Posts Tagged ‘Michael Panzner’

Big Hole

Big Hole

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Illustration of Light Drawn into a Black Hole

People have been throwing around numbers in the millions and billions and trillions since the crisis started. Over time, the data deluge has turned into a flood, and, occasionally, it is even hard for someone like me — who has been tracking and analyzing this stuff for a while — to get a grip on what it all means.

Maybe that’s the strategy: overwhelm the masses with endless zeroes and hope they either zone out or lose sight of the fact that those numbers represent decades of poor decisions, misguided policies, and illegal acts.

That said, sometimes all it takes to get to the bottom of some of those numbers is to recast the data in graphical form — because, like they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words." In "The Jobs Gap," the Washington Independent highlights research from one think tank that does just that, and what it says about the state of the employment market is pretty striking:

In light of last week’s dismal September jobs report, Heidi Shierholz, of the Economic Policy Institute, updates her estimates of how many jobs the United States needs to create to get back to where it was, employment-wise, when the recession started.

The labor market remains an estimated 8.1 million payroll jobs below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2007. This number includes both the 7.8 million jobs lost in the payroll data as currently published plus the announced preliminary benchmark revision of -366,000 jobs to last March’s employment level. And even this number understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that simply to keep up with the growth in the working-age population, the labor market should have added around 3.4 million jobs since December 2007. This means the labor market is now roughly 11.5 million jobs below the level needed to restore the pre-recession unemployment rate (5.0 percent in December 2007).

In graphic terms:

Jobs-gap-480x388 

That begs the question: How will the economy get there? And leads to the worrying answer: It won’t, at least not anytime soon. Government spending — the kind that might, say, hire hundreds of thousands of construction workers — is out of the question. And that means private businesses will chip away at unemployment when the economy picks up a bit more, adding workers slowly, very slowly.


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‘I Love the Delusion of the Markets at this Point in the Cycle’

‘I Love the Delusion of the Markets at this Point in the Cycle’

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Since I started publishing Financial Armageddon in late-2006, I’ve often railed against the incompetence and tomfoolery of highly-paid Wall Street "strategists" (note the double quotes). Many of these so-called experts are clueless data-regurgitators or ivory tower economists with above average communications skills. Indeed, it seems to me that most of the "stars" of the forecasting game are simply being rewarded for having the gift of gab, rather than their ability to look past the trees and size up the layout of the forest.

But as with most generalizations, there are exceptions. Surprisingly — yes, I am cynical — a very small number of those who know what they are talking about, have something intelligent to say, and know how to translate their insights into clear and interesting prose have been recognized as such. I am referring in particular to Albert Edwards, the number-one ranked global strategist for I-don’t-know-how-many-years running, and his sidekick Dylan Grice, who placed second overall in the 2010 Thomson Reuters Extel Survey, both of whom are members of the strategy team at Societe Generale.

In his most recent Global Strategy Weekly, Mr. Edwards touches upon two topics near-and-dear to my heart: the real state of the economy and the utter cluelessness of most equity investors [italics mind]:

The current situation reminds me of mid 2007. Investors then were content to stick their heads into very deep sand and ignore the fact that The Great Unwind had clearly begun. But in August and September 2007, even though the wheels were clearly falling off the global economy, the S&P still managed to rally 15%! The recent reaction to data suggests the market is in a similar deluded state of mind. Yet again, equity investors refuse to accept they are now locked in a Vulcan death grip and are about to fall unconscious.

The notion that the equity market predicts anything has always struck me as ludicrous. In the


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We Can Only Dream

We Can Only Dream

Courtesy of Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon 

Children play with giant bubbles at the Glastonbury Festival 2010 in south west England, June 23, 2010. Picture taken June 23, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)

Reports like those that follow help make it clear that the problems we face are structural rather than cyclical. Myriad bad policies and a distorted sense of economic reality — no doubt fed by ruthlessly self-interested corporate and political interests — encouraged large numbers of Americans to acquire knowledge, skills, and perspectives that are really only relevant in an easy-money-fueled economy.

Once the bubble bursts, however, they are as unprepared for changing times as a proverbial fish out of water. And yet, we still have a growing chorus of mindless Keynesians, ivory tower economists, Wall Street strategists, and assorted other pseudo-experts pushing for more stimulus, more borrowing, more tax cuts — more of the hair of the dog that bit us to begin with.

