Posts Tagged ‘Wealth Gap’

Federally Faked Thursday – The Unhappy Median

Look at this chart:

LOOK AT IT!!!!  This is America, damn it!  We peaked out in earnings in 2000 and it's been downhill ever since.  Even worse, this is America AFTER the Federal Reserve spent $4 TRILLION to boost the economy.  This is America AFTER our Government plunged another $6 TRILLION into debt – supposedly to save jobs and support the economy.  

This is a DISASTER!  If this were the chart of a company you owned – you'd be selling.  If there were a board of directors, we'd be looking to make changes, right?  Actually, there is a sort of board of directors and, as is often the case with Corporate Management – they're the only ones making any money!  

Only in Washington DC and Dick Cheney's Wyoming are people in this country still making as much money as they were in the good old days (Clinton years).  The rest of the country is in various states of decline – some of it fairly drastic – and in big states like Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, where people are earning about 20% less now than they did 14 years ago.  

Our standard of living is in decline, especially when you consider that inflation is chewing into those lower wages from the other end as well.  How much more evidence can we possibly need that the Bush Tax cuts were a complete and utter policy failure?  Yet you will hear none of that in the MSM.  What TV station owner or newspaper & magazine publisher is going to tell you that they should be paying 20% more taxes than they are paying now?

There's a reason that, despite the BS Employment Numbers put up by the Administration, that the #1 concern of US voters is JOBS!  People may HAVE jobs (actually 20% of the families in our country have NO ONE employed at the moment) but, clearly, from an economic perspective – the jobs suck!  Even people lucky enough to keep their jobs through the crisis haven't had raises in a decade but, of course, they are too afraid to leave because we all know people who lost their jobs and didn't find…
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Top 1% Tuesday – $105,637 for Me, $80 for You!

Wheeeeeee – isn't this economy FANTASTIC?

It sure is for those of us in the top 1% (1.4M) - people earning over $352,000 in annual income.  We made $105,637 more Dollars in 2010 than we did in 2009 – thanks in large part to the Fed's fantastic policy of printing more and more money, which lets us borrow cheaply or invest with leverage in inflating equity as the Dollar collapses.  Sure the Dollar collapsing hurts everyone – but an extra $105,637 keeps us ahead of inflation, right? 

I'm stil jealous of course (good Capitalists are always jealous), as the top .01% (14,000 of us) – who earn an average of $23.8M, were able to add another $4.2M to their annual incomes in 2010.  That's 52,500 TIMES the average $80 increase earned by the bottom 99% (thank goodness we're not one of THEM!).  That's right, somehow, the riff-raff in the bottom 99% managed to grab 7% of the Nation's total increase in income – clearly Congress needs to make immediate changes to prevent this travesty from happening again! 

Steve Rattner has a different opinion, saying:  "The only way to redress the income imbalance is by implementing policies that are oriented toward reversing the forces that caused it. That means letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy and adding money to some of the programs that House Republicans seek to cut. Allowing this disparity to continue is both bad economic policy and bad social policy. We owe those at the bottom a fairer shot at moving up."

That's Commie talk!  If we allow the bottom 99% to make a fair share of the money, they would make 5% more and you know they would only SPEND it on stuff they need TO LIVE.  Then our companies would have to provide more goods and services to the bottom 99% and jobs would be created and we, at the top, would have to WAIT for the money to trickle UP from the bottom as only companies that do a good job servicing the bottom 99% would increase in value.  Even worse, we may have to WORK (a four-letter word) to provide goods and services for the people who have money in order to EARN (another four-letter word) our Incomes.  That's no fun for us at all! 

We like it when we get ALL the money and we create just the jobs we choose by buying really…
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Monday Madness – G20 FinMins Set Two Week Deadline

Two weeks!  

European leaders have two weeks to settle differences and flesh out a strategy to terminate their sovereign debt crisis as global finance chiefs warn failure to do so would endanger the world economy.  “The risk of a recession would be increased dramatically were the Europeans to fail to accomplish goals that they’ve set for themselves,” Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said after the G-20 meeting on Saturday.

The Brussels meeting “has the potential to turn into a positive historic moment,” Joachim Fels, London-based chief economist at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note to clients yesterday. “But it could also easily turn into a negative catalyst.”

