Posts Tagged ‘risks’

The Horrific Derivatives Bubble That Could One Day Destroy The Entire World Financial System

The Horrific Derivatives Bubble That Could One Day Destroy The Entire World Financial System

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse 

Today there is a horrific derivatives bubble that threatens to destroy not only the U.S. economy but the entire world financial system as well, but unfortunately the vast majority of people do not understand it.  When you say the word "derivatives" to most Americans, they have no idea what you are talking about.  In fact, even most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really seem to understand them.  But you don’t have to get into all the technicalities to understand the bigger picture.

Basically, derivatives are financial instruments whose value depends upon or is derived from the price of something else.  A derivative has no underlying value of its own.  It is essentially a side bet.  Originally, derivatives were mostly used to hedge risk and to offset the possibility of taking losses.  But today it has gone way, way beyond that.  Today the world financial system has become a gigantic casino where insanely large bets are made on anything and everything that you can possibly imagine. 

The derivatives market is almost entirely unregulated and in recent years it has ballooned to such enormous proportions that it is almost hard to believe.  Today, the worldwide derivatives market is approximately 20 times the size of the entire global economy.

Because derivatives are so unregulated, nobody knows for certain exactly what the total value of all the derivatives worldwide is, but low estimates put it around 600 trillion dollars and high estimates put it at around 1.5 quadrillion dollars. 

Do you know how large one quadrillion is?

Counting at one dollar per second, it would take 32 million years to count to one quadrillion.…
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Glass-Steagall: Be Careful What You Wish

Glass-Steagall: Be Careful What You Wish

Courtesy of Mish

Sporty Family Outing

After a Massachusetts wake-up call Obama has decided to pay more attention to Paul Volcker. Is it too little, too late to quell public anger? What will the effects be if new Glass-Steagall legislation is enacted?

Let’s explore those questions starting with Obama to Propose New Rules on Proprietary Trading.

President Barack Obama tomorrow will offer proposals to limit the size and complexity of financial institutions’ proprietary trading as a way to reduce risk- taking, an administration official said.

“We’ve got a financial regulatory system that is completely inadequate to control the excessive risks and irresponsible behavior of financial players all around the world,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News broadcast tonight.

“People are angry and they’re frustrated,” Obama said in the ABC interview. “From their perspective, the only thing that happens is that we bail out the banks.”

The proposed rules could limit activities of banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the most profitable investment bank in Wall Street history. Goldman reaped more than 90 percent of its pretax earnings last year from trading and so-called principal investments, which include market bets on securities and stakes in companies.

Obama to Propose Limits on Risks

The New York Times also weighs in on the issue in Obama to Propose Limits on Risks Taken by Banks 

President Obama on Thursday will publicly propose giving bank regulators the power to limit the size of the nation’s largest banks and the scope of their risk-taking activities, an administration official said late Wednesday.

He also would prohibit proprietary trading of financial securities by commercial banks, including mortgage-backed securities. Big losses in the trading of those securities precipitated the credit crisis in 2008 and the federal bailout.

Last week he proposed a new tax on some 50 of the largest banks to raise enough money to recover the losses from the financial bailout, which ultimately could cost up $117 billion.

Now, in perhaps his most daring move, he is calling for a modern-day version of the Glass-Steagall Act, which in 1933 separated commercial and investment banking. The new separation would prohibit standard commercial banks from engaging in proprietary trading using funds from their commercial division.

Only a handful of large banks would be the targets of this legislation, among


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How Winning Can Mean Losing in Poker and Life

Interesting results found while studying gambling apply to investing, and life in general. But you can’t walk away from life as easily as you can from the poker table.  (My highlighting.) – Ilene

How Winning Can Mean Losing in Poker and Life

TIME - winning can mean losing By Jeffrey Kluger, courtesy of TIME

You can learn a lot about gambling if you’re willing to analyze 27 million hands of online poker. Don’t have time for that? No worries; sociology doctoral student Kyle Siler of Cornell University has done it for you. His counterintuitive message: the more hands you win, the more money you’re likely to lose — and this has implications that go well beyond a hand of cards.

Siler, whose work was published in December in the online edition of the Journal of Gambling Studies and will appear later this year in the print edition, was not interested in poker alone but in the larger idea of how humans handle risk, reward and variable payoffs. Few things offer a better way of quantifying that than gambling — and few gambling dens offer a richer pool of data than the Internet, where millions of people can play at once and transactions are easy to observe and record.

