Author Archive for ilene

Getting ready for hurricane season: 4 essential reads

 

Getting ready for hurricane season: 4 essential reads

File 20190520 69178 j9m7hf.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Debris in a boatyard in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael heavily damaged the town. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

Courtesy of Jennifer Weeks, The Conversation

The official Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1, even as many communities are still recovering from a destructive year in 2018. Hurricane Florence swamped much of the Carolinas in September, followed by Hurricane Michael, which battered the Florida Panhandle less than a month later. Together, these two storms killed at least 113 people and caused billions of dollars in damages.

Early forecasts for 2019 have predicted a slightly below-normal season, with 13 named storms expected to form and two of them developing into major hurricanes. But as the forecasters warn, it only takes one storm making landfall to make it an active season for people in harm’s way. Here are five expert takes on preparing for whatever the 2019 hurricane season brings.

1. How forecasters make predictions

We rely on expert forecasters to tell us how strong hurricanes will be, the odds that they will make landfall and where they’re most likely to come ashore. But how do stormcasters develop judgments from enormous quantities of data?

As Florida State University meteorologists Mark Bourassa and Vasu Misra explain, models – complex software packages that run on large computers – are essential. But models’ results don’t always agree with each other. That’s why forecasters use collections of storm models instead of just one. And they may tweak certain assumptions built into the models to account for uncertainty about conditions in a particular storm.

Storm track forecasts have become much more accurate in recent decades, but predictions of storm intensity have changed little. That’s because it’s hard to capture all the variables that determine storm intensity. “Models are inexact in their descriptions of the entire state of the atmosphere and ocean at the start time of the model,” Bourassa and Misra acknowledge – a point worth remembering if a storm heads in your direction.

Improving hurricane forecasts means testing historical storms


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The Constitution dictates that impeachment must not be partisan

 

The Constitution dictates that impeachment must not be partisan

File 20190522 187169 9ralbi.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

President Donald Trump arriving at the Rose Garden, May 22, 2019, in Washington. AP/Evan Vucci

Courtesy of Peter Brandon Bayer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Barely two decades since the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the people of the United States again are confronting the possibility that their president, now Donald Trump, could be impeached, meaning charged by the House of Representatives with offenses that, if proved in a Senate trial, would remove him from office.

Not surprisingly, politics have pervaded the debate.

Many, perhaps most, assume that impeachment of a president should be, or inevitably will devolve into a political melee. The few historic examples that exist show political motivations – to varying degrees – in the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Clinton.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Washington Post in March that “impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path.”

House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is against impeaching the president. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Most Democratic leaders don’t want impeachment, at least at this point, fearing a political backlash in 2020 if they pursue impeachment. Some believe that if impeached in the House and tried and acquitted by the Senate, Trump’s political popularity will skyrocket like Bill Clinton’s did after his impeachment in 1998.

Nonetheless, impeachment supporters in the House now number, according to The New York Times, “roughly two dozen.” House and Senate Democratic leaders are facing increased calls by a growing number of colleagues to begin formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

To date, only one Republican has joined the chorus, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash.

Other Republicans – supporters of President Trump – accuse Democrats of using impeachment to overturn the 2016 presidential election.

Politics now characterize the serious issue of whether Trump has obstructed justice and committed other offenses worthy of his removal from office.…
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Faster, more accurate diagnoses: Healthcare applications of AI research

 

Faster, more accurate diagnoses: Healthcare applications of AI research

File 20190403 177175 1tliduy.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

As machine learning progresses, its applications include faster, more accurate medical diagnoses. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Seokbum Ko, University of Saskatchewan

When Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo shockingly defeated legendary Go player Lee Sedol in 2016, the terms artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning were propelled into the technological mainstream.

BBC Newsnight: AlphaGo and the future of Artificial Intelligence.

AI is generally defined as the capacity for a computer or machine to exhibit or simulate intelligent behaviour such as Tesla’s self-driving car and Apple’s digital assistant Siri. It is a thriving field and the focus of much research and investment. Machine learning is the ability of an AI system to extract information from raw data and learn to make predictions from new data.

Deep learning combines artificial intelligence with machine learning. It is concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks. Deep learning has received much attention lately both in the consumer world and throughout the medical community.

Interest in deep learning surged with the success of AlexNet, a neural network designed by Alex Krizhevsky that won the 2012 ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge, an annual image classification competition.

Another relatively recent advancement is the use of graphical processing units (GPUs) to power deep learning algorithms. GPUs excel at computations (multiplications and additions) needed for deep learning applications, thereby lowering application processing time.

