Weekend Musings about Investments and Stuff

Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - 12:29pm

I used to read a lot of fiction while in my early teens. Science fiction, detective novels murder mysteries and whodunits. I also used to make codes. I did crosswords, and puzzles. Little did I think how all these embryonic skills would come back to be used later in life as a trader of financial markets!

Often I’ve heard conspiracy theories, realistic theories, post facto explanations for all the strange things that happen in the markets. The more you learn the less you think you know! That’s because, among other things learned, one learns one’s limitations. Trading losses ( and gains) are a pretty clear lesson, or verdict of the skills applied to trades.

So, in a way, everyone is (inside their head) trying to solve the puzzle which is the blank prices yet to be filled in on the right hand side of the charts of whatever asset their money is currently riding on.

What do we need to solve puzzles? Can these particular puzzles ever be solved?

The efficient market theory says no, it can’t be solved. The semi efficient market theory is a little bit more flexible, and sorts market participants into layers of success, often related to their access to superior information. So the ones with the best information make money, those below them make less, and the success and information dissemination cascade downwards until the unfortunates at the bottom lose heavily and finance the winnings of those above them.

So if you don’t happen to have a big research department working away for you, is successful trading possible? Some say yes, others say no, and the successful traders ignore both and trade to earn their living.

So there seems to be a few alternatives available to the outsider to this business. Learn to trade, or find someone who can trade and follow their advice, or give your money to someone to trade and manage for you. It sounds so easy, but it isn’t really.

First the results of the investment fund management industry are in nominal terms. Let me explain. If you put your money in the Dow stocks X years ago you would have X times Y rate of return today, right? Wrong! For the obvious reason that Wall St. never remembers that for the duration your money was invested, the currency itself was probably going down in value as the government and bankers create money which then competes with yours and devalues it’s purchasing power.

So after allowing for inflation, and deducting the real inflation rate from your final investment value that Dow real rate of return doesn’t look quite so hot. Is that all? No. The managers were deducting their fees too. Then the taxman wants his slice of the action, your action. All these costs get paid from your gains, if you have any.

The next problem that tends to be detected in this effort to solve the market mystery, is the access to information. Boy is this a big can of worms! Let’s just say that it slowly dawns that there is information, late information, wrong information, and misleading information. Some information is outright lies, but done in such a finessed way as to be legal. And it isn’t all neatly labelled and sorted out for your convenience!

By the time a trading neophyte has figured this out, losses have mounted. The cost of a trading education is revised to a higher price, and either the beginner leaves the arena, or gets stuck in with renewed determination, and cynicism.

Cynicism can run riot, and go to extremes after this point. This is a sad outcome because the trader then will not accept bad information with good reason, but he or she also refuses to accept good information either. Like that cat that sat on a hot tin roof on a sunny day. It never sat on a hot tin roof again, but it wouldn’t sit on a cold one either. Sad but true, and very limiting when applied to people.

Another variant of the wrong application of information filtering by the trader is where he or she holds fast to a fixed idea, and refuses to modify or renew the thesis when new information emerges from the fog. Consequently I still read from certain sources about imminent hyperinflation and gold going to the moon, and as a result I must downweight the credibility of all information from those sources. While the hyperinflationists receive a downgrade on my inner credibility scale, this also applies to the hyper deflationists, who have a lower profile but emerge in increased numbers around the time of stock and precious metal price lows. Stagflation is all around us. It's visible everywhere, deflation in real (inflation adjusted) returns and real incomes, at the same time inflation in costs.

For the moment it’s about managing asset holdings during inflation of financial assets, but during deflationary times. The people in charge pulsate their liquidity (money creation) and talk in riddles to camouflage and mislead their intentions so their pals can avail of earlier accurate information (see semi efficient market above), and that’s the true nature of the game.

There are a few reliable life rafts one can cling onto in this turbulent investment sea with it’s unseen dangers. The people in charge are required to trade for themselves if they wish to gain advantage from high or low prices. Though they will obscure their holdings as best they can. Insiders also continue to trade in their specialty company or industry, and build up visible longs and shorts. And the investors lower down the ladder get herded into bad positions as they follow bad information, or just make mistakes typical of learners, or lack of knowledge. The COT and large fund position disclosures are a help in this regard.

