Archive for the ‘Phil’s Favorites’ Category

10 things to know about the real St. Patrick


10 things to know about the real St. Patrick

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Saint Patrick. Thad Zajdowicz

Courtesy of Lisa Bitel, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

On March 17, people around the world will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by parading in green hats, sporting images of shamrocks and leprechauns – tiny, grinning, fairy men – pinned to their lapels. Patrick’s picture will adorn greeting cards: an aged, bearded bishop in flowing robes, grasping a bishop’s staff and glaring at a coil of snakes.

The icon refers to one of Patrick’s legendary miracles in which he is said to have prayed to banish all snakes from Ireland. However, as a historian of medieval Ireland, I can assure you that the real St. Patrick, who lived and worked in the fifth century, never saw a snake or wore a shamrock.

Patrick’s own writings and early accounts of the saint’s career reveal many interesting details about the life of this patron saint of Ireland. Here are 10 things you may not know about St. Patrick.

1. Patrick was not Irish

Patrick was born around 450 A.D., just when Roman troops withdrew from Britain. His father was a gentleman and a Christian deacon who owned a small estate in a place called Bannavem Taburniae.

Scholars aren’t sure where this place was – it was probably on the west coast around Bristol, near the southern border of modern Wales and England.

2. Patrick was a slave

Irish slave traders sailed the waters off that same coast, and one day they came ashore to capture the teenage Patrick and his neighbors, to sell back in Ireland. Patrick spent six years tending sheep in the west of Ireland.

3. Patrick heard voices

While chasing sheep on the hills, Patrick prayed a hundred times a day, in all kinds of weather. It paid off. One night a mysterious voice called to him, saying, “Look, your ship is ready!” Patrick knew he wasn’t hearing sheep. The time was right for his escape.

4. Patrick refused to ‘suck a man’s breasts’

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Cursed By Momentum


Cursed By Momentum

Courtesy of Tim Richards

Edgy Investors

Although most investors have no edge on the market there's a proportion of them that persist in trading actively, the main effect of which is to enrich their brokers. There are various explanations of why this occurs, but it seems to come down to some combination of inherent overconfidence and a perverse refusal to take account of negative information. 

This is particularly dangerous in calm periods such as those we’ve been experiencing in markets over the past few years.  In such times momentum strategies are particularly effective – and serve to supercharge the behavior of naturally overconfident individuals. The end results are usually not pretty…

Snow Business

We’ve covered the basic research into overconfidence here a number of times. Odean and Barber (see O is for Overconfidence) showed that the more investors trade, the more they tend to lose – high turnover investors spend more on fees and end up losing money relative to less active traders. In fact only the least active accountholders were able to generate a return in excess of an S&P500 index tracker.

In 2009 Mark Grinblatt and Matti Keloharju studied a bunch of Finnish traders in Sensation Seeking, Overconfidence and Trading Activity. In Finland all males have to take an Army psychometric test at age 20 – quite what the Finnish military is worried about isn’t clear, other than a tendency for adult male Finns to drink a lot, play chess and roll about naked in the snow, often all at the same time. The researchers then matched the results of these tests and driving violations to frequency of trading and – no surprise – found that overconfident, sensation seeking individuals were the most frequent traders.

Wrong But Right

As ever, the behavior of investors is conditioned by the times that they find themselves in. People tend to extrapolate the recent past into the indefinite future, which is fine when you’re dealing in the movements of tectonic plates, but less smart if you’re trading on the edge of an active volcano.  Given this it’s no surprise that momentum strategies – essentially

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1984 Is Not The Future

Courtesy of The Automatic Earth

Jacobello Alberegno The Beast of the Apocalypse 1360-90

The Guardian ran an article yesterday by one of its editors, David Shariatmadari, that both proves and disproves its own theme at the same time: “An Information Apocalypse Is Coming”. Now, I don’t fancy the term apocalypse in a setting like this, it feels too much like going for a cheap thrill, but since he used it, why not.

