Archive for 2018

China’s “New Silk Road” Project Hits Debt Jam

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” trade infrastructure project could be hitting significant bottlenecks as some countries begin to sound alarms regarding the massive debt loads their governments are incurring.

Xi first announced the trade initiative also known as the “New Silk Road” in 2013, which needs more than $26 trillion of infrastructure investment by 2030 to keep regional economies expanding. The project includes railways, power plants, ports, highways and other projects across the world, with Beijing providing billions of dollars in credit to drive these schemes.

Major governments including the United States, Japan and India have expressed grave concern Beijing is trying to construct a new economic system that will erode their influence.

Xi said China’s trade with Belt and Road countries had exceeded $5 trillion, with outward direct investment surpassing $60 billion.

Already, some Chinese-led projects have experienced high levels of complaints that they are too expensive and give little work to local contractors. In response, some governments including Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Nepal have halted, scaled back, and or renegotiated projects with Beijing.

In August, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad canceled various projects including a $20 billion rail system he said his country could no longer afford.

Recently, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan, has vowed more transparency amid fears about the country’s ability to repay Chinese loans related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Last December, Sri Lanka had to sell its controlling stake of Port of Hambantota to a Chinese state-owned finance firm after it almost defaulted on a $1.5 billion loan from Beijing.

Hambantota port formally handed over to China-led company 

Mohamed Nasheed, the exiled leader of the opposition in the Maldives, warned China’s debt-fueled projects in the Indian Ocean archipelago amounted to a “land grab” and “colonialism,” with 80 percent of its debt held by Beijing.

“China does not have a very competent international bureaucracy in foreign aid, in expansion of soft power,” Anne Stevenson-Yang, co-founder and research director at J Capital Research, told AFP.

“So not surprisingly they’re not very good at it, and it brought up political


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Human Rights Alert: Woman Files Discrimination Complaint For Right To Work Braless

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A Canadian woman has filed a human rights complaint claiming her previous employer, the Osoyoos Golf Club, discriminated against her with a requirement that all female staff wear a bra, reports the CBC

 

Christina Schell (via cbc.ca)

"It's gender-based and that's why it's a human rights issue," she said. "I have nipples and so do the men."

However, some braless women feel discomfort when managers mandate they must wear one in the workplace — a rule that could be deemed discriminatory, because it only applies to one gender.

"It's unnecessary," said Kate Gosek who works as a cook at McDonald's in Selkirk, Man. The 19-year-old says several managers recently harassed her about not wearing a bra, including one who prodded her shoulder in search of one.

"She just told me that I should put on a bra because, McDonald's — we are a polite restaurant and no one needs to see that." -CBC

In response to her former employer's bra policy, Schell has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. A hearing date has yet to be set. Schell says she ditched bras two years ago because they are uncomfortable. 

"They're horrible," said the 25-year-old, who took a job as a waitress at the golf club's restaurant in May - only to receive a notice from her employer weeks later notifying her of the dress code, which read: "Women must wear either a tank top or bra under their uniform shirt."

Given that she was required to serve customers on an outdoor patio in hot weather, Schell says she had no desire to wear a bra or an undershirt. 

"It was absurd," she said. "Why do you get to dictate what's underneath my clothes?"

Schell confronted the golf club's general manager, Doug Robb, and said he told her the rule was for her protection.

"He said, 'I know what happens in golf clubs when alcohol's involved.'"

Schell refused to comply, and said she was fired as a result. That prompted her to


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High-Tech Horrors: China’s Cash Pipeline To Silicon Valley Is Clogged

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Dan Wang via Evergreen Gavekal blog,

Most coverage of the mounting US-China strategic tensions has focused on tariff threats. Equally significant are moves by the US to choke off Chinese investments in the US technology sector. These moves are part of a strategy to ensure that China can’t catch up to the US in critical technology fields by buying, or buying into, cutting-edge American firms.

