Posts Tagged ‘income’

THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISTS TO ACT LIKE CAPITALISTS

THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISTS TO ACT LIKE CAPITALISTS

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Yesterday’s discussion regarding Jeff Gundlach’s opinion that the US economy would default raised an excellent question from a reader.  In the article I mentioned that private sector net savings are government deficit.  Steve Randy Waldman at Interfluidity (in a far more detailed look) beautifully described what I was trying to communicate: net household financial income = current account surplus + government deficit + Δbusiness non-financial assets.  The question from the reader was this: if the above equation is true then where is all the private sector surplus?  This question was masterfully answered by Rob Parenteau the other day on Naked Capitalism.  His conclusion:

“Remember the global savings glut you keep hearing about from Greenspan, Bernanke, Rajan, and other prominent neoliberals? Turns out it is a corporate savings glut. There is a glut of profits, and these profits are not being reinvested in tangible plant and equipment. Companies, ostensibly under the guise of maximizing shareholder value, would much rather pay their inside looters in management handsome bonuses, or pay out special dividends to their shareholders, or play casino games with all sorts of financial engineering thrown into obfuscate the nature of their financial speculation, than fulfill the traditional roles of capitalist, which is to use profits as both a signal to invest in expanding the productive capital stock, as well as a source of financing the widening and upgrading of productive plant and equipment.

What we have here, in other words, is a failure of capitalists to act as capitalists (emphasis added).”

This fact was best portrayed yesterday by Edward Harrison who writes the excellent Credit Writedowns website.  Edward showed us just how much hoarding is going on at the corporate level:

corporate profits 400x287 THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISTS TO ACT LIKE CAPITALISTS

cash hoard 400x249 THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISTS TO ACT LIKE CAPITALISTS

I pulled a quick and dirty scan of some of the corporations with very high cash balances.  As you can see most of the world’s largest corporations are flush with cash.  They are literally hoarding billions.  The problem of course, from an economic perspective is that these corporations, are in many ways, effectively debiting the system by not spending their retained earnings.  Many of these companies have simply been amassing cash for years on end.  Think paradox of thrift at a time when the consumer is struggling with an unbearable debt load.  Not exactly a recipe for economic growth….

cash THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISTS TO ACT LIKE CAPITALISTS

The conundrum…
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Ten Reasons Why This Has Been A Weak Recovery

Ten Reasons Why This Has Been A Weak Recovery

9 Y/O BOY SICK IN BED WITH ICE PACK AND THERMOMETER

Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns 

Comstock Partners latest weekly note called "Why it’s Still A Secular Bear Market" is in line with my view of the economy and market. They see the core issue as a longer-term deleveraging that cannot be solved by fiscal and monetary stimulus. I have said that this likely means lower inflation-adjusted stock prices when the stimulus-induced recovery fades. This is a view they also hold.

However, they also provide ten specific reasons why we should see the recovery as already under attack.

  1. While May retail sales were up 8% from the early 2009 low they are still 4.4% below the peak reached 2 1/2 years ago in November 2007. By way of comparison, over the last 43 years retail sales have seldom declined at all, even in recessions.
  2. May industrial production (IP) was 8.1%% over its June 2009 trough, but still 7.9% below the late 2007 peak. At its current level, IP is still where it was over 10 years ago in early 2000.. Never since the 1930’s depression has IP failed to exceed a level attained 10 years earlier.
  3. New orders for durable goods in April were up 21% from the low of March 2009, but still 22% below the top in December 2007. In fact new orders are at the same level as in late 1999, over ten years ago.
  4. Initial weekly unemployment claims steadily declined from 651,000 in March 2009 to 477,000 by Mid-November, but have been range-bound with no improvement in the last 6 ½ months. Furthermore the current number of claims is still in recession territory.
  5. April new home sales were up 14.8% from a month earlier and are up a seemingly robust 48% since the low. However, the current number is still a whopping 64% below the 2005 monthly peak. Prior to the current recession the last time new home sales were this low was in February 1991.
  6. Existing home sales in April were up 27% from the low in late 2008, but still 20% below the peak in late 2005. We also note that both new and existing home sales were boosted by the homebuyers tax credit that has already expired, and that the housing market has weakened considerably since that time.
  7. May vehicle sales of 11.6 million annualized were up


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Hosed in Canada; Housing Crash is a Given

Hosed in Canada; Housing Crash is a Given

Courtesy of Mish

Houses in winter, Inuvik, NWT, Canada

Inquiring mind may be interested in an email from Robert Clegg at the University of Calgary regarding housing prices in Canada vs. disposable income.

