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The Big Picture

First and foremost let me point out that Ray Dalio, founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, has joined Twitter so I encourage you to follow him here.  Secondly I suggest you grab a cup of coffee or maybe the entire pot as he gradually lays out what he sees ahead for the market.  Enjoy!

Big picture, the near term looks good and the longer term looks scary. That is because:

  1. The economy is now at or near its best, and we see no major economic risks on the horizon for the next year or two,
  2. There are significant long-term problems (e.g., high debt and non-debt obligations, limited abilities by central banks to stimulate, etc.) that are likely to create a squeeze,
  3. Social and political conflicts are near their worst for the last number of decades,…

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Retail Apocalypse: Everything You Need to Know

Retail Apocalypse: Everything You Need to Know

Chart: Retail Apocalypse 2017

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

The steady rise of online retail sales should have surprised no one.

Back in 2000, less than 1% of retail sales came from e-commerce. However, online sales have climbed each and every year since then, even through the Great Recession. By 2009, e-commerce made up about 4.0% of total retail sales, and today the latest number we have is 8.3%.

E-commerce vs. total retail sales

Here’s another knowledge bomb: it’s going to keep growing for the foreseeable future. Huge surprise, right?

Signs of a Reckoning

Retailers eye their competition relentlessly, and the sector also has notoriously thin margins.

The big retailers must have seen the “retail apocalypse” coming. The question is: what did they do about…

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Admin

Most economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected Federal Reserve officials to begin winding down their $4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets this year.

Nearly 70% of business and academic economists polled in recent days expected the Fed will begin allowing the portfolio, also called the balance sheet, to shrink by allowing securities to mature without reinvesting the proceeds at some point in 2017. Of the economists who expected a shift in the Fed’s balance sheet strategy this year, the majority predicted the process would begin in December.

In last month’s survey, just 22.2% of economists expected the Fed to begin…

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Admin

There's a Big Reason Volatility Might Be Coming Back

Stan Druckenmiller recently elucidated: “Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board… focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity… most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets.”

Even with the bond market’s muted response to the Federal Reserve’s plan to begin winding down its almost $4.3 trillion portfolio of mortgage and Treasury securities, there are plenty of reasons why the calm probably won’t last.

Out of style for almost a…

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Admin

Advertisers want alternatives to Facebook and Google

While Google and Facebook are the undisputed advertising leaders online, companies are increasingly looking for other digital ways to spend their marketing budgets, according to advertising and public relations company WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell.

"What our clients want and what our agencies want is more competition of the space, anything that gives more competition to the duopoly of Facebook and Google," Sorrell said to CNBC.

The two tech giants account for about 75…

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Admin

Biosimilars could save the US billions of dollars

The US pharmaceutical industry is on the brink of a new ecosystem — but it's not taking off as smoothly as expected.

Up until the past few years, biologic drugs made from living cells didn't face competition once they lost patent protection. That's been changing with the introduction of drugs called biosimilars. But their rollout hasn't exactly been the game-changing experience some had expected.

"We believe that biosimilars will capture meaningful market share, but the disappointing commercial success so far with less than $2 billion annual sales illustrates that the bar is high," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report on Wednesday. That's in large part because of the economic challenges that biosimilars face, the report says. 

Biosimilars are a bit more complicated than your average competing medicine: Unlike generics for…

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Admin

Autonomous Cars And Second Order Consequences

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and absorb this piece which I believe, will blow your mind.  I had read a good deal on self-driving cars and the implications of what lies ahead but this piece by Ben Evans has completely re-written my belief of what life will be in ten years.  Wowsa!   I know what I'll be dreaming about tonight. *lol*  Enjoy-

There are two foundational technology changes rolling through the…

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Admin

What Are The 7 Signs Of A Bear Market?

Wall Street pros say bull markets don’t die of old age. But after eight years of rising stock prices, being on the lookout for signs of a market peak makes good financial sense.

No bull lasts forever. Good times eventually are followed by bad ones, as investor euphoria gives way to fear and despair. The performance history of the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index drives home the point: The 12 bull markets since the 1930s have all been followed by bear markets, or downturns of 20% or more, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The average bear market decline is a sizable 40%. Then there’s the mega-bears like the 2007-2009 rout during the financial crisis that knocked the S&P 500 down 57% and the nearly 50% slide after the internet stock bubble burst in 2000.

The current bull run, the…

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Admin

Graphene: The Game-Changing Material of the Future

Technology is only as good as the materials it is made from.

Much of the modern information era would not be possible without silicon and Moore’s Law, and electric cars would be much less viable without recent advances in the material science behind lithium-ion batteries.

That’s why graphene, a two-dimensional supermaterial made from carbon, is so exciting. It’s harder than diamonds, 300x stronger than steel, flexible, transparent, and a better conductor than copper (by about 1,000x).

If it lives up to its potential, graphene could revolutionize everything from computers to energy storage.

Graphene: Is It the Next Wonder Material?

