Archive for June, 2017

“We Don’t Know What Happened” St. Louis Officials Clueless As Downtown Sinkhole Swallows Car

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In a development that should send a chill down the spine of every citizen of St. Louis  – especially considering the city’s efforts to revitalize its violence-plagued downtown – a sinkhole spontaneously appeared in the city's downtown, swallowing a car that had been parked street side.

And even more concering, city officials say they have no idea how it happened.

Vincent Foggie, of the city's water division, said the hole was missing mounds of dirt that normally support the road's asphalt-topped concrete. He called such voids large enough to swallow a vehicle a rarity in the city.

"We don't know what happened," Foggie said. "I have no idea where the dirt went."

St Louis resident Jordan Westerberg parked his car on sixth street downtown near the railway exchange building on Thursday morning as he and his fiancée headed to an early morning workout at a gym nearby.

When he returned shortly before 7 a.m. local time, his Toyota Camry was nowhere to be found. Westerberg and his fiancée said they figured it had been towed.

Then, they saw a gathering of street workers near their parking space, tipping them off that something wasn’t right. That's when Westerberg, 25, found the vehicle in the gaping hole – about 20 feet (6 meters) deep and 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) across – that took up the entire southbound lane of the street, next to a vacant building expected to feature apartments, office space and retail, according to the Associated Press.

No injuries were reported.

"It's pretty crazy," said Westerberg, who lives in a loft downtown. "We could've been in the car. It's a compact car. It's not like it's heavy."

The city said it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the sinkhole, though an 8-inch, below-ground water main at the site appeared to have been broken for some time, given the amount of erosion.

Now for the real question: How does a water main break in a major city’s downtown without city officials being alerted somehow?

Hopefully the city will refund Westerberg's parking costs, at the very least.

Here’s a video courtesy of local AM radio station KMOX.





Picturing An ‘America First’ Korea Policy

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

By Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

“The North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with, and probably dealt with rapidly.”

So President Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden this week.

But how this is to be done “rapidly” is not so easy to see.

North Korea has just returned to us Otto Warmbier, a student sentenced to 15 years hard labor for stealing a propaganda poster. Otto came home comatose, and died within days.

Trump’s conundrum: How to keep such a regime from acquiring an ICBM with a nuclear warhead, which Kim Jong Un is determined to do.

Having seen us attack Iraq and Libya, which had no nukes, Kim believes that only nuclear weapons that can hit America can deter America. He appears willing to risk war to achieve his goal.

Trump’s options as he meets South Korean President Moon Jae-in?

First, the decapitation of the Kim dynasty. But the U.S. has been unable to accomplish regime change for the 64 years following the Korean War. And killing Kim could ignite a war.

Then there is a U.S. pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear sites and missile arsenals. But this would surely mean a war in which Americans on the DMZ would be among the first to die, as thousands of North Korean artillery and mortar tubes fired into the suburbs and city of Seoul, which is as close as Dulles Airport is to the White House.

Asked by Congressman Tim Ryan why we don’t launch a war to end this threat, Defense Secretary James Mattis replied that, while we might “win … at great cost,” such a war would “involve the massive shelling of an ally’s capital … one of the most densely packed cities on earth.”

Seoul has a metro-area population of 25 million.

We are thus approaching a point where we accept North Korea having a nuclear weapon that can reach Seattle, or we attack its strategic arsenal and bring on a war in which millions could die.

What about sanctions?

The only nation that could impose sufficient hardships on North Korea to imperil…
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5 Maps That Explain The Modern Middle East

By Mauldin Economics. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Nation-states are the defining feature of the modern political era. They give people a collective identity and a pride of place… even when their borders are artificially drawn, as they were in the Middle East.

However, transnational issues like religion and ethnicity often get in the way of the notion of nationalism. Those can’t be contained by a country’s borders.

Arab nation-states are now failing in the Middle East. Their failure is mainly due to their inability to create viable political economies. Transnational issues—especially the competition between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam—however, amplify the process.

