Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

Digging Still Deeper In Friday’s Jobs Report; What’s the Real Unemployment Rate?

Courtesy of Mish

Every month the government posts the unemployment rate yet few know where the unemployment rate comes from, how it is determined, and the relationship between the unemployment rate and the monthly reported jobs total.

For a quick recap, the unemployment rate comes from a "Household Survey" while the reported headline jobs total comes from the "Establishment Survey". The former is a monthly phone survey, the latter is a sample of actual business employment.

The reason for the "Household Survey" is that it will pick up new business formation, especially small businesses that might not be on the radar of the "Establishment Survey" sample. Even if the "Establishment Survey" sample size was 100%, unless duplicate names were weeded out, it would double-count those holding multiple jobs.

The "Household Survey" attempts to determine five key items.

  1. Do you have a job?
  2. Is so was it full or part-time?
  3. If not, do you want a job?
  4. If you do not have a job and want a job, did you look for a job in the last 4 weeks?
  5. Are you in school, on leave, etc.

The BLS does not ask the questions like that, instead the BLS attempts to determine those answers by a detailed list of questions.

For a discussion of exactly what questions the BLS asks to determine the unemployment rate, please see Reader Question Regarding "Dropping Out of the Workforce"; Implications of the Falling Participation Rate

Definition of Unemployed

Logically, one might think one would be unemployed if they want a job and do not have a job.

However, the official definition of unemployed is you do not have a job, you want a job, and crucially, you have looked for a job in the last 4 weeks.

Every month the government reports "alternative" numbers but even though many of the alternate numbers are a more accurate representation of the unemployment rate, the media focuses on the headline number, ignoring millions who have "dropped out of the labor force" simply because they stopped looking for work.

Millions more are in "forced retirement", which I define as someone over 60 whose unemployment benefits ran out so they retired to collect Social Security even though they really want a job.

244,000 Jobs Added Last Month, So Why Did the Unemployment Rise?

Last month many were surprised to see the jobs report claim 244,000 jobs were added yet…
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Case Shiller’s Double Dip Has Come and Gone

Courtesy of Lee Adler at Wall Street Examiner

The S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices reported Tuesday are, as usual, so far behind the curve that not only did they miss the “double dip” that has come and gone, it will be at least July or August before it reports an apparent upturn in prices in March and April. S&P’s view of the data was dour. “There is very little, if any, good news about housing. Prices continue to weaken, trends in sales and construction are disappointing, ” said S&P’s David Blitzer. “The 20-City Composite is within a hair’s breadth of a double dip.”

There’s just one problem with that. Other price indicators that are not constructed with the Case Shiller’s large built in lag, passed the 2009-2010 low months ago. The FHFA (the Federal Agency that runs Fannie and Freddie) price index showed a low in March 2010 that was broken in June 2010 and never looked back. That index is now 5.6% below the March 2010 low.’s proprietary value model never even bounced. It shows a year over year decline of 8.2% as of February. Zillow’s listing price index shows a low of $200,000 in November 2009, followed by a flat period lasting 6 months. As of March 31, that index stood at $187,500, down 6.25% from the 2009-2010 low for data.

The Case Shiller Indices for February held slightly above the January level (not seasonally adjusted). I follow their 10 City Index due to its longer history. It was at 153.70 in February versus 152.70 in January. These levels are still above the low of 150.44 set in April 2009.

The Case Shiller index showed a recovery in prices in 2009-10 only because of the weird methodology it uses. Not only does it exclude the impact of distress sales that have been such a big part of the market, but it takes the average of 3 months of data instead of using just the most recent available month. The current data purports to represent prices as of February. In fact, it represents the average price for December, January, and February, with a time mid point of mid February. These are closed sales which generally represented contracts entered in mid to late November, on average. That means that the current Case Shiller index actually represents market conditions as of 5 months ago. Things can change in 5…
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The Unsustainable Meets the Irresistible

Courtesy of John Mauldin at Thoughts from the Frontline 

This week’s letter is a result of two lengthy conversations I had today, which have me in a reflective mode. Plus, I finished the last, final edits of my book, all of which is causing me to mull over the unsustainability of the US fiscal situation. There is a true Endgame here, and it may happen before we are ready.

