 50M people (20% of workers) making 50% of the money.  That's wrong!

And that's just the INCOME gap.  Clearly people in the bottom 80% have no chance to save any money and are generally in debt up to their eyeballs so the WEALTH of the nation has tipped almost entirely into the hands of the top 10% (see graphic) and that is a number that is increasing rapidly.  

Jeff Bezos (AMZN) alone, for example, got $29.5Bn richer this year.  $29.5Bn is more than the ENTIRE GDP of 69 (out of 200) countries on this planet.  Iceland, for example, has a population of 323,000 people and a GDP of $14Bn, Bahamas has 377,000 people and a GDP of $9Bn.  $29.5Bn would make 300,000 people $98,333 richer or it would make 10M people about $10,000 richer.  And this is the problem – our failure to redistribute that wealth through taxes means that the middle class, who buy from Bezos, transfer $29.5Bn to him and Bezos, who doesn't spend $29.5Bn a year, simply adds it to his pile of money.  That money doesn't "trickle down" on anyone – it is simply taken from the poor and given to the rich – over and over again.

This all sounds like great fun if you are one of the rich (especially if you are an Amazon stockholder) but the reality is you are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs – the US Consumer!  

It's not just Bezos, of course, according to Forbes, the 400 richest Americans ($1.7Bn minimum to make the cut, $5.8Bn average) are sitting on $2.34 TRILLION.  That's quite a lot of money for 400 people, don't you think?  Had we, for example, taxed them 35% more (70% top rate like we had before Reagan) that would be $800Bn worth of social programs that could have been funded and they would STILL have an average of $3.77Bn left after those "outrageous" taxes were paid.  

Do you think Jeff Bezos would refuse to work if the Government took back $10Bn of his $29.5Bn?  I'm not saying we should put a 70% tax on everyone – just the people who make more than $100M a year and corporations who make more than $1Bn a year.  That little change would balance our entire budget without costing the 190 middle class and poor workers one penny and it wouldn't even cost 49.9M of the 50M upper class workers a penny – just the ones taking home more than $100M per year.  

If we don't find some way to redistribute money back into the system, the top 0.01% will own an ever-growing share of the wealth of this nation while the bottom 90% spiral further and further into debt to support this insane system of Corporate Welfare and Welfare for the Super-Rich that we have going on now.  

The reason our economy is stuck in low gear is because none of the growth benefits are going back to the people who buy things – they are going to the people who buy stocks and houses and boats and to Companies who buy back their own stock and stash the money overseas to avoid what little taxes they are paying now.  

This has to stop, people!  


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  1. Dow, S&P and Nasdaq holding on to their 50 DMA and actually on the cusp of a golden cross for all 3 indices with the Nasdaq already gone over! Lagging indicator though…

  2. Middle class / Phil – Hey, it's not easy for rich people either. Trump had to make do with a small $1M loan from his father to get started. And he had to pay it back from his trust fund…

    Kidding aside, it's what these politicians don't understand when they talk about privatizing Social Security for example. They always say that people would be better off if they could invest their own money for retirement. What money? Clearly, based on the numbers you show, there is not enough money to send Joey and Betty to school, pay for medical bills and save for retirement at the same time. I guess people would just pick one and hope for the best! But all these middle class families are "takers" because a lot of them don't pay income taxes. Just sickening…

  3. Good Morning.

  4. Excellent rant, Phil. I hope Bernie reads something similar. Wait, is he a member? Are you here, Bernie?

  5. Jobless claims rise to a 5 month high… everything is AWESOME! Merry Christmas…

    This market is looking pretty sick, been short the S&P since last Wednesday and

    pretty happy to be there. Market is not oversold yet, might be after tomorrow

  6. Morning.  Not as exciting as yesterday :(

  7. Good morning!  

    I needed to get that off my chest and it's a slow news day.  I feel much better now.  

    Consumer Comfort coming soon.  Higher unemployment means Fed less likely to be harsh and also Hilsenrath has spoken:

    Fed Plans to Signal Gradual, Cautious Path on Rate Hikes

    So same bottom play off 17,500 (/YM) as long as it holds and we can watch 2,055 on /ES and 4,655 on /NQ and then go long on /TF as it crosses over 1,150 (now 1,148.50) with VERY TIGHT STOPS.  

    And of course I like /NG long at $2.04 but man, is it annoying to play!  

  8. Greg, Phil,


    I'm trying to load up the WIKI tab.  Sometimes it loads, sometimes I get a 504.


    Also when clicking on Comment Search I'm always getting:

    504 Gateway Time-out

    The server didn't respond in time.


    I'm trying to use the Search to find my comments about IRA investing since I can't remember who I was talking to.  If I use normal search with just IRA, I get tons of results that I don't need.  One thought, that might be simple to implement with general search.  Just search the url http://www.philstockworld/com/2014 and 2015.  Exclude all other URL path's in the Google Index.  I doubt anyone is search for content from other contribuitors frequently.


  9. Consumer Comfort improving though, as it says, stabilizing:


    Of course, this is exactly what I'm talking about – most of the consumers are doing poorly and these polls don't even capture it because people in the bottom 40% don't even have house phones and other people don't pick up the phone in case its a bill collector and the top 10% are deliriously happy so really what this poll says is that 1/3 of the bottom 90% feels comfortable – that's not really good at all.

    I posted an article last week about how polling science is broken in the modern world – this is a good example.  

    • November Import/Export Prices: Import prices -0.4% M/M vs. -0.7% consensus and -0.3% (revised from -0.5%) prior.
    • Export prices -0.6% M/M vs. -0.3% consensus, -0.2% prior.

    Yep, there's a healthy economy for you….   

    Bounces looking weak – be careful on longs – /TF already turned down so I'd bail. 

  10. May I dissect this a bit?

    What I read is, play /YM long at 17500 and /TF long at 1150 long only IF

    - we are above 2055 on /ES (which is now falling at 2047)

    - we are above 4655 on /NQ (which is now falling at 4623)

    Is that the proper interpretation?

  11. Big Chart – They'd better have support on the Dow, Nas and S&P but RUT and NYSE say down we go.  That 1,140 line on the Russell (-5%) is a big deal if it fails.  NYSE is already way below their -5% line (10,450).  /NKD barely holding 19,000 and DAX needs to hold 10,500.


    Retirement/StJ – That is a crisis of epic proportions that's coming.  People don't have anything near enough saved to live for 20 years after they retire and SS is $2,366/month – that's all these people have!  If we had some massive Government program to build millions of low-cost assisted living units in Iowa or something – then at least that would be a plan but we have no plan at all with an aging Boomer population and rising life expectancies and a declining work-force that will go into free-fall with the rise of the robots.  It's going to be quite the ride for the next 20 years but, unfortunately, mostly downhill, I think.

    Bernie/Snow – We have 11 people named Sanders on our list but no Bernies.  frown  Maybe he reads me at HuffPo?  Speaking of which, Bob Reich (who is a member), wrote a good article on HuffPo today:

    Look Who's Buying American Democracy (VIDEO)

    Wiki/Burr – I let Greg and Scott know.  

    Dissection/Burr – Well it didn't hold up so moot point.  And yes, that's the point of the other lines – it confirms that you want to make an entry but, if ANY of the others are turning down – why add a bullish play?  Better safe than sorry is the ONLY way to play the Futures.  

