Archive for April, 2018

Safeway Warns Seattle: New Employment Tax Could Turn Neighborhoods Into Food Deserts

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A new employment tax proposed by the Seattle City Council would charge roughly $500 per employee based in the city. And though it would only apply to the city's largest companies, many of them are complaining to the press – some with good reason – about how the tax would discourage employment and ultimately damage the city's economy.

The tax would only apply to businesses earning $20 million in revenue within the city limits – a group that includes roughly 585 companies, about 3% of the total number operating in the city, according to CNNMoney.

Safeway

Businesses would be required to pay 26 cents per man hour per employee worked within the city limits, excluding vacation pay and sick time.

To what we imagine would be the delight of the Trump administration, Amazon would bear the brunt of the new tax. The e-commerce giant would be forced to contribute some $20 million annually on behalf of its nearly 45,000 employees in Seattle. Of course, Amazon will have a difficult time arguing that it can't afford the tax after it smashed expectations in its latest quarterly earnings report. And with the city facing an unemployment rate of 3.8%, even lower than the nationwide rate of 4.1%.

The city says it would use the money to build affordable housing and also provide emergency shelter services to at-risk and homeless individuals.

But Amazon told CNNMoney that it has a better plan to help the homeless.

Amazon, which declined to comment on the proposal, notes that it already contributes economically in many ways to Seattle. For example, it will provide a permanent location for a shelter in one of its new office buildings by 2020. It would be run by the nonprofit Mary's Place, which already had temporary use of two vacant Amazon buildings to shelter the homeless since 2016.

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.

Prosperous big businesses can in turn generate a lot of economic activity and revenue for their host city. And they may donate goods, services or money to critical social causes.

But the co-sponsors of the bill note that


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“Absolute Gong Show”: Vancouver Loses Crown As Canada’s Hottest Real Estate Market

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Following the imposition of taxes on foreign investors and empty houses, Vancouver real estate has lost its crown as the craziest housing market in Canada – ceding its position to the resort town of Whistler - around two hours north.

The Pan Pacific Whistler hotel

Benchmark property prices in Whistler have surpassed Vancouver for the first time – with the average townhouse in Whistler selling for C$1 million vs. Vancouver's C$835,000, and detached homes selling for a premium of 4% over Vancouver's at C$1.67 million. The housing crunch in Whistler is so bad that businesses have taken to buying multi-million-dollar properties to house employees who can't otherwise afford to live in the popular vacation destination.

"It’s an absolute gong show,” said Russell Kling, a former hedge fund manager turned developer, whose Pangea Pod Hotel is set to open this summer aimed at delivering more affordable tourist accommodation. Whistler was the most expensive place in Canada to spend New Year’s Eve — C$745 for a double room compared to C$414 in second-place Quebec City.

“People told us, ‘Your biggest issue will be accommodation — if your staff can’t find accommodation, it doesn’t matter how much you pay them,’” recounts Kling, whose co-founder is his wife, Jelena. “So we took that risk off the table and purchased a home.”

The seven-bedroom residence cost “close to a couple million dollars” and will house the hotel’s general manager and a handful of key employees. The Klings even looked at buying a second staff property. “But so much of this stuff now — forget about buying, I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy there,” he said. -Bloomberg

While the explosion in real estate prices is mind-boggling already, the rental market is even crazier – with one recent listing for two girls to share a double room (and we presume, the one bed) at C$780 per month, each.

Many renters spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Mayor Wilhelm-Morden, incensed by landlords raking in cash from illegal short-term rentals, has imposed a C$1,000-a-day fine for violators, saying Whistler won’t


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“No Longer Reversible”: China’s Low Fertility Rate And Birth Restrictions Set Stage For Disaster

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

While China has embarked on ambitious plans for economic and military domination over the next several decades, they may end up defeating themselves without a single shot fired – thanks to their longstanding birth restrictions, shrinking fertility rate and exploding elderly population.  

Economically speaking, the problem is easy to understand; a shrinking labor pool due to restrictive reproductive laws tends to drive up wages, while a rapidly growing elderly population requires more spending on pensions and health care. "In a worse-case scenario, slowing growth and a labor shortage could leave China unable to care for hundreds of millions of retirees," notes the Wall Street Journal.

China’s clinging to birth restrictions defies a clear demographic trend: Its workforce is shrinking and the population is rapidly aging. By 2050, there will be 1.3 workers for each retiree, according to official estimates, compared with 2.8 now.

