Posts Tagged ‘Recession’

Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality and the Great Recession

By Fabian T. Pfeffer, Sheldon Danziger and Robert F. Schoeni

Pfeffer Danziger Schoeni Wealth Levels

 


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Wednesday Worries – Will GDP Be Revised Down Again?

Does this look healthy to you?

We did manage to pull out of a tailspin back in 2011 – the last time our GDP went negative but, funny story – in July of 2011, the S&P fell from 1,350 to 1,100 by August 9th and it gyrated between 1,100 and 1,200 until October when the Fed's "Operation Twist" (because "Operation Screw the Poor" got bad test scores) gave us a boost.

Notice how this post picks up right where yesterday's post left off – I'm clever that way!  Yesterday we had the chart that showed us that 10% of our GDP ($1.5Tn) is the result of Fed fiddling and, without it, the GDP would be right back at those 2009 lows.  Whether or not you THINK QE will ever end, you sure as hell better have a plan for what you will do in case it does!  

Russell Investments put out their Economic Indicators Dashboard yesterday and it's a nice snapshot of the where the economy is.   

The lines over the boxes are the 3-month trends and, thanks to the Fed, 10-year yeilds are just 2.48% and that's keeping home prices high (because you don't buy a home, you buy a mortgage).

Inflation is creeping up and expansion (today's topic) is negative and getting lower.  Meanwhile, consumers remain oblivious as the Corporate Media fills them with happy talk.  Meanwhile, this BLS chart (via Barry Ritholtz) says it all as manufacturing (good) jobs continue to leave our country at alarming rates:

Almost all of the growth spots are from fracking with a little auto production picking up as well.  Overall, 1.6M net manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2007 and, much more alarming, the median household income for those lucky enough to still have jobs is down almost 10% over the same period of time.  

In other words, if it wasn't for Fed Money, we'd have no money at all!  In yesterday's Webinar (replay available here) we talked about how the Fed is like a guy spraying a hose on kids in the…
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Case Shiller’s Double Dip Has Come and Gone

Courtesy of Lee Adler at Wall Street Examiner

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

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

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

The Case Shiller index showed a recovery in prices in 2009-10 only because of the weird methodology it uses. Not only does it exclude the impact of distress sales that have been such a big part of the market, but it takes the average of 3 months of data instead of using just the most recent available month. The current data purports to represent prices as of February. In fact, it represents the average price for December, January, and February, with a time mid point of mid February. These are closed sales which generally represented contracts entered in mid to late November, on average. That means that the current Case Shiller index actually represents market conditions as of 5 months ago. Things can change in 5…
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Could the U.S. Dollar Rise 50%?

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds 

Conventional wisdom is that the Fed wants the U.S. dollar lower, so it must drop. But the dollar seems to be lacking proper obedience to the Fed’s grand commands.

Before you shout that all fiat currencies go to zero, let’s stipulate that the U.S. dollar has already proceeded 95% of the way to zero. According to the handy BLS inflation calculator, the 2010 dollar is roughly worth 4.5 cents of the 1913 dollar. Put another way, it now takes $22.10 to buy what $1 purchased in 1913.

(Interesting that the BLS inflation calculator only goes back to the birth of the Federal Reserve….)

So a 50% rise in the dollar would register as a mere blip on a 100-year chart. I mention this to put a 50% rise in perspective. It will seem like a large move in the present, but on a longer timeline it wouldn’t be that big a deal.

How could the dollar rise when the Treasury and Fed are moving Heaven and Earth to drive it down? Let’s turn to the Fed Flow of Funds for some perspective: what happened from 2007 (pre-recession) to the present?

Household Real Estate Assets: $22.7 trillion to $16.5 trillion: -$6.2 trillion

Corporate Equities: $9.6 trillion to $7.8 trillion: -$1.8 trillion

Mortgage debt: $10.53 trillion to $10.12 trillion: -$ .41 trillion

Household/non-profit Net Worth: $64.2 trillion to $54.9 trillion: -$9.3 trillion

And this is after a tremendous run-up in both bonds and stocks since early 2009. Add in whatever estimates of commercial real estate losses you reckon are semi-accurate and other impaired enterprise assets currently valued at "historical cost," i.e. marked to fantasy, and you get a number well north of $12 trillion even at conservative estimates.