However the days we live in are times during which the liquidity trap has grown to gigantic proportions as it is operated by a cabal of politico-banker-central bank-passive regulators. So simple leverage itself has become a good indicator, which leads, or forecasts if you prefer, events. Look at retail investor margins and borrowings.

There are alternate kinds of leverage in the precious metals extraction area. Takeovers and buyouts of miners are one, and have begun to occur. Stock issues, hedging arrangements and other similar financial engineering help to provide a murky glimpse forwards in time to where the news has not yet been written.

And of course the masses move like a flock of sheep, to and fro, shaking the market as they do so. But their movement is often caused by a sheepdog who works for the shepherd. So good old contrarianism still works, however, as always, the trader must take great care to not go contrary too soon.

Before I finish I’ll mention a type of contrarianism which can be productive. This is the practise of taking notice of the places from which false or bad information emanates. These are the controlled sources of news, who work for the inner circle. They need to sell their longs (or shorts) to someone else when the time is ripe, so how can they do that unless they prepare sales brochures and schemes and easy purchase facilities? For an inner circle member it’s really just like a sales campaign for cars, student loans, holidays, or cans of beans or anything else. Product must be actively sold before going stale. Therefore there must be a marketing and sales department to their business. These are often covert and operating under well known names with better than deserved reputations. That’s sales, isn’t it?

So the trader takes notice of who these particular sources are, and quietly trades contrary to the marketing campaign of the inner circle. It’s simple really. No need to shout it from the rooftops that they are manipulators, (why get labelled?). Just avail yourself of the marketing budget which has been provided for you free of charge by those who like to run things for their benefit.

It’s so simple but for a plethora of reasons it’s extremely difficult to do.

And because the pieces of the puzzle are regularly changed for new ones,which must be figured out afresh - it will never ever be "easy".

As a parting gift, here is a short story or novella by Isaac Asimov, which involves all of the above. Lack of information, partial knowledge, conspiracy, efforts to mislead about intent, mistakes along the way, inventiveness to deal with problems, repeating patterns of social sentiment, some voices calling for apocalypse, a ticking clock, the big big puzzle, and the simple truth which was there all the time hidden from sight, just waiting to be seen in all its breathtaking grandeur.

It’s called “Nightfall” : https://www.astro.sunysb.edu/fwalter/AST389/TEXTS/Nightfall.htm

(Later Edit to add link) : Audio download of mp3 is here: https://www.audiobooks.org/bookDesc.php?id=nightfall

Not a trading story as such, but many of the same issues are involved and it’s a nice fiction by Asimov back in 1941, when he was (in my opinion) at one of the peaks in his career.

Have a nice weekend everybody.


Argentus Maximus

The author posts daily commentary on the gold and silver markets in the TFMR forum: The Setup For The Big Trade. More information about the author & his work can be found here: RhythmNPrice.

About the Author


Jan 26, 2014 - 12:41pm


Now I will read


Jan 26, 2014 - 12:45pm

Well Funded Trading Education

That is what I have and it's well earned.

This picture seems appropriate for this wonderful piece of literary research. Thanks Argentus!

Jan 26, 2014 - 12:46pm

the Market - PURE FICTION

How absolutely fitting to post a reference to a master of fiction - as a perhaps mirror reflection of the Market - PURE FICTION

Thanks AM.

PS - I read therefore, de facto secundus

Jan 26, 2014 - 12:46pm

Financial Sci-Fi...

"The Global Economic Meltdown is a controlled financial demolition planned well in advance!"

Mr. Fix
Jan 26, 2014 - 12:51pm


Hi friends,

I logged on just to give you all an update, although I usually post it to "DOTS",

I could not resist being first.

I have had the busiest January of my life, due to the bone chilling cold weather, I have had to deal with a never ending series of broken boilers, and frozen pipes, not to mention all the cars that won't start.

Out of desperation, I took this afternoon off, since I found I was just putting on dirty clothes to go out and get them dirtier, I just need a break. (Not to mention some clean laundry).