Qatar, Facing Economic Ramifications, Is Expected To Fall In Line With GCC

Albert Edwards Sees Central Banks Losing Independence After Next Crash

Modern Middle East

The Failure of Pan-Arabism

Transnational issues have long plagued the modern Middle East. Major Arab states like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq began to flirt with pan-Arabism. It’s a secular, left-leaning ideology that sought political unity of the Arab world. It promoted a kind of nationalism that defied the logic of the nation-state.

Pan-Arabism failed because it couldn’t replace traditional nationalism with something that had never existed in history. But the countries that rejected it never really developed into viable political entities.

The coercion of state security forces was what hold them together, not the ideology.

Since the 1970s, these countries have been challenged by another transnational idea, Islamism (or political Islam). It has proven to be far more effective than pan-Arabism. The movement has spread throughout the Middle East.

It has taken root not only among Sunni Arabs, but also among Shiites. In fact, the Shiites were the first to create an Islamist government when they toppled the monarchy in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Sunni Islamists would not hold traditional political power until after the so-called 2011 Arab Spring. But their power was short-lived.

The Origins of the Islamic State

The anarchy of the Arab Spring was fertile ground for jihadists, especially for the Islamic State. It became the most powerful Sunni Islamist force in the region. What underlay its success was the group’s ability to exploit sectarian differences in the region.

The Baathist regime in Iraq was replaced by a Shiite-dominated government that Sunnis had tried to keep from power.

Likewise, the Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey strived to take over the Sunni…
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“China Faces Its Comeuppance” – Kyle Bass Warns Of “Tectonic Shift” In US Relationship

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Hayman Capital's Kyle Bass ventured on to CNBC this morning to drop some painful truth bombs about Trump's "drastically changed Chinese diplomacy" and China's looming "come-uppance."

Bass began by highlighting what he calls a "tectonic shift" in US-China relations in the last few days, pointing to two crucial events…

1. Things changed drastically when US launched unilateral sanctions on China over North Korea

"Xi is a control freak and he absolutely doesn't appreciate the United States acting unilaterally."

2. Things escalated when Trump sold $1.4bn in weapons to Taiwan, angering Beijing more as Bass notes:

"Taiwan was the one area which Beijing has asked Trump to stay away from during his meeting at Mar-a-Lago."

"Since the death of Otto Warmbier, any chance of meetings with North Korea are now off…and our diplomatic relationship with China took a major step for the worse yesterday."

Bass notes that "China is trying to make marginal changes in its balance of trade with US – buying beef once again and importing a lot more crude oil from the US."

But then Bass shifts to the potentially even more precarious situation under the hood of China's economy. As Reuters reports, China's leaders want the restructuring of their massive non-performing loans problem to address financial risks while avoiding big employee lay-offs, and have instigated 'cure by committee'…

"The solution for zombie firms isn't just bankruptcy," a Shandong-based banking official told Reuters. "The impact of bankruptcy is just too big. Just think about the thousands of workers. Social stability is key."

Stability is always uppermost in the minds of Chinese leaders, and even more so this year, ahead of the five-yearly party congress this autumn, when a new generation of senior leaders will be selected.

"China is avoiding the crisis of calling in loans that can't be repaid anyway," said Paul Gillis, professor of accounting at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. "This buys time to do things in an orderly way."

But Bass makes the crucial point that there are over 12,800 credit committees in China right now – overseeing


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Hedge Fund Traders Return To Banking As Trump Promises To ‘Make Prop Trading Great Again’

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The hedge fund industry is finding itself in increasingly dire straits as persistently weak returns and the advent of low-cost investing have forced more and more funds to shut down. So, it's unsurprising that, amid this steadily worsening backdrop, more traders are heading for the exits. But where are the heading? Increasingly, more traders are moving back from where they came – i.e. the big banks, which expect to see a boost in trading revenue as President Donald Trump has vowed to dial back postcrisis regulations that forced banks to wind down their prop desks.

In recent months, a number of high-profile hedge fund names have made the leap back to banking, according to Bloomberg.

