Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

China’s Coming Collapse

The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.

By Jason Kirby, Canadian Business Online (H/t David Gordon)

As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."

If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.

It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last


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Adam Smith critiques the Deficit Reduction Commission

Courtesy of Michael Hudson

adam smithWhat would Adam Smith have said about the Bowles-Simpson economic report last week?

What a pity the great free marketer was not around to serve on the Deficit Reduction Commission. He not only would have rolled over in his grave, he would have risen up wielding an ax to the fiscal proposals that are diametrically opposite to the fiscal principles that he and his original free market contemporaries urged.

Writing in the wake of the French Physiocrats with their Impôt Unique to collect the revenues that France’s landed aristocracy drained from the countryside and towns, Smith endorsed the idea that the least burdensome tax was one that fell on land rent:

A more equal land-tax, a more equal tax upon the rent of houses, and such alterations in the present system of customs and excise as those which have been mentioned in the foregoing chapter might, perhaps, without increasing the burden of the greater part of the people, but only distributing the weight of it more equally upon the whole, produce a considerable augmentation of revenue.

(Wealth of Nations, Book V.3.68)

If Britain were to become a dominant economic power, Smith argued, its industrial capitalism would have to shed the vestiges of feudalism. Groundrent charged by its landed aristocracy should be taxed away, on the logic that it was the prototypical “free lunch” revenue with no counterpart cost of production. He noted at the outset (Book I, ch. xi) that there were “some parts of the produce of land for which the demand must always be such as to afford a greater price than what is sufficient to bring them to market.”

In 1814, David Buchanan published an edition of The Wealth of Nations with a volume of his own notes and commentary, attributing rent to monopoly (III:272n), and concluding that it represented a mere transfer payment, not actually reimbursing the production of value. High rents enriched landlords at the expense of food consumers – what economists call a zero-sum game at another’s expense.

david ricardoThe 19th century elaborated the concept of economic rent as that element of price which found no counterpart in actual cost of production. and hence was “unearned.” It was a form of economic overhead that added unnecessarily to prices. In 1817, David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy and Taxation elaborated the concept of economic rent. Under conditions of


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The Buttonwood Gathering – View from the Top

This was an interesting event!  

On May 17th 1792, twenty-four stock brokers met under a buttonwood tree outside 68 Wall Street and agreed to set up the New York Stock and Exchange board. The tree was a symbol of Wall Street, but also, it was where people originally met to trade, to discuss and to argue.

The Economist has done an excellent job of keeping the tradition alive by bringing together top global financial executives, policymakers, global regulators and opinion leaders to discuss and debate proposed guidelines for the financial community, seeking to bridge fundamental financial issues with macroeconomic and geopolitical viewpoints.

As I mentioned yesterday, I usually don’t like conferences but not only did I find myself sitting between BOE Governor Mervyn King and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz but we got to watch my favorite economics rap video together and even met the guys who created it from EconStories, who have lots of good videos on their site (of a more serious nature). 

The conference itself does not take itself too seriously.  Even Nassim Taleb was able to make a few jokes while explaining to us why the financial system is irrevocably screwed up unless we give it a major overhaul.  Taleb’s main points were:

  • People are inherently greedy.
  • The Financial Crisis was caused by and increase of hidden risks that was encouraged by the rules set forth in Basel II
  • Multiple exposure to low-probability, high-risk events accumulate to high probability of bad outcome (Taleb’s "Black Swan").
  • Bonus packages and compensation encourage very bad risky behavior. Stock options that offer potential upside and no downside encourage the maxing of risk-taking by potential beneficiaries.
  • This leads to a banking system where all the traders get rich and all the investors become poor.
  • There is a general,.chronic underestimation of risk and business schools reinforce this bad behavior.
  • Regulation gives investors a false sense of security. 
  • Capitalism must be symmetrical – bonus without penalties (clawbacks, etc.) must be eliminated.

When I am at one of these conferences, I like to watch the audience reaction to what is being said.  Here we have a gathering of the World’s movers and shakers and sometimes the reaction to what is being said is more important than the thing that is said.  For instance, my note on Taleb’s comment that regulations give investors a false sense of security is that
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Hugh Hendry interview on the BBC

Hugh Hendry interview on the BBC

Courtesy of Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns

BBC HARDtalk interviewed hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry, CIO & CEO of Eclectica Asset Management, this past Tuesday night. The videos are below.

 

 

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What is the Role of the State?

What is the Role of the State?