Alarm bells began ringing in 2014, when Chinese investors started to surge into venture-capital funding rounds in Silicon Valley. In 2016 the total annual Chinese direct investment of all kinds in the US tripled to US$46bn. The targets of Chinese acquirers were varied, but a good chunk of that money went into technology firms. Some observers believe the wave of spending was prompted by a mandate under Beijing’s Made in China 2025 industrial policy for Chinese firms to boost their technological capacity through foreign acquisitions.

The first response to this wave was an increase in the number of China-funded deals blocked by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the interagency government panel that vets inbound direct investments for national security concerns. Two new laws enacted this month have greatly strengthened the ability of the US government to restrict incoming investments from China or any other country. Their key feature is expanding the remit of CFIUS and the export-control agency to block deals, not just on narrow defense-related grounds as in the past, but to protect American control of a wide range of technologies.

Based on conversations I’ve had this month in Silicon Valley, investors with Chinese connections have already found it harder to do deals. As the stringent new investment regime takes hold, companies in biotechnology, vehicle autonomy, artificial intelligence, and other fields may find themselves being treated as sensitively as semiconductor or defense companies.

High-tech anxiety

The US national security establishment’s concerns about Chinese technology investments were laid out in a January 2018 report by Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, a Defense Department organization set up to absorb innovations from Silicon Valley. The report documented major investments in California tech companies and argued that these deals resulted in technology transfers that harm national…
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California Votes To Ban Schools From Early Start Times To “Give Students More Sleep”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Not The Onion, but FOX reports on the latest absurdity to come out of California public schools:

California lawmakers voted Friday to bar middle and high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m., one of dozens of proposals debated in the Legislature on the final day of its legislative session.

The bill, SB328, reportedly passed by narrow margin in both chambers of the state legislature which late into the night considered a variety of topics and proposals just before a midnight deadline; and if signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will go into effect in three years

School health advocates claim that early start times cut down on the number of hours of sleep teens get each night. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures cited by FOX, almost 80 percent of all California middle and high schools started earlier than 8:30 a.m. in 2012.

However, opponents of the bill say this is yet more nanny state action initiated by a far removed state assembly. "When it comes to education, the farther away the decisions are made from the classroom, the worse those decisions are," Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, said of the bill. 

Opponents say it's a matter that should be in the hands of local school boards and not the state legislature, as only the former can be sensitive to needs of the local community. 

But proponents claim a later school start time will result in increased graduation rates throughout the state. Assemblyman Jay Obernolte was widely cited as saying, "This is the single most cost-effective thing we can do to improve high school graduation rates."

The only exemption to the new law should it take effect are rural schools; and schools would further still have control over scheduling electives or "extra periods" before the regular school day begins. 

Of course, it should be obvious that if middle and high school students aren't getting enough sleep at night, letting students sleep-in is likely to have zero impact considering the more significant and likelier variables leading to loss of sleep

First and foremost we can imagine that a later school start…
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Americans Are Grilling More Steaks For Labor Day In The “Greatest Economy Ever”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As consumer confidence explodes to an 18-year high, not seen since the dot-com bubble, Americans feel like they have got more money. Despite negative real wage growth for the bottom 90 percent, and consumer credit exploding higher as credit card debt hits record highs, the artificial feeling of the “greatest economy ever” could be seen in the demand for premium steaks.

The appearance of a bustling economy thanks to second-quarter growth numbers inflated by shifts in consumption to avoid upcoming tariffs and low unemployment in the gig-economy has sparked consumer demand for beef this summer, typically considered a delicacy food too many.

A few months back, we reported a mountain of meat is building in U.S. cold-storage facilities, spurred by a surge in production and President Trump’s trade war that is pressuring foreign demand.

More than 2.5 billion pounds of meat from beef, hog, poultry, and turkey are being stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses across the country amid trade disputes with major U.S. meat exporters. Federal data in July showed record meat levels which has sent the industry into a dangerous deflationary trend.

Deflation in meat prices have triggered increased consumer demand, but not at levels that are in pace with record production of chickens and hogs. The excess supply is generally exported to Mexico and China—among the biggest foreign buyers of U.S. meat — have both recently slapped tariffs on U.S. hog products in response to President Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum, and other items. Industry officials told the WSJ that U.S. hams, chops and livers have become more expensive in international markets, coupled with a strong dollar weighing on local currencies, which has dramatically reduced demand for U.S. meats.