Europe’s plan, which has still to be made public, includes writing down Greek bonds by as much as 50 percent, establishing a backstop for banks and magnifying the strength of the 440 billion-euro ($611 billion) temporary rescue fund known as the European Financial Stability Facility.  “The plan has the right elements,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in Paris. “They clearly have more work to do on the strategy and the details.” 

The G-20 officials — who met to prepare for a Nov. 3-4 gathering of leaders in Cannes, France (and we're fondly remembering London's 2009 meeting with the graphic on the right) — said in a statement that the world economy faces “heightened tensions and significant downside risks.” European authorities must “decisively address the current challenges through a comprehensive plan.

The policy makers held out the possibility of rewarding European action with more aid from the International Monetary Fund, while splitting over whether the Washington-based lender’s $390 billion war chest needs topping up.  Europe’s latest strategy hinges on putting Greece, whose government forecasts its debt to reach 172 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, on a sustainable path. Austerity has plunged the country deeper into recession and provoked civil unrest that threatens political stability.

My reaction to this in Member Chat this Morning was to call for shorting the jacked up Dow Futures (/YM) at 11,600, saying:  

Speaking of the illusion of power – yet another G20 meeting ends with yet another plan to have a plan but this time, for some insane reason, they only gave


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Monday Market Movement – Mind the (Wealth) Gap!

Congratulations to 440,000 of us!

That’s how many people became Millionaires in the past 12 months (ending in June).  According to a new survey from Phoenix Marketing International’s Affluent Market Practice, the number of American households with investible assets of $1 million or more rose 8% in the 12 months ended in June. The survey says there now are 5.55 million U.S. households with investible assets of $1 million or more.  That follows two years of declines and brings the Millionaire count back to 2006 levels. Of course, that is still below the peak of 5.97 million in 2007 and the current growth rate is well below pre-financial crisis levels, when the Millionaire population increased as much as 35% a year

Still, the numbers offer further evidence that the wealthy may have decoupled from the rest of the economy, as we expected would happen in "A Tale of Two Economies," my 2010 outlook. The study’s authors say high salary growth, rather than investments, are the main drivers of the Millionaire expansion.  As we who play the markets are painfully aware, $1M in assets doesn’t leave a lot of room for investments.  The very wealthy, on the other hand, had a much better year than the mere Millionaires. The population of American households with $5 million or more in investible assets surged 16%. The population of those with $10 million to invest increased 17%.  The rich have never been getting richer than they have been in 2010!  

Of course, in order for someone to get rich, someone has to get poor and, this year it took 4M Americans falling below the poverty line ($22,000 for a family of 4) to provide the cash for our 440,000 winners.  That’s pretty much right in line with the numbers I’ve been citing over and over again – it takes 1,000 poor people to make one rich one!  

The Census Bureau found that the fraction of Americans living in poverty rose sharply to 14.3% in 2009, up from 13.2% previously. This is the highest level since 1994. In total, 43.6 million Americans were living in poverty last year.  Even the median family is getting the shaft in America with 2010 inflation-adjusted salaries barely keeping pace with 1980 inflation-adjusted salaries – making 3 full decades without improvement for the average American family.  According to the WSJ, the bottom 40% (120M people) have dropped from having 14.5% of the nation’s income in 1980 to having 12% in…
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Who Rules America?

Professor William Domhoff has updated his excellent study of wealth distribution in America and the results are just as sickening than they were in 2005!

We looked at the uneven distribution of incomes when I wrote "The Crisis of Middle-Class America" earlier this month and I’ll re-post the main chart here as it’s important for the readers to get a fix on where they really are on the economic food chain.  When I talk about the need for more taxes, I’m generally (like our President) referring to the top 1%, the 1.4M people in this country who earn more than $393,000 a year - where 10% more tax ($40,000) may force them to skip a vacation vs. the alternative of taxing the bottom 90%, who earn $30,000 a year, which would force them to skip heat, food, clothing, etc.  