    Nice move on /NG, at least – don't be greedy!  

  12. See, that was a pretty obvious consolidation at the bottom on /NG after a steep drop so we simply play for the bounce (BECAUSE we have a long bias) and because the potential reward so far outweighs the risk of a break lower:

    Other than one other brief failure (and today) the $2.05 line has held up well so now we are lucky to be able to use it as a stop on our new trade and, if we take 1/2 off at $2.05, then $2.04 becomes break-even on the rest or, better yet – it looks like we can raise the bar to $2.06 and take 1/2 off (+$200) and that means at $2.05 we'd still have a profit of +$100 on what's left of +$150 average so, even if $2.06 is the very top, we capture 75% of the max gains using that ladder approach. 

    If /NG flies up to $2.08 before we stop out, then we made $200 on 1/2 and $400 on 1/2 for $300 out of $400 average – so what are we missing by playing conservative?  

  13. I didn't play, but holy call on /NG.  Geez.  

  14. Cool, nice draw in Nat Gas despite the warm weather (because the LNG guys are taking advantage to fill their tanks). 


    Still setting tight stops to lock in the gains!  

    LOL, what BS!  

    • "We believe an acquisition of GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) would make sense for Apple; action cameras are uniquely positioned at the intersection of Apple’s smartphone, wearables, and multimedia offerings," writes FBR's Daniel Ives in a note about potential Apple buyout targets.
    • Ives: "Additionally, GoPro’s new product cycles could open the door to areas where Apple’s competitors are investing heavily (e.g., drones, VR), and Cupertino has been playing catch-up. We also see strategic value in GoPro being integrated with Apple’s strong multimedia ecosystem (e.g., iTunes, Apple TV, etc.)."
    • Media/ad software giant Adobe ($44.4B market cap), enterprise cloud storage/file-sharing leader Box ($1.6B market cap), and EV/battery maker Tesla ($30B market cap) are also named as potential Apple targets. "Box would give Apple an avenue into enterprise storage and enable it to expand its product tentacles (hardware/storage) into the enterprise cloud frontier … Adobe would provide a nice pipeline into the enterprise … Adobe’s Document Cloud/Marketing Cloud applications are helping enterprises grapple with the growth of digital marketing, proliferation of mobile devices in the enterprise, and IOT."
    • The GoPro remarks come with the action camera leader down 82% from its Oct. 2014 high of $98.47, and sporting a $2.4B market cap. In other news, GoPro announced todayit has added Apple Watch support for its iOS app.
    • Recent GoPro coverage

    Well, they did buy Beats for $3Bn (GPRO now $2.5Bn), that was a surprise but Beats made sense in the IStores.

    GoPro Releases Apple Watch Features for the GoPro App, Enabling Cool New Remote Control Functions for GoPro Devices

    Bank of England stays on hold

    • As expected the Bank of England left its benchmark rate at 0.5%, though one of the nine voted against that decision. Inflation at -0.1%, says the committee, remains well below target. While the rate is expected to rise, it should still be below 1% until H2 of next year.
    • Core inflation rose to 0.6% Y/Y in November from 0.4% a month earlier. Goldman had expected no change. Additionally, data from the Ministry of Finance showed a large increase in capex that significantly beat the market consensus.
    • "The outcome for wages is just as unpredictable as before," says Goldman, which now doesn't see any BoJ easing until April vs. its previous call for a move in January.
    • The yen is flat in today's session after gaining 1.2% yesterday.
    • The Swiss National Bank left its interest rates unchanged in negative territory today, declaring that it would remain active if necessary to weaken the highly-valued Swiss franc.
    • "Despite depreciating somewhat in recent months, the franc is still significantly overvalued," the central bank said in a statement.
    • The SNB kept its target range for three-month Libor at between -1.25% and -0.25%, and maintained a -0.75% interest rate on sight deposits.

    ConocoPhillips to cut 2016 capex by 25%

    • ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) says it plans to cut its 2016 capital spending by 25% from 2015 and by 55% from 2014 to $7.7B, and says it expects to raise $2.3B from non-core asset sales.
    • COP forecasts 2016 operating costs will decline by $500M from expected adjusted 2015 operating expenses of $8.2B.
    • COP says 2016 spending will focus on the unconventionals, where it plans to maintain current activity levels with 13 rigs across the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Permian, with ongoing flexibility to ramp up or down activity in the plays.
    • COP also says FY 2015 production guidance remains unchanged at 1.585M-1.595M boe/day; adjusted ~70K boe/day production associated with $2.3B of divestitures, 2015 production guidance would be 1.515M-1.525M boe/day, which is the new baseline from which the company expects to grow 1%-3% in 2016.
    • Halliburton's (NYSE:HAL) proposed $35B acquisition of rival Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) will likely close in 2016 instead of this year as talks with U.S. regulators continue, Halliburton CFO Christian Garcia told a Wells Fargo Energy Symposium.
    • Both companies have already agreed to divest $5.2B in overlapping businesses to quell concerns that the merger, which would create the second-largest oilfield services company, would lead to higher prices and less innovation.

    Airline profits seen increasing in 2016

    • IATA issues a strong outlook for airline sector profits.
    • The net profit forecast for 2015 is revised upward to $33B from $29.3B. A net profit margin of 4.6% is expected.
    • The outlook for 2016 from IATA is for total profits of $36.3B and a net profit margin of 5.1%.
    • 2016 profit forecast by region: North America $19.2B, Europe $8.5B, Asia-Pacific $6.6B, Middle East $1.4B, Latin America $400M, Africa -$100M.
    • Strong passenger demand and lower oil prices are two drivers of the profit growth, although profit is impacted significantly in many markets due to the high level of the U.S. dollar, notes the industry-watching group.

    Gains across the organic grocery store sector

    • The organic grocery store sector is making some modest gains with Whole Foods Market (WFM +3.3%), Fairway Group (FWM +3%), Sprouts Farmers Market (SFM +2.6%), and The Fresh Market (TFM +2.5%) all higher than broad market averages.
    • The group has had a very rough year due to a high level of competition and some saturation in key markets. Consolidation is still seen as a potential way out for some chains.
    • YTD returns: FWM -76%, SFM -24%, TFM -40%, WFM -38%.
    • Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) will present this morning at an investor conference with a sharp focus on the company's plan to split into two.
    • Execs will highlight the business separation which will allow Yum to go from a single company with 10% EPS growth to two entities each with 15% shareholder returns (EPS + dividends).
    • Yum plans to distribute $6.2B to shareholders ahead of the split.
    • Ahead of the talk, Yum's November sales tallies for China were released. The China division saw a 3% decline in same-store sales during the month, driven lower by weakness at Pizza Hut.
    • Yum Brands webcast
    • YUM -0.14% premarket to $73.70.

  15. Wow, we don't have WFM in the LTP and it's way down at $31.50?  

    Of course I could have said that for the past 4 months but the VIX is high and 2018s are out so let's sell the 10 of the 2018 $25 puts for $3 ($3,000) in the LTP just for a little Christmas spending money – I very much doubt it will ever trigger.  

