Archive for 2017

New Declassified CIA Memo Presents Blueprint for Syrian Regime Collapse

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Brad Hoff via The Libertarian Institute,

A newly declassified CIA document explored multiple scenarios of Syrian regime collapse at a time when Hafez al-Assad’s government was embroiled in a covert “dirty war” with Israel and the West, and in the midst of a diplomatic crisis which marked an unprecedented level of isolation for Syria.

The 24-page formerly classified memo entitled Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change was produced in July 1986, and had high level distribution within the Reagan administration and to agency directors, including presidential advisers, the National Security Council, and the US ambassador to Syria. The memo appears in the CIA’s latest CREST release (CIA Records Search Tool) of over 900,000 recently declassified documents.

A “severely restricted” report

The memo’s cover letter, drafted by the CIA’s Director of Global Issues (the report itself was prepared by the division’s Foreign Subversion and Instability Center), introduces the purpose of presenting “a number of possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Assad or other dramatic change in Syria.”

It further curiously warns that, “Because the analysis out of context is susceptible to misunderstanding, external distribution has been severely restricted.” The report’s narrowed distribution list (sent to specific named national security heads, not entire agencies) indicates that it was considered at the highest levels of the Reagan administration.

The coming sectarian war for Syria

The intelligence report’s contents contain some striking passages which seem remarkably consistent with events as they unfolded decades later at the start of the Syrian war in 2011:

Although we judge that fear of reprisals and organizational problems make a second Sunni challenge unlikely, an excessive government reaction to minor outbreaks of Sunni dissidence might trigger large-scale unrest. In most instances the regime would have the resources to crush a Sunni opposition movement, but we believe widespread violence among the populace could stimulate large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or munity, setting the stage for civil war. [pg.2]

The “second Sunni challenge” is a reference to the Syrian government’s prior long running war against a Muslim Brotherhood insurgency which culminated in the 1982 Hama Massacre. While downplaying the nationalist and pluralistic composition of the ruling Ba’ath party, the report envisions a renewal and exploitation of sectarian fault lines pitting Syria’s Sunni population against its Alawite leadership:


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The Hype Surrounding Advanced Micro Device’s Ryzen Product Launch

Courtesy of Benzinga.

The Hype Surrounding Advanced Micro Device's Ryzen Product Launch

Shares of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD), which had a torrid run after 2006, began to turn the corner in early 2016. The shares are currently at their highest level in a decade, with the latest thrust upwards provided by the impending commercial launch of its Ryzen processors.

Market analyst Ralph Acampora said in a tweet on Monday, “Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is now at a level not seen since July 2007; use any pull back as a long-term buying opportunity.” Is the upside sustainable or will the stock cede the gains raked up by it? The answer to the question depends on how Ryzen 7 fares.

AMD Chart

AMD Source: Y Charts

Unwrapping AMD’s Newest Chip-On-The-Block

The company announced last Wednesday the global launch of its Ryzen desktop processors. Pre-orders commenced on the same day. The development of Ryzen was in the works for about four years, with the company embarking on developing its Zen processor core four years ago.

Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD, said the Ryzen 7 family of processors will release on March 2.

The Ryzen 7 line up consists of three models, namely Ryzen 7 1800x, Ryzen 7 1700x and Ryzen 7 1700. The pricing suggested by the company was $499 for the 1800X, $399 for the 1700X and $329 for 1700. The company also stated that 1800X outperformed a similarly configured 8-core, 16-thread Intel Core i7-6900K in Cinebench R15 multi-threaded and Handbrake-based video transcoding, as well as showing comparable 4K gaming performance.

Related Link: Advanced Micro Devices Establishes New 2017 High As New Ryzen Processors To Ship Next Week


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DryShips Initiates New Quarterly Dividend, Will Total $0.07/Share

Courtesy of Benzinga.

DryShips Initiates New Quarterly Dividend, Will Total $0.07/Share

Dryships Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS), a diversified owner of ocean going cargo vessels, announced it will initiate a new dividend, paying back $2.5 million to common shareholders on a quarterly basis, starting with shareholders on record as of March 15,2017. The dividend will likely work out to around $0.07 per share on a quarterly basis.

DryShips shares have experienced extreme volatility since the November 8 election; a new dividend could bring stability to the stock. In November, shares of Dryships went from $38.46 to $584 within a week.

Related Article: A Year Of Living Dangerously: The DryShips Trade

There have been four DryShips reverse stock splits in the past year. All together, each share of DryShips stock represented 1,200 shares a year ago. On a reverse split-adjusted basis, DryShips’ 52-week high is $2,227.