To gather his data, Siler used a software system called PokerTracker and directed it to collect and collate information on small- medium- and large-stakes games. He limited the games to no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em with six players in order to eliminate at least some extraneous variables. It was in the course of crunching all that information that he found the strangely inverse relationship between the number of hands won and the amount of money lost. He also noticed that it was novice players who lost the most.

The reason for the paradoxical results was straightforward enough: the majority of the wins the players tallied were for relatively small stakes. But the longer they played — and the more confident they got — the likelier they were to get blown out on one or a few very big hands. Win a dozen $50 pots and you’re still going to wind up far behind if you lose a single $1,000 one. "People overweigh their frequent small gains vis-à-vis occasional large losses," Siler says.

Detail view of a 'Dangerous Current' sign in front of breaking waves

Small-stakes players also tend to do better with small-denomination cards. A pair of jacks may…
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Hedge Fund Short Positions: High Operating Leverage the Common Theme

Hedge Fund Short Positions: High Operating Leverage the Common Theme

Courtesy of Market Folly

Upon reading various hedge fund investor letters and conversing with colleagues in the industry, one thing has become quite clear: hedge funds got their asses kicked on the short side of the portfolio in 2009. This is by no means a shocking revelation given that the stock market itself has risen over 70% from the lows back in March 2009. After all, a rising tide seems to lift all boats. While the negative performance of short positions over the past year is a common trend, we want to focus on a theme found in many of their portfolios.

Here’s the common link: many hedge funds have shorted businesses with high operating leverage. Amidst the crisis of the past two years, operating and financial leverage became quite a detriment to various companies. Hedge funds quickly recognized this and shorted shares of companies who would struggle with this burden in an uncertain economic climate. At the time, it was a poignant move. However, markets are often driven by perception (versus reality).

What are we talking about here?

We’re simply pointing out that the high operating leverage that was once seen as a detriment to the companies that hedge funds were/are shorting can now be construed as an attribute. According to the market, the economy is recovering and things are slowly but surely getting better. (More appropriately, the markets have been the beneficiary of massive capital inflows). Regardless, this market rebound re-instills confidence and shifts investor sentiment. And, most importantly, it reverses risk tolerance.

The very companies investors avoided like the plague during the crisis are now catching a bid because investors’ risk tolerance has returned. Many hedge funds missed this swing in perception and bore the brunt of the blow. It doesn’t matter right now if the company could potentially have problems due to their operating leverage. Right now, all that matters is that risk tolerance has returned and risk is ‘in’. This goes back to the age old market debate of perception versus reality.

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen hedge funds comment on the ‘mistakes’ they made in 2009. Almost all of their mistakes are on the short side of the portfolio. And while they don’t name specific stocks,


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THE 5 BIGGEST RISKS OF 2010

THE 5 BIGGEST RISKS OF 2010

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

Rock Climber on Steep Granite Face

As we enter the new year investors will be wise to focus on the risks of 2009.  Although the crisis appears long behind us it’s important to keep an eye on the bigger picture.  Little has changed in terms of the structure of our global economy therefore the risks remain largely the same.  Let’s take a moment to highlight some of these risks as we begin to prepare for a new year:

1)  Those darned analysts

It would be comforting to think that Wall Street’s analysts were in fact doing us all a great big favor with their expert analysis, but the truth is, more often than not, they aren’t.  As we have seen with my proprietary expectation ratio, the analysts have been behind the curve at every twist and turn of the crisis.  They remained too bullish heading into 2007 & 2008 and then were behind the curve as operating earnings tanked and they turned very bearish in Q408 and Q109.  Like clockwork, the ER bottomed and the market soon followed.  The greatest risk heading into 2010 is an analyst community that becomes wildly bullish and sets the expectation bar too high for corporate America to hurdle itself over.  Early readings show this is not a great risk at this point, but it continues to tick higher.

2)  Stimulus, stimulus, stimulus.

There is little doubt that the greatest mean reversion in modern economic times has been largely due to government stimulus.  The bank bailouts, housing bailouts/stimulus and auto bailouts all helped stop the bleeding during a time when the economy appeared to be on its deathbed.  Unfortunately, government spending isn’t the path to prosperity and the private sector will be forced to pick up the slack sooner rather than later.  2010 is likely to largely hinge on this transition.  The government will begin to sap the economy of its massive stimulus as the year drags on and with that comes increased risks that the equity markets will struggle on without big brother’s aid.

