Author Archive for ilene

Martin Luther King Jr., union man


Martin Luther King Jr., union man

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the picket line at the Scripto plant in Atlanta, Ga., December, 1964. AP

Courtesy of Peter Cole, Western Illinois University

If Martin Luther King Jr. still lived, he’d probably tell people to join unions.

King understood racial equality was inextricably linked to economics. He asked, “What good does it do to be able to eat at a lunch counter if you can’t buy a hamburger?”

Those disadvantages have persisted. Today, for instance, the wealth of the average white family is more than 20 times that of a black one.

King’s solution was unionism.

The union newspaper reported that King appealed in his Sept. 21, 1967 address to Local 10 ‘for unity between the labor movement and the Negro freedom movement.’ The Dispatcher archives, ILWU

Convergence of needs

In 1961, King spoke before the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest and most powerful labor organization, to explain why he felt unions were essential to civil rights progress.

“Negroes are almost entirely a working people,” he said. “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs – decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.”

My new book, “Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area,” chronicles King’s relationship with a labor union that was, perhaps, the most racially progressive in the country. That was Local 10 of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, or ILWU.

ILWU Local 10 represented workers who loaded and unloaded cargo from ships throughout San Francisco Bay’s waterfront. Its members’ commitment to racial equality may be as surprising as it is unknown.

In 1967, the year before his murder, King visited ILWU Local 10 to see what interracial unionism looked like. King met with these unionists at their hall in a then-thriving, portside neighborhood – now a gentrified tourist area best known for Fisherman’s Wharf,…
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The Silence on Wall Street’s Dark Pools Is Deafening

Courtesy of Pam Martens

In 2014 Citigroup Had Six Separate Trading Venues, Including Dark Pools

In 2014 Citigroup Had Six Separate Trading Venues, Including Dark Pools

It is destined to go down as one of the greatest journalistic and regulatory failures of our time – the lack of serious attention by investigative business reporters and the U.S. Department of Justice to the glaring fact that the largest Wall Street banks continue to trade their own and each other’s bank stocks in their own Dark Pools.

Dark Pools function as unregulated stock exchanges inside the bowels of the largest Wall Street banks. Making the situation even more dicey, some of the big banks own more than one Dark Pool, raising the possibility that there could be cross-trading between those pools to artificially inflate or depress stock prices.

JPMorgan Chase owns two Dark Pools; Citigroup currently owns at least two although it owned a lot more in the past; Morgan Stanley owns three; and then there is the Dark Pool that a consortium of Wall Street banks quietly own together. That one is called Level ATS. According to Wall Street’s self-regulator, FINRA, Level ATS is owned by Citigroup, Credit Suisse, LB I Group, Merrill Lynch LP Holdings, and Fidelity Global Brokerage Group.

After being repeatedly charged with collusion, should global banks be allowed to team up on the darkest of trading markets, i.e., Dark Pools? Should felon banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase be allowed to trade the stocks of their own bank? Should any Wall Street bank be allowed to trade its own stock in darkness?

Following the great stock crash in 1929, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee conducted an extensive investigation over three years into the trading structure and trading practices on Wall Street. What it found was a vipers’ nest of corruption and collusion. The Senate investigations focused extensively on the dirty dealings of “Pools,” now reincarnated as Dark Pools. The Senate found the following:

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Global warming ‘hiatus’ is the climate change myth that refuses to die


Global warming 'hiatus' is the climate change myth that refuses to die

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riphoto3 / shutterstock

Courtesy of Kevin Cowtan, University of York and Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Bristol

The record-breaking, El Niño-driven global temperatures of 2016 have given climate change deniers a new trope. Why, they ask, hasn’t it since got even hotter?

In response to a recent US government report on the impact of climate change, a spokesperson for the science-denying American Enterprise Institute think-tank claimed that “we just had […] the biggest drop in global temperatures that we have had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years.”

These claims are blatantly false: the past two years were two of the three hottest on record, and the drop in temperature from 2016 to 2018 was less than, say, the drop from 1998 (a previous record hot year) to 2000. But, more importantly, these claims use the same kind of misdirection as was used a few years ago about a supposed “pause” in warming lasting from roughly 1998 to 2013.

At the time, the alleged pause was cited by many people sceptical about the science of climate change as a reason not to act to reduce greenhouse pollution. US senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz frequently argued that this lack of warming undermined dire predictions by scientists about where we’re heading.