My first reaction to the headline, and the article, is: what do you mean it’s ‘coming’? Don’t you think we have such an apocalypse already, that we’re living it, we’re smack in the middle of such a thing? If you don’t think so, would that have anything to do with you working at a major newspaper? Or with your views of the world, political and other, that shape how you experience ‘information’?

Shariatmadari starts out convincingly and honestly enough with a description of a speech that JFK was supposed to give in Dallas right after he was murdered, a speech that has been ‘resurrected’ using technology that enables one to make it seem like he did deliver it.

An Information Apocalypse Is Coming. How Can We Protect Ourselves?

“In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason, or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality, and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

John F Kennedy’s last speech reads like a warning from history, as relevant today as it was when it was delivered in 1963 at the Dallas Trade Mart. His rich, Boston Brahmin accent reassures us even as he delivers the uncomfortable message. The contrast between his eloquence and the swagger of Donald Trump is almost painful to hear.

Yes, Kennedy’s words are lofty ones, and they do possess at least some predictive qualities. But history does play a part too. Would we have read the same in them that we do now, had Kennedy not been shot right before he could deliver them? Hard to tell.…
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Animal Spirits: Goodnight Moon


Animal Spirits: Goodnight Moon

Courtesy of 

On this week’s Animal Spirits with Michael & Ben we discuss:

The Flash Correction

U.S. Household net worth hits record highs

I knew Dave Ramsey was big, but not this big

Rising rates are a double-edged sword

The bond bull market resulted mostly from high starting rates, not falling rates. 

Not everything should be indexed

Amazon is moving into finance

Look past the headlines

Should you hedge foreign currency?

Mark Cuban’s advice

Listen here:




The Success Equation

Thinking in Bets

Godless on Netflix

Gad Elmaleh: American Dream on Netflix

Michael Lewis on fatherhood

Thanks for listening!

You can get Animal Spirits and all of our posts on Facebook

“We’ve Been Hearing A Lot Of Complaints” – City Passes First US Bitcoin Mining Ban

Courtesy of Zere Hedge

In sleepy upstate New York, one small post-industrial city has adopted what's widely believed to be the first bitcoin mining ban in the US. On Thursday evening, the city council in Plattsburgh New York voted unanimously to impose an 18-month moratorium on bitcoin mining, per Motherboard.

As we pointed out earlier this month, two large-scale bitcoin mining operations in the town had become a tremendous drain on the local utilities. This is a problem because, according to the Municipal Electric Utility Association, since the 1950s, the city is allotted a certain amount of inexpensive hydropower generated on the St. Lawrence River. Bitcoin miners are often drawn to areas with inexpensive hydro-power, like the Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest.

Mining is the extremely energy-intensive computational process that secures the Bitcoin blockchain and rewards miners with bitcoins, and increasingly, environmentalists are worried that the tremendous amount of energy required to power the bitcoin network could adversely impact the environment. Already, the bitcoin network uses more energy on a daily basis than many countries, including the Republic of Ireland…


The Bitcoin moratorium was proposed by Plattsburgh's Mayor Colin Read earlier this month after local residents began reporting wildly inflated electricity bills. But unfortunately for residents, the moratorium affects only new commercial Bitcoin operations and will not affect companies that are already mining in the city.

"I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints that electric bills have gone up by $100 or $200," Read said. "You can understand why people are upset."

Thanks to a hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence River, Plattsburgh has some of the cheapest energy in the US – its mayor claims it's among the cheapest electricity in the world.


Residents pay only 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (the US average is a little over 10 cents). Industrial enterprises, including Bitcoin mines, pay even less, often just 2 cents per kilowatt-hour.

But there's a catch: The problem is that Plattsburgh only has an allotment of 104 megawatt-hours of electricity per month. The biggest Bitcoin mining operation in Plattsburgh, operated by a Puerto Rican company called Coinmint, uses roughly 10% of the city’s
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Is The U.S. Economy Really Growing? (Spoiler Alert: No!)

