Archive for 2018

Visualizing What The Big Tech Companies Know About You

Courtesy of Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist

The novelty of the internet platform boom has mostly worn off.

Now that companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Alphabet are among the world’s most valued companies, people are starting to hold them more accountable for the impact of their actions on the real world.

From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the transparency of Apple’s supply chain, it’s clear that big tech companies are under higher scrutiny. Unsurprisingly, much of this concern stems around one key currency that tech companies leverage for their own profitability: personal data.


Today’s infographic comes to us from Security Baron, and it compares and contrasts the data that big tech companies admit to collecting in their privacy policies.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

While the list of data collected by big tech is extensive in both length and breadth, it does take two to tango.

For many of these categories, users have to willingly supply their data in order for it to be collected. For example, you don’t have to fill out your relationship status on Facebook, but millions of users choose to do so.


The majority of the data categories on the list make sense – it’s a no-brainer that Amazon has your credit card information, or that Google knows what websites you visit. Even the least tech-savvy person would likely understand this.

However, there are definitely some categories of data that get collected and stored that may sound unnerving to some people:

  • Facebook knows your political views, religious views, and even your ethnicity
  • Xbox users will have their skeletal tracking data collected through the Kinect device
  • Facebook also knows your income level, which it finds out through partnerships with personal data brokers
  • Platforms collect your documents, email, and message data – though some of this is just metadata
  • Facebook and Microsoft store facial recognition data, based on the pictures you upload

Remember, this is just what companies admit to collecting in their privacy policies – what else do you think they know?

A Bitcoin Bull Says The Selling May Not Be Over

Courtesy of Benzinga.

A Bitcoin Bull Says The Selling May Not Be Over

The steep sell-off in cryptocurrencies that pushed bitcoin prices to fresh 52-week lows last week took a breather Monday, with bitcoin prices bouncing back about 1 percent to $3,814. However, Morgan Creek Digital Assets’ Anthony Pompliano told CNBC the worst may still be yet to come for bitcoin investors.

“Bitcoin has experienced two previous drawdowns of over 80 percent. We think that about 85 percent from the all-time high is about where we’ll end up, puts us at about $3,000,” Pompliano said.

Bitcoin dipped as low as $3,592 over the weekend, its lowest level since September of 2017.

Inherent Value

Pompliano said plenty of people have been birded by buying bitcoin near the peak of the bubble last year, but bitcoin’s utility as a secure payment transfer mechanism means it does have some inherent value greater than $0.

Pompliano also said that, recent volatility aside, bitcoin has outperformed all other asset classes over the past decade and is still up 400 percent in the past two years.

“Through 2017, all of the buyers were retail… What I think you’re seeing is the washout of these retail investors and now as the institutions like Fidelity, ICE, etc. [come in],” he said.

The bitcoin price crash has created another problem for the cryptocurrency now that the only the most efficient mining operations remain profitable. Pompliano said miners in China and elsewhere in Asia are still able to mine bitcoin at a cost of around $2,000 due to lower energy costs.

Buying The Dip

Pompliano said Morgan Creek has been buying the sell-off in bitcoin the entire year.

“We’ve got very deep conviction in this over a long period of time,” he said.

Following last week’s sell-off the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC: GBTC) is now down 79.6 percent overall in 2018.

Related Links:

This Week In Cryptocurrency: DoJ Investigates Tether, Crypto Hacker Steals $1M

With Tether In Focus, The DoJ Is Investigating Last Year’s Cryptomania

Latest Ratings for GBTC

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Shopify Acquires Swedish Competitor Tictail; LA Retail Location Leaves Analyst Bullish

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Shopify Acquires Swedish Competitor Tictail; LA Retail Location Leaves Analyst Bullish

Shopify Inc (NASDAQ: SHOP) shares were surging Monday after news broke that the company acquired Tictail, an e-commerce platform focused on smaller brands.

Raymond James analyst Brian Peterson said that while no financial details for the transaction were disclosed, Stockholm-based Tictail has secured $32 million in funding.

“Similar to Shopify, Tictail has simplified the digital commerce process for small brands and entrepreneurs, with the ability to create a store from a mobile app while also providing a marketplace for brands on the platform,” Peterson said in a Friday note. 

The analyst views the acquisition positively and said it aligns with Shopify’s goal of enabling entrepreneurs while also providing a potential catalyst for growth internationally.