I have been working on projects of my own, but for the time being, I'm waiting for the FedEx to arrive with packages from China, and distributors within the United States, but it seems like things have just slowed down to a crawl.

I've been reading up on the news late at night, and sending myself off to dreamland with something spiritual from YouTube, and it seems to work wonders for my state of mind.

Watching America die from 1000 cuts, can be all-consuming, and give me a sense of hopelessness, which at my core I do not believe to be true, if only because that would be an unhealthy belief. Somehow I need to keep going every day.

In a little while, I will post an update on DOTS pertaining to my “FE device”, which I have been taking a tremendous amount of my time to focus on, and I have learned many surprising principles which on the surface are counterintuitive.

There seems to be no end in sight for this freak “Arctic vortex”, and I am just hoping to stay healthy through it.

Chaos can be all-consuming, and I seem to be surrounded by it, but I'm just plugging along, doing what I can.

Best wishes to all here,

keep preparing, but don't forget to have a nice day.

Jan 26, 2014 - 1:09pm

Very Entertaining AM

"Product must be actively sold before going stale. therefore there must be a marketing and sales department to their business, often covert and operating under well known names with better than deserved reputations. That’s sales, isn’t it?"

Ouch, that hurts! Is that what I do? I will have to contemplate that one for a while.

SilverRun, Is that dog supposed to be Murph? That is a fitting picture of him, although I can't imagine why he would be stalking those pigs. I have never seen such hairy pigs!

Jan 26, 2014 - 1:25pm

Nothing personal intended

Nothing personal intended ag1969!

Why has Murph got his back to the camera in SilverrunNW's photo?

Jan 26, 2014 - 1:32pm

Here is a link to a free

Here is a link to a free audio download of Nightfall:


I'm downloading at the moment and so can not speak for the quality just yet.

Jan 26, 2014 - 1:36pm

@ag1969, @argentus

I hadn't noticed the resemblance before. Good catch! And Murph is facing away from the camera because he doesn't want his face on record, or he thinks the sheep is cuter.

Back to the home office. (wish this was mine)

Jan 26, 2014 - 1:43pm

Mr. President

No Mr. President, it's not because you are black or half white, or a liar, a hypocrite etc. it because you swore to follow the constitution and have not.

You should be impeached.

'If Congress doesn’t act, the president will,' says top WH adviser, signaling Obama may bypass Congress


BagOfGold argentus maximus
Jan 26, 2014 - 1:51pm

AM...Thanks for another great post!...

I see that you have just posted the free audio download of Nightfall...& here is another one from the X Minus One episodes...


& for those who are interested in listening to some/all of the Minus One episodes...here are the archives...


I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I do!!!...

Bag Of Gold

Jan 26, 2014 - 2:09pm


So, whatever government and/or big investment banks say, it would be prudent to take their "information", flip it around 180°, and only then will a man get something closely approximating the truth, yes?

PS. Thanks for the link to that Asimov story. That was the golden age of sci-fi.

Jan 26, 2014 - 2:10pm

Another bank "problem"...

I've never seen so many of these types of "problems" appear in the UK as have appeared over the last 18 months or so. Something's brewing.

Lloyds customers hit by card problems

Lloyds Banking Group says some Halifax, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and TSB customers are having problems using ATMs and debit cards.

Lloyds is the UK's largest retail bank and BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam said hundreds of thousands of customers could be affected.

Reports of problems began on Sunday afternoon, and Lloyds said it was "working hard" to fix the problem.

The chief executive of TSB, Paul Pester, tweeted an apology.

"My apologies to TSB customers having problems with their cards. I'm working hard with my team now to try to fix the problems," he said.


Jan 26, 2014 - 2:17pm


"So, whatever government and/or big investment banks say, it would be prudent to take their "information", flip it around 180°, and only then will a man get something closely approximating the truth, yes?"

Well sort of. Find the right ones, you probably know who already, and you can get a measure of timeliness too.

"PS. Thanks for the link to that Asimov story. That was the golden age of sci-fi."