    If you want to be more aggressive, you can pair it with the 2018 $28 calls at $7.50 and sell the $35 calls for $4.30 for net $3.40 so net net is 0.40 on that spread ($400) that returns up to $7,000 (1,650% on cash) if WFM is over $35 in 2018.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

  16. Good Mornin Phil, speaking of a robust economy, discretionary, transports and oil services have been getting clobbered while import and export prices continue to crater. No contraction going on here man. All is well, carry on old boy, with dogged resolve and a stiff upper lip, . The Baked Half? How about Congress misses the budget deadline? Pushed back till Wend Dec 16th right in time for the Fed. 

    The Half Baked? Since Nov 23rd, repo rates on agency, mbs and treasury have tripled.  What does that mean? The cost of turning in crap collateral at the pawn shop window (Fed) or borrowing cash in the event of a shortage, has tripled for the banks and market makers.

    The current rate for UST's (the best collateral) is 31 bps, up +24bps from 7bps and higher than during the August 24th flash crash.  What does that mean?   +24bps, is that a coincidence?  Invocation of Gibbs rule 39A, there are none.

    A Fed raise of 25bps is already baked in at the window, and making life difficult as in,  you are floating in an ocean of money, you fall out of the boat and hit, concrete? i.e. liquidity is elusive and the market is strained. These rates are the published ones, anything bilateral or bespoke are surely higher.   

    Last but not least, on Thursday Dec 9th, I remember sitting in front of the TV, and watching whimsy, melancholy, and full of wonder, the premier of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" based upon Charles Schulz Peanuts cartoons. The first of almost 50 Peanut's TV movies and a pilot that nobody wanted, and was hated by network executives. With a 50 share, only Bonanza beat it that week and despite the execs, became an instant classic. 

    "There will always be an audience for innocence in this country" – Charles Schulz  As I blinked my eyes during a commercial break, fifty years has passed since along with the now minority middle class and Charlie's sentiment. These days, this seems more apropo and to be striking chords than anything… Out.

  17. Phil / CTSH Looking at this trade.  Stock is low in Channel and below it's 200 DMA

    TGT price is 70 in 2017.  Would like your thought on the position below:


    Sell '18 60 puts for 9.4

    '17 60 / 70 BCS 4.1 

  18. UNG – per this weather guy's historical comparison, "winter is coming"

    "One glaring similarity is that each of these El Nino events (1888-89, 1940-41 and 1957-58) average temperatures across the eastern US stayed close or slightly above average in December and in January. Then in February, the bottom falls out and temperatures drop significantly below average across a large area of the east. If you look at the Pacific sea surface temperature configuration of these winters (eyeballing the ENSO region, Eastern Pacific/west coast/Gulf of Alaska regions and Pacific Meridional Mode area), they closely resemble this year!"

  19. Is that WFM play now in the LTP?

  20. Any news on TWTR today?  Nice move in it.

  21. orderly rate hikes? one and done.  they don't want to be 'political' – I don't see them raising rates (again) before the election.  plus fracking is collapsing; and rest of the world is melting.

  22. Rustle – This from Briefing is all I saw on TWTR.



    Twitter seeing notable move higher off the open; confiirmed plans to test promoted tweets on logged-out experience  (25.94 +1.64)

    "Earlier this year we broadened the availability of ad syndication, so that marketers can —with a single click — expand their campaigns from Twitter to a much larger audience. Now, we're taking this a step further with a test for marketers to reach the over 500 million people who visit Twitter each month to keep in touch with what's happening without logging in. This includes people who click on links to Tweets in Google search, who will now be able to consume branded, Promoted content alongside organic Tweets."


  23. HPY – now how is it I have never heard or looked at these guys in the last 5 years.. another boring, steady, winner.

  24. FU UNG!!!

    another head fake--unreal

  25. See how our projections are playing out:  

    December 9th, 2015 at 1:24 pm | (Unlocked) | Permalink

    /YM/Burr – Our big lines on the Dow are the Must Hold at 17,600 and the 5% line at 18,480 and that makes the 2.5% line 18,040, which is the main line we expect to fall off.  That's been the top of the range recently and, since it's significant, we run most of our calculations off it.  

    So, the 1.25% line is 17,820 and the -1.25% line is 17,380 so we'll call our lines of interest 17,400, 17,600 and 17,800 per the 5% Rule based on lines we could have predicted 2 years ago (as they are all based on our faithful Must Hold line at 17,600).  

    So, very simply, if we're going to want to make a bullish play, we'd play off 17,500 (with little conviction) or 17,400 (with more conviction) but below 17,400 could get ugly with almost no support down to 17,200 (-2.5% line).  So, if I'm feeling bullish – I look for a bullish support line to play and, if I feel bearish, I look for a bearish resistance line to play – taking into account that 17,800 has not been a reliable top in the short runs.

    Still, I'm more comfortable going short at 17,800 if it lines up with /ES 2,100 and we ALWAYS look at ALL the indexes and the Dollar and only when they ALL line up well do we make a play on the one with the best support or resistance line – so that we have a very obvious place to take a quick loss and be done with it – until the next time things seem to line up in our favor. 

    And now you see how 17,600 becomes a point of contention and that's our weak bounce line so not a good sign if they can't punch over it.

    Collateral/Naybob – To me, the BIG story is the massive write-downs that are coming in the energy sector – that's going to have a sudden, massive, rolling impact.    

    Billions of Barrels of Oil Vanish in a Puff of Accounting Smoke

    As to Christmas – I was raised on Charlie Brown but my kids prefer Mr. Hankey.

    CTSH/Batman – Well, I don't know where you are now but what genius advice I gave you in August:

    Submitted on 2015/08/05 at 11:01 am

    CTSH/Batman – Holy double Batman!  I'm sure you love your 3,000 shares at $68 but $70 was $210,000 and $68 is not much less and those aren't covered and CTSH doesn't pay a dividend so maybe consider pulling a vacation home off the table?  Let's say, for example, you cash the stock ($204K) and there's nothing wrong with the $60/70 spread as that's another $11K coming at $70 so you're left with just the 2017 $60 calls that you now regret covering with the Sept $62.50s.  Since you didn't really want to sell your 3,000 shares at $68, how about you promise to buy 2,000 shares back at $55 for a $3.50 credit ($7,000) by selling the 20 2017 $55 puts and then you can buy 30 of the 2017 $65 ($10.75)/$75 ($6.20) bull call spreads for $4.55 ($13,650) and then you can roll the 60 short Sept $62.50s ($6 = $36,000) to 75 of the Jan $67.50s at $4.75 ($35,625).  

    That leaves you  with $196,975 in pocket and you have your 60 2017 $60s and your 20 $60/70 spreads and your 30 $65/75 spreads covered by 75 Jan $67.50 calls.  Don't forget, the stock has to be $4.75 over $67.50 ($72.25) before you owe back more than $35,625 and, at that price, your calls are worth $73,500 + a year of premium and the $60/70 spread is $20,000 in the money and the new spread is $22,500 in the money.  You only have 15 "uncovered" short calls and those are covered by 50 $10 spreads ($50K).

    I agree it's getting back to a reasonable price but I sure don't see any urgency to buy it ahead of the holidays.  

    TGT/Batman – We just played them, didn't we?  

    Submitted on 2015/12/01 at 11:32 am

    We like to pick up $4,000 a month selling puts in the LTP solet's sell 5 of the TGT 2018 $67.50 puts for $8.60 ($4,300) and that nets us into 500 at $58.90, which is 19% off the current price.  We could have done 10 of the short $55 puts for $4.20 and the net would be 10% lower but the obligation would be 2x – so not a good trade-off.