Tictail has approximately 80,000 to 125,000 brands on its platform. 

Guggenheim Stays Bullish After LA Visit 

Guggenheim analyst Ken Wong reiterated a Buy rating on Shopify after visiting the company’s first permanent retail space in Los Angeles.

Wong said he left his meeting convinced that the physical presence in Los Angeles will help generate merchant adds, drive GMV growth and improve retention.

Sales are rarely made on first visits, but overall conversions have been better than anticipated and the site has helped frustrated merchants from competitors Ltd (NASDAQ: WIX), Squarespace and BigCommerce migrate onto Shopify’s platform.

“Management has talked up investments in brand marketing and we view the LA location as a strategic approach to killing two birds with one stone,” the analyst said. 

If Shopify’s LA location proves successful, New York would be the next logical city to open a customer center, according to Guggenheim. 

Shopify shares were up 5.44 percent at $142.03 at the time of publication Monday. 

Related Links:

Shopify Merchant Feedback Paints Bullish Picture For Q2, Roth Capital Says In Earnings Preview

Citron Blasts Shopify, Says Changes To Facebook Data Will ‘Annihilate’ Company’s Entrepreneurs

Public domain photo via Wikimedia. 

Latest Ratings for SHOP

Date Firm Action From To
Oct 2018 Jefferies Initiates Coverage On Hold
Sep 2018 Wedbush Initiates Coverage On Outperform
Aug 2018 Guggenheim Initiates Coverage On Buy

View More Analyst Ratings for SHOP

View the Latest Analyst Ratings

Posted-In: Brian Peterson Citron ResearchAnalyst Color News Short Sellers Price Target Reiteration Analyst Ratings Best of Benzinga

Corporate Share Buybacks Looking Dumber By The Day

Courtesy of John Rubino, Dollar Collapse

A recent MarketWatch article notes that:

GE was one of Wall Street’s major share buyback operators between 2015 and 2017; it repurchased $40 billion of shares at prices between $20 and $32. The share price is now $8.60, so the company has liquidated between $23 billion and $29 billion of its shareholders’ money on this utterly futile activity alone. Since the highest net income recorded by the company during those years was $8.8 billion in 2016, with 2015 and 2017 recording a loss, it has managed to lose more on its share repurchases during those three years than it made in operations, by a substantial margin.

Even more important, GE has now left itself with minus $48 billion in tangible net worth at Sept. 30, with actual genuine tangible debt of close to $100 billion. As the new CEO Larry Culp told CNBC last Monday: “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down.” The following day, GE announced the sale of 15% of its oil services arm Baker Hughes, for a round $4 billion.

Of course, since that sale values Baker Hughes at $26 billion, and GE paid $32 billion for 62% of Baker Hughes as recently as last year, which looks to me like a valuation for the whole company of $52 billion, GE shareholders appears to have lost half the value of their investment in Baker Hughes in about 18 months.

But GE is just one of several hundred big companies with CEOs who now have to justify a massive, in some cases catastrophic waste of shareholder cash.

This most recent share buyback binge was dumb money on steroids, with artificially low interest rates leading corporations to borrow big and buy back their stock on the twin assumptions that:

1) since the cost to borrow was less than their stock dividend, they were generating “free cash flow” and

2) buying their own stock forced up the price, which would make the CEO look smart.

Both assumptions were only valid while the market was rising. And since most of the buying took place late in a bull market, with share prices at or near record highs, it…
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A Record Cyber Monday Could Be Too Little, Too Late For Retail Stocks

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Earlier today we wrote how legacy retailers were struggling to adopt to Black Friday increasingly moving to a primarily e-commerce platform: we noted that not only did several "legacy" website by major retailers like Lululemon, Lowe's and Wal-Mart suffer various revenue-sapping glitches, but also that Black Friday was likely to set new spending records even as mall traffic – at least for now – appeared roughly the same as last year. Incidentally, total spending for Black Friday is now expected to be $6.22 billion, a gain of 23.6% from last year, according to analyst estimates.

And with Thanksgiving weekend all but behind us, the focus now turns to Cyber Monday, the "official" e-commerce holiday that takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is a horrifying excuse to spend even money you don't have a "holiday" that's "celebrated" as everybody returns to work after Thanksgiving break and logs online to begin their holiday shopping.