Courtesy of Mark Thoma at Economist’s View

When I teach the History of Economic Thought, one thing we focus on is how views on the role of the state have changed over time. It has a natural cycle to it, with eras such as the highly interventionist Mercantilist years followed by Physiocratic and Classical views stressing minimal government intervention. This is followed by a rebound in the other direction, and so it goes with a Keynes followed by a Friedman in the 50s, a rebound back to Keynes in the 60s, to classical ideas following the experience of the 70s, and so on, and so on. We are involved in the same debate, and a smaller version of the grand historical lurches in each direction, yet again today:

What is the role of the state?, by Martin Wolf: It is … a good time to ask … the biggest question in political economy: what is the role of the state? This question has concerned western thinkers at least since Plato (5th-4th century BCE). It has also concerned thinkers in other cultural traditions… The perspective here is that of the contemporary democratic west.

The core purpose of the state is protection. This view would be shared by everybody, except anarchists… Contemporary Somalia shows the horrors that can befall a stateless society. Yet horrors can also befall a society with an over-mighty state. …

Mancur Olson argued that the state was a “stationary bandit”. A stationary bandit is better than a “roving bandit”, because the latter has no interest in developing the economy, while the former does. But it may not be much better, because those who control the state will seek to extract the surplus over subsistence generated by those under their control.

In the contemporary west, there are three protections against undue exploitation by the stationary bandit: exit, voice … and restraint. By “exit”, I mean the possibility of escaping from the control of a given jurisdiction, by emigration, capital flight or some form of market exchange. By “voice”, I mean a degree of control over, the state, most obviously by voting. By “restraint”, I mean independent courts, division of powers, federalism and entrenched rights.

This, then, is a brief background to … the problem, which is defining what a democratic state … is entitled to


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The Age of Mammon

"Never have so few, done so little, and made so much, while screwing so many."  Jim Quinn

Courtesy of Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

The Age of Mammon

“Financiers – like bank robbers – do not create wealth. They merely distribute it. While the mob may idolize holdup men in good times, in the bad times it lynches them. What they will do to the new money men when their blood is up, we wait eagerly to find out.”  - Mobs, Messiahs and Markets

  

As our economy hurtles towards its meeting with destiny, the political class seeks to assign blame on their enemies for this Greater Depression. The Republicans would like you to believe that Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank and their Community Reinvest Act caused the collapse of our financial system. Democrats want you to believe that George Bush and his band of unregulated free market capitalists created a financial disaster of epic proportions. The truth is that America has been captured by a financial class that makes no distinction between parties. These barbarians have sucked the life out of a once productive nation by raping and pillaging with impunity while enriching only them. They live in 20,000 square foot $10 million mansions in Greenwich, CT and in $3 million dollar penthouses on Central Park West.

These are the robber barons that represent the Age of Mammon. The greed, avarice, gluttony and acute materialism of these American traitors has not been seen in this country since the 1920′s. The hedge fund managers and Wall Street bank executives that occupy the mansions and penthouses evidently don’t find much time to read the bible in their downtime from raping and pillaging the wealth of the middle class. There are cocktail parties and $5,000 a plate political “fundraisers” to attend. You can’t be cheap when buying off your protection in Washington DC.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You
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Seeking Solutions In An Uncertain World

Seeking Solutions In An Uncertain World

Courtesy of Todd Harrison of Minyanville

“We used to play for silver, now we play for life; ones for sport and one’s for blood at the point of a knife.” --Grateful Dead

We live in interesting times. During the last two years, a financial virus spawned and infected the economic and social spheres as a matter of course.

This isn’t just about money anymore. Our civil liberties, the foundation of free market capitalism and the quality of life for future generations are dynamically shifting as we traverse our current course. (See: The Short Sale of American Icons)

I once offered that Shock & Awe was a tipping point through a historical lens; as Baghdad blew-up on CNN, I somberly sensed America would never be the same. That’s not a political statement — we don’t know what would have been if we didn’t invade — it’s simply an observation. Almost overnight, world empathy turned to global condemnation.

If we’ve learned anything through these years, it’s that unintended consequences tend to come full circle. Whether it’s the moral hazard of bailing out some banks, the gargantuan profits of a chosen few — Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM), Bank America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), Wells Fargo (WFC) — the caveats of percolating protectionism, or the growing chasm of social and geopolitical discord, times they are a-changin’ and it’s freaking people out.

As speculators are vilified and hedge funds are perceived as acceptable casualties of war, financial fatigue will evolve in kind. We’ve already seen the burnout manifest in trading volume — upwards of 70% of the flow are the robots — and we’ve witnessed it in financial media, with reported ratings of some of CNBC’s marquee shows down as much as 25% year-over-year. (See: The War on Capitalism)

art of warSun-tzu once said, “If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched,…
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The Death of Everything

The Death of Everything

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

A bit dramatic?  I’m only taking the new National Pastime of Handwringing to its logical conclusion.  You other journalists and bloggers would have gotten to this headline/sentiment eventually, admit it.  That’s exactly where you were going.

