Archive for 2018

Don’t Use Underwear Sales As An Economic Indictor, China Warns

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

This past week, as the Chinese leadership pledged economic reforms and promised additional stimulus to help revive softening growth in the world’s second-largest economy, a post in the English language Global Times quietly went viral.

It cited a steady rise in sales of men’s underwear in the northeast province of Liaoning as a sign that an economic rebound was underway in the province, which has lagged the rest of the country as it the former industrial powerhouse has transitioned to a more service-based economy. For the sake of context, we pointed out that the Men’s Underwear Index is a legitimate economic indicator created by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who argued that, during economic downturns, men put off buying staples like underwear, opting to get more use out of their briefs before buying new pairs.

But when the economy begins to rebound, sales of underwear rise as consumers start feeling more secure and ramp up their purchases of staples.

Underwear

According to the GT post, sales have been steadily climbing for three years. And aside from buying more pairs, men in Liaoning are also opting for underwear of a higher quality.

But alas, hopes that a turnaround in the MUI might portend a broader economic rebound may be…wait for it…brief. Because over the weekend, the GT returned with a second article arguing that, while the MUI might have proven to be a reliable indicator during the early days of the post-GFC recovery in the US, the same principles likely aren’t applicable to China.

A widely circulated post claimed that a rise in the sale of men’s underwear in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province signals an economic recovery in the long-lagging province.

Once a famed industrial base, Northeast China is undergoing a painful economic transition. Officials have announced plans to revitalize the region through reforms. Does a rise in sales of men’s underwear raise the prospects of an economic recovery?

The Men’s Underwear Index (MUI), which claims that upswings in sales predict an improving economy, was long favored by former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. The MUI may be a barometer of the US economy, but it’s perhaps not very adaptable to China.

Spending habits differ vastly between American and Chinese consumers, the post argued. And it’s equally likely…
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An Economy With Zero Human Beings In It?

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

How much of the internet and digital environment many now live their lives engulfed in is completely fake? A new disturbing report in New York Magazine lays out some key facts, beginning with the following astounding trend

For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

Some of the methods and data revealing just how we arrived at a largely "fake internet" were revealed by alarming Justice Department findings based on unsealed indictments against eight people involved in what's widely considered among the largest digital ad-fraud operations ever uncovered, as the accused fleeced advertisers to the tune of $36 million.

NY Mag explains of their methods, which are indicative of what's happening more broadly:

The two schemes at issue in the case, dubbed Methbot and 3ve by the security researchers who found them, faked both. Hucksters infected 1.7 million computers with malware that remotely directed traffic to “spoofed” websites — “empty websites designed for bot traffic” that served up a video ad purchased from one of the internet’s vast programmatic ad-exchanges, but that were designed, according to the indictments, “to fool advertisers into thinking that an impression of their ad was served on a premium publisher site,” like that of Vogue or The Economist. 

This resulted in an army of bots that could imitate humans producing “faked clicks, mouse movements, and social network login information to masquerade as engaged human consumers” — as one exhaustive study demonstrated. 

Studies compiled over past years suggest a general trend, notes NY Mag, that less than 60 percent off all web traffic is human, with some researchers finding a "healthy majority" of this to be bots. 

There are also perhaps simpler, or less technologically sophisticated means employed to generate fake clicks — namely…
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Crescat Capital Up 40% In 2018 On Everything Bubble Short

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Crescat Capital December 31 2018 update to investors below.

We are happy to report estimates for Crescat’s 2018 performance:


dagon_ / Pixabay

Profit Attribution by Theme

Investment Outlook Summary

September 20, 2018 should mark the closing high for the S&P 500 to end the second longest bull market in US history. It should also mark the top of the “everything bubble”, a term coined by investment newsletter writer Jesse Felder to describe historic valuations in every major asset class, commodities being the one exception. The everything bubble was courtesy of experimental global central bank policies in the wake of the Great Recession. We think it is only the beginning of the asset bubble bursting process brought on by the sheer extent of the bubbles themselves. In other words, we are likely to face the real-life playing out of economist Hyman Minsky’s “financial instability hypothesis” which portends much more unwinding still to come. There is a natural economic cycle, including a natural business, market, liquidity, and credit cycle which are all intertwined. While no one can predict the lengths and inflection points of these cycles with perfect precision, our goal is to time them as best we can to be prudent stewards of our clients’ capital and grow and protect it over the long term.

