Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Crude Oil, Employment, and Growth

By John Mauldin


Last week we started a series of letters on the topics I think we need to research in depth as we try to peer into the future and think about how 2015 will unfold. In forecasting U.S. growth, I wrote that we really need to understand the relationships between the boom in energy production on the one hand and employment and overall growth in the US on the other. The old saw that falling oil prices are like a tax cut and are thus a net benefit to the US economy and consumers is not altogether clear to me. I certainly hope the net effect will be positive, but hope is not a realistic basis for a forecast. Let’s go back to two paragraphs I wrote last week:

Texas has been home to 40% of all new jobs created since June 2009. In 2013, the city of Houston had more housing starts than all of California. Much, though not all, of that growth is due directly to oil. Estimates are that 35–40% of total capital expenditure growth is related to energy. But it’s no secret that not only will energy related capital expenditures not grow next year, they are likely to drop significantly. The news is full of stories about companies slashing their production budgets. This means lower employment, with all of the knock on effects.

Lacy Hunt and I were talking yesterday about Texas and the oil industry. We have both lived through five periods of boom and bust, although I can only really remember three. This is a movie we’ve seen before, and we know how it ends. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has remarkable timing, slipping out the door to let new governor Greg Abbott to take over just in time to oversee rising unemployment in Texas. The good news for the rest of the country is that in prior Texas recessions the rest of the country has not been dragged down. But energy is not just a Texas and Louisiana story anymore. I will be looking for research as to how much energy development has contributed to growth and employment in the US.

Then the research began to trickle in, and over the last few days there has been a flood. As we will see, energy production has been the main driver of growth in the US economy for the last five years. But changing demographics suggest that we might not need the job creation machine of energy production as much in the future to ensure overall employment growth.

When I sat down to begin writing this letter on Friday morning, I really intended to write about how falling commodity prices (nearly across the board) and the rise of the dollar are going to affect emerging markets.

The risks of significant policy errors and an escalating currency war are very real and could be quite damaging to global growth. But we will get into that next week. Today we’re going to focus on some fascinating data on the interplay between energy and employment and the implications for growth of the US economy. (Note: this letter will print a little longer due to numerous charts, but the word count is actually shorter than usual.)

But first, a quick recommendation. I regularly interact with all the editors of our Mauldin Economics publications, but the subscription service I am most personally involved with is Over My Shoulder.
It is actually very popular (judging from the really high renewal rates), and I probably should mention it more often. Basically, I generally post somewhere between five and ten articles, reports, research pieces, essays, etc., each week to Over My Shoulder. They are sent directly to subscribers in PDF form, along with my comments on the pieces; and of course they’re posted to a subscribers-only section of our website. These articles are gleaned from the hundreds of items I read each week – they’re the ones I feel are most important for those of us who are trying to understand the economy. Often they are from private or subscription sources that I have permission to share occasionally with my readers.

This is not the typical linkfest where some blogger throws up 10 or 20 links every day from Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, newspapers, and a few research houses without really curating the material, hoping you will click to the webpage and make them a few pennies for their ads. I post only what I think is worth your time. Sometimes I go several days without any posts, and then there will be four or five in a few days. I don’t feel the need to post something every day if I’m not reading anything worth your time.

Over My Shoulder is like having me as your personal information assistant, finding you the articles that you should be reading – but I’m an assistant with access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of research and 30 years of training in sorting it all out. It’s like having an expert filter for the overwhelming flow of information that’s out there, helping you focus on what is most important.

Frankly, I think the quality of my research has improved over the last couple years precisely because I now have Worth Wray performing the same service for me as I do for Over My Shoulder subscribers. Having Worth on your team is many multiples more expensive than an Over My Shoulder subscription, but it is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. And our combined efforts and insights make Over My Shoulder a great bargain for you.

For the next three weeks, I’m going to change our Over My Shoulder process a bit. Both Worth and I are going to post the most relevant pieces we read as we put together our 2015 forecasts. This time of year there is an onslaught of forecasts and research, and we go through a ton of it. You will literally get to look “over my shoulder” at the research Worth and I will be thinking through as we develop our forecasts, and you will have a better basis for your own analysis of your portfolios and businesses for 2015.

And the best part of it is that Over My Shoulder is relatively cheap. My partners are wanting me to raise the price, and we may do that at some time, but for right now it will stay at $39 a quarter or $149 a year. If you are already a subscriber or if you subscribe in the next few days, I will hold that price for you for at least another three years. I just noticed on the order form (I should check these things more often) that my partners have included a 90 day, 100% money-back guarantee. I don’t remember making that offer when I launched the service, so this is my own version of Internet Monday.  

You can learn more and sign up for Over My Shoulder right here.

And now to our regularly scheduled program.

The Impact of Oil On U.S. Growth
I had the pleasure recently of having lunch with longtime Maine fishing buddy Harvey Rosenblum, the long-serving but recently retired chief economist of the Dallas Federal Reserve. Like me, he has lived through multiple oil cycles here in Texas. He really understands the impact of oil on the Texas and U.S. economies. He pointed me to two important sources of data.

The first is a research report published earlier this year by the Manhattan Institute, entitled “The Power and Growth Initiative Report.” Let me highlight a few of the key findings:

1. In recent years, America’s oil & gas boom has added $300–$400 billion annually to the economy – without this contribution, GDP growth would have been negative and the nation would have continued to be in recession.

2. America’s hydrocarbon revolution and its associated job creation are almost entirely the result of drilling & production by more than 20,000 small and midsize businesses, not a handful of “Big Oil” companies. In fact, the typical firm in the oil & gas industry employs fewer than 15 people. [We typically don’t think of the oil business as the place where small businesses are created, but for those of us who have been around the oil patch, we all know that it is. That tendency is becoming even more pronounced as the drilling process becomes more complicated and the need for specialists keeps rising. – John]

3. The shale oil & gas revolution has been the nation’s biggest single creator of solid, middle-class jobs – throughout the economy, from construction to services to information technology.

4. Overall, nearly 1 million Americans work directly in the oil & gas industry, and a total of 10 million jobs are associated with that industry.

