Author Archive for ilene

The story of the pharma giant and the African yam

 

The story of the pharma giant and the African yam

Traditional medicines sold at a South African market. Rebecca and William Beinart

Courtesy of William Beinart, University of Oxford

It was a drug produced in Nottingham in the United Kingdom that led us on a journey to South Africa to visit muthi markets, archives, herbariums and nature reserves.

We spoke with traders, healers, scholars and conservationists to learn more about Dioscorea sylvatica.

Dioscorea is a wild yam. Its name in different languages connects to its appearance – its rough skin resembles a tortoise shell. It’s known as ‘Elephant’s Foot’ in English, in isiZulu ‘ingwevu’, meaning grey/old or ‘ifudu’, meaning tortoise; in Sepedi the name is ‘Kgato’ – ‘to stamp’.

In the 1950s, the yam was heavily exploited by the British pharmaceutical firm Boots for the production of cortisone. But provincial conservation officials in South Africa fought back against the plundering of a wild plant that they recognised was in danger of being exploited to extinction.

A factory in Johannesburg

In 1949 scientists in the US announced the dramatic effects of a new drug, cortisone. It could be used to treat a variety of ailments, from arthritis to allergies to lupus and skin conditions. They found that cortisone could be made cheaply from diosgenin, extracted from Mexican wild yam species, and began a global search for supplementary plants.

By the early 1950s, South African botanists had identified Dioscorea sylvatica as promising. Boots, a major British pharmaceutical company, was keen to develop a source of diosgenin to manufacture corticosteroid medicines and started a factory in Johannesburg in 1955 for the initial stages of processing the plant.

Systematic extraction began in the eastern and north eastern part of the country, plundering a plant used by traditional healers for muthi (traditional medicine).

These actions weren’t a direct case of ‘biopiracy’ – in the sense of an obvious and deliberate theft of indigenous knowledge for profit. Nevertheless the exploitation of this plant took place against the backdrop of the history of plant collection and export from South Africa. Bioprospecting was facilitated by a longer process that involved drawing on…
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When You Were Born > Everything Else

 

When You Were Born > Everything Else

Courtesy of 

What is the most important factor behind one’s investing experience? Is it their ability to analyze a business, their temperament, or their network? It’s none of these things. For almost all investors, the most important driver of investment returns is the year you were born, and therefore how old you are when you began investing.

One of my favorite data points ever, courtesy of Nick Maggiulli, is that if you had invested from 1960-1980 and beaten the market by 5% each year, you would have made less money than if you had invested from 1980-2000 and underperformed the market by 5% a year.

I made this chart* that shows what the market was doing as different generations turned 22 years old, an age where people first start investing. Perhaps 30 would have been a better time to show the beginning of one’s investing journey, but the point remains that you have no control over the environment around you.

There are ways to make money in bad markets and ways to lose money in good ones, but by and large a rising tide lifts all boats and treacherous waters sink them. There’s no getting around the fact that for most investors, when you were born will trump everything else.

It’s unsettling to acknowledge that the experience we have in the market hinges on something that’s entirely out of our control, but hey, like De Niro told Pacino in The Irishman, “it’s what it is.” Plan accordingly.


*the chart below shows generations by birth year. It’s impossible not to notice that these just so happen to line up almost perfectly with different regimes, alternating from bearish to bullish. I say “just so happen” because I don’t believe there is any causality here.

 





Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle: what you need to know

 

Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle: what you need to know

Who’s in and who’s out? 360b/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Despina Alexiadou, University of Strathclyde

Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, has reshuffled his cabinet. But among all the sackings and appointments, the big news of the day was Sajid Javid’s resignation as chancellor of the exchequer. Javid was reportedly told by the prime minister that “he had to fire all his special advisers and replace them with No 10 special advisers to make it one team”, which he refused to do, instead choosing to resign. He has been replaced by his deputy, Rishi Sunak.

