Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Divisive economics


Guest author David Brin — scientist, technology consultant, best-selling author and futurist — explores the records of Democrats and Republicans on the US economy in the following post. For David's latest posts, visit the CONTRARY BRIN blog. For his books and short stories, visit his website. And don't miss David's latest article, Maddow, Mueller and the dems push a dare at McConnell.


Divisive economics

Courtesy of David Brin 

Let's step away from politics…. till the end of this missive… and look instead at economics:

Fiscal Management

The Evonomics site — where Adam Smith would post, today — offers this: Economists Agree: Democratic Presidents are Better at Making Us Rich. Eight Reasons Why.

The difference is stunning and inarguable… an average of 4.4% annual growth vs. a piddling 2.5%… and it has been consistent across 70 years. How to explain it?

The eight hypotheses offered here are interesting and consistent with modern economics. (Which "Supply Side voodoo" is not.) But #7 will resonate with what I have been saying to so-called market conservatives for years:

7. Fiscal Prudence. True conservatives pay their bills. From the 35 years of declining debt after World War II (until 1982), to the years of budget surpluses and declining debt under Bill Clinton, to the radical shrinking of the budget deficit under Obama, Democratic policies demonstrate which party merits the name “fiscal conservatives.”

Now, in fairness, a cogent Republican would answer: "Hey, weren't there Republican Congresses during some of that time?" Yes, and that actually mattered once – during the anno mirabilis year 1995, when Newt Gingrich corralled enough GOP support and negotiated with Bill Clinton to give us both Welfare Reform and the Budget Act. We almost got a third miracle, when the bipartisan Danforth-Kerrey commission proposed a compromise Entitlements Reform package that would have secured our finances for decades while ensuring every American child got health care. 

We know what happened then. Led by Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert, the Murdochian Republicans rendered the Danforth kind extinct, ending all semblance of adult politics in America. (And Newt knuckled under, instead of fighting for America.)

Proof that Clinton, not the GOP, merits credit

continue reading

Now Show Japan


Now Show Japan

Courtesy of 

I did a post a couple of weeks ago about the potential benefits of dollar cost averaging.

To recap:

  • It’s automated
  • It’s a great way to force you to save money
  • It gives you the ability to systematically buy low, with the cherry being that you’re buying more the lower stocks go.

I explained that it was no panacea and that the only reason why this had higher returns than the market over this period was because of sequence of returns, which cuts both ways.

But this disclaimer wasn’t good enough, because every time you write about the benefits of long-term investing, specifically of the buy and hold variety, you have people who say “now show Japan.”

It’s true that the efficacy of buy and hold investing is challenged through the lens of a Japanese investor. As the chart below shows, you could have made regular contributions from 1971 through 2012 and still have not made any returns on your investment.

Had 100 Yen been invested every month into the Nikkei from 1971 through October 2012, after contributing 50,000 Yen, the account would be worth just 49,568 Yen. Saving 50,000 Yen is better than spending it, but you took a lot of risk and were provided with zero reward.

So, is Japan proof of the fact that buy and hold is for the birds? I don’t believe that. I wrote a post a few months ago about how people who say this might have learned the wrong lessons from the epic Japanese stock market bubble.

Josh and I speak about this in the video below.


How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement


How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement

File 20190114 43535 y6pwuy.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Salvadoran immigrants were pivotal in the Justice for Janitors campaign in Los Angeles in 1990. It earned wage increases for custodial staff nationwide and inspired today’s $15 minimum wage campaign. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Courtesy of Elizabeth Oglesby, University of Arizona

In the United States’ heated national debate about immigration, two views predominate about Central American migrants: President Donald Trump portrays them as a national security threat, while others respond that they are refugees from violence.

Little is said about the substantial contributions that Central Americans have made to U.S. society over the past 30 years.

For one, Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants have helped expand the U.S. labor movement, organizing far-reaching workers rights’ campaigns in migrant-dominated industries that mainstream unions had thought to be untouchable.

Migrants and unions

More than 1 million Salvadorans and Guatemalans came to the United States between 1981 and 1990, fleeing army massacres, political persecution and civil war.

Since the 1980s, I have researched, taught and written about this wave of migrants. Back then, President Ronald Reagan warned apocryphally that Central America was a threat to the United States, telling Congress in 1983 that “El Salvador is nearer to Texas than Texas is to Massachusetts.”

Just 2 percent of Salvadorans and Guatemalans received asylum in the 1980s – so few that a 1990 class action lawsuit alleging discrimination compelled the U.S. government to reopen tens of thousands cases. Today, about 10 to 25 percent of their asylum petitions are granted.