    Unless you are somehow saying $70 is you TARGET price for CTSH in which case you just went into the lead for the month's most confusing abbreviation.  surprise

    Winter/Scott – I'll believe it when I see it at this point.  

    /NG round-tripping already – unreal!  

    WFM/Tangled – It is if it fills. 

    TWTR/Rustle – They have a plan to annoy us with more ads.  

    HPY/Scott – Nice, boring business.  

    UNG/Jabob – It's not a head-fake if you get in and out instead of trying to go for huge winners.  I like them long again at $2.04 but happy with $2.06 this time.  

  26. Well, there goes $2.04 so game of on /NG until we find the next floor (maybe $2!).  

  27. Alrighty Phil, go long now on /NG?    Looks like the Effiel Tower

  28. Phil / CTSH – I'm psyched i finally won something ( TGT = Target price not Target Stock).  I sold off 1/3 my position on CTSH so back at about 68 and have made 2 wound trips w/ puts / calls this year for about a 35% gain rtn …. so  getting bullish when it approaches 200 DMA and selling technical highs has worked.  At the moment i have  the 2000 Shares and only the '18 60 Puts that i sold for 9.4 on this 


    BTW i did pick up the TGT Puts as well as the WYNN puts 

  29. Crazy!

    Is oil and nat gas going to ever bounce?

  30. If you are wondering who is buying CMG, knowing that same store sales have been declining and earnings for 4th qtr are cut, it could be CMG.  Last week they authorized a buyback of 300mm on top of the previous 1BB in repurchasing.  If they were buying at the low, they made out very well.

  31. Search workaround

    Greg provided a good solution today for search.  Using Google's Advanced search, it will pull up the results you are looking for.   I was looking for the WYNN trade and I did:

    phil wynn

    Limiting the results to the last month…and wala.  The 4th result was:

    Which is all I ever wanted.

  32. IRA/Burrben….  I have been remiss for not putting this project on the front burner, but I hope to have an outline to you and other interested in constructing an IRA portfolio on Monday.

  33. Phil,

      I have -2 Jan 2016 WMT $70 puts (for which I received $4.25) that were used to buy 2 WMT JAN 2016 $70/80 bull call spreads (net $4.63). Obviously, the spreads should have been tended to long ago, and are now dead. At about $2K down, would you recommend a 2017 or 2018 WMT play to get back to even? WMT seems to be pretty beaten down; far down enough to play?

  34. IHS4GOD –  Not at all.  I figured it would be cleaner to start it after the new year and if the fed hikes or not.  That will impact some of the nice fat REITS.  I'll be responsible for the updates, the data, etc.  I was thinking that if you had any interest in sharing the underlyings that have been kind you, I could always start there.  Totally up to you.

    My email is : if you want to email me.

  35. Phil do you have some sort of method for deciding when you think you have found a floor? Or do you just take a poke and if you are wrong you get out quickly? I am going to take a poke at NG here at 2.01 and if it isn't the floor I will just get out quickly, but I sure would like to see the carnage stop for my UNG bet as well, even though I am now rolled into the 2017 plays. Funny, if I wasn't investing in it I would be thrilled to have lower gas costs for my house. 

  36. Phil,

     I have -3 ABX 2016 $13 puts (net $11.25). What do you think about making up the $1K loss with the 2018 ABX $7/10 bull call spread, selling the 2018 $5 puts for net $0.32?

  37. /NG/Burr – Gotta be patient.  Now we have our entry at $2 and we're good for another bounce play.  

    CTSH/Batman – Good luck and watch to make sure that bottom holds. 

    Ever/Jabob – Well, if by ever we have until July for oil and Jan for /NG – then yes.  

    CMG/Rustle – Well I thought the reaction was a bit much but we'll see if they can retake $600.

    Workaround/Burr – Glad they could help. 

    WMT/Kevin – Well $70 isn't coming back soon but not an unreasonable target long-term.  If the margin doesn't bother you, I'd simply roll the short Jan $70 puts ($10) to 3 if the 2017 $60 puts at $8 so you put $400 in your pocket and worst case is net $59ish if assigned 300 vs net $70ish on 200 but a much lower break-even target.  You could also do 2 of the 2018 $65 puts at $11.20 but I'd rather commit to 100 more and save $11 (20%) on an assignment.

    Floor/Craigs – Mostly pokes.  As an old M&A guy, generally I'll look for the place at which I think it's buyable (as a whole company) and figure someone else will see the value but it's hard to judge how much people will panic out of a stock once it starts going down.  That's why I'm very big on scaling in with small entries.  The downside is, like our LTP, we end up with a lot of small, short-put positions that never give us a chance to DD but those still crank out nice returns – so not too bad.  As to /NG – I've got the gas fireplace on – just trying to do my bit to boost consumption.  Maybe I should open the pool back up too? devil

    ABX/Kevin – I do like that play. I certainly think gold will recover by then and ABX has already done the painful cost-cutting that should get them through 2016 – even if prices are slow to rise.  I would, however, buy the 2018 $5 ($3.80)/10 ($1.80) bull call spreads for $2 and sell the $7 puts for $1.75 and that's net 0.25 on the $5 spread that's $2.76 in the money.  

    Just 2 contracts can get you back $975 but your original obligation was 3 $13 puts so, logically, you can do 6 of these – taking the $1,000 loss and then you have 6 of the spreads for net $1.92 so the break-even (to get your $1,000  back) is $6.92 + 1/2 the diff to $7 (0.08) is $6.96 with up to $3.04 ($1,824) profit at $10.  Worst case is you own 600 shares for $8.92 ($5,352) but you already lost the $1,000 so you're only paying $4,352 for the 600 shares ($7.25) if it comes to that. 

  38. Burrben/IRA  Thanks for the great offer.  I will send along the outline to your e-mail for your review and comment and then we can fan it our to the there PSW members. So far my list includes the two of us, Craig sa, Savi, Jasu1, Albo, Options_alpha and Qcmike. And yes we need to wait until the Fed has spoken and after year end tax selling.  However, this does not preclude us from setting up the parameters and screens.

  39. Phil / NG

    I didn't see it touch $2.  Did you go long around the 2.008 area?

  40. /NG/Burr – I start scaling in around 2.01 (2) and then 2 more at $2 and 2 more at $1.99 for 6 at $2 and then quickly out of 2 or 3 as soon as it even twitches lower (or stops going up).  

    Keep in mind when I said $2, we were at $2.04 and I was GUESSING but, as we got down to $2.01, it began to look like it would hold.  You always have to react to the situation as it unfolds (see the "Microwave Oven Theory").  