If government is going to do anything at all — which seems inevitable, like it or not — wouldn’t it be better if the those in charge focused on telling people the cold, hard truth about where things stand; directed efforts towards helping Americans adjust to a new operating environment, instead of the one that is not coming back; and, rejigged policy incentives — like those that favor borrowing and homeownership — in ways that might prove more beneficial in the long run?

Oh well, we can only dream.

~~~

"U.S. Jobless Rate Hints at Permanent Shift" (The Globe and Mail)

As the United States continues its battle with high unemployment, policy makers are confronting a troubling question: What if they’ve been taking the wrong approach to fixing the ailing job market?

Some prominent economists and policy makers are…suggesting the real problem isn’t lack of consumer spending – it’s that the unemployed don’t have the right skills to fill the jobs that are open.

These people are now theorizing that the financial crisis has altered the structure of the U.S. labour market, perhaps permanently.

If they’re right, the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve will need to change their approach to increasing employment because their current one, which is aimed at stoking spending, could end up exacerbating the conditions that led to the financial crisis.

Raghuram Rajan, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, argues the U.S.’s high unemployment rate is the result of structural changes rather than a cyclical downturn in demand. He reasons the U.S. housing bubble


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Who Knows Better?

Who Knows Better?

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Rszsentimentretailsales-1281726555

In my latest column for DailyFinance, "The Disconnect Between Consumer Confidence and Retail Sales," I argue that the yawning gap between these two measures is telling us something. Chances are, it’s saying that consumers know better than the official statistics about what’s really going on in the U.S. economy.

Click here to read the article. 


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‘Double-Dips Are Not as Infrequent as You Might Think’

‘Double-Dips Are Not as Infrequent as You Might Think’

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach is the featured guest on the Wall Street Journal’s Big Interview, and unlike many of his peers, he relies on facts rather than fantasy in formulating his economic outlook. Given what you and I already know about the reality on the ground, it’s no surprise to find that Mr. Roach is less than sanguine about where things stand:

WSJ: You’ve been warning of a disappointing U.S. recovery, so I’d like to ask you right off the bat: Just how likely do you see the prospects of a double-dip kind of event?

Roach: I give it a higher probability than most — maybe 40% at some point over the next year. We have a weak recovery, weak labor market, weak consumer purchasing power, and a consumer — 70% of the economy — that is still massively overextended in terms of debt; unprepared in terms of savings; and unable to rely to rely on property and credit bubbles to support consumption. So, if you have a disappointing consumer and any kind of an unexpected shock, you can go down again.

Here is the full interview:

 


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Seeing Through the Fog of Funny Money Policymaking

Seeing Through the Fog of Funny Money Policymaking

Lighthouse in fog, night (Digital)

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

OK, let’s go through this one more time. Despite what we keep hearing from the politicians and moneymen, things are not getting better. Yes, we have seen the economic equivalent of a dead cat bounce — how could we not, given the trillions that have been thrown at the system — but it is simply not sustainable.

The reality is that we’ve just careened through decades of overborrowing and malinvestment, which created an array of dangerous imbalances and undermined our nation’s economic foundations. Now that the party is over, the wreckage is going to weigh on our prospects for years, if not decades.

Unfortunately, those who live in a bubble (i.e., Washington) or who’ve come to depend on them (e.g., Wall Street) have not seen through the fog of funny money policymaking. But as Bloomberg reports in "Americans Grow More Pessimistic on Economy, Nation’s Direction," the average Joe (and Jane) seem to have their eyes wide open when it comes to today’s depressing reality.

BloombergSurvey 
[Click on table to enlarge]

Americans have grown gloomier about both the economy and the nation’s direction over the past three months even as the U.S. shows signs of moving from recession to recovery.

Almost half the people now feel less financially secure than when President Barack Obama took office in January, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

Those concerns have put consumers in a miserly mood as they head to the mall for holiday shopping, with half the country planning to spend less on gifts than last year and few buyers willing to run up credit-card debt for Christmas.

“The recession may be over, but the administration seems to be losing the battle when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of Americans,” says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “This is important because the spending of consumers is the main factor that will turn the economic recovery into a self- sustaining one.”

Obama yesterday addressed anxiety over the economy with a speech proposing new spending on the nation’s transportation system, tax credits to spur hiring by small businesses and incentives to make homes more energy efficient.