According to Bloomberg, shoppers are estimated to spend $7.8 billion this Cyber Monday, starting off holiday spending on the right track and setting fresh records. But the question of whether or not the Cyber Monday numbers will have an effect on retail names and the stock market in general still lingers. In the midst of a rising interest rate environment where discretionary spending is all but guaranteed to fall as the economy cools – amid an ongoing trade war – some believe that even record Cyber Monday numbers simply won't be enough to move the needle.

DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte believes that the lingering consumer spending slowdown in 2019 is throwing a damp rag on any positive signs that will come with a strong holiday spending season: "many of the tariffs will likely be borne by consumers in the second half of 2019 in the form of higher prices on products. Higher interest rates may dampen spending on big-ticket items."

Overall, US shoppers are estimated to spend $124.1 billion online in November and December this year, up an impressive 14.8% from last year, based on figures from Adobe Analytics. The growth rate is simply astounding, especially so many years after the first adoption of e-commerce. But the stock of legacy retailers like Walmart and Target,…
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How A 150bps “Rate Shock” Would Hit The US Economy

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In one of the more whimsical notes published by Goldman in recent months, chief economist Jan Hatzius writes that he has received numerous questions about various "rules of thumb" for analyzing the US economy, and lays out a selection of these rules, covering Fed policy, financial conditions, growth, unemployment, inflation, bond yields, and recession risk.

While the note covers everything from monetary policy (in the context of rising rates) and the impact on financial conditions, to the labor market and the relationship between GDP and the unemployment rate, to the link between the unemployment rate and rising wages and overall PCE inflation, eventually closing the loop with the Taylor rule and how a mechanistic take on the economy translates to monetary policy, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the note is Goldman's take on what a 150bp "unexpected increase" in the Fed Funds rate would do to both financial conditions and GDP.

To be sure, unlike 2 months ago when discussions about the "overheating" of the US economy were all the rage, and some were even hinting that the Fed may engage in one or more surprise rate hikes, in recent weeks the US economy has shown troubling signs of a slowdown and as a result the conversation has shifted away from unexpected tightening to whether Powell may in fact terminate the Fed's tightening prematurely, the Goldman analysis is still interesting, if more as a thought experiment; it would certainly be relevant once more from a practical standpoint should high frequency economic indicators suddenly surprise to the upside in the coming weeks.

In any case, according to Hatzius, who notes that "the funds rate alone is no longer a reliable predictor of financial conditions", Goldman observes that monetary policymakers now affect GDP by influencing financial conditions. Specifically, according to Goldman calculations "a 150bp hawkish funds rate shock typically tightens the FCI by 100bp. By component, a 150bp hawkish funds rate shock tends to increase the 10-year yield by 45bp, lower equity prices by 9%, and raise the value of the dollar by 4%" as shown in the chart below.

While hardly a surprise that substantially tighter financial conditions – as a…
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For Traders “It’s Been A Pretty Miserable Year. 2019 Isn’t Looking Any Better Either”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Back on November 1, we reported  a "fascinating statistic" by Deutsche Bank – as of the end of October, 89% (a number that has since risen to at least 90%) of most major global assets had a negative total return year to date in dollar terms. This was the highest percentage on record based on data back to 1901, eclipsing the 84% hit in 1920. Putting this in context, in 2017 just 1% of asset classes delivered negative returns. The final straw was when the S&P 500 index, which had valiantly resisted a negative return for the year, finally succumbed to the gravitational pull of most other markets and turned red last week when it also suffered its second correction of 2018.

And while this statistic was quietly ignored for much of November, it eventually made its way to the front page of the WSJ today – just days after the S&P turned negative for 2018 and slumped into its second correction of the year – which reported what most traders had known already: "stocks, bonds and commodities from copper to crude oil to burlap are staging a rare simultaneous retreat, putting global markets on track for one of their worst years on record and deepening a sense of unease on Wall Street."

For those investors who have somehow slept through the past two months, it has been a painful market ever since the S&P hit its all time high on September 20: major stock benchmarks in the U.S., Europe, China and South Korea have all slid 10% or more from recent highs. Crude oil lost a third of its value and slumped deep into bear market territory, emerging-market currencies have broadly fallen against the U.S. dollar, while bitcoin’s price crashed below $4,000 over the weekend amid what a broad risk capitulation.