The chart above EXCLUDES capital gains, which are over 70% of the top 0.01%’s incomes so it grossly understates the situation but it does give you a clearer idea of what was going on in the lower brackets leading up to the crisis.  Go ahead, do the math – adding up the total wages of the bottom 90% against the total wages of the top 10% give you a real idea of what a "fair and just" system we’re participating in:

14,836 people earn $17,271,381 in average annual income ($256Bn), 133,525 earn $2,569,388 ($343Bn), 593,444 earn $760,680 ($451Bn), 741,805 earn $393,583 ($292Bn), 5,934,440 earn $188,513 ($1,119Bn) and 7,418,050 earn $117,688 ($873Bn) while the the wages of the bottom 90% are 133,524,900 people earning and average of just $30,173 ($4,029Bn).

So interesting fact number one is that the 13M people in the top 10% earn (not including capital gains, which make up the bulk of their true income) salaries of $3.3Tn while the other 133M schlubs earn $4Tn.    

We are NOT going to be able to "fix" this country until we recognize that this is fundamentally unfair.  Even for those of us in the top 10%, we need to recognize that those other 133M people are our customers, in the very least.  If they have more money to spend, then we will, in theory, be able to make more money serving them.  What’s really gone wrong in this equation is that the top 0.01%, including our multi-national corportate citizens, who control 34.6% of our nation’s wealth (very good chart series here) have already effectively pulled up anchor and are sailing away to warmer waters. 

In Robert Frank’s…
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America is 234 Years Old Today – Is It Finished?

"The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage." – Professor Joseph Olson

Is America, then, living on borrowed time?  Are we so far past our prime and so into old age as a civilization that we are now senile and oblivious to our present surroundings, causing a danger to ourselves and others?  Do we find ourselves living in the past and repeating the same old tales of our former glories over and over again to anyone who will listen?  Are we barely kept alive by various medications that only stave off conditions that are getting worse every day while still imagining that, if there were a need, we could rise up and be strong again — but not today as there's rice pudding for desert and we don't want to miss that!

Well I have news for you – This country isn't old and it isn't sick but it has been drugged and it has been beaten down and robbed and I am going to tell you that I not only saw it happen, but I think I got a pretty good look at the 10,000 guys who did it.  It was the top 0.01%!  Who are the top 0,01%?  They are the top 10,000 income earners in the United States of America.  If you THINK you are in the top 0.01%, you are not.  People in the top 10,000 know only KNOW they are in the top 0.01% but they know where they rank as well.  The median ANNUAL income of a person in the top 0.01% is $50,000,0000.  They have $350,000,000 in assets and, since 1978, that is an increase of 550% – how have you done the past 30 years?

 

Now we are (or used to be) a pretty rich country and the median income of the 118M people who earn enough money to pay income taxes is about $50,000 but the cost of living in the same country as people who earn an average of 976 times more than that is pretty high as well (see "The Dooh Nibor Economy").  Even worse, The 10,000 paid just $112Bn in taxes last year – that's
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218 New Billionaires Averaged $500M in Gains Last Year – How Are You Doing?

That's right, the new Forbes list is out where we celebrate the top .000014%!

Thanks to an unprecedented concentration of wealth, the World's supply of Billionaires jumped 27% in 2009 and the 1,011 people in the club accumulated an AVERAGE of $500M more Dollars EACH!  Isn't that great?  That's $505Bn or 65% of America's TARP spending handed over to 1,011 people who are, according to Forbes (The Capitalist's Tool), clearly better than us

They sure are doing better than us as America's 450 Billionaires added $225Bn to their bank accounts (and that's AFTER taxes) and the saddest thing is that amount is INCLUDED in the $1.6Tn bounce of US Total Net Worth we had after losing 18% of it in 2008.  A lot of positive economic statistics are skewed by our top 1% but even the top 1% is blown away by the top 450 (0.00014%) who are sitting on $3.6Tn of our nation's total household wealth 8% or 27M times more than the average citizen.  Wow, I guess they are better than you – better in fact than 26,999,999 of you!

As I mentioned in "The Dooh Nibor Economy (that's "Robin Hood" backwards)," America has become a real wealth-building machine the funnels every last cent off the bottom of the pyramid and sends it straight to the top.  Those of us standing near enough to the top (the top 10%) are lucky enough to pick up enough table scraps to make us 1,000 times better than you – our bottom 90% "friends" and that is just great for walking around town but you must pity us because even we are embarrased to show up in our shoddy Armani suits when we are invited to hob-nob with the top 1% in their custom-tailored suits who don't look at lables but at the thread-count of your sleeve. 