3)  Anything China

China has grown to become the hope of the global economy.  With their booming growth, growing consumerism, and fiscal prudence, China is the envy of the economic world.  The rally…
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Double-Edged Sword: Swine Flu and Vaccines

By guest author Terry Doherty and Ilene, your editor

Terry Doherty is the Research Program Coordinator in the Depts of Biomedical Sciences and Academic Affairs at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles, California.

Double-Edged Sword: Swine Flu and Vaccines

There’s plenty that is unknown about the swine flu and the swine flu vaccine.  If searches on the internet are any indication, deciding whether or not to be vaccinated may be a tough, emotionally charged decision for many people.  So how – without having the background to write a swine flu grant proposal, conduct the research, and get the thing published in the New England Journal of Medicine – do we decide whether or not to get a swine flu shot?  

One way is to attempt to evaluate and weigh the risks of the vaccine against the risks of the flu.  That is how I approach the subject, but it’s easier said than done.  As is often the case with medical interventions, the risks are not fully known. And even if we could carefully assess the risks, our underlying assumptions may be wrong.  Percent risks are averages collected by studying large populations.  We may not be one of the statistical average.  Then there are the gaps in the available data, and own biases and belief systems.  Our view of the world affects our analysis and often we are not even aware of how large of an effect those biases may play.   

In Vaccine War: Autism, Flu and Science, TIME, Maia Szalavitz discusses how emotion and biases play a large part in our risk-benefit assessments:

Just in time for the national roll-out of the new H1N1 flu vaccine, Wired Magazine and the Atlantic have weighed in on the ongoing vaccine war: Wired has a profile of Paul Offit, a vaccine researcher and pediatrician who has consistently spoken out in favor of vaccination and pointed to the lack of evidence linking vaccines and autism; the Atlantic checks in with a piece questioning the science suggesting that flu vaccines and antiviral drugs prevent people from dying.

Both articles have elicited heated debate all over the Web: Amy Wallace, who wrote Wired’s piece, excerpted below, has received vitriolic criticism and attacks from vaccine opponents, setting records for page views…

This debate over vaccination doesn’t seem likely to end any time soon. For critics, vaccines…
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YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM….

YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM….

WSOP No-Limit Texas Hold 'em World Championship

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

I still maintain that the rest of earnings season will be broadly positive, however, two negative trends have developed over the course of the last few days that have changed my market outlook from bullish to neutral.

The first change in trend has been the recent spat of “selling the news”.  After the 6% run-up since the beginning of earnings season we are now seeing investors sell into strength.  This is a clear sign that the buying power is waning.  In essence, the owners of equities now have more incentive to sell than new buyers have to buy mainly because earnings were largely priced in over the course of the last few weeks. A new positive catalyst will need to develop from here for stocks to make a substantial move higher.

The second negative trend is the move in the dollar.  Today’s nearly 1% decline in the dollar index is staggering.  The negative trajectory of this move is simply unsustainable.  I also believe the $1.50 mark in the Euro is one that will not be tolerated for long.   Compounded by the move in the dollar is the surge in oil prices.  It’s only a matter of time before analysts become increasingly concerned about the impact of high oil prices on consumers. Any move higher in the dollar (for whatever reason – short covering, politics, etc) will weigh on the market.

For these reasons I think it is prudent to take a step back from the poker table and take a break.  Although I am not shifting to a short position I do view this market as one that is characterized by abnormally high risks.  The strength could very well continue through the next 3 weeks of earnings season, but after the 6% surge over the last 4 weeks I think it is prudent to take profits here.

Sometimes when you’re sitting on a strong hand you need to realize that the risks outweigh the rewards and that perhaps your hand isn’t quite as strong as you think….

****

Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

 


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Regulation in Defense of Capitalism

Rick Bookstaber writes an excellent essay on Wall St. economics addressing why our economic system does not reflect true capitalism. As explored recently, this supports the premise that we do not have fair and free markets. (E.g., see Don’t Blame Free Markets, They Never Existed.) – Ilene

Welcome to Rick, and for more by Rick, please visit his blog.

