Archive for 2017

The Real Threat Of Artificial Intelligence – Keynesian Dystopia

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Kai-Fu Lee, originally posted at The New York Times,

What worries you about the coming world of artificial intelligence?

Too often the answer to this question resembles the plot of a sci-fi thriller. People worry that developments in A.I. will bring about the “singularity” — that point in history when A.I. surpasses human intelligence, leading to an unimaginable revolution in human affairs. Or they wonder whether instead of our controlling artificial intelligence, it will control us, turning us, in effect, into cyborgs.

These are interesting issues to contemplate, but they are not pressing. They concern situations that may not arise for hundreds of years, if ever. At the moment, there is no known path from our best A.I. tools (like the Google computer program that recently beat the world’s best player of the game of Go) to “general” A.I. — self-aware computer programs that can engage in common-sense reasoning, attain knowledge in multiple domains, feel, express and understand emotions and so on.

This doesn’t mean we have nothing to worry about. On the contrary, the A.I. products that now exist are improving faster than most people realize and promise to radically transform our world, not always for the better. They are only tools, not a competing form of intelligence. But they will reshape what work means and how wealth is created, leading to unprecedented economic inequalities and even altering the global balance of power.

It is imperative that we turn our attention to these imminent challenges.

What is artificial intelligence today? Roughly speaking, it’s technology that takes in huge amounts of information from a specific domain (say, loan repayment histories) and uses it to make a decision in a specific case (whether to give an individual a loan) in the service of a specified goal (maximizing profits for the lender). Think of a spreadsheet on steroids, trained on big data. These tools can outperform human beings at a given task.

This kind of A.I. is spreading to thousands of domains (not just loans), and as it does, it will eliminate many jobs. Bank tellers, customer service representatives, telemarketers, stock and bond traders, even paralegals and radiologists will gradually be replaced by

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The Only Way Out Of The Qatar Crisis

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Ahmed Chari via The Strategic Culture Foundation

Qatar has been known for years as a small peninsula nation that punches far above its weight. Its immense oil wealth and enormous influence, through its English- and Arabic-language Al Jazeera channels, have given it diplomatic clout across the Arab world. Its soft power has been felt in negotiations in Darfur, Tripoli, Sanaa and elsewhere. Everywhere it has been either admired or envied.

Now Qatar is on its back feet, fighting off criticism from all sides. Qatar’s candidate to run UNESCO is now almost certain to lose; a few months earlier, he was the frontrunner. Activists are pressing FIFA to bar Qatar from hosting the World Cup. Pressure is mounting to close the U.S. air base in Qatar; U.S. Air Force general Charles Wald, who opened the base in 2001, is now, in retirement, publicly calling for its closure. A coalition of thirty-four thousand predominantly African American churches protested Qatar in Washington, DC, on June 28, citing Qatar’s persecution of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities. (Qatar bans crosses on the outside of churches and bars public prayer by Christians, even though there may be more Christians in the country than the three hundred thousand native Qataris.) The protest, outside Qatar’s embassy at Twenty-Fifth and M Streets, is the first-ever public demonstration against Qatar in Washington. It won’t be the last.

Even more dramatically, Qatar’s neighbors and allies have turned against it. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed their air and sea ports to Qatar’s planes and ships. The Arab-language media is full of venom directed at Qatar. Now it is either pitied or feared.

What happened? Qatar was found to be funding the enemies of America and its Arab allies. Washington policymakers are concerned that Qatar has funded, according to the U.S. State department, Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria as well as elements of ISIS—the very groups America is bombing in its campaign to liberate northern Iraq. It also supports Hamas, which both the United States and EU have designated as a terrorist organization. Bahrain believes that Qatar is supporting armed opposition groups against its royal family. The

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Did Martin Shkreli’s FBI Arrest Save Him From A “Hit” Ordered By The Wu-Tang Clan?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Just when you thought the bizarre antics of famed 'Pharma Bro', Martin Shkreli, couldn't get any more outrageous, along comes a new book detailing how he was almost "whacked" by members of the Wu-Tang Clan after a twisted scheme, which somehow also involved Bill Murray, went horribly wrong.  According to the book, "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: The Untold Story," it all started when Shkreli bought Wu-Tang Clan's infamous record, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, for $2 million.

Wu-Tang fans were outraged at the sale because Shkreli purchased the album for his own personal use and was explicitly prohibited from commercially releasing the record for all to enjoy.

Alas, the sale was apparently just a big scam designed to heighten interest in the record and make even more money.  According to exclusive details from the Daily Mail,  members of the Wu-Tang Clan had already plotted with Shkreli to stage a fake heist to 'steal' back the album, along with a little help from Bill Murray, from Shkreli's home and then release it publicly.  Here is how the original scheme was supposed to play out per the Daily Mail:

It's claimed Cilvaringz then seized on a fake news story that had gone viral, falsely claiming there was a clause in the contract that allowed the Clan, or, randomly, actor Bill Murray, one attempt to steal back Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.

