Author Archive for ilene

How big data can affect your bank account – and life


How big data can affect your bank account – and life


Courtesy of Aisling McMahon, National University of Ireland Maynooth; Alena Buyx, Technical University of Munich, and Barbara Prainsack, Universität Wien

Mustafa loves good coffee. In his free time, he often browses high-end coffee machines that he cannot currently afford but is saving for. One day, travelling to a friend’s wedding abroad, he gets to sit next to another friend on the plane. When Mustafa complains about how much he paid for his ticket, it turns out that his friend paid less than half of what he paid, even though they booked around the same time.

He looks into possible reasons for this and concludes that it must be related to his browsing of expensive coffee machines and equipment. He is very angry about this and complains to the airline, who send him a lukewarm apology that refers to personalised pricing models. Mustafa feels that this is unfair but does not challenge it. Pursuing it any further would cost him time and money.

This story – which is hypothetical, but can and does occur – demonstrates the potential for people to be harmed by data use in the current “big data” era. Big data analytics involves using large amounts of data from many sources which are linked and analysed to find patterns that help to predict human behaviour. Such analysis, even when perfectly legal, can harm people.

Mustafa, for example, has likely been affected by personalised pricing practices whereby his search for high-end coffee machines has been used to make certain assumptions about his willingness to pay or buying power. This in turn may have led to his higher priced airfare. While this has not resulted in serious harm in Mustafa’s case, instances of serious emotional and financial harm are, unfortunately, not rare, including the denial of mortgages for individuals and risks to a person’s general credit worthiness based on associations with other individuals. This might happen if an individual shares some similar characteristics to other individuals who have poor repayment histories.

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John Bercow bows out: a speaker who defended parliament and transformed the role


John Bercow bows out: a speaker who defended parliament and transformed the role

Courtesy of Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield

Pig-headed, obnoxious, pompous, too fond of the sound of his own voice … John Bercow has collected a range of epithets during his period as speaker of the House of Commons. And yet my sense is that even his harshest critics harbour at least some grudging respect for him as the speaker who really did speak for parliament.

The events that unfolded in the hours after Bercow’s announcement that he is to stand down, and before parliament was prorogued for five weeks, underline this. As MPs claimed they were being “silenced” in the run up to Brexit, we were reminded just why we need individuals with the capacity to push back against executive over-stepping.

Indeed, Bercow’s biggest achievement was his role in reclaiming constitutional territory from an incredibly powerful executive. Although the parliamentary decline thesis was always overstated, there is little doubt that the balance in the legislative-executive relationship had swayed too far in favour of the latter.

As Bercow outlined in his resignation speech, he adopted the role of “the backbenchers backstop” and sought to facilitate at least a partial rebalance of power between the House of Commons and government. Take, for example, the huge growth in urgent questions to ministers that he took no little pleasure in approving. This – if we are honest – explains a lot of the resentment and opprobrium he has attracted. A strong speaker is never going to win friends.

If winning friends was never going to be John Bercow’s main priority, then speaking for parliament, both within and beyond the Palace of Westminster, was. The simple fact is that the constitution provides for the existence of very few ambassadors for the institution of parliament.

MPs speak for their party and constituents, ministers speak for the government, parliamentary staff are generally expected not to speak at all…
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How TV cameras influence candidates’ debate success


How TV cameras influence candidates' debate success

It matters how the candidates appear on screen. NBC via Mediaite

Courtesy of Patrick A. Stewart, University of Arkansas

As the Democratic Party continues to winnow its field of candidates to challenge President Donald Trump, it’s important to remember that the way candidates are covered on TV can influence public opinion. That’s become increasingly apparent in today’s media landscape, with several candidates jockeying for coverage during their party’s televised debates.

Scholars of political psychology like me – as well as researchers in other fields – have come to understand that what people see matters more than what they hear when making decisions about the leaders they will follow. A person who sees one candidate more than another will tend to prefer the one they see most – and perhaps be more likely to vote for that person, too.

My research group’s study of the 2016 presidential election found that front-running candidates received more camera time and were the focus of more flattering camera shots at the expense of other candidates.