Then, as now, many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. worked in agriculture or service industries, often under exploitative conditions. Unionization barely touched these sectors in the 1980s.

More broadly, the bargaining power of labor unions was suffering under Reagan, whose presidency started with his firing of 11,0000 striking air traffic controllers. Downsizing and outsourcing at American companies in the 1980s also eroded union membership and pushed wages down.

Many Guatemalans and Salvadorans were veteran community organizers. They had faced down government terror to participate in unions, peasant leagues, Catholic social
continue reading

What’s an index fund?


Embed from Getty Images


What’s an index fund?

Courtesy of Jordan Schoenfeld, Georgetown University

The creation of the index fund in 1975 revolutionized investing, lowering costs for millions of ordinary investors.

Their inventor John Bogle died on Jan. 16 at the age of 89.

Bogle took a complex universe of thousands of stocks and reduced it to a simple, singular entity, the index fund. Through index funds, investing in the stock market became easy, and one could do so at low cost while minimizing risk.

Practitioners and academics have researched the drivers and consequences of index fund investing – myself included. Here is some of what we know.

Investing before index funds

In the 1970s, academics and others began finding that many highly paid stock pickers do not outperform broad market indices. That is, investors could earn higher returns by simply holding a diversified portfolio of stocks and avoiding speculation altogether.

But at the time, the average investor didn’t have an easy way to this because an investment vehicle for such diversification did not yet exist.

So Bogle stepped in and created the index fund.

An easy way to diversify

In a nutshell, index funds are designed to give investors exposure to a diversified set of stocks at a very low cost.

The name “index” reflects the idea that by buying the fund an investor in effect immediately owns a broad index of the underlying stocks. All you must do is pay an intermediary – like Vanguard, the investment company Bogle founded, which now manages US$5.1 trillion in assets – a small, built-in fee in exchange for spreading your money out across the market.

In part, that’s because index funds are bought and sold just like individual stocks and many even have their own stock symbols.

For example, if you want exposure to a mix of all the companies in the S&P 500 index, you can buy the stock VOO, and your money will automatically be invested in a value-weighted portfolio of the S&P 500 companies. If you want to divest, simply sell your…
continue reading

Razor burned: Why Gillette’s campaign against toxic masculinity missed the mark


Razor burned: Why Gillette's campaign against toxic masculinity missed the mark

File 20190117 32822 1m3ik53.png?ixlib=rb 1.1

Who knew a razor blade company could become so controversial? Gillette/YouTube

Courtesy of Alan Abitbol, University of Dayton

Gillette has launched a new marketing campaign, “The Best Men Can Be,” with an ad that has gone viral.

The ad begins by depicting boys bullying other boys, women being harassed and cat-called, and a group of men excusing all of it as “boys will be boys.” Gillette then asks if this is “the best a man can get.” The rest of the ad portrays men pushing back against other men’s bad behavior.

Gillette’s controversial new ad tackles toxic masculinity head on.

It’s been polarizing, to say the least.

On one side, the campaign is being praised for tackling masculine stereotypes and challenging men to be better.

On the other side, some are saying that Gillette risks turning off customers who think the brand is shamelessly capitalizing on the #MeToo movement and practicing “leftist” politics. There are already calls for the brand to be boycotted.

So why has this ad caused such a large divide?

In my research on companies’ use of pro-social messages, backlash usually arises due to some combination of the cause itself, a poor fit between the brand and the cause, and suspicion of the company’s true motives.

An authentic pairing matters

Companies have backed various social issues for decades. Marriott, for example, organized fundraisers for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, in the 1970s.

Today, customers expect companies to stand for something. According to a 2018 Edelman Earned Brand report, nearly two-thirds of consumers believe companies should take a stand on social or political issues.

However, studies have shown that, in order for the corporate activism to be warmly received, the cause usually needs to be connected to the company’s product line or brand in some way.

This can happen when a company and…
continue reading

TGIF – Trade Progress Trumps Government Shutdown – Again

500 points!  

That's how far the Dow (/YM) Futures have climbed since yesterday morning on rumors that trade negotiations with China are progressing but China but we've seen this fade before so we reserve judgment for the moment and we're not going to get all bullish into a Holiday Weekend (Martin Luthor King Day on Monday), not with all this uncertainty still in the air. 

We have been, however, very bullish since the bottom on 12/26, only the second time all year we've been very bullish and it's paid off nicely in our Member Portfolios so now is the time to protect our gains – not to add to the risks.  We added hedges to our Short-Term Portfolio and our Options Opportunity Portfolio this week to lock in the month's gains and now we can happily enjoy the long weekend ahead.  