While havens such as Treasury bonds and gold rallied this fall as riskier assets swooned, both are still down on a price basis for the year, reflecting trader concerns with solid economic growth and tighter Federal Reserve policy that have begun to push interest rates out of their post-financial crisis doldrums.

And, as we first discussed last week in why "Nothing
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Millennials Are Quickly Ditching City Life For Suburbs 

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

A new report from Ernst & Young LLP., Research Now surveyed 1,202 adults aged 20 to 36 shows that millennials are fleeing big cities for suburban life.

When determining where to live, many millennials are now following the footsteps of their parents. In total, rent or own, 38% of millennials live in the suburbs, compared to 37% in the city.

Cathy Koch, EY's Americas Tax Policy Leader, told CNBC that millennials are choosing suburbs over cities.

"It's not just that they're settling down as they get older, either," Koch said.

"When looking at the very same age group today compared to two years ago, there's an increase in the share of millennials living in the suburbs."

"It was a surprise to me to see this generation increasingly choosing suburban locations to buy homes," Koch said, but the trend at play makes sense: "The 'suburbs' may very well be smaller cities close to larger urban areas – these still afford the richness of city living (including employment opportunities) at maybe lower home prices."

According to a recent report from Zillow, millennial home buyers can expect to pay 26.5% of their income to purchase a median-value home in a city, but only 20.2% of their income for a similar home in the suburbs.

Personal finances and student debt is likely the factor driving millennials out of big cities for regions that have a much lower cost of living.

More than 50% of millennials are currently paying off student debt (on average, Americans have $30,000 of student loan debt).

Millennials who majored in business have the least amount of student loans, but a large share of them have worthless humanities majors with low-paying gig-economy jobs.

Ernst & Young finds more millennials are buying homes in the last several years, but shows how student debt has delayed homebuying for many. This fragile generation is buying homes at a much lower rate than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

Student debt has not just delayed home buying, but…
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Bear Trap?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Sven Henrich via,

Are markets setting up for a major bear trap? Let’s explore the question. Look, I could show you a 100 charts that say the same thing that everybody already knows: Things are terrible. From crude crashing 7 weeks in a row, $FAANGS dropping a trillion bucks in market cap and individual stocks getting taken out back and shot. Crypto is a wasteland. Global growth is continuing to slow down hard (Germany just printed its lowest GDP growth in nearly 4 years) and US growth is heading back to a 2% regime. Bulls that were aggressively pushing for ever higher targets are sheepishly reducing them fast. One analyst dropped his 3,200 year end target on $SPX to 2,900, another dropped his 2018 Bitcoin target from $25K to $15K (it’s trading at $3,700 this weekend) and downgrades are permeating the daily news cycle. Long gone is the talk of global synchronized growth that dominated the headlines earlier in the year.

And currently the year is shaping up to be the worst ever in terms of total asset classes in negative territory, 90%:

In short: Bears have taken over everything and are dancing on the corpses of bulls that have mocked them for so long.

Heck they have even taken over the malls

Last week’s price action was the most miserable Thanksgiving week in recent memory.

In lieu of that I have a question:

Why haven’t we taken out the lows? I mean, given all this backdrop of global misery and wipe outs in asset classes, why is the $SPX still in range?

Indeed at this very moment that chart says higher lows. Now of course that can change in a hurry next week and we may enter that next risk zone we’ve been discussing in previous Weekly Market Briefs:

But why haven’t we seen new lows yet? What else do bears
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“Largest-Ever Overseas Real-Estate Investment Scam” Fleeced Investors For $100 Million 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (“Telemarketing Act”), has recently announced that it seeks law-enforcement action against a residential resort development in Belize, calling it “the largest-ever overseas real-estate investment scam” the agency has ever seen.

At a recent press conference in Washington, D.C., the agency said the development known by names that include Sanctuary Bay, Sanctuary Belize, Buy Belize, Buy International, and Buy Paradise, fleeced 1,000 American investors, out of more than $100 million.

Scheme Video: Belize Real Estate – Belize Property – Belize Homes – Buy Belize 

According to court documents filed by the FTC in the US District Court of Maryland, 24 individuals and shell companies falsely claimed to be constructing a luxurious resort community that would feature a hospital, hotels, a golf course, a spa, a casino, high-end boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and an “American-style” supermarket.