It was indeed. :-)

Jan 26, 2014 - 3:05pm


So..if when we give the banks our currency, it becomes theirs... and if some thief comes along, internet bod, and steals the currency, then the bank does not really have to compensate you. It was the bank which lost its own currency. You a SOL

and if there is a run on the bank.... and FDIC or whatever insurance kicks in, it is to make the banks whole on their currency?

Taking tax payers money and bailing out the banks.

HSBC has retracted:

25 Jan 2014

As a responsible bank we ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for. The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise the opportunity for financial crime. Large cash transactions have inherent security issues and leave customers with very little protection should things go wrong, by asking customers the right questions, we can explore whether an alternative payment method might be safer and more convenient for them.

However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We apologise to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced.

YET!!!!! This still suggests that given some other bullshit, there is still reasons they can refuse to give you your currency. Hmmmmm

I remember when they tried to limit ATM withdrawals at my bank/ The snotty sounding kid on the other end of the phone "but you need to tell me why you want to make larger withdrawals.".... ermmm eh no... you get to play with my money until I ask for it back and then you get to say yes sir, would you like me to put in a bag for you. If you have a problem with this set up then you will no longer have any of my money to play with.

I smell bank runs. Indeed I might just empty my accounts and turn it into phys. I do not like the bank thinking it is theirs.

Jan 26, 2014 - 3:09pm

Thanks BagOfGold

for the old radio show link! and thanks argentus for the post that inspired BoG to share.

Always something to be grateful for here.

Jan 26, 2014 - 3:27pm

Sunday News Blast: Markets

Six Reasons Your Investments Stink - Brett Arends, MarketWatch
The Federal Reserve's Second 100 Years - Alex Pollock, The American

If Bitcoin Goes Mainstream, It Loses Its Value - Sanjay Sanghoee, Fortune
The Myth of America's Industrial Rebound - Steven Rattner, NY Times
Crowdfunding Could Turn Out to Be a Big Mess - Cadie Thompson, CNBC
Six Flawed Rules of Personal Finance - Chuck Jaffe, MarketWatch
Why Some Oppose Government Aid to the Poor - Jeffrey Dorfman, Forbes

Asking Banks to Reveal Their High Rollers - Gretchen Morgenson, NYT
ObamaCare 'Risk Corridors' Spur Showdown - Brianna Ehley, Fiscal Times
Supremes Expose Union Greed, Will the Justices Act? - George Leef, Forbes
How Americans in Paris Built the U.S. - Tim Reuter, The Pen Is Mightier
No Stimulus Unless You're Making Babies - Megan McArdle, Bloomberg

What's Behind the Emerging-Market Meltdown - The Editors, Bloomberg

The Turmoil Is One Giant Hedge Fund Short Squeeze - Matthew Boesler, BI
Potholes Ahead: Less Fed, Less China - Howard Schneider, Washington Post

The Deflation Trade Is Underweighted - Michael Gayed, Minyanville
Why a Correction Should Make You Glad - Jonathan Burton, MarketWatch
Global Economic Meltdown: 20 Warning Signs - Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge
Why Investors Should Be Wary This Year - Max King, Institutional Investor
Specter of Default Stalks Argentina - Charlie Devereux/Camila Russo, BBW

Currency Devalutions Are a Warning to the United States - Editorial, IBD
The Debt Clock Is Ticking on Puerto Rico - Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, CNBC

California: Out of the Emergency Room, Into Rehab - The Economist
Why 'Fruit Salad Management' Is Rotten For CEOs - Joel Trammell, Forbes

Here's Why Bitcoin May End Up Failing - Sanjay Sanghoee, Fortune
The Vilified 1% Didn't Kill the American Dream - James Pethokoukis, AEI
Fact And Fiction About Wealth and Inequality - Mark Hendrickson, Forbes

Don't Expects Jobs Date to Move Fed on Rates - Floyd Norris, NY Times

Economic Mobility: No Better, No Worse - Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
Today Was "The Worst Day of 2014" - Joshua Brown, The Reformed Broker
Traders Wonder: Is This Sell-Off the Big One? - Patti Domm, CNBC

