Posts Tagged ‘Michael Pettis’

Should China Dump Dollars for Commodities? What about the “Nuclear Option” of Dumping Treasuries? Can Global Trade Collapse?

Should China Dump Dollars for Commodities? What about the "Nuclear Option" of Dumping Treasuries? Can Global Trade Collapse?

Courtesy of Mish 

Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple November 2006 Photo: Roger Parker

Every time there is a little blip by China in its purchasing or holding of US treasuries, hyperinflationists come out of the woodwork ranting about the "Nuclear Option" of China dumping treasuries en masse.

Such fears are extremely overblown for several reasons.

1. China’s purchasing of US assets is primarily a balance of trade issue. If the US runs a trade deficit, some other countries run a trade surplus and thus accumulate dollars. This is purely a mathematical function as I have pointed out many times.

2. If China dumps treasuries for Euro-based assets, oil-based assets, yen-based assets or for that matter anything other than dollar based assets, the problem merely shifts elsewhere and those buyers would have to do something with the dollars such as buying US treasuries or other US assets. This too is purely a mathematical function.

3. If China dumped treasuries it would tend the strengthen the RMB and China has been extremely reluctant to let the RMB appreciate. Indeed, the US is begging China to revalue the RMB upward, but China resists.

While China may make short-term moves in its reserve holdings, the odds of China dumping treasuries or dollars in size is quite remote.

Capital Tsunami Is The Bigger Threat

Michael Pettis discusses those ideas and more in The capital tsunami is a bigger threat than the nuclear option.

An awful lot of investors and policymakers are frightened by the thought of China’s so-called nuclear option. Beijing, according to this argument, can seriously disrupt the USG bond market by dumping Treasury bonds, and it may even do so, either in retaliation for US protectionist measures or in fear that US fiscal policies will undermine the value of their Treasury bond holdings. Policymakers and investors, in this view, need to be very prepared for just such an eventuality.

… the idea that Beijing can and might exercise the “nuclear option” is almost total nonsense.

In fact the real threat to the US economy is not the dumping of USG bonds. On the contrary, in the next two years the US markets are likely to be swamped by a tsunami of foreign capital, and this will have deleterious effects on the US trade deficit, debt levels, and employment.


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Do sovereign debt ratios matter?

Do sovereign debt ratios matter?

Courtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets 

Flags flutter in front of the headquarters of Spain's largest savings bank La Caixa in Barcelona July 23, 2010. European Union bank stress tests due from regulators on Friday aim to bolster confidence in the sector by making clear which lenders are healthy and which need to raise capital. Tests on 91 financial institutions from 20 of the EU's 27 nations simulate worsened economic conditions including declines in the value of sovereign debt they hold. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

In the past few weeks I have been getting a lot of questions about serial sovereign defaults and how to predict which countries will or won’t suspend debt payments or otherwise get into trouble.  The most common question is whether or not there is a threshold of debt (measured, say, against total GDP) above which we need to start worrying.

Perhaps because I started my career in 1987 trading defaulted and restructured bank loans during the LDC Crisis, I have spent the last 30 years as a finance history junky, obsessively reading everything I can about the history of financial markets, banking and sovereign debt crises, and international capital flows. My book, The Volatility Machine, published in 2002, examines the past 200 years of international financial crises in order to derive a theory of debt crisis using the work of Hyman Minsky and Charles Kindleberger.

No aspect of history seems to repeat itself quite as regularly as financial history.  The written history of financial crises dates back at least as far back as the reign of Tiberius, when we have very good accounts of Rome’s 33 AD real estate crisis.  No one reading about that particular crisis will find any of it strange or unfamiliar – least of all the 100-million-sesterces interest-free loan the emperor had to provide (without even having read Bagehot) in order to end the panic.

So although I am not smart enough to tell you who will or won’t default (I have my suspicions however), based on my historical reading and experiences, I think there are two statements that I can make with confidence.  First, we have only begun the period of sovereign default.

The major global adjustments haven’t yet taken place and until they do, we won’t have seen the full consequences of the global crisis, although already Monday’s New York Times had an article in which some commentators all but declared the European crisis yesterday’s news.