Oil & gas jobs are widely geographically dispersed and have already had a significant impact in more than a dozen states: 16 states have more than 150,000 jobs directly in the oil & gas sector and hundreds of thousands more jobs due to growth in that sector.

Author Mark Mills highlighted the importance of oil in employment growth:



The important takeaway is that, without new energy production, post recession U.S. growth would have looked more like Europe’s – tepid, to say the least. Job growth would have barely budged over the last five years.

Further, it is not just a Texas and North Dakota play. The benefits have been widespread throughout the country. “For every person working directly in the oil and gas ecosystem, three are employed in related businesses,” says the report. (I should note that the Manhattan Institute is a conservative think tank, so the report is pro-energy-production; but for our purposes, the important thing is the impact of energy production on recent US economic growth.)

The next chart Harvey directed me to was one that’s on the Dallas Federal Reserve website, and it’s fascinating. It shows total payroll employment in each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts. No surprise, Texas (the Dallas Fed district) shows the largest growth (there are around 1.8 million oil related jobs in Texas, according to the Manhattan Institute). Next largest is the Minneapolis Fed district, which includes North Dakota and the Bakken oil play. Note in the chart below that four districts have not gotten back to where they were in 2007, and another four have seen very little growth even after eight years. “It is no wonder,” said Harvey, “that so many people feel like we’re still in a recession; for where they live, it still is.”



To get the total picture, let’s go to the St. Louis Federal Reserve FRED database and look at the same employment numbers – but for the whole country. Notice that we’re up fewer than two million jobs since the beginning of the Great Recession. That’s a growth of fewer than two million jobs in eight years when the population was growing at multiples of that amount.



To put an exclamation point on that, Zero Hedge offers this thought:

Houston, we have a problem. With a third of S&P 500 capital expenditure due from the imploding energy sector (and with over 20% of the high yield market dominated by these names), paying attention to any inflection point in the U.S. oil producers is critical as they have been gung-ho “unequivocally good” expanders even as oil prices began to fall. So, when Reuters reports a drop of almost 40 percent in new well permits issued across the United States in November, even the Fed's Stan Fischer might start to question [whether] his [belief that] lower oil prices are "a phenomenon that’s making everybody better off" may warrant a rethink.

Consider: lower oil prices unequivocally “make everyone better off.” Right? Wrong. First: new oil well permits collapse 40% in November; why is this an issue? Because since December 2007, or roughly the start of the global depression, shale oil states have added 1.36 million jobs while non shale states have lost 424,000 jobs.



The writer of this Zero Hedge piece, whoever it is (please understand there is no such person as Tyler Durden; the name is simply a pseudonym for several anonymous writers), concludes with a poignant question:

So, is [Fed Vice-Chairman] Stan Fischer's “not very worried” remark about to become the new Ben “subprime contained” Bernanke of the last crisis?

Did the Fed Cause the Shale Bubble?

Next let’s turn to David Stockman (who I think writes even more than I do). He took aim at the Federal Reserve, which he accuses of creating the recent “shale bubble” just as it did the housing bubble, by keeping interest rates too low and forcing investors to reach for yield. There may be a little truth to that. The reality is that the recent energy boom was financed by $500 billion of credit extended to mostly “subprime” oil companies, who issued what are politely termed high yield bonds – to the point that 20% of the high yield market is now energy production related.

Sidebar: this is not quite the same problem as subprime loans were, for two reasons: first, the subprime loans were many times larger in total, and many of them were fraudulently misrepresented. Second, many of those loans were what one could characterize as “covenant light,” which means the borrowers can extend the loan, pay back in kind, or change the terms if they run into financial difficulty. So this energy related high yield problem is going to take a lot more time than the subprime crisis did to actually manifest, and there will not be immediate foreclosures. But it already clear that the problem is going to continue to negatively (and perhaps severely) impact the high-yield bond market. Once the problems in energy loans to many small companies become evident, prospective borrowers might start looking at the terms that the rest of the junk-bond market gets, which are just as egregious, so they might not like what they see. We clearly did not learn any lessons in 2005 to 2007 and have repeated the same mistakes in the junk bond market today. If you lose your money this time, you probably deserve to lose it.

The high yield shake out, by the way, is going to make it far more difficult to raise money for energy production in the future, when the price of oil will inevitably rise again. The Saudis know exactly what they’re doing. But the current contretemps in the energy world is going to have implications for the rest of the leveraged markets. “Our biggest worry is the end of the liquidity cycle. The Fed is done. The reach for yield that we have seen since 2009 is going into reverse,” says Bank of America (source: The Telegraph).

Contained within Stockman’s analysis is some very interesting work on the nature of employment in the post recession U.S. economy. First, in the nonfarm business sector, the total hours of all persons working is still below that of 2007, even though we nominally have almost two million more jobs. Then David gives us two charts that illustrate the nature of the jobs we are creating (a topic I’ve discussed more than once in this letter). It’s nice to have somebody do the actual work for you.

The first chart shows what he calls “breadwinner jobs,” which are those in manufacturing, information technology, and other white collar work that have an average pay rate of about $45,000 a year. Note that this chart encompasses two economic cycles covering both the Greenspan and Bernanke eras.



So where did the increase in jobs come from? From what Stockman calls the “part time economy.” If I read this chart right and compare it to our earlier chart from the Federal Reserve, it basically demonstrates (and this conclusion is also borne out by the research I’ve presented in the past) that the increase in the number of jobs is almost entirely due to the creation of part time and low wage positions – bartenders, waiters, bellhops, maids, cobblers, retail clerks, fast food workers, and temp help. Although there are some professional bartenders and waiters who do in fact make good money, they are the exception rather than the rule.



It’s no wonder we are working fewer hours even as we have more jobs.

To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.



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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

German Chancellor Merkel Won’t Let Ukraine Get in the Way of Business

By Marin Katusa, Chief Energy Investment Strategist

The Ukraine crisis has moderated for now, but it should have awakened the world to the new “great game” being played in Eastern Europe. Vladimir Putin is positioning Russia to control the global energy trade, knowing that he holds the trump card: Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.

This epic struggle between the US and Russia could change the very nature of the Euro-American trans Atlantic alliance, because Europe is going to have to choose sides.