I’m going to treat you all to something the late George Carlin once explained to us to help keep the "environmental crisis" in perspective.

The world isn’t going away, capitalism isn’t going away, America isn’t going away.  You know what is going away?  You are, and soon.  50, 60 years or so.  Act accordingly.  Here’s George:

"The Planet is Fine"

We’re so self-important. So self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. "Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails." And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these f***ing people kidding me? Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another, we’re gonna save the f***ing planet?

I’m getting tired of that s***. Tired of that s***. I’m tired of f***ing Earth Day, I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a s*** about the planet. They don’t care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are f***ed. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we’re a…
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The Big Things That Matter

The Big Things That Matter

Courtesy of PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS writing at CounterPunch

I write about major problems:  the collapsing US economy, wars based on lies and deception, the police state based on “the war on terror” and other fabrications such as those orchestrated by corrupt police and prosecutors, who boost their performance reports by convicting the innocent, and so on.  America is a very distressing place. The fact that so many Americans are taken in by the lies told by “their” government makes America all the more depressing.

Often, however, it is small annoyances that waste Americans’ time and drive up blood pressures. One of the worst things that ever happened to Americans was the breakup of the AT&T telephone monopoly. As Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury in 1981, if 150 per cent of my time and energy had not been required to cure stagflation in the face of opposition from Wall Street and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, I might have been able to prevent the destruction of the best communications service in the world, and one that was very inexpensive to customers.

The assistant attorney general in charge of the “anti-trust case” against AT&T called me to ask if Treasury had an interest in how the case was resolved.  I went to Treasury Secretary Don Regan and told him that although my conservative and libertarian friends thought that the breakup of At&T was a great idea, their opinion was based entirely in ideology and that the practical effect would not be good for widows and orphans who had a blue chip stock to see them through life or for communications customers as deregulated communications would give the multiple communications corporations different interests than those of the customers. Under the regulated regime, AT&T was allowed a reasonable rate of return on its investment, and to stay out of trouble with regulators AT&T provided excellent and inexpensive service.

Secretary Regan reminded me of my memo to him detailing that Treasury was going to have a hard time getting President Reagan’s economic program, directed at curing the stagflation that had wrecked President Carter’s presidency, out of the Reagan administration.  The budget director, David Stockman, and his chief economist, Larry Kudlow, had lined up against it following the wishes of Wall Street, and the White House Chief of Staff James Baker and his deputy Richard Darman were representatives of VP…
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Bill Gross Ponders “Deep Demographic Doo-Doo”

Bill Gross Ponders "Deep Demographic Doo-Doo"

Courtesy of Mish 

Shovel in dirt

Bill Gross usually writes an interesting column provided you skip over the first few paragraphs of introduction. His August Investment Outlook regarding population demographics is no different. Please consider Private Eyes.

Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year. Currently, the globe is adding over 77 million people a year at a pace of 1.15% annually, but slowing.

Observers will point out, as shown in the following chart, that global population growth rates have been declining since 1970 with no apparent ill effects. True, until 2008, I suppose. The fact is that since the 1970s we have never really experienced a secular period during which the private market could effectively run on its own engine without artificial asset price stimulation. The lack of population growth was likely a significant factor in the leveraging of the developed world’s financial systems and the ballooning of total government and private debt as a percentage of GDP from 150% to over 300% in the United States, for example. Lacking an accelerating population base, all developed countries promoted the financing of more and more consumption per capita in order to maintain existing GDP growth rates. Finally, in the U.S., with consumption at 70% of GDP and a household sector deeply in debt, there was nowhere to go but down. Similar conditions exist in most developed economies.

The danger today, as opposed to prior deleveraging cycles, is that the deleveraging is being attempted into the headwinds of a structural demographic downwave as opposed to a decade of substantial population growth. Japan is the modern-day example of what deleveraging in the face of a slowing and now negatively growing population can do.

The preceding analysis does not even begin to discuss the aging of this slower-growing population base itself. Japan, Germany, Italy and of course the United States, with its boomers moving toward their 60s, are getting older year after year. Even China with their previous one baby policy faces a similar demographic. And while older people spend a larger percentage of their income – that is, they save less and eventually dissave – the fact is that they spend far fewer dollars per capita than their younger counterparts. No new


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Zero Hedge

Anti-Impeachment Democrat Jeff Van Drew Defects To GOP

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Anti-impeachment Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New York has confirmed that he will switch parties and become a Republican, following a lengthy meeting with President Trump, according to Politico.

Van Drew is one of two Democrats who voted 'no' on opening the impeachment inquiry in the first place, and has been a vocal opponent of the effort, according to the repor...