Why a Declining Dollar Always Suffocates Growth - Louis Woodhill, Forbes
Now Wall St. Fat Cats Really Are Overweight - Brett Arends, MarketWatch
Myth-Busting Ideas From Nobel Prize Economists - Jerry Bowyer, Forbes
What It's Like to Work at Bill Gross's PIMCO - Matt Phillips, Quartz
Contagion Spreads in Emerging Markets as Crises Grow - Bloomberg
What About a 50% Crash? - John Nyaradi, MarketWatch

Get Off of My Cloud: A Fishy New Jersey Stock Soars - Duff McDonald, NYO
The Funny-Money Man Behind McDonnell's Fall - Eichenwald, Newsweek
10 Myths That Could Ruin Your Retirement - Carolyn O'Hara, The Week
Is This the End of Retail As We Know It? - Jeff Reeves, MarketWatch
Is Finland a Victim of Austerity? - Carol Matlack, Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Orwell Lives, as Recession Is Redefined as Recovery - Jeffrey Snider, RCM

A Tell-All Book Born From Goldman Gossip - Julie Bosman, New York Times
Fed's $4T Taper Caper Sets Teeth On Edge - John Crudele, New York Post

A Dollar-Price Rule Would Make 'Taper' Unnecessary - John Tamny, RCM
5-Decade Plan For A Successful Retirement - Beth Braverman, Fiscal Times
Bonds' Death Talk May Be Greatly Exaggerated - John Kimelman, Barron's
How to Copy the Habits of Rich Investors - Jonathan
Burton, MarketWatch

Davos Predicts Nothing, Still Worth the Trip - David Callaway, USA Today
Davos Lessons: Undeserved Wealth, Poverty - Dan Mitchell, Commentator
Pope Francis To the Davos Rich: Think Beyond You - Michael Hiltzik, LAT
10 Startling Facts About Wealth Inequality - Ezra Klein, Washington Post
David Brooks Shows His Hand On 'Inequality' - Eric Alterman, The Nation

A Mythical Canadian Dollar Conspiracy - Terence Corcoran, National Post
The Divided and Troubled State of California - Thomas Del Beccaro, Forbe

Jan 26, 2014 - 3:32pm


Probably just a glitch, but with the news about HSBC limiting withdrawals I just tried to log into my HSBC online business accounts (I have two) and this appears on a blank page:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, you[at]your[dot]address and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.


Well, probably just a glitch for now, although I've never seen that before - in some 15 years of banking with them

Regarding the message above, that's a standard "500 Error" server message. What's odd is that the people running the HSBC server network haven't configured this part "Please contact the server administrator, you[at]your[dot]address" to include a support e-mail address, which is standard practice (I know, I run a hosting company).

For that to be left out, for a bank to do this, is unbelievable to me.

Who's running their online banking?

Jan 26, 2014 - 3:53pm

Sunday Afternoon Movie(s)

Video unavailable

Forces in the front lines of the war on terror find themselves battling a foe more deadly than a bomb in this thriller. Ben Keynes is a CIA operative based in the Middle East who is keeping his eyes peeled for a potential crisis a few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Keynes is checking some readings from a spy satellite when he discovers what appears to be a massive cache of radioactive material in the mountains of Afghanistan. Worried that Al Qaeda guerrillas are constructing a nuclear weapon, Keynes arranges to join a reconnaissance mission headed to...

Video unavailable

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:01pm


Who's running their online banking?

obviously not you

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:12pm

HSBC online banking

Ok, I can get in now.

But the more I think about it, the more concerned I am. That internal server error should not have happened. That is serious - it may have been a short-term glitch - but such an error page should never appear with a bank. They should have HSBC-headed "http re-direct" pages that appear if there's a problem in accessing online banking - an internal server page would only appear if there was a major problem and all backup routes were down as well.

Not right at all.

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:13pm


wow! I think that cash handling fee is also a way to make their customers accept subconsciously that cash = bad.

Where I live, they'd not dare doing this... at least yet.
I recently withdrew ten thousand Euro in cash and the only thing they told me was that I was supposed to tell them in advance for a sum like that... but I got the envelope anyway.