In our lab at the University of Saskatchewan we are doing interesting deep learning research related to healthcare applications — and as a professor of electrical and computer engineering, I lead the research team. When it comes to health care, using AI or machine learning to make diagnoses is new, and there has been exciting and promising progress.

Extracting blood vessels in the eye

Detecting abnormal retinal blood vessels is useful for diagnosing diabetes and heart disease. In order to provide reliable and meaningful medical interpretations, the retinal vessel must be extracted from a retinal image for reliable and meaningful interpretations. Although…
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What Are Your Thoughts: The $47 Trillion Question

 

What Are Your Thoughts: The $47 Trillion Question

Courrtesy of 

Josh and Michael with special guest Ben Carlson (A Wealth Of Common Sense) play What Are Your Thoughts?

We discuss:

* Why are there over 100,000 funds in the industry?

* Why Josh loves Giannis Antetokounmpo even more now

* What to make of the first non-transparent ETF

* The Game of Thrones finale

* Steve Cohen’s $91 million steel rabbit purchase

* What’s the difference between Twitter ads and Instagram ads?

* Josh is crazy bullish on Slack ahead of its IPO

* Are index funds about to cause a stock market crisis?

Be sure to subscribe to our channel so you never miss an update.





Overpriced tech IPOs sell grand visions but aren’t worth their valuations

 

Overpriced tech IPOs sell grand visions but aren't worth their valuations

File 20190520 69209 40d1r1.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

rblfmr / Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of John Colley, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick

The year of the tech IPO is 2019. Uber went public on May 10 with a US$82.4 billion valuation. Fellow ride-sharing app Lyft floated in March with a U$24 billion valuation and Pinterest had a US$10 billion IPO in April. More big names – including Slack, Airbnb, WeWork and Palantir – are set to follow.

But Uber’s share price began to slide as soon as it went public. Lyft’s shares have also been on a downward trajectory since March. So it’s worth considering how astronomic valuations for these non-profitable companies are calculated. Is there any science or rationale upon which to base the values, or are they purely hype on the part of those standing to benefit most? This would include early investors, the board and investment bank advisers promoting the offers.

In reality, there is surprisingly little evidence supporting IPO valuations. It is almost impossible to establish a relationship between the underlying data and the valuation. The main influences are clear: a resonant company vision and rapid user growth.

Lyft’s share price has been falling since its IPO at the end of March 2019. Yahoo! Finance

Vision and growth

A company’s vision normally sketches out how its future is going to be different to its competitors and how this will benefit the business (and shareholders). Uber and Lyft, for example, suggest that urban dwellers will not need to own a car, with access to their hassle-free vehicles. Somehow the introduction of autonomous vehicles will also benefit the taxi hailing businesses.

The end of car ownership could be some way off and predicting the future over such a long time period is fraught with risk. The real vision for most technology platforms is to emulate Facebook, Amazon or Google and create network effects, which is the phenomenon where the more customers you get, the more useful the product or service becomes, attracting more suppliers which…
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Brexit: how the end of Britain’s empire led to rising inequality that helped Leave to victory

 

Brexit: how the end of Britain's empire led to rising inequality that helped Leave to victory

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AC Arts Photography via Shutterstock

Courtesy of Danny Dorling, University of Oxford and Sally Tomlinson, University of Oxford

It was a man called Reginald Brabazon, Earl of Meath, who in 1903, two years after the death of Queen Victoria, suggested that her birthday, May 24, should be renamed Empire Day and become a day for patriotic celebration. His idea began to take off the following year and slowly spread in popularity. In 1909, Brabazon attended a day in Preston where a crowd of 20,000 people watched boys and girls parade past in what they were told was the national dress of each colony.

When World War I patriotic fervour was at its height, in 1916, the government gave in to calls for the day to be marked with an official state ceremony. But it wasn’t until the 1920s that the official celebrations really began to take off, and in May 1926, Empire Day became closely linked to the work of the newly established Empire Marketing Board. British school children all received a free mug and cake and were routinely taught that the British Empire was glorious. One woman, who grew up in Cardiff in the late 1950s, remembers being made to sing the following ditty at elementary school as the union jack was hoisted in the playground every Empire Day:

Brightly, brightly, sun of spring upon this happy day
Shine upon us as we sing this 24th of May
Shine upon our brothers too,
Far across the ocean blue,
As we raise our song of praise
On this our glorious Empire Day.

As the power of the British Empire waned after World War II, it became increasingly clear that Empire Day was done. In 1958, it was finally rebadged British Commonwealth Day, in 1966 merely Commonwealth Day. And in 1977 the date of the celebrations was moved to the second Monday of March where it remains today.