Robert writes …

Mish, I love your blog and read it daily. I came across this article with respect to Canada’s housing bubble. The articles states, " Canadians are spending more and more of their disposable income on housing. In Toronto, 44% of disposable income goes to housing and in Vancouver the figure is a whopping 68%. The trend is likely not sustainable."

Imagine, 68% of your disposable income being spent on housing costs with the remaining disposable income likely being spent on their favorite Top Ramen and KD dinners. This is insane as well as unsustainable. It’s funny that many Canadians seems to think that the 49th parallel has magically created immunity from a housing bust that in their minds is exclusive to the United States. I can’t tell you how many times friends and acquaintances say that Canada’s banks are sound and there was no sub-prime lending and it just can’t happen here. I’m quick to remind them that the loss of one income from a two income family will in essence convert a low credit risk to a poor credit risk akin to that of a sub-prime borrower real fast. Now, multiply this my hundreds of thousands if not millions of borrows and we too have a major problem in Canada no different from that of the US. Wishful thinking really. The proof’s in the pudding and this puddings going to bring a dose of reality to those that are living in fantasy land, way beyond their means and who apparently have missed the global financial crisis that’s been gaining traction and intensity since August 2007.

We’re not only "Hosers" in Canada but we’re royally Hosed as well!!

Robert Clegg, JD, LL.M
Ombudsman, University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

Is Canada’s housing bubble about to burst?

Here is the article to which Robert Clegg referred: Is Canada’s housing bubble about to burst?

Canadians are spending more and more of their disposable income on housing. In Toronto, 44% of disposable income goes to housing and in Vancouver the figure is a whopping 68%. The trend is likely not sustainable.

The federal government imposed tighter mortgage


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The Problem with “Tax The Rich”: It Won’t Work

The Problem with "Tax The Rich": It Won’t Work 

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith Of Two Minds 

The word tax in corroded and cracked letters

Many observers conclude our fiscal problems could be solved if only we "taxed the rich." There are structural reasons why this won’t solve our fiscal profligacy.

Calls to increase taxes on the rich are highly popular with people who are not rich. This is understandable; those of us who do pay income taxes naturally feel we already pay enough and some wealthier person could cough up a few more bucks without undue sacrifice.

And of course those who pay no Federal income tax at all--about half the populace--are also in favor of unnamed "rich people" paying more, though since they have no "skin in the game" because they pay no Federal income taxes, their views are somewhat detached from the entire debate.

As I took great pains to document in Tyranny of the Majority, Corporate Welfare and Complicity (April 9, 2010), the bottom 60% of U.S. households pay essentially no Federal income taxes while the top earners pay most of the taxes already:

After including earned-income tax credits, the bottom 60% of households paid less than 1% of all Federal income taxes, and the households between 60% and 80% paid 13%.

The top 20% paid 68.7% of all Federal taxes: Income taxes, Social Security and Medicare, excise and corporate taxes. The top 10% of households paid fully 72.7% of all Federal income tax, the top 5% paid 60.7%, and the top 1% paid 38.8%.

Here are the source documents:

Income Tax: John Bull

Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates, 1979 – 20065.

Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax .

A number of commentators have noted that the incomes of the super-wealthy (which I define as the top 1% who own most of the productive assets of the nation) have risen even more than their taxes. They also note that the Social Security tax of 7.65% (employee and employer each pay 7.65%) is regressive, as those making $500,000 a year only pay tax on the first $108,000 of income: 47% Of American Families Pay No Income Tax! Really?

So we have to be careful not to say that half of all wage earners don’t pay any tax whatsoever. On the other hand, as I documented in Will Delinquencies Trigger a New American Revolution? (April 7, 2008),…
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What’s Wrong With Expecting a 28,000,000 Dow?

What’s Wrong With Expecting a 28,000,000 Dow?

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

Listen, it’s not THAT unrealistic, look at the Dow from March 2009 to now! It’s a miracle!

Schwarzenegger economic adviser David Crane writes about the bizarre situation in WSJ saying in 1999, then governor Gray Davis signed into law a bill that made looting California legal and gave state pensioners quite a boost in income based on completely unrealistic projections of fund performance (you know, the sort of stuff prospectuses warn about).