Our macro model is telling us that the bull market has finally topped out for this cycle and that the economy will soon follow. The central bank liquidity tide is going out while equities, fixed income, real estate, and private asset vehicles are all at historic valuations. We strongly believe there is still ample opportunity to capitalize on the everything bubble meltdown in 2019 through select shorts positions and “proper” defensive longs. The extreme macro imbalances have only just begun to unwind based on:

  • Record global leverage compared to global GDP;
  • Only-recent record US equity valuations across eight comprehensive measures;
  • Recent record financial asset valuations relative to GDP in the US;
  • A record currency and credit bubble in China;
  • Historic housing bubbles in Canada and Australia;
  • Record cheap valuations for precious metals and related mining stocks;
  • The second longest economic expansion and second longest bull market in US history;
  • Recently historic US market-top


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Canadian Facing Death Penalty For Drug Smuggling As China Orders Retrial

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A Chinese court has ordered a retrial for a Canadian national accused of smuggling "an enormous amount of drugs" into the Communist nation, arguing that his initial sentence of 15 years imprisonment followed by immediate deportation was too light.

The sentence, which had not been previously reported, was apparently handed down on Nov. 20. But at a hearing on Saturday, the Canadian citizen, Robert Schellenberg, prosecutors accused him of playing a key role in a major drug smuggling operation and argued that his sentence was far too light, according to Reuters.

The Associated Press reported that few details about Schellenberg's case have been released.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was tried in 2016 but his case has been publicized by the Chinese press following the Dec. 1 arrest of the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei on U.S. charges related to trading with Iran.

Drug offenses are typically punished severely in China, and drug smuggling offenses are often met with the death penalty – as in the case of a British national who was put to death in 2009 for smuggling more than 4,000 grams of heroin into the country. The initial sentence was handed down by the high court in Dalian, the top court in the northeastern province of Laioning.

Canada

The Canadian government said it has been offering consular support to Schellenberg in the case, and that it has also been in contact with Chinese officials. Canadian diplomats were at the court when the retrial was ordered. Canada has been following the case for several years, but said it couldn't offer any more details citing privacy concerns.

Though some fear that a retrial could heighten tensions between China and Canada after China detained two Canadians on charges of endangering national security, Ottawa celebrated a decision by Beijing to release a third Canadian who had been detained for allegedly working illegally in the country. China said her deportation would be counted as an "administrative punishment."

In one development that could lessen tensions, a Canadian government spokesman said on Friday that a Canadian citizen who was detained in China this month had returned to Canada after


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Louisiana Police Departments Offering “Home Visit” To Test Meth For Zika Virus

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

This is not The Onion, but an actual public safety notice issued by police in Louisiana. The Harahan Police Department is asking people who might have crystal meth in their possession to get it tested for the deadly Zika Virus by bringing it to their local police station

The invitation and warning was posted to the department’s Facebook page to spread awareness of the “threat” while offering “test” batches of meth “for free” at their department, and further advising all state residents possibly in possession of crystal methamphetamine to bring it to a local police department. 

And in what appears the most epic police attempt yet at uncovering and busting meth labs across the state, the department goes so far as to offer a home visit for “those not comfortable going to the police station.” The post is signed Officer Moody. 

The Harahan Police Department announcement adds to the dubitable offer:

For those not comfortable going to the police station, if you make the call, an officer will be glad to come to you and test your Meth in the privacy of your home. Please spread the word!

We can only imagine the paranoid and hilarious conversations to ensue among area meth producers and addicts. Perhaps police will have the “success” stories later posted online as well in the form of police reports and mug shots? 

It turns out that it is a tongue-in-cheek tactic to fight the dangerous drug epidemic involving the homemade ultra-addictive substance that came to greater national attention by the hit series Breaking Bad. Other police departments over the past few years have tried it, apparently with little to no results, though surely it gets a big laugh at police stations — especially on the rare occasion that someone just might actually bring their meth to police. 

For example, police in a small Michigan town once tried to same thing with almost the exact same post:

Bailey said he put it out as a joke, but said the post has drawn attention to crystal meth and other drug issues.

“Crystal meth is poison. It’s evil. Anything that will take a mother’s love from a child is a bad drug. Anything that will make a man lose custody of his children and not be able to see them is evil. Yeah, we’re going to combat it any way we


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Millions Of Minimum-Wage Workers Will See Higher Pay In 2019

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With fewer than 24 hours to go until 2019, millions of minimum-wage workers across the US are preparing for sizable boosts in their compensation thanks to wage hikes in 20 states and 21 cities – increases that were largely inspired by the 'Fight for $15' movement launched back in 2012 by fast food and retail workers in NYC.