“We are very excited to initiate our new dividend policy which is a testament to the dramatic transformation of the Company’s finances over the last 6 months. We continue to transform DryShips and we are confident that the results of our efforts will become evident in the near future,” said Dryships Chairman and CEO, George Economou.

Shares reacted positively after the announcement, up about 28 percent to $2.35 in after-hours trading.

Posted-In: News Dividends After-Hours Center Movers Best of Benzinga





Barclays Names Costco Catalysts

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Barclays Names Costco Catalysts

Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ: COST) “is one of the few stocks in retail that has been able to decouple from macro fears,” with the stock rallying year to date, gaining 10.9 percent, as compared to the 5.7 percent rise in the S&P 500.

Barclays’ Karen Short maintains an Equal-Weight rating on the company, with a price target of $158.

Q2 Expectations

Costco Wholesale is scheduled to report its second-quarter 2017 results after the close on March 2.

“The benefit to profits from the new Visa card (Visa Inc (NYSE: V)) appear to be reflected in estimates, but there may still be upside to comps in FY 2017 given the cycling of tobacco as well as lessening headwinds from deflation,” the analyst mentioned.

Related Link: Costco’s Colossal January Comps Keep It A Top Pick For 2017

Short also noted that there was a widespread expectation that MFI (membership fee income) is only likely next year, although this is not reflected in the forecasts as yet.

As a result, the analyst believes that the stock is fairly valued at present, explaining that “COST does not appear to have a clear valuation ceiling given its scarcity value among retail stocks.”

For Q2, Short expects investors to focus on the timing of the potential MFI, the new Vida co-branded card sign-ups, reinvestment or flow-through of the Visa benefit and deflation commentary from management.

Catalysts

Among the catalysts for Costco Wholesale, the analyst noted that traffic had accelerated in recent months in the United States.

In addition, the new Visa credit card might drive an overall increase…
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The Market In 5 Minutes

Courtesy of Benzinga.

The Market In 5 Minutes

IN THE NEWS

BENZINGA

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s (NYSE: BRK-B) recent investment in Sirius XM Holdings Inc (SIRI) shows that, even at age 86, Warren Buffett is still capable of a surprise or two. Here’s a look at some of Buffett’s more surprising investments in recent years and how they have performed: Link

It was a rough week for Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), one of the top performing issues in the S&P 500 index in 2016. Last year, the issue ran up 224 percent from its 2015 year-end close ($32.96) to $106.74: Link

It’s fairly common knowledge the Super Bowl typically draws the largest TV audience of the year and is also the most expensive real estate on TV when it comes to advertisers. However, the second most expensive event of the year for advertisers arrived Sunday: the Academy Awards show. Link

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) analyst Gene Munster explored when the iPhone maker will win an Oscar for its own original content: Link

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Buffett was dismissive of professional money managers in his widely read letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. But the billionaire reasserted his belief in his own ability to pick winners and losers: Link

Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel’s premise for reinventing social media in 2011 was simple: create an app to send disappearing pictures: Link

Santosh Pillai was wooed to work in the U.S. for his coding skills more than a decade ago and has built a good life in Cupertino, Calif. He considers it home and is awaiting approval for his green card—but is now worried his family could be forced leave: Link

After weeks of high expectations for a swift Dodd-Frank rollback with a Republican in the White House, the reality of a hard slog is beginning to set in on…
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Benzinga’s Top Upgrades, Downgrades For February 27, 2017

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Top Upgrades

  • Analysts at Bank of America upgraded Western Gas Equity Partners LP (NYSE: WGP) from Underperform to Neutral. Western Gas Equity shares fell 1.38 percent to close at $45.90 on Friday.
  • Mizuho upgraded Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) from Neutral to Buy. Sunoco Logistics Partners shares rose 2.89 percent to $26.00 in pre-market trading.
  • Analysts at Argus Research upgraded Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL) from Hold to Buy. Carnival shares fell 0.16 percent to $55.94 in pre-market trading.
  • Analysts at Evercore ISI Group upgraded Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) from Hold to Buy. Illumina shares fell 0.63 percent to close at $160.00 on Friday.
  • Analysts at Avondale Partners upgraded PRA Health Sciences Inc (NASDAQ: PRAH) from Underperform to Market Perform. PRA Health shares fell 1.44 percent to close at $60.18 on Friday.
  • Analysts at RBC Capital upgraded Clearwater Paper Corp (NYSE: CLW) from Underperform to Sector Perform. Clearwater Paper shares slipped 0.36 percent to close at $56.05 on Friday.
  • B. Riley upgraded Steven Madden, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SHOO) from Neutral to Buy. Steven Madden shares dropped 0.27 percent to close at $37.15 on Friday.
  • JP Morgan upgraded AFLAC Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) from Neutral to Overweight. Aflac shares slipped 0.01 percent to close at $71.71 on Friday.
  • Deutsche Bank upgraded Terex Corporation (NYSE: TEX) from Hold to Buy. Terex shares gained 1.47 percent to close at $30.35 on Friday.