The Fed has fought off this mass devaluation of assets by expanding its balance sheet by $2 trillion. First it sought to stem the collapse of the housing market by buying $1.2 trillion in impaired mortgage backed securities (taking garbage off the banks’ balance sheets) and now it is trying to suppress interest rates by buying $1 trillion in Treasury bonds (recall that QE1 already loaded the boat with T-Bills, so QE2 is simply adding another $600 billion to an already heavy cargo.)

In both cases the Fed’s campaigns are mere rear-guard actions: housing continues to slip, and the tides of higher yields and rates have started rising despite the Fed’s…
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WE ARE NOT REPEATING THE MISTAKES OF JAPAN….YET

Pragcap explains why "WE ARE NOT REPEATING THE MISTAKES OF JAPAN….YET".

Cherry blossom festival

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

When confronted with a balance sheet recession the math regarding economic growth gets relatively simple – either the government spends in times of below trend private sector spending or the economy contracts. For several years now I have maintained that we are in a balance sheet recession – an unusual recession caused by excessive private sector debt.  Although this balance sheet recession created the risk of prolonged weakness I have been quick to dismiss the persistent discussions that compare this to anything close to a second great depression - as I showed in 2009 the comparisons were always ridiculous.  The much closer precedent was Japan, where the economy actually expanded throughout their balance sheet recession, but a persistent malaise left a dark cloud over the private sector as they paid down debts.

Over the last year I have consistently expressed concerns that the USA was going to suffer the same fate as Japan, which consistently scared itself into recession due to austerity measures. At the time, most pundits were comparing us to Greece and attempting to scare us into thinking that the USA was bankrupt, on the verge of hyperinflation and general doom. I wrote several negative articles in 2009 & 2010 berating public officials who said the USA was going bankrupt and that the deficit was at risk of quickly turning us into Greece, Weimar or Zimbabwe.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.  The inflationists, defaultistas and other fear mongerers have been wrong in nearly every aspect of their arguments about the US economy.

US government default was never on the table, the bond vigilantes were not just taking a nap and now, with the passage of the most recent stimulus bill it’s likely that we’ve (at least temporarily) sidestepped the economic decline that was likely to accompany a decline in government spending.  Richard Koo, however, believes we are repeating the mistakes of our past.  In a recent strategy note he said:

“The situation in Europe is no different from that in the US. I therefore have to conclude that the western nations have learned nothing from Japan’s lessons and are likely to repeat its mistakes.”

I have to disagree here.  The most important factor impacting economic growth in the prior year…
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Post Mortem for the World’s Reserve Currency

This is a thoughtful analysis by Mike Whitney showing what a financial mess we’re in – the proverbial rock and a hard place scenario. – Ilene 

Post Mortem for the World’s Reserve Currency

Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY, originally published at CounterPunch and Global Research

money printingPaul Volcker is worried about the future of the dollar and for good reason. The Fed has initiated a program (Quantitative Easing) that presages an end to Bretton Woods 2 and replaces it with different system altogether. Naturally, that’s made trading partners pretty nervous. Despite the unfairness of the present system--where export-dependent countries recycle capital to US markets to sustain demand—most nations would rather stick with the "devil they know", then venture into the unknown.  But US allies weren’t consulted on the matter.  The Fed unilaterally decided that the only way to fight deflation and high unemployment in the US, was by weakening the dollar and making US exports more competitive. Hence QE2.

But that means that the US will be battling for the same export market as everyone else, which will inevitably shrink global demand for goods and services.  This is a major change in the Fed’s policy and there’s a good chance it will backfire. Here’s the deal: If US markets no longer provide sufficient demand for foreign exports, then there will be less incentive to trade in dollars. Thus, QE poses a real threat to the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency.   

Here’s what Volcker said:  “The growing sense around much of the world is that we have lost both relative economic strength and more important, we have lost a coherent successful governing model to be emulated by the rest of the world. Instead, we’re faced with broken financial markets, underperformance of our economy and a fractious political climate…..The  question is whether the exceptional role of the dollar can be maintained." 