The wage hikes will impact some 17 million workers across the US over the course of 2019.

The federal minimum wage has been stalled at $7.25 since 2009. At least 13 counties and cities will implement the higher wage laws immediately starting on Jan. 1, reaching or exceeding $15 an hour. The rest will gradually phase in higher minimums of between $12 and $15 an hour, NBC News reported.

Fight

In addition, eight states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Washington state – are phasing in increases that will eventually put their minimum wages at $12 to $15 an hour, according to the National Employment Law Project.

According to a statement published last week, NELP Executive Director Christine Owens said the increases would be a boon for hardworking Americans who "have little to show for it," according to the Huffington Post.

"Working people are struggling to pay their bills, but they see that it’s the corporations and the wealthy CEOs who are getting the tax breaks," Owens said. "It's just not right. The American people believe in the value of work – and that workers deserve to be valued."

One NELP policy director said that while these increases are tremendous victories for the workers, in high cost states like California, more wage hikes may be needed, while workers in low cost-of-living states will see an outsize benefit.

The complete list of states raising the minimum wage this year includes: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington and Vermont.

While economic equality sounds like laudable goal on the surface, it ignores the fact that by raising costs, employers will be incentivized to hasten their adoption of automation. As McKinsey warned in a study published one year ago, automation will kill 800 million jobs by 2030.





“They Said It Could Never Happen Again?” – Global Stocks Suffer Worst Year In A Decade

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The world’s central banks’ safety harness finally gave way and one by one the world’s markets started to plunge.

Global stock markets lost almost $12 trillion in 2018 – the largest market cap loss since 2008 (and second largest in history)…

In fact, from its highs in January, world market cap is down $20 trillion.

As global central banks ‘allowed’ their balance sheets to contract on an annual basis for the first time ever

But they said “It could never happen again” … fortress balance sheets and all, and yet global systemically important banks collapsed in 2008.

No corner of the world escaped unscathed.

Asia Ex Japan was the worst year since 2008 (and 2nd worst on record)

This was China’s 2nd worst year on record (2nd to 2008).

All the major Chinese markets were a mess.

The only major Asian market in the black for the year was India, where the BSE was ahead by almost 6 percent. 

Europe was a bloodbath with the Stoxx 600 down 13% in 2018, its biggest loss since 2008.

And as Project Fear kicked in, The FTSE 100 ended 2018 down 12% – also its worst year since 2008 – but Germany’s export-heavy DAX was even worse.

US equities looked unstoppable… until Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall.

… and December was a bloodbath (even with the last few days’ manic bounce):

And so, this is still the worst December for US stocks since The Great Depression.

Gold and bonds outperformed notably in December as stocks plunged.

But on the year, only the dollar survived unscathed…

This is the first time since the 1970s that the S&P 500 has slumped so much when earnings growth was more than 10%.

So what should retail investors do? Well don’t turn to the hedgies – Long-short equity fund performance in December is the worst since August 2011.

Bonds were all underwater on the year – despite a huge compression in yields over the last two months – with the short-end the worst performer on a yield basis.

In fact this is the Treasury market’s biggest monthly rally since Jun 2016.

And the yield curve collapsed further this year…(inverting in the 2s5s region)

And yields…
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2018 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2017, we admitted that perhaps as a result of too many conflicting narratives and outcomes, it was difficult to find a coherent theme of the key events that shook the world, and which you, our readers, found most interesting and notable.