Video: American National Sues Over "Sanctuary Belize" Multimillion-Dollar Scam

The agency said investors were fooled into believing the lots, which sold for between $150,000 and $500,000 each, would dramatically increase in value.

Scheme Video: Sanctuary Belize Real Estate

On page three of the court document, it said defendants sold "lots primarily to Americans looking to retire abroad or seeking investment opportunities. They target small business owners and couples nearing retirement. Among other things, they claim the lots are low-risk investments that consumers can resell easily and enjoy 200%-300% appreciation."

The Wall Street Journal has been following the developments of the scheme for more than a year.

More than ten years after sales started, the FTC said most of the Manhattan-sized development is still unfinished. Only twelve homes and part of the marina have been completed, many of which are occupied by people with close ties to the development 

The FTC said investors were supposed to hire a builder to construct their Central American home, but many did not, because they saw the overall property was not fully developed and there was no real estate…
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Zero Hedge

Auto Shares Surge As Fiat, Renault Confirm Merger Talks

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With President Trump in Japan for a state visit and most of Europe headed to the polls to vote in the quinquennial EU Parliamentary elections, there was enough news to keep market watchers occupied during what was supposed to be a quiet holiday weekend in the US. 

But on top of these political headlines, on Saturday afternoon, the news broke that Italian-American carmaker Fiat Chrysler had approached France's Renault with a merger proposal that would leave the shareholders of each carmaker with half of the combined company, in a tie-up that would create the world's third-largest au...

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Phil's Favorites

Trump and the problem with pardons


Trump and the problem with pardons

Courtesy of Andrew Bell, Indiana University

As a veteran, I was astonished by the recent news that President Trump may be considering pardons for U.S. military members accused or convicted of war crimes. But as a scholar who studies the U.S. military and combat ethics, I understand even more clearly the harmful long-term impact such pardons can have on the military.

My researc...

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Insider Scoop

Jefferies Sees 60-Percent Upside In Aphria Shares, Says Buy The Dip

Courtesy of Benzinga.

After a red-hot start to 2019, Canadian cannabis producer Aphria Inc (NYSE: APHA) has run out of steam, tumbling more than 31 percent in the past three months.

Despite the recent weakness, one Wall Street analyst said Friday that the stock has 30-percent upside potential. 

The Analyst

Jefferies analyst ... more from Insider

Kimble Charting Solutions

DAX (Germany) About To Send A Bearish Message To The S&P 500?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Is the DAX index from Germany about to send a bearish message to stocks in Europe and the States? Sure could!

This chart looks at the DAX over the past 9-years. It’s spent the majority of the past 8-years inside of rising channel (1), creating a series of higher lows and higher highs.

It looks to have created a “Double Top” as it was kissing the underside of the rising channel last year at (2).

After creating the potential double top, the DAX index has continued to create a series of lower highs, while experiencing a bearish divergence with the S...

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Chart School

Brexit Joke - Cant be serious all the time

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Alistair Williams comedian nails it, thank god for good humour! Prime Minister May the negotiator. Not!

Alistair Williams Comedian youtube

This is a classic! ha!

Fundamentals are important, and so is market timing, here at we believe a combination of Gann Angles, ...

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Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream - the battle is on to bring them under global control


Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream – the battle is on to bring them under global control

The high seas are getting lower. dianemeise

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

The 21st-century revolutionaries who have dominated cryptocurrencies are having to move over. Mainstream financial institutions are adopting these assets and the blockchain technology that enables them, in what ...

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DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

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


DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

A map of DNA with the double helix colored blue, the landmarks in green, and the start points for copying the molecule in red. David Gilbert/Kyle Klein, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of David M. Gilbert, Florida State University


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More Examples Of "Typical Tesla "wise-guy scamminess"

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Stanphyl Capital’s letter to investors for the month of March 2019.

rawpixel / Pixabay

Friends and Fellow Investors:

For March 2019 the fund was up approximately 5.5% net of all fees and expenses. By way of comparison, the S&P 500 was up approximately 1.9% while the Russell 2000 was down approximately 2.1%. Year-to-date 2019 the fund is up approximately 12.8% while the S&P 500 is up approximately 13.6% and the ...

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Members' Corner

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

Are you ready to retire?  

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

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

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

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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism


The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...

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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.

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