America’s meat industry production is rapidly filling up the specialized warehouses built to store meat. “We are packed full,” said Joe Rumsey, president of Arkansas-based Zero Mountain Inc.

Record supplies of chicken and pork in the U.S., and spot prices at 3 to 4-year lows has overwhelmed demand. Companies including Tyson Foods Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. have recently said with meat prices in decline, Americans have been gravitating…
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After Two Failures, Whitney Tilson Is Back With Another Attempt At Managing Your Money

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Back in the summer of 2012, we had some fun when we reported that Whitney Tilson – the consummate, if always late "value investing" immitator of other prominent investors especially Warren Buffett and Bill Ackman and sworn #NeverTrumper – following several years of abysmal returns, closed his then-hedge fund T2 (with Glenn Tongue), splitting off into his own, oddly-named venture, Kase Capital. Then, one year ago, Whitney – who in recent years was better known for his family photos from Africa than managing money- did it again when Tilson officially closed his hedge fund and exited the asset management industry.

The reason for the closure is that Tilson's latest hedge fund, Kase Capital, which was managing a whopping $50 million at the time of closure, down from a peak of $180 million, lost about 8% in the first 8 months of 2017, and his clients finally threw in the towel.

Shortly after exiting the asset management industry, Tilson – who admitted that in his "18¾ years managing money professionally via numerous hedge funds and mutual funds, I had a very unexpected, frustrating and humbling experience: my performance got worse over time" – decided to teach others about his numerous investing mistakes, and founded Kase Learning, which offers a range of seminars and webinars for professional investors but mostly for avid amateurs "to help them become better investors and, for some, launch and build a successful investment management business."

And while it remains to be seen if Tilson is a better teacher than investor, it now appears that Whitney – having shown some modest returns in his personal account – is contemplating a return to money management yet again. As Tilson reveals in a wide ranging Seeking Alpha interview, "I’m in the process of setting up a separately-managed accounts business right now. Initially, it’s just going to be for friends, family and former investors, but perhaps I’ll expand it over time." 

Why will this time be different? Because, as he explains, "money management is still the greatest business in the world, I love the game" and "I am confident that I will be successful now that I’ve taken a break and internalized the lessons I learned (and now teach) from…
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Don’t Believe Your ‘Lying Highs’

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

Who are you going to believe? The data or the lying highs?

This summer markets have again ignored all negative news. Be it trade issues, be it indictments and drama on the political front, you name it. Turkey, Venezuela, Argentina, Italy, Brexit troubles, emerging markets, China, who cares? 5 months of straight gains with little volatility not only retesting January highs, but making new index highs in the process.

And if you believe headline AUM driven punditry you are left with the impression that nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to derail a guaranteed ascent of prices. The bullish argument is rooted in US earnings growth which is fantastic given the backdrop of tax cuts. In context new highs are actually not surprising and were expected. A dovish Fed (still running negative real rates & staying accommodative with a cautious slow rate hike path advertised), trade wars are over (they’re not) 24% earnings growth, buybacks galore, nothing matters. Pullbacks are a thing of the past, get long and buy the highs. We can only go up. Perhaps a bit facetious on my part, but that is the general sentiment propagated. “Buy every dip”, “don’t wait for a dip” and above all: “Don’t sell“.

Given all this it’s of little surprise that investor sentiment is back to euphoric levels:

So why the “Lying Highs” label?

