Posts Tagged ‘spending’

The Root of Economic Fragility and Political Anger

The Root of Economic Fragility and Political Anger

Courtesy of Robert Reich 

a road sign saying career change ahead

Missing from almost all discussion of America’s dizzying rate of unemployment is the brute fact that hourly wages of people with jobs have been dropping, adjusted for inflation. Average weekly earnings rose a bit this spring only because the typical worker put in more hours, but June’s decline in average hours pushed weekly paychecks down at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent.

In other words, Americans are keeping their jobs or finding new ones only by accepting lower wages.

Meanwhile, a much smaller group of Americans’ earnings are back in the stratosphere: Wall Street traders and executives, hedge-fund and private-equity fund managers, and top corporate executives. As hiring has picked up on the Street, fat salaries are reappearing. Richard Stein, president of Global Sage, an executive search firm, tells the New York Times corporate clients have offered compensation packages of more than $1 million annually to a dozen candidates in just the last few weeks.

We’re back to the same ominous trend as before the Great Recession: a larger and larger share of total income going to the very top while the vast middle class continues to lose ground.

And as long as this trend continues, we can’t get out of the shadow of the Great Recession. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don’t have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing.

Newly Unemployed Man

America’s median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class could boost its purchasing power was to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn’t pay their bills, and banks couldn’t collect. 

Each of America’s two biggest economic downturns over the last century has followed the same pattern. Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation’s total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the…
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CNBC Host Accuses Guest Of Just Trying To Scare The Crap Out Of Everyone

CNBC Host Accuses Guest Of Just Trying To Scare The Crap Out Of Everyone

Courtesy of Gregory White at Clusterstock 

CNBC’s Simon Hobbs fought it out with Michael Pento today about the reality of the current economic situation in the U.S.

The fireworks start around 3:25, when Hobbs starts questioning the current generation of CEO’s for misunderstanding our post crisis world. Pento argues that right now people aren’t spending. Hobbs says that in Latin America and Asia, they are. 

Pento then argues that consumers are going to be paying down debt for several years, and that the U.S. will be weak through that time period. The two then fight it out over the U.S. AAA rating and taxes.

At 6:00 minutes in, Hobbs says, "You’re just peddling the power of nightmares," and "Wars are fought because of that sort of attitude."

Pento goes on to make points about how people need to take the threat of U.S. sovereign debt seriously.

 


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Red Flags for the Economy

Red Flags for the Economy

Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY at CounterPunch

Bonds are signaling that the recovery is in trouble. The yield on the 10-year Treasury (2.97 percent) has fallen to levels not seen since the peak of the crisis while the yield on the two-year note has dropped to historic lows. This is a sign of extreme pessimism. Investors are scared and moving into liquid assets. Their confidence has begun to wane. Economist John Maynard Keynes examined the issue of confidence in his masterpiece "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money." He says:

"The state of long-term expectation, upon which our decisions are based, does not solely depend, therefore, on the most probable forecast we can make. It also depends on the confidence with which we make this forecast — on how highly we rate the likelihood of our best forecast turning out quite wrong….The state of confidence, as they term it, is a matter to which practical men always pay the closest and most anxious attention."

Volatility, high unemployment, and a collapsing housing market are eroding investor confidence and adding to the gloominess. Economists who make their projections on the data alone, should revisit Keynes. Confidence matters. Businesses and households have started to hoard and the cycle of deleveraging is still in its early stages. Obama’s fiscal stimulus will run out just months after the Fed has ended its bond purchasing program. That’s bound to shrink the money supply and lead to tighter credit. Soon, wages will contract and the CPI will turn from disinflation to outright deflation. Aggregate demand will weaken as households and consumers are forced to increase personal savings. Here’s how Paul Krugman sums it up:

"We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression….And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world … governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending. … After all, unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly. And both the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.

"I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between


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Following Yesterday’s Hype of Fastest Growth in 4 Years, June Retail Sales a “Mixed Bag”

Following Yesterday’s Hype of Fastest Growth in 4 Years, June Retail Sales a "Mixed Bag"

Sale tags attached to hanging clothes, close-up

Courtesy of Mish 

The Wall Street Journal reports Retailers Turn in a Mixed Bag for June Sales.