Something similar appears to be happening in the 2020 Democratic primary race. Our analysis of the initial 2016 Republican and Democratic presidential primary debates found TV broadcasts showed front-runners for more time, and in more flattering views, than their competitors. Using the same method, my collaborators Austin Eubanks, Nicholas Hersom, Cooper Hearn and I analyzed the first and second Democratic Party primary debates, aired June 26 and 27 on NBC, Univision and MSNBC. Frame by frame, we scrutinized the footage on the basis of type of camera shot (head-and-shoulders, multiple candidates, side-by-side and split-screen), who was in the shot and how long.

Visual images sent subtle signals to viewers about the 2016 presidential candidates.

Under the election microscope

In debates, candidates must impress – or at least not disappoint – viewers with their verbal prowess and their nonverbal communication skills. Their performance is limited by the cameras covering them. The production choices of how long to show each candidate and from what viewpoint may…
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China is positioned to lead on climate change as the US rolls back its policies


China is positioned to lead on climate change as the US rolls back its policies

Smoke from a coal-fired Beijing power plant that closed in 2017 as part of China’s transition to cleaner energy. AP Photo/Andy Wong

Courtesy of Kelly Sims Gallagher, Tufts University and Fang Zhang, Tufts University

As the effects of climate change become more widespread and alarming, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has called on nations to step up their plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Every country has a part to play, but if the world’s largest emitters fail to meet their commitments, the goal of holding global warming to a manageable level will remain out of reach.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are on the rise after several years of decline, due in part to the Trump administration’s repeal or delay of Obama administration policies. In contrast, China – the world largest emitter – appears to be honoring its climate targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement, as we documented in a recent article with colleagues.

We study many aspects of China’s energy and climate policy, including industrial energy efficiency and reforestration. Our analysis indicates that if China fully executes existing policies and finishes reforming its electric power sector into a market-based system, its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to peak well before its 2030 target.

China’s climate portfolio

Over the last decade China has positioned itself as a global leader on climate action through aggressive investments and a bold mix of climate, renewable energy, energy efficiency and economic policies. As one of us (Kelly Sims Gallagher) documents in the recent book “Titans of the Climate,” China has implemented more than 100 policies related to lowering its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Notable examples include a feed-in-tariff policy for renewable energy generators, which offers…
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on WeWork IPO: “You’re Getting Fleeced”

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cites WeWork as What Is Wrong With Private Equity Markets

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cites WeWork as What Is Wrong With Private Equity Markets

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets held an extremely timely hearing titled: “Examining Private Market Exemptions as a Barrier to IPOs and Retail Investment.” The thrust of the hearing was the negative impact that the ballooning private equity market is having on the dramatically shrinking pool of publicly traded stocks and the good of society in general.

As the WeWork IPO train wreck plays out in the media, showing how two of the most sophisticated banks on Wall Street, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, were set to bring this 9-year old office rental company to the public markets via an IPO, despite outrageous conflicts of interest by WeWork’s founder and CEO and a proposed valuation that turns out to have been off the mark by tens of billions of dollars, it was certain that someone was going to bring up WeWork at this hearing. That person was Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Ocasio-Cortez asked Duke University Law Professor Elisabeth de Fontenay, one of the witnesses who testified yesterday, about the kinds of protections retail investors would have if private equity markets were broadened to include retail investors. Professor de Fontenay explained that the small investor would rarely have access to audited financial statements, no ability to accurately assess the valuation of the company, and no information on any criminal investigations taking place – all of which is available for a publicly listed company.

Ocasio-Cortez then waved a news article bearing WeWork’s name and said “They had raised on a previous valuation of $47 billion and now they just decided overnight, just kidding, we’re worth $20 billion. They’ve cut it by over half. Correct?”

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Trump Is Losing Much More Than Just A Trade War … He’s Losing The Future


Trump Is Losing Much More Than Just A Trade War … He’s Losing The Future

China Plays a Long Game and Moves Forward While Trump Pushes America Back to the 19th Century

Courtesy of David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief

While White House reporters investigate who added a Sharpie line to a hurricane map, a huge global story is developing that bodes badly for the economic welfare of Americans for decades to come.