Courtesy of Peter Cook,

Most people are aware that GDP growth has been lower than expected in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 (GFC).  For example, real GDP growth for the past decade has been closer to 1.5% than the 3% experienced in the 50 years prior to 2008.  As a result of the combination of slow economic growth and deficit spending, most people are also aware that the debt/GDP ratio has been rising.

However, what most people don’t know is that, over the past ten years, the dollar amount of cumulative government deficit spending exceeded the dollar amount of GDP growth.  Put another way, in the absence of deficit spending, GDP growth would have been less than zero for the past decade.  Could that be true?

Let’s begin with a shocking chart that confirms the statements above, and begins to answer the question.  The black line shows the difference between quarterly GDP growth and the quarterly increase in Treasury debt outstanding (TDO).  When the black line is above zero (red dotted line), the dollar amount is GDP is growing faster than the increase in TDO.  From 1971 to 2008, the amount of GDP typically grew at a faster rate than the increase in TDO, which is why the black line is generally above the red dotted line.

Chart 1

During the 1971-2008 period, inflation, budget deficits, and trade deficits varied widely, meaning that the relationship between GDP growth and TDO was stable even in the face of changes in other economic variables. Regardless of those changing economic variables, the US economy tended to grow at a pace faster than TDO for four decades.  The only interruptions to the pattern occurred during recessions of the early 1980s, early 1990s, and early 2000s when GDP fell while budget deficits did not.

The pattern of GDP growth exceeding TDO changed after 2008, which is why the black line is consistently below the red dotted line after 2008.  A change in a previously-stable relationship is known as a “regime change.”  Focusing first on 2008-2012, the increase in TDO far exceeded GDP growth, due to an unprecedented amount of deficit spending compared to historical norms.  Focusing next on 2013-2017, the blue line has been closer to the red dotted…
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The Byzantine history of Putin’s Russian empire


The Byzantine history of Putin's Russian empire

Courtesy of Theodore Christou, Queen's University, Ontario

Russian athletes were conspicuous in their neutral colours during this year’s Winter Olympics and Paralympics due to a ban based on doping allegations.

In Vancouver in 2010 and in Sochi in 2014, however, Russia’s Olympic hockey jerseys prominently featured a two-headed eagle exactly where Canada’s jerseys highlighted the maple leaf.

This two-headed eagle is not a modern invention. It is “Byzantine.”

The eagle was, if we travel 1,800 years back in time, the imperial symbol of the Byzantine Empire. It is still at the core of Orthodox Christianity — Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian — throughout the world.

The importance of this Byzantine Empire is not missed by Russia. It has, however, been suppressed within western history education.

It has been suppressed because it looks to the east and, here in the west, we do not.

What was Byzantium?

In a nutshell, Byzantium was Rome.

More specifically, Byzantium was the Rome that existed after Constantine I (306-337 BC) turned the Roman world from its “pagan” roots towards Christianity, and after the city of Rome ceased to be the capital of the Roman Empire in 330 BC.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 to Ottoman Turks under the leadership of Mehmed II is here depicted in a diorama in the Istanbul Military Museum (Askerî Müze), Turkey. (Shutterstock)

Byzantium was an ancient Greek city that was rebuilt from its very foundations and became an imperial capital under Constantine I. This empire extended from the Atlantic Ocean across the entirety of the Mediterranean Sea, including what we consider today to be northern Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, and eastern and western Europe, extending to the Black Sea.

Constantinople, now Istanbul, was the beating heart of Rome — of Byzantium — from 330 until 1453 AD.

Moscow as the third Rome

So why would Russian athletes want to wear Byzantine eagles on the crests of their uniforms?

Simply put: Moscow wants to be the third Rome.

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Xi’s indefinite grasp on power has finally captured the West’s attention – now what?


