Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

California Showdown – Court sides with Schwarzenegger on minimum wage; L.A. council Fires 232 Workers; Illinois Stops Paying Bills Keeps Digging Holes

California Showdown – Court sides with Schwarzenegger on minimum wage; L.A. council Fires 232 Workers; Illinois Stops Paying Bills Keeps Digging Holes

Courtesy of Mish

Arnold Schwarzenegger as an unstoppable killing machine in the science fiction thriller Terminator 1984.

Fortunately a California appellate court came down in favor of sanity and sided with the governor when Schwarzenegger Ordered 200,000 State Workers be Paid Minimum Wage until a budget was passed.

Please consider Court sides with Schwarzenegger on minimum wage

A state appellate court on Friday sided with the Schwarzenegger administration in its attempt to temporarily impose the federal minimum wage on tens of thousands of state workers.

It was not immediately clear how the ruling would affect Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order a day earlier to pay 200,000 state workers the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour as the state wrestles with a budget crisis.

The state controller, who cuts state paychecks, has refused to comply with the order. Friday’s ruling affirms a lower-court decision in favor of the administration in a lawsuit filed two years ago after the governor’s first attempt to impose the minimum wage.

The latest ruling from the California 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento concludes that state Controller John Chiang cannot ignore the minimum wage order from the state Department of Personnel Administration.

But Chiang said in a news release that he interpreted the court ruling to mean that his office would not have to comply with the executive order if it was practically infeasible to do so.

Schwarzenegger’s minimum wage order will not affect all of California’s 250,000 government employees. The 37,000 state workers represented by unions that recently negotiated new contracts with the administration will continue to receive their full pay. The contracts, including one with California Highway Patrol officers, contain pay cuts and pension reforms.

Salaried managers who are not paid on an hourly basis would see their pay cut to $455 a week. Doctors and lawyers who work for the state will not be paid at all until a budget is signed because minimum wage laws do not apply to those professions.

Schwarzenegger is pushing for minimum wage based on a 2003 California Supreme Court ruling. In White vs. Davis, the court held that state employees do not have the right to their full salaries if a state budget has not been enacted. At the same time, the state cannot ignore federal wage laws.

Chiang has maintained that


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Illinois Leaps Ahead of California in Default Risk, Better than Iraq, Worse than Portugal; Pension Fraud in Milwaukee

Illinois Leaps Ahead of California in Default Risk, Better than Iraq, Worse than Portugal; Pension Fraud in Milwaukee

Courtesy of Mish

CMA data shows Illinois and California are in the top ten list of sovereign default risks, with Illinois leapfrogging California in terms of increasing risk.

Please consider CMA Market Data as of Wednesday, 23 June 2010.

Sovereign Default Risks

Illinois is ranked a better risk than Iraq, but riskier than Portugal and California.

The countries (or states) are ranked by their cumulative probability of default (CPD), which gives the market’s assessment of an issuer’s likelihood of default over the life of a CDS contract.

9,111 retired California government workers receive pensions in excess of $100,000

Here is the CalPERS Top Ten list

Bruce Malkenhorst is the top recipient making over half-a-million dollars a year in pension benefits. Is that insane or what?

Please click on previous link to search the entire CalPERS list.

3,090 retired California teachers and administrators receive pensions in excess of $100,000

Here is the CalSTRS Top 10 List

Please click on previous link to search the entire CalSTRS list.

Ironman Competitor Deemed "Permanently and Totally Incapacitated" Collects huge pension benefits.

Dave Orlowski, 54 years young, is fit enough for multiple "Ironman Competitions" but amazingly collects $53,063 disability benefits a year plus full health benefits because the Milwaukee police union deems him "permanently and totally incapacitated for duty."

Please consider Fit enough for Ironman but not for the MPD

Dave Orlowski can swim 2.4 miles. He can bike 112 miles. He can run 26.2 miles.

In fact, the 54-year-old athlete can do all of these one right after the other – several times a year. He completed six Ironman triathlons last year, has done three so far this year and hopes to compete in yet another one in Klagenfurt, Austria, on July 4.

Orlowski can also play a round of golf, as he did recently at a fund-raiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin.

But this is something the guy won’t do:

He won’t work for the Milwaukee Police Department.