China is using Trump’s gratuitous trade war to expand its economic, diplomatic and military influence. And it is succeeding, diminishing America’s influence, especially in the Western Pacific and India. The long-term cost to America in lost opportunities and ultimately diminished economic growth will be catastrophic.

These days China can reduce its reliance on America, which takes only one-fifth of its exports. It is also trying to build enough confidence in its stability to make the yuan a second world currency, perhaps eventually supplanting the dollar. A shift away from the dollar would have enormous negative consequences for Americans.

Last month China abruptly cheapened the yuan, allowing the price to rise to more than seven to the dollar. That broke a decade-long understanding, negotiated in the early days of the Obama administration, that kept the price under seven. The drop in the value of the yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive for Americans while imports from the United States will cost the Chinese more, encouraging a shift to suppliers from other nations.

Trump’s erratic behavior needlessly injects uncertainty into business decisions, while the Chinese communists promote their stable leadership and long-term perspective to build strong commercial alliances. Even Australia, America’s most loyal lapdog ally, is pivoting toward Beijing.

Viewed from an Asian perspective, Trump’s economic nationalism is not weakening, but breaking American commercial ties with China.

Trump tweeted an order in August that American firms leave China. While that is unlikely, Trumpian efforts to decouple the world’s two largest economies has become a hot topic in Asia. The simple truth is that China no longer needs America to buy its goods.

China Looks Ahead, Trump Backward

Team Trump is taking America back

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A no-deal Brexit won’t end the uncertainty for business


A no-deal Brexit won't end the uncertainty for business

ChiralJohn/flickr, CC BY

Courtesy of Vassilis K. Fouskas, University of East London and Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, University of East London

It’s very difficult to say what’s going to happen with Brexit right now. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has said he’d rather “die in a ditch” than ask for a Brexit delay. Yet that’s what MPs are pushing for him to do. And now parliament is suspended for five weeks.

For businesses, this uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU is taking its toll. But the idea that leaving without a deal on October 31 will end this uncertainty is a false one. It will just make things even more uncertain.

The Bank of England’s latest survey of UK firms details the high level of uncertainty introduced by the Brexit process since the referendum of June 2016. It found that 50% of firms considered Brexit to be one of their top three drivers of uncertainty. It also found that uncertainty has increased substantially after the September 2018 Salzburg summit, when the EU rejected the UK’s Brexit plan and which led to the extension from March 31 to October 31. Moreover, since June 2016 investment fell by 11%, whereas the fall in productivity ranged from 2% to 5%.

On this basis, one could argue that exiting the EU with or without a deal is paramount, as it will settle the matter for the benefit of the British people and companies. While this may be true for people, it will not be the case for business.

A no-deal Brexit means that Britain will revert to WTO rules to trade with the EU and the rest of the world. This means import duties and various controls on trade, which economists at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance estimate could reduce trade with the EU by as much as 40% over…
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Vaping likely has dangers that could take years for scientists to even know about


Vaping likely has dangers that could take years for scientists to even know about

A man exhales after vaping Aug. 28, 2019 in Portland, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

Courtesy of Ilona Jaspers, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The rise in cases of otherwise healthy young adults who have been hospitalized or even died from vaping-associated lung injury is alarming.

Many people don’t know what is contained in these vaping devices, what the reported health effects actually mean, and, most importantly, why all of this developed so quickly, considering that e-cigarettes have only been popular for fewer than 10 years.

Vaping describes the process of inhaling aerosols generated by devices such as e-cigarettes.

When e-cigarettes first came to the U.S. in 2006, many smoking cessation experts were optimistic. They viewed the delivery of nicotine through e-cigarettes to be a useful alternative to traditional cigarettes. That is because e-cigarettes did not have all of the other harmful combustion products inhaled through cigarette smoke. Since there is no doubt that smoking traditional cigarettes is harmful to your health – and the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. – e-cigarettes were marketed as a “safer” alternative.

As an inhalation toxicologist, I study how inhaled chemicals, particles and other agents affect human health. Since e-cigarettes were introduced, I have been concerned about how the scientific community could possibly know the full spectrum of their dangers. After all, it took decades for epidemiologists to discover that regularly inhaling the smoke from burning plant material, tobacco, caused lung cancer. Why would the scientific community be so quick to assume e-cigarettes would not have hidden dangers that might take years to manifest too?