Just two months ago, Europe’s sovereign debt problems seemed grave enough to imperil the global economic recovery. Now, at least some investors are treating it as the crisis that wasn’t.

The article goes on to quote Jean-Claude Trichet sniffing over the “tendency among some investors and market participants to underestimate Europe’s ability to take bold decisions.”  Of course I’d be more impressed with…
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The capital tsunami is a bigger threat than the nuclear option

The capital tsunami is a bigger threat than the nuclear option

Courtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets

Since this is another long posting, it might make sense to summarize briefly its two parts.  In the first part, expanding on an OpEd piece of mine published by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, I argue that China’s “nuclear option”, which has generated a great deal of nervousness among investors and policy-making circles in the US, is a myth, and what the US should be much more concerned about is its diametric opposite — a tsunami of capital flooding into the country.  I try to discuss the economic implications and perhaps the implications for asset prices.

In the second part of this posting I discuss the slowing of the Chinese economy within the context of what I believe to be its stop-go approach to economic policymaking.  The one-minute take: I think policymakers will soon be stomping again on the accelerator, although there seems to be a real debate going on about whether this would be the proper policy response.

———

An awful lot of investors and policymakers are frightened by the thought of China’s so-called nuclear option.  Beijing, according to this argument, can seriously disrupt the USG bond market by dumping Treasury bonds, and it may even do so, either in retaliation for US protectionist measures or in fear that US fiscal policies will undermine the value of their Treasury bond holdings.  Policymakers and investors, in this view, need to be very prepared for just such an eventuality

So worried have many been that last week SAFE even had to come out and calm people down.  According to an article in the Financial Times:

China has delivered a qualified vote of confidence in the dollar and US financial markets, ruling out the “nuclear option” of dumping its huge holdings of US government debt accumulated over the last decade.

But the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which administers China’s $2450bn in reserves, the largest in the world, also called on Washington and other governments to pursue “responsible” economic policies. The statement on Wednesday, one of a series that Safe has issued in recent days in an apparent effort to address criticism about its lack of transparency, also played down the chances of China making major further investments in gold.

It’s good that SAFE is trying to soothe worried investors and policymakers, although, as I have pointed…
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Talk of Trade Wars with China, Tariffs, and Currency Manipulation Move to Forefront; US Trade Imbalance – Whose Fault is It?

Talk of Trade Wars with China, Tariffs, and Currency Manipulation Move to Forefront; US Trade Imbalance – Whose Fault is It?

Courtesy of Mish 

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 15:  (CHINA OUT) Dollars and yuan notes are seen at a bank on May 15, 2006 in Beijing, China. China's official exchange rate rose today to 7.9982 yuan per U.S. dollar, its highest level since a revaluation in last July, the government said. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Congress is one again shaking its currency-manipulation rattle. What’s different this time is Geithner appears to be listening.

Please consider Geithner signals U.S. patience waning on China currency.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner indicated U.S. patience on China’s currency policy was wearing thin on Thursday as a key lawmaker warned that he would move soon on legislation that would penalize Chinese goods.

Striking his toughest tone on the yuan since delaying a decision in early April on whether to name China a currency manipulator, Geithner told a U.S. Senate hearing Chinese policies had a harmful worldwide impact.

"A stronger renminbi would benefit China because it would boost the purchasing power of households and encourage firms to shift production for domestic demand, rather than for export," he told the Senate Finance Committee.

"The time is long past for any Treasury Department to admit publicly what everyone else already knows, that China is manipulating the value of its currency in order to gain an unfair advantage in international trade," said Charles Grassley, the senior Republican Senator on the committee.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer told Geithner to "be prepared" because lawmakers would move forward soon with legislation that would slap anti-dumping penalties and countervailing duties on goods from China and other countries with a "fundamentally misaligned" currency.

Senator Graham Threatens Veto-Proof Currency Legislation

Congress is increasingly frustrated with the China’s currency peg, so much so that senators suggest there may be enough votes to override a presidential veto. Bloomberg reports Graham Says China Yuan Measure Has ‘Huge’ Support in Congress.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said legislation aimed at getting China to raise the value of its currency has “huge” support in Congress, and President Barack Obama “runs the risk” of being overridden if he vetoes it.