This is a very swift promotion for Sunak and is a role that will immediately come with a lot of work given the budget is only four weeks away. This replacement is seen by many as the prime minister’s move to take more control of economic policy. And, by replacing a chancellor who had, at times, different views to him, Johnson now has someone with limited political and cabinet experience at No 11 – a move that has caused former Tory MP David Gauke to take to Twitter to warn Whitehall to remember the importance of its independence. He said: “the chancellor and the Treasury … has to be strong enough to say ‘No’ to the PM or anyone else”.

Research further supports the importance of a strong chancellor. In cross-country studies that have looked at the role of finance ministers, it has been found that strong ministers keep lower levels of debt and deficit and are able to block rises in social welfare spending.

Why the reshuffle?

Typically, prime ministers reshuffle when their popularity goes down and when they cannot effectively control their cabinet or their backbench. So the timing of this reshuffle may seem unusual as it comes only two months after the formation of a new government from a prime minister who enjoys high approval ratings and a large parliamentary majority.

Yet it’s not as abnormal as it seems given that the prime minister kept his team of…
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Predictive Modeling Suggests Gold Will Break Above $1650 Within 15~30 Days

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Dynamic Learning predictive modeling system is suggesting Gold will rally above $1650 within the next 2 to 4 weeks, then settle into a narrow price range above $1600.  If you’ve followed our analysis of Gold over the past few months and years, you already know we expect Gold to rally above $1750 this year and to continue to move higher attempting to breach the $2100 level.  It is just a matter of time as far as we are concerned where Metals begin a massive upside rally as the global debt markets become an issue throughout the world.

Right now, there is a very clear opportunity for Gold to rally nearly $100 over the next few weeks.  Our ADL predictive modeling system is suggesting this really should begin very soon and will likely propel the price of Gold to levels above $1640 before March 15. Of course, as we’ve seen before if price stays below the $1600 level for another few weeks, this will set up a “price anomaly” where the price will, at some point, attempt to rally very aggressively to the upside to make up the difference.

Weekly Gold ADL Chart

This Weekly Gold ADL chart highlights the predicted price movement higher, above $1640, then sideways afterward – setting up a new momentum base.  You can see how Gold enters rally phases, then bases for 5 to 10+ weeks.  We believe this next move higher will be a continued advancement leg in Gold that may prompt a short momentum base before another rally sets up near April/May 2020.


Monthly Gold ADL Chart

This Monthly Gold ADL chart highlights our overall trend expectations for Gold going out 8+ months into the future.  We believe this upside price rally is ultimately targeting levels above $1800.  It will likely attempt this move in multiple upside price legs containing various pause/momentum basing events.  Yet we believe the ultimate upside objective in Gold is really $1800 to $1850 before a new downside leg will setup.  That downside leg will end fairly quickly, then the next wave of buying will push the price above $2100 and ultimately much…
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We depend so much more on Chinese travellers now. That makes the impact of this coronavirus novel

 

We depend so much more on Chinese travellers now. That makes the impact of this coronavirus novel

Courtesy of Mingming Cheng, Curtin University

Australia has joined New Zealand, the United States, Indonesia, India, Israel and other countries in deciding to refuse entry to all foreigners flying from or who have recently been in mainland China.

These bans dramatically escalate the potential economic impact of the novel coronavirus.

Over the past two decades China has grown from a minnow to a whale in international travel. Not counting mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong and Macau (about 76 million in 2018), data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation show the number of Chinese going abroad climbed from 2.8 million in 1997 to about 73 million in 2018.

This places China fourth in terms of international visits, behind Germany (about 92 million), the United States (88 million) and Britain (74 million).

Rise of the Chinese traveller

Besides Hong Kong and Macau, Chinese travellers most visit neighbouring nations – Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Singapore. Next is Italy, then the United States and Malaysia.

Australia is somewhat down the list – just the 17th-most-popular destination for Chinese visitors in 2018 (1.4 million visits). New Zealand was the 26th (about 448,000).



But China is now Australia’s largest source of international visitors. Short-term arrivals from China overtook those from New Zealand (the top source for many decades) in 2017.



In the 12 months to November 2019, there were 1.44 million Chinese visitors to Australia, according to Tourism Australia. This was about 15% of the total 9.44 million short-term arrivals.