Embed from Getty Images


Xi's indefinite grasp on power has finally captured the West's attention – now what?

Courtesy of Stanley Rosen, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

When China’s Congress voted to repeal constitutional limits on the length of time a Chinese president can stay in office, there were only two “no” votes out of the 2,964 cast on March 10.

Leaders and analysts in the West are now stepping forward to acknowledge that they have misunderstood China. As a journalist at The Economist put it, “Decades of optimism about China’s rise have now been discarded.”

As someone who has been teaching and writing on Chinese politics since the 1970s, I know that China’s current president, Xi Jinping, is fundamentally different from his predecessors. The West has held out hope that each leader after Mao Zedong, including Xi, would move in the direction of democracy. Now, constitutional reform has snapped the West back to reality. But can the West fashion a unified, viable strategy to deal with an emerging superpower that refuses to accept Western political values?

Chinese versus Western media

The difference in how Western and Chinese media have reacted to China voting to abolish presidential term limits underscores a gap in perception of Xi’s presidency.

Within China, reporting in state-run media has been extremely low-key. There has been little mention of it beyond noting the repeal as one of a number of constitutional changes. The state-run press noted that the change was merely an “adjustment” or “a perfecting of the term system for the president.”

By contrast, it has been a major topic on Chinese social media, and censors have been hard at work removing the many critical comments that have appeared online.

In the absence of much official Chinese commentary, China’s English-language media has stepped in. The nationalistic Global Times, which the state uses to explain Chinese policies to foreigners, has emphasized the necessity of this constitutional amendment. Its writers have argued that it will promote stability through centralized and unified leadership. This type of strong leadership, the argument goes, is needed for China to…
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Brin on “Trump decides to remove national security adviser”



How China is rebooting retail


How China is rebooting retail

Courtesy of Michael Wade, IMD Business School and Jialu Shan, IMD Business School

The story of shops closing and the decline of retail has become a familiar one across the Western world. Giants such as Walmart and Macy’s in the US, and Marks and Spencer in the UK have been forced to close stores amid falling sales. Toys ‘R’ Us is shutting up shop altogether in the US.

E-commerce is often blamed. This accounted for just 13% of total 2017 retail transactions in the US, largely spurred on by Amazon’s growth. But this pales in comparison to what is happening in China. Alibaba, China’s answer to Amazon, generated an astonishing US$25.3 billion of revenue in the 24-hour “Singles Day” shopping holiday frenzy last November, smashing its previous record. The company’s profit rocketed 146% to US$2.6 billion in the last quarter of 2017, while its stock price doubled during the year.

And yet, real-life retail is enjoying an unlikely resurgence at the same time in China. Xiaomi, the Chinese tech giant that previously focused exclusively on online retail, is investing heavily in the offline market. In 2017, Xiaomi opened more than 200 stores across China and another 130 official Xiaomi stores abroad. Internet-only sales used to help Xiaomi keep its operational costs down, but in order to reach consumers in rural areas, Jun Lei, company CEO and cofounder, stated: “Our model can no longer be online, it has to be new retail.”

Introducing ‘new retail’

The concept of “new retail” was first coined by Alibaba in 2016. In a letter to company shareholders in October of that year, founder and Chairman Jack Ma argued:

Pure e-commerce will be reduced to a traditional business and replaced by the concept of new retail – the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value-chain.

Hema, Alibaba’s technology-powered fresh food focused supermarket, illustrates Ma’s comments perfectly. Consumers can search for product information in store by scanning a product code, place an order for home delivery (30-minute delivery within a 3km radius), make a payment, and even order fresh food – including live…
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Phil's Favorites

Low-carbon computing is needed to avoid a technological collapse


Low-carbon computing is needed to avoid a technological collapse

wk1003mike / shutterstock

Courtesy of Oscar Céspedes, University of Leeds

Human society has come to rely on superior gadgets being produced every year. Each year, new phones or laptops are faster, sleeker and have even more capabilities. However, electronics are rarely recycled, and the carbon footprint of the internet already exceeds that of air travel. The internet also relies on “rare earths” and ...