The numbers in Putin’s OIL = POWER equation are only going to keep getting bigger as Russia’s control and output of energy continues to grow and as Europe’s supply from other sources dwindles—as I outline in my new book, The Colder War. Finland and Hungary get almost all their oil from Russia; Poland more than 75%; Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Belgium about 50%; Germany and the Netherlands, upward of 40%.

Cutting back on energy imports from Russia as a means of pressuring Moscow is hardly in the EU’s best interest.

Germany, the union’s de facto leader, has simply invested too much in its relationship with Putin to sever ties—which is why Chancellor Angela Merkel has blocked any serious sanctions against Russia, or NATO bases in Eastern Europe.

In fact, Germany is moving to normalize its relations with Russia, which means marginalizing the Ukrainian showdown. Ukraine is but a very small part of Moscow’s and Berlin’s plans for the 21st century. Though the U.S. desperately wants Germany to lean Westward, it has instead been pivoting East. It’s constructing an alliance that will ultimately elbow the US out of Eastern and Central Europe and consign it to the status of peripheral player. (The concept of the “pivot “ in geopolitics was advanced by the celebrated early 20th century English geographer Halford Mackinder with regard to Russia’s potential to dominate Europe and Asia because it forms a geographical bridge between the two.

Mackinder’s “Heartland Theory” argued that whoever controlled Eurasia would control the world. Such a far flung empire might come into being if Germany were to ally itself with Russia. It’s a doctrine that influenced geopolitical strategists through both World Wars and the Cold War. It was even embraced by the Nazis before Russia became an enemy. And it may still be relevant today—despite the historical animosities between the two countries. After all, the mutually beneficial alliance of a resource-hungry Germany with a resource-rich Russia is a logical one.)

Considering the deepening ties between Russia and Germany in recent years, the real motive for the US’s stoking of unrest in Ukraine may not have been to pull Ukraine out of Russia’s sphere of influence and into the West’s orbit—it may have been primarily intended to drive a wedge between Germany and Russia.

The US almost certainly views the growing trade between them—3,000 German companies have invested heavily in Russia—as a major geopolitical threat to NATO’s health. The much-publicized spying on German politicians by the US and the British—and Germany’s reciprocal surveillance—shows the level of mutual distrust that exists.

If sowing discord between Russia and Germany was America’s goal, the implementation of sanctions might look like mission accomplished. Appearances can be deceptive, though.

Behind the scenes, Germany and Russia maintain a cordial dialogue, made all the easier because Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel get along well on a personal level. They’re so fluent in each other’s languages that they correct their interpreters. They often confer about the possibility of creating a stable, prosperous and secure Eurasian supercontinent.

Despite the sanctions, German and Russian businessmen are still busy forging closer ties. At a shindig in September for German businesses in the North-East and Russian companies from St. Petersburg, Gerhard Schröder—former German prime minister and president, and friend of Putin—urged his audience to continue to build their energy and raw-material partnership.

Schröder’s close personal relationship with Putin is no secret. He considers the Russian president to be a man of utmost trustworthiness, and his Social Democratic Party has always been wedded to Ostpolitik (German for “new Eastern policy”), which asserts that his country’s strategic interest is to bind Russia into an energy alliance with the EU.

Schröder would have us believe that they never talk politics. Yet in his capacity as chair of the shareholders’ committee of Gazprom’s Nord Stream—the pipeline laid on the Baltic seabed which links Germany directly to Russian gas—he continues to advocate for a German-Russian “agreement.”

That’s a viewpoint Merkel shares. In spite of her public criticism of Putin’s policy toward Ukraine, Merkel has gone out of her way to play down any thought of a new Cold War. She’s on the record as wanting Germany’s “close partnership” with Russia to continue—and she’s convinced it will in the not-so-distant future.

Though Merkel has rejected lifting sanctions against Russia and continues to publicly call on Putin to exert a moderating influence on pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists, it looks like Germany is seeking a reasonable way out. That makes sense, given the disproportionate economic price Germany is paying to keep up appearances of being a loyal US ally.

Politicians in Germany are alert to the potential damage an alienated Russia could inflict on German interests. Corporate Germany is getting the jitters as well, and there are a growing number of dissenting voices in that sector. And anti-American sentiment in Germany—which is reflected in the polls—is putting added pressure on Berlin to pursue a softer line rather than slavishly following Washington’s lead in this geopolitical conflict.
With the eurozone threatened by a triple dip recession, expect Germany and the EU to act in their own interests. Germany has too much invested in Russia to let Ukraine spoil its plans.

As you can see, there’s no greater force controlling the global energy trade today than Russia and Vladimir Putin. But if you understand his role in geopolitics as Marin Katusa does, you’ll know how he’s influencing the flow of the capital in the energy sector—and which companies and projects will benefit and which will lose out.

Of course, the situation is fluid, which is why Marin launched a brand new advisory dedicated to helping investors get out in front of the latest chess moves in this struggle and make a bundle in the process.
It’s called The Colder War Letter. And it’s the perfect complement to Marin’s New York Times best-seller, The Colder War, and the best way to navigate and profit in the fast changing new reality of the energy sector. When you sign up now, you’ll also receive a FREE copy of Marin’s book. Click here for all the details.




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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seven Questions Gold Bears Must Answer

By Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst

A glance at any gold price chart reveals the severity of the bear mauling it has endured over the last three years. More alarming, even for die hard gold investors, is that some of the fundamental drivers that would normally push gold higher, like a weak U.S. dollar, have reversed.

Throw in a correction defying Wall Street stock market and the never ending rain of disdain for gold from the mainstream and it may seem that there’s no reason to buy gold; the bear is here to stay.
If so, then I have a question. Actually, a whole bunch of questions.

If we’re in a bear market, then…..

Why Is China Accumulating Record Amounts of Gold?


Mainstream reports will tell you Chinese imports through Hong Kong are down. They are.
But total gold imports are up. Most journalists continue to overlook the fact that China imports gold directly into Beijing and Shanghai now. And there are at least 12 importing banks—that we know of.
Counting these “unreported” sources, imports have risen sharply. How do we know? From other countries’ export data. Take Switzerland, for example:


So far in 2014, Switzerland has shipped 153 tonnes (4.9 million ounces) to China directly. This represents over 50% of what they sent through Hong Kong (299 tonnes).