But Chinese visitors contributed relatively more to the Australian economy. The average spend per Chinese trip was $A9,235. This compared with $A5,943 for Germans, $A5,219 for Americans, $4,614 for Japanese and $A2,032 for New Zealanders.

This meant Chinese travellers contributed about A$12 billion to the Australian economy – or 27% of the total amount spent by all international visitors. International tourism accounts for about a quarter of Australia’s total tourism…
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Fed Chair Tells Congress There Is a 10-Year “Game Plan” to Deal with Financial Crisis But No Plan to Deal with Americans Left Devastated By It

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell Testifying Before House Financial Services Committee, February 11, 2020

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell Testifying Before House Financial Services Committee, February 11, 2020

During his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell let it slip out, for the first time, that the Federal Reserve has had a 10-year game plan to deal with the financial crisis. In response to a question on cyber threats from Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Powell stated the following:

“They kind of pay us to be awake at night worrying about things. I would say that if you look at what happened in the financial crisis, we had a game plan there. We implemented it over the course of 10 years. I won’t say that it’s perfect or anything like that, but we have a plan that is meant to address those kinds of things.”

“Those kinds of things?” The financial crisis, fueled by corruption and lax regulation of Wall Street banks, destroyed the housing market in the U.S. and left the U.S. economy in tatters. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes to foreclosure. The New York Fed was the supervisor of key Wall Street banks that caused this problem – shouldn’t it have had a 10-year game plan to prevent “Those kinds of things” instead of creating the game plan after the damage had been done?

Wall Street On Parade has been carefully following the Federal Reserve for the past decade and filing Freedom of Information Act requests. The Fed has repeatedly been non-responsive. This is the first time we are hearing about any formal 10-year game plan to deal with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. It’s time for the Fed to come clean with the American people about the granular details of that plan and allow elected members of Congress to vote on it.

We do, however, know that the Federal Reserve set out to keep the $29 trillion part of that secret 10-year game plan wrapped behind a dark curtain from the American people. That’s the cumulative amount of money the Fed funneled to teetering Wall Street banks and global central banks to prop up the still corrupt Wall Street trading houses. It took…
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Shipping Rates Plunge, Commodities and Stocks May Follow

Courtesy of Technical Traders

An almost immediate reaction to the Coronavirus outbreak in China and throughout most of the world has sent shock-wave through the global markets – particularly seen in Shipping and Oil.  The actions within China to attempt to contain the virus spread include shutting down entire cities and setting up mass quarantine events.  It is estimated that as many as 8+ million people were quarantined within cities in China throughout the Chinese New Year.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, warned recently that the Coronavirus, and the efforts to stop it, may greatly reduce the Chinese economy over the next few months.  The Chinese President urged top officials to refrain from “more restrictive measures” to contain the virus.  It is our opinion that more restrictive measures are essential to efforts to contain the spread of this virus and that further contraction in the Chinese economy, as well as other economies, are almost set in stone at this point.

Information we’ve received from some friends living in China and Hong Kong suggest travel is very restricted, face masks are very scarce, people are staying inside their homes and surviving as family units within very close contact with one another.  They are scared, trapped and unable to do anything other than try to wait this out.  Imagine what this is doing to the local economies, shops, offices, and businesses?

Reflectively, global shipping rates have collapsed over the past 30+ days as one of the first signs of the contraction in the global markets.  As of December 31, 2019, both Tanker and Dry-Bulk rates were hovering near $14,000 per day.  Now, this rate is near $2500 per day – a -82% decrease.  As you consider the broader aspects of this massive decrease in shipping rates, consider the global contagion event that may setup if the Belt-Road region is adversely hit with the Corona Virus.


Source: Bloomberg.com

SEA Shipping Sector ETF – Daily Chart

Shipping stocks are taking a beating. Factories are shut down, the product is not being shipped, and even product ready to be shipped many don’t want to…
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Deepfakes: five ways in which they are brilliant business opportunities

 

Deepfakes: five ways in which they are brilliant business opportunities

The Dalí planet. The Dalí Museum

Courtesy of Linda W Lee, Nottingham Trent University; Jan Kietzmann, University of Victoria, and Tim C Kietzmann, Radboud University

A visitor to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida presses a doorbell beside a dark life-sized screen. A darkened figure wearing a dapper suit and sporting a pencil moustache slowly leaves his easel and comes toward her into the light.