The first conversation was with Kyle Bass, Richard Howard, and Peter Mauthe, over lunch (more on Peter, who has come to work with me, below). Kyle is the head of Hayman Advisors, a very successful macro hedge fund based here in Dallas. Then I recorded a Conversation with David Rosenberg and Lacy Hunt, which is one of the best we have ever done. Subscribers will be very happy. The new Conversation with George Friedman is now online, too. You can learn more about Conversations with John Mauldin at .  And please comment on this and future letters in the readers’ forums of my new website. Now, to this week’s letter. My goal is to make this one a little shorter than normal. We’ll see how I do.

The Unsustainable Meets the Irresistible

Kyle, Lacy, and David are typically pushed into the bearish category, but (not surprisingly to me) their forecast for the next few quarters is rather strong. None of us would be surprised by a high-3% number for GDP this quarter, and 4% is not out of the question. And we all see GDP tailing off as the year winds down. Inventory builds begin to slow, and in 2012 the 2% payroll holiday goes away. Plus, as I have written and David has noted, the pressure on state and local spending is getting larger with every passing day.

State and local spending is the second biggest component of the economy. The chart below, from David’s letter this week, gives us a visual image of just how large it is. Note…
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Large Companies Hiring, Small Companies Not; Federal Hiring Strong, States Cutting Back; Proposed Solutions; Bright Side of Fed Policies

Unfortunately, after reading Mish’s article "Large Companies Hiring, Small Companies Not; Federal Hiring Strong, States Cutting Back; Proposed Solutions; Bright Side of Fed Policies," most of us are not going to be happy about what Mish calls the bright side. – Ilene

Courtesy of Mish

A recent Gallup survey suggests Larger U.S. Companies Are Hiring; Smallest Are Not

Gallup finds that larger companies are hiring more workers while the smallest businesses are shedding jobs. More than 4 in 10 employees (42%) at workplaces with at least 1,000 employees reported during the week ending Nov. 14 that their company was hiring, while 22% said their employer was letting people go. At the other extreme, 9% of workers in businesses with fewer than 10 employees said their employer was hiring, and 16% said their employer was letting people go.

This Gallup question about company size is new, so it is unclear whether this pattern is a continuation of, or a change from, the past.

Hiring Also Much Higher at the Federal Government

The federal government is hiring more employees than it is letting go, while the opposite is true for state and local governments. More than 4 in 10 federal employees (42%) say their organizations are adding people and 21% say they are letting workers go. In contrast, state and local government employees report a net loss of workers.

Pitfalls, Flaws, Observations 

There are huge flaws in the survey as well as a potential for additional flaws in analyzing the survey results. Nonetheless there are some important observations that can be made.

For starters, it is nice to see large corporations hiring, but there is no indication of by how much. Is the total headcount hiring 1 or hiring 2,000? Is the number up or down from last month?

Compounding that lack of information, we have seasonal flaws. Many retailers are now ramping up hiring for the Christmas season. So… is the hiring temporary or permanent?

The survey does not say. Moreover it does not say why they are hiring. Is business expanding or is this a short-term need?

That aside, the survey is not useless by any means. If this expansion was getting stronger, the number of companies hiring would be going up. It is not. Worse yet, small businesses which are the lifeblood of job creation, have not participated in the hiring…
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Geithner Politicizes the Fed, Warns Congress to Not do the Same; Idiocies and Ironies; Economist James Galbraith Unfit to Teach

Mish discusses how Geithner Politicizes the Fed, Warns Congress to Not do the Same; Idiocies and Ironies; Economist James Galbraith Unfit to Teach. – Ilene 

Courtesy of Mish

The hypocrisy of treasury secretary Tim Geithner would be stunning except for the fact hypocrisy from Geithner is pretty much an every day occurrence.

Geithner is blasting Congress for politicizing the Fed, while doing the same thing himself. To top it off, the Fed itself is politicizing the Fed by interfering and commenting on Fiscal policy while bitching about Congress commenting on monetary policy.