“This month, Barclays Plc hired Chris Leonard, a founder of two hedge funds in the decade since he left JPMorgan Chase & Co., to turn around U.S. rates trading. At the end of last year, ex-bankers Roberto Hoornweg and Chris Rivelli, both of Brevan Howard Asset Management, left that London hedge fund for banks.

Recruiters say these moves and others aren’t just the usual attrition: banks in New York and London are interesting employers again a decade after the financial crisis, and may get involved in more proprietary trading if President Trump eases regulatory burdens. There’s also another factor: many macro funds just don’t make money anymore.

One recruiter says he expects defections to increase over the next nine months.

“In the last quarter of the year or first quarter of 2018, you will find more people leaving the hedge funds to join banks to run proprietary money,” said Jason Kennedy, chief executive officer of the Kennedy Group in London, which hires for banks and hedge funds. “The banks will become more attractive in terms of jobs and pay.”

The Trump administration has struggled to pass elements of its agenda – most notable its plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. And it only recently scored a partial victory on its immigration ban. Yet financial deregulation is one area where the Trump agenda is moving inexorably forward. On June 13, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued a report – the first in a series that will detail how the administration plans to


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Grant Williams: Get Out of Equities Before Boomers Are Forced To Sell Them

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Stephen McBride via MauldinEconomics.com,

Last year, the first baby boomers turned 70 and that spells trouble for investors.

Speaking at the Mauldin Economics Strategic Investment Conference, Grant Williams, Co-Founder of RealVision TV, warned investors about the wave of forced selling by millions of retirees and the impact it will have on their portfolios.

Equities Make Up 70% of Boomers’ Portfolios

“Boomers are the largest generation in history to retire, and they’re doing so right now.”

In fact, according to Pew Research, 1.5 million Americans turned 70 last year and will do so every year for the next 15 years.

“When Boomers are retiring in their millions, they have 70% of their portfolios in equities… at a point in time when we are due a recession,” pointed out Grant Williams.

“And in recession, bad things happen… the average stock market drawdown in recession since 1980 is 37%.”

Just $136,000 Saved for Retirement

While boomers have their biggest allocation to equities they’ve ever had, Williams says the numbers don’t look good for them: “The reality is they don’t have enough money to retire.”

“According to BlackRock, the average Boomer has only $136,000 saved for retirement. Even with return assumptions fixed at 7%, when they’re more like 2%, you are talking an income of $9,000 a year… that’s $36,000 shy of the ideal retirement income,” adds Williams.

As such, boomers will be forced to look for income elsewhere. In the not-so-distant past, that has come from bonds.

As the below chart shows, once you hit the age of 65, you go through the most profound asset class shift since your 30s. You trim your equity positions and raise your bond exposure to lower the risk.

Source: Haver Analytics, Gluskin Sheff

However, with today’s yields, bonds won’t provide the needed income.

Even if boomers decide to stick to equities for higher yields, there’s another reason they will be forced to divest their equity holdings—one they have little choice in.

Forced


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Voter Fraud, or How Zero Hedge Slants a Story

 

Update: More than half the states refusing to provide voter data to Trump election panel (Oregon and Washington added themselves to the list.)

At least 29 states are pushing back or outright refusing to comply with the Trump administration’s request for voter registration data.

From The Hill24 states refusing to provide voter data to Trump election panel:

At least 24 states are pushing back or outright refusing to comply with the Trump administration’s request for voter registration data.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, formed by President Trump to investigate his widely debunked claim that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, sent letters this week to the 50 secretaries of state across the country requesting information about voters.

The letter, signed by commission vice chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), asked for names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state. It also sought felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill.

Many states immediately raised concerns and voiced their opposition to providing the information. 

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said that she does not intend to release the data. 

"The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not,” Lundergan Grimes said. “I do not intend to release Kentuckians' sensitive personal data to the federal government.” 

[...]

Trump has alleged that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in November’s election, an assertion for which he has offered no evidence. Repeated academic and state studies of voter files show that only a handful of improper votes were cast in recent elections. 

Chief election officials from both sides of the aisle expressed skepticism about Trump’s claim of voter fraud. 