No matter what the government does now, it is too late to significantly change the overall trend because of social attitudes, say demographers such as Gu Baochang, a professor of demography at Renmin University in Beijing. -WSJ

While some experts have argued that slower population growth could mitigate pressure on China to create new jobs as technology increases productivity, others think China is in deep trouble…

They should have lifted all birth restrictions before 2010,” says Baochang. “Whatever steps they take now, China’s low-fertility trend is no longer reversible.” In three decades, 1/3 of China's population is predicted to be over the age of 60.

The chart below shows annual change in million persons (red line) and total child bearing population (blue columns). From 2018 through 2033, China (with net emigration, to boot) will see an average annual decline of nearly 6 million Chinese capable of creating more Chinese (or the equivalent of losing the population of a Missouri, Wisconsin, or Maryland every year for at least the next decade and a half). -Chris Hamilton, Economica blog

Meanwhile, China's one-child policy, and now two-child policy, has conditioned the population to shun large families

In a generation


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Russia Launches “Floating Chernobyl” Bound For The Arctic

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

On Saturday, the world’s first floating nuclear power unit (FPU) dubbed ‘Academik Lomonosov’ departed from the region of Baltiyskiy Zavod in St. Petersburg, towed by two deep-sea tugboats.

The ‘Academik Lomonosov,’ a massive barge containing floating nuclear reactors, leaves St. Petersburg over the weekend. (Source: Anton Vaganov/TASS) 

A-News captures video of the departure

A floating nuclear power plant made by Russia headed out for its first sea voyage on Saturday. The floating plant, the academic lomonosov will provide power for a port town and for oil rigs. pic.twitter.com/Eo0uBjVfht

— ANews (@anewscomtr) April 28, 2018

Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that collectively generate 70 MW of energy. The tugs are currently underway — towing the vessel through the Baltic Sea to a port in northwestern Russia called Murmansk, where its reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel.

According to the company that manufactured the floating power plant, state-owned Rosatom Corporation, Deputy Head of the Directorate for the Floating NPP Construction and Operation Dmitriy Alekseenko said in a press release that towing the vessel will occur in two stages: first from St. Petersburg to Murmansk, and then from Murmansk to Pevek.

“At the first stage, the FPU with no nuclear fuel on board will be towed from the territory of Baltiyskiy Zavod to the landing of Atomflot FSUE in Murmansk. Then, at the second stage (roughly in the summer of 2019) it will be sent from Murmansk to the seaport of Pevek, loaded with nuclear fuel and with the crew on board,” Alekseenko said.

After ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is towed to Murmansk, “nuclear fuel will be loaded into the reactor, and it will be physically started-up in Murmansk this autumn,” said Rosatom’s press release.

Rosatom said the second leg of the journey, from Murmansk to Pevek, will begin in the second half of 2019. The vessel is expected to be towed “along the Northern Sea Route to the work site, unloaded at the mooring berth, and connected to the coastal infrastructure in Pevek,” added the press…
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Chinese Factories Employ “Brain Scanners” To Stop Workers’ Mistakes Before They Happen

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

China’s “SkyNet” facial recognition tools can compare up to 3 billion faces per second to help the government enforce its new “social credit score” – the Communist Party’s latest and most widespread tool of political repression.

And now, private companies are being encouraged to go beyond surface recognition and peer into their workers’ brains as they deploy new brain scanners that monitor abnormalities in emotions and thought patterns.

China

When data scientists monitoring brain waves on the other end detect spikes in anger, anxiety or depression. When one is detected, the worker being monitored is asked by management to take the day off, or to move to a less-important role, according to the South China Morning Post.

Jin Jia, associate professor of brain science and cognitive psychology at Ningbo University’s business school, said a highly emotional employee in a key post could affect an entire production line, jeopardising his or her own safety as well as that of others.

“When the system issues a warning, the manager asks the worker to take a day off or move to a less critical post. Some jobs require high concentration. There is no room for a mistake,” she said.

The SCMP trumpeted the technology’s profit-boosting powers, quoting managers at several firms who claimed the technology had saved them hundreds of million – if not billions – of yuan by helping workers avoid mistakes.

The technology is also in use at in Hangzhou at State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, where it has boosted company profits by about 2 billion yuan (US$315 million) since it was rolled out in 2014, according to Cheng Jingzhou, an official overseeing the company’s emotional surveillance programme.