Handling fee was zero. Anything else would have sparked outrage because over here a bank is still a place you deposit your cash and get it out when you need it.

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:20pm

Good review, AM--not sure it

Good review, AM--not sure it found its mark, though.

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:23pm

@ Bollock

"I'm only still with them because of the hassle of moving to another bank..." - You deserve it.

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:26pm

Yes achmachat, absolutely

great point, they want people not to deal with cash, so they hit them with outrageous charges if they do. Get everyone onto digital online currency which they can turn on or off at the click of a mouse. Total control.

I noticed a similar sort of thing about a year ago when I used a train for the first time in years. Cash price for a ticket was 3 times that if you use an "oyster" card. An oyster card is electronic payment, linked to your home address and via your bank account.

Instant tracking whenever you use public transport (they're used for buses too), and they also can be turned off, by the 'authorities' at the click of a mouse if needs be.

Big Brother.

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:47pm


Who's next? and we have not even had any damage to the market yet. Sad to say but something that we heard from Santelli about the market is without any give, stretched to the absolute limit. Sounding very true. This market could quite easaly just snap and collapse without any give or warning. Mr RBC broker gets his BS that they are expecting to trim 10 bil this meeting and continue every meeting until Dc next when QE will come to the end. I say just this talk of this could finish this game off before we even try to get another 10 billion off. Dollar dumped. T bills yield way up. Chinese dumping T bills and the dollar and buying all the physical gold they can buy.

Gold (physical) going short everywhere at the banks, markets crashed to sub 1,000. And in Europe a run on the banks.

So 2008 X 8

Happy Monday!

Jan 26, 2014 - 4:48pm


A couple of years ago I needed to make a large-ish cash withdrawal from my local HSBC business account (£7500), so I handed over the cheque for "cash" and they asked to see ID (even though they know who I am). I handed over a couple of cards with my name on them but they said they need to see my passport. I asked them what on earth do they want to see my passport for - they know who I am and why a passport?

They said it was a large withdrawal and they needed substantial ID (even though they KNOW who I am).

Anyway, I wasn't going to spend time arguing with them as I had to get this done quickly, so I popped back (I live just 2 mins from that branch) grabbed my passport, returned, and handed it over. They scrutinised it carefully (even though they KNOW WHO I AM) counted out the cash and got me to sign the withdrawal slip onto which they'd written the passport number, as proof of ID.

Later in the day I found that what I'd drawn the money out for had fallen through, so I returned and paid the cash back in.

A few days later I noticed in my online banking that they had charged me £60 ($90) for withdrawing the cash, and £30 ($45) for paying it in. It was marked as a "cash handling fee".

I was there like a shot and demanded they explain how they dared charge me such an outrageous amount - £90 - for taking out and paying back in my own money. They said it was as it was marked - a cash handling fee - for withdrawing and depositing cash.

I demanded they pay me back, and asked why they didn't tell me about this hidden charge when I took out and paid the cash back in. They said there is always a cash handling fee, charged as a percentage of what is taken out and paid in. I said that it was outrageous since that's one of the things they do all day long - deal with cash. And I pay them each month to use my business accounts, and on every single transaction.

I was livid and could see they weren't going to budge, so I told them to close my accounts immediately and hand me the balances in cash there and then.

They didn't like that and refunded the amount they had stolen from me.

Obviously this is theft. Otherwise they wouldn't have refunded me straight away. A bloody scam.

I'm only still with them because of the hassle of moving to another bank (not that another would be any better, eh?) and informing all my clients to update their records, changing standing orders etc etc.


Jan 26, 2014 - 5:22pm

Holy Toledo!

First the capital controls and now this? Glad I'm not a customer...


(Keep in mind that HSBC is, and has always been, the other key member of the EE. https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/glossary)

Jan 26, 2014 - 5:47pm
Jan 26, 2014 - 6:00pm


there's anything of note to these banking issues in the UK, I doubt very much anything will escalate before the end of this month.

Business taxes from August 2012 - Jan 2013 are due for payment on the 31st.


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Key Economic Events Week of 3/25

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