Author Archive for ilene

How Viktor Orban degraded Hungary’s weak democracy


How Viktor Orban degraded Hungary's weak democracy

Courtesy of John Shattuck, Tufts University

Protesters walk past riot police officers during an anti-government march in central Budapest, Hungary, Dec. 21, 2018. AP/Marko Drobnjakovic

The roots of democracy in Hungary are shallow.

That’s been especially clear in the last nine years, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban has created a repressive and increasingly authoritarian state, operating under a pretense of democracy.

In recent weeks the political situation has become volatile. By early 2019 the Hungarian government was the target of a series of major demonstrations in Budapest and other Hungarian cities.

A flash point was a new labor law allowing employers to compel overtime to make up for the country’s labor shortage. The shortage was caused by the emigration of nearly a million young and skilled workers during the Orban years and the regime’s extreme anti-immigrant stance.

It’s not clear whether the protests are a passing phenomenon or a surge of new interest in democracy.

Conditions ripe for nationalism

Hungarians have a history of authoritarian domination, often by outsiders – Mongols, Ottomans, Russians, Hapsburgs, Fascists and, after World War II, communist rule under the Soviets.

Having lived recently in Hungary for seven years, I witnessed how the psychological legacy of externally imposed rule has hobbled the growth of civic participation, a precondition for democracy. In Budapest, the common spaces of apartment buildings are often run down, and volunteering for an international civic organization is frowned upon.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of Soviet domination, Hungarians went through two decades of democratic development, including a parliamentary system, a free media, an independent judiciary and growing civic participation.

But the global financial crisis of 2008 hit Hungary harder than other countries in the region, driving the economy down and unemployment up. It left many people feeling no better off than they had been during communism. Nationalism grew in the Hungarian countryside, where xenophobia thrived.

These were the preconditions for Viktor Orban’s sustained attack on Hungary’s weak democracy after coming to power in 2010.

continue reading

The quiet threat inside ‘internet of things’ devices


The quiet threat inside 'internet of things' devices

File 20190108 32133 zju0xd.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

They’re small and well-connected, but how safe are ‘internet of things’ devices? BeeBright/

Courtesy of Charles T. Harry, University of Maryland

As Americans increasingly buy and install smart devices in their homes, all those cheap interconnected devices create new security problems for individuals and society as a whole. The problem is compounded by businesses radically expanding the number of sensors and remote monitors it uses to manage overhead lights in corporate offices and detailed manufacturing processes in factories. Governments, too, are getting into the act – cities, especially, want to use new technologies to improve energy efficiency, reduce traffic congestion and improve water quality.

The number of these “internet of things” devices is climbing into the tens of billions. They’re creating an interconnected world with the potential to make people’s lives more enjoyable, productive, secure and efficient. But those very same devices, many of which have no real security protections, are also becoming part of what are called “botnets,” vast networks of tiny computers vulnerable to hijacking by hackers.

Botnets have caused problems on the internet, from sending vast amounts of spam mail to disrupting websites around the world. While traditionally most botnets are comprised of laptop and desktop computers, the growth of unsecured devices such as industrial sensors, webcams, televisions and other smart home devices is leading to a growing disruptive capability.

Tiny computers everywhere

The “internet of things” includes countless types of devices – webcams, pressure sensors, thermometers, microphones, speakers, stuffed animals and many more – made by a vast array of companies. Many of these manufacturers are small and unknown, and don’t have popular brands or public reputations to protect. Their goals are to produce lots of devices to sell as cheaply as possible. Customers’ cybersecurity isn’t a real concern for them.

A tiny computer on a desk. Mehaniq/

These devices’ variety means they’re useful for lots of things, but also means they have a…
continue reading

Federal workers begin to feel pain of shutdown as 800,000 lose their paychecks


Federal workers begin to feel pain of shutdown as 800,000 lose their paychecks

File 20190111 43541 1pztmfz.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Families are feeling the pinch of the government shutdown. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Courtesy of Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

President Donald Trump wants US$5.7 billion to fund a border wall to keep out undocumented immigrants and “criminals.” Democrats in Congress say the wall is a waste of money that wouldn’t solve any of America’s actual immigration programs.

Caught between the two sides are about 800,000 federal workers whose agencies are affected by the partial government shutdown. And although it started about three weeks ago, Jan. 11 marks a significant milestone: It’s the first time affected workers won’t get their paychecks.

As a researcher who studies people’s wealth, I understand that while the loss of a single paycheck may not seem like much, for many American families it can be devastating financially.