Please consider Geithner Warns Republicans Against Politicizing Fed.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner warned Republicans against politicizing the Federal Reserve and said the Obama administration would oppose any effort to strip the central bank of its mandate to pursue full employment.

“It is very important to keep politics out of monetary policy,” Geithner said in an interview airing on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” this weekend. “You want to be very careful not to take steps that hurt our credibility.”

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the monetary stimulus in a speech in Frankfurt today and in a meeting with U.S. senators earlier this week.

The best way to underpin the dollar and support the global recovery “is through policies that lead to a resumption of robust growth in a context of price stability in the United States,” Bernanke said in his speech.

The asset purchases will be used in a way that’s “measured and responsive to economic conditions,” Bernanke said. Fed officials are “unwaveringly committed to price stability” and don’t seek inflation higher than the level of “2 percent or a bit less” that most policy makers see as consistent with the Fed’s legislative mandate, he said.

Bernanke Comments on Fiscal Policy

Flashback, October 4, 2010: MarketWatch reports Bernanke calls for tougher budget rules

In a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and devoid of comments on monetary policy, Bernanke said that fiscal rules might be a way to impose discipline, particularly if those rules are transparent, ambitious, focused on what the legislature can control directly, and are embraced by the public.

“A fiscal rule does not guarantee improved budget outcomes; after all, any rule imposed by a legislature can be revoked or circumvented by the same legislature,” Bernanke said,

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John Hussman On Our Fed-Inspired Bubble,

John Hussman On Our Fed-Inspired Bubble, Crash, Bubble, Crash, Bubble (etc) Reality

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

financial bubbles

Written by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Bubble, Crash, Bubble, Crash, Bubble…

"Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate the most recent action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending. Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion."

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Washington Post 11/4/2010

Last week, the Federal Reserve confirmed its intention to engage in a second round of "quantitative easing" – purchasing about $600 billion of U.S. Treasury debt over the coming months, in addition to about $250 billion that it already planned to purchase to replace various Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities as they mature.

While the announcement of QE2 itself was met with a rather mixed market reaction on Wednesday, the markets launched into a speculative rampage in response to an Op-Ed piece by Bernanke that was published Thursday morning in the Washington Post. In it, Bernanke suggested that QE2 would help the economy essentially by propping up the stock market, corporate bonds, and other types of risky securities, resulting in a "virtuous circle" of economic activity. Conspicuously absent was any suggestion that the banking system was even an object of the Fed’s policy at all. Indeed, Bernanke observed "Our earlier use of this policy approach had little effect on the amount of currency in circulation or on other broad measures of the money supply, such as bank deposits."

Given that interest rates are already quite depressed, Bernanke seems to be grasping at straws in justifying QE2 on the basis further slight reductions in yields. As for Bernanke’s case for creating wealth effects via the stock market, one might look at this logic and conclude that while it may or may not be valid, the argument is at least the subject of reasonable debate. But that would not be true. Rather, these are undoubtedly among the most ignorant…
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Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

I wish I could say that I am surprised that Ben Bernanke’s policies are failing, but quite frankly nothing this Fed does ceases to amaze me any longer.  His latest folly of QE2 is having profound effects already and it hasn’t even started yet!  Unfortunately, it is having its impacts in all the wrong places.  The other day, Richard Fisher remarked:

“In my darkest moments, I have begun to wonder if the monetary accommodation we have already engineered might even be working in the wrong places.”

Welcome to your darkest moments Mr. Fisher. The one thing we can positively confirm about QE2 is that it has not created one single job. But what has it done?  It has caused commodities and input prices to skyrocket in recent months.  Reference these 10 week moves that have resulted in the Fed already causing “mini bubbles” in various markets:

  • Cotton +48%
  • Sugar +48%
  • Soybeans +20%
  • Rice +27%
  • Coffee +18%
  • Oats +22%
  • Copper +17%

Of course, these are all inputs costs for the corporations that have desperately cut costs to try to maintain their margins.   With very weak end demand the likelihood that these costs will be passed along to the consumer is extremely low.  What does this mean?  It means the Fed is unintentionally hurting corporate margins.  And that means the Fed is unintentionally hurting the likelihood of a recovery in the labor market.