Unemployment in November stood at 10 percent, a drop from 10.2 percent in


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A Tsunami of Red Ink

A Tsunami of Red Ink

red inkCourtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

Just over a week ago, Bloomberg revealed in "Geithner Says Commercial Real Estate Woes Won’t Spark Crisis," that the U.S. Treasury Secretary did not appear to be overly concerned about the threat posed by brewing problems in the commercial property sector:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said commercial real estate woes won’t set off a new banking crisis, in remarks to the Economic Club of Chicago.

“I don’t think so,” Geithner said, when asked whether commercial real estate could set off another banking meltdown. “That’s a problem the economy can manage through even though it’s going to be still exceptionally difficult.”

The global economy has accelerated since the worst of the recession and banking crisis last year, Geithner said, noting a U.S. Commerce Department report today showing the economy expanded 3.5 percent in the third quarter.

“You can say now with confidence that the financial system is stable, the economy is stabilized,” Geithner said. “You can see the first signs of growth here and around the world.”

Is he serious? All you have to do is spend about 15 minutes reading through just a few of the reports that were published recently and it quickly becomes apparent that a tsunami of red ink is forming in the sector, ready to come crashing down on the whole of the banking sector — as well as the economy — in the immediate period ahead:

"Why This Real Estate Bust Is Different" (BusinessWeek)

Unrealistic assumptions, layers of investors, sky-high prices, and possible fraud will make it hard to clean up the mess in commercial real estate

When Goldman Sachs (GS) sold complex bonds backed by the Arizona Grand Resort and other commercial properties in 2006, it suggested the returns would be strong. The 164-acre luxury Arizona Grand, set against the Sonoran Desert in Phoenix, boasted an award-winning golf course, deluxe spa, and several swank restaurants. The on-site water park was named one of the best in the country by the Travel Channel. With the resort’s new owners planning to refurbish hotel rooms and common areas, Goldman told investors that the renovations would help boost cash flow.

As was so often the case during the real estate boom, the lofty projections didn’t pan out. When the economy softened and business travel


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Sympathy for the Treasury

Wondering what happened at the bloggers-Treasury officials’ get-together?  Here’s Steve Randy Waldman’s account of the meeting. – Ilene

Sympathy for the Treasury

us treasury buildingCourtesy of Steve Randy Waldman of Interfluidity

On Monday, I was among a group of eight bloggers who attended a discussion with "senior Treasury officials" in Washington. Several nice accounts of that meeting have already been posted (see roundup below). Here’s mine.

First, I’d like to thank the "senior Treasury officials" for taking the time to meet with us, and for being very gracious hosts. Whatever disagreements one might have, in statistical if not moral terms it was an extreme privilege to sit across a conference table and have a chance to speak with these people. And despite the limitations of the event, I’d rather there be more of this kind of thing than less. So a sincere tip o’the hat to all of our hosts. Thank you for having us.

The second thing I’d like to discuss is corruption. Not, I hasten to add, the corruption of senior Treasury officials, but my own. As a slime mold with a cable modem, it was very flattering to be invited to a meeting at the US Treasury. A tour guide came through with two visitors before the meeting began, and chattily announced that the table I was sitting at had belonged to FDR. It very clearly was not the purpose of the meeting for policymakers to pick our brains. The e-mail invitation we received came from the Treasury’s department of Public Affairs. Treasury’s goal in meeting with us was to inform the public discussion of their past and continuing policies. (Note that I use the word "inform" in the sense outlined in a previous post. It is not about true or false, but about shaping behavior.)

Nevertheless, vanity outshines reason, and I could not help but hope that someone in the bowels of power had read my effluent and decided I should be part of the brain trust. The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policymakers. Further, sitting across a table transforms a television talking head into a human being, and cordial conversation with a human being creates a relationship. Most corrupt acts don’t take the form of clearly immoral choices. People fight those. Corruption thrives where there is a tension between institutional and interpersonal ethics. There is "the…
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Bad C’s

Bad C’s prompts me to recycle my introduction to George Washington’s Blog’s "The Ongoing Cover Up of the Truth Behind the Financial Crisis May Lead to Another Crash":

Our freedom depends on our government enforcing and abiding by the law. It’s apparent that we are headed down the slippery slope Justice Louis Brandeis describes in Olmstead v. United States (1928):Justice Louis Brandeis

"In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipotent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If government becomes a lawbreaker it breeds contempt for law: it invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy."