However, drawing conclusions on short-term trends is ill-advised because what matters to climate change is the decade-to-decade increase in temperatures rather than fluctuations in warming rate over a few years. Indeed, if short periods were suitable for drawing strong conclusions, climate scientists should perhaps now be talking about a “surge” in global warming since 2011, as shown in this figure:

Global temperature observations compared to climate models. Climate-disrupting volcanoes are shown at the bottom, and the purported hiatus period is shaded. 2018 values based on year to date (YTD). NASA; Berkeley Earth; various climate models., Author provided

The “pause” or “hiatus” in warming of the early 21st century is not just a talking point of…
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Data breaches are inevitable – here’s how to protect yourself anyway


Data breaches are inevitable – here's how to protect yourself anyway

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Prepare to protect yourself. FXQuadro/

Courtesy of W. David Salisbury, University of Dayton and Rusty Baldwin, University of Dayton

It’s tempting to give up on data security altogether, with all the billions of pieces of personal data – Social Security numbers, credit cards, home addresses, phone numbers, passwords and much morebreached and stolen in recent years. But that’s not realistic – nor is the idea of going offline entirely. In any case, huge data-collection corporations vacuum up data about almost every American without their knowledge.

As cybersecurity researchers, we offer good news to brighten this bleak picture. There are some simple ways to protect your personal data that can still be effective, though they involve changing how you think about your own information security.

The main thing is to assume that you are a target. Though most individual people aren’t specifically being watched, software that mines massive troves of data – enhanced by artificial intelligence – can target vast numbers of people almost as easily as any one person. Think defensively about how you can protect yourself from an almost inevitable attack, rather than assuming you’ll avoid harm.

What’s most important now?

That said, it’s unproductive and frustrating to think you must pay attention to every possible avenue of attack. Simplify your approach by focusing on what information you most want to protect.

Covering the obvious, keep your software up-to-date. Software companies issue updates when they fix security vulnerabilities, but if you don’t download and install them, you’re leaving yourself unprotected from malware such as keystroke loggers. Also, be smart about what links you click in your email or when browsing the web – you could inadvertently download malicious software to your phone or computer, or allow hackers access to your…
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Bogle’s Big Mistake


Bogle’s Big Mistake

Courtesy of 

The world lost a legend this week. Jack Bogle had a greater impact on the average investor than anyone who ever lived.

Bogle, however, was not an overnight sensation. The index fund, which he is best known for, wasn’t created until his fifth decade on the planet.

I wanted to share the challenges he overcame on his way to cementing a place on the Mount Rushmore of finance with this chapter from my book, Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments.

Rest in peace, Jack.

Source: WSJ 

Sometimes in life, we make the greatest forward progress by going

—Jack Bogle

The Vanguard 500 Index fund is the world’s largest mutual fund, with
$292 billion in assets. That’s 292 followed by nine zeros. How do you
get to be so gigantic? Start with $11 million and grow 29% per year for
the next 40 years. To give you an idea of how much money $292 billion
is, that is, if you were to stack it in hundred dollar bills, it would stretch
198 miles, which is just about the round-trip distance from New York City
to Vanguard’s headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Index funds have picked up incredible momentum in the past few
years. Since the end of 2006, active investors have pulled $1.2 trillion from
active mutual funds and plowed $1.4 trillion into index funds.1 Vanguard
has been the biggest beneficiary of the tidal wave of change of investor
preference. The only mutually owned mutual fund structure in the world,
Vanguard had the largest sales ever by a fund company in 2014, in
2015, and again in 2016.2 But despite the ubiquity of index funds
today, it was not always this way. The idea that investors should settle for
“average” returns was once heresy and these funds were often referred to
as Bogle’s folly.

The effect that Jack Bogle has had on the mutual fund industry and on
all of finance cannot be overstated.…
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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 website. And don't miss David's latest article, Maddow, Mueller and the dems push a dare at McConnell.


Divisive economics

Courtesy of David Brin 

Let's step away from politics…. till the end of this missive… and look instead at economics:

Fiscal Management

The Evonomics site — where Adam Smith would post, today — offers this: Economists Agree: Democratic Presidents are Better at Making Us Rich. Eight Reasons Why.

The difference is stunning and inarguable… an average of 4.4% annual growth vs. a piddling 2.5%… and it has been consistent across 70 years. How to explain it?

The eight hypotheses offered here are interesting and consistent with modern economics. (Which "Supply Side voodoo" is not.) But #7 will resonate with what I have been saying to so-called market conservatives for years:

7. Fiscal Prudence. True conservatives pay their bills. From the 35 years of declining debt after World War II (until 1982), to the years of budget surpluses and declining debt under Bill Clinton, to the radical shrinking of the budget deficit under Obama, Democratic policies demonstrate which party merits the name “fiscal conservatives.”

Now, in fairness, a cogent Republican would answer: "Hey, weren't there Republican Congresses during some of that time?" Yes, and that actually mattered once – during the anno mirabilis year 1995, when Newt Gingrich corralled enough GOP support and negotiated with Bill Clinton to give us both Welfare Reform and the Budget Act. We almost got a third miracle, when the bipartisan Danforth-Kerrey commission proposed a compromise Entitlements Reform package that would have secured our finances for decades while ensuring every American child got health care. 