This is a good summary of the problems facing the dollar. Notice that Volcker did not invoke the doomsday scenario that one hears so often on the Internet, that China, which has more than $1 trillion in US Treasuries and dollar-backed assets, will one day pull the plug on the USA and send the dollar plunging.  While that’s technically possible, it’s not going to happen. China has no intention of crashing the dollar and thrusting its own economy into a long-term slump.  In fact, China has…
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Unemployment Weaker Than Expected

Courtesy of Bondsquawk

Newly Unemployed Man

The November employment report came in weaker than expected with a 39k gain in payrolls after an upward-revised 172k increase in October. Private hiring increased 50k after a 160k gain, the weakest reading since the spring although it would appear there are some seasonal adjustment issues as retail hiring rose 13k in October and dropped 28k in November. The October reading appears to have been firmer than the underlying trend while the November reading is likely below trend, smoothing through this the 3-month average of private hiring slowed to 107k from 138k but has been tracking just above 100k since August. The report also highlights some of the seasonal adjustment problems that have led to a downtrend in initial jobless claims. These difficulties have meant that claims have been providing unreliable signals throughout this year. The household survey has been considerably weaker than the payroll survey showing a loss of 173k jobs in November after a 330k loss in October. With labor force participation steady at 64.5% the job loss in the household survey led the unemployment rate to jump to 9.8% from 9.6%, the highest since April highlighting the underlying slack in the economy that motivated the Fed to initiate QE2. The U6 unemployment rate held steady at 17.0%. Average hourly earnings were flat leading the annual pace to slow to 1.6% from 1.7% and aggregate hours worked ticked up 0.1% after a 0.4% gain suggesting slower gains in wage and salary income. The report highlights the headwinds facing the US economy as the boost from inventories fades and other sectors are slow to pick up the slack.

Courtesy: BNP Paribas 


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Terms of Enslavement; Irish Citizens Say “Default”; Agreement Violates EU and Irish Laws; 50 Ways to Leave the Euro

Mish writes about selling Ireland down the river in Terms of Enslavement; Irish Citizens Say "Default"; Agreement Violates EU and Irish Laws; 50 Ways to Leave the Euro. - Ilene 

ireland defaultCourtesy of Mish 

ANY Ireland bailout terms are onerous given that it is not Ireland that is bailed out but rather banks in the UK, Germany, US, and France (in that order).

Moreover and unfortunately, the exact deal foolishly agreed to by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is not only amazingly bad for Ireland, but one of the provisions violates EU and Irish law.

Terms of Enslavement

Please consider these terms as outlined in EU agrees on $89 billion bailout loan for Ireland

  • Ireland gets Euro 67.5 billion ($89.4 billion) in bailout loans
  • The 16-nation eurozone, the full 27-nation EU, and the global donors of the International Monetary Fund each commit euro 22.5 billion ($29.8 billion).
  • Interest rates on the loans would be 6.05 percent from the eurozone fund, 5.7 percent from the EU fund and 5.7 percent from the IMF.
  • Ireland will have 10 years to pay off its IMF loans.
  • The first repayment won’t be required until 4 1/2 years after a drawdown.
  • Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Ireland will take euro 10 billion immediately to boost the capital reserves of its state-backed banks

Comparison to Greece

For comparison purposes Greece has three years to repay its loans at an interest rate of 5.2 percent.

Debt Slave Entrapment

The key to understanding how quickly Ireland is made a debt slave can be found in this not so innocuous paragraph.

Ireland first must run down its own cash stockpile and deploy its previously off-limits pension reserves in the bailout. Until now Irish and EU law had made it illegal for Ireland to use its pension fund to cover current expenditures. This move means Ireland will contribute euro 17.5 billion to its own salvation.

The last sentence in the above paragraph should read "Ireland will contribute euro 17.5 billion to its own destruction"

Moreover, once all of its own funds have been deployed, Ireland would be dependent on the IMF for life.

Salt Onto Open Wounds

Like pouring salt onto an open wound, the EU finance ministers agreed on a permanent mechanism, starting in 2013, that would allow a country to restructure its debts once it has been deemed insolvent.

One aspect of that


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The Key to Understanding “Recession” and “Recovery”: The Wealth Pyramid

Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds discusses "The Key to Understanding "Recession" and "Recovery": The Wealth Pyramid."