It is, of course, Salvador Dalí, who looks at the visitor and speaks about his art and his museum. When the visitor is about to leave, he appears again. He asks if she would like a picture, then whips out his mobile phone and takes a selfie with her.

The fascinating thing about this encounter is that it’s actually Dalí himself. How is it possible that the great Spanish surrealist can interact with members of the public years after his death, even using a phone that didn’t exist when he was alive? Welcome to the world of deepfakes, an unsettling technology with a high potential to deceive – and also some unexpectedly positive uses.

Deepfakes are a powerful new technique to create realistic yet fake video or audio content. To breathe life into Dalí, the museum used deep learning to enable a computer to seamlessly exchange the face of a living actor who was dressing and behaving like Dalí with a digitally generated image of the artist’s face and expressions.

This involves a “training process” in which advanced machine-learning algorithms sift through footage of Dalí and the actor to learn to generate new real-looking facial images of both men. It also learns to take an existing image of either man and generate an image of the other that perfectly matches the facial expressions and head posture of the first one.

This makes it possible to generate Dalí faces that match the actor’s movements, which are then automatically inserted into the new video – creating an illusion of Dalí himself. There’s more detail here for those who are interested.


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Coronavirus outbreak: a new mapping tool that lets you scroll through timeline

 

Coronavirus outbreak: a new mapping tool that lets you scroll through timeline

Coronavirus outbreak mapper.

Courtesy of Edward Parker, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

In the final weeks of 2019, a virus slipped furtively from animal to human somewhere in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This inauspicious moment marked the sounding of a starting pistol, unheard at first but now echoing deafeningly across the globe. The race to stop a pandemic had begun.

We have been trying to keep up with the novel coronavirus ever since. Each day, we are faced with worrying headlines reporting the latest twists and turns of this outbreak. We have seen the virus spill over China’s borders and spread to at least 25 countries worldwide, and watched with mounting anxiety as the number of cases creeps ever higher. We wait apprehensively to see where the virus shows up next.


You can access the real-time map here.


At the time of writing, there have been 43,036 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and the death toll stands at 1,018. Both of these numbers will be out of date by the time you read this.

In isolation, the daily headlines can be difficult to interpret, offering a static snapshot of a moving target. It is hard, for instance, to tell if the situation is getting better or worse, and to what extent control efforts are having any effect.

To provide a clearer picture of this evolving story, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, we have developed a new outbreak mapping tool.

The site is updated daily based on figures published by the World Health Organization (WHO). While other live trackers developed by Johns Hopkins University and the WHO are updated more frequently, our tool enables users to wind back the clock and view the global situation on any given day of the coronavirus outbreak. It also enables the unfolding situation to be compared with other recent outbreaks, including the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003 (also caused by a coronavirus), the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.


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Hackers could shut down satellites – or turn them into weapons

 

Hackers could shut down satellites – or turn them into weapons

Two CubeSats, part of a constellation built and operated by Planet Labs Inc. to take images of Earth, were launched from the International Space Station on May 17, 2016. NASA

Courtesy of William Akoto, University of Denver

Last month, SpaceX became the operator of the world’s largest active satellite constellation. As of the end of January, the company had 242 satellites orbiting the planet with plans to launch 42,000 over the next decade. This is part of its ambitious project to provide internet access across the globe. The race to put satellites in space is on, with Amazon, U.K.-based OneWeb and other companies chomping at the bit to place thousands of satellites in orbit in the coming months.

These new satellites have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of everyday life – from bringing internet access to remote corners of the globe to monitoring the environment and improving global navigation systems. Amid all the fanfare, a critical danger has flown under the radar: the lack of cybersecurity standards and regulations for commercial satellites, in the U.S. and internationally. As a scholar who studies cyber conflict, I’m keenly aware that this, coupled with satellites’ complex supply chains and layers of stakeholders, leaves them highly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

If hackers were to take control of these satellites, the consequences could be dire. On the mundane end of scale, hackers could simply shut satellites down, denying access to their services. Hackers could also jam or spoof the signals from satellites, creating havoc for critical infrastructure. This includes electric grids, water networks and transportation systems.