The UK has also exported £15 billion in gold so far in 2014, according to customs data. In fact, London has shipped so much gold to China (and other parts of Asia) that their domestic market has “tightened significantly” according to bullion analysts there.

Why Is China Working to Accelerate Its Accumulation?


This is a growing trend. The People’s Bank of China released a plan just last Wednesday to open up gold imports to qualified miners, as well as all banks that are members of the Shanghai Gold Exchange. Even commemorative gold maker China Gold Coin could qualify to import bullion. Not only will this further increase imports, but it will serve to lower premiums for Chinese buyers, making purchases more affordable.

As evidence of burgeoning demand, gold trading on China’s largest physical exchange has already exceeded last year’s record volume. YTD volume on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, including the city’s free trade zone, was 12,077 tonnes through October vs. 11,614 tonnes in all of 2013.

The Chinese wave has reached tidal proportions—and it’s still growing.

Why Are Other Countries Hoarding Gold?


The World Gold Council (WGC) reports that for the 12 months ending September 2014, gold demand outside of China and India was 1,566 tonnes (50.3 million ounces). The problem is that demand from China and India already equals global production!

India and China currently account for approximately 3,100 tonnes of gold demand, and the WGC says new mine production was 3,115 tonnes during the same period.

And in spite of all the government attempts to limit gold imports, India just recorded the highest level of imports in 41 months; the country imported over 39 tonnes in November alone, the most since May 2011.

Let’s not forget Russia. Not only does the Russian central bank continue to buy aggressively on the international market, Moscow now buys directly from Russian miners. This is largely because banks and brokers are blocked from using international markets by US sanctions. Despite this, and the fact that Russia doesn’t have to buy gold but keeps doing so anyway.

Global gold demand now eats up more than miners around the world can produce. Do all these countries see something we don’t?

Why Are Retail Investors NOT Selling SLV?


SPDR gold ETF (GLD) holdings continue to largely track the price of gold—but not the iShares silver ETF (SLV). The latter has more retail investors than GLD, and they’re not selling. In fact, while GLD holdings continue to decline, SLV holdings have shot higher.


While the silver price has fallen 16.5% so far this year, SLV holdings have risen 9.5%.

Why are so many silver investors not only holding on to their ETF shares but buying more?

Why Are Bullion Sales Setting New Records?


2013 was a record-setting year for gold and silver purchases from the US Mint. Pretty bullish when you consider the price crashed and headlines were universally negative.
And yet 2014 is on track to exceed last year’s record-setting pace, particularly with silver…
  • November silver Eagle sales from the US Mint totaled 3,426,000 ounces, 49% more than the previous year. If December sales surpass 1.1 million coins—a near certainty at this point—2014 will be another record-breaking year.
  • Silver sales at the Perth Mint last month also hit their highest level since January. Silver coin sales jumped to 851,836 ounces in November. That was also substantially higher than the 655,881 ounces in October.
  • And India’s silver imports rose 14% for the first 10 months of the year and set a record for that period. Silver imports totaled a massive 169 million ounces, draining many vaults in the UK, similar to the drain for gold I mentioned above.
To be fair, the Royal Canadian Mint reported lower gold and silver bullion sales for Q3. But volumes are still historically high.

Why Are Some Mainstream Investors Buying Gold?


The negative headlines we all see about gold come from the mainstream. Yet, some in that group are buyers…..

Ray Dalio runs the world’s largest hedge fund, with approximately $150 billion in assets under management. As my colleague Marin Katusa puts it, “When Ray talks, you listen.”

And Ray currently allocates 7.5% of his portfolio to gold.


He’s not alone. Joe Wickwire, portfolio manager of Fidelity Investments, said last week, “I believe now is a good time to take advantage of negative short-term trading sentiment in gold.”

Then there are Japanese pension funds, which as recently as 2011 did not invest in gold at all. Today, several hundred Japanese pension funds actively invest in the metal. Consider that Japan is the second-largest pension market in the world. Demand is also reportedly growing from defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

And just last Friday, Credit Suisse sold $24 million of US notes tied to an index of gold stocks, the largest offering in 14 months, a bet that producers will rebound from near six-year lows.

These (and other) mainstream investors are clearly not expecting gold and gold stocks to keep declining.

Why Are Countries Repatriating Gold?


I mean, it’s not as if the New York depository is unsafe. It and Ft. Knox rank as among the most secure storage facilities in the world. That makes the following developments very curious:
  • Netherlands repatriated 122 tonnes (3.9 million ounces) last month.
  • France’s National Front leader urged the Bank of France last month to repatriate all its gold from overseas vaults, and to increase its bullion assets by 20%.
  • The Swiss Gold Initiative, which did not pass a popular vote, would’ve required all overseas gold be repatriated, as well as gold to comprise 20% of Swiss assets.
  • Germany announced a repatriation program last year, though the plan has since fizzled.
  • And this just in: there are reports that the Belgian central bank is investigating repatriation of its gold reserves.
What’s so important about gold right now that’s spurned a new trend to store it closer to home and increase reserves?

These strong signs of demand don’t normally correlate with an asset in a bear market. Do you know of any bear market, in any asset, that’s seen this kind of demand?

Neither do I.

My friends, there’s only one explanation: all these parties see the bear soon yielding to the bull. You and I obviously aren’t the only ones that see it on the horizon.

Christmas Wishes Come True…..


One more thing: our founder and chairman, Doug Casey himself, is now willing to go on the record saying that he thinks the bottom is in for gold.

I say we back up the truck for the bargain of the century. Just like all the others above are doing.

With gold on sale for the holidays, I arranged for premium discounts on SEVEN different bullion products in the new issue of BIG GOLD. With gold and silver prices at four-year lows and fundamental forces that will someday propel them a lot higher, we have a truly unique buying opportunity. I want to capitalize on today’s “most mispriced asset” before sentiment reverses and the next uptrend in precious metals kicks into gear. It’s our first ever Bullion Buyers Blowout—and I hope you’ll take advantage of the can’t-beat offers.