If the heist was successful, all rights reverted to the seller and the 88-year ban on commercial release was voided.

Cilvaringz, with an eagerly complicit Shkreli, set in motion a plan to make it happen, according to the book.

The robbery would be pulled off by RZA, GZA, Cilvaringz, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Bill Murray, if he could be roped in.

The scheme was later hilariously turned into a musical production, aptly titled 'Martin Shkreli's Game: How Bill Murray joined the Wu-Tang Clan'.

Shkreli had planned to live stream the fake break-in of six masked men. But the robbery would fail.

Shkreli would then make his big announcement. If fans were so outraged by the private sale and the Clan was so determined to get the record back, he would

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Illinois House Approves Historic 32% Tax Increase, Governor Vows Veto

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With Illinois, which on Saturday morning entered its third fiscal year without a budget, facing a catastrophic downgrade, late on Sunday evening the Illinois House approved the most controversial element of a budget package, a tax hike which will increase the income tax rate by 32% from 3.75% to 4.95%, and the corporate income tax rate from 5.25% to 7%, to try and end a historic budget impasse. The bill passed 72-45. The House also approved a $36 billion spending plan minutes later on a 81-34 vote. According to the Sun Times, it cleared an initial hurdle on Friday with 23 Republicans voting “yes.”

“While no one could say this was an easy decision, it was the right decision,” House Speaker Mike Madigan said after the spending bill vote. “There is more work to be done.” Dems said they would work with Republicans on other resolution of other issues on table.

The proposed tax increase will now head back to the Illinois Senate, which approved a revenue bill on May 23 with all Democratic votes as part of its “grand bargain” package. But Governor Bruce Rauner has said he’ll only support an income tax hike if it’s limited to four years and paired with a four-year property tax freeze. He’s also still seeking changes in workers’ compensation and pensions.

Commenting on the just passed House bill, Rauner said he’ll veto the revenue bill.

I will veto Mike Madigan’s permanent 32% tax hike. Illinois families don’t deserve to have more of the hard-earned money taken from them when the legislature has done little to restore confidence in government or grow jobs,” Rauner said.

“Illinois families deserve more jobs, property tax relief and term limits. But tonight they got more of the same." He also said in an emailed statement that “if the legislature is willing to pass the largest tax hike in state history with no reforms, then we must engage citizens and redouble our efforts to change the state."

Some commentators promptly countered that Rauner's veto will likely be overriden.

The tax bill passed with some essential Republican support: it needed 71 votes. But Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin questioned how it will address the state’s $14

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The Crash Of 1929: “Somewhere, Deep Down, They Knew The Party Was Over”

Courtesy of Jesse's Cafe Americain

History may not repeat… but it sure ryhmes…

"…people believed that everything was going to be great always, always. There was a feeling of optimism in the air that you cannot even describe today."

"There was great hope. America came out of World War I with the economy intact. We were the only strong country in the world. The dollar was king. We had a very popular president in the middle of the decade, Calvin Coolidge, and an even more popular one elected in 1928, Herbert Hoover. So things looked pretty good."

"The economy was changing in this new America. It was the dawn of the consumer revolution. New inventions, mass marketing, factories turning out amazing products like radios, rayon, air conditioners, underarm deodorant…One of the most wondrous inventions of the age was consumer credit. Before 1920, the average worker couldn't borrow money. By 1929, "buy now, pay later" had become a way of life."

"Wall Street got the credit for this prosperity and Wall Street was dominated by just a small group of wealthy men. Rarely in the history of this nation had so much raw power been concentrated in the hands of a few businessmen…"

"One of the most common tactics was to manipulate the price of a particular stock, a stock like Radio Corporation of America…Wealthy investors would pool their money in a secret agreement to buy a stock, inflate its price and then sell it to an unsuspecting public. Most stocks in the 1920s were regularly manipulated by insiders "

"I would say that practically all the financial journals were on the take. This includes reporters for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Herald-Tribune, you name it. So if you were a pool operator, you'd call your friend at The Times and say, "Look, Charlie, there's an envelope waiting for you here and we think that perhaps you should write something nice about RCA." And Charlie would write something nice about RCA. A publicity man called A. Newton Plummer had canceled checks from practically every major journalist in New York City… Then, they would begin to — what was called "painting the tape" and they would make the stock look exciting. They

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By Investment Master Class. Originally published at ValueWalk.

