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A Letter To Germany

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by Larry Levin     I know that this may sound a little odd, but I read a great article about the Greek loans from the ECB and the angst it's causing - penned by the new Greek Prime Minister. Of course if one is honest, these are loans from Germany (the only strong country in the EU) to Greece, thus the direct nature of the following letter that was read here: http://syriza.net.gr/index.php/en/pressroom/253-open-letter-to-the-german-readers-that-which-you-were-never-told-about-greece Most of you, dear Handesblatt readers, will have formed a preconception of what this … [Read more...]

Greece

Greece

by Larry Levin   Greece is back in the news again. If you recall, a few years ago whenever there was political controversy in Greece the markets reacted with a severe “sell it at the market” rash. The market was fearful that a new group of politicians would force the country to leave the Euro, thus causing cascading and catastrophic losses for banks across the world, but especially in Germany. When enough politicians were bribed, however, the talk of leaving the Euro vanished. This time may be different. The leader of the newly elected Syriza party wants a major reduction in … [Read more...]

Euro Bazooka

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by Larry Levin     The European Central Bank has gone all in: The Euro area will get nearly unlimited QE. The money-printing baton has been passed from the US and Japanese, to Mario Draghi. In order to debase its currency, drive inflation higher and thereby destroy purchasing power, Draghi fired a financial bazooka today. Full details from the ECB: ECB announces expanded asset purchase programme •ECB expands purchases to include bonds issued by euro area central governments, agencies and European institutions •Combined monthly asset purchases to amount to … [Read more...]

Ghost

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by Larry Levin     Fear. It is a great motivator and mode of distraction. More importantly, it’s a very powerful tool. Often times a ruling body (i.e. governments) will exploit this human reaction as an opportunity. Look at how many liberties we gave up with the “Patriot Act” and how many years we spent in Afghanistan and Iraq based on the fear that a bunch of guys hiding in a cave were out to get us. Today we are presented with this from Zero Hedge: “Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the titular head of the Islamic State, according to Brigadier General Kevin Bergner - … [Read more...]

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by Larry Levin     I normally love it when billionaires fight billionaires. Watching egos get in the way of common sense is oddly satisfying. But in this case, my enjoyment is rooted elsewhere. I am talking about the fight between Bill Ackman and Carl Ichan with regards to Herbalife (HLF). What makes this clash of titans different is that one side has actually taken the moral high ground and is trying to do what is right. Bill Ackman has made this his personal cause to expose HLF for what it really is in that it is a pyramid scheme that preys on the poor and/or non-English … [Read more...]

Free Lunch?

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by Larry Levin   When I was in my late teens, my father took me aside one day and told me “there’s no such thing as a free lunch!” At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about and just nodded my head and went back to doing whatever it was that teenage boys did. Little did I know what valuable advice he had just given me! Crude Oil has been the major story in the markets for the last few weeks and at first glance it would be hard to figure out who would be at risk outside of Russia and a few small time drillers out of North Dakota. But I will tell you who are shaking … [Read more...]

Jobs

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by Larry Levin Friday's important “Employment Situation” report, or the monthly jobs number, was very good at first blush and drove the S&P500 higher. But as more details came out, the market sold off in a volatile fashion. Before the data were released at 8:30am ET, economists polled by Bloomberg were expecting a reading of 245,000 jobs. The actual number was better at 252,000 jobs, while the report also showed that the last month's headline data were revised higher from 321,000 to 353,000 jobs created. Moreover, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6%, but was expected to be 5.7%. A … [Read more...]

Minutes

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by Larry Levin   It was bounce-back day on Wall Street Wednesday: the Dow reversed its previous 5-day nosedive and closed up 212.88 points. Indeed, it was party time in New York. Meanwhile, Chicago was doing its best impersonation of Barrow Alaska, which has been ranked as the coldest place in the USA. Reports of -35 degree wind chill temperatures have been reported today. But don't worry, Chicago is looking forward to a balmy, dare I say Miami-like, -20 degrees and above by late Thursday morning. So we got "that" going for us. There was only one economic report Wednesday, and … [Read more...]

What Do You Have In Store For Us 2015?

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by Larry Levin   When I am looking at and commenting on the economy, I tend to look at things on a very macro scale. That is all well and good, but to be quite frank, our students are more apt to ask the question “what does this all mean for me and my family? How is my life going to be better or worse this year?” Trading is trading. We can make money in an up, down or sideways market. So, let’s define the most overt risks that we face and keep them in mind as we move into 2015. First, we have the specter of the FOMC raising interest rates at some point this year. This is … [Read more...]

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Oil-prices

by Larry Levin     Everyone I talk to who is not directly involved in the markets loves to tell me how great it is that Crude Oil prices have dropped so precipitously in the past few months. Heck, I love it that I filled up my car for $40.00 this weekend. It seems just last year I would get charged $40.00 for just driving by a gas station. All is right with the world then right? Lower prices mean more money for people to spend and the cost of business is a lot cheaper for a lot of companies (think airlines and logistics). What could possibly be bad about this? One, there … [Read more...]