  41. This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Confounded Interest – Online Course Notes For Financial Markets. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission. US import prices YoY fell -9.4% YoY in November as the US Dollar continues to appreciate.…

  42. 2582 7 All eyes and ears are on the Fed as it ponders its first rate increase in nine years.  IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde fears a rerun of the 2013 “taper tantrum,” or what we have been calling a rate ruckus. Emerging…

  43. When it comes to the modern market, experienced, carbon-based traders such as UBS floor director Art Cashin (who have traded through not just one rate-hike cycle but several) seem like an anacrhonism from a bygone era: after all, we live…

  44. Is Donald Trump a fascist? It’s a becoming a common question, especially following Trump’s announcement that he supports banning Muslims from entering the United States, with commentators and politicians from across the political spectrum answering in the affirmative: To be…

  45. An outbreak of norovirus at a Chipotle location near Boston College has sickened 141 students, who complained of gastrointestinal issues after eating at the restaurant in the Cleveland Circle area last weekend.The test results from the sick students haven’t revealed…

  46. This is a syndicated repost courtesy of True Economics. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission. U.S. Non-financial Corporations debt – the other ‘third’ of the real economic debt equation – is on the rise, again. Deleveraging is not…

  47. Americans lost nearly $1.2 trillion in wealth in the third quarter as a shaky stock market contributed to one of the largest declines in household net worth since the economic recovery began, according to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday.…

  48. At Obvious Ventures, we believe stored electricity, increasingly derived from renewable sources, will entirely replace fossil fuels as the preferred method to power everything in our lives. From cars to scooters to boats to locomotives to industrial equipment, we are…

  49. SRG- this popped on the BRK news- you are the old real estate guru so what do you think of this analysis?

  50. Unicorns, a moniker applied to private startups valued at over $1 billion or more, are supposed to be mythical in nature. At best, there are supposed to be so few of them that venture capital firms would be absolutely elated…

  51. If America is going to dominate the world again, we have to fix the spirit of free enterprise. Small business startups are in serious decline. Below are 60 quick facts leaders need to know. One of the most important discoveries…

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  53. The self-congratulatory rah-rah about American entrepreneurism rings hollow,as the evidence is conclusive: entrepreneurship, new businesses and the source of new businesses, self-employment, are all declining. Two recent articles describe the trend: American Entrepreneurship Is Actually Vanishing. Here’s Why (Inc) American…

  54. > World > US > US Society Register Subscribe Sign in Subscribe You are signed in Home UK World Africa Asia-Pacific Asia-Pacific› China India Japan North Korea Europe Europe› Brussels Latin America Latin America› Business Economy Finance Politics &…

  55. Risky Markets As the world’s central banks perform increasingly bizarre and desperate maneuvers to keep the financial system from falling apart, the most frequently asked question we receive is: What should I do? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that…

  56. Phil/snow/scottmi/Book

    Thank you very much for your inputs and I will look into it.

    Phil, My wife does consultations for charity and then took a loan to publish this book. It is not a big project but just around 2000 books between her and one cook (co-author). For her that consultation cost is high (maybe that is the difference between bottom 99% :-) ) and as you said we have sent a few books for review and have a couple of interviews lined up. Just hoping that it turns out well for here. The book is nicely made with hand drawn illustrations and quality is nice.

    thanks as always


  57. by Ruth Liew Reinsurance giant Swiss Re is honing the way it assesses life insurance risk by engaging IBM’s artificial intelligence system, Watson – a move that could improve the group’s Australian profit margins amid tough business conditions. Swiss Re became the first global…

  58. Tourists looking for a room with an ocean view will be thrilled to hear about the development of a new submarine hotel, which will lie 8.5 meters (28 feet) beneath the waves. Having recently received patent and trademark approval, the…

  59. Nice little slow run on /YM from 12.15.  /CL not up, nor /NG.  

  60. CTSH – OK i'm starting to scale into the CTSH — i've sold the '18 60  puts, and bought the long 60 will sell the long 70s today hopefully on a spike up.  If 60 doesn't hold ( or at most 58) then i think 55 will / has been another hold line, i'll look to get more on this.  At the 55  point, i'd also look to sell the 50 puts. They did take a lot of debt on last year w/ Trizetto, but they still have about 4B of cash on books, and they will continue to buy back shares, and buy more companies.  I may be coming back to you to help at a later point….. 

  61. Phil,

    Absolutely no volume on GLD. may be waiting for Fed. It has been like this for past few days.

    Also SCO nearing 130 mark!!


  62. SRG/Pstas – I haven't had a chance to look it over but, in theory, this is where Eddie moved all the good SHLD assets to.  This pop takes them back to the highs they've hit since spinning out in July ($44 was dead top).  There's no financial info and no options and no declared dividend but Buffett bought 8%, which is a good chunk and I liked them as a concept before they existed.  

    Warren Buffett's New REIT Investment

    Book/Pat – 2,000?  That shouldn't be too hard to hit for a target.

    Kinder Morgan: A Dividend Growth Post-Mortem Discussion

  63. SCO/Pat – Now that's a tempting short! 

    July $155 puts are $55 and the July $100 puts are $19 so net $36 and you can sell the $150 calls for $23 is net $13 on the $55 spread that's $30 in the money at the moment.  

    The danger is oil does panic down to $20, which is down 44% and that will spike SCO 88% higher to $235 and that would be very margin-painful – even if you were willing to hang on.  So, tempting though it may be – I'd say no to this one as it's just too risky and there's no particular catalyst to make us expect a turnaround prior to March, really.  

  64. SCO/Phil

    Even at $30 on oil, that's 172 on SCO. 

  65. Phil, what's your take on the market if interest rates rise next week?  Stay in same pattern or fall hard?

  66. IHS4GOD,

      If you wouldn't mind, I would very much like to see the results of the IRA project as well.

  67. Hey Phil – have you posted  updates on LTP/STP lately – always feel I've missed an adjust ment or two,

  68. Phil glad I took your advice and stayed away from CMG. Thanks for the answer about futures floors too. I was thinking about all you have written about the dwindling demand for oil and the eventual demise of the commodity as we find alternatives. Why then are we long RIG at this point? Shouldn't we rethink out positions in oil related stocks if we don't believe a recovery is in the offing any time soon and use the money to invest in positions that have a better chance of appreciating in the near term? Seems like this is a case where the fundamentals have changed since we took the position so long ago.

  69. Kevinb63v/IRA  I'll put you on the list.

  70. Phil   I still have Jan 110put GLL 10x @ 5.60 now 2.50.Held too long…whats my roll to?

  71. IHS4GOD – please add me to the IRA list. Thanks!

  72. IHS-Do you need my email address to add me to your list? If you do it is Looking forward to seeing what you have put together.

  73. IHS4GOD

    Please add me to that IRA  list  as well. gerryf (at)      I am mostly running the Butterfly out of my IRA. Takes a lot of margin on the put spreads and  I can't do any of the wilder versions Phil sometimes gets into like uncovered calls against call spreads or the occasional  naked put. But I have been doing well with the plain vanilla. 

  74. pat_swap – just ordered up two copies from the website. one for home, one for a gift!  Another thought to reach a receptive audience: the authors should do interviews with some of the health podcast folks. A couple come immediately to mind: Bulletproof Radio and Fat-Burning Man. Many others, too. See the top-ranked health podcasts and start there…

  75. IHS4GOD

    Please add me to that IRA list.



  76. scottmi/Book,

    Thank you!!!. Got the order and we will ship tomorrow. Also going to get in touch with those people as soon as we can. really appreciate your help.


  77. please add me to the ira list as well.

  78. SCO/Rustle – That's why it's tempting but DANGEROUS.  Next week I think the hike is baked in enough that there shouldn't be much reaction but now we have the Government shut-down BS to deal with – that's not a confidence builder.  Have I mentioned how much I like CASH!!! lately?

    Updates/Rex – Nope, not since Thanksgiving, which was only two weeks ago.  I do plan on a review this weekend.  