Do e-cigarettes even work as a cessation tool?

Smoking is notoriously hard to quit, and tobacco companies have been ruthless in concealing its dangers. Some public health officials thus hailed e-cigarettes as a tool to help people stop. Africa Studios/

Many smokers have reported that switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes has helped their physical well-being, including reduced coughing.

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5 charts show how your household drives up global greenhouse gas emissions


5 charts show how your household drives up global greenhouse gas emissions

Transportation and food are two major contributors to household emissions. Halfpoint/

Courtesy of Morteza Taiebat, University of Michigan and Ming Xu, University of Michigan

As the public conversation about climate change gets increasingly serious, many Americans may be wondering: How do my individual choices affect climate change?

Household consumption – food, housing, transportation, apparel and other personal services – is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Everything you eat or wear, or every time you drive, you add to the global total emissions. The typical American’s annual per capita carbon footprint is over five times the world per capita average.

A study by our research team, including Kaihui Song, Shen Qu and Sai Liang, published on September 10, sheds light on the global carbon footprint of U.S. households.  

1. Some activities have a bigger impact

We looked at data from 1995 to 2014 from the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, as well as the World Input-Output Database. We looked at the total global warming potential of all greenhouse gas emissions, not just carbon dioxide, as measured in their “carbon dioxide equivalent.”

We found that over 20% of all U.S. emissions are directly attributed to household consumption. If you consider indirect emissions, this figure is closer to 80%.

Let’s zoom in on the latest available annual numbers, mostly from 2009, which give a better sense of these staggering impacts.

U.S. households generate 5.43 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions every year. About 82.3% of those emissions are produced domestically.

The remaining emissions are generated outside the U.S. These emissions come from global supply chains. For instance, the family car might have been manufactured abroad. So emissions from manufacturing of the car are created outside the U.S., but the emissions from tailpipe are domestic.

Transportation and housing contribute over 60% to the total domestic carbon footprint of U.S. households. Supply chain emissions from services – such as health care, banking and lodging – and food…
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The Wall Street Campaign to Stop Elizabeth Warren Officially Began on September 10, 2019

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Senator Elizabeth Warren Speaking at Howard University, April 16, 2018

Senator Elizabeth Warren Speaking at Howard University, April 16, 2018

On May 6 of this year, Wall Street On Parade predicted that Senator Elizabeth Warren, now rising rapidly in her bid for President, would be targeted by Wall Street in an effort to derail her campaign. Yesterday, that Wall Street campaign officially began. CNBC’s Jim Cramer and David Faber discussed on TV how they are hearing from Wall Street bank executives that Warren must be stopped.

On the same day, September 10, 2019, Bloomberg News, which is majority owned by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose $52.4 billion net worth derives from leasing his data terminals to thousands of Wall Street trading floors around the globe, ran this headline: “Richest Could Lose Hundreds of Billions Under Warren’s Wealth Tax.” Obviously, that wouldn’t sit too well with Michael Bloomberg, who has frequently penned his own OpEds for his financial news empire.

But the most outrageous and egregious attack on Warren came yesterday from the Wall Street Journal, which ran an ethically-challenged OpEd from two former Wall Street lobbyists without ever mentioning what their real background was. (See related articles below for how the Wall Street Journal has turned this type of ethically-challenged attack into an art form.)

The opinion piece was titled “Warren’s Assault on Retiree Wealth,” and was written by Phil Gramm and Mike Solon. Gramm is the former Republican Senator whose name appears on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the legislation that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. It was that repeal that allowed Wall Street’s casino investment banks to merge with commercial banks holding Federally-insured deposits. And it was this dangerous combo that led to the epic crash on Wall Street in 2008 and the ensuing economic collapse in the U.S. – the greatest collapse since the Great Depression.

Gramm was not only a registered lobbyist for the global investment bank, UBS, but he formed his own lobbying firm, Gramm Partners.