Zero Hedge's version of the story is here: Andrew Cuomo Refuses Federal Data Request Related To Trump's "Voter Fraud Myth".

Shortly after moving into the White House, President Trump promised a "major investigation into VOTER FRAUD" and vowed that any evidence of


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Your Opportunity Lies Here [CHARTS]

By Steve Blumenthal. Originally published at ValueWalk.

“Change of a long-term trend is usually gradual enough that it is obscured by the noise caused by short-term volatility.  By the time secular trends are even acknowledged by the majority they are generally obvious and mature.  In the early stages of a new secular paradigm, therefore, most are conditioned to hear only the short-term noise they have been conditioned to respond to by the prior existing condition.  Moreover, in a shift of long-term significance, the markets will be adapting to a new set of rules while most market participants will be still playing by the old rules.”

 * Robert Farrell, Former Chief Stock Market Analyst Merrill Lynch

Most hedge funds today are hardly even hedging; they are record net long equities

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I listened to Bob Farrell several times a week.  Bob was the chief stock market analyst at Merrill Lynch.  Do you remember those old “squawk boxes?”  On my desk sat a small speaker box.  It was the firm’s way of communicating to the thousands of brokers.  I’d keep the volume low but when Farrell stepped to the mic, I’d turn the knob to the right.  His deep monotone voice would fill my cubical and echo in the office around me.  As a young broker, I had little idea as to the way of the financial world.  I hung on his every word.

Bob was unique on Wall Street.  Most firms pushed out product that had recently worked.  Easier to sell, as you might imagine, but rarely worked as those gains were in the past.  But…
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Pakistan-China Ties Soar As The U.S. Pivots To India

By Polina Tikhonova. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Having just lost India to the U.S., Pakistan pivots to China, elevating Pakistan-China relations to a brand new level. What has been speculated for years finally took place this week: Pakistan gave up any hopes for improved relations with its once-key ally Washington and declared Beijing as “the cornerstone” of its foreign policy.

Pakistan-China

Pakistan / Pixabay

Pakistan-China ties have experienced a major boost after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington this week. Islamabad sent a crystal clear message to Washington, its decades-long key ally, following the enthusiastic and upbeat meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Modi.

During this week’s state visit to Islamabad by China’s foreign minister, Pakistan’s top foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz declared that Pakistan-China relations are “the cornerstone of our foreign policy.” The downward trend in U.S.-Pakistan relations reached its peak when Trump and Modi shook hands and hinted that Pakistan is responsible for the spread of regional terrorism via its alleged support for anti-Afghan insurgents.

For months, Pakistan feared that the Trump administration would cut ties from Islamabad for its alleged support for terrorist groups or even impose sanctions against India’s neighbor and arch rival. But Washington opted for a much subtler shift in foreign policy.

US-India pivot gives rise to Pakistan-China relations

After Trump and Modi held their over-enthusiastic meeting earlier this week, it was a clear that Washington was shifting its political pivot from Pakistan to India. Not that the U.S. had not seen it coming, Islamabad was quick to renew its wedding vows with China and declared its long-time diplomatic, economic and military partner “the cornerstone” of its foreign policy.

The U.S. foreign policy shift could not have come at a more opportune time, as Islamabad has arguably a more reliable alternative to Washington in the face of China. Although Pakistan-China relations have for decades been particularly warm, only in recent years the two neighbors turned their friendship into a strong political partnership, largely thanks to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its successful implementation.

Pakistan can afford losing U.S. to India

For decades, Washington has supplied Islamabad with military equipment and aid, and even today the South Asian nation continues to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. annual support. This time around, however, India is getting…
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Warren Buffett Destroys Investment Fund Managers & Winning $1 Million Bet Index Funds Beat Them

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Warren Buffett is an American investor, businessman and philanthropist. He is regarded as one of the world’s greatest stock market investors, and is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He bet against Protege Partners, LLC the following: Over a ten-year period commencing on January 1, 2008, and ending on December 31, 2017, the S&P 500 will outperform a portfolio of funds of hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs and expenses. The bet may be viewed here http://longbets.org/user/buffett/

Does Anybody have a clear picture of the state of HCG’s finances?