Some of these new satellites have thrusters that allow them to speed up, slow down and change direction in space. If hackers took control of these steerable satellites, the consequences could be catastrophic. Hackers could alter the satellites’ orbits and crash them into other satellites or even the International Space Station.

Commodity parts open a door

Makers of these satellites, particularly small CubeSats, use off-the-shelf technology to keep costs low. The wide availability of these components means hackers can analyze them for vulnerabilities. In…
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Phil's Favorites

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Biotech & Health

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Zero Hedge

China Adopts 'Cultural Revolution-Style' Social Controls To Crush Outbreak As Death Toll Nears 2,000

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Summary:

  • Taiwan reports 1st coronavirus death
  • Hubei reports 1,933 new cases, 100 deaths
  • Hubei health officials report 1,933 new cases, 100 new deaths
  • Taiwan taxi driver who died from virus carried passengers from mainland, Hong Kong, Macau
  • Singapore reports 3 more cases
  • Total cases aboard 'Diamond Princess' climbs to 355 as US prepares to evacuate citizens
  • Indonesia says 6 passengers from Westerdam cruise ship tested negative
  • There are now at least 68,500 cases worldwide, and at least 1,665 de...


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Members' Corner

How to Stop Bill Barr

 

How to Stop Bill Barr

We must remove this cancer on our democracy.

Courtesy of Greg Olear, at PREVAIL, author of Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia

...



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The Technical Traders

Is The Technology Sector Setting Up For A Crash? Part I

Courtesy of Technical Traders

One thing that continues to amaze our research team is the total scale and scope of the Capital Shift which is taking place across the globe.  For almost 5+ years, foreign investors have been piling into the US stock market chasing the stronger US dollar and continued advancement of US share prices. It is almost like there is no other place on the planet that will allow investors to pool capital into such a variety of strong assets while protecting against foreign capital risks.  Yet the one big question remains – when will a price reversion event hit the US stock
market?

So many researchers, even our team of researchers, believe we have found the keys to unloc...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Joe Friday Says Germany (DAX) Could Rally 30%, Happy Valentines Day For The Bulls!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

German DAX Index “weekly” Chart

The German DAX is one of the more important global stock market indices, as it represents the largest economy / market in the Euro Zone.

So it would be a real treat for the bulls to see this stock market index breakout as we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The facts, Ma’am. Just the facts; The German DAX looks to have formed a bullish ascending triangle over the past 3 years and it is currently attempting to breakout above the top at (1)....



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Insider Scoop

Nissan Shares Tumble To Decade Low After Q3 Earnings Miss

Courtesy of Benzinga

The shares of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (OTC: NSANY) dropped to a decade low on Thursday after the company missed third-quarter earnings estimates and significantly cut its annual forecast for the financial 2019 year.

What Happened

Nissan, on Thursday, reported a net loss o...



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ValueWalk

Russell 2000 Index (RUT) hits an almost one-month high

By Gorilla Trades. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Ad the Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, commenting on today’s trading Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman said:

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) Outperforms Large-Cap Benchmarks

While the overnight session was nothing short of scary stocks held on to most of yesterday's gains and small-caps even extended their winning streak. The Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, finishing higher for the fourth day in a row while outperforming the large-cap benchmarks, and since the Volatility...



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Chart School

Dow theory warning from the Utilities Index

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Charles Dow died in 1902, and the investors should thank him for his ever lasting Dow Theory Analysis.

Carrying on this blog theme looking at the Utility stocks. Previous post.
Dow Jones Utility index could trade like the FANGs
Formula for when the Great Stock Market Rally ends



You can learn about Dow Theory here

This post is concerned wi...

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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Price May Hit $27K All-Time High By Summer, Predicts Fundstrat's Tom Lee

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by William Suberg via CoinTelegraph.com,

Bitcoin is primed for average gains of almost 200% over the next six months, one of its best-known supporters has told mainstream media. 

...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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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. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.