That’s because the former homicide detective has been declared "permanently and totally incapacitated for duty."

As an injured ex-cop, Orlowski has been paid nearly $500,000 in tax-free pension checks by the city since 1999. He is currently receiving $53,063 a year from the city Employees’ Retirement System, plus


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Cost of Insuring Illinois Debt from Default Hits All-Time High; Illinois Pension Fund Loses $Billions in OTC Derivatives Positions

Cost of Insuring Illinois Debt from Default Hits All-Time High; Illinois Pension Fund Loses $Billions in OTC Derivatives Positions

Courtesy of Mish

USA, Illinois, Chicago, Millennium Park, Cloud gate sculpture, dusk

Congratulations of sorts go to the State of Illinois for having the most hopelessly underfunded pension plans in the US and also one of the biggest per capita budget deficits.

Topping off the misery, the Illinois Teachers Retirement System is losing money in risky derivatives bets in what one analyst says amounts to “collecting nickels ahead of the bulldozer.”

Given that sorry state of affairs it should be no surprise to discover Illinois Debt Default Insurance Climbs to Record.

The cost of insuring Illinois bonds against default rose to a record as lawmakers sought to close a $13 billion deficit in the state’s proposed budget for the year starting July 1.

The cost of a five-year credit-default swap for the state rose 2 basis points today to 304.64 basis points, or $304,640 per $10 million of debt according to CMA DataVision.

Illinois Loses $Billions on OTC Derivatives

Inquiring minds are reading Illinois pension fund uses OTC derivatives to recoup returns, jeopardizes pensions

Dale Rosenthal, a former strategist for Long Term Capital Management, the hedge fund known for its epic collapse in 1998, and a proprietary trader for Morgan Stanley, has seen his share of financial complexities.

But when shown a seven-page list of derivatives positions held by the Illinois Teachers Retirement System as of March 31, obtained by Medill News Service through a Freedom of Information Act request, the University of Illinois-Chicago assistant professor of finance expressed disbelief.

“If you were to have faxed me this balance sheet and asked me to guess who it belonged to, I would have guessed, Citadel, Magnetar or even a proprietary trading desk at a bank,” Rosenthal said.

How bad is it? After losing $4.4 billion on investments in fiscal year 2009, and 5 percent on investments in fiscal 2008, the teachers’ pension is now underfunded by $44.5 billion, or 60.9 percent, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s March 2010 report. By comparison, only 20.3 percent of the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund is unfunded.

For the quarter ended March 31, according to derivatives experts who studied TRS’ financial documents, the fund lost some $515 million on its derivatives portfolio. Since then, the fund’s derivatives positions have likely soured further, the experts


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Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests

Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests

Courtesy of Mish 

The wave of social unrest is spreading. A new round of protests has hit Spain with a public sector strike set for June 8. In Slovenia, students are protesting new rules that limit their work hours and pay.

"Luka Gubo" an economist from Slovenia writes:

Hi Mish!

First I must say that I love your blog. Great job!

I just wanted you to know that Slovenian students are protesting too.

The main reason for organizing protests is changes in law regarding student jobs. Current tax law makes average workers uncompetitive because businesses pay about 15% income tax for students and more then 35% income tax for average worker (average net income is 930€).

Bear in mind that the average time for a student to complete his higher education here is 6 years and that more then 20% of "students" do not to school at all. Instead, they just enjoy student benefits like lower income taxes, food stamps, etc.

I think that everyone would agree a new law is needed in Slovenia. However, the new will limit the maximum hours worked by students to one third of full work time, and put a limit on maximum hourly wage at 8€ per hour.

That one *ing great free-market solution, wouldn’t you agree?

Here is the Slovenian parliament building after 2 hours:

The protests went smooth for a while, but it did not last long. You can find a series of 39 images at http://www.finance.si/galerije/2139/3/

Luka Gubo

More Images

Greece, Spain hit by strikes over cuts

CNN Reports Greece, Spain hit by strikes over cuts

Public sector union ADEDY and private sector union GSEE called the strikes against the government’s austerity measures, in particular the pension reforms announced last week. The reforms include raising the retirement age, which varies in different professions.

It is the first major strike since May 5, when violent protests against the austerity measures resulted in the deaths of three people in the capital, Athens.

Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6 p.m. (noon ET) outside the Ministry of the Treasury in Madrid and outside the central government offices in their respective towns. Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6


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Fitch Downgrades Illinois and Warns of Further Actions as Budget Gap Widens

Fitch Downgrades Illinois and Warns of Further Actions as Budget Gap Widens

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

Illinois is financially the fifth largest US state with a 2008 GDP of approximately $633 Billion.

To put this in perspective, the 2008 GDP for the nation of Greece was approximately $357 Billion.

The largest state is California with $1.8 Trillion in 2008 GDP, roughly on a par with Russia, Spain, or Brazil,

The US is also considering accounting rule changes that will require the states to more accurately reflect and more fully fund their pension obligations for government employees.

The problem of States’ debt is made more problematic by decreasing state tax revenues and the enormous demands of the US Federal government for more tax revenues on their citizens’ incomes, and the crowding effect in markets by the record amounts of sovereign debt issuance which is largely short term and must be rolled over regularly.

The Bond Buyer
Fitch Downgrades Illinois to A-minus
By Yvette Shields
March 29, 2010

CHICAGO — Fitch Ratings late Monday downgraded Illinois’ general obligation rating one notch to A-minus and warned of possible further action by leaving the state’s credit on negative watch ahead of $1.3 billion of short- and long-term GO issuance in three deals over the coming weeks.

Gov. Pat Quinn had hoped that the General Assembly’s passage last week of pension reforms would stave off any negative rating actions and buy the state some additional time to address a nearly $13 billion budget deficit and liquidity crisis in the current legislative session.

But Fitch analysts said the state’s challenges are too severe and persistent. They believe it is unlikely the fiscal 2011 budget will “sufficiently address either the annual operating deficit or accumulated liabilities.”

The results of the current session will drive analysts’ decision as to whether Illinois holds on to its current rating level. Fitch dropped the state’s $23.4 billion of GO debt two notches down to its current level last July.

Fitch’s action follows Standard & Poor’s decision on Friday to place the state’s A-plus rating on negative CreditWatch. Moody’s Investors Service on Monday affirmed its A2 rating and negative outlook.


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Bankruptcy Court Gives Prichard Alabama 2 More Months To Figure Out How To Pay Pensioners

Bankruptcy Court Gives Prichard Alabama 2 More Months To Figure Out How To Pay Pensioners

Courtesy of Mish 

Prichard Alabama declared bankruptcy on October 28, 2009 over pension obligations. Since then pensioners have not been paid. Now a bankruptcy court has given the city two more months to figure out how to do so.

Let’s backtrack to the beginning. Please consider Prichard files for bankruptcy protection again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The city of Prichard filed for bankruptcy Tuesday in an attempt to cope with the debt created by fighting lawsuits and addressing the demands of unpaid and agitated retired city employees.

The Chapter 9 filing marks the second time in a decade that the city declared it was out of money. Mayor Ron Davis, who just two years ago helped the city pay off its creditors from the 1999 bankruptcy, blamed the latest financial crisis in part on a flawed municipal pension plan. The filing came a day before Davis and the city Finance Director Rex Williams were slated to be deposed by attorneys representing the pensioners in a lawsuit filed in August.

With the filing, that testimony will be put on hold, along with any other litigation pending against the city.

"After careful review of all of our options, bankruptcy protection seems to be the only solution left at this time," Davis said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "Over the past 50 years, the pension plan was amended by the Legislature more than fifteen times, and always the economic burden on the City was increased. This has been a long-term problem that was unfortunately inherited by this administration.

"After several lawsuits filed by pensioners, it has forced us to come to this decision, one that will protect the city and its residents," Davis’ statement added.

Pensioners Have Received No Checks For Six Months

Please consider Still no money for Prichard pensioners

A bankruptcy court judge has given the City of Prichard two more months to figure out how they will pay retired city workers. Prichard pensioners have gone six months without a pension check.

Prichard is operating under the protection of Title IX Bankruptcy, and for many people, that means no promised pension payments.