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Zero Hedge

What Google's Ban For Crypto Ads Really Means

Courtesy of Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research

The recent news that Google will not allow advertising of cryptocurrencies is a good reason to revisit the fundamental drivers that predict bitcoin price trends. Google searches and bitcoin wallet growth continue to slow in 2018, which is all you need to know about the near term direction of the asset. But while Google’s move may slow future adoption rates, plenty of other banned items (drugs, hacking software, counterfeit goods, etc.) still manage to flourish. An imperfect set of comps, to be sure, but still relevant to the discussion.

There are only 4 things Google doesn’t allow you to advertise on its search engine platform:

  • Counterfeit goods.
  • Dangerous products or services, like recreational drugs, weapons, ammunition, explosives and fireworks, and tobacco products.
  • ...

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Digital Currencies

What Google's Ban For Crypto Ads Really Means

Courtesy of Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research

The recent news that Google will not allow advertising of cryptocurrencies is a good reason to revisit the fundamental drivers that predict bitcoin price trends. Google searches and bitcoin wallet growth continue to slow in 2018, which is all you need to know about the near term direction of the asset. But while Google’s move may slow future adoption rates, plenty of other banned items (drugs, hacking software, counterfeit goods, etc.) still manage to flourish. An imperfect set of comps, to be sure, but still relevant to the discussion.

There are only 4 things Google doesn’t allow you to advertise on its search engine platform:

  • Counterfeit goods.
  • Dangerous products or services, like recreational drugs, weapons, ammunition, explosives and fireworks, and tobacco products.
  • ...

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Members' Corner

"If you want to fundamentally change society, you first have to break it."


"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Chistopher Wylie

[Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

Here are a number of chilling, overlapping articles discussing an enormous socio-political "experiment" that took place leading up to and during the US 2016 presidential election. Key players include: ...

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Insider Scoop

5 Costly Mistakes Drivers Make At The Gas Pump

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Now that oil and gasoline prices have started to creep back up, drivers are looking for any way they can to save a few cents at the pump.

GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan recently compiled a list of the five most common ways people waste money on gasolin... more from Insider

Chart School

Bitcoin Update, demand is present

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

When a Wyckoff trader looks at a stock chart of price and volume one looks for foot prints of material demand and supply. The current bitcoin chart shows very significant demand prints.

More from RTT Tv

Sure fundamentals do matter, and so does market timing (entry, stops and exit), here at we believe a combination of Gann Angles, Cycles...

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Connor Browne - FAANG Stocks Dominance

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

They are known as the FAANGs but Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google/Alphabet should also be dubbed the great disruptors. They have created new businesses and destroyed old ones, changing the way we conduct our personal and business lives in the process.

]]> Get Our Activist Investing Case Study!

Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below!

Check out our H2 hedge fund letters here.


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How your brain is wired to just say 'yes' to opioids

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


How your brain is wired to just say ‘yes’ to opioids

A Philadelphia man, who struggles with opioid addiction, in 2017. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Courtesy of Paul R. Sanberg, University of South Florida and Samantha Portis, University of South Florida


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Mapping The Market

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

Via Jean-Luc

How propagandist beat science – they did it for the tobacco industry and now it's in favor of the energy companies:

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack. One of these was to fund research that supported the industry and then publish only the results that fit the required narrative. “For instance, in 1954 the TIRC distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy’ to nearly 200,000 doctors, journalists, and policy-makers, in which they emphasized favorable research and questioned results supporting the contrary view,” say Weatherall and co, who call this approach biased production.

A second approach promoted independent research that happened to support ...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!


We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.


EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

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

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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About Phil:

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

Learn more About Phil >>

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About Ilene:

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

Market Shadows >>