“The frustrations with China’s trade practices are growing by the moment,” Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.

He called the measure a “test” of the administration because Obama “campaigned that he would stand up to China currency manipulation.” Graham has joined Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, in sponsoring legislation targeting China’s yuan.

Lawmakers are pushing for a vote on


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The Shanghai market isn’t really predicting anything

The Shanghai market isn’t really predicting anything

Courtesy of Michael Pettis 

A man looks at an electronic board at a brokerage house in Shanghai

It has not been a good year for the Shanghai stock market.  Since its closing peak at 6092 in October 2007, the closing high in the past year or so on Shanghai’s SSE composite was 3471, on August 4 last year.  Since then the market has been pretty bleak.  The SSE Composite finished 2009 by dropping nearly 6% from that high, to close at 3277.

This year things got only worse.  By May 20 the market had dropped a further 22% to close at 2556, and then bounced around for the past ten days closing yesterday at 2568.  In my May 12 blog entry, I finished the piece by saying “Last Friday the SSE Composite closed at 2688.  I bet it is much higher by the end of the summer.” 

Obviously my timing was off.  Within a week of my prediction the market had managed to lose another 132 points.  I still believe that the market will be higher by the end of this summer, and that within weeks we will see moves by the regulators to prop it up.  With all the liquidity sloshing around, all we need is a reasonable period off stability before the market comes roaring back, I suspect.

So am I predicting a strong economy?  Not really.  It is tempting to read falling stock prices as an indication that Chinese investors believe that the economy is poised to slow dramatically, and if the market surges, that Chinese growth is back, but we should be very cautious about how we interpret the meaning of the gyrations in Chinese stocks. 

We’re used to thinking about stock markets as expected-cash-flow discounting machines, and we assume that stock price levels generally represent the market’s best estimate of future growth prospects, but this is not always the case, and it is certainly not the case in China.  I am often asked to comment on big price moves on the Chinese stock markets and what they mean about growth expectations, but I usually try to caution people from reading too much meaning into the market.

Three investment strategies

To see why, it is probably useful to understand how investors make trading decisions.  This blog entry is going to be a pretty abstract piece on how I think about the underlying dynamics of a well-functioning capital market, and how these…
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PETTIS: TRADE TENSIONS ARE RISING

PETTIS: TRADE TENSIONS ARE RISING

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Great interview here with Michael Pettis of Peking University.  Mr. Pettis discusses the increasing trade tensions in China and the potential impacts from Europe. Pettis believes the trade tensions between China and the US are increasing the odds of a trade war. Pettis also believes the European sovereign debt crisis is exacerbating the situation. I completely agree.


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Chanos On Chinese Overheating And Overindulgence

Chanos On Chinese Overheating And Overindulgence

Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge 

You hear the bull story every day on TV and from the likes of Tom Friedman. Michael Pettis and Chanos take the bear side. Below is a recent must-watch, hour long presentation by Jim Chanos, courtesy of Peter Schiff.

 


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Repairing China’s financial system

Repairing China’s financial system

Courtesy of Michael Pettis of China Financial Markets

BEJING SHOW BEIJING CHINA

The stock market had a bad day today, with the SSE Composite down 3.62%, mainly on rumors that banks will be seeking to raise equity capital next year in response to their loan surge this year.  On Tuesday Bloomberg reported that the five largest banks were supposed to have submitted plans to regulators for raising money, after unprecedented lending eroded their capital.

I would argue that a more compelling reason to raise capital is the almost-certain surge in NPLs over the next three or four years.  In fact I am pretty surprised that these rumors caught the market by surprise.  Every time that banks have engineered a policy-induced surge in lending, they have followed up with a surge in NPLs [non-performing loans], and it would be pretty extraordinary if this time were any different.  A refusal to raise capital levels would have been very imprudent, and it is pretty clear that the PBoC and the CBRC are already worried about the impacts of the credit expansion on the banking system.