U.S. retailers reported mixed results for June, with some stores benefiting from aggressive promotions and others hurt by consumers’ continued restrained spending.

Retailers from department stores to teen retailers responded to limited demand with increased markdowns. Big sales during June are common as retailers try to clear shelves for fall merchandise, especially back-to-school apparel. But a number of analysts are calling June’s discounting steep.

"Many retailers pulled out all of the stops with respect to promos in June," said Brian Sozzi, retail analyst at Wall Street Strategies. "During our store walks throughout the month, the level of promotions picked up relative to previous months."

"Sales in electronics, video games, music and movies were particularly soft for the month," said Target Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel. "We continue to plan our business cautiously." Target said it expects July same-store sales to be up in the low single digits.

Retailers were forecast to report 3.2% growth at stores open at least a year, according to the 28 companies tracked by Thomson Reuters. The estimate compares with a 4.9% drop last year. Same-store sales are considered a key barometer of retailers’ health because the figures allow clean comparisons as opposed to overall sales because store numbers fluctuate.

"We’re almost treading water compared to the building spending momentum we saw at the beginning of the year," said Mike Berry, director of industry research at MasterCard Inc.’s Spending Pulse unit. "At the beginning of the year, people were anticipating good news and spending increased. When economy didn’t turn around, consumers took a step back."

Retail Winners Exceeding Expectations

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) sales +4.5%
Macy’s (M) sales +6.5% w
Nordstrom (JWN) sales +14%
Ambercrombie & Fitch (ANF) sales +9%

Retail Losers Not Meeting Expectations

Target (TGT) sales +1.7% vs. expectations of +2.7%
Kohl’s (KSS) sales +5.9% vs. +6.5% expected
Teen retailer Wet Seal (WTSLA) sales -3.6%
Gap (GPS) sales flat

Retail Sales Synopsis

Those numbers may seem pretty good but June sales benefited from a late Memorial Day that pushed sales into June. Moreover, June is normally a stronger month than May. More importantly, note how estimates were ratcheted lower…
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California Showdown – Court sides with Schwarzenegger on minimum wage; L.A. council Fires 232 Workers; Illinois Stops Paying Bills Keeps Digging Holes

California Showdown – Court sides with Schwarzenegger on minimum wage; L.A. council Fires 232 Workers; Illinois Stops Paying Bills Keeps Digging Holes

Courtesy of Mish

Arnold Schwarzenegger as an unstoppable killing machine in the science fiction thriller Terminator 1984.

Fortunately a California appellate court came down in favor of sanity and sided with the governor when Schwarzenegger Ordered 200,000 State Workers be Paid Minimum Wage until a budget was passed.

Please consider Court sides with Schwarzenegger on minimum wage

A state appellate court on Friday sided with the Schwarzenegger administration in its attempt to temporarily impose the federal minimum wage on tens of thousands of state workers.

It was not immediately clear how the ruling would affect Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order a day earlier to pay 200,000 state workers the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour as the state wrestles with a budget crisis.

The state controller, who cuts state paychecks, has refused to comply with the order. Friday’s ruling affirms a lower-court decision in favor of the administration in a lawsuit filed two years ago after the governor’s first attempt to impose the minimum wage.

The latest ruling from the California 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento concludes that state Controller John Chiang cannot ignore the minimum wage order from the state Department of Personnel Administration.

But Chiang said in a news release that he interpreted the court ruling to mean that his office would not have to comply with the executive order if it was practically infeasible to do so.

Schwarzenegger’s minimum wage order will not affect all of California’s 250,000 government employees. The 37,000 state workers represented by unions that recently negotiated new contracts with the administration will continue to receive their full pay. The contracts, including one with California Highway Patrol officers, contain pay cuts and pension reforms.

Salaried managers who are not paid on an hourly basis would see their pay cut to $455 a week. Doctors and lawyers who work for the state will not be paid at all until a budget is signed because minimum wage laws do not apply to those professions.