We have the Federal government’s massive and flagrant display of lawlessness, and population somewhere on the way from apathy to dependency in the Fatal Sequence cycle of civilization. – Ilene

Michael Panzner elaborates on this theme: 

Bad C’s

Courtesy of Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon

Before the era of Frankenstein Finance and the fanatical focus on fee-based income, lenders tried to hold themselves out as models of probity (for the skeptics out there, I did say "try."). Those responsible for making credit-granting decisions and looking after the interests of shareholders also demanded that borrowers meet certain standards before they would see even a dime of their employers’ money. These criteria are known as the "5 C’s of Credit," which are the

key elements a borrower should have to obtain credit: character (integrity), capacity (sufficient cash flow to service the obligation), capital (net worth), collateral (assets to secure the debt), and conditions (of the borrower and the overall economy).

In an interesting twist of fate, the firms that have traditionally decided who should get credit have been put in the position of needing extraordinary amounts of other people’s money just to stay alive. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve seen so far, including reports like those that follow, it’s doubtful whether most, if not all, of today’s troubled financial institutions would even qualify for a loan based on traditional measures of suitability — like "character," for example — if their friends in high places weren’t so intimately involved in the process.

"Wall Street’s


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Armageddon, Round Two?

Armageddon, Round Two?

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon

In Financial Armageddon, I wrote about "four impending catastrophes": debt, government guarantees, the retirement system, and derivatives. But well before the first pages of my manuscript saw the light of day, I was particularly concerned about the latter aspect.

In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the article I published in November 2005, "The Coming Disaster in the Derivatives Market," was actually derived from material in my original book proposal, tentatively entitled FWMDs: Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction, after Warren Buffett’s famous remarks on the subject in Berkshire Hathaway’s 2002 annual report.

Eventually, the publisher and I decided that there was a bigger story there, which proved to be far more accurate than anybody (including me) realized at the time, and I set forth my vision of how the derivatives menace would come to interact with the various other threats I saw lurking in the shadows.

Yet even with all that has happened so far, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the house of cards that was built on this labyrinthine mass of paper promises remains a serious threat to the financial system and the economy.

To be sure, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Even some of the better known financial experts are worried, as CNBC.com reveals in "Derivatives Could Cause Another Meltdown: Mobius":

Derivatives caused the market Armageddon of recent years and if left unchecked by global leaders, the same market could cause another catastrophe, Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management, told CNBC Monday.

When asked by a CNBC viewer what kind of Armageddon could be expected if the derivatives problem is not addressed, Mobius replied: “The same kind of Armageddon that we just had, what we just saw in the last few years has been caused by derivatives.”

The lack of liquidity, transparency, coupled with its sheer size means the derivatives market poses a major risk to financial stability, according to Mobius. The currency derivatives market is especially at risk of causing problems, but interest-rate derivatives also, he said.

Mobius thinks that global leaders meeting for the G20 summit in Pittsburgh next week should focus almost solely on the derivatives trade. Debates over how much bankers are paid in bonuses should be bumped down the agenda,


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Zero Hedge

JPMorgan Makes $1 Billion From Gold Trading After Paying $1 Billion Fine For Manipulating Gold Trading

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

This, in a nutshell, is how Wall Street works: just two months after JPMorgan was fined a record $1 billion criminal monetary penalty (to make sure not a single banker would end up going to prison) for rigging the gold and silver markets, Reuters reported that JPM - having clearly "learned" the tools of the gold rigging trade, has earned a record $1 billion in revenue so far in 2020 from trading, storing and financing precious metals, vastly outperforming rival banks.

The math simplified: JPM has spent $1 billion over the l...



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ValueWalk

Surprise in Short Interest - New Research Paper

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

We extract the news component of short-selling activity by accounting for important cross-sectional, distributional differences in short interest. The resulting measure of surprise in short interest negatively predicts the cross section of both U.S. and international equity returns. Our results also indicate that this predictability originates from short sellers’ informed trading on mispricing and the market’s underreaction to the news component of short-sale reports. Consistent with the notion of costly arbitrage, the return predictability is stronger among illiquid, volatile stocks and stocks with high information uncertainty, but importantly, unrelated short-selling frictions.