Raising capital by selling equity is one way for banks to protect themselves from the consequences of bad lending, but I have been arguing for a long time that the main way banks have been recapitalized in the past has been the very wide spread between the PBoC-mandated lending and deposit rates.  This was more or less confirmed in an interesting but perhaps little noticed speech last week by Governor Zhou.  According to an article in Reuters,

China needs to maintain a certain spread between deposit and lending rates in order for banks to be able to support the economy, Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the People’s Bank of China, said on Friday. The central bank sets a ceiling on the rates banks may pay depositors and a floor on their lending rates. The built-in margin is a rich source of profit for Chinese banks that strengthens their balance sheets.

Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, Pudong, Shanghai, China

Speaking at a forum, the central bank chief also said China must ensure that its pro-investment policies do not lead to overcapacity, which he said was already plaguing some sectors.

The low deposit rates mean that Chinese savers are effectively being taxed to replenish bank capital.  Although this may be…
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Chinese railways and speculating pig farmers

Chinese railways and speculating pig farmers

China, Shanghai, bicycle and motorcycle commuters travelling over bridge

Courtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets

This weeks’ entry is fairly miscellaneous, a consequence both of the amount and variety of news coming out of China and my own hectic schedule, which prevents me from dealing with all of these issues in a more unified way.  Between lots of investor meetings and finishing up a number of writing commitments, I am preparing next week to go to New York and Washington for ten days.

As an aside, the timing of my trip was determined by an East Coast tour, centered on New York, which my music label, Maybe Mars, is arranging for some of the best Beijing musicians, including the surreal folk singer Xiao He, one of the most astonishing and creative musicians I have ever worked with.  For those of my regular readers based in or near New York who may be interested in checking out the Beijing new-music scene, I strongly recommend that you keep an eye out for the shows, beginning November 5 and running through the end of the month.  These guys are really good and I expect a great reaction from the New York music community.

But back to more mundane stuff.  Last week’s excellent economic numbers once again reinforced everyone’s existing prejudices.  I discussed why in a September 11 entry in response to similar numbers last month.   Those who believe that the stimulus package has essentially resolved China’s plight and eliminated its vulnerability to export demand saw the 8.9% year-on-year GDP growth rate (at the lower end of a narrow range of expectations) as proof that Chinese growth has solidly recovered.  Andy Rothman at CLSA in a research report released the following day had this interpretation:

Other than GDP coming in just under 9%, no surprises, and we agree with the NBS spokesman, who this morning said ‘the overall situation of the national economy was good.’  We maintain our forecast of about 8% GDP growth for this year, and 8-9% for 2010 (closer to 9% if you expect a US/EU recovery to generate a bit of a net exports boost for China).

He then went on to say something that puzzled me:

The fact that China’s GDP grew by 7.7% in the first nine months of the year while exports were still extremely
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Pettis on China

Pettis on China

Courtesy of Prieur du Plessis Investment Postcards from Cape Town

Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management and author of the China Financial Markets blog, has just been interviewed by the Geoff Dyer, FT’s Beijing Bureau Chief on a number of China-related issues. The three-part interview is not only topical, but also excellent viewing material.

Part 1:

Pettis discusses where China may diversify its foreign exchange reserves and whether the renminbi will become the global reserve currency.

Click here or on the image below to view the video.

pettis-forex-reserves

Part 2:

Pettis discusses the lessons other countries can learn from China’s growth model and its handling of the financial crisis.

Click here or on the image below to view the video.

pettis-growth-model

Part 3:

Pettis discusses the pros and cons of the “Asian development model” and the future of US-China trade relations.

Click here or on the image below to view the video.

pettis-trade-relations

Source: Geoff Dyer, Financial Times, September 21, 2009.

 


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Phil's Favorites

Philip Morris anti-smoking ads slammed for hypocrisy - and it's easy to see why

 

Philip Morris anti-smoking ads slammed for hypocrisy – and it's easy to see why

Away with you. Stas Walenga/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Chris Hackley, Royal Holloway

A new advertising campaign from tobacco giant Philip Morris has drawn accusations of hypocrisy from official health bodies even though it advocates giving up smoking. ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) echoed the sentiment, describing the company’s press ads – which including a wrap around of a daily ...



