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How Else Could Bankcards Be Utilized

The way we pay for things has changed dramatically over the past few years. Uber calculates your fare in real-time and charges you as you exit the car. The newest phones have chips that let you pay with a tap.

But that’s only scratching the surface. Visa, for one, envisions a future where pretty much any device could handle a payment, and we won’t even need a phone or credit card to make it work.

To get there and beyond, the payment-processing company is looking for some outside help. On Thursday (Feb. 4) it announced that it’s opening up its VisaNet platform to developers. Considering Visa processes 100 billion transactions per year, it’s a potentially powerful…

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What Might Happen In China In 2016

In debates about whether growth is a percentage point up or down, we too often lose sight of the absolute scale of China’s economy. No matter what rate the country grows at in 2016, its share of the global economy, and of many specific sectors, will be larger than ever. My snapshot of China in 2016? An increasingly diverse, volatile, $11 trillion economy whose performance is becoming more and more difficult to describe as one dimensional.

The reality is that China’s economy is today made up of multiple subeconomies, each more than a trillion dollars in size. Some are booming, some declining. Some are globally competitive, others fit for the scrap heap. How you feel about China depends more than ever on the parts of the economy where you compete. In 2015, selling kit to movie theaters has been great business, selling kit to steel mills less so. In your China, are you dealing with a tiger or a tortoise? Your performance in 2016 will depend on knowing the…

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Where Money's Been Flowing

When first-generation ETFs launched in the 1990s—such as the SPDR S&P 500 Trust (SPY) and the PowerShares QQQ Trust Series 1 (QQQ)—lead this year's outflows, that is a sign that institutional investors are scared. These first-to-market ETFs have the ample liquidity that big institutions tend to love, with many trading more than $500 million in volume a day. While newer ETFs that may do the same thing or more for cheaper have been launched in the intervening years, early ETFs still tend to curry favor with large investors that value liquidity. These investors tend to be more tactical, and thus outflows from these ETF stalwarts are a bearish sign. 

Photographer: Balchunas, Eric

U.S. Treasuries of all maturities are raking in cash

According to…

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Bear Market? Yes It Is

The latest market selloff can be blamed on any number of things.  China slowdown or a possible hard landing in China, basic profit taking after a six-year run, declining earnings, no further QE in the US, a uptick in rates in the US, weak US economy, commodity (including crude oil) collapse, weakening of 'risk' currencies due to the commodity selloff, disappearance of buybacks, dividends being lowered, strong US dollar pressuring balance sheets, bear markets in pc sales, rail fees,.........the list goes on and on.  Bottom line: we need something solid to rally on and I fear any earnings pops will be given back.  Netflix will be a good example tomorrow after the close.  We simply cannot justify going higher without a catalyst.

The Wall Street Journal reminds us that this is not 2008 redux but just 'where' we bottom is open to…

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The Fall Of FICO Standard

Having worked in the mortgage field for a few decades, the scoring of FICO (or disgust of it) definitely caught my attention.  Some of the credit-scoring travesties are given.  In my opinion, they can't make changes fast enough......or merely admit you're only going to lend to the rich.  That's what it's coming down to; slowly but surely.

Naturally, lenders of all stripes have been evaluating credit for far longer than FICO (originally founded in the ’50s as Fair Isaac Co.) has existed. In fact credit rating standardization wasn’t a priority until the 1970s with the passage of the Fair Credit Reporting Act — and FICO data has only been widely available to lenders since 1987. The FICO scoring system (the 300-800) as we sort of understand it today has only existed since 1989 and it  wasn’t until 2003 that consumers had legal access to it.…

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Antique Road Show Reveal Of A Lifetime

I have a number of friends who collect antiques ranging from blue glass to old jewelry and oil paintings and road shows are always an attraction but never in my world have I encountered this.  Amazing!  Do you think he had any idea in the 1970s, just how much the attraction would become?  Maybe I should go through my collectibles again. 

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Byron Wiens Top 10 Surprises For 2016

Byron R. Wien, Vice Chairman of Multi-Asset Investing at Blackstone, today issued his list of Ten Surprises for 2016. This is the 31st year Byron has given his views on a number of economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year. Byron defines a “surprise” as an event that the average investor would only assign a one out of three chance of taking place but which Byron believes is “probable,” having a better than 50% likelihood of happening.

Byron started the tradition in 1986 when he was the Chief U.S. Investment Strategist at Morgan Stanley. Byron joined Blackstone in September 2009 as a senior advisor to both the firm and its clients in analyzing…

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Recession Proponents Watching Yield Curve

Is our economic recovery truly as strong as charts would imply?  Are we strong enough to stand on our own at these levels, or have we overshot the boundaries thanks to quantitative easing?  Are economics in the U.S. strong enough or does recession lie ahead?

Curve watchers Anonymous has an eye on the yield curve. Here is a snapshot of year-end-closing values from 1998-12-31 through 2015-12-31.

Yield Curve Year End Closing Values 1998-2015



Unlike 1999-2000 and again 2007-2007, no portions of the yield curve are inverted today (shorter-term rates higher than longer-term rates).

Inversion is the traditional harbinger of recessions, but with the low end of the curve still very close to zero despite the first Fed hike, inversions…

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When The SEC Investigates Market Failures

This week, the SEC gave us a belated Christmas present.  But what does it actually portend?

The present in question is an 88-page "Research Note" from the SEC's Division of Trading and Markets titled "Equity Market Volatility on August 24, 2015." It's an innocuous-enough title, but for us market-structure wonks, it's kind of a big deal.

The conclusions of the piece are purely factual, and include dozens of pages of juicy charts and tables (be still my nerdy heart!). There's little or no conjecture, and there's absolutely no policy recommendations.

It outlines the facts of that fateful trading day, discussing what went wrong, and which classes of securities were affected. It's a gold mine for folks who want to dig in and understand what happens when things break, and, for any investor, it's worth reading at least the first…

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My LULU short. Went w/longer term chart for fib resistance level. Risking two bucks. Tgt 35ish http://screencast.com/t/6okjIBsx
My LULU short. Yeah, went with longer term chart for fib resistance level. Risking tow bucks. Tgt 35ish http://screencast.com/t/6okjIBsx
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My LULU short. Went w/longer term chart for fib resistance level. Risking two bucks. Tgt 35ish http://screencast.com/t/6okjIBsx
My LULU short. Yeah, went with longer term chart for fib resistance level. Risking tow bucks. Tgt 35ish http://screencast.com/t/6okjIBsx
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"Services" slowing (again, where is the growth?) https://twitter.com/georgepearkes/status/694895855229390848/photo/1
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Re-load your AA shorts. Yes it's going to $5 http://screencast.com/t/3vGxN3BhB
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