Author Archive for OptionSage

3 Steps to Successful Investing

In the words of Warren Buffett’s mentor, Benjamin Graham:

“Investing does not require genius. What it needs is, first, reasonably good intelligence; second, sound principles of operation, third, and most important, firmness of character.”

Since the first item on Graham’s list – “intelligence” – simply means the ability to read, add and subtract, we can skip quickly to “sound principles of operation.” This is where most investors come to a grinding halt, and with good reason. Survey the financial landscape and you will be bombarded with a plethora of investment vehicles including stocks, bonds, options, futures, forex, treasuries, municipals and so forth. Not only is it a challenge to figure out where to begin but, within each choice, the challenge is to figure out what system to apply! So how do you choose?

Follow those that have successfully traversed the rugged terrain already.  Even the man considered to be the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffett, had a mentor!  At PSW, we love to educate as well as enrich.  In numerous comments and articles, Phil expounds “sound principles of operation”, meaning a system of trading that has consistently worked for him.  The reason the system has been successful is it evolves with the market! 

Although this is a simple concept most fail to trade this way.  Most investors simply sell losing positions and suffer from emotional trading.  In contrast, the approach Phil and I take is to modify our positions as necessary to account for changing trends or unexpected surprises.  We had a great conversation recently about how so many will simply “give up” on a position when in reality there is just no need.  With a little patience, positions can often be turned around and virtual portfolios made profitable.

While the goal of the Short-Term Portfolio is often to make attractive gains over the short-term, Phil’s contingency should a position move against him is to offset an unexpected trend with appropriate options in order to salvage a trade (see "Stupid Option
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Portfolio Margin – Useful and Dangerous Leverage

 

Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the entire Earth

 - Archimedes

 

 Margin Basics

Whether you examine the property portfolio of a real estate tycoon or the portfolio of a successful private equity company, you will find a common thread that magnifies returns for each… leverage!  It is no different in the stock market.  In fact, each of us who trades options takes advantage of the leverage they afford us every day.

Leverage simply means using financial instruments, or borrowed capital, such as margin, to increase the potential return of an investment. 

Since we spend our days on the member's site discussing leverage through options, the use of margin sometimes gets less attention than it should, so here’s a quick refresher:

 1.You CAN use margin (borrow from your broker) to purchase stock.

2. You CANNOT use margin to purchase options but there are MARGIN REQUIREMENTS for certain spread positions that we like to take.

This is intuitive when you think about the movements of options relative to those of stocks.  Options can move by 20%, 50%, 100% or more on any given day, even if the underlying stocks move just a fraction of those amounts.  In fact, the frequency with which a stock will drop 50% in price in a very short time period is so low that brokers are currently willing to lend you your entire cash reserves to purchase stock.

Example

If you were to deposit $100,000 in your account, you can borrow another $100,000 from your broker to purchase more stock.  This is represented in our account as follows:

Cash:  $100,000

Stock Buying Power:  $200,000

Option Buying Power: $100,000

Let’s assume we purchase 2,000 shares of a $100 stock, costing us $200,000.  If the stock doubles in value to $200, our $200,000 turns into $400,000 and since we borrowed $100,000 from our broker, we can pay that back with interest and keep…
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The Dawn Breaks…

The hammer dropped Thursday.  The market held firm Friday.  And this next week will be seen in retrospect as the week the market bottomed out and started to rise again – at least for quarter 1 2009. 

Detractors might argue that Circuit City is laying off thousands and Bank of America might be closing locations and commercial real estate is dead and shopping malls are vacant and….

And it may all be true.  But the beauty of integrating fundamental and economic analysis with technical and sentimental analysis is that the big picture appears.  The fundamentals of many stocks are certainly impaired.  Even Kudlow will find it hard to argue in favor of a bullish economy.  But the sentiment is changing.  Watch the VIX over the next few months.  I anticipate it will be lower by March than where it is now even if not within the next few days.  And the technical charts tell stories once you know how to read them.  The news is reflected in the charts and the story the charts tell is bullish.  The markets should go higher in the next few months. 

Can I be certain?  With 100% probability, no!  But actions speak louder than words.  And as the dawn breaks on the coming week I plan on backing the rhetoric with purchases and those purchases shall be on the SSO to amplify the expected gains.  And what of Gold…Gold goes higher too.  Time to get on board the train to $1,000/oz.

To confidently predict direction is not enough.  I need to know I can figure out how to protect myself if I am wrong.  That’s how I made money in 2008 when most lost their shirts.  All you need is a system that works.  And the system I use I also teach.  If you’re interested you too can thrive and prosper.