    RIG/Craigs – Yep, it will have to be considered but it's not like we'll stop next year and RIG is priced like we will.  Let's say oil is dead in 20 years – that means 5% a year decline.  RIG is down 65%, as is a lot of the sector.  While they may be right looking out 5-10 years, in between they probably aren't as bad as feared.  Still, all these companies slashing CapEx makes me think we may need to cut it loose. 

    GLL/490 – We stopped out of those, didn't we?  

    Submitted on 2015/12/03 at 1:48 pm

    GLL is another bullish play on gold and we have 5 Jan $110 puts, now $2.25 and we can roll those up to the $115 puts at $3.90 for + $1.65 and we can add 5 more to drop our basis from $7.15 to $5.525 on 10.  Of course we want to get 1/2 out even or better when we get the chance.  

    Submitted on 2015/12/04 at 10:25 am

    • 5 (out of 10) GLL Jan $115 puts need to come off the table at $7 with a stop at $5 in the rest – we have the GLDs and we're lucky we got a break on these so quickly.  

    Submitted on 2015/12/07 at 9:42 pm

    • GLL – We adjusted that position last week and caught a break and took the opportunity to get back to our original 5 shares.  Despite the fact that the portfolio shows $4.60, the last price on the options was $5.26 and $5 is our stop on this one – happy to be done with a small profit.  

    There's no point in rolling them if you are then not going to play them correctly again.  Consider that maybe it's not the kind of trade you should be in since it requires rolling and adjusting as gold gyrates up and down.  

    It's not so bad as the $110 puts are now $2.60 and the $115 puts are $5.10 so $2.50 for the $5 roll is a bit worse than we paid but still the best option.  That nets you in for $8.10 and, if you DD at $5.10 that's $6.60 and you should look to get all out there and be happy to get even and also, if GLL goes back over $115, you'll have to sell the $110 puts to some other sucker for about $2 and then roll yourself to the April $115 puts, now $9 for about $4 so then you would be in the April $115 puts for net $10.60 and still looking to get even (with the short Jan $110 puts to deal with).  If you aren't ready, willing and able to do all that – you are probably better off just getting out and picking more stable positions.  

  79. Why do I get the feeling that Asia loves to mock Americans whenever they can:…

  80. How is the animation so great on that thing?  

  81. This one is great too:

    I don't think people who don't travel realize what a global laughingstock we are becoming.  

  82. Yikes, the "rally" is melting away!  

  83. Oil back at $36.50, /NG back at $2, RB still the star at $1.275 – back to that predictable Thursday bump. 

    That down channel is holding so far:

  84. IRA – When we get the sheet running properly, we'll post it here for anyone. Phil gave the ok.

  85. IHS: Please add me to that IRA list.

  86. I also decry the decline of the American middle class.   But it is likely that PSW members like myself are interested in not joining them..  From this evening' FT;

    FT December 10, 2015 6:04 pm

    Middle-class meltdown: Older Americans reshape the economy

    It is the emphasis on "older Americans" that caught my attention.  Those damned baby boomers again.  Looks like their generation luck is still holding.  They will live longer, and have more, than most previous U.S. generations – including the ones behind them.  How that affects the companies that might serve them [and their stock prices] will be a topic of continuing interest.  It's a prism through which to look at companies and their offerings.    I have no suggestions at the moment, but would be glad to have a "No-Longer-Babies"-Boomer portfolio discussion.  The markets potentially affected should extend well beyond nursing homes, given their relative affluence.




  87. "and include the generation behind them" [to clarify my inept syntax, supra.

  88. Who needs oil…

    Keeping with the theme, Chevy announced the Malibu Hybrid will have a serious price tag of $28,645. Chevy said Thursday the 2016 Malibu Hybrid will go on sale in the spring, with that price also including an $875 destination charge. That's about $3,000 more than where the Ford Fusion Hybrid kicks off, and about $2,000 more than a Toyota Camry Hybrid LE.

    The big news being pushed with the Malibu Hybrid, however, is the fuel economyGM says it's capable of 48 miles per gallon city and 45 highway, for a combined rating of 47 mpg. That's better than any other 2016 midsize hybrid sedan. Power comes from a 1.8-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor with a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery, producing 182 combined horsepower. That's competitive with both the Camry and Fusion. Chevy also likes to say it's roughly the same system as the one installed in the 2016 Volt – although with a smaller battery, larger gas engine, and without the plug – so the Malibu Hybrid has that halo effect going for it.

    Someone commented on the article that car manufacturers were complaining that the CAFE standards were too strict when Obama implemented them. Cars could not be made to go with 35 MPG and still be cheap and safe. And yet, 4 years later, we make a $28K car that looks safe and goes for 47 MPG! All is needed is a little nudge from Uncle Sam after all.

  89. Boomers/Zero – As a bleeding edge Boomer myself (1946), I think nursing homes is maybe one standard thing to look at, but health has improved a lot for the elderly. I have friends in good health in their late 80s, and I myself have been keeping my martial arts practice going since I was in Peace Corps in Korea 40+ years ago. Think about what active, healthy retirees would be interested in (assuming they aren't broke, in which case nursing homes). It'll be fairly broad, as there's a lot of variety in my generation, but travel is obvious. Study is another.

  90. Middle Class, more source material: [previous day's FT]: 

    High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.

    Society splinters as bedrock of postwar economy is ‘hollowed out’

    America’s middle class has shrunk to just half the population for the first time in at least four decades as the forces of technological change and globalisation drive a wedge between the winners and losers in a splintering US society.


    The ranks of the middle class are now narrowly outnumbered by those in lower and upper income strata combined for the first time since at least the early 1970s, according to the definitions by the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think-tank in research shared with the Financial Times."


  91. It is being suggested that this middle class hollow-out is largely responsible for the "Trump-etization" of U.S. politics.  A real-income-declining white middle class hopeful that a billionaire "populist" will restore "balance" in America.  Fat chance.  Trump is more likely to turn them into Soylent Green if he thought he could sell the stuff.

  92. /NG under $2! What is the all time low for Nat gas? 

  93. Looking at the 10 day forecast for NYC, we finally see a day with the high temperature under 50 degrees, 10 days from now. Until then however it is still 60's and high fifties for the most part so, hopefully we may see the price of NG rise in anticipation of that cool weather 10 days out. Maybe. 

  94. One last Nat gas comment, we did have a decent draw on inventory today, so why are we crashing now as a result? Was there some news item or something in the report that indicated this? We have not seen prices like this since the late 90's early 00's. Phil do you think this is the blow out before heading higher? I sure would love to catch a nice move up, but this has been relentlessly lower for weeks. 

  95. IRA Portfolio/ All: As Burden posted we will post the insofar  all to see and opt in.

    I have added Iancep50, gerryf, qcmike, tshroyer and davao as new interested players. Others were listed in a prior post.