By Investment Master Class

“Positive decisions have to be made by an individual; groups can’t do it.  And I think a lot of the investment business was committee-orientated. ”  Adam Smith, The Money Game

“Search all the parks in all your cities; you’ll find no statues of committees” David Ogilvy

Q2/H1 Hedge Fund Letters – Letters, Conferences, Calls, And More

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“It has been my experience that the more power given to the investment specialist and the smaller the influence of the individuals on investment committees, the better the quality of the work accomplished” Phil Fisher

“I do not have a committee”  Jim Rogers

Q1 2017 – Huge Page Of Hedge Fund Letters, Conferences, Calls, And More

“You just can’t have two cooks in the kitchen; it doesn’t work”  Stanley Druckenmiller

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Ray Dalio

Jason Karp’s Tourbillon Capital: FAANGs Are Not Investments; Bubbles Everywhere

“It is hard for one mind to work on the stock market and keep right, but it is much harder for two to agree and work in the market” William D Gann

“My idea of a group decision is to look in the mirror” Warren Buffett

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Government Forces Murder 4 More Protesters In Venezuela, Bringing Death Toll To 80

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As the oppressive regime of leftist autocrat Nicolas Maduro intensifies its crackdown on anti-government protesters who have been gathering daily in the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities to demand regime change, the government’s body count continues to climb. Last week, one such government-sanctioned killing was caught on video. The chilling footage shows Venezuelan soldiers shooting a 22-year-old rioter in the chest after he hurled rocks at them.

The Associated Press reports that at least four people were killed and eight injured during anti-government protests in central Venezuela on Saturday. The deaths brought to at least 80 the number of people killed since anti-government protests erupted three months ago.


“Chief prosecutor Luis Ortega Diaz confirmed that four deaths occurred Friday in clashes in Barquisimeto. The city's mayor blamed the deaths on armed militias that support Venezuela's socialist government.”

The deaths occurred as Ortega Diaz  – who has had the temerity to stand up to Maduro and question his late-March decision to dissolve the opposition-controlled National Assembly – asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection Friday, days after Venezuela's Supreme Court barred her from leaving the country and ordered her bank accounts froze, according to the Associated Press.

Ortega Diaz is one of the few remaining Maduro critics who haven’t already been removed from power, challenging Maduro's push to rewrite the constitution and pressing charges against officers responsible for deaths during anti-government protests.

Her latest crime? Her office announced this past week that it would summon the chief of Venezuela's feared Sebin intelligence agency, Gustavo Gonzalez, to appear on suspicion of "committing grave and systemic violations of human rights."

Maduro responded to Ortega Diaz's decision by promoting Gonzalez to head of the nation's army.

Here’s more on that from the AP:

Prosecutors said they are investigating incidents of illegitimate detentions, arbitrary raids and cases in which people have remained imprisoned despite court orders that they be freed.

Maduro responded hours later by promoting Gonzalez to head the nation's army. He called Gonzalez and Antonio Benavides Torres, another high-ranking

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Weekly Market Recap Jul 02, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

Some volatility was reintroduced to the market this past week as <0.80% moves on the S&P 500 (and even larger moves on the NASDAQ) happened Tue, Wed, and Thu.   This is certainly a welcome change from a trading (and writing perspective) from the relatively monotone move upward almost all of 2017!   Losses Tuesday accelerated  after Republican Senate leaders postponed a vote on the health-care bill that would replace Obamacare until after the July 4 holiday.   This was less about health care and more about the tax breaks that the market has anticipated the Trump administration pushing through.

Wall Street has generally risen since President Donald Trump’s election in November, in large part due to hopes that his economic agenda—including massive tax cuts and deregulation—would accelerate economic growth. However, his administration has seen few legislative successes, raising questions about whether the broader market’s valuations are justified if the thesis that drove them higher fails to come to fruition.

“The week may have a lot to say about the success of the Trump administration’s proposed legislative agenda, and the market’s reaction to it,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial. “While the delivery of health care is of vital social importance, for investors the more important legislative initiative remains tax reform. But to get there, the administration must work through health care first so that its impact on the budget can be determined.”

Yellen’s speech on Tuesday was a big nothingburger.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen told an audience in London that asset valuations are “somewhat rich,” while San Francisco Fed President John Williams told an Australian television station that the stock market is running on “fumes.” Yellen also said that another financial crisis wasn’t likely to happen in “this lifetime.”

With the close Friday also being on June 30th we have a nice clean half year mark.   For the quarter the S&P 500 gained 2.6%, and for the first half of the year 8.2%.   The NASDAQ gained 3.9% for the quarter and 14.1% for the first half of the year; the …
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The World Is Questioning Trump’s Leadership

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

According to a new study from Pew Research which polled 40,000 people in 37 nations, Donald Trump's presidency has had a "major impact on how the world sees the United States".

Infographic: The World Is Questioning Trump's Leadership  | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, three quarters of those polled had little to no faith in the U.S. president doing the right thing for world affairs compared to an unimpressive 22 percent who have a great deal of confidence in him. Broken down on a country by country basis, majorities of respondents in Israel and Russia were confident about Trump's leadership abilities but nearly every other nation displayed a high degree of skepticism.