After six months with no pay, Prichard pensioners put their faith into the courts. They hoped a judge would force the city to pay some, if not all, of


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Rep. Suzie Bassi: “Illinois in Utter Crisis, Next to Bankruptcy, $13bn Hole in a $28bn Budget”; Ambrose Evans Pritchard Inflicted with FIV

Rep. Suzie Bassi: "Illinois in Utter Crisis, Next to Bankruptcy, $13bn Hole in a $28bn Budget"; Ambrose Evans Pritchard Inflicted with FIV

Courtesy of Mish 

French mime artist Marcel Marceau's items auctioned at Drouot in Paris

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has the right facts but the wrong cure in Don’t go wobbly on us now, Ben Bernanke, an article detailing the problems in many US states, notably Illinois.

Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois is near the point of fiscal disintegration. "The state is in utter crisis," said Representative Suzie Bassi. "We are next to bankruptcy. We have a $13bn hole in a $28bn budget."

The state has been paying bills with unfunded vouchers since October. A fifth of buses have stopped. Libraries, owed $400m (£263m), are closing one day a week. Schools are owed $725m. Unable to pay teachers, they are preparing mass lay-offs. "It’s a catastrophe", said the Schools Superintedent.

In Alexander County, the sheriff’s patrol cars have been repossessed; three-quarters of his officers are laid off; the local prison has refused to take county inmates until debts are paid.

Florida, Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York are all facing crises. California has cut teachers salaries by 5pc, and imposed a 5pc levy on pension fees.

This is not to pick on America. Belt-tightening is the oppressive fact of 2010-2012 for half the world. Hungary, Ukraine, the Baltics and the Balkans are already under the knife. Latvia’s economy may contract by 30pc from peak to trough as it carries out an "internal devaluation", ie wage cuts, to hold its euro peg.

The eurozone’s fiscal squeeze is well advanced in Ireland. Brussels has told Greece to cut by 10pc of GDP in three years, Spain by 8pc, Portugal by 6pc. Britain must slash soon, or face a gilts strike.

The Bank for International Settlements says Britain needs a primary surplus of 5.8pc of GDP for a decade to stabilise debt at pre-crisis levels, given the ageing crunch as well. The figure is 6.4pc for Japan, 4.3pc for the US and France. It warns of "unstable dynamics", posh talk for a debt spiral. "Action is needed now."

The West risks a slow grind into debt-deflation unless central banks offset fiscal tightening with monetary stimulus – QE, of course – to keep demand alive. Yet the Fed and the European Central Bank are letting credit contract.

So why has Bernanke broken ranks with King and…
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School Bills Due But State Can’t Pay: “There is No Money”; Let the War on Public Unions Begin

School Bills Due But State Can’t Pay: "There is No Money"; Let the War on Public Unions Begin

Courtesy of Mish

Two schoolgirls and boy (4-6) standing at table making paper chain

While the stock market marches on oblivious to the real world, things are rapidly approaching crisis mode in Illinois, and for that matter nearly everywhere you look. Please consider School bills are due, but state won’t pay.

Say the words out loud to get a feel for the size of it: Forty-five million, two hundred and six thousand, six hundred and fifty-four dollars, and sixty-one cents. That’s how much the state is behind in payments to your local schools.

When the quarterly payments came due at the end of the year, the state again missed its categorical and grant payments to all 871 Illinois school districts.

This money is supposed to fund projects like school buses, special education, reading programs and early childhood development. But the money’s not coming, instead getting added bill by bill to an already $4.5 billion IOU the state has for services from schools to homeless shelters.

But the same state that’s no longer paying for these programs legally requires them.

Unlike the usual budget bellyaching when political pressure can make money appear, this time is different, said state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora. There is no money. "This is not a false alarm. This is not someone pulling a fire drill. This is a fire," Chapa LaVia said.

The West Aurora School District plans to lay off teachers for the second year running. Last year, the district planned to lay off 120 teachers, but ended up only giving 55 the ax. The district didn’t have a change of heart — laying off all 120 would have pushed class sizes past the maximum in the teachers union contract.

There’s a fee the district can pay if they want to go past that limit by laying off more teachers. They’re considering it. "It’s cheaper to pay a premium than to pay a teacher," West Aurora Chief Financial Officer Christi Tyler said.

It’s not that the state is denying it owes this money. The Illinois State Board of Education, like many state agencies, is dutifully sending its vouchers to the comptroller’s office, where … nothing happens.