Top Downgrades

  • Goldman Sachs downgraded Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) from Neutral to Sell. Tesla shares dropped 3.21 percent to $248.75 in pre-market trading.
  • Raymond James downgraded Main Street Capital Corporation (NYSE: MAIN) from Outperform to Market Perform. Main Street Capital shares rose 0.13 percent to close at $37.48 on Friday.
  • Wells Fargo downgraded


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Watch These 3 Huge Put Purchases In Monday Trade

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Benzinga’s newsdesk monitors options activity to notice unusual patterns. These large volume (and often out of the money) trades were initially published intraday in Benzinga Professional . These trades were placed during Friday’s regular session.

  • Hertz Global Holdings, Inc (NYSE: HTZ) Mar 20.0 Puts Sweep: 1075 @ ASK $1.70: 1437 traded vs 6810 OI: Earnings 2/27 After Close $19.60 Ref
  • Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: NUS) Jun 50.0 Puts Sweep: 3847 @ ASK $4.787: 8565 traded vs 575 OI: Earnings 5/4 After Close (est) $49.53 Ref
  • CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. (NYSE: CBL) Mar 10.0 Puts Sweep: 875 @ ASK $0.45: 1114 traded vs 4029 OI: Earnings 4/26 After Close (est) $9.89 Ref

Posted-In: Huge Put PurchasesOptions Markets Movers Trading Ideas





Earnings Scheduled For February 27, 2017

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Earnings Scheduled For February 27, 2017

Companies Reporting Before The Bell

  • AmTrust Financial Services Inc (NASDAQ: AFSI) is projected to report its quarterly earnings at $0.73 per share on revenue of $1.21 billion.
  • AES Corp (NYSE: AES) is estimated to report its quarterly earnings at $0.36 per share on revenue of $5.29 billion.
  • Sothebys (NYSE: BID) is projected to report its quarterly earnings at $1.19 per share on revenue of $280.83 million.
  • National General Holdings Corp (NASDAQ: NGHC) is expected to report its quarterly earnings at $0.24 per share on revenue of $911.45 million.
  • VimpelCom Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ: VIP) is projected to report its quarterly earnings at $0.04 per share on revenue of $2.34 billion.
  • JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) is estimated to report its quarterly earnings at $0.20 per share on revenue of $699.88 million.
  • American Tower Corp (NYSE: AMT) is expected to report its quarterly earnings at $0.58 per share on revenue of $1.54 billion.
  • Core-Mark Holding Company, Inc. (NASDAQ: CORE) is estimated to report its quarterly earnings at $0.47 per share on revenue of $3.76 billion.
  • Armstrong World Industries Inc (NYSE: AWI) is projected to report its quarterly earnings at $0.44 per share on revenue of $302.11 million.
  • MDC Partners Inc (NASDAQ: MDCA) is estimated to report its quarterly earnings at $0.12 per share on revenue of $376.33 million.

Companies Reporting After The Bell

  • Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) is estimated to post its quarterly earnings


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Maine Drops 9,000 From Food Stamps After Refusal To Comply With Work Requirements

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Republican Governor Paul LePage dared to begin enforcing Maine’s volunteer and work requirements for food stamp (SNAP) recipients to keep their benefits. The end result was more than 9,000 non-disabled adults getting dropped from the program.

As CNS News’ Eric Schiener reports, a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesman tells the Associated Press that 12,000 non-disabled adults were in Maine’s SNAP program before Jan. 1 – a number that dropped to 2,680 by the end of March…

The rules prevent adults, who are not disabled and do not have dependents, from receiving food stamps for more than three months unless they work at least 20 hours a week, participate in a work-training program, or meet volunteer guidelines for 24 hours out of the month.

Any one of those three minimums getting met will result in an individual to retain their SNAP food benefits.

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said the goal of the requirements is to encourage people to find work.

“If you’re on these programs it means you are living in poverty and so the more that we can help incentive people on that pathway to employment and self-sufficiency the better off they’re going to be,” Mayhew told the Associated Press.

In Maine, once someone loses their benefits, they cannot regain assistance for three years.

Patriot Chronicle points out, in Maine, 9,000 able-bodied people who are supposedly too poor to feed themselves couldn’t seem to handle that. In addition, those who lose their benefits in such a manner can’t reapply for assistance for three years.

Liberals have sold government dependence so deliberately well, that even doing 24 hours of approved volunteer work a month for a capable adult became too much for more than 9,000 people.