Schwarzenegger is pushing for minimum wage based on a 2003 California Supreme Court ruling. In White vs. Davis, the court held that state employees do not have the right to their full salaries if a state budget has not been enacted. At the same time, the state cannot ignore federal wage laws.

Chiang has maintained that


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TLP: If You Time Your Shopping Right, You Can Get Those Appetizer Samples

TLP: If You Time Your Shopping Right, You Can Get Those Appetizer Samples

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

government purchasing

Here’s a project for the federal government that cost-conscious consumers have figured out how to manage without any prodding other than from their own budgets: get a Costco or Sam’s Club membership.

The Washington Post:

Agencies will be encouraged to use "blanket purchase agreements," getting savings for taxpayers by banding together to buy things in bulk, purchasing officials said at a hearing of the Senate’s subcommittee on contracting oversight.

Under new acquisition guidelines, government purchasing officials have established 12 new acquisition procedures that will apply to every agency. They could save about $200 million in the next four years, according to officials at the Office of Management and Budget.

The federal government spends more than $500 billion a year buying goods and services. With that kind of purchasing power, said Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), the subcommittee’s ranking Republican, "you expect to get a break and get the best bang for your dollar. The federal government should be receiving the best prices in the marketplace, but unfortunately that’s rarely the case," he said.

Daniel Gordon, head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the handling of interagency contracts has improved, but he agreed with some of the criticism leveled by lawmakers. "We have much more work to do in terms of leveraging the government’s buying power," he said.

A study released in April by the Government Accountability Office found little oversight and accountability on about $60 billion worth of interagency contracts that many agencies use.

The auditors raised concerns about duplication, noting that "many of the same vendors provided similar products and services on multiple contracts." They said that the problem led to cost increases for "both the vendor and the government" and resulted in "missed opportunities to leverage the government’s buying power." 

Can it really matter if the drones at HUD have the same desks and file cabinets as their counterparts at Interior or Defense? And everybody loves a good deal on Post-It Notes. 


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TLP: What It Really Means When You Spend $4 On A Latte

TLP: What It Really Means When You Spend $4 On A Latte

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

economic indicators

Unemployment numbers, capital investment figures and housing starts may mean something about where the economy is headed. But those are f^*king boring statistics. Instead, check the length of the line at Starbucks.

WSJ:

As economists look for clues on the direction of consumer spending, they may want to look into how much Americans are willing to spend on their coffee.

Consumers have been more willing to spend since the lows of the recession, but recent declines in retail sales and confidence have sparked worries over whether spending can continue to grow in the second half of the year.

Enter the coffee indicator. A “tell-tale sign of how consumers feel about employment, income and the future is where they buy their coffee and whether they step up for the more expensive concoction,” wrote Majestic Research economist Steve Blitz in a recent research note.

Majestic Research tracks anonymous credit-card data, and can see how much consumers spend by category and store. Blitz broke out the average dollar transactions at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. The data show that during the worst of the recession consumers spent less at the two coffee outlets, but as the employment picture started to improve people were willing to spend more per transaction.

Or maybe people are so depressed by the way things are in this economy that the last thing they want first thing in the morning is a sh*^ty cup of coffee. 

 


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Adjusting, Adjusting, and Adjusting

Adjusting, Adjusting, and Adjusting

Courtesy of Michael Panzner of Financial Armageddon 

Young couple in front of a shop

Even though the recession is allegedly "over," Americans continue to adjust their spending habits:

"Consumers to Continue Food, Beverage Thriftiness" (Food Product Design)

After two years of cutting corners, consumers have learned to get by with less and say they will continue to practice thriftiness at least for the next six to 12 months and perhaps well beyond that, according to a food and beverage market research report from the NPD Group.

The “The What’s Next on the Road to Recovery” report, which explores how consumers’ habits related to food and beverage purchasing and usage have been affected by the recession, finds that nearly one in five consumers expect to be worse off 12 months from now than they are today, and half of all consumers expect their financial situation to be the same as it is today. Looking ahead nine out of 10 consumers say they will plan and watch their spending on food and beverages outside the home.