“There is no doubt about its effect,” Cheng said.

The company and its roughly 40,000 employees manage the power supply and distribution network to homes and businesses across the province, a task that Cheng said they were able to do to higher standards thanks to the surveillance technology.

But he refused to offer more details about the programme.

Zhao Binjian, a manger of Ningbo Shenyang Logistics, said the company was using the devices mainly to train new employees. The brain sensors were integrated in virtual reality headsets to simulate different scenarios in the work environment.

“It has significantly reduced the number of mistakes made by our


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“The Alternative Is Disaster”: New York Restaurants Demand Permission To Levy Food Surcharge

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

At the end of 2015, just before New York State hiked minimum wages, we warned that the price of food was about to surge as restaurant managers passed through rising wages to end clients. Meanwhile, some restaurants, worried about losing their clients, opted to instead eliminate tipping entirely – that primary source of incremental wages for thousands of food industry workers – while hiking base prices by as much as 30%, with the money going toward higher payroll. Worst of all, many restaurants simply laid off much of their staff who suddenly became unaffordable.

In short, there would be less money for everyone, even as food prices surged, disappointing everyone in the process.

Now, a little over two years later, just as so many libertarians predicted would happen, the NYC restaurant financial situation has turned from merely painful to grotesquely dire for the vast majority of managers as a result of record mandatory wage hikes over the past couple of years, in addition to rising rent, food and other costs.

The result: restaurant owners are demanding that the socialist administration of Bill de Blasio and other City Hall lawmakers allow them to levy a surcharge on all diners to cover their bloated expenses.  Without the surcharge, which could range from 3% to 5% – or more - many restaurant owners said they will go out of business.

As MarketWatch reports, a group representing more than 100 restaurateurs – among them such exclusive venues as Nobu, Tao, Smith & Wollensky, Tribeca Grill and Daniel – drafted a giant letter that was displayed on the steps of City Hall Wednesday. The group claims to have weathered nine mandated wage increases over the past several years. Next up: a minimum wage hike in 2019, to $15.

Chef Daniel Boulu is one of more than 100 restaurateurs who drafted a giant letter that was displayed on the steps of City Hall

“Allow us the option of using a clearly disclosed surcharge to generate the revenue to simply survive,” the group said in an open letter to Mayor de Blasio.

Among the complaints the restaurants list are the following:

  • We have laid off tipped employees including, servers, bartenders, bussers and runners
  • We have cut hours for many employees.
  • We have laid off highly compensated employees.


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Morgan Stanley: There’s A Simple Reason Why Stocks Are Not Rallying On Strong Earnings

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

One of the vexing problems that has emerged this earnings season is why, despite blockbuster earnings, do most stocks fail to rise, or in many cases sink promptly after reporting stellar numbers.

According to Morgan Stanley’s Chris Metli, executive director in the bank’s Institutional Equity Division, the answer is as follows: on one hand, the the dollar has begun to move higher alongside yields which suggests rates are getting to a point where they could limit further upside, and stocks didn’t rally much on good earnings suggesting expectations are already high.

But while that reason explains the prevailing grind in the market, and the recent lack of momentum and direction, the real reason for the lack of rallies on strong earnings is that “hedge funds remain very crowded in the same positions (i.e. Tech) and there are fewer marginal buyers left.”

But before we get into details, here are some more reasons why Morgan Stanley believes that the best the market can hope for here is a slow, painful grind higher:

A grind higher is consistent with what last week’s price action tells us: the dollar has begun to move higher alongside yields which suggests rates are getting to a point where they could limit further upside, and stocks didn’t rally much on good earnings suggesting expectations are already high.

That’s a problem because according to the MS trader, a grind may disappoint some investors hoping for a quicker snapback – option market flows have had a bullish tilt lately and the market implied probability of a 5% gain is greater than a 5% decline over the next 3 months.

Investors should consider taking advantage of this pricing while positioning for a grind higher by overwriting longs or buying calls spreads or call ratios.

Taking a step back, what is positioning and recent price action telling us here? Here is Metli’s response:

Macro shifts are a headwind as yields are rising alongside the dollar.  This partly reflects the better US growth outlook vs the rest of world, but the follow on is that it could tighten financial conditions – meaning less potential equity upside.