What usually is a bureaucratic delay where the comptroller gets the voucher and then cuts the check within


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Zero Hedge

WeWork Board, Softbank Officials Push For CEO Neumann's Ouster

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

The odds of WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann becoming "the world's first trillionaire"  maybe about to take another major hit.

In what appears to be the latest attempt to salvage the farce that is the WeWork IPO (and the massive hole it will leave in Masayoshi Son's balance sheet and credibility), ...



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Insider Scoop

Notable Insider Buys In The Past Week: AbbVie, Kraft Heinz And More

Courtesy of Benzinga

Insider buying can be an encouraging signal for potential investors.

A packaged food giant and two drugmakers saw notable insider buying activity this past week.

Some of this insider buying occurred alongside insider sales.

Conventional wisdom says that insiders and 10% owners really only buy shares of a company for one reason — they believe the stock price will rise and they want to profit. So insider...



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Phil's Favorites

Peloton IPO Guide... And Why It Makes No Sense

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

By Scott Willis via Grizzle.com

BOTTOM LINE

At the end of the day, Peloton is a gym membership pretending to be a tech company.

We fully admit the product is exciting and unique in the market, but Peloton still faces the same problem...



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Digital Currencies

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

 

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

Recent revelations about the lack of privacy protections in place at the companies involved in Facebook’s new Libra crytocurrency raise concerns about how much trust users can place in Libra. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Alfred Lehar, University of Calgary

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, stunned the world earlier this year with the announcement of its own cryptocurrency, Libra.

The launch has raised questions about the difference between Libra and existing cryptocurrencies, as well as the implications of private companies competing with s...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Look Out Bears! Fed New QE Now Up to $165 Billion

Courtesy of Lee Adler

I have been warning for months that the Fed would need new QE to counter the impact of massive waves of Treasury supply. I thought that that would come later, rather than sooner. Sorry folks, wrong about that. The NY Fed announced another round of new TOMO (Temporary Open Market Operations) today.

In addition to the $75 billion in overnight repos that the Fed issued and has been rolling over since Tuesday, next week the Fed will issue another $90 billion. They’ll come in the form of three $30 billion, 14 day repos to be offered next week.

That brings the new Fed QE to a total of $165 billion. Even in the worst days of the financial crisis, I can’t remember the Fed ballooning its balance sheet by $165 bi...



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The Technical Traders

Is A Price Revaluation Event About To Happen?

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Skilled technical traders must be aware that price is setting up for a breakout or breakdown event with recent Doji, Hammer
and other narrow range price bars.  These types of Japanese Candlestick patterns are warnings that price is coiling into
a tight range and the more we see them in a series, the more likely price is building up some type of explosive price breakout/breakdown move in the near future.  The ES (S&P 500 E-mini futures) chart is a perfect example of these types of price bars on the Daily chart (see below).

Tri-Star Tops, Three River Evening Star patterns, Hammers/Hangmen and Dojis are all very common near extreme price peaks and troughs.  The rea...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

India About To Experience Major Strength? Possible Says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

If one invested in the India ETF (INDA) back in January of 2012, your total 7-year return would be 24%. During the same time frame, the S&P 500 made 124%. The 7-year spread between the two is a large 100%!

Are things about to improve for the INDA ETF and could it be time for the relative weakness to change? Possible!

This chart looks at the INDA/SPX ratio since early 2012. The ratio continues to be in a major downtrend.

The ratio hit a 7-year low a few months ago and this week it kissed those lows again at (1). The ratio near weeks end is attempting to...



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Chart School

Crude Oil Cycle Bottom aligns with Saudi Oil Attack

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Do the cycles know? Funny how cycle lows attract the need for higher prices, no matter what the news is!

These are the questions before markets on on Monday 16th Aug 2019:

1) A much higher oil price in quick time can not be tolerated by the consumer, as it gives birth to much higher inflation and a tax on the average Joe disposable income. This is recessionary pressure.

2) With (1) above the real issue will be the higher interest rate and US dollar effect on the SP500 near all time highs.

3) A moderately higher oil price is likely to be absorbed and be bullish as it creates income for struggling energy companies and the inflation shock may be muted. 

We shall see. 

...

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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

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

Are you ready to retire?  

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

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

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



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Promotions

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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.

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.

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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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