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Who Cares About Put-Backs? All the Reflationistas, That’s Who.

Who Cares About Put-Backs? All the Reflationistas, That’s Who.

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

The mortgage fraud cost estimates for banks are a bit like QB Ryan Leaf - all over the place and without any accuracy whatsoever.

We’re hearing estimates of anywhere from a few hundred million bucks to as much as $200 billion! And in the meantime, Bank of America ($BAC) is telling us that they’ve found nothing wrong in their foreclosure process and that after halting all activity in 50 states, they are now back in business in half the country.

There are currently 7 million foreclosures in the housing market that need to be worked through and any delay will be costly for large lenders like B of A.

Should the states or the courts decide that many of these securitized mortgage-backed bonds are structured fraudulently (no one knows which mortgage is owned by whom), there is a possibility that the banks may have to buy them back due to a clause on most of this paper called the Put-Back.

In the absence of anything even resembling a consensus on how big the costs of mortgage put-backs may be, the temptation is to simply say, Who Cares?  Well, I’ll tell you who cares…

For starters, how about hedge fund manager John Paulson?  With a stake in Bank of America of 167 million shares, Mr. Paulson has about 2 billion reasons to care about how big their put-back exposure is.

Mutual fund monster Bruce Berkowitz (Fairholme) has about 667 million reasons to give a damn (54 million shares held).

Hedgie David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, no slouch himself in the "reflation trade", has about 337 million reasons to care (27 million shares).

These three investors make up the Triumvirate of the Reflationista Trade.  These are the ultimate Don’t-Fight-The-Fed-ers.

That they are all in the same trade, BAC, is not a surprise – it is the quintessential call option on housing and employment. But they may not have bargained for the foreclosure mess that has hit the media with the gale-force wind of 2007′s sub-prime storm. Whether or not this particular storm blows over – or spills over – is very much of interest to Paulson, Berkowitz and Tepper, make no mistake.

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Non-Farm Payrolls: US Economy Doing a Great Imitation of a Developing Double Dip

Non-Farm Payrolls: US Economy Doing a Great Imitation of a Developing Double Dip


The September Non-Farm Payrolls report was not good news.

This is a remarkably unnatural US economic recovery, with gold, silver, and other key commodities soaring in price, the near end of the Treasury curve hitting record low interest rates, and stocks steadily rallying as employment slumps and the median wage continues to decline.

The US is a Potemkin Village economy with the appearance of prosperity hiding the rot of fraud, oligarchy, and political corruption. 

As monetary power and wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer hands, the robust organic nature of the economy and the middle class continues to deteriorate. 

This is what is happening, and monetary policy cannot affect it.   The change must come from the source, which is in political and financial reform.   And the powerful status quo is dead set against it.

The long term trend of employment has not yet turned lower which would make the second dip ‘official’ from our point of view. But the prognosis does not look good.

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The Morality of Chinese Growth

The Morality of Chinese Growth

Courtesy of John Mauldin at Investors’ Insights

Oil at $125 a Barrel, Gasoline at $5 
David Rosenberg and Capacity Utilization 
Gary Shilling: Commercial Real Estate and Employment 
The Morality of Chinese Growth 
Another Birthday? What Happened to My Year? 
Athens and the Barefoot Ranch

This week I am at a conference in Houston. I must confess that I don’t attend many of the sessions at most conferences where I speak. But today, the guys at Streettalk Advisors have such a great lineup that I am there for every session. But it’s Friday and I need to write. The solution? This week you get a "best of" letter. The best ideas I’ve heard and the best charts I’ve seen at this conference. Then we close with two short but very thoughtful essays from Charles Gave and Arthur Kroeber of GaveKal on "The Morality of Chinese Growth." Lots of charts and something to make you think. Should be a good letter.