Even those "masters of our universe" cower in the presense of that top .00014%, who are, by definition, 26,999 times better than they are!  So don't go thinking the people in the top 10% have it so easy – we have a whole different set of problems to deal with.  You only need to make $150,000 a year to join the top 10% club – we have to make over $2M to crack the top 1% and $2M doesn't even
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The Top 1% Control 42% of the Wealth – Servitude for the Rest of US!

Courtesty of My Budget 360:

financial-wealth-united-statesMany Americans are not buying the recent stock market rally

This is being reflected in multiple polls showing negative attitudes towards the economy and Wall Street.  Wall Street is so disconnected from the average American that they fail to see the 27 million unemployed and underemployed Americans that now have a harder time believing the gospel of financial engineering prosperity.  Americans have a reason to be dubious regarding the recovery because jobs are the main push for most Americans.  A recent study shows that over 70 percent of Americans derive their monthly income from an actual W-2 job.  In other words, working is the prime mover and source of their income.  Yet the financial elite have very little understanding of this concept.  Why?  42 percent of financial wealth is controlled by the top 1 percent.  We would need to go back to the Great Depression to see such lopsided data.

Many Americans are still struggling at the depths of this recession.  We have 37 million Americans on food stamps and many wait until midnight of the last day of the month so checks can clear to buy food at Wal-Mart.  Do you think these people are starring at the stock market?  The overall data is much worse:


Source:  William Domhoff

If we break the data down further we will find that 93 percent of all financial wealth is controlled by the top 10 percent of the country.  That is why these people are cheering their one cent share increase while layoffs keep on improving the bottom line.  But what bottom line are we talking about here?  The Wall Street crowd would like you to believe that all is now good that the stock market has rallied 60+ percent.  Of course they are happy because they control most of this wealth.  Yet the typical American still has negative views on the economy because they actually have to work to earn a living:

gallup-economics

The above daily poll asks Americans about their view on the health of the economy.  Only 13 percent believe the economy is good or excellent.  Funny how that correlates with the top 10 percent who control 93 percent of wealth.  Many Americans were sold the illusion of the bubble.  They were sold on the idea that their homes were worth so much more than they really were. …
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Interest Scams and How to Avoid Them – Mortgage Madness!

 

Last week we talked about Predatory Lending.

This graphic (click to enlarge) gives a good diagram outline of the basics to avoid.  Most of them make their money by charging fees that seem reasonable but turn out to be insane: Payday Loans that can hit you with 360% interest, Rent-To-Own arrangements that have you paying two to three times more than the item costs and, of course, the second greatest scam of them all – Credit Cards – particularly the ones that are supposed to help people "re-establish" their credit.  What is a greater scam on the American consumer than credit cards, you may ask?  Why your home mortgage of course!

Now I know you, my sophisticated readers, find it obvious that ARMs and Balloon Payments are bad ideas but, in my previous life in the real eastate title business, I found that even the most savvy investor often fails to consider the long-term costs of even a conventional mortgage.  Many people make poor home investing decisions because they don't fully understand the debt they are taking on or the alternatives available to them.  

This did not matter when homes went up and up and up because even a bad investment made a little but "this time it IS different" and we may be in for an entire decade in which we may not see ANY rise in the value of homes – this is what has happened to Japan for the last TWO decades.  I'm going to go over some of the numbers, give you a few tools and see if we can't find some ways save you $100,000 on a $200,000 loan and show you how to set your kids up for life - does that sound interesting? 

Home Costs

Currently homes are, at least, reasonably priced in many parts of the country and the government is offering a first-time home buyer tax credit of $8,000, provided that you stay in the home for 36 months. This isn’t a tax deduction like your mortgage interest, which reduces your taxable income – a tax credit actually reduces your total income taxes owed. In addition, some states, such as California, are offering tax credits for home buyers that will further reduce your tax liability. Keep in mind that the federal program ends on April 30th of this year, and while it could end up being extended, it isn’t a given.