WC Varones shares a bit of CalPERS math (via WSJ):

What Calpers failed to disclose, however, was that (1) the state budget was on the hook for shortfalls should actual investment returns fall short of assumed investment returns, (2) those assumed investment returns implicitly projected the Dow Jones would reach roughly 25,000 by 2009 and 28,000,000 by 2099, unrealistic to say the least (3) shortfalls could turn out to be hundreds of billions of dollars, (4) Calpers’s own employees would benefit from the pension increases and (5) members of Calpers’s board had received contributions from the public employee unions who would benefit from the legislation. Had such a flagrant case of non-disclosure occurred in the private sector, even a sleepy SEC and US Attorney would have noticed.

Hahahahahahahahaha a 28,000,000 Dow by 2099! Now that’s funny.

F%$k schools, f&*k roads, f*%k social services, as long as our state employees are taken care of, what the hell do we need the rest of that sh*t for?! 

See also: Mish’s Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests


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PARTS OF THIS MARKET ARE LOOKING IRRATIONAL

PARTS OF THIS MARKET ARE LOOKING IRRATIONAL

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

I haven’t thought the 75%+ rally was particularly irrational over the course of the last 12 months.  Surprised by the strength?  Absolutely.  But irrational, no.  As of late, we’ve begun to see signs that the consumer is back, but the equity action implies that the consumer is not only back, but ready to break records.  In late 2006 I wrote a letter that said:

“So here we sit with a relatively healthy economy, signs of inflation and record housing prices. Sounds pretty good, right? Not so fast. The markets could certainly move higher if housing doesn’t collapse, but we see very few scenarios in which that can happen.  When the housing market slows consumers will spend less and businesses will begin to suffer. The US economy will then fall into a recession and European and Asian countries will quickly follow suit as the world’s greatest consumers wilt under the environment of low liquidity and higher debt….The credit driven housing bubble remains the greatest risk to the equity markets at this time.”

I said the market was due for a potentially crippling recession as the yield curve inverted, consumer balance sheets were turned upside down, and a housing bubble was brewing.  Just days before the market crashed in 2008 I said the market had all the ingredients for a crash.  In late 2008 I said the market had overreacted and would likely revert towards the mean in 2009 for a total return of 18%.

The day before the market bottom in March 2009 I said government intervention would likely generate an equity rally.  But I did not come close to predicting that we were on the precipice of a 75% 12 month move.  Not even close.  On the other hand, I have never thought the move was particularly irrational and didn’t fight the tape through 2009.

I was very constructive on the market heading into 2010 and maintained that stimulus, strong earnings and an accommodative Fed would result in higher stock prices in H1.  I point this out not because I am trying to toot my own horn or gloss over my many imperfections (many can be emphasized), but overall I have been able to not only foresee the macro mechanics driving the market, but have also done a fine job translating that into…
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New York Sales Tax Receipts In Unprecedented Collapse

New York Sales Tax Receipts In Unprecedented Collapse

New York City, high angle view

Courtesy of Joe Weisenthal at Clusterstock/Business Insider 

It’s a good thing Wall Street bonuses rebounded in 2009 because otherwise the State of New York would be totally screwed.

Yesterday the Comptroller released its survey of the state’s sales tax receipts — a proxy for consumer spending that shows a trend opposite to Wall Street.

Here’s the top-line view:

Counties across New York State, including New York City, saw one of the sharpest declines in sales tax collections on record, according to a report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The report, which compares 2009 to 2008 collections, found a 5.9 decrease in collections statewide. Only four counties saw an increase but these numbers were primarily due to administrative and technical adjustments, not better economic performance.

“This is yet another sign that the Great Recession is having a continuing impact on our communities across New York,” said DiNapoli. “These numbers are sobering. Fortunately, many local governments have taken sometimes painful budgetary steps to stave off disaster. It’s a struggle, but all levels of government have to make every taxpayer dime count.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • Fifty-three of New York’s 57 counties outside of New York City saw a sales tax decline and many of these counties share sales tax revenues with their municipalities;

  • The largest decline occurred in the Lower Hudson Valley, at 8.4 percent;

  • In state fiscal year 2009-10, the state’s sales tax base (value of all goods and services subject to the sales tax) shrank by 7.1 percent;

  • Among New York’s counties, Westchester saw the steepest drop at 10.3 percent;

  • The Mohawk Valley region saw the smallest downturn at 2.5 percent;

  • Only Oneida, Chautauqua, Schuyler and Seneca counties saw increases, but this growth was mostly attributable to factors other than economic growth; and

  • According to the New York State Association of Counties, most counties prudently budgeted little or no growth in their sales tax revenues for 2010.