Oil at $125 a Barrel, Gasoline at $5

John Hofmeister is the former president of Shell Oil and now CEO of the public-policy group Citizens for Affordable Energy. He paints a very stark (even bleak, as he gets further into the speech) picture of the future of energy production in the US unless we change our current policies. First, because of the after effects of the moratorium. It is his belief that the drilling moratorium will effectively still be in place until at least the middle of 2012. There won’t even be new rules until the end of 2011, and then the lawsuits start.

Gulf oil production will be down by up to 1 million barrels a day. Imported oil is now 67% of oil usage but will go to 75% by 2012. He thinks crude oil will be up to $125 and gasoline between $4-$5 at the pump. And it will only get worse.

He describes the problem with the electricity from coal production. The average coal plant is 38 years old, with a planned-for life of 50 years. Our energy production capability is rapidly aging, and we are not updating it fast enough.

He argues that the fight between the right and the left has given us 37 years without a realistic energy policy, as policy gets driven by two-year political cycles but good energy planning takes decades. There…
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Phil's Favorites

John Mauldin: Trade Wars Could Trigger "The Next Great Depression"

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Last week on Erik Townsend's Macrovoices podcast, Jim Grant, storied credit investor and founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, explained the reasoning behind his call that the great secular bond bear market actually began in the aftermath of the UK's Brexit vote during the summer of 2016 - when Treasury yields touched their all-time lows.

Surprisingly, Grant's call isn't rooted in the bold-faced absurdity of Italian junk bonds trading with a zero-handle (although that's certainly part of it). Rather, Grant explained, a historical analysis reveals that bond yields fluctuate in broad-based multi-generation cycles of different lengths. And given the carte blanche allotted to econo...

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Zero Hedge

John Mauldin: Trade Wars Could Trigger "The Next Great Depression"

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Last week on Erik Townsend's Macrovoices podcast, Jim Grant, storied credit investor and founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, explained the reasoning behind his call that the great secular bond bear market actually began in the aftermath of the UK's Brexit vote during the summer of 2016 - when Treasury yields touched their all-time lows.

Surprisingly, Grant's call isn't rooted in the bold-faced absurdity of Italian junk bonds trading with a zero-handle (although that's certainly part of it). Rather, Grant explained, a historical analysis reveals that bond yields fluctuate in broad-based multi-generation cycles of different lengths. And given the carte blanche allotted to econo...

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Digital Currencies

Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Courtesy of Anwar Halari, The Open University

If you haven’t already heard of Bitcoin, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re a time traveller who just touched down in 2018. Because by now, most of us will have heard of Bitcoin and some of us have even jumped on the bandwagon, investing in cryptocurrencies.

But despite its popularity, many people still don’t understand the technology that underlines it: blockchain. In...

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Insider Scoop

Wendy's 'Intriguing' 2020 Outlook Overshadowed By Valuation Concerns, Oppenheimer Says

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related WEN Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For March 20, 2018 Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For March 8, 2018 ... more from Insider

Chart School

Bears Take Control

Courtesy of Declan.

More decisive action from bears today as markets lose support.  The S&P undercut the rising trendline and 20-day plus 50-day MAs in a move which looks like it could develop into a test of the February spike low and the 200-day MA again; support at 2,695 is looking critical here. Aggressive traders could look to buy at these levels but confidence in this holding would not be high.

The Dow also saw its 'bear flag' / consolidation triangle resolve to the downside. The two positives were the relatively light volume and the ...

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Peter Thiel: Need To Rethink Tariffs In Light Of Trade Deficit With China; SF Sucks, Bitcoin Rocks

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel in a wide-ranging interview on President Trump’s trade tariffs, China’s economy, technology regulations and his outlook for bitcoin.


Check out our H2 hedge fund letters here.

Peter Thiel: Need To Rethink Tariffs In Light Of Trade Deficit With China

Peter Thiel On Leaving Silicon Valley For Los Angeles

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel argues Silicon Valley is is a ‘totalitarian place’ where people are not allowed to have dissenting views.


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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)


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

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

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...

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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...

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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.

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