Among the thriftier behaviors consumers say they will do more often than now over the next six months are decreasing spending on groceries, especially those with household incomes under $35,000; using coupons for food and beverage items from newspapers or magazines; stocking up on foods and beverages when they are on sale; searching store circulars for low prices on food or beverages that are on sale; buying less expensive brands of foods and beverages, and searching for manufacturer coupons online.

As a result, manufacturers are doing the same:

"Procter & Gamble Says It Plans to Expand Gain to Dish Washing, Affirms Earlier forecasts" (Bloomberg)

Procter & Gamble Co. said Tuesday that it will expand its Gain brand from the laundry to the kitchen sink, the latest move by the world’s largest consumer products company to market its megabrands in new ways and new places.

At a Jefferies investor conference in Nantucket, Mass., the company also affirmed forecasts on sales and earnings it offered earlier this year.

After slipping during the recession, P&G’s revenue is rising again because the company is offering new versions of its most popular products at lower prices that reach new consumers.

Gain is among 22 P&G brands with $1 billion in annual sales. The new Gain dishwashing liquid will debut within a year, according to the Cincinnati-based company’s chief


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Krugman vs. Greenspan on “That ’30s Feeling”; Calculated Risk Sides with Krugman, I Side with Greenspan

Krugman vs. Greenspan on "That ’30s Feeling"; Calculated Risk Sides with Krugman, I Side with Greenspan

Person's hands along side a turned out pocket

Courtesy of Mish 

Courtesy of Calculated Risk here are a pair of articles, one from Krugman and another from Greenspan on the limits of debt.

That ’30s Feeling

Paul Krugman has That ’30s Feeling

Suddenly, creating jobs is out, inflicting pain is in. Condemning deficits and refusing to help a still-struggling economy has become the new fashion everywhere, including the United States, where 52 senators voted against extending aid to the unemployed despite the highest rate of long-term joblessness since the 1930s.

Many economists, myself included, regard this turn to austerity as a huge mistake. It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession. And here in Germany, a few scholars see parallels to the policies of Heinrich Brüning, the chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose devotion to financial orthodoxy ended up sealing the doom of the Weimar Republic.

But despite these warnings, the deficit hawks are prevailing in most places — and nowhere more than here, where the government has pledged 80 billion euros, almost $100 billion, in tax increases and spending cuts even though the economy continues to operate far below capacity.

What’s the economic logic behind the government’s moves? The answer, as far as I can tell, is that there isn’t any. ….

How bad will it be? Will it really be 1937 all over again? I don’t know. What I do know is that economic policy around the world has taken a major wrong turn, and that the odds of a prolonged slump are rising by the day.

U.S. Debt and the Greece Analogy 

In sharp contrast to Krugman’s position, Alan Greenspan compares the US to Greece in U.S. Debt and the Greece Analogy 

An urgency to rein in budget deficits seems to be gaining some traction among American lawmakers. If so, it is none too soon. Perceptions of a large U.S. borrowing capacity are misleading.

Despite the surge in federal debt to the public during the past 18 months—to $8.6 trillion from $5.5 trillion—inflation and long-term interest rates, the typical symptoms of fiscal excess, have remained remarkably subdued. This is regrettable, because it is fostering a sense of complacency that can have dire consequences.

How much borrowing leeway at


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ALAN GREENSPAN SOUNDS THE BOND VIGILANTE SIREN CALL

ALAN GREENSPAN SOUNDS THE BOND VIGILANTE SIREN CALL

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist

Alan Greenspan

The lead story at the Wall Street Journal is an absurd diatbribe from none other than the U.S. central banker who has been wrong about just about everything over the last 25 years.  Alan Greenspan has officially joined the legion of deficit terrorists and flat earth economists who believe the U.S. is on the verge of imminent collapse at the hands of the bond vigilantes.