Consider the machinations of these markets. 10 years of virtual non stop global central bank intervention repressing rates, causing the TINA (there is no alternative) effect, forcing yield seeking forces to enter risk assets they otherwise wouldn’t (think pension funds). In a world where volatility compression changed the dynamics of price discovery active fund managers increasingly found their human intellect driven choices inferior to a world driven by algos, ETFs, central banks. Dissatisfied investors tired of lagging returns threw in the towel and threw their assets into ETFs. There are now more ETFs than individual stocks. Everything is indexed and automatic allocations keep buying the ever shrinking float that is out there. Shrinking because there are now significantly fewer individual stocks to buy than 20 years ago.…
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The ‘Braveheart effect’ – and how companies manipulate our desire for freedom

 

The 'Braveheart effect' – and how companies manipulate our desire for freedom

Courtesy of Simon McCarthy-Jones, Trinity College Dublin

They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!

This often parodied quote from Mel Gibson’s William Wallace in the film Braveheart is something of a contradiction, and yet its sentiment is easy to understand. Nothing gets our hackles up more than being told that we have no choice over something. The powerful urge we get to regain a lost or threatened freedom, even at great cost, is formally called “reactance”. I call it the “Braveheart effect”.

This effect is likely to kick in if we are told we must do something or that we can’t do something. It can be triggered by being told our personality or gender means we will necessarily act in a certain way. Anything that makes us feel our freedom is threatened awakens powerful forces.

Anger wells up. We mentally rail against whatever or whoever threatens our freedom. What we have been pushed into tastes bitter. What we have lost smells sweeter.

We then act to restore our sense of freedom. We may do what we were told not to. If a judge tells jurors that they have no choice but to disregard inadmissible evidence, it can increase the chance they are influenced by this evidence. We may also confound predictions. We may choose the opposite of what we are told someone of our personality type would choose, or outperform an unhelpful stereotype of what is expected of our gender.

What affects the Braveheart effect?

This effect only tends to occur if we feel capable of restoring our freedom. Otherwise we rationalise our actions (“Oh, that’s what I wanted to do anyway”). If the Braveheart effect occurs, its strength depends on a number of factors.

First, the more we sense an actual person is thwarting our freedom, the greater the effect is. We will experience a greater Braveheart effect if someone tells us to do something in person than if we receive the same message in written form.

Second, the effect depends on how…
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Just How Much Does America’s 1% Have In Savings?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

According to a new analysis of Federal Reserve and FDIC data by Magnify Money, the median American household has around $11,700 in savings between bank accounts and retirement savings – meaning 50% of Americans have less than $11,700 in savings, and 50% have more. The average American household, however, has saved $175,510 – a vastly different figure.  

This data is largely meaningless from 10,000 feet…

The disparity between median and average savings can be explained by math; the ultra-rich, who are essentially outliers, skew the average higher - while the median figure is the midpoint between all savers. 

In other words, while headlines quoting averages suggest that savings rates for all Americans are improving dramatically thanks to recent upward revisions – the reality is that most of the gains have gone to the top

Because of this, it's far more useful to look at savings rates through certain "demographic prisms" such as age and income - at which point the data becomes much more relevant. To that end, Magnify Money's Chris Horymski puts things in perspective. From his analysis we learn: 

  • The median top 1% of households by income have $1.15 million in savings, while over 50% of low-income households have no savings.
  • The median baby boomer household and those born before 1946 has roughly $97,120 saved, while the median GenXer has $43,000. Millennials have a median savings of just $9,230

In looking at the charts below, the "median vs. average" skew can even be observed even within "demographic prisms": 

  • The average top 1% of households have roughly $2.5 million saved, while the average savings among the bottom 20% of earners sits at $8,720 - clearly not reflecting the fact that over half of low-income households actually have no savings at all.
  • Meanwhile, the average boomer household has saved $380,000, while the average GenXer has $165,000 and millennials have just $34,000

Average and Median Savings Levels by Income

[A]lthough the average American household has saved roughly $175,000 in various types of savings accounts, only the top 10%-20% of earners will likely have savings levels approaching or exceeding that amount. Indeed, and as the chart shows, the bottom 40% of American households are more likely than not to have any savings


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Peso Set To Disintegrate After IMF Tells Argentina To Stop Supporting Currency

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

On May 11, three days after Argentina secured a $50 Billion IMF bailout - the largest in the fund's history – we jokingly noted that with the peso resuming its slide, an indication the market did not view the IMF backstop as credible, the ECB would need to get involved.