As a…
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Zero Hedge

Nebraska Troopers Seize Enough Fentanyl To Kill 26 Million Americans

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

According to the Nebraska State Patrol, 118 pounds of narcotics were seized by troopers in April, which overnight were confirmed by the NSP Crime Lab as fentanyl. This is the not just the largest seizure of Fentanyl in Nebraska history, but, also the largest ever in the United States — enough to kill more than 26 million people.

Breaking: The 118 pounds of opiates seized by troopers in April has been confirmed as the NSP Crime Lab as enti...



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Phil's Favorites

Never Begin With the End in Mind

 

Never Begin With the End in Mind

Courtesy of 

The thing about biases is that they’re human, so they’re seen in every walk of life. In who we choose to be friends with, in what news we read, in investing, and in sports.

In Michael Lombardi’s new book Gridiron Genius, which I highly recommend, he talks about all of the biases ...



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Insider Scoop

Splunk's Beat-And-Raise Q1: The Sell-Side Reacts

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related SPLK 7 Biggest Price Target Changes For Friday Earnings Scheduled For May 24, 2018 ...

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Chart School

Second Day of Bullish Defense

Courtesy of Declan.

The market had initially reacted to Trump's decision to cancel his North Korean summit before coming to its senses and finishing where it left off yesterday.

For the Russell 2000 it was a bullish doji to follow the 'hammer'; those brave enough to buy the morning dip will be feeling confident as technicals remain bullish.

...

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Digital Currencies

How the US Government Could Effectively Use Crypto

The US government could start, or officially endorse an existing crytpo coin. What they would do is build a fee into the software protocol that went to a single address that they control. This is effectively a tax. The fee could be a transaction fee, a percentage of the next block award, or a combination of both. How this works is every single transaction that occurs everywhere wihtin the system, the fee scalped goes directly to this single address that is owned by the IRS, in this case, the "New-IRS." Forget postcards. We're down to a single dude in one office chair in front of one computer. Imagine that being the IRS, because that's where this is going. The consequences of this mechanism are dramatic. First off the IRS is now one guy. Granted, this guy controls the private key for the most valuable thing in the world. This key would be the single most important key right up there with the nuclear launch code, but the system would most definitely still work. More strikingly, the US...

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Biotech

Could this be the year for a Canadian Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences?

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

 

Could this be the year for a Canadian Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences?

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

In 2013, Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka was awarded one of the first Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences for his discovery of “induced” stem cells that enabled researchers to convert adult cells back into stem cells.

The Breakthrough Prize is not to be sneezed at. Founded in 2013, the prize “honours transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.” It’s also the most financially attractive aw...



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ValueWalk

Buffett At His Best

By csinvesting. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Bear with me as I share a bit of my history that helped me create SkyVu and the Battle Bears games. The University of Nebraska gave me my first job after college. I mostly pushed TV carts around, edited videos for professors or the occasional speaker event. One day, Warren Buffet came to campus to speak to the College of Business. I didn’t think much of this speech at the time but I saved it for some reason. 15 years later, as a founder of my own company, I watch and listen to this particular speech every year to remind myself of the fundamentals and values Mr. Buffett looks for. He’s addressing business students at his alma mater, so I think his style here is a bit more ‘close to home’ than in his other speeches. Hopefully many of you find great value in this video like I have. Sorry for the VHS...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

The Stock Bull Market Stops Here!

 

The Stock Bull Market Stops Here!

Courtesy of Kimble Charting

 

The definition of a bull market or bull trends widely vary. One of the more common criteria for bull markets is determined by the asset being above or below its 200 day moving average.

In my humble opinion, each index above remains in a bull trend, as triple support (200-day moving averages, 2-year rising support lines, and February lows) are still in play ...



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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)

 

"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Christopher Wylie

[Interview: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...



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Mapping The Market

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

Via Jean-Luc

How propagandist beat science – they did it for the tobacco industry and now it's in favor of the energy companies:

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack. One of these was to fund research that supported the industry and then publish only the results that fit the required narrative. “For instance, in 1954 the TIRC distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy’ to nearly 200,000 doctors, journalists, and policy-makers, in which they emphasized favorable research and questioned results supporting the contrary view,” say Weatherall and co, who call this approach biased production.

A second approach promoted independent research that happened to support ...



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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

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...



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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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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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