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Phil's Favorites

Liquidity Matters - Retail Investors Are About To Learn A Valuable Lesson The Hard Way

Courtesy of Lance Roberts, RealInvestmentAdvice.com

One of the great challenges of financial markets is that certain important events only happen infrequently – which makes it all the easier to overlook them during intervening periods. One of those important situations is when it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to sell an investment because too few people are both willing and able to buy it.

Through the course of a cycle the phenomenon of illiquidity occurs periodically but is normally contained to very specific situations and does not affect broader markets. Increasingly, however, there are signs that liquidity could be a problem in the foreseeable future, so it is a good time to review the risks.

...



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Chart School

Funds are getting ready to move out of USA

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Just before the hang over in the US equity markets, money will move and take their well earned gains else where. Here is why.

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Charts in video.

US is in the late cycle boom.

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US stock market with the US dollar, they have risen together from 2012. A change of this will force money to move.


Cli...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Euro Breakout In Play? Gold Bulls Sure Hope So!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

The Euro has spent much of the past 2 years trading in a down-trend.

Though precious metals like Gold have fared well, this has been a bit of a headwind because it means that the US Dollar has remained firm.

Big Test In Play for the Euro

The Euro is testing a confluence of important support just as the downtrend is narrowing and ready for a “break”. That support includes lower falling wedge support and the Euro’s long term up-trend support line (see points 1 and 2).

If the Euro can succeed in breaking out at (3), it would be bullis...



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Insider Scoop

8 Healthcare Stocks Moving In Friday's Pre-Market Session

Courtesy of Benzinga

Gainers
  • Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRPT) stock surged 36.4% to $137.00 during Friday's pre-market session. The market value of their outstanding shares is at $6.1 billion. The most recent rating by Janney Capital, on December 13, is at Buy, with a price target of $175.00.
  • GlaxoSmithKline, Inc. (NYSE: GSK) shares surged 1.1% to $46.44. The market value of their outstanding shares is at $112.9 billion. According to the most recent rating by UBS, on November 21, the current rating is at Buy.
  • AstraZeneca, Inc. (NYSE: ...


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Digital Currencies

Three Men Arrested In NJ For Running Alleged $722 Million Crypto Ponzi Scheme

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Kollen Post via CoinTelegraph.com,

United States authorities in New Jersey have announced the arrest of three men who are accused of defrauding investors of over $722 million as part of alleged crypto ponzie scheme BitClub Network, per a Dec. 10 announcement from the Dep...



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Members' Corner

Tobin Smith: Foxocracy, the 2020 Election, and the Stock Market

 

For decades, Fox News has been spreading false information and hooking its audience into an angry, xenophobic and paranoid worldview. It's no mystery that Fox was instrumental in the 2016 election -- but how did it do it? How did it gain so much influence? Tobin Smith, CEO of Transformity Research, Inc. and former Fox News contributor and talk show host, explores this phenomenon and discusses Fox News’ emotionally predatory and partisan propaganda media strategies and tactics in his new book, ...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Chart Shows the Fed Ramping Up Not QE - Funding Almost All Treasury Issuance

 

Chart Shows the Fed Ramping Up Not QE – Funding Almost All Treasury Issuance

Courtesy of Lee Adler, Wall Street Examiner 

The Fed is ramping up “Not QE” .

The Fed bought $2.2 billion in notes today in its POMO, “not QE,” operations. Actually $2.15 billion because they sold back a whole $50 million. Must have been a little glitch in the force.

This brings the Fed’s total outright purchases of Treasuries to $170 billion since it started Not QE, on September 17.

It also did $107 billion in gross new repo loans to Primary Dealers to buy Tre...



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The Technical Traders

VIX Warns Of Imminent Market Correction

Courtesy of Technical Traders

The VIX is warning that a market peak may be setting up in the global markets and that investors should be cautious of the extremely low price in the VIX. These extremely low prices in the VIX are typically followed by some type of increased volatility in the markets.

The US Federal Reserve continues to push an easy money policy and has recently begun acquiring more dept allowing a deeper move towards a Quantitative Easing stance. This move, along with investor confidence in the US markets, has prompted early warning signs that the market has reached near extreme levels/peaks. 

Vix Value Drops Before Monthly Expiration

When the VIX falls to levels below 12~13, this typically v...



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Biotech

Why telling people with diabetes to use Walmart insulin can be dangerous advice

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

 

Why telling people with diabetes to use Walmart insulin can be dangerous advice

A vial of insulin. Prices for the drug, crucial for those with diabetes, have soared in recent years. Oleksandr Nagaiets/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Jeffrey Bennett, Vanderbilt University

About 7.4 million people ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

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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.

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