Someday soon you will pay a lot more for your insurance. Save now with these discounts.
The article 7 Questions Gold Bears Must Answer was originally published at casey research.


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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Crude Oil Market Summary for Week Ending Friday December 5th

Crude oil futures in the January contract had a wild trading week continuing a bearish trend after settling last Friday around 66.15 basically going out at the same price today and if you are still short this market I would continue to place my stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 77.02 risking around 1100 points or $11,000 per contract plus slippage and commission as this is a high risk trade at the current time.

However if you are not currently short this market I would sit on the sidelines and look for a better trade. The chart structure will start to improve dramatically starting on Monday as the risk will come down dramatically as the trend continues with gold and crude oil to the downside as the commodity markets as a whole remain bearish as the U.S dollar hit another 5 year high today so continue to play this to the downside as I think the oversupply issue worldwide will put a lid on prices here in the short term.

Eastern Europe and Russia are both heading into recession while the United States economy is looking very solid as consumers will definitely benefit from lower prices at the pump which should continue to put upward pressure on the equity markets in my opinion, however with OPEC deciding last week not to cut production this market should continue to move to the downside as the chart structure has started to improve, however there is extreme volatility in this market at the current time with high risk so move on and do not try to pick a bottom as I’m not bullish crude oil prices at all.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

This weeks crude oil market summary was provided by our trading partner Mike Seery. Get more of his calls on commodities....Just Click Here

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Russia and China’s Natural Gas Deals are a Death Knell for Canada’s LNG Ambitions

By Marin Katusa, Chief Energy Investment Strategist

In recent years, a number of Asian companies have been betting that Canada will be able to export cheap liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its west coast. These big international players include PetroChina, Mitsubishi, CNOOC, and, until December 3, Malaysian state owned Petronas.

However, that initial interest is decidedly on the wane. In fact, while the British Columbia LNG Alliance is still hopeful that some of the 18 LNG projects that have been proposed will be realized, it’s now looking less and less likely that any of these Canadian LNG consortia will ever make a final investment decision to forge ahead.

That’s thanks to the Colder War—as I explain in detail in my new book of the same name—and the impetus it’s given Vladimir Putin to open up new markets in Asia.

The huge gas export deals that Russia struck with China in May and October—with an agreed-upon price ranging from $8-10 per million British thermal units (mmBtu)—has likely capped investors’ expectations of Chinese natural gas prices at around $10-11 per mmBtu, a level which would make shipping natural gas from Canada to Asia uneconomic.

At these prices, not even British Columbia’s new Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act—which has halved the post payout tax rate to 3.5% and proposes reducing corporate income tax to 8% from 11%—can make Canadian natural gas globally competitive.

These tax credits are too little, too late, because Canada is years behind Australia, Russia, and Qatar’s gas projects. This means there’s just too much uncertainty about future profit margins to commit the vast amount of capital that will be needed to make Canadian LNG a reality.

Sure, there are huge proven reserves of natural gas in Canada. It’s just been determined that Canada’s Northwest Territories hold 16.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, 40% more than previous estimates.

But the fact is that Canada will remain a high-cost producer of LNG, and its shipping costs to Asia will be much higher than Russia’s, Australia’s, and Qatar’s. So unless potential buyers in Asia are confident that Henry Hub gas prices will stay below $5, they’re unlikely to commit to long-term contracts for Canadian LNG—or US gas for that matter—because compression and shipping add at least another $6 to the price.

Shell has estimated that its proposed terminal, owned by LNG Canada, will cost $40 billion, not including a $4 billion pipeline. As LNG Canada—whose shareholders include PetroChina, Korea Gas Corp., and Mitsubishi Corp.—admits, it’s not yet sure that the project will be economically viable. Even if it turns out to be, LNG Canada says it won’t make a final investment decision until 2016, after which the facility would take five years to build.

But investors shouldn’t hold their breath. It seems like Korea Gas Corp. has already made up its mind. It’s planning to sell a third of its 15% stake in LNG Canada by the end of this year.

And who can blame it? The industry still doesn’t have clarity on environmental issues, federal taxes, municipal taxes, transfer pricing agreements, or what the First Nations’ cut will be. And these are all major hurdles.

Pipeline permits are also still incomplete. The federal government still hasn’t decided if LNG is a manufacturing or distribution business, which matters because if it rules that it’s a distribution business, permitting is going to be delayed.

And to muddy the picture even further, opposition to gas pipelines and fracking is on the rise in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada. While fossil fuel projects are under fire from climate alarmists the world over, Canadian environmentalists are also angry that increased tanker traffic through its pristine coastal waters could lead to oil spills.

Canada is now under the sway of radical environmental groups and think tanks like the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, which take as a given that Canada should shut down its tar sands industry altogether. For these people, there’s no responsible way to build new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Elsewhere, investors might expect money and jobs to do the talking, but Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which has called for greenhouse gas limits on oil sands, is now leading the conservatives in the polls. (Just out of curiosity, does Trudeau plan on putting a cap on the carbon monoxide concentration from his marijuana agenda? But I digress.) If a liberal government is elected next year, it might adopt a national climate policy that would cripple gas companies and oil companies alike.

Some energy majors are already shying away from Canadian LNG. BG Group announced in October that it’s delaying a decision on its Prince Rupert LNG project until after 2016. And Apache Corp., partnered with Chevron on a Canadian LNG project, is seeking a buyer for its stake.

Not everyone is throwing in the towel. Yet. ExxonMobil—which is in the early planning phase for the West Coast Canada LNG project at Tuck Inlet, located near Prince Rupert in northwestern British Columbia—has just become a member of the British Columbia LNG alliance.

But Petronas was a key player. It was thought that the company would be moving ahead after British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment approved its LNG terminal, along with two pipelines that would feed it.

Instead, Petronas pulled the plug. We can’t know how many things factored into that decision nor whether it’s absolutely final. All the company would say is that projected costs of C$36 billion would need to be reduced before a restart could be considered. (That $36B figure includes Petronas’s 2012 acquisition of Calgary based gas producer Progress Energy Resources Corp., as well as the C$10 billion proposed terminal, a pipeline, and the cost of drilling wells in BC’s northeast.)