The following infographic comes to us from 911Metallurgist, and it breaks down the incredible properties and potential applications of…

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Admin

Iff you're hesitant to make stock purchases at these levels, you're not alone.

Last week I updated the Warren Buffett yardstick, market cap-to-GNP. The only time it was ever higher than it is today was for a few months at the top of the dotcom mania.

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Admin

Believe it or not, autonomous vehicles have been many decades in the making.

Even in 1939, General Motors had an exhibit called “Futurama” at the New York World’s Fair that presented a model of the world 20 years in the future. Central to this display was a system of automated highways and vast suburbs, with a focus on how automation could reduce traffic congestion and lead to the free-flowing movement of people and goods.

Since then, many autonomous vehicle concepts have popped up at various times – but they have always fell short due to technical limitations. Only recently, due to advances in technology, have self-driving cars been able to overcome three primary engineering challenges: sensing the surrounding environment, processing information, and reacting to that environment.

Today, the future for autonomous vehicles is bright, and it is expected that there will be millions of self-driving cars on the road by 2035, creating a multi-billion dollar…

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Admin

What to Expect Post-IPO for Snap, Inc.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant downtick in the number of IPOs issued by companies, but will 2017 break that trend? So far this year we have seen five companies go public on a U.S. stock exchange, and today we saw the first tech IPO of the year with Snap, Inc.

Snap, Inc. is technology and social media company known for its mobile app Snapchat, which allows users to share photos and videos with friends for moments to hours before disappearing. Founded in July 2011, what began as a tech start-up garnered 23 active investors and raised around $2.6 billion in venture capital backing.

Now that Snap, Inc. has gone public with an IPO priced at $17 per share, ahead of the expected $14-$16 a share range, it’s trickier to forecast its performance. Looking at some of Snap’s numbers, investment attractiveness it likely to be in the eye of the…

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Admin

S&P500 Highest Forward P/E Since 2004 But Oh, That Rule 20

I found this interesting (the rise) however I have my own reservations because of the possible change in rates and inflation in 2017.  When inflation rises, interest rates also normally rise to maintain real rates within an appropriate range. PE ratios need to decline to reflect the increase in the earnings discount rate. Another way to look at it is that equities then face more competition for money from fixed income instruments. The cost of equities must therefore decline to keep or attract investors.  Then there is the Rule of 20 to consider.  Rule of 20 equals P/E + long term interest rates (average of 10 and 30 yr bond rates).  If at or below 20 minus…

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Admin

The Fiduciary Rule Genie Is Already Out Of The Bottle

Rules and regulations exist to let us know what behaviors we should expect from the people we do business with. Sometimes, good sense or social convention overtake these rules — and they don’t matter so much. Just about everyone wears seat-belts these days (we all know how much they improve our odds of survival in an accident); the ranks of underage smokers have plummeted (it’s no longer cool). Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, as they say, there’s no cramming it back in.

Such is the case with the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. On Friday, President Trump asked the Labor Department to review the rule, which requires brokers working with retirement savers to put the interest of their clients ahead of their own. After years of work on it, the regulation was finalized last year by the Obama administration.

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Admin

Facebook Is Chasing A Much, Much Bigger Jobs Market

Facebook is getting into a new type of networking.

The social media giant said this week that it is rolling out new features in the US and Canada to let businesses post job openings, and prospective workers find and apply to them through Facebook. “This new experience will help businesses find qualified people where they’re already spending their time—on Facebook and on mobile,” the company said in a blog post.

The system Facebook debuted on Feb. 15 aims to minimize hassle for job-seekers and employers, while also giving both more reasons to use Facebook products. Businesses will be able to post jobs and track applications directly from a company…

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Admin

A parade of up-and-coming musicians from Universal Music took the stage at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles Saturday in a pre-Grammy Awards performance for a room full of the executives who will make or break their careers.

Talent bookers from James Corden’s late-night show, marketing executives from top brands and executives from Spotify Ltd. and YouTube looked on. Sandwiched in between tables for Apple Inc., an imposing player in online music, and Pandora Media Inc., owner of the world’s largest online radio service, sat executives from a new act trying to break onto the scene: Facebook Inc. 

The world’s largest social network has redoubled its efforts to reach a broad accord with the industry, according to interviews…

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Admin

Crude oil has a tendency to bottom in mid-February and then rally through July with the bulk of the seasonal move ending in late April or early May. It is that early February low that can give traders an edge by buying ahead of a seasonally strong period. Going long crude oil’s July contract on or about February 14 and holding for approximately 60 days has been a profitable trade 27 times in 33 years, including the last three years straight, for an 81.8% win ratio with a cumulative profit of $108,660 (based upon trading a single crude oil futures contract excluding commissions and taxes).

Crude oil’s seasonal tendency to move higher in this time period is partly due to continuing demand for heating oil and diesel fuel in the northern states and partly due to the shutdown of refinery operations in order to switch production facilities from producing heating oil to reformulated unleaded gasoline in anticipation of heavy demand for…

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