The federal workforce

Overall, the federal government directly employs over 2 million people.

Most of them work for departments such as Defense, Education and Labor that remain open because Congress passed spending bills fully funding what they do. About a quarter of the federal government – including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture – has no new funding, leaving 800,000 workers in the lurch.

About 380,000 have been furloughed without pay, while 420,000 are deemed essential and have to report for work. However, these essential workers are not being paid either.

And on Jan. 11, they’ll feel the impact of that lost pay.

Government workers protest the shutdown in Ogden, Utah. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Hand to mouth

So what’s the big deal if these workers don’t get a single paycheck?

The problem is many Americans both in and out of government live paycheck to paycheck. Estimates range anywhere from one-third to more than three-quarters make ends meet every two weeks.

No matter which figure is right, it means that many American families cannot financially survive…
continue reading

Science gets shut down right along with the federal government


Science gets shut down right along with the federal government

File 20190111 43517 zg0b43.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Ongoing wildlife studies are one kind of federally funded research that’s sidelined during a shutdown. USFWS, CC BY

Courtesy of Angela K. Wilson, Michigan State University

When the U.S. government shuts down, much of the science that it supports is not spared. And there is no magic light switch that can be flipped to reverse the impact.

For instance, large-scale instruments like NASA’s Stratoscopheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – the “flying telescope” – have to stop operations. Eventually bringing such instrumentation back up to speed requires over a week. If the shutdown lingers, contingency funds provided to maintain large-scale instruments supported by agencies including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation will run out and operations will cease, adding to the list of closed facilities.

When I headed NSF’s Division of Chemistry from March 2016 to July 2018, I experienced firsthand two shutdowns like the one the country is weathering now. The 1,800 NSF staff would be sent home, without access to email and without even the option to work voluntarily, until eventually an end to the shutdown was negotiated. As we were unsure how long the shutdowns would run, a lot of time was spent developing contingency plans – and coordinating with many hundreds of researchers about them. Concerns about what will happen to researchers’ day-to-day projects are compounded by apprehension about interruptions to long-term funding.


What’s not happening?

Many federal agencies perform science. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are less affected by the shutdown this time since they already have their budgets for fiscal year 2019. But agencies including the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology
continue reading

Almost every brand of tuna on supermarket shelves shows why modern slavery laws are needed


Almost every brand of tuna on supermarket shelves shows why modern slavery laws are needed

File 20181214 185252 1cl9who.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Tracking the journey of tuna from the seas around Thailand to Australian supermarket shelves shows modern slavery is a pervasive problem.

Courtesy of Kate Nicholl, University of Melbourne; Miriam Wilhelm, University of Groningen, and Vikram Bhakoo, University of Melbourne

What is the chance the last tin of tuna you ate was made using slave labour? If it came from Thailand, the odds may be a lot higher than you imagine.

We have tracked the journey of tuna from the seas around Thailand to Australian supermarket shelves. This included interviewing more than 50 people, including people entrapped into forced labour. In doing so, we have been able to assess whether brands can say their supply chains are slave-free.

We believe just one brand of tinned tuna can confidently claim slavery is not involved in its supply.

Though we cannot name that brand, due to ethical guidelines to ensure our research remains independent of commercial considerations, our results further validate the need for the new Modern Slavery Act, passed by the Australian parliament late last year, to drive companies to address the problem of slavery in international supply chains.

Exploiting migrant workers

Thailand is the world’s top exporter of tuna, and one of the biggest exporters of all fish. Its marine fishing industry is particularly prone to modern slavery due to its size, lack of regulation, extent of illegal operations, and exploitation of migrant workers.

There are more than 50,000 fishing vessels and about 500,000 workers in the industry. Investigations by groups including Greenpeace and the International Labour Organisation suggest the majority of those working on boats meet the definition of modern slavery – any situation where a person is forced to work under threat; is owned or controlled by their employer; dehumanised or treated as a commodity; and is not free to leave.

Any person tricked or trafficked to work in locations far from home who then has their freedom of movement denied either physically or financially is a modern slave.

Statistics collected by Thailand Department of Fisheries on…
continue reading

The politics of fear: How fear goes tribal, allowing us to be manipulated


The politics of fear: How fear goes tribal, allowing us to be manipulated

File 20190111 43544 1ual97q.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

White nationalists clash with protesters at the Aug. 12, 2017 Charlottesville, Va. rally that turned deadly violent. Steve Helber/AP Photo

Courtesy of Arash Javanbakht, Wayne State University

Fear is arguably as old as life. It is deeply ingrained in the living organisms that have survived extinction through billions of years of evolution. Its roots are deep in our core psychological and biological being, and it is one of our most intimate feelings. Danger and war are as old as human history, and so are politics and religion.