Across the board, Obama's perfomance on the world stage is generally held in higher regard than Trump's. People were polled at the end of Obama's eight-year term and 88 percent of Germans, 83 percent of Canadians and 79 percent of people in the UK were satisfied with his global leadership.

When asked about Trump's presidency, on the other hand, only 11 percent of Germans and 22 percent of those in Canada and the UK had faith in his global leadership.

Gunmen Open Fire On Crowd Outside Mosque In Avignon, France

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A shootout erupted around 10:30pm on Sunday night in Avignon, southern France, when two gunmen opened fire on a crowd outside the Arrahma mosque leaving either people injured, La Provence newspaper reports.

Gunmen open fire on crowd outside mosque in France leaving eight injured – Mirror Online

— Tommy Robinson  (@TRobinsonNewEra) July 2, 2017

According to initial reports, two hooded men were seen arriving aboard a Renault Clio. One was armed with a handgun, the second a rifle. As a crowd oe people were leaving the mosque, one of the armed men, who had got out of his vehicle, opened fire.

La Provence adds that at least four people were injured at the time, while subseqeuent reports said the number is at least eight. About fifty meters away, a family of four who was in her apartment on the second floor of a building also received shrapnel. A 7-year-old girl was slightly injured.

Police in Avignon are now searching for the suspects who fled the scene.

The police have said they do not suspect terrorism is a motive behind the attack. The permanent magistrate at the Avignon parquet, Laure Chabaud, said the working hypothesis is a settling of accounts or a quarrel between young people.


Zero Hedge

Americans' Economic Hope Has Collapsed

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Which came first, the confidence or the stock market rally?

One thing is for sure, the crash in stocks in December has crushed the hope of Americans that their economic future is going to be better under President Trump.

Overall confidence dipped to 58.1 - a 4-month low, but, U.S. consumers this month were the most downbeat on the economy since November 2016, a third straight drop after expectations reached a 16-year high just three months earlier, as the partial government shutdown wears on toward a fourth week.


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Kimble Charting Solutions

Triple Breakout Test In Play For S&P 500!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Is the rally of late about to run out of steam or is a major breakout about to take place in the S&P 500? What happens at current prices should go a long way in determining this question.

This chart looks at the equal weight S&P 500 ETF (RSP) on a daily basis over the past 15-months.

The rally from the lows on Christmas Eve has RSP testing the top of a newly formed falling channel while testing the underneath side of the 2018 trading range and its falling 50-day moving average at (1).

At this time RPS is facing a triple resistance test. Wil...

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Phil's Favorites

Brexit deal flops, Theresa May survives -- so what happens now?


Brexit deal flops, Theresa May survives -- so what happens now?

Courtesy of Victoria Honeyman, University of Leeds

As the clock ticks down to March 29 2019, all of the political manoeuvring, negotiating, arguing and fighting is coming to a peak. In the two and a half years since the 2016 EU referendum, views on both sides have hardened and agreement still seems as far away as it was the day after the referendum.

With Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement disliked by all sides, and voted down by an unprecedented majority in the House of Commons, everyone is wondering what can and should be done next?


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Digital Currencies

Crypto-Bubble: Will Bitcoin Bottom In February Or Has It Already?

Courtesy of Michelle Jones via

The new year has been relatively good for the price of bitcoin after a spectacular collapse of the cryptocurrency bubble in 2018. It’s up notably since the middle of December and traded around the psychological level of $4,000... so is this a sign that the crypto market is about to recover?

Of course, it depends on who you ask, but one analyst discovered a pattern which might point to a bottom next month.

A year after the cryptocurrency bubble popped


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D.E. Shaw Investment Calls For Leadership Change At EQT

By ActivistInsight. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Elliott Management has offered to acquire QEP Resources for approximately $2.1 billion, contending the oil and gas explorer’s turnaround efforts have done little to lift the company’s share price. The company responded and said that a thorough review of the proposition is imperative in order to properly act in the best interests of shareholders, “taking into account the company’s other alternatives and current market conditions.” The news came only a month after Travelport Worldwide agreed to sell itself to Siris Capital Group and Elliott’s private equity arm Evergreen Coast Capital for $4.4 billion in cash and two months after Athenahealth was bought by Veritas and Evergreen for $5.7 bi...

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Insider Scoop

UBS Says Disney's Streaming Ambition Gives It A 'New Hope'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related DIS Despite Some Risks, Analysts Still Expecting Double Digit Growth From Communications Services In Q4 ... more from Insider

Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 13, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

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

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

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

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Members' Corner

Why Trump Can't Learn


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

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...

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Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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


Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

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


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Mapping The Market

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

By Jean-Luc

Maybe we should simply try him for treason right now:

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

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

By Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

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

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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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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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>