  • 2017 was a year of continued populist upheaval and political shocks, twists, turns and unexpected outcomes, a continuation of the "unexpected" Brexit vote outcome and Trump's shocking presidential victory, both of which forced many to re-evaluate what "expert", "pundit" and certainly "opinion poll" means; it was also the year when the concept of "fake news" became ubiquitously used by the establishment to slam any reporting it disagreed with and to justify why it was so wrong about everything, yet which would boomerang and lead to an even greater collapse in mainstream media credibility.
  • 2017 was year in which class warfare in the US approached unprecedented levels with antagonism between races, genders, ethnicities, ideologies, age groups and incomes all approaching peak levels, and spilling over, literally, on the street as the US public was inundated with reports of ordinary citizens snapping and killing their peers in cold blood, of petulant students demanding conformity, and culminating with the deadliest mass shooting event in US history when a Vegas gunman killed 58 people and injured 851. His motives are still unknown.
  • 2017 was a year of perplexing market stability: despite daily news of political, geopolitical and social turmoil, the market ignored virtually any potential risks and chugged along ever higher, with volatility crumbling to an all time low as the VIX printed a record number of days in the single digits
  • it was a year in which the S&P closed far higher than many had speculated, and defied the doomsayers who predicted a crash after Donald Trump won the presidential election despite the ongoing pile up of various imbalances, thanks largely to an unprecedented credit injection by China which has single-handedly been the world's biggest source of new debt creation since the financial crisis, as well as the now widely accepted support of central banks around the globe which injected a record amount of liquidity in 2017 and whose only mandate is to prop


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Here Are The “Costanza Trades” Of 2019

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

After a wild 2018, Mark Orsley – Head of Macro Strategy for Prism (and formerly with RBC), is out with a review of his 2018 “Costanza Trades,” while offering his comprehensive thoughts for next year.

***

It’s that time of year again. Stockings, dreidels, Festivus poles, and, of course, the inevitable truckload of bank “2019 Year Ahead” pieces cluttering your inboxes which are about as attractive as getting coal in your stockings.  However, these pieces are useful in some regards, as they are very good at nailing the consensus themes and are excellent counter-indicators.  Long time readers will know that The Macro Scan takes another twist at year end, to present next year’s top “Costanza Trades.”

For those of you not familiar with George Costanza, his character on the sitcom Seinfeld could do no right when it came to employment, dating, or life in general.  In one episode, George realizes over lunch at the diner with Jerry that if every instinct he has is wrong, then doing the opposite must be right.  George resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would do normally.  He orders the opposite of his normal lunch, and he introduces himself to a beautiful woman that he normally would never have the nerve to talk to. “My name is George,” he says, “I’m unemployed, and I live with my parents.” To his surprise, she is impressed with his honesty and agrees to date him! 

I find employing the Costanza method to trading an interesting exercise.  Ask yourself this: what are the trades that make complete sense and all your instincts say are right? Now consider the opposite.  Basically what you end up constructing is an out of consensus portfolio.

Employing the Costanza method can identify interesting, non-consensus trade ideas that could kick in alpha. Last year’s top 7 Costanza trades netted 5 of 7 WINNERS (some with huge gains), and past years have all been successful: 2017 had 5 of 6 winners (and 1 tie), 2016 had 7 of 10 winners, and 2015 had 7 of 10 winners.  Let’s quickly review last year’s trades…

2018 Costanza Trades:

  1. Long UST 10yrs = trying to work now but a loser as yields were 35bps higher
  2. Long Bunds = winner as yields were 18bps lower
  3. Long EUR/USD = worked early in the year


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1Y-2Y Treasury Yield Curve Inverts Most Since Financial Crisis

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With the 10Y Treasury yield, fittingly enough, sliding to the lowest level since January, closing Friday trading at 2.6842%, some 55 bps below where it traded less than two months ago when it peaked at 3.2373% on November 8, a more interesting move in TSYs has been observed in the short end where the 1 Year (or 52 Week Bill) closed at 2.590%, up 1.81bps, while the 2Y yield, seen by many as the bond market's estimation of what the Fed will do in 2019, has continued to slide, and on Friday closed 2.8bps lower at 2.4878%, the lowest since the start of June.

As a result, the 1s2s curve has inverted to a whopping -10.8bps.

What the reason is for this bizarre divergence in preference for 2Y paper over 1Y we are not sure, however we will point out that the last time the 1s2s traded almost this negative, when it touched -10.2bps, was in October 2008, just after the government announced  it had bailed out AIG.





 
 
 

ValueWalk

#1 Performing Global Macro Hedge Fund Sees More Shorts Opportunities Ahead As China Bursts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Crescat Global Macro Fund update to investors on 1/19/2019

Crescat Global Macro Fund and Crescat Long/Short fund delivered strong returns for both December and full year 2018 in a difficult market. Based on ...



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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

Divisive economics

 

Guest author David Brin — scientist, technology consultant, best-selling author and futurist — explores the records of Democrats and Republicans on the US economy in the following post. For David's latest posts, visit the CONTRARY BRIN blog. For his books and short stories, visit his web...



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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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