We know what happened then. Led by Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert, the Murdochian Republicans rendered the Danforth kind extinct, ending all semblance of adult politics in America. (And Newt knuckled under, instead of fighting for America.)

Proof that Clinton, not the GOP, merits credit

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Now Show Japan


Now Show Japan

Courtesy of 

I did a post a couple of weeks ago about the potential benefits of dollar cost averaging.

To recap:

  • It’s automated
  • It’s a great way to force you to save money
  • It gives you the ability to systematically buy low, with the cherry being that you’re buying more the lower stocks go.

I explained that it was no panacea and that the only reason why this had higher returns than the market over this period was because of sequence of returns, which cuts both ways.

But this disclaimer wasn’t good enough, because every time you write about the benefits of long-term investing, specifically of the buy and hold variety, you have people who say “now show Japan.”

It’s true that the efficacy of buy and hold investing is challenged through the lens of a Japanese investor. As the chart below shows, you could have made regular contributions from 1971 through 2012 and still have not made any returns on your investment.

Had 100 Yen been invested every month into the Nikkei from 1971 through October 2012, after contributing 50,000 Yen, the account would be worth just 49,568 Yen. Saving 50,000 Yen is better than spending it, but you took a lot of risk and were provided with zero reward.

So, is Japan proof of the fact that buy and hold is for the birds? I don’t believe that. I wrote a post a few months ago about how people who say this might have learned the wrong lessons from the epic Japanese stock market bubble.

Josh and I speak about this in the video below.


How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement


How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement

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Salvadoran immigrants were pivotal in the Justice for Janitors campaign in Los Angeles in 1990. It earned wage increases for custodial staff nationwide and inspired today’s $15 minimum wage campaign. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Courtesy of Elizabeth Oglesby, University of Arizona

In the United States’ heated national debate about immigration, two views predominate about Central American migrants: President Donald Trump portrays them as a national security threat, while others respond that they are refugees from violence.

Little is said about the substantial contributions that Central Americans have made to U.S. society over the past 30 years.

For one, Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants have helped expand the U.S. labor movement, organizing far-reaching workers rights’ campaigns in migrant-dominated industries that mainstream unions had thought to be untouchable.

Migrants and unions

More than 1 million Salvadorans and Guatemalans came to the United States between 1981 and 1990, fleeing army massacres, political persecution and civil war.

Since the 1980s, I have researched, taught and written about this wave of migrants. Back then, President Ronald Reagan warned apocryphally that Central America was a threat to the United States, telling Congress in 1983 that “El Salvador is nearer to Texas than Texas is to Massachusetts.”

Just 2 percent of Salvadorans and Guatemalans received asylum in the 1980s – so few that a 1990 class action lawsuit alleging discrimination compelled the U.S. government to reopen tens of thousands cases. Today, about 10 to 25 percent of their asylum petitions are granted.

Then, as now, many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. worked in agriculture or service industries, often under exploitative conditions. Unionization barely touched these sectors in the 1980s.

More broadly, the bargaining power of labor unions was suffering under Reagan, whose presidency started with his firing of 11,0000 striking air traffic controllers. Downsizing and outsourcing at American companies in the 1980s also eroded union membership and pushed wages down.

Many Guatemalans and Salvadorans were veteran community organizers. They had faced down government terror to participate in unions, peasant leagues, Catholic social
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What’s an index fund?


Embed from Getty Images


What’s an index fund?

Courtesy of Jordan Schoenfeld, Georgetown University

The creation of the index fund in 1975 revolutionized investing, lowering costs for millions of ordinary investors.

Their inventor John Bogle died on Jan. 16 at the age of 89.

Bogle took a complex universe of thousands of stocks and reduced it to a simple, singular entity, the index fund. Through index funds, investing in the stock market became easy, and one could do so at low cost while minimizing risk.

Practitioners and academics have researched the drivers and consequences of index fund investing – myself included. Here is some of what we know.

Investing before index funds

In the 1970s, academics and others began finding that many highly paid stock pickers do not outperform broad market indices. That is, investors could earn higher returns by simply holding a diversified portfolio of stocks and avoiding speculation altogether.

But at the time, the average investor didn’t have an easy way to this because an investment vehicle for such diversification did not yet exist.

So Bogle stepped in and created the index fund.

An easy way to diversify

In a nutshell, index funds are designed to give investors exposure to a diversified set of stocks at a very low cost.

The name “index” reflects the idea that by buying the fund an investor in effect immediately owns a broad index of the underlying stocks. All you must do is pay an intermediary – like Vanguard, the investment company Bogle founded, which now manages US$5.1 trillion in assets – a small, built-in fee in exchange for spreading your money out across the market.

In part, that’s because index funds are bought and sold just like individual stocks and many even have their own stock symbols.