This latest blow leaves Canadian LNG development very much in doubt. In fact, most observers believe that Petronas’s move to the sidelines probably sounds the death knell for the industry, at least for the foreseeable future.
For more on how the Colder War is forever changing the energy sector and global finance itself, click here to get your copy of Marin’s New York Times bestselling book. Inside, you’ll discover more on LNG and how this geopolitical chess game between Russia and the West for control of the world’s energy trade will shape this decade and the century to come.



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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Healthy Bull Market: Bah, Humbug!

By Tony Sagami


Are you a long term investor? Convinced that all you have to do is wait long enough to be guaranteed huge stock market profits? Take a look at the chart below of rolling 30 year returns of the S&P 500 and tell me if it affects your enthusiasm.

The reality is that stock market results vary widely depending on what your starting point is. For example, any investor who put $100,000 into the stock market 1954 was rewarded with roughly the same $100,000 30 years later in 1984.

Yup… 30 years in, and not a penny of profits.



With the stock market at all-time highs, you may find it hard to be pessimistic, but the stock market is doing as well as it’s ever done, with a rolling 30-year return of better than 400%.

How would you feel about earning 0% on your money for 30 years?

Could the stock market go even higher? Yes, it could—but the odds aren’t favorable after the QE fueled rally has pushed stocks to historically high valuations. High valuations? Despite what the mass media and the Wall Street crowd try to tell you, valuations are quite high.

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The most popular myth spouted on financial TV these days is the notion that the S&P 500 is trading at 19 times earnings. Baloney!

First, that 19 P/E is based on “forward” earnings, not trailing earnings. As unreliable as economists and self-serving analysts are, I’m surprised that anyone—especially you—believes anything they say.

Second, that forward looking earnings forecast is based on those 500 companies increasing their earnings by an average of 23% over the next 12 months. Yup… a 23% increase!

That’s extremely optimistic, but I think especially misplaced now that the steroid of quantitative easing is behind us. Consider this: everybody agrees that stocks responded extremely positively to quantitative easing, so doesn’t it make sense to be concerned now that the monetary punch bowl has been yanked away?

The first place to look for signs of waning enthusiasm are small-cap stocks. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were setting all-time highs, the Russell 2000 wasn’t able to punch through its March, July, and September peaks.



This quadruple top looks like a formidable resistance level for small stocks and clear evidence that investors are reducing risk by rotating out of small-cap stocks and into big cap stocks.



Additionally, financial stocks are showing signs of exhaustion too. Healthy bull markets are often led by financial stocks, but the financials are lagging the major indexes now. That’s why I think last week’s 3.9% GDP print smelled fishy; some weak economic numbers are spelling trouble.

Durable Goods Orders Not So Good: The headline number for October durable goods orders was strong with a +0.4% increase, but if you back out the volatile transportation sales, the picture is a lot uglier. If you exclude transportation—because just a few $100 million jet orders can skew the numbers—the 0.4% gain turns into a 0.9% decrease.

By the way, orders for defense aircraft were up 45.3%, but orders for non defense aircraft orders were down 0.1% in October. If not for some big government orders, the results would be absolutely horrible!

Unemployment Claims Rise Despite Holiday Hiring: The job picture, which had been improving, showed some deterioration last week despite going into the busy holiday hiring season. Initial jobless claims jumped to 313,000, a 7.2% increase from last week as well as much higher than the 286,000 forecast. It also broke a 10-week streak of claims below 300,000.

Before You Cheer Cheap Oil: After OPEC agreed to keep production levels unchanged, the price of oil plunged by 7% on Friday to less than $68 a barrel. That’s good news for drivers, but oil’s falling prices (as well as those of other commodities) are a very bad sign for economic growth. Moreover, the energy industry has been one of the few industries producing good, high-paying jobs. Thus, low oil prices could turn that smile into a frown in no time.



The Bond Conundrum: The yield on 10 year Treasury bonds was as high as 3% earlier this year but dropped to 2.31 last Friday. If our economy were rocking as well as the 3.9% GDP rate suggests, interest rates should be rising… not falling like a rock.

The stock market may not fall out of bed tomorrow morning, but the holiday season for stock market investors looks like it may be more Scrooge than Santa Claus.

30 year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.



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Monday, December 1, 2014

Investors That Do Not Understand The Power Of Seven Will Lose Money in 2015

Investors and traders around the world continually search to find or increase their edge in the financial markets to boost profits. The next few months are going to be critical for investors because the number seven is now in play for the stock market.
In magical lore seven is a magical number., While all numbers are ascribed certain properties and energies, seven is a number of power, a lucky number, a number of psychic and mystical powers, of secrecy and the search for truth. Seven is used 735 times in the bible and if you total up all words including “sevenfold” and “seventh” there is a total of 860 references.
The origin of seven’s power lies in the lunar cycle. The moon has four phases lasts about seven days. The Sumerians gave the week seven days. Life cycles on earth also have phases demarcated by seven, and there are seven years to each stage of human growth, seven colors to the rainbow, seven notes in the musical scale, seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, and seven deadly sins.
More importantly for investors the number seven and multiples of seven have a powerful influence on money. The U.S. stock market is now trading in the seventh year window and it should not be taken lightly. While I could go into a lot more detail about how I use seven in my algorithmic trading strategy to swing trade the S&P 500 index. This article focuses on the investing outlook.
I am fortunate enough that I have been trading since 1997 and have seen the how the stock market cycles affect human behavior and businesses specifically the financial newsletter industry which I have been involved in since the first day my trading career. The stock market appears to be nearing a critical turning point that will change the lives and behaviors of investors for years to come.
The good news is that I have experienced four of these turning points and human behavior shifts in my career before and we currently entering the fifth turning point. I feel obligated to share this valuable insight with those of you who read my work. The next major market move could have a dramatic impact on your wealth and retirement years.
Insight on Investor Behavior and Business
Being heavily involved in the financial newsletter industry I have not only seen but survived several of these major cycles which forced many newsletters to go out of business. The cycles at play here are the market trend and the behavior of traders and investors.
The combined forces of these two cycles are what cleanse the newsletter industry of poor quality services. It becomes almost impossible to obtain new clients without word of mouth/referrals from happy users and if the quality of the newsletter is poor, eventually they lack enough users to make it feasible to operate. Unfortunately it’s the brutal truth, and over the last couple years I am seeing newsletters and even to top trading magazines that have been around for decades closing their doors.
The business cycle can easily be explained by observing the chart below of the SP500 index. In short, when the stock market has been rising for six or more months investors start to become confident in that they can make money on their own. And in fact they can if they buy and hold during a bull market.
But what happens as the market continues to rise for many years is that more and more investors and traders realize they can make money on their own.  The longer the uptrend remains intact the less will need the help of a trading and investing newsletter making it difficult to get new customers in this highly competitive industry.
Currently investors are behaving almost identical to what I saw during 1999 – 2001, from 2006 – 2007, and now 2014 – 2015 market tops.
Let’s now take a look at the best times in the business cycle where traders and investors are in desperate need of help and start subscribing to multiple paid financial newsletter services. The strongest times for business took place during 2002 – 2003, and again in 2008 – 2010. This is when investor not only lost most of their wealth, but their faith in how they invest, who they invest with, and the stock market as a whole.
Did you notice any these also? They are 7 years apart also…
spx-7
 Investors 7 Year Financial Outlook
Those of you who follow me know that I do not pick market tops or bottoms. Rather I focus on identifying trends and cycles in the market and only trade and invest with the active confirmed trend.
You also know that trying to pick market tops and bottoms is a suckers game and a sure fire way to lose a lot of money and build a serious complex that the market is manipulated, not tradable, and that it may be time for you to give up on trading all together.
Well, I am here to say that the market is tradeable, and can generate traders and investors a boat load of money once you understand how and why it moves. Most importantly you need to understand money/position management and be patient for consistent long term gains.
Take a look at the chart below for a clear visual of 7 year cycle highs and lows at play.
 seven