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Zero Hedge

European Carmakers Face Perfect Storm

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Irina Slav via,

European carmakers are facing what could turn out to be a major crisis cooked up by EU regulators, and it’s all about EVs and emissions. The former are supposed to help solve the problem with the latter, but the likelihood of success is uncertain because there are literally millions of variables: car buyers.

The EU has been enforcing emission ...

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Phil's Favorites

Black Hole Investing


Black Hole Investing

Courtesy of John Mauldin, Thoughts from the Frontline 

Scientists say the rules change in a cosmic “black hole” at what astrophysicists call the event horizon. How do they know that? Not by observation, since what happens in there is, by definition, un-seeable. They infer it from the surroundings, which say that the mathematics of the universe as we understand them change at the event horizon.

Or maybe not. One theory says we are all inside a black hole right now. That could possibly explain a few things about central bank policy. ...

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The Technical Traders

Crude Oil Setting Up For A Downside Price Rotation

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Crude Oil has been trading in a fairly narrow range since mid-August – between $52 and $57 ppb.  Our Adaptive Dynamic Learning (ADL) predictive modeling system suggested the downside price move in late July/early August was expected and the current support aligns very well with our ADL predictions of higher price rotation throughout most of September/October.  Please take a minute to review the original research post below :

July 10, 2019: ...

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Insider Scoop

The Street Reacts To Kroger's Q2 With Mixed Takeaways

Courtesy of Benzinga

Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) reported second-quarter results that came in better than expected. The earnings beat may have been overshadowed by management's decision to remove its prior guidance of $400 million in incremental EBIT by fiscal 2021.

Q2 A Mix Of Positives And Negativ... more from Insider

Chart School

Dow to 38,000 by 2022

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

President Trump said the Dow would be 10,000 points higher if it was not for the FED. In truth if the Dow breaks to new all time highs the next stop is 38,000 and he may be proven correct. Is there an election on? 

Of course who knows? But lets continue. 

The fundamentals behind this may be:

  • A good deal with China.
  • The FED turning on easy money with further rate cuts (very strange with a market near all time highs). FOMC Sept 17th well tell us more.
  • The above turbo charging stock buy backs.
  • Off shore money running out of foreign equity markets in to US markets (see note1).

Note1: Of course this has happened before, one particular time was just before O...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bond Yields Due For Rally After Declining More Than 1987 Stock Crash

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

U.S. Treasury Bond Yields – 2, 5, 10, 30 Year Durations

The past year has seen treasury bond yields decline sharply, yet in an orderly fashion.

This has spurred recession concerns for much of 2019. Needless to say, it’s a confusing time for investors.

In today’s chart of the day, we look at a longer-term view of the 2, 5, 10, and 30-year treasury bond yields.

Short to long term bond yields are all testing 7 to 10-year support levels as momentum is at the lowest levels in a decade.

A yield rally is likely due across the board after a recent decline that was bigger than the stock crash in 1987!

If yields fail to ral...

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Lee's Free Thinking

Nonfarm Payrolls Not Seasonally Adjusted Tell the Real Story - Unspinning Wall Street™

Courtesy of Lee Adler

Not seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls, that is, the actual numbers, give us a truer picture of the jobs market than the seasonally adjusted garbage that Wall Street spews.

Friday’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls jobs headline numbers disappointed investors with slower than expected growth. But was it really that bad?

Here’s How The Street Spun It – Wall Street Journal Modest August Job Growth Shows Economy Expanding, but Slowly

Employers added 130,000 nonfarm jobs, jobless rate held steady at 3.7%

U.S. employment grew only modestly in August, suggesting that a global economic slowdown isn’t driving the U.S. into recession but has dente...

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Digital Currencies

China Crypto Miners Wiped Out By Flood; Bitcoin Hash Rate Hits ATHs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Last week, a devastating rainstorm in China's Sichuan province triggered mudslides, forcing local hydropower plants and cryptocurrency miners to halt operations, reported CoinDesk.

Torrential rains flooded some parts of Sichuan's mountainous Aba prefecture last Monday, with mudslides seen across 17 counties in the area, according to local government posts on Weibo. 

One of the worst-hit areas was Wenchuan county, ...

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The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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


The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:


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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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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 >>