While the headlines on China SOUND good, let's consider it from China's perspective.  Apparently Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, has floated the idea of pulling back some tariffs in exchange for China doing the same as long as China makes some long-term concessions on policy.  US Trade Rep, Robert Lighthizer is against this but, then again, he has spent his whole career telling people how evil China is (and he's the guy Trump put in charge of the negotiations), so what else would you expect from him?

So ignoring Lighthizer and focusing on what Mnuchin proposes, he's essentially saying to China that we began tariffs to make them change their policy and then China said "no, we're not changing our policy" and placed retaliatory tariffs on US and now Mnuchin says, "how about we drop the tariffs and you change your policy?"  My kids were better negotiators when they were toddlers!  Certainly they were not so transparent about their motives.   

Image result for lighthizer trump china cartoonIf we were serious about Trade, we'd also be making concessions, not simply saying we'd stop doing something we only started doing so we could use it as a negotiating tool down the road – which is now.  Even if China were that stupid (and they are not), Lighthizer didn't come all this way just to make a deal.  His goal is the economic destruction of China and he
continue reading

Leaders always ‘manufacture’ crises, in politics and business


Leaders always 'manufacture' crises, in politics and business

File 20190115 152962 1meqrvj.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Trump recently called the border a crisis during a televised address. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Courtesy of Bert Spector, Northeastern University

“This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”

That’s how President Donald Trump framed his demand for funds to build a “border wall” and end the partial government shutdown. That declaration was met with counter-claims that the crisis at the border was indeed real – but one of Trump’s own making.

I’m currently completing a book on the use and abuse of the word “crisis” by political and business leaders to create a sense of urgency.

While it is true that Trump and his administration are especially reckless in their deployment of the term crisis, they are far from alone in doing so.

Crises galore

You’ve undoubtedly heard nongovernmental organizations talk about humanitarian crises in countries like Yemen and Syria and pundits warn about a crisis in liberal democracy.

And as the Earth warms, the polar caps melt and storms regularly devastate communities around the globe, human beings are said to face an environmental crisis that threatens our very existence. In the world of business, crises arise from declining stock prices, bankruptcy and malfeasance on the part of CEOs.

Some of the instances of crisis claims may seem quite legitimate to you. Others may strike you as dubious. What they all have in common is this: None of them are real things.

‘Uh oh!’ – it’s a crisis

Political leaders frequently use these claims to advance a particular agenda.

For example, in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson used the supposed urgency of an attack on an American battleship to rally support for escalating the war in Vietnam. George W. Bush claimed a similar rationale for ousting Saddam Hussein from Iraq in 2001.

In every case, leaders reference real things in their claims: an attack on a battleship, possession of nuclear weapons, the number of immigrants entering a country, the observable effects of climate…
continue reading

Comment by phil

View Single Comment

  1. phil

    Meanwhile, we haven't touched the LTP since Monday, when I snap-shotted it and it's up 6% for the week!  

    Flatness is our friend! 

    I think it's mainly because all our short Jan positions are rapidly losing the last of their premium.  Lots and lots of work to do tomorrow!

Trump’s interpreters for Putin meetings face ethical dilemma


Trump's interpreters for Putin meetings face ethical dilemma

File 20190116 163271 1tpgbc1.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, makes a statement, as U.S. President Donald Trump, left, looks on. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Courtesy of Laura Burian, Middlebury

President Donald Trump met several times with Russian President Vladimir Putin while no other American was privy to the communication except for a State Department interpreter.

In July 2018, Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee had proposed to subpoena the interpreter and her notes to find out what was said in the meeting, but the motion was rejected by Republican committee members.

Now, reports allege that President Trump took possession of the interpreter’s notes at the end of at least one private meeting with Putin and instructed the linguist not to discuss the content of the meeting with anyone, including other administration officials.

Democrats, now in control of the U.S. House, are reconsidering a subpoena to the interpreter to learn what was said.

I teach M.A. students of translation and interpretation and work as a conference interpreter. Here’s a brief overview of the role of interpreters and the ethics of the profession regarding confidentiality.

‘Strictest secrecy’

The role of an interpreter is to facilitate communication between parties who use different languages.

Interpreters are not responsible for the content of what is said by either party. They are responsible for ensuring that everything that is said is conveyed accurately in the other language.

The code of ethics for professional conference interpreters states that they “shall be bound by the strictest secrecy, which must be observed towards all persons and with regard to all information disclosed in the course of the practice of the profession at any gathering not open to the public.”