No doubt if Empire Day was still going, 2019 would have been a special year – marking the 200th anniversary of Queen…
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Trump Wants To Sell Public Power Agencies To Wall Street

 

Trump Wants To Sell Public Power Agencies To Wall Street

Move Will Hand Over New Deal-Era Giants TVA and Bonneville Power; Much Higher Electricity Costs for the Public and Businesses

Courtesy of David Cay Johnston, DCReport 

People and businesses would pay much higher electricity prices under revived Trump administration plans to sell nonprofit electricity grids owned by taxpayers, killing one of the most enduring and beneficial policies of the New Deal.

Last year the Trump administration said it had abandoned plans to sell these taxpayer assets, built up during the Great Depression and fostering economic growth ever since.

But now the mercurial president is itching to sell Bonneville Power Administration in the Pacific Northwest, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Southwestern Power Administration and Western Area Power Administration. The plan is at Page 38 of the latest Trump budget.

Raising electricity prices has been a consistent Trump administration policy.

These valuable taxpayer-owned assets would be sold at deep discounts to their net worth, essentially another Trump scheme to transfer wealth from millions of taxpayers to a relatively few and already rich Wall Street investors.

Energy consultant Robert McCullough

BPA transmission charges after a sale would rise by at least 24%, utility economist Robert McCullough calculated for DCReport.

TVA would experience a whopping 41.3% increase in transmission costs. Its annual rate of return on assets would more than triple under private ownership to almost 11%.

McCullough is a cheerful Oregon utility economist. He has a long track record of exposing utility industry cost estimates as low-ball fantasies designed to trick regulators and customers. He was formerly the chief economist for Portland General Electric, a for-profit Oregon monopoly.

BPA’s rate of return is 3.71% annually, while a Warren Buffet-controlled electric utility in Oregon, PacifiCorp, requires a return twice that high at 7.41% annually.

“A privatized BPA transmission system would be above 10%” on its required rate of return once corporate income taxes are factored in, McCullough calculated.

Three Times the Costs

TVA reports reveal its rate of return is


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The new NAFTA’s assault on public health

 

The new NAFTA's assault on public health

File 20190517 69174 1yeydve.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto hold a news conference before signing the USMCA. The deal, if passed into law, poses dangers to public health. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Courtesy of Ronald Labonte, University of Ottawa; Courtney McNamara, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Deborah Gleeson, La Trobe University, and Eric Crosbie, University of Nevada, Reno

The negotiations were strained and at times it looked like it would be stillborn, but the USMCA (the new North American Free Trade Agreement linking the economies of the United States, Mexico and Canada) was signed in November 2018 and awaits ratification.

Its future is still uncertain. Although U.S. President Donald Trump finally removed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada and Mexico, something both countries and even some congressional Republicans were demanding for the deal to be ratified, Democrats in the U.S. are unhappy with its costly monopoly protection for new pharmaceuticals and weak enforcement measures for labour and environmental protection.

But beneath the political jockeying is a sleeper issue concerning public health that signals a bad agreement.

Health impact assessment

We undertook a recently released health impact assessment of the USMCA, focusing on three specific aspects of the agreement with direct or indirect health effects —pharmaceuticals, health and environmental regulations and labour and environmental protection.

For prescription drugs, the costs of which have risen dramatically since the era of patent protection in trade agreements, the USMCA contains provisions the Americans wanted in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

These provisions were suspended by the remaining countries when Trump pulled the U.S. out of that agreement. Now they’re back in, but with an even longer 10-year guaranteed monopoly for biologics, a new category of costly drugs used to treat cancers and autoimmune disorders. Generic equivalents known as “biosimilars” can cut the price by almost half.

Canada currently offers eight years of market protection for biologics; the additional two years could eventually add almost $170 million to each year’s drug costs. Hardest hit would be Mexico, which presently…
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Head of Anti-Money Laundering Agency Tells Senate Hearing He Hasn’t Read the Times Bombshell on Trump, Kushner and Deutsche Bank

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Kenneth Blanco, Director of FinCEN

Kenneth Blanco, Director of FinCEN, Testifying at a Senate Banking Committee Hearing on May 21, 2019

Reading the New York Times is apparently now seen as being disloyal to the President of the United States if you’re a Federal employee. Just holding the newspaper in one’s hands might be enough to become an early pensioner in the Trump administration. Yesterday it became crystal clear at a Senate Banking hearing just how terrified people are in the Federal government of getting on the wrong side of the President and ending up being publicly bashed on his Twitter page.