For example, if you want exposure to a mix of all the companies in the S&P 500 index, you can buy the stock VOO, and your money will automatically be invested in a value-weighted portfolio of the S&P 500 companies. If you want to divest, simply sell your…
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Razor burned: Why Gillette’s campaign against toxic masculinity missed the mark


Razor burned: Why Gillette's campaign against toxic masculinity missed the mark

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Who knew a razor blade company could become so controversial? Gillette/YouTube

Courtesy of Alan Abitbol, University of Dayton

Gillette has launched a new marketing campaign, “The Best Men Can Be,” with an ad that has gone viral.

The ad begins by depicting boys bullying other boys, women being harassed and cat-called, and a group of men excusing all of it as “boys will be boys.” Gillette then asks if this is “the best a man can get.” The rest of the ad portrays men pushing back against other men’s bad behavior.

Gillette’s controversial new ad tackles toxic masculinity head on.

It’s been polarizing, to say the least.

On one side, the campaign is being praised for tackling masculine stereotypes and challenging men to be better.

On the other side, some are saying that Gillette risks turning off customers who think the brand is shamelessly capitalizing on the #MeToo movement and practicing “leftist” politics. There are already calls for the brand to be boycotted.

So why has this ad caused such a large divide?

In my research on companies’ use of pro-social messages, backlash usually arises due to some combination of the cause itself, a poor fit between the brand and the cause, and suspicion of the company’s true motives.

An authentic pairing matters

Companies have backed various social issues for decades. Marriott, for example, organized fundraisers for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, in the 1970s.

Today, customers expect companies to stand for something. According to a 2018 Edelman Earned Brand report, nearly two-thirds of consumers believe companies should take a stand on social or political issues.

However, studies have shown that, in order for the corporate activism to be warmly received, the cause usually needs to be connected to the company’s product line or brand in some way.

This can happen when a company and…
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Zero Hedge

'Hedge Fund Hotel' Arconic Crashes 25% As Sale Plan Abandoned

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Widely-held by hedge funds (e.g. Elliott Mgmnt with 52mm shares), aerospace company Arconic has decided to no longer pursue a potential sale of the company. The shares are down over 25% pre-market...

What changed in 4 days?

Jan.18: Arconic Hopes to Finalize Sale to Apollo This Weekend: NY Post


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Kimble Charting Solutions

S&P and Crude both testing key breakout levels!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

The correlation between Crude Oil and the S&P 500 has been rather high over the last 100-days, as each looks to have peaked at the same time around the 1st of October at (1).

After peaking together in October, Crude fell over 40% and the S&P nearly declined 20%, with both bottoming on Christmas Eve at each (2).

Both have experienced counter-trend rallies since the lows, as Crude is up 23% and the S&P 13%.

These rallies have both testing dual resist...

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Insider Scoop

10 Stocks To Watch For January 22, 2019

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Some of the stocks that may grab investor focus today are:

  • Wall Street expects Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) to report quarterly earnings at $1.95 per share on revenue of $20.17 billion before the opening bell. Johnson & Johnson shares gained 0.1 percent to $130.80 in after-hours trading.
  • Analysts expect IBM Common Stock (NYSE: ... more from Insider

Phil's Favorites

Martin Luther King Jr., union man


Martin Luther King Jr., union man

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the picket line at the Scripto plant in Atlanta, Ga., December, 1964. AP

Courtesy of Peter Cole, Western Illinois University

If Martin Luther King Jr. still lived, he’d probably tell people to join unions.

King understood racial equality was inextricably linked to economics. He asked, “What good does it do to be able to eat at a lunch counter if you can’t buy a hamburger?”

Those disadvantages have persisted. Tod...

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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 20, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

After entering the week quite overbought, indexes took a small retreat Monday before hurling back upwards.  This is typical of the “V” shaped moves up after any significant selloff, we’ve seen most of the past decade and watching them unfurl is quite amazing actually.  Thought maybe this time would be “different” but not so much.  So two week’s ago we asked “Has the Fed solved all the market’s problem in 1 speech?” – and thus far the market has answered resoundingly yes.  The word of the year thus far in 2019 is “patience” as that simple insert into a speech change the whole complexion of everything.

China has also been busy stimulating; on Tuesday:

An announcement from the People’s Bank of China that ...

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Everyone Else Is Selling Stocks, So Is It Time To Buy?

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

After a difficult few trading days in the beginning of the year, U.S. stocks are bouncing back with meaningful gains on Monday following Friday’s strong rally. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq 100 were all up by more than half a percent by midday. It looks like investors could be taking advantage of the end-of-the-year declines, but is this a wise time to be buying?

Trying to time the bottom of the market will almost always be a fool’s errand, but one firm suggests equities could have much farther to fall before they hit bottom in 2019.


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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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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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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

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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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...

Learn more About Phil >>

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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 >>