Demagogues have always used fear for intimidation of the subordinates or enemies, and shepherding the tribe by the leaders. Fear is a very strong tool that can blur humans’ logic and change their behavior.

I am a psychiatrist and neuroscientist specializing in fear and trauma, and I have some evidence-based thoughts on how fear is abused in politics.

We learn fear from tribe mates

Like other animals, we humans can learn fear from experience, such as being attacked by a predator. We also learn from observation, such as witnessing a predator attacking another human. And, we learn by instructions, such as being told there is a predator nearby.

Learning from our conspecifics – members of the same species – is an evolutionary advantage that has prevented us from repeating dangerous experiences of other humans. We have a tendency to trust our tribe mates and authorities, especially when it comes to danger. It is adaptive: Parents and wise old men told us not to eat a special plant, or not to go to an area in the woods, or we would be hurt. By trusting them, we would not die like a great-grandfather who died eating that plant. This way we accumulated knowledge.

Tribalism has been an inherent part of the human history. There has always been competition between groups of humans in different ways and with different faces, from brutal wartime nationalism to a strong loyalty to a football team. Evidence from cultural neuroscience shows that our brains even respond differently at an unconscious level simply to…
continue reading

How a government shutdown affects the economy


How a government shutdown affects the economy

File 20190110 43520 8ehh68.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Courtesy of Scott R. Baker, Northwestern University

Parts of the federal government have been closed since midnight on Dec. 22, making it the second-longest shutdown on record. It’s also the third since President Donald Trump took office.

The immediate and most visible impact of a shutdown is in the government’s day-to-day operations. Many national museums and parks are closed, immigration hearings are being postponed and the Food and Drug Administration isn’t doing routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities, to name a few examples. Of the 800,000 federal employees affected by the shutdown, 420,000 are working without pay while the rest have been furloughed.

But beyond the individual workers and families affected, could a short or lengthy shutdown affect the broader U.S. economy as well?

Constantine Yannelis, a business professor at New York University, and I examined data from the 2013 government shutdown to better understand its impact.

An economic speed bump

While a shutdown affects the economy in a number of ways – from delaying business permits and visas to reducing service hours at innumerable agencies – a primary channel through which a shutdown affects the economy is through withheld or foregone pay from federal employees who don’t receive their paychecks.

Since consumer spending makes up about 70 percent of economic activity in the United States, withholding pay from even some government workers could introduce a significant economic speed bump in the short run.

And that’s exactly what we saw in 2013.

Similar to the situation today, a partisan standoff in Congress led to a partial shutdown of the government that lasted a little over two weeks beginning on Oct. 1 of that year.

Well over a million federal employees were affected and didn’t receive a paycheck during the shutdown. Some were furloughed – sent home and told not to do anything related to their job. Those deemed “essential” or “exempted” – such as security personnel screening passengers at airports or border patrol…
continue reading

Animal Spirits: Record Outflows


Animal Spirits: Record Outflows

Courtesy of 

Today’s Animal Spirits is presented by YCharts.

On today’s Animal Spirits we discuss:

The gap is closing between active and index

Can unemployment signal a recession

Some more unemployment numbers

J.P. Morgan’s Guide to the Markets

Stocks look attractive

Alphabeticity Bias

Credit Card Perks

Do women hedge fund managers outperform?

Tough year for Einhorn

Good year for Bridgewater

High earners living paycheck to paycheck

Millennials are delusional 

Listen here:


  • The Wealthy Barber
  • The Coddling of the American Mind
  • Impossible to Ignore

Charts mentioned





Tweets mentioned


Mention Animal Spirits to receive 20% off (*New YCharts users only).

A ten percent bounce in the S&P 500, now what?


A ten percent bounce in the S&P 500, now what?

Courtesy of 

What does it mean when the stock market makes a low and then stages a large bounce in a short period of time? Is that sort of price action meaningful? How should traders think about? How should long-term investors think about it? What are the signs that a big bounce will lead to a new high instead of a new low later on?

Michael Batnick and Downtown Josh Brown attempt to answer these questions the best way they know how – with context, data, historical information and common sense.

Leave us a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to The Compound if you haven’t already! We love your feedback and we love our subscribers.

Here are the charts we posted in today’s video:



The Compound (YouTube)

The Weekly Trading Webinar – 01-09-19


For LIVE access on Wednesday afternoons, join us at Phil's Stock World – click here.