The Value Of Cash

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Warren Buffett Destroys Investment Fund Managers & Winning $1 Million Bet Index Funds Beat Them

Berkshire Hathaway B shares Warren Buffett

By Mark Hirschey (Work of Mark Hirschey) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The post Warren Buffett Destroys Investment Fund Managers & Winning $1 Million Bet Index Funds Beat Them appeared first on ValueWalk.

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Phil's Favorites

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

 

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

Recent revelations about the lack of privacy protections in place at the companies involved in Facebook’s new Libra crytocurrency raise concerns about how much trust users can place in Libra. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Alfred Lehar, University of Calgary

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, stunned the world earlier this year with the announcement of its own cryptocurrency, Libra.

The launch has raised questions about the difference between Libra and existing cryptocurrencies, as well as the implications of private companies competing with s...



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Digital Currencies

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

 

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

Recent revelations about the lack of privacy protections in place at the companies involved in Facebook’s new Libra crytocurrency raise concerns about how much trust users can place in Libra. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Alfred Lehar, University of Calgary

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, stunned the world earlier this year with the announcement of its own cryptocurrency, Libra.

The launch has raised questions about the difference between Libra and existing cryptocurrencies, as well as the implications of private companies competing with s...



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Zero Hedge

What's Hot In Women's Fashion?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Via Global Macro Monitor,

Capitalism at its best or worst?

We have a few questions:

1)  Does the Tariff Man get a royalty for the sale of each dress sold, and will that violate the Emolumen...



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Lee's Free Thinking

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

Courtesy of Lee Adler

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

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

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



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The Technical Traders

Is A Price Revaluation Event About To Happen?

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Skilled technical traders must be aware that price is setting up for a breakout or breakdown event with recent Doji, Hammer
and other narrow range price bars.  These types of Japanese Candlestick patterns are warnings that price is coiling into
a tight range and the more we see them in a series, the more likely price is building up some type of explosive price breakout/breakdown move in the near future.  The ES (S&P 500 E-mini futures) chart is a perfect example of these types of price bars on the Daily chart (see below).

Tri-Star Tops, Three River Evening Star patterns, Hammers/Hangmen and Dojis are all very common near extreme price peaks and troughs.  The rea...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

India About To Experience Major Strength? Possible Says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

If one invested in the India ETF (INDA) back in January of 2012, your total 7-year return would be 24%. During the same time frame, the S&P 500 made 124%. The 7-year spread between the two is a large 100%!

Are things about to improve for the INDA ETF and could it be time for the relative weakness to change? Possible!

This chart looks at the INDA/SPX ratio since early 2012. The ratio continues to be in a major downtrend.

The ratio hit a 7-year low a few months ago and this week it kissed those lows again at (1). The ratio near weeks end is attempting to...



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Insider Scoop

10 Biggest Price Target Changes For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Credit Suisse raised IHS Markit Ltd (NYSE: INFO) price target from $68 to $76. IHS Markit shares closed at $67.75 on Thursday.
  • Wedbush boosted Restoration Hardware Holdings, Inc (NYSE: RH) price target from $170 to $185. RH shares closed at $169.49 on Thursday.
  • Mizuho lifted Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) price target from $46 to $50. Seagate shares closed at $52.94 on Thursday.
  • UBS raised the price target for Weight Watchers Intern...


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Chart School

Crude Oil Cycle Bottom aligns with Saudi Oil Attack

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Do the cycles know? Funny how cycle lows attract the need for higher prices, no matter what the news is!

These are the questions before markets on on Monday 16th Aug 2019:

1) A much higher oil price in quick time can not be tolerated by the consumer, as it gives birth to much higher inflation and a tax on the average Joe disposable income. This is recessionary pressure.

2) With (1) above the real issue will be the higher interest rate and US dollar effect on the SP500 near all time highs.

3) A moderately higher oil price is likely to be absorbed and be bullish as it creates income for struggling energy companies and the inflation shock may be muted. 

We shall see. 

...

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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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