While I do not invest based on this major seven year cycle I do actively trade a smaller market cycle which provides roughly 35 – 65 trades per year. This strategy allows me to profit during these major bull markets and also during the multi-year bear markets when the majority of investors are losing boat loads of their hard earned money.
The reason I do not invest in the seven year cycle is because the market can still have 30+% price swings within bull and bear markets and that type of volatility is beyond what I am comfortable with. Also because I can actively invest with my automated trading system so I don’t need to lift a finger or watch the stock market each day, week or month.
I hope you found this report useful in some way, and I ask that you share it with others.


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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekly Crude Oil, Dollar and Gold Market Summary for Week Ending Friday November 28th

Crude oil futures in the January contract are down $6 a barrel as OPEC announced on Thanksgiving that they will not cut production as the trade was expecting 1 million barrels to be cut sending prices to a 5 year low with the next major level of support all the way back to May 24th of the year 2010 at 67.15 and I still do believe with OPEC and Saudi Arabia definitely wanting lower prices that they will get their wish as prices remain bearish in my opinion. Crude oil futures are trading far below their 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that trend is lower and if you’re still short this market I would place my stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 77.83 which is around 1000 points or $10,000 risk per contract plus slippage and commission as the chart structure now has turned terrible. The chart structure before today’s activity was very solid as the 10 day high was very close to where prices were trading, however when you move $5 lower in one day that’s what’s going to happen. If you’re not short this market I would sit on the sidelines because I think the risk is too high but definitely do not try and pick a bottom because who knows how low prices can actually go. The U.S dollar continues its bullish momentum up another 60 points today also contributing to a weaker energy market as the world is awash with energy supplies at the current time and you have to remember in 2008 prices traded around $35 a barrel and that was with a weak U.S dollar so prices still can head lower.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Terrible

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The U.S dollar is rallying sharply this Friday afternoon currently trading at 88.42 in the December contract as I’ve been recommending a bullish position in the U.S dollar while placing your stop loss below the 10 day low which currently stands at 87.23 risking around $1,200 dollars plus commission and slippage per contract as the chart structure is outstanding at the current time. The U.S dollar is trading above its 20 & 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is to the upside as crude oil prices are down nearly $5 which is really putting pressure on several of the foreign currencies such as the Canadian dollar which is down 150 points and I still do believe we’re in a longer-term secular bull market in the U.S dollar. The European countries look to head into recession as the trend is your friend in the commodity markets so continue to play this to the upside while placing the proper stop loss while using the proper amount of contracts risking only 2% of your account balance on any given trade in case you are wrong. The strong U.S dollar is pressuring many commodity prices to the downside as the next major resistance is at 88.51 which was the most recent high hit last week and I do think prices will continue to move higher as investors feel much safer buying the U.S dollar than buying any other currency which are all seemingly in turmoil at the current time.
Trend: Higher
Chart Structure: Excellent

Investors 7 Year Financial Outlook....Take a Look at a Clear Visual of 7 Year cycle Highs and Lows

Gold futures this Friday afternoon after the Thanksgiving holiday are sharply lower due to the fact that crude oil prices are down nearly $5 also pressuring the precious metals to the downside as gold in the February contract is currently trading down $29 at 1,167 after settling last Friday at 1,198 as I still remain neutral in this market as prices are trading above their 20 day but still below their 100 day moving average so avoid this market at the current time. In my opinion choppy markets are difficult to trade as the longer term downtrend line in gold is still intact in my opinion as a strong U.S dollar and S&P 500 continue to take money out of gold as the money flow continues to go into those 2 sectors as I still think there’s a possible retest of 1,130 in the month of December and if you remember in 2013 December was also a negative month to the downside as the stock market in my opinion will continue to climb higher throughout the rest of the year. The chart structure in gold is poor at the current time as prices have been choppy in recent weeks so look for a better market to trade and keep an eye on this and hopefully better chart structure will develop over the course of the next several weeks but I’m feeling that we will not be involved in the gold market until at least early 2015.
Trend: Mixed
Chart Structure: Poor

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Friday, November 28, 2014

How Does Your Game Plan for Crude Oil and Commodities Stack Up Against This

Our trading partner John Carter sent us this reminder this week. It addresses what's really on the table in the coming months and what you are going to miss out on if you don't take a few minutes and take advantage of what he has to say........Here's what John is saying.

With the markets closed I wanted to take the time to write you this important message. As you may know I've been a full time trader for the last 15 years.