 

pic credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr (H/t Jr. Deputy Accountant)

 

The top 20% are prospering and spending money; the bottom 80% are not, but thanks to vast wealth disparity, the top slice of households can keep consumer spending aloft. This provides an illusion of "recovery" that masks the insecurity and decline of the bottom 80%.

There is statistical and anecdotal evidence supporting both a "we never left recession" and "the economy is recovering" interpretation. The key to making sense of the conflicting data is to understand that there are Two Americas.

Roughly speaking, we can divide the U.S. economy into "Wall Street"--the financialized part of the economy which encompasses the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) economy and its bloated partner in predation, the Federal government--and "Main Street," the looted, overtaxed remainder of the "real economy" which isn’t a Federally supported corporate cartel (i.e. the military-industrial sector, the "healthcare"/sickcare sector, Big Agribusiness, etc.)

Main Street is small business, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, small property owners (independent motels, vineyards, truck farms, etc.) and local service providers (dentists, accountants, etc.). This class of small business and their employees is in decline: Few Businesses Sprout, With Even Fewer Jobs (WSJ.com)

Needless to say, the Federal/financialized/corporate cartel tranch of the economy is doing very, very well, thank you. The number of Federal employees pulling down $150,000 annually is skyrocketing, hundreds of billions in revenues slosh into National Security and sickcare cartels, and Wall Street bonuses are in the tens of billions.

A thin, overhyped tranch of the tech economy is also doing well--Google employees just got a 10% raise, for example--but this overhyped tranch includes a razor-thin share of the 130 million person U.S. workforce. Google’s global workforce is about 23,000, Twitter has a staff of roughly 300 and Facebook employs about 1,500 people.

There are two Americas in terms of wealth and income: In terms of income, the top 10% earn about half the total income, and in wealth, the top 5% own roughly 70% of all financial wealth.

I have prepared a Wealth and Income Pyramid of the U.S. to illustrate this reality.
Notice that the "middle class" is mostly a…
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Ireland’s “String and Sealing-Wax Fix”; Irish PM Loses Confidence of Own Party; European Sovereign Default Risk Hits All Time High

Mish reports on Ireland’s "String and Sealing-Wax Fix"; Irish PM Loses Confidence of Own Party; European Sovereign Default Risk Hits All Time High.

irelandCourtesy of Mish

News in Europe regarding Ireland, Spain, and Portugal is ominous. Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are soaring in Spain and Portugal. European sovereign risk jumped to an all-time high.

Lloyds TSB says "Ireland’s debt woes may spread because investors have lost confidence in policy makers".

Members of his own party are calling on Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to resign.

The quote of the day goes to Bill Blain, a strategist at Matrix Corporate Capital LLP in London who said "“Bailouts are nothing but a short-term string-and-sealing-wax fix”.

With that let’s take a look at some specific news.

Zero Confidence in Irish Solution

Lloyds says Ireland’s Woes May Spread on ‘Zero Confidence’

“The markets currently have virtually zero confidence that the bailout in Ireland will solve the European crisis even though fiscal austerity measures in both Portugal and Spain have been severe and prima facie, sufficient to ease market concerns,” Charles Diebel and David Page, fixed-income strategists in London, wrote in an investor note today.

“With markets effectively in a position to dictate policy, the risk is that the credibility crisis shifts to more sizeable European Union countries and thereby poses a greater risk to the system as a whole,” they wrote. That may also raise “valid questions about the prescriptive policy measures being sufficient to deal with issues of such magnitude.”

Credit Default Swaps Soar in Spain, Portugal

In spite of the Irish bailout, Spain, Portugal Bank Debt Risk Soars as Traders Look South

The cost of insuring Spanish and Portuguese subordinated bank bonds soared as traders of credit-default swaps turned their focus to southern Europe following Ireland’s bailout.

Swaps on Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo SA rose to a record while contracts on Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s second-biggest lender, climbed to the highest in more than five months. The benchmark gauge of European sovereign risk also jumped to an all-time high, while two indexes tied to bank debt surged the most since June.

Ireland’s rescue “achieves completely the opposite of what it allegedly tries to achieve, namely to calm markets,” Tim Brunne, at UniCredit SpA said in a report.