  96. IHS- Have you started the IRA portfolio yet? If so where do I see it? 

  97. PEG/Phil – what's up with your local utility? had been coasting along, but broke through support…  thinking time to dump my shares and maybe replace with June 35 short puts @ 1.60ish

  98. Men’s Wearhouse shares are getting hammered after the company reported ugly earnings. The founder of the company, George Zimmer, says it’s clear where the retailer went wrong. “It was a mistake to acquire Jos. A Bank,” Zimmer, who was fired from Men’s Wearhouse in 2013,…

  99. Michael Dell is trying to orchestrate the biggest tech acquisition in history, and to pull it off, he’ll likely have to go up to his eyeballs in debt to pay $67 billion for EMC. Why would he be willing to do…

  100. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are five of the biggest religions in the world. Over the last few thousand years, these religious groups have shaped the course of history and had a profound influence on the trajectory of the…

  101. Tough times for Chipotle: Following the disastrous E. coli outbreak that spread across nine states and sickened more than 50 people, the burrito chain is now facing a norovirus outbreak at a Boston store that has made 120 people sick. Clearly the company…

  102. Back in 2000, just before George W. Bush became president, the CIA published a 70-page report on what the world would be like in 2015. 2015 is winding down fast, and it turns out that several of these predictions were…

  103. What makes the US so beautiful is how its topography varies so dramatically from state to state. No wonder it’s called “America the Beautiful.” From arid deserts to lush forests, America’s landscape is as varied as it is stunning. Picking 50 wasn’t easy, but…

  104. By Charles Gave, courtesy of John Maudlin The Apex Of Market Stupidity In some 40 years of watching financial markets, my dominant emotion has been a mixture of curiosity, amusement and despair. It seems the stock market must have been…

  105. Authored by Jeremy Grantham via GMO, Give Me Only Good News! “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.    It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Attributed to Mark Twain) It takes little experience…

  106. New taxes won’t be jacking up US broadband subscribers’ bills, if Congress votes as expected in the coming days. The US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Friday, and the Senate Monday, to pass customs and trade enforcement legislation…

  107. North Korea is ready to detonate a hydrogen bomb to “defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation,” leader Kim Jong Un said Thursday – a threat that remains unsubstantiated.It is the first time the regime, which has already…

  108. 2/3 of Tesla's drivetrain may need to be replaced at 60k

    Note: I don't buy it.

  109. Back when the global recession trashed oil demand and prices, the likes of BP Plc and Vitol Group found a novel way to profit: They stashed crude on tankers. With a slump of similar magnitude now, traders are seldom finding the same opportunities.

  110. Standard Chartered Plc raised about $5.1 billion after 96.8 percent of the bank’s shareholders exercised their rights in a share sale on Friday, signaling confidence in Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters’s strategy to turn around the Asia-focused lender.

  111. Iron ore is poised to extend declines for a ninth week, the longest losing streak in seven years, as Chinese steel production data on Saturday may signal a further weakening in demand.

  112. With toxic haze forecast to return to Beijing on Saturday, many city residents are asking how a deterioration in air quality can be reversed and what city officials can do to avoid the kind of “red alert” that in the nation’s capital this week.

  113. The dollar headed for a weekly gain before a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting at which policy makers are seen raising interest rates. Oil and commodities prices slumped, weighing on energy stocks, while a weaker yen boosted Japanese shares.

  114. The chief executive officer of one of Canada’s largest software companies is calling the second tech bubble.

  115. The International Monetary Fund’s decision last month to add the yuan to its basket of reserve currencies doesn’t mean China can challenge the dollar as a global safe haven because of the trust investors have in the U.S. economy and monetary policy, according to Nobel laureate Eric Maskin.

  116. A Chipotle restaurant in Seattle was shut down for repeated food-safety violations, bringing a fresh headache to a chain reeling from norovirus and E. coli outbreaks.

  117. Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri has kicked off talks with several Wall Street banks for $5 billion to $10 billion of loans in a bid to shore up central bank reserves, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

  118. December is turning into a cruel month for traders counting on cuts in interest rates to drive down currencies.

  119. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. won the top financial-strength rating from A.M. Best Co. for a unit that plans to sell insurance directly to businesses over the Internet, paving the way for Chairman Warren Buffett to expand his company’s insurance operations.

  120. Ford Motor Co. said it’s investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles, responding to regulatory pressure with a bet on technologies that have struggled to attract buyers in the U.S. as fuel prices stay low.

  121. Yum! Brands Inc. had its bond rating downgraded to junk by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, which said the fast-food giant’s planned share buybacks and dividends will probably require more debt.

  122. Less than 10 days before they plan to adjourn for the Christmas holiday, lawmakers in Congress remain divided over how to help Puerto Rico as the island rapidly runs out cash and inches closer toward the first major default on its bonds.

  123. David Cameron again delayed the decision he has been putting off for more than three years: whether to allow another runway at London Heathrow Airport, and in so doing break a promise he made in 2010.

  124. Warren Buffett is personally betting on the blank space created by a shrinking Sears.

  125. The U.S. Navy’s did this week: It floated. 

  126. Some Republicans are now  that Donald Trump could cost them the Senate — or even put their seemingly solid House majority in danger.

  127. A developer from one of China’s so-called ghost towns said it’s struggling to repay bonds that are coming due next week.

  128. Macau casino stocks fell in Hong Kong trading after the South China Morning Post reported China will introduce new measures to crack down on the use of illegal China UnionPay Co. point of service devices, which could spur more scrutiny on Macau transactions.

  129. Fosun International Ltd. bonds plunged by a record and the company suspended its shares in Hong Kong after Caixin magazine reported that billionaire Chairman Guo Guangchang had gone missing.

  130. Amy Prieto 41Chief executive officer of nine-employee Prieto Battery in Fort Collins, Colo.

  131. The Democratic National Committee is threatening to revoke ABC affiliate WMUR’s sponsorship of its Dec. 19 presidential debate amid an ongoing labor dispute at the New Hampshire station, the party said Thursday.

  132. For all the attention being paid to President Barack Obama’s for the U.S. to use less coal, remember: It’s hard to imagine Americans making a deep enough reduction in carbon emissions unless they start buying more electric cars and fewer pickups and SUVs (at least ones that don’t run on batteries).

  133. Elon Musk and Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson have starkly different visions of the world. But on the best tool for fighting climate change, they agree. 

  134. Filled with oil paintings, watercolors, and other artworks, the offices of Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) in White Plains, N.Y., look like a Manhattan gallery—that’s been through a storm. “We have a water-stained Salvador Dali, we have an ancient Chinese plate that is cracked and reframed in a box,” says Ross Buchmueller, the insurer’s chief executive officer. “And obviously we have this glass structure that greets everybody when they come in,” he adds, referring to a 5-foot sculpture with a crack in it that the company got from a client after paying his claim for its full value. “We have now installed damaged art throughout the building,” Buchmueller says. “It’s a constant reminder for why we are in business.”

  135. In the age of rising income inequality, the task of preserving America’s middle class has been taken on by politicians across the ideological spectrum. A new from Pew Research Center shows just how much the economic fortunes of this group have changed since the 1970s. 

  136. Navient, the country’s largest student debt servicer, put out a  Wednesday that suggests young people are doing just fine with their finances. The study surveyed 3,000 millennials and concluded that they are happily taking out mortgages, starting families, saving money, and managing their budgets. “Young adults are not only financially healthy but also actively focused on saving,” the report said. Navient may be overstating things. Here are four reasons you should not be convinced that things are going that well for young people who took out student loans.  

  137. It played a key role in the creative bookkeeping at the heart of the process against Brazil President Dilma Rousseff. It spearheaded the debt surge that contributed to the country’s loss of investment grade. Its biggest client has been Petrobras, the scandal-plagued state oil company.