A few years ago I founded Simpler Options to post my options trading ideas. In a short time it has become one of the largest and most recognized options research companies in the world. We serve over 100,000 subscribers in over 100 countries.

You may know about a few of my big trades. 

I caught the big move in oil last year:


I traded Tesla earlier this year to the tune of $1 million in one day:


But that's not why I'm emailing you. 

I reference the success and experience with trading only because there is an even bigger trading opportunity lurking. A once a decade shift in the market that will result in the next great wealth creation - for those that know about it.

What I am going to say you will not read anywhere else.  It flies in the face of every newsletter out there I know about.  In fact, I've already received dozens of hate mail. But just remember.....

Only a few people believed me last year when I said oil would go from $90 to $110 in just a few months. One person that believed me was billionaire Richard Branson.  I help him with Virgin Airlines hedge their oil:


Only a few people believed me about Tesla.

But, when the big trade happened the traders who had prepared themselves followed me into the trade. One of our clients made $250,000 on that one trade. And that brings us to today......

Big opportunities always disguise themselves in different clothes.  Not everyone can recognize the opportunity.  That is why other services are still speaking about doom and gloom.  This is not 2008 anymore. 

The fact is markets go through cycles.  There are major cycles and minor cycles. The market is at a crossroad between the end of a major bear market cycle since 2000.  And, the end of a minor bull market cycle since 2009.  

I'll explain the driver of this crossroad.  As for me, I am more certain about this once in a decade shift than I've been about anything else in my life. 

The Great American Revival

In short, I believe that Americans are about to see a major shift in the value of the dollar. We have gotten a glimpse of this since the summer.  The US dollar index went from 79.74 to as high as 88.44.  That is a huge move.  In the previous 2 years - 2012 & 2013 - the dollar moved only half as much. 

The dollar index impacts everything.

The commodity markets like gold, silver, and oil.  

The treasury markets.  

The stock markets around the world. 

They all rely on the U.S. Dollar. 

The dollar index impacts the price of gas at the pump.  Have you been noticing gas prices going down? Doesn't the extra 20 bucks you save at the pump feel good? In spite of the global economic crisis the dollar remains the world's reserve currency.

The bank of Japan is still printing money faster than any other country in the world.  Yet they are on the verge of another recession. The EU has rates at 0% and are speaking about ramping up the printing press.  China announced a surprise rate cut days ago! 

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve has been tightening the printing press. They are also talking of rate hikes next year. The exact opposite of what the next 3 largest economies in the world are doing!

The rise of the dollar and the opportunity is at its infancy.  In 2015 you can set you and your family up to be the recipient of the wealth shift.  Millions of people around the world will not see this coming and fall behind. The impact this will have is wide reaching.  It will impact every market around the globe.  I want to share with you the best way to maximize this opportunity.  

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

The world's smartest investor knows about the power of ETFs.  Warren recently advised his heirs, "Put my estate in index funds."

ETFs allow you to buy or short almost any stock market in the world.  You can buy or short any commodity or precious metal. Want to play the downside in your retirement account?  You can buy an ETF that shorts a market in a retirement account.  

So how can you begin creating wealth right away?

This Saturday I'll be teaching a timely class on trading Options on ETFs called the Wealth Creator.
($997 Value)

In this class I'll share:

* Why I believe the dollar will continue to rise.

* What ETFs to watch and buy in the following year.

* The easiest way to profit from the rise in the dollar. 

* How to time this event so whether you're a short or long term trader you can profit. 

Also, there are 3 full mentorship days of live trading and teaching the following week.  The importance of these 3 days are too many to count.

Last month we did a sold out mentorship in Las Vegas where attendees paid $5,000. 

The Wealth Creator class and mentorship will sell out on its own. But, this is such a critical time in the market I don't want anyone to miss this opportunity in 2015.

So I decided to put together a special bonus package for anyone that buys the Wealth Creator class and mentorship. 

I'm going to give you access to:

Bonus #1: My Plan or Get Slaughtered training class. 
($997 Value)

On December 31st join me for an all day trading and planning session. 

The old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is never more true in trading.

During this class:

* Concentrate on creating a viable trading plan for 2015

* Design a plan that can achieve your objectives

* Create crystal clear trading rules for you to follow in 2015

* Set concrete action steps to drive your trading goals

Learn to do the critical thinking and planning to develop the best options strategies for your trading success

I did this on January 1st, 2014 and weeks later I had the $1 million trade in Tesla.  This year we will develop a trading plan for 2015 together. 

Bonus #2: Follow up Q & A webinar. 
($297 Value)

Early 2015 we will have a follow up class to review the markets and your trading plan.  You’ve had a chance to apply the strategies in the live markets so now is your chance to ask follow up questions. This is the time when I can update you on any new market forces that you need to be aware of so you can continue your trading success. 

Register here:


My commitment is to help as many investors as I can for the next great wealth shift.  I hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity.  The reality is, the fewer the people the better. We have an amazing team of people here who have the same goal as I do.  

Since starting Simpler Options a few years ago, we have helped a lot of people become better traders. 

"I have never had an experience like this before. We have 3 small trading accounts totaling just over $100k (at least that was the case on Monday afternoon). Putting just a portion of that into play (following your rules), I've gained just over $30k in 3 days!"

"I have to say that I have over 7,000 reasons to be thankful for you guys putting on such a great program!"

"When I saw the advertisement for this training I told my wife I was going to spend the $997 to buy it. Well, I closed out the trade on INVN we did on Monday for a $1300 profit today.  Absolutely the best trade I have had since I started trading."

"My first thirty days, starting June 7th with $47,887.87 in my account. By July 3rd my account was $ 73,188.38 produced a nice impressive 52.83% return - Not to shabby. :-)"

Believe me, nothing makes me feel better than receiving notes like these.  It's my crack. But I have to tell you, right now, I am worried about a lot of our subscribers. We have many, many hard- working people who are going to get caught by surprise. You can either let things happen to you..... or you can take a few simple steps and take charge of your family's fate.

To get started, click on the link below:

Simpler Options "Wealth Creator".....Webinar Replay

We'll see you next week in the markets putting some of this to work,

Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader


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