A few charts exemplify the trouble the state faced: 

chart

Source: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/ 

And here’s a breakdown by notable region:

chart

Source: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/

At the same trime, Comptroller DiNapoli warned of a $2 billion budget shortfall for the current year.


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Another Big Disconnect

Another Big Disconnect

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

In "Not Entirely Stuck in the 70′s," W.C. Varones highlights a disturbing graphic from the Wall Street Journalthat illustrates another big disconnect: the divergence between what ordinary Americans are taking in and what Washington is throwing around:

I hope you love your government 3.5 times as much as you did in 1970, because that’s how much more they are spending, even adjusted for inflation.


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The Next Problem

The Next Problem

Courtesy of James Kwak at The Baseline Scenario 

The American Depression

p>There has been a lot of talk about the financial crisis over the past year and a half, and I obviously think that will remain an important subject, at least until we have a truly reformed financial system. Preventing the next financial crisis should be high on our society’s priority list. But as the months and years wear on, I suspect we will see more articles like Don Peck’s recent 8,000-word article in The Atlantic, “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America.”

Peck’s article is not about what caused the recent crash and recession, but what its societal consequences will be. And the article is almost unremittingly bleak. Even before 2008, we had already lived through a decade of stagnant median income and sluggish job growth; the recession pushed some unemployment levels, such as the underemployment rate (people out of work, working part-time for economic reasons, or too discouraged to look for work) to levels not seen since the Great Depression. It’s not particularly clear where growth will come from, as manufacturing remains in decline, services are becoming increasingly outsourceable, and other countries take the lead in the most plausible major new industry (alternative energy). According to Nobel laureate Edmund Phelps, “the new floor for unemployment is likely to be between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent (for several reasons, including “a financial industry that for a generation has focused its talent and resources not on funding business innovation, but on proprietary trading, regulatory arbitrage, and arcane financial engineering”).

The societal implications that Peck sees are worse than the mere numbers would imply. Young people who graduate into recessions never catch up with cohorts around them that graduate into better economic conditions, partly due to risk aversion, partly because they move up more slowly and get tagged as underperformers. Unemployment also changes people:

“Krysia Mossakowski, a sociologist at the University of Miami, has found that in young adults, long bouts of unemployment provoke long-lasting changes in behavior and mental health. ‘Some people say, “Oh, well, they’re young, they’re in and out of the workforce, so unemployment shouldn’t matter much psychologically,”‘Mossakowski told me. ‘But that isn’t true.’”

The effects of unemployment go beyond, and last longer than, not having money.

“Andrew Oswald, an economist at the University of Warwick,


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Ignore anyone who tells you that debt levels don’t matter.

Guest author David Merkel discusses a topic we touched on the other day, via Tim Iacono’s article questioning L. Randall Wray’s essay on why government debt doesn’t matter. L. Randall’s argument seemed like a smoker’s defense of his habit on the basis of not having died yet. David’s article takes a longer term perspective. - Ilene

Ignore anyone who tells you that debt levels don’t matter.

Courtesy of David Merkel at The Aleph Blog 

Portia, disguised as an

Debt levels in an economy matter.  They matter a lot.  An economy that is financed primarily by debt can be like a chain of dominoes.  If one fixed claim fails, and it is large enough, many other fixed claims that rely on the first claim could fail as well, triggering a chain of failures.  This is a reason why a fiat-money credit-based economy must limit leverage particularly in financial institutions.

Why financial institutions?  They borrow and lend.  They also lend to other financial institutions.  A  big move in the value of some assets can make many banks insolvent, and perhaps banks that lent to other banks.  The banks should have equity bases more than sufficient to absorb losses at a 99% probability level.  That means that leverage should be a lot lower than it is now.

Economies are more stable when they limit fixed claims and encourage financing via equity rather than debt.  Imagine what the economy would be like if interest was not deductible from taxable income, but dividends were deductible.