  138. As diplomats in Paris began one of their last days to ink a climate treaty, something symbolic took place on the , that real-time estimate of the atmosphere’s CO2 level.

  139. Koch Industries Inc. is working to open a commodities trading desk in Shanghai to take advantage of opportunities in China.

  140. Taco Bell, facing an increasingly saturated U.S. fast-food market, is ramping up restaurant openings overseas.

  141. Yahoo! Inc. is planning to carve out its main Web business into a standalone company, part of a tax-saving “complex transaction” to separate its $31 billion stake in Alibaba Holding Group Ltd.

  142. Indian bonds and the rupee fell this week as a combination of a pending U.S. interest-rate increase and slumping oil curbed risk appetite, prompting investors to offload local assets.

  143. Winter is about to start in the Northern Hemisphere, and you’d never know it from looking at U.S. natural gas prices. On Thursday they dipped below $2 per million British thermal units for the second time in more than three years.

  144. Oil headed for the biggest weekly decline since March amid speculation OPEC’s decision to effectively scrap production targets will keep the market oversupplied.

  145. The dollar strengthened the most in a month against the yen ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, when investors anticipate policy makers will raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade.

  146. IHS4GOD  Please add me to the IRA portfolio list as well. Thank you kindly!

  147. Good morning! 

    Big sharp tumble all of a sudden starting about 5:15.  

    Seems to have been led by falling oil prices ($36.25) though Europe has been going off a cliff since the open on 0.1% CPI in Germany, which was supposed to be getting better. 

    So much for yesterday's gains (and what a joke the market is anyway – have I mentioned how much I like CASH!!! lately?  

    It is 62 degrees in NY today and will be this hot for another week or two.  This is 15-25 degrees above normal!  

    Paris Talks While Carbon Burns

    This is serious guys, we're over 400 parts per million in CO2 and 350 is safe and 450 DANGEROUS and 500 is the beginning of the end of mammal life on this planet!  350 was 1995, it only took us 20 years to get to 400 – we need to stop not caring about this and do something about it!  For perspective, we popped 300 when industrialization began and the only time before that that we were over 300 was 800,000 years earlier! 

    You need to write to your Congresspeople or elect ones that care about this issue.  The people you elect to the Senate next year will push the agenda through 2022 and we simply don't have until then to put off serious action.  Same goes for the President – in 2020, at the pace we're going, it will be 405-410 and harder and harder to reverse.

    This is not a joke – this is what's actually happening!  

  148. We Fact Checked Aaron Sorkin's Climate Science on "The News Room"

    The last time the atmosphere clocked 400 ppm it was 3 million years ago—the "Mid-Pliocene"—when sea levels were as much as 80 feet higher than today (see this 2007 research paper authored by a group led by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University.)

    Turns out mammals have survived hotter – just not monkeys:

  149. CO2 – For perspective Phil, CO2 concentrations on planet earth have often and for extended periods of time (ie 100's of millions of years at a stretch) been an order of magnitude higher than today's atmosphere.  Based on the geological record the planet's natural state is a tropical paradise(?) from pole to pole.  The continental ice sheets melted just 12,000 years ago.  This is simply a reversion to the mean.  A concept you teach us daily.

  150. Phil, looking for another run up in /NG today before it heads lower?

  151. Good macro idea, ZZ.  As Snow notes, nursing homes are good (nursing home REITs) as people simply can't afford to live on their own.  Cruise lines are big business for old people, Depends….

    Adult nappies 'outsell baby nappies' – Mirror Online

    Sales of adult diapers to surpass baby diapers in aging Japan

    Nudge/StJ – Yes, we need a lot more nudging and less putting our heads in the sand. 

    Trump/ZZ – If he's the candidate it will likely lead to the destruction of the Republican Party and, for that, I will build a statue in his honor (a HUGE one!).  

    /NG/Craigs – Going back to 1995 (longest chart I see) it has never been below $2.  The draw on inventory is already forgotten as people sweat on the way to the exchanges.  Traditionally, Nat Gas is for cold weather and you can't break that mindset the traders have had for decades until they get badly burned and learn a new lesson.  Traders are responding to traditional supply/demand model and that's all they have to go on but they are ignoring the "strange" draw in /NG inventories which indicates they don't understand the changes that are coming.  We may (as we often are) be too far ahead of the curve but two intersecting trends are less wells being drilled (so supply eventually trails off) and new demand coming from overseas, which will both hit us over the next 12 months.  Again, the short game is anyone's guess but I am loving 2017 UNG longs!  

    PEG/Scott – What a despicable company they are!  The fees they charge are beyond ridiculous.  A 3.9% rate reduction just kicked in as an excess restructuring fee has expired – that's why they are selling off.  It's the second round and bills are going to be down about 6.5% next year.  Rising rates don't help utilities either as they all carry big debts.

    TSLA/Burr – When they were lauded by Consumer Reports they gained about $100 – I wonder if being scolded by them will dial them back the same amount.  I'm still waiting for Elon Must to actually do something that shows he isn't simply a huckster who makes mountains out of molehills.  He does lots of stuff that SOUNDS good but, when tested – tends not to work as expected.  

    $80,000 cars shouldn't have cheap drivetrains.  The cars are not maintaining a resale value anywhere near the promised 50% after 3 years and that's going to hit TSLA's books beginning next year as they guaranteed them in order to make the leasing costs cheaper than they should have been.  Still waiting for more super-charger stations, still waiting for the first battery-swap station, still waiting for the rockets to work and, God help us, someone is actually building the hyperloop but even that looks like a scam to me as they pose in front of massive tubes for pictures but the actual thing they are building will run on an open track – which defeats the entire point.   It's a test, of course, but when they were raising money they said they were testing the actual tube design – this is stepping a mile back from that.  

    It's just fishy and, when something is fishy – you shouldn't invest.  Everything Musk does is fishy…

    CO2/Sibe – Depends on whose measurements you use (chart above) but 2 of them show mammals didn't exist in any form with levels over 700 and only Copse shows monkeys existing over 450 and I lean to the "better safe than dead" side of those estimates.  We evolved to take advantage of a cooler planet (mostly below 300ppm) and that's what we're adapted to – our species will find a warmer planet very inhospitable.  Anyway, current evidence shows we're likely to begin experiencing catastrophic changes at 450, let alone 500 and we might be able to survive higher – but not 7Bn of us.  

    /NG/Burr – People are panicking out of /NG, what catalyst would reverse that trend today or next week?  It's a stay-away at the moment.

    Ouch, indexes down 1% and more.   

  152. /NG- As traders in NYC come off the golf course on Sunday when temperatures reach about 70, they will be hard pressed to buy on Monday. However if the forecasts hold and cold weather arrives the following weekend, we should see NG prices finally start the journey back up, with a possible blip when inventories come out again. 

  153. So yesterday you went long /NG. Today your say is no touch. Y?  Since it broke the floor and wait for next floor to establish?  

    Not forcing, just learning.

  154. Phil, Actually we evolved to take advantage of a warming climate.  We would have something to worry about if the climate were cooling fast, heading for another ice age, as it might just due with low GHG concentrations (note the trend).  The skiing would be better though.  

  155. Phil, do you think there is a trade with the duPont/Dow merger? Regards, 

  156. Interesting study about ISIS, is basically a  religious matter between them not against the West.