  • This feedback mechanism is why equities tend to become more correlated to bonds when interest rates become more correlated to the dollar (see chart below)
  • Macro


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Peso Pummelled After Mexico’s Leading Party Warns ‘Confiscation Is Coming’

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The peso is down over 1% today, not helped by remarks from a co-founder of the party led by leading presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has sparked controversy by advocating the expropriation of companies that refuse to cooperate with an AMLO administration if he wins the July 1 election.

“If businesses won’t cooperate, expropriate…”

As MexicoNewsDaily.com reports, prominent writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, currently the art and culture secretary of the Morena party’s national executive committee, made the remarks while speaking at an event attended by party supporters earlier this week.

“. . . One day after taking power, I imagined Andrés Manuel in the [presidential residence] Los Pinos, right? Then he welcomes a committee of the powerful men of Mexican finance: [Carlos] Slim is there, the owner of the Modelo brewery is there, to tell him: ‘Careful, Andrés, because if you move in that sense [expropriation], we’ll take the factories to Costa Rica,” he said.

“[I will be surprised] if that same day, at that same time, we are not two or three million Mexicans in the street saying: ‘If they want to blackmail you, Andrés, expropriate them, fuck them, expropriate them,’” Taibo continued in a video currently circulating on social media.

AMLO, left, and Taibo, center: expropriation advocated. AMLO, left, and Taibo, center: expropriation advocated.

The writer, who is reportedly close to the “Together We Will Make History” coalition candidate, then went on to assert that the social mobilization of the Mexican people will be essential to achieving significant change in the country.

Just what America needs, further social unrest in Mexico to pile on the drug cartel war.

Read more here…





China’s Out Of Control Borrowing Binge Leads The Global Debt Addiction

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Alex Deluce via GoldTelegraph.com,

China has developed a craving for consumer goods, the more luxurious, the better. Along with most other countries, China’s credit boom and spending spree are being followed by out-of-control debt.

While household debt is spiraling, the Chinese government is pushing to double the size of the economy by 2020 (setting this goal in 2010). This ambitious project will almost certainly entail more lending and increased debts. There is a question as to exactly how much more debt China can handle.

China’s debt has been rising steadily, from 141 percent of GDP in 2008 to 256 percent of GDP in 2017. This type of rapidly-increasing debt level has frequently been the precursor of a hard economic fall, and the world is watching China carefully.

While countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. also have large debt-to-GDP ratios, the difference is that both are high-income countries, while China has only reached middle-income status, with only $15,400 in household purchasing power. This is a quarter of the household purchasing power of the US. Getting out of debt on China’s low level of income will be far more difficult than in higher-income nations.

Like many global central banks, the People’s Bank of China(“PBOC”) has been injecting lots of cash into the system to try to provide some stability, which is only a temporary fix for a long-term problem. 

Increasing debt without a concurrent economic gain has inevitably led to the economic downfall. Out of 43 countries that experienced an increase of credit-to-GDP of more than 30 percent in five years, 38 of those countries faced a financial disaster. Those statistics do not bode well for China.

China’s economy ranks second globally. It is a leading trader and has the third-largest bond market. Any economic meltdown would have a global ripple effect, with neighboring Vietnam, South Korea, and Malaysia being most at risk. The US economy would feel the effects, as well. China has become an important market for US companies, such as Apple Inc., Intel Corp., and Yum! Brands. For these US companies, China represents a significant market and source of revenues. Intel Corp.’s Chinese revenues increased from 13 percent of total revenues in 2008 to almost double that amount, 24 percent, in 2016. Any financial crash in China would adversely affect…
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15 Charts that Disturb Us about American ‘Capitalism’

 

15 Charts that Disturb Us about American ‘Capitalism’

Courtesy of The Myth of Captialism

Capitalism is the greatest system ever to lift people out of poverty and create wealth, but the “capitalism” we see today in the United States is a far cry from competitive markets. What people see today is a grotesque, deformed version of capitalism. The distorted representation we see is as far away from the real thing as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean are from real pirates.

Central to capitalism is choice, freedom, and opportunity to compete.  However, true consumer choice is an illusion in today’s economy. 

A few massive firms dominate their respective industries in monopolies and oligopolies.  Economists call this industrial concentration, and it’s reminiscent of the age of robber barons under J.P. Morgan, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gould, and Duke.  As industries become highly concentrated in the hands of very few players, it threatens competition, increases inequality, and chokes economic growth. Economic power and political power becomes entrenched in the hands of a few players, squeezing out competitors.