Major Topics:

00:01:38 – Checking on the Markets
00:05:46 – Portfolio Adjustments and Recap
00:10:25 – IBM
00:10:37 – TZA
00:10:40 – More Adjustments on Portfolios
00:30:20 – SCO
00:35:51 – JO
00:37:30 – ALK
00:42:00 – BHC
00:44:20 – CDE
00:44:41 – FTR
01:00:33 – OIH
01:01:38 – SPWR
01:07:57 – S&P 500
01:22:19 – California Governor Newsom
01:28:37 – GS | JPM
01:35:52 – Trade Techniques


Phil's Weekly Trading Webinars provide a great opportunity to learn what we do at PSW. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and view past webinars here. For LIVE access to PSW's Weekly Webinars – demonstrating trading strategies in real time – click here to join us at PSW!


Phil's Favorites

A 2019 Earnings Recession?


A 2019 Earnings Recession?

Courtesy of 

Shout to Leigh!

On the new Talk Your Book – Josh Brown is joined by Leigh Drogen of Estimize, one of the leading providers of crowdsourced financial and economic data to talk about the trend in corporate profits that could potentially lead to an earnings recession later this year.

What is the thing that Leigh is seeing in the data that Wall Street isn’t yet picking up on? What segment of the stock market is most at risk? Why is the crowd smarter than the narrow consensus of Wall Street analysts?

Check out Estimize ...

more from Ilene

Zero Hedge

How Will The Pound React To Tuesday's Brexit Deal Vote? FX Traders Weigh In

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Months of extreme volatility have taken their toll on the pound, with traders declaring the G10 currency "untradeable" during the worst of the withdrawal-deal related chaos last year, as daily swings of multiple percentage points became increasingly common, prompting some traders to muse once again about how the pound - one of the world's most liquid, heavily traded currencies, was behaving more like the Turkish lira than a designated global reserve currency (as its membership in the IMF's SDR basket would suggest). 

Now, after months o...

more from Tyler


D.E. Shaw Investment Calls For Leadership Change At EQT

By ActivistInsight. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Elliott Management has offered to acquire QEP Resources for approximately $2.1 billion, contending the oil and gas explorer’s turnaround efforts have done little to lift the company’s share price. The company responded and said that a thorough review of the proposition is imperative in order to properly act in the best interests of shareholders, “taking into account the company’s other alternatives and current market conditions.” The news came only a month after Travelport Worldwide agreed to sell itself to Siris Capital Group and Elliott’s private equity arm Evergreen Coast Capital for $4.4 billion in cash and two months after Athenahealth was bought by Veritas and Evergreen for $5.7 bi...

more from ValueWalk

Kimble Charting Solutions

Gold & Silver Testing Important Breakout Levels!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Gold and Silver from a long-term perspective have created a series of lower highs over the past 8-years. Will 2019 bring a change to this trend? A big test is in play!

Gold since the lows in 2016 has created a series of higher lows, while Silver may have created a double bottom.

Gold & Silver are currently facing break attempts a (1) and (2). These falling resistance lines have disappointed metals bulls for the past few years.

The direction of Gold and Silver weeks and months from now should be highly influenced by what each does as they are attempting to break above important resistance levels.

To become a member of Kimbl...

more from Kimble C.S.

Insider Scoop

UBS Says Disney's Streaming Ambition Gives It A 'New Hope'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related DIS Despite Some Risks, Analysts Still Expecting Double Digit Growth From Communications Services In Q4 ... more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Russia Prepares To Buy Up To $10 Billion In Bitcoin To Evade US Sanctions

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

While the market has been increasingly focused on the rising headwinds in the global economy in general, and China's economic slowdown in particular, while the media is obsessing over daily revelations that Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia to get elected, a far more critical, if underreported, shift has been taking place over the past year.

As we reported in June, whether due to concerns over draconian western sanctions and asset confiscations following the poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal, or simply because it wanted to diversify away from the dollar, Russia liquidated virtually all of its Treasury holdings in the late spri...

more from Bitcoin

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...

more from Chart School

Members' Corner

Why Trump Can't Learn


Bill Eddy (lawyer, therapist, author) predicted Trump's failure based on his personality, which was evident years ago. This article, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump became president, in July, 2016, 5 Reasons Trump Can’t Learn. ~ Ilene 

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...

more from Our Members


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.


more from Biotech

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...

more from M.T.M.


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 ...

more from OpTrader


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


more from Promotions

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 >>

As Seen On:

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 >>