Either the Liberals have truly brain washed the voting masses into droning zombies, or they’re really not that needy for food.

Either way, the taxpayers who work hard for their paychecks, can feel some satisfaction at knowing they won’t have to support as much mediocrity as they used to.

As we noted previoulsy, thanks to many years of accelerated growth in the program under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, 1 in 7 Americans now participate in the food stamp program. 


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Another Scotland Independence Vote Coming Up?

Courtesy of Mish.

In 2014, Scotland held an Independence Referendum on whether or not to braek away from the UK.

The “No” side won, with 2,001,926 (55.3%) voting against independence and 1,617,989 (44.7%) voting in favour. The turnout of 84.6% was the highest recorded for an election or referendum in the United Kingdom since the introduction of universal suffrage.

However, Scotland is not happy with the Brexit vote, and many Scots confident they can win independence referendum next year on account os the hard Brexit.

scotland-independence

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has threatened to call another independence referendum since Britain’s decision to leave the EU, saying the House of Commons “would be making a very big mistake” if they thought she was “in any way bluffing”.

But despite polls which suggest Scots would vote to stay in the UK after the yes camp lost by a decisive 10 point margin in 2014, pro-independence insiders have claimed momentum is on their side as Theresa May pushes to sever ties with the EU bloc.

Charles Grant, a Scottish Government adviser said: ”I believe the Scottish Government is thinking very, very seriously about going for an independence referendum next year.

Earlier this month a poll indicated 49 per cent of Scots were behind splitting from the United Kingdom – a growth of 4 per cent on the month before when the Prime Minister was yet to put her cards on the table when it came to EU talks.

But while the British Government has said there is no need to push for another referendum, Holyrood may still drive Scotland to the ballot box yet again.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We have made it very clear that an independence referendum is very much an option on the table if it becomes clear that it is the best or only way to protect Scotland’s vital national interests.”

The 2014 Scottish independence referendum was agreed after Westminster granted temporary powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a vote.

The SNP are two votes short of a majority in the Holyrood Parliament, although the Greens have promised to back a bid for a second independence referendum should Ms. Sturgeon’s party propose a bill.

It is likely a similar arrangement would have to be reached between Edinburgh and London for


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Zero Hedge

Enemy Of The People?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Via The Zman blog,

There has never been a time when normal people did not know the media was biased and biased in a predictable direction. For every non-liberal in the media, there were at least ten liberals. The ratio was probably higher, but then, as now, some lefties liked to pretend they were independents or some third option.

The media used to invest a lot of time denying they had a bias and an agenda, but the only people who believed them were on the Left, which had the odd effect of confirming they had a bias and an agenda.

...



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Phil's Favorites

A 2019 Earnings Recession?

 

A 2019 Earnings Recession?

Courtesy of 

Shout to Leigh!

On the new Talk Your Book – Josh Brown is joined by Leigh Drogen of Estimize, one of the leading providers of crowdsourced financial and economic data to talk about the trend in corporate profits that could potentially lead to an earnings recession later this year.

What is the thing that Leigh is seeing in the data that Wall Street isn’t yet picking up on? What segment of the stock market is most at risk? Why is the crowd smarter than the narrow consensus of Wall Street analysts?

Check out Estimize ...



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ValueWalk

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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Kimble Charting Solutions

Gold & Silver Testing Important Breakout Levels!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Gold and Silver from a long-term perspective have created a series of lower highs over the past 8-years. Will 2019 bring a change to this trend? A big test is in play!

Gold since the lows in 2016 has created a series of higher lows, while Silver may have created a double bottom.

Gold & Silver are currently facing break attempts a (1) and (2). These falling resistance lines have disappointed metals bulls for the past few years.

The direction of Gold and Silver weeks and months from now should be highly influenced by what each does as they are attempting to break above important resistance levels.

To become a member of Kimbl...



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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 ...

http://www.insidercow.com/ more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Russia Prepares To Buy Up To $10 Billion In Bitcoin To Evade US Sanctions

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

While the market has been increasingly focused on the rising headwinds in the global economy in general, and China's economic slowdown in particular, while the media is obsessing over daily revelations that Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia to get elected, a far more critical, if underreported, shift has been taking place over the past year.

As we reported in June, whether due to concerns over draconian western sanctions and asset confiscations following the poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal, or simply because it wanted to diversify away from the dollar, Russia liquidated virtually all of its Treasury holdings in the late spri...



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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 failure based on his personality, which was evident years ago. This article, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump became president, in July, 2016, 5 Reasons Trump Can’t Learn. ~ Ilene 

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...



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Biotech

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 www.shutterstock.com

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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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

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

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

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

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

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       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.

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