“Instead, the credit profile of both the sovereign and the impaired financial institutions has been weakened,” the Munich-based strategist wrote.


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Zero Hedge

Prices Are Going To Rise... And Fast!

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

With stock-markets barely ruffled, few are thinking beyond the very short-term and they are mostly guessing anyway. Other than possibly the very short-term as we emerge from lockdowns, the economic situation is actually dire, and any hope of a V-shaped recovery is wishful thinking or just brokers’ propaganda. But for now, monetary policy is to buy off all reality by printing money without limit and almost no one is thinking about the consequences.

...

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Phil's Favorites

Coronavirus deaths and swelling public sector debt share a data-quality problem

 

Coronavirus deaths and swelling public sector debt share a data-quality problem

Different countries report coronavirus data differently. Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Marion Boisseau-Sierra, Cambridge Judge Business School

Watching scientists, politicians and journalists struggle to compare national death rates from the coronavirus pandemic, I had an acute case of déjà vu. Though the virus may be novel, the confusion generated by inconsistent data standards is anything but. It’s something I&...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Coronavirus deaths and swelling public sector debt share a data-quality problem

 

Coronavirus deaths and swelling public sector debt share a data-quality problem

Different countries report coronavirus data differently. Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Marion Boisseau-Sierra, Cambridge Judge Business School

Watching scientists, politicians and journalists struggle to compare national death rates from the coronavirus pandemic, I had an acute case of déjà vu. Though the virus may be novel, the confusion generated by inconsistent data standards is anything but. It’s something I&...



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ValueWalk

The M&A Activism Picture Is Not All Rosy

By ActivistInsight. Originally published at ValueWalk.

This week we released Shareholder activism in H1 2020 – the definitive statistical report on an unprecedented proxy season.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Given just how massive and longlasting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been, including an end to the longest bull market in history (followed after the briefest of pauses by a roaring recovery), an end to the ...



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The Technical Traders

Wild Volatility Continues As US Markets Attempt To Establish New Trend

Courtesy of Technical Traders

We’ve continued to attempt to warn investors of the risks ahead for the US and global markets by generating these research posts and by providing very clear data supporting our conclusions.  Throughout the entire months of May and June, we’ve seen various economic data points report very mixed results – and in some cases, surprise numbers as a result of the deep economic collapse related to the COVID-19 virus event.  This research post should help to clear things up going forward for most traders/investors.

As technical traders, we attempt to digest these economic data factors into technical and price analysis while determining where and what ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Nasdaq 100 Relative Strength Testing 2000 Highs

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

The tech bubble didn’t end well. BUT it did tell us that the world was shifting into the technology age…

Since the Nasdaq 100 bottomed in 2002, the broader markets have turned over leadership to the technology sector.

This can be seen in today’s chart, highlighting the ratio of Nasdaq 100 to S&P 500 performance (on a “monthly” basis).

As you can see, the bars are in a rising bullish channel and have turned sharply higher since the 2018 stock market lows. This highlights the strength of the Nasdaq 100 and large-cap tech stocks.

...

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Chart School

US Dollar with Ney and Gann Angles

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Where is price going, is there strength or weakness in the chart?


Previous Post on the US Dollar : Where is the US Dollar trend headed ?


The question is always what will the future price action look like ?


This post will highlight the use of lines generated by angles. Not trend lines, as trend lines require two known points on a chart, where as angles require only one known point and a angle degree to draw a line. The question then becomes how is the angle degree determined.



There are two theories: ...

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Lee's Free Thinking

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

 

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

Courtesy of  

The COVID 19 pandemic is, predictably, worsening again in much of the US. Only the Northeast, and to a lesser extent some Midwestern states, have been consistently improving. And that trend could also reverse as those states fully reopen.

The problem in the US seems to be widespread public resistance to recommended practices of social distancing and mask wearing. In countries where these practices have been practi...



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Digital Currencies

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

 

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

App-etising? LDprod

Courtesy of Michael Rogerson, University of Bath and Glenn Parry, University of Surrey

Food supply chains were vulnerable long before the coronavirus pandemic. Recent scandals have ranged from modern slavery ...



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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



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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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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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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.