Diplomatic interpreters are a subset of these professionals who must pass security clearances, and be mindful of diplomatic protocol and national interests. However, the ethics of confidentiality remains the same in diplomatic settings. Officials must be able to fully trust that interpreters will not reveal confidential information.

Diplomatic tradition has therefore respected the norm that interpreters should not be obliged to give…
continue reading

Coffee: 60% of wild species are at risk of extinction due to climate change


Coffee: 60% of wild species are at risk of extinction due to climate change

File 20190117 32825 1mio4p5.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1


Courtesy of Adam Moolna, Keele University

Is your morning coffee an espresso or a skinny latte? Is it from a darkly roasted French or Italian blend? If it’s a high quality brew, it’s almost certainly made with beans from the Arabica species (Coffea arabica), which is known for its finer flavours. Examples would be Javan coffees, Ethiopian sidamo, and the expensive Jamaican blue mountain.

If you’ve stirred together an instant blend, it’s probably from a different species, Robusta (Coffea canephora), known for its harsher taste. But there are more than 100 species of coffee in the wild. All produce similar beans that you could make a recognisable coffee drink from.

Robusta is sometimes openly mixed with Arabica in commercial products – and is often secretly used to adulterate “100% Arabica” products, too. A third species, Coffea liberica, native to west and central Africa, is widely grown for local use in tropical countries, but is not globally traded because of its more bitter taste.

A fourth species Coffea eugenoides was bred with Robusta in ancient times to give rise to Arabica, a crossbreed. Another 38 closely related species can cross-fertilise commercial coffees through pollen transfer.

There are a further 82 species which are more distantly related to the commercial breeds, but scientists could interbreed them with commercial coffees in a lab. All these coffee relatives can help enhance the genetic diversity of commercial coffee species, making them more adaptable to changes in their environment.

Arabica coffee beans growing in Colombia. Fotos593/Shutterstock

Dark days ahead for coffee

Climate change is threatening global coffee yields as changing temperatures and rainfall patterns affect plant growth. The changing climate may also be leaving plants more vulnerable to disease.

All major commercial coffee growing countries have been badly affected by the fungal disease “coffee leaf rust”, which spread across Africa and into Asia during the early 20th century, then to South America, becoming entrenched globally by…
continue reading


Zero Hedge

NYC's Housing-Market Weakness Spreads From Manhattan To The Outer Boroughs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Throughout vast swaths of New York City, members of the city's vast middle class work force can barely afford even a modest apartment. Yet for years after the post-crisis housing market recovery began, that reality did little to slow down the rise in home valuations as foreign capital and rock bottom interest rates fueled a buying frenzy, pushing rents ever-higher. But after citywide rents peaked in 2014, the NYC housing market, particularly the most expensive areas o...

more from Tyler


#1 Performing Global Macro Hedge Fund Sees More Shorts Opportunities Ahead As China Bursts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Crescat Global Macro Fund update to investors on 1/19/2019

Crescat Global Macro Fund and Crescat Long/Short fund delivered strong returns for both December and full year 2018 in a difficult market. Based on ...

more from ValueWalk

Phil's Favorites

Divisive economics


Guest author David Brin — scientist, technology consultant, best-selling author and futurist — explores the records of Democrats and Republicans on the US economy in the following post. For David's latest posts, visit the CONTRARY BRIN blog. For his books and short stories, visit his web...

more from Ilene

Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock declines did not break 9-year support, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

We often hear “Stocks take an escalator up and an elevator down!” No doubt stocks did experience a swift decline from the September highs to the Christmas eve lows. Looks like the “elevator” part of the phrase came true as 2018 was coming to an end.

The first part of the “stocks take an escalator up” seems to still be in play as well despite the swift decline of late.

Joe Friday Just The Facts Ma’am- All of these indices hit long-term rising support on Christmas Eve at each (1), where support held and rallies have followed.

If you find long-term perspectives helpf...

more from Kimble C.S.

Digital Currencies

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain


Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

Blockchain technologies can empower people by allowing them more control over their user data. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Ajay Kumar Shrestha, University of Saskatchewan

Blockchain has already proven its huge influence on the financial world with its first application in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It might not be long before its impact is felt everywhere.

Blockchain is a secure chain of digital records that exist on multiple computers simultaneously so no record can be erased or falsified. The...

more from Bitcoin

Insider Scoop Explores Strategic Alternatives, Analyst Sees Possible Sale Price Around $30 Per Share

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related 44 Biggest Movers From Yesterday 38 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Mid-Day Session ... more from Insider

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 chaotic presidency based on his high-conflict personality, which was evident years ago. This post, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump even became president, 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 >>