ARGENTINE PESO EXTENDS LOSS, HITS NEW ALL-TIME LOW AT 23.16/USD

Time to add ECB to IMF bailout

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) May 11, 2018

In retrospect, it now appears that this may not have been a joke, because with the Peso plummeting, and surpassing the Turkish Lira as the worst performing currency of 2018 having lost half its value YTD…

… with the bulk of the collapse taking place in August…

… Christone Lagarde had some very bad news for Buenos Aires and Argentina president Mauricio Macri: the IMF now insists that after burning through billions in central bank reserves, Argentina should stop using funds to support the peso, and float it freely.

According to Infobae, the Argentine foreign currency reserves have declined below the level demanded by the IMF, with Argentine authorities selling $2.5BN to support the peso in August; meanwhile the overall level of reserves has slumped even more, approaching the levels before the IMF bailout and failing to prop up the peso which, as shown below, has collapsed in a move reminiscent of what is taking place in hyperinflating Venezuela.

Worse, the Argentine Peso suffered its latest sharp drop in the days after the central bank unexpectedly hiked rates to 60% - the highest in the world – and another indication that the market is firmly convinced that not even the IMF backstop will force Argentina into a painful, and politically destabilizing structural program.

After all it is less than two decades after the IMF tried the exact same playbook with Argentina and the result was a default.

Meanwhile, as…
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Zero Hedge

Johns Hopkins, Bristol-Myers Face $1 Billion Suit For Infecting Guatemalan Hookers With Syphilis 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A federal judge in Maryland said Johns Hopkins University, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Rockefeller Foundation must face a $1 billion lawsuit over their roles in a top-secret program in the 1940s ran by the US government that injected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis, reported Reuters.

Several doctors from Hopkins an...



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Phil's Favorites

This Is The One Chart Every Trader Should Have "Taped To Their Screen"

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

After a year of tapering, the Fed’s balance sheet finally captured the market’s attention during the last three months of 2018.

By the start of the fourth quarter, the Fed had finished raising the caps on monthly roll-off of its balance sheet to the full $50bn per month (peaking at $30bn USTs, $20bn MBS, although on many months the (balance sheet) B/S does not actually shrink by this full amount which depends on the redemption schedule) and by end-Q4 markets also experienced some of the largest volatility and drawdowns in nearly a decade.

As Nomura&...



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ValueWalk

The Competition For Capital Has Made Stocks Cheap

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The new year is upon us, and now is the time many investors look at what 2018 was and prepare for what 2019 might be. Recession jitters are starting to pick back up again, especially now that the full picture of 2018 is in the books. But what if you could pick only one theme for 2018? Jefferies strategist Sean Darby and team have a suggestion which is especially timely given that it appears to mark the end of an era.

StockSnap / PixabayVolatility carries into the new year

This past year was one of extremes, and the markets ended i...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock declines did not break 9-year support, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

We often hear “Stocks take an escalator up and an elevator down!” No doubt stocks did experience a swift decline from the September highs to the Christmas eve lows. Looks like the “elevator” part of the phrase came true as 2018 was coming to an end.

The first part of the “stocks take an escalator up” seems to still be in play as well despite the swift decline of late.

Joe Friday Just The Facts Ma’am- All of these indices hit long-term rising support on Christmas Eve at each (1), where support held and rallies have followed.

If you find long-term perspectives helpf...



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Digital Currencies

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

 

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

Blockchain technologies can empower people by allowing them more control over their user data. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Ajay Kumar Shrestha, University of Saskatchewan

Blockchain has already proven its huge influence on the financial world with its first application in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It might not be long before its impact is felt everywhere.

Blockchain is a secure chain of digital records that exist on multiple computers simultaneously so no record can be erased or falsified. The...



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Insider Scoop

Cars.com Explores Strategic Alternatives, Analyst Sees Possible Sale Price Around $30 Per Share

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related 44 Biggest Movers From Yesterday 38 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Mid-Day Session ...

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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 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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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:

 

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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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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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