Alan Greenspan has been more than discredited over the course of the last 10 years.  This is a man who helped deregulate the financial sector while also believing that he controls every twist and turn in the U.S. economy via his interest rate press releases.  Of course, the last 18 months have proven the monetarists terribly wrong.  The Enron banking system has also proven that deregulation substantially contributed to our current predicament.  But don’t take it from me.  The man himself admitted in 2008 that his models were “flawed”:

“I discovered a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works. I had been going for 40 years with considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

Nonetheless, he remains a reliable and important adviser on monetary and fiscal policy in the United States.  Now he is helping rally the troops in an attempt to implement 1930’s style austerity.

Don’t be fooled by today’s low interest rates. The government could very quickly discover the limits of its borrowing capacity.

An urgency to rein in budget deficits seems to be gaining some traction among American lawmakers. If so, it is none too soon. Perceptions of a large U.S. borrowing capacity are misleading.

Borrowing?  What borrowing?  The United States budget deficit is not “borrowed money”.  We fund our own spending internally.  We do not borrow one penny from abroad.  China is not our banker.  Japan is not our banker.

Despite the surge in federal debt to the public during the past 18 months—to $8.6 trillion from $5.5 trillion—inflation and long-term interest rates, the typical symptoms of fiscal excess, have remained remarkably subdued. This is regrettable, because it is fostering a sense of complacency that can have dire consequences.

Inflation has remained remarkably subdued?  Yes, this has surprised only those who fail to understand how the monetary system works. …
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Kimble Charting Solutions

DAX Index Hits Two 18-Year Support Lines, Creates Large Bullish Reversal

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Has the DAX index from Germany experience a large decline of late? Yes, it has!

Has the decline broken long-term rising support lines? Not so far!

This chart looks at the DAX index on a monthly basis over the past 25-years. Over the past 6-years, it has traded sideways inside of the blue rectangle at (1).

The decline this year saw the DAX hit two 18-year rising support lines at (2) last month, where a large bullish reversal took place.

Until broken, important support remains in play at (2), which is bullish for this key index....



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Zero Hedge

Aaand Its Gone... The Biggest Support For Asset Prices

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Since the passage of “tax cuts,” in late 2017, the surge in corporate share buybacks has become a point of much debate. I previously wrote that stock buybacks were setting records over the past couple of years. Jeffery Marc...



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Phil's Favorites

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

 

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

Why do scientists care about mutations on the coronavirus? Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting

Niema Moshiri, University of California San Diego

When you hear the term “evolutionary tree,” you may think of Charles Darwin and the study of the relationships between different species over the span of millions of years.

While the concept of an “evolutionary tree” originated in Darwin’s “...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

 

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

Why do scientists care about mutations on the coronavirus? Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting

Niema Moshiri, University of California San Diego

When you hear the term “evolutionary tree,” you may think of Charles Darwin and the study of the relationships between different species over the span of millions of years.

While the concept of an “evolutionary tree” originated in Darwin’s “...



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ValueWalk

Activists demand revamp of anti-redlining law

By Anna Peel. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Over 100 California Community Organizations and Leaders Call for Banking Regulators to Stop Planned Revamp of Anti-Redlining Law during COVID19 Crisis

Q1 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Worker, Housing, and Small Business advocates call on all resources to be dedicated to saving lives and responding to Coronavirus

San Francisco--Amongst an unprecedented public health crisis that threatens hundreds of thousands of lives, as small businesses are shuttered across California and the nation, and as millions file for...



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Chart School

The Big Short movie guides us to what is next for the stock market

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

There is nothing new in WallStreet, it is only the players that change. Sometimes a market player or an event gets ahead of the crowd and WallStreet has to play catch up.

Previous Post Dow 2020 Crash Watch Dow, Three strikes and your out!

It is important to understand major WallStreet players do not want to miss out on a money making moves.  







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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

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

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The Technical Traders

Founder of TradersWorld Magazine Issued Special Report for Free

Courtesy of Technical Traders

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

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

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

...

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Members' Corner

10 ways to spot online misinformation

 

10 ways to spot online misinformation

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

Courtesy of H. Colleen Sinclair, Mississippi State University

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

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



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Digital Currencies

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

 

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

Get used to it. Anastasiia Bakai

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

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



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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

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

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

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

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

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

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

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Lee's Free Thinking

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

 

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

Courtesy of  

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

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

Lee,

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



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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