...

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Phil's Favorites

Coronavirus Could Cause Shipping Costs To Rise By Up 15% In 2020

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Managing Shipping Budgets in 2021: The Old Normal, the New Normal, or the Unknown?

As they plan their shipping budgets for the coming year, distributors and retailers are struggling to assess the pandemic-driven changes of 2020. SkyPostal’s A.J. Hernandez suggests a two-sided approach: be as careful as you can, while also being prepared for anything.

Building A Shipping Budget

(Miami, FL) November 23, 2020—While shipping managers would like to see some relief from the shocks and surprises of 2020, there are, says A.J. Hernandez, President and CEO of SkyPostal, Inc., a lot of reasons they’re probably not going to get it. According to a recent survey of industry exp...



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Politics

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

 

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

Courtesy of Teri Kanefield

The Trump Legal team filed more documents today in the appellate court. I tweeted a bit about how silly they were (let me know if you all want me to march through them). Then this happened:

Trump giving the go-ahead for the transition to get underway was (I believe) the closest he will get to conceding the election. Two amusing things happened. First, Trump tweeted this about 10 minutes after Emily Murphy submitted a letter saying she would move forward, and that she has made her decisions solely on her own and not at anyone’s direction. Looks like Trump wanted people to think that she was, in fact, acting at his direction.

The other amusing part was that Tr...



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Chart School

RTT browsing latest..

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Please review a collection of WWW browsing results. The information here is delayed by a few months, members get the most recent content.



Date Found: Friday, 12 June 2020, 08:06:43 PM

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Comment: Interesting (2)



Date Found: Saturday, 13 June 2020, 12:27:02 AM

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Comment: Recession Forecasts Time Frame



Date Found: Monday, 15 June 2020, 11:07:52 PM

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Biotech/COVID-19

Why the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is now a global game changer

 

Why the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is now a global game changer

Courtesy of Michael Head, University of Southampton

In the long dark tunnel that has been 2020, November stands out as the month that light appeared. Some might see it as a bright light, others as a faint light – but it is unmistakably a light.

On November 9, Pfizer announced the interim results of its candidate vaccine, showing it to be “more than 90% effective” in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in late-stage human trials. The news was greeted with joy.

A ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Transports Sending Strong Bullish Message To Other Dow Indices?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Are Transportation stocks about to send a quality bullish message to other Dow indices this month? Sure could be!

This 3-pack looks at the Dow Jones Industrials, Transports, and Utilities indices on a monthly basis.

One week from the end of a month, the DJ Transports are attempting an important bullish breakout at (1). Unless a sharp reversal takes place in the next week, Transports could close out the month at new monthly closing highs!

The Dow is attempting to close at all-time highs this month, while the Dow Utilities Index remains a few percent below 2020 highs....



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Digital Currencies

Dalio Admits "I Might Be Missing Something" As Bitcoin Surges Above $18,000

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Since the US election, Bitcoin prices (in USD) have surged a stunning 40%, also lurching higher after each vaccine headline hit.

Source: Bloomberg

Getting ever closer to its all-time record high...

Source: Bloomberg

As crypto prices soared overnight, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio stepped back into the fray, saying in a Twitter thread that “I might be missing something about Bitco...



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Mapping The Market

COVID-19 Forces More Than Half of Asset Management Firms to Accelerate Adoption of Digital Marketing Technology

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

There is no doubt that the use of technology to support client engagement initiatives brings both opportunities and threats but this has been brought into sharp focus this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crisis has brought to the fore the need for firms to enable flexibility in client engagement – the expectation that providers will communicate to clients on their terms, at their speed and frequency and on their preferred channels, is now a given. This is even more critical when clients are experiencing unparalleled anxiety from both market conditions and their own personal circumstances.

...

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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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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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Promotions

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