Bankster Quotations

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."  Thomas Jefferson
 
"I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs"  Thomas Jefferson
 
"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance" James Madison
  
"Most americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international moneylenders…the accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited.  It operates outside the control of congress and manipulates the credit of the United States." Sen Barry Goldwater
 
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" (Shakespeare)
 
"The Federal Reserve definitely caused the Great Depression by contracting the amount of currency in circulation by one third from 1929 to 1933"  Milton Friedman
 
"If our nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill.  The element that makes the bond good make the bill good also.  The difference between the bond and the bill is the bond lets money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20% whereas the currency pays nobody but those who contribute directly in some useful way"  Thomas Edison
 
"It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30m in bonds and not $30m in currency.  Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people"  Thomas Edison
 
"We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled governments in the civilized world – no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government..by a vote of majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men" President Woodrow Wilson
 
"The Federal Reserve Board has pumped so many billions of dollars into Germany that they dare not name the total"  Senator Louis McFadden prior to


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Danger + Opportunity

 

As 2007 drew to a close, Phil predicted ‘Asian-style’ moves in US indexes and I wrote an article projecting 2008 would be a very difficult year to trade due to ‘unprecedented volatility’. As 2008 draws to a close it looks like both predictions were realized but pleasure does not necessarily accompany vindication. As John Maynard Keynes wrote: 
It is usually better to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right
In short, when you are right about bad news, little benefit is experienced because so many will have suffered whereas being wrong with the crowd means comfort in numbers.
As I watched CNBC’s Year in Review last night I was struck by how many times the commentators noted that nobody could have foreseen the carnage. In fact, many were anticipating a recovery in the middle of the year including Hank Paulson! When history judges such projections unfavorably, credibility quickly diminishes. And in the financial industry, credibility is more important than almost any other criterion. With the credibility of so many in tatters, the onus is on you the individual to acquire the financial knowledge necessary to protect your own virtual portfolio and to anticipate the future based on facts rather than on opinions.
For example, if we were to evaluate the current economic situation with that of the 1930s we might find interesting comparisons that would lead us to be concerned about the future. For example, the 1930s manufacturing based economy has largely been replaced by a services economy, home owners have been replaced by home borrowers, a national surplus has been replaced by a national deficit, and a reliance on saving has been replaced by a reliance on credit. Counter arguments could be made such as the US, unlike many countries which have experienced economic turmoil, has a substantial capability to be self-sufficient, university education is world class, and an indomitable spirit of optimism pervades the culture.
This same spirit can be the catalyst to success in spite of the perils that may lie ahead. It is well known that in Chinese the word crisis is written as a composition of symbols representing ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. But preparation is a pre-requisite to taking advantage of opportunity. So, although the danger may be high, opportunities will present for those who are prepared. And to truly be prepared one must


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Danger + Opportunity

 As 2007 drew to a close, Phil predicted ‘Asian-style’ moves in US indexes and I wrote an article projecting 2008 would be a very difficult year to trade due to ‘unprecedented volatility’. As 2008 draws to a close it looks like both predictions were realized but pleasure does not necessarily accompany vindication. As John Maynard Keynes wrote: 

It is usually better to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right
In short, when you are right about bad news, little benefit is experienced because so many will have suffered whereas being wrong with the crowd means comfort in numbers.
As I watched CNBC’s Year in Review last night I was struck by how many times the commentators noted that nobody could have foreseen the carnage. In fact, many were anticipating a recovery in the middle of the year including Hank Paulson! When history judges such projections unfavorably, credibility quickly diminishes. And in the financial industry, credibility is more important than almost any other criterion. With the credibility of so many in tatters, the onus is on you the individual to acquire the financial knowledge necessary to protect your own virtual portfolio and to anticipate the future based on facts rather than on opinions.
For example, if we were to evaluate the current economic situation with that of the 1930s we might find interesting comparisons that would lead us to be concerned about the future. For example, the 1930s manufacturing based economy has largely been replaced by a services economy, home owners have been replaced by home borrowers, a national surplus has been replaced by a national deficit, and a reliance on saving has been replaced by a reliance on credit. Counter arguments could be made such as the US, unlike many countries which have experienced economic turmoil, has a substantial capability to be self-sufficient, university education is world class, and an indomitable spirit of optimism pervades the culture.
This same spirit can be the catalyst to success in spite of the perils that may lie ahead. It is well known that in Chinese the word crisis is written as a composition of symbols representing ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. But preparation is a pre-requisite to taking advantage of opportunity. So, although the danger may be high, opportunities will present for those who are prepared. And to truly be prepared one must have the knowledge necessary to


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A MUST Read!

"Life will teach you the lessons, it’s up to you to learn them"  

Don’t read any further if you are happy with your trading results this year.

If you know in your heart you could have done better trading this year then you MUST learn a lesson from your trading performance.  You MUST or are you are destined to repeat it again.  And if it feels painful the first time, it will feel much more painful next time around!  The lesson you MUST learn is simple but immensely powerful; it is truly a paradigm shift in trading. 