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Zero Hedge

Israel's Defense Chief Says "No Choice But War" As Forces Build Along Gaza Border

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

We reported over the weekend that Israel has mustered its largest build-up of tanks and armored personnel carriers since 2014 at a deployment area along the border with Gaza and that "all-out war" looks inevitable after weeks of heightened tensions with Hamas. This after special UN envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov late last week warned the UN Secur...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Short the S&P 500 and Go Long Gold Miners Time?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

The precious metals sector continues to be a “grind”, offering a few trades but mostly sideways to lower action. Gold prices have slogged along and this had held the Gold Miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) back… until recently.  The Gold Miners (GDX) and the broader Gold & Silver Miners Index (XAU) came to life in September and October.

The miners are in a multi-year down trend, however there is a potential bullish setup in place. See the chart below where we highlight the ratio of the Mining Index (XAU) to the S&P 500 (SPY). The ratio, which Gold Bugs want to see rising, looks to have created a bullish reversal last month at the 2016 lows at point (1).

And October is seeing a follow-through move...



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Insider Scoop

Wedbush: Unlike Many Retail Peers, RH Is 'Thriving'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related RH Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For October 23, 2018 RH's Retail Strategy, Recent Pullback Turn Stifel Bu...

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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Oct 21, 2018

Courtesy of Blain.

After the heavy selling the week prior there was sure to be an oversold bounce and indeed last Tuesday brought much of that.  It is always interesting to see what happens after that bounce – often in this bull market, once the indexes turn back up they move like a freight train.  This time – thus far at least – the action has been less aggressive.  Selling on Thursday took the S&P 500 right back down to the 200 day moving average and rally attempts Friday were fruitless.  In whole the S&P 500 barely budged for the week.

Yields on the 10 year have thus far held their own “breakout” level:

The Chinese market had an interesting Friday with an “...



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Digital Currencies

Grocers: Get ready to join the blockchain party

 

Grocers: Get ready to join the blockchain party

Five people died and more than 200 got sick during a 2018 E. coli outbreak, the largest in more than a decade. The bacteria was traced to contaminated romaine lettuce. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University

In the wake of this year’s large E. coli outbreak, Walmart notified its leafy green suppliers that they must be using blockchain technology to trace their products before the end of 2019.

Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, has be...



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ValueWalk

Vilas Fund Up 55% In Q3; 3Q18 Letter: A Bull Market In Bearish Forecasts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The Vilas Fund, LP letter for the third quarter ended September 30, 2018; titled, “A Bull Market in Bearish Forecasts.”

Ever since the financial crisis, there has been a huge fascination with predictions of the next “big crash” right around the next corner. Whether it is Greece, Italy, Chinese debt, the “overvalued” stock market, the Shiller Ratio, Puerto Rico, underfunded pensions in Illinois and New Jersey, the Fed (both for QE a few years ago and now for removing QE), rising interest rates, Federal budget deficits, peaking profit margins, etc...



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Members' Corner

Why obvious lies still make good propaganda

 

This is very good; it's about "firehosing", a type of propaganda, and how it works.

Why obvious lies still make good propaganda

A 2016 report described Russian propaganda as:
• high in volume
• rapid, continuous and repetitive
• having no commitment to objective reality
• lacking consistency

...

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Biotech

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

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

 

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

Breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1) is a human tumor suppressor gene, found in all humans. Its protein, also called by the synonym BRCA1, is responsible for repairing DNA. ibreakstock/Shutterstock.com

By Jay Shendure, University of Washington; Greg Findlay, ...



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Mapping The Market

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

Via Jean-Luc:

Famed investor reflecting on his mistakes:

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

One that stands out for me:

Instead of focusing on how value factors in general did in identifying attractive stocks, I rushed to proclaim price-to-sales the winner. That was, until it wasn’t. I guess there’s a reason for the proclamation “The king is dead, long live the king” when a monarchy changes hands. As we continued to update the book, price-to-sales was no longer the “best” single value factor, replaced by others, depending upon the time frames examined. I had also become a lot more sophisticated in my analysis—thanks to criticism of my earlier work—and realized that everything, including factors, moves in and out of favor, depending upon the market environment. I also realized...



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OpTrader

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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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

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.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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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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