American capitalism is now comprised of monopolies, duopolies, and oligopolies. We’ve compiled a list of charts that help paint a picture of today’s reality.  (Believe it or not, since we collected these charts, many new mergers have been announced.  It is impossible to keep pace with companies gobbling each other up.)

1.    Fewer and fewer businesses are starting in the US

Despite illusions of ‘disruptors’ changing industries like ride-sharing and social media, in reality business dynamism (the number of entrepreneurs starting new businesses) is very low in the US.

 

2.   More large firms dominate industries

This chart shows the percent of industries controlled by the top 4 firms. From beer to glass to tires – Americans have little choice when purchasing their products.

 

3.   Decline of Competition

Firms do not even talk about competition


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Phil's Favorites

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Biotech & Health

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Zero Hedge

China Adopts 'Cultural Revolution-Style' Social Controls To Crush Outbreak As Death Toll Nears 2,000

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Summary:

  • Taiwan reports 1st coronavirus death
  • Hubei reports 1,933 new cases, 100 deaths
  • Hubei health officials report 1,933 new cases, 100 new deaths
  • Taiwan taxi driver who died from virus carried passengers from mainland, Hong Kong, Macau
  • Singapore reports 3 more cases
  • Total cases aboard 'Diamond Princess' climbs to 355 as US prepares to evacuate citizens
  • Indonesia says 6 passengers from Westerdam cruise ship tested negative
  • There are now at least 68,500 cases worldwide, and at least 1,665 de...


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Members' Corner

How to Stop Bill Barr

 

How to Stop Bill Barr

We must remove this cancer on our democracy.

Courtesy of Greg Olear, at PREVAIL, author of Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia

...



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The Technical Traders

Is The Technology Sector Setting Up For A Crash? Part I

Courtesy of Technical Traders

One thing that continues to amaze our research team is the total scale and scope of the Capital Shift which is taking place across the globe.  For almost 5+ years, foreign investors have been piling into the US stock market chasing the stronger US dollar and continued advancement of US share prices. It is almost like there is no other place on the planet that will allow investors to pool capital into such a variety of strong assets while protecting against foreign capital risks.  Yet the one big question remains – when will a price reversion event hit the US stock
market?

So many researchers, even our team of researchers, believe we have found the keys to unloc...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Joe Friday Says Germany (DAX) Could Rally 30%, Happy Valentines Day For The Bulls!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

German DAX Index “weekly” Chart

The German DAX is one of the more important global stock market indices, as it represents the largest economy / market in the Euro Zone.

So it would be a real treat for the bulls to see this stock market index breakout as we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The facts, Ma’am. Just the facts; The German DAX looks to have formed a bullish ascending triangle over the past 3 years and it is currently attempting to breakout above the top at (1)....



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Insider Scoop

Nissan Shares Tumble To Decade Low After Q3 Earnings Miss

Courtesy of Benzinga

The shares of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (OTC: NSANY) dropped to a decade low on Thursday after the company missed third-quarter earnings estimates and significantly cut its annual forecast for the financial 2019 year.

What Happened

Nissan, on Thursday, reported a net loss o...



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ValueWalk

Russell 2000 Index (RUT) hits an almost one-month high

By Gorilla Trades. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Ad the Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, commenting on today’s trading Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman said:

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) Outperforms Large-Cap Benchmarks

While the overnight session was nothing short of scary stocks held on to most of yesterday's gains and small-caps even extended their winning streak. The Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, finishing higher for the fourth day in a row while outperforming the large-cap benchmarks, and since the Volatility...



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Chart School

Dow theory warning from the Utilities Index

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Charles Dow died in 1902, and the investors should thank him for his ever lasting Dow Theory Analysis.

Carrying on this blog theme looking at the Utility stocks. Previous post.
Dow Jones Utility index could trade like the FANGs
Formula for when the Great Stock Market Rally ends



You can learn about Dow Theory here

This post is concerned wi...

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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Price May Hit $27K All-Time High By Summer, Predicts Fundstrat's Tom Lee

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by William Suberg via CoinTelegraph.com,

Bitcoin is primed for average gains of almost 200% over the next six months, one of its best-known supporters has told mainstream media. 

...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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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.

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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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