You MUST learn to adjust your trades to the market trend.  That’s it.  If you understand what that means and how to successfully execute, read no further.

What does this ‘adjusting’ really mean?  It means no longer buying and hoping, it means no longer is a binary trading system appropriate; binary meaning no longer will you win if you are right and lose if you are wrong.  What if you could screw up on picking the direction and still win??  Well, you can when you know how to ‘adjust’  to the market trend. 

The power of knowing how to successfully and competently adjust is immeasurable.  At the very least what it accomplishes is ZERO fear and ZERO greed.  When you pre-define your risk and reward levels prior to every trade AND know exactly what Contingency Exit Plan you should execute EVEN if you are wrong, you reach a trading level few will ever conceive of - let alone reach. 

You can learn how to do this from the masters but the knowledge is guarded by most and the cost to learn is usually very expensive because you will rarely be told everything at first (and will be charged more to learn the rest!).

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because I paid the price.  I learned a most powerful trading system of adjustments which I am confident is truly the last trading system anybody needs to know.  I learned it so well, I was invited to start hedge funds and teach around the world.  But as the days went by this past year and I realized how tough trading was for many friends and how they were losing their shirts I decided I had to get the knowledge to everyone without them paying crazy fees. 

And then BAM!  Like lightning the idea came to me and I started Stock…
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Trivia Time!

Let’s say you decide to deposit $100,000 into a brokerage account.  You decide you will check your virtual portfolio on a weekly basis.  Now let’s further assume that the first week has passed and you are about to log in to your account.  But before you do, you are told that one of two things has happened in the past week.

[1]  Your virtual portfolio went up $10,000 and then dropped $10,000

[2]  Your virtual portfolio went up 10% and then dropped 10%.

So, the trivia question is:  In case [1], what should you expect your account value to be and is that the same figure as in case [2]?

If you answered $100,000 in case [1], you would be absolutely correct!  If you answered that this is the same as in case [2] you would be absolutely incorrect!  Why?  Well let’s take a look at what happens when the virtual portfolio rises 10% first; it goes from $100,000 to $110,000.  But then we’re told it drops 10%.  10% of $110,000 is $11,000.  So the virtual portfolio drops from $110,000 to $99,000. 

Now how can this help us in our trading decisions?  In its simplest form, this tells us that if we were to simply buy stocks that over the long run had a tendency to rise up substantially and fall down substantially ie starting at 0% and rising up and ultimately falling back to 0%, the volatility is impacting long-term returns.  In statistics, that percentage swing would denote variance, which in turn is often equated with risk.  Another term for risk is beta.  High beta stocks tend to move more than the market and tend to have greater variance.

So, if you are in the market for the long-term, you should certainly pay close attention to the impact of variance.   Over time the impact to the $100,000 virtual portfolio is not just a drop of $1,000 as in the period shown above, but that virtual portfolio erosion continues over time to the detriment of overall wealth.  Unless….

Unless, you know how to take advantage of such volatility.  Buying and holding stocks is about as advanced a trading technique in this day and age as owning a cell phone that simply operates as a phone.  Why accept bare functionality when you can combine the basics with so much more.  In the stock market, this means using options.  (In cell phones we…
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Vacation Proofing Your Virtual Portfolio

 

NEW INFORMATION = TAKE ACTION

Save it.  Post-it.  Record it.  Use it.

When driving a car and some object appears on the road ahead do you usually run right over it or do your best to avoid it?  Don’t we all take action in real-life based on the new information we receive that changes the old paradigm?  Take the first two guys in this video:  Who would you rather be, the first or the second guy?  While the second gentleman reacts and looks ridiculous in so doing, he’s the guy that is more likely to survive when real disaster hits because he’s reacting to new information.  In fact he doesn’t even know what’s making everyone else react, he just knows that when 99% are moving one way in panic, it’s best not to fight the crowd or he will be trampled.  It’s no different in the market.  Pride, ego and old theses have no place when new information directly contradicts an existing trade.

When the market is up, we use DIA puts and calls to "react" to quick changes in the market while we wait for better information before making more permanent changes in our positions.  This gave us the benefit of the quick reaction of gentleman #2, the one who went unquestioningly with the crowd, while also giving us the "wisdom" of gentleman #1, who was confident (or oblivious) enough to soldier onward, despite the fact that the world seemed briefly to be against him.

When new information does arrive, one of the first things I look to do is minimize risk - hedging the existing position.  The next step for me is to become more aggressive in reacting to the new information and shifting the bias of the trade in the opposite direction.  In this article, I will outline our basic strategy for protecting your virtual portfolio from a major dip, which can then be used to adjust your risk profile, based on changes in outlook arising from new information. 