The Senate Banking hearing on Tuesday was called to get answers from the witness panel on how to combat money laundering in the United States by shell companies that keep their real owners a secret. But it quickly became a hearing also about the bombshell report from the New York Times on Sunday. That article, by David Enrich, describes how a Deutsche Bank whistleblower, Tammy McFadden, and four of her colleagues had their efforts blocked by the bank when they tried to file suspicious activity reports on bank accounts affiliated with Jared Kushner and Donald Trump. Those reports should have gone to the Federal agency that oversees potential money laundering activity, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, but they were quashed by a unit of the bank that manages money for the super wealthy.

The Director of FinCEN, Kenneth Blanco, was on the witness panel for the hearing. When Blanco was asked by Senator Bob Menendez if he had read the article in the New York Times, Blanco said that he had not, adding that he had simply been “briefed” on it. This statement appeared to be little more than an effort to appease the anger of Trump toward the New York Times (the President regularly calls it “Fake News”) since it would be negligence on the part of the Director of FinCEN not to read a whistleblower’s account of what went on inside Deutsche Bank – especially given Deutsche Bank’s 2017 fine of $630 million for laundering $10 billion out of Russia.

Blanco also refused to answer any questions as to whether he was or was not…
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What China wants: 3 things motivating China’s position in trade negotiations with the US

 

What China wants: 3 things motivating China's position in trade negotiations with the US

Courtesy of Penelope B. Prime, Georgia State University

Relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated sharply in recent days after trade negotiations broke down, leading some to suggest we are on the cusp of a new “cold war.”

President Donald Trump blames the resumption of hostilities on China. Specifically, he and his negotiators say their Chinese counterparts backtracked on an agreement to change laws aimed at enforcing the deal, prompting Trump to raise tariffs on US$200 billion in imports and China to retaliate. Only a few weeks earlier, the two sides seemed very close to a deal.

So what led to China’s change of heart – if there was one?

As an expert on China’s development and economic reform, I believe the answer lies in trying to understand the situation from the Chinese perspective.

Chinese and U.S. negotiators seemed close to a deal – until they weren’t. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

China’s rise

China was a poor country not long ago. Its leaders effectively developed its productive and institutional capabilities by learning from foreign countries while allowing domestic companies to flourish over four decades of reform.

While this is commendable, as my research shows, and something other developing economies should emulate, it has also been controversial, particularly as China’s economy has become the world’s second-largest.

In 2015, a 10-year plan known as “Made in China 2025” put in place a set of incentives to encourage Chinese companies to move from basic manufacturing to high-tech sectors such as electric cars, robotics and artificial intelligence. China’s goal is to have its companies globally competitive in these sectors by 2025.

However, in order to meet these ambitious goals, in some cases Chinese companies must rely on subsidies, government funding, forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft. To foreign political and business leaders, these practices smack of unfair competition.

Now that China has established strong capabilities, the threat of overtaking the U.S. in high-tech areas such as AI seems real and the methods being used…
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Phil's Favorites

Getting ready for hurricane season: 4 essential reads

 

Getting ready for hurricane season: 4 essential reads

Debris in a boatyard in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael heavily damaged the town. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

Courtesy of Jennifer Weeks, The Conversation

The official Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1, even as many communities are still recovering from a destructive year in 2018. Hurricane Florence swamped much of the Carolinas in September, followed by Hurricane Michael, which battered ...



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Zero Hedge

USPS Starts Testing Self-Driving Trucks For Long Hauls

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The US Postal Service (USPS) has awarded TuSimple, a global self-driving truck company, a contract to haul mail across the country with self-driving trucks, a move that could save the money-losing government agency millions of dollars per year if implemented, reported a TuSimple press release.

The two-week pilot started Tuesday will haul USPS trailers about 1,000 miles bet...



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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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Insider Scoop

55 Biggest Movers From Yesterday

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Gainers
  • Obalon Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OBLN) shares jumped 233.3 percent to close at $1.30 on Wednesday after the company reported expanded data from a large scale commercial use study that was presented at the Digestive Disease Week.
  • Ascent Capital Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASCMA) shares jumped 51.4 percent to close at $1.37 after the company announced a restructuring support agreement with Monitronics International.
  • Valeritas Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: VLRX) shares dippe...


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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap May 18, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

China – U.S. trade talk continued to dominate the week.   A heavy selloff Monday was followed by 3 up days, with Friday moderately down.

On Monday, Chinese officials announced retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., hitting $60 billion in annual exports to China with new or expanded duties that could reach 25%.

Then on Wednesday:

The Trump administration plans to delay a decision on instituting new tariffs on car and auto part imports for up to six months, according to media reports.

...

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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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Biotech

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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ValueWalk

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

Excerpt:

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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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

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

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

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

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

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>