Regulation in Defense of Capitalism

capitalism isn't working Courtesy of Rick Bookstaber

Will regulation hobble capitalism? I think the opposite is true. Properly done, government regulation of the financial industry will move the industry closer to the capitalist ideal. By capitalism, I mean where those who take the risks and put up the money get the fruits of their labor. And, importantly, where those who take the risks and put up the money actually do take the risks, bearing the full costs of failure as well as success.

Capitalism means bearing the costs

I sometimes miss the rugged beauty of Utah, where I spent some of my pre-Wall Street years. From my house on the foothills of the Wasatch mountains, I could see the cliffs of Mount Nebo to the south, nearly fifty miles away. Ten miles north, the western face of Mt. Timpanogas, capped with snow into early summer. To the west, the sun reflecting on Utah Lake. Oh, and on the eastern shore of the lake, the black smoke billowing out the stacks of Geneva Steel.

Geneva Steel was built to produce steel during the war effort, and kept in operation until seven years ago. It teetered at the edge – and at least two times over the edge – of bankruptcy, closing for good in 2002. Left behind were assorted furnaces, presses and scrap metal sold to a Chinese steel producer, and a giant pond of toxic sludge.

Fortunately, we’ve learned a thing or two about toxic sludge in steel production. The steel producer, in this case the original parent of the Geneva plant, U.S. Steel, has to set aside a fund to pay for the clean-up. The sludge is part of the production process, and the clean-up is a cost of production, even though it is a cost that is not realized until many years down the road. As a result, steel costs are a little higher and the shareholders fare a little worse than if this longer-term expense were not forced onto…
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THE 2 BIGGEST RISKS TO THE BULL MARKET

THE 2 BIGGEST RISKS TO THE BULL MARKET

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

This is a re-post from an article we wrote for TheStreet.com:

The rally off the March 8th lows has been nothing but spectacular.   In hindsight, it’s clear that investors overreacted to the downside, but as stocks surge more than 50% it’s time to begin pondering whether the current rally is a bit ahead of itself.  Contrary to my bottom call on March 8th when I said it was time to invest in risky assets (a full history of my 2008/9 calls can be found here including our 2008 crash call and March 8 buy call), now is the time to put on your risk management cap on as a number of various threats begin to pop up across the market.    I recently turned near-term bearish on stocks due to 2 primary reasons: sentiment & seasonality.

1)  Sentiment – As I often say, psychology drives markets.  After months of skepticism regarding the rally we are finally beginning to see an overwhelming amount of bullishness.  This is a screaming contrarian indicator.  The latest consumer confidence readings showed a marked jump to 54.1 and bullish sentiment among fund managers has soared to its highest level since 2003:

The latest Merrill Lynch fund managers survey shows an extraordinary jump in optimistic sentiment.   The survey makes up the current psychology of 204 portfolio managers running over $550B in assets.  The report shows a 63% jump in sentiment since July and the highest reading since November of 2003.

After months of short squeezes and failed market declines this optimistic sentiment has begun to eat into one of the fuels of this rally: short sellers.  Recent short sales data shows the lowest readings since the market tanked in early February.  As we lose the short sellers we lose an important driver of higher prices.

BESPOKE THE 2 BIGGEST RISKS TO THE BULL MARKET

Perhaps most important has been the enormous shift in analyst estimates.  After turning bearish in early June, I reversed the position in early July for one reason – earnings.  My analysis led me to believe that estimates were far too low primarily due to the fact that analysts were not accounting for cost cuts.  The estimates have been outrageously low, but now as the consensus begins to believe in a full blown recovery the


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The credibility of farmers, priests and prostitutes – and bankers?

First, welcome to Michael Pettis.  Michael is a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets.  He is also Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  Second, this is an excellent article that provides insight into the thoughts of the Chinese people. – Ilene

The credibility of farmers, priests and prostitutes – and bankers?

chinese prostitute - credibility highCourtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets

Three weeks ago China Daily published a pretty funny article about a recent survey on credibility that had taken place in China. According to the article,

At a time when shamelessness is pervasive, we are often at loss as to who can be trusted. The five most trustworthy groups, according to a survey by the Research Center of the Xiaokang Magazine, are farmers, religious workers, sex workers, soldiers and students.

A list like this is at the same time surprising and embarrassing. The sex business is illegal and thus underground in this country. The sex workers’ unexpected prominence on this list of honor, based on an online poll of more than 3,000 people, is indeed unusual.