The strategy outlined can be applied also when you know that you will be…
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The Trading Virus

This article is best read after a substantial rise has occurred in the market following a period of sustained bearishness.  Why?  Because it is precisely the time when many will have seen the direction of the virtual portfolios turn.  Some may even have caught the bottom in stocks like Bank of America, up 50% in less than 10 days!  When wealth is attained so rapidly, a tendency towards confidence or more particularly over-confidence is natural.  Short-term results vindicate decision-making at the bottom to ‘bet heavily’ or ‘go all in’.  And they solidify a belief that the next bottom can be called successfully also.  This may indeed occur.  But a danger exists, which I call the Trading Virus.
 
The Trading Virus affects almost every trader.  The victim is affected soon after a successful outcome in the stock market.  The virus manifests as excessive confidence and belief in one’s ability to time the market.  For most the virus is a lifelong condition.  Bulls and bears are equally affected.  As stock markets rise, bulls are infected and ride the glorious waves higher and higher until the inevitable crash cycles around again.  And bears rarely hold out long enough in sustained bull markets to enjoy those crashing sounds. 
 
For both bulls and bears, the virus implants a disease called ‘Results-Focus’.  Each is a keen market observer driven to action or inaction by the latest direction of streaming quotes, media hype, account value or some other short-term mechanism.  And a dependency is soon created; a dependency that demands information in the short-term that produces adrenalin rushes that lead to action that further lead to hopeful and expected results.  This is not to say that, in the short-term, talented traders cannot profit. Of course, they can.  But for most, the disease is a lifelong incurable condition because something very important is overlooked – the process of wealth accumulation.
 
Those successful shorter-term traders succeed not because they are results-oriented but because they are process-oriented.  And those victims who cure themselves do so precisely because they transition from the trap of attempting to time the market perfectly all the time to creating a process that succeeds at all times.  You will quickly see at PhilStockWorld that Phil and Optrader are both highly successful traders.  Both use options to take advantage, albeit in slightly different manners.  And that’s the key.  Each


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Phil's Favorites

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

 

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

Courtesy of Penelope B. Prime, Georgia State University

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

President Donald Trump blames the resumption of hostilities on China. Specifically, he and his negotiators say their Chinese counterparts backtracked on an agreement to change laws aimed at enforcing the ...



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Zero Hedge

White House Planned To Use Huawei As Trade 'Bargaining Chip'

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

If there was any lingering doubt that President Trump has treated Huawei like a 'bargaining chip' during trade talks with the Chinese, Bloomberg just put the issue to rest.

In a report sourced to administration insiders, BBG reported that the Trump administration waited to blacklist Huawei until talks with the Chinese had hit an impasse, because they were concerned that targeting Huawei would disrupt the talks.

...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Commodities; Long-Term Bottom Being Created This Month?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Is the Thomson Reuters Equal Weight Commodities creating a long-term bottom? What the index does at (3) over the next few weeks, will go a long way to answering this important question!

Commodities don’t have much to brag about over the past 8-years, as lower highs have taken place since the peak back in 2011. After the peak in 2011, they have created falling channel (1).

The index hit the top of this channel the prior two months at (2), creating back to back bearish reversal patterns.

Softness this month has the index testing 2017 lows and rising support at (3). While ...



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Insider Scoop

Off-Roaders Are In Buying Mood, BMO Says In Polaris Upgrade

Courtesy of Benzinga.

A long winter and the worst of the U.S.-China trade war may both be in the rearview mirror for off-road vehicle maker Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII), BMO Capital Markets said Tuesday.

The Analyst

Gerrick Johnson upgraded Polaris from Mark...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap May 18, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

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

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

Then on Wednesday:

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

...

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Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream - the battle is on to bring them under global control

 

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream – the battle is on to bring them under global control

The high seas are getting lower. dianemeise

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

The 21st-century revolutionaries who have dominated cryptocurrencies are having to move over. Mainstream financial institutions are adopting these assets and the blockchain technology that enables them, in what ...



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Biotech

DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

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

 

DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

A map of DNA with the double helix colored blue, the landmarks in green, and the start points for copying the molecule in red. David Gilbert/Kyle Klein, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of David M. Gilbert, Florida State University

...



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ValueWalk

More Examples Of "Typical Tesla "wise-guy scamminess"

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Stanphyl Capital’s letter to investors for the month of March 2019.

rawpixel / Pixabay

Friends and Fellow Investors:

For March 2019 the fund was up approximately 5.5% net of all fees and expenses. By way of comparison, the S&P 500 was up approximately 1.9% while the Russell 2000 was down approximately 2.1%. Year-to-date 2019 the fund is up approximately 12.8% while the S&P 500 is up approximately 13.6% and the ...



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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

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

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

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

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

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

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

...

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About Phil:

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

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About Ilene:

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

Market Shadows >>