  • People would save money to buy homes, and would put more money down when they borrowed.
  • Corporations would lower their debt-to-equity ratios, and would pay more dividends.
  • Fewer people and corporations would go broke.

Pretty good, but in the short run, the economy would probably grow slower.  The debt bonanza from 1984-2006 pushed our economy to grow faster than it should have, where people and firms took more chances by borrowing more, and making the overall economy less resilient.  Debt-based economies lose resilience.

What was worse, the Federal Reserve in the Greenspan and Bernanke years facilitated the debt increases because the Fed never took away the stimulus fast enough, and offered stimulus too rapidly.  This led to a culture of unbridled debt and risk-taking.  If only:

  • Greenspan had been silent when the crash hit in October 1987.
  • Greenspan had not given


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Phil's Favorites

How high will unemployment go? During the Great Depression, 1 in 4 Americans were out of work

 

How high will unemployment go? During the Great Depression, 1 in 4 Americans were out of work

Unemployed people wait outside a government office in NYC in 1933. AP Photo

By Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

CC BY-ND

The U.S. unemployment rate climbed from a half-century low of 3.5% to 4.4% in March – and is expected to go a lot higher.

But could the rate, as ...



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Zero Hedge

Mysterious Colorado Doomsday Shelter For When "Law & Order Breaks Down" Sees Spike In Interest

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

As the pandemic unfolds across the US, city dwellers are getting the hell out of dodge and escaping to rural areas. We noted this last week, with many leaving large metro areas in California, fleeing for the mountains and rural communities to limit their probabilities of ...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Why wear face masks in public? Here's what the research shows

 

Why wear face masks in public? Here's what the research shows

People have resorted to using scarves and bandanas as face masks to protect against spreading coronavirus. While cloth masks aren’t as effective as surgical masks, research suggests they can limit the spread of droplets. Jens Schleuter/Getty Images

Hector Chapa, Texas A&M University

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social...



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ValueWalk

Junior gold stocks offer a place of refuge in a falling market

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Junior gold stocks have taken a beating alongside other stocks, but history suggests this could be the time to dive in. The Vaneck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF is down from where it was in February, although it’s starting to show signs that it could revive soon.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Crescat likes junior gold stocks

In their March update to investors, Crescat Capital said junior gold stocks retested the lows of a nine-year bear market. ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Depression Coming or Is the Bottom Already In? Joe Friday Says Your Answer Lies Here!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Are we headed towards a Depression or is the worst already behind us? In today’s world, comparisons to the great depression are easy to find.

Are the Depression concerns well founded or are the declines of late already pricing in a bottom?

In my humble opinion, this chart and the upcoming price action of this index will go miles and miles towards telling us if we are headed towards very tough times or if the huge declines of late are actually in a bottoming process.

This chart looks at the Thomson Reuters Equal Weighted Commodity Index on a monthly basis over the past 54 years. The index has been heading south, reflecting weakness in demand for basi...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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The Technical Traders

Founder of TradersWorld Magazine Issued Special Report for Free

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Larry Jacobs owner and editor of TradersWorld magazine published a free special report with his top article and market forecast to his readers yesterday.

What is really exciting is that this forecast for all assets has played out exactly as expected from the stock market crash within his time window to the gold rally, and sharp sell-off. These forecasts have just gotten started the recent moves were only the first part of his price forecasts.

There is only one article in this special supplement, click on the image or link below to download and read it today!

...

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Chart School

Big moving Averages and macro investment decisions

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

When price is falling every one wonders where demand will come in.


RTT black screen Tv videos study the simplest measure of price (simple moving average). What has happen before guides us now. 














Changes in the world is the source of all market moves, to catch and ride the change we believe a combination of Gann Angles, ...

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Members' Corner

10 ways to spot online misinformation

 

10 ways to spot online misinformation

When you share information online, do it responsibly. Sitthiphong/Getty Images

Courtesy of H. Colleen Sinclair, Mississippi State University

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to ...



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Digital Currencies

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

 

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

Get used to it. Anastasiia Bakai

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

Anyone holding bitcoin would have watched the market with alarm in recent weeks. The virtual currency, whose price other cryptocurrencies like ethereum and litecoin largely follow, plummeted from more than US$10,000 (£8,206) in mid-February to briefly below US$4,000 on March 13. Despite recovering to the mid-US$6,000s at the time of writin...



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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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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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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.