It took the pollsters aback that people like scientists and teachers were ranked way below, and government functionaries, too, scored hardly better.  Yet given the constant feed of scandals involving the country’s elite, this is not bad at all. At least they have not slid into the least credible category, which consists of real estate developers, secretaries, agents, entertainers and directors.

I am not sure what secretaries have done to get themselves such poor rankings (could they mean party secretaries?), and I am not sure what kind of directors they mean (movie directors? managing directors?) but not everyone found this survey funny.  Last week a columnist in the People’s Daily had this to say about the same survey:

In recent years, China has already paid a high price for the prevailing credibility crisis. The annual losses caused by bad debts have reportedly amounted to about 180 billion yuan, and the direct economic losses induced by contract fraud each year is also up to 5.5 billion yuan. Besides, shoddy and fake products contribute to another great loss involving at least 200 billion yuan. Generally, credibility crisis would cost China as much as 600 billion…
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Phil's Favorites

Three reasons it's not 1929

 

Three reasons it’s not 1929

Courtesy of 

I could be wrong, but let me point out three things that I think about when I hear Great Depression analogies being made to the current crisis.

The first thing I think about is that the financial markets of the 1930’s were prehistoric. Yes, the Federal Reserve was in existence, but it was nowhere near as powerful and it hadn’t had any institutional memory (or history) to draw on. Its basic structure was patterned on the still-nascent central banks of various European countries thanks to the listening tour Senator Nelson Aldrich and others had made across the Continent. Fun fact: the US Sen...



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Biotech/COVID-19

5 reasons the coronavirus hit Italy so hard

 

5 reasons the coronavirus hit Italy so hard

A nursing home resident in Rome is moved to a hospital. Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP

Sara Belligoni, University of Central Florida

Italy is one of the nations worst hit by the global coronavirus pandemic. As a scholar in the field of security and emergency management who has studied and worked in Italy, I have determined that there are at least five major reasons why the country is suffering so much.

1. Lots of old people

Italians have the ...



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Zero Hedge

"What Is Really Essential"? In The US Golf And Guns, In France Wine And Pastries

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Among countless other unprecedented changes and transformation, the coronavirus pandemic has unveiled an odd divergence within global cultures: the definition of what's deemed "essential" for people across the world, and what things we really can't do without, even though we might not need most of them for survival.

As AP reports, in its attempt to slow the spread of the virus, authorities in many places are determining what shops and services can remain open. They'...



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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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Kimble Charting Solutions

Tech Testing 9-Year Support, With Fear Levels At 2009 Highs!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Is an important Tech Index sending a bullish message to investors? It is making an attempt!

Does that mean a low in this important sector is in play? Humbly it is too soon to say at this time!

This chart looks at the Nasdaq Composite Index over the past 25-years on a monthly basis.

The index has spent the majority of the past 9-years inside of rising channel (1), as it has created a series of higher lows and higher highs. It created bearish reversal patterns in January & February as it was kissing the underside of the top of the channel and...



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Insider Scoop

With Everybody Stuck At Home, Investor Conferences Are Going Virtual

Courtesy of Benzinga

With the world at a COVID-19-induced standstill, many conference organizers have either gone online (Benzinga is one of them) or had to cancel upcoming events altogether. There is no clear timetable on how much longer we will be in this state.

Publicly traded companies are already limited in wh...



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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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The Technical Traders

These Index Charts Will Calm You Down

Courtesy of Technical Traders

I put together this video that will calm you down, because knowing where are within the stock market cycles, and the economy makes all the difference.

This is the worst time to be starting a business that’s for sure. I have talked about this is past videos and events I attended that bear markets are fantastic opportunities if you can retain your capital until late in the bear market cycle. If you can do this, you will find countless opportunities to invest money. From buying businesses, franchises, real estate, equipment, and stocks at a considerable discount that would make today’s prices look ridiculous (which they are).

Take a quick watch of this video because it shows you ...



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ValueWalk

Entrepreneurial activity and business ownership on the rise

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Indicating strong health of entrepreneurship, both entrepreneurial activity and established business ownership in the United States have trended upwards over the past 19 years, according to the 2019/2020 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Global Report, released March 3rd in Miami at the GEM Annual Meeting.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

The Benefit Of Entrepreneurial Activity ...

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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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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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About Ilene:

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