Stocks & Equities

Stocks & Equities

Crisis Imminent: Prepare for a Return to 2008

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Posted by Chris Martenson PhD

on Friday, 18 May 2012 07:06

I TAKE my hat off to the global central planners for averting the next stage of the unfolding financial crisis for as long as they have, writes Chris Martenson.

I guess there's some solace in having had a nice break between the events of 2008/09 and today, which afforded us all the opportunity to attend to our various preparations and enjoy our lives.

Alas, all good things come to an end, and a crisis rooted in 'too much debt' with a nice undercurrent of 'persistently high and rising energy costs' was never going to be solved by providing cheap liquidity to the largest and most reckless financial institutions. And it has not.

The same sorts of signals that we had in 2008 are once again traipsing across my market monitors. Not precisely the same, of course, but with enough similarities that they rhyme loudly. Whereas in 2008 we saw breakdowns in the credit spreads of major financial institutions, this time we are seeing the same dynamic in the sovereign debt of the weaker European nation states.

Greece, as expected, is a right proper mess and will have to leave the Euro if it is to have any chance at recovery going forward. Yes, all those endless meetings and rumors and final agreements painfully hammered out by Eurocrats over the past year are almost certainly going to be tossed, and additional losses are going to be foisted upon the hapless holders of Greek debt. My prediction is that within a year Greece will be back on the Drachma, perhaps by the end of this year (2012).

Greek default specter turns material

The weekend Greek revolt against the austerity measures imposed on its economy in return for Eurozone funding has elevated the prospect of a Greek default on its debts or a chaotic exit from the Eurozone.

The collapse in support for the mainstream parties that had reluctantly accepted the austerity program and the vehement opposition to the measures by the radical left party that finished the runner up in the weekend's elections has made it almost impossible for a coalition to be formed that would persevere with the program.

It is likely new elections will have to be held next month but given the degree to which Greeks have protested against the harsh Eurozone prescriptions – and the 20 per cent shrinkage in GDP and 20 per cent-plus unemployment that has accompanied them – it is improbable that Greece will continue with the reforms it agreed in return for the next $300 billion tranche of Eurozone funding.

If it does walk away from that commitment there will be chaos in Greece and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere. Greece would inevitably default on its debts and could be forced to quit the Eurozone.


There really is no choice for Greece but to leave the Euro, and the sooner, the better. Even then, there is a lot of hardship coming their way. But in my estimation, that's better than the imposed austerity that is a guaranteed torture chamber. The institutions that avoided taking losses on their Greek debt on the first pass through, due to their preferred status in the process (the ECB among them), are almost certainly going to eat big losses this time, perhaps a full 100% of them.

Leaving the Euro is going to be quite a process, and the ripple effects are going to be large and somewhat unpredictable. I found this description of what will happen within Greece and its banking system to be well on the mark:

The instant before Greece exits it (somehow) introduces a new currency (the New Drachma or ND, say). Assume for simplicity that at the moment of its introduction the exchange rate between the ND and the Euro is 1 for 1. This currency then immediately depreciates sharply vis-à-vis the Euro(by 40 percent seems a reasonable point estimate). All pre-existing financial instruments and contracts under Greek law are redenominated into ND at the 1 for 1 exchange rate.

What this means is that, as soon as the possibility of a Greek exit becomes known, there will be a bank run in Greece and denial of further funding to any and all entities, private or public, through instruments and contracts under Greek law. Holders of existing Euro-denominated contracts under Greek law want to avoid their conversion into ND and the subsequent sharp depreciation of the ND. The Greek banking system would be destroyed even before Greece had left the Euro area.

There would remain many contracts and financial instruments involving Greek private and public entities denominated in Euro (or other currencies, like the US Dollar) that are not under Greek law. [...] Widespread defaults seem certain.

Euro area membership is a two-sided commitment. If Greece fails to keep that commitment and exits, the remaining members also and equally fail to keep their commitment. This is not just a morality tale. It has highly practical implications. When Greece can exit, any country can exit.

As soon as Greece has exited, we expect the markets will focus on the country or countries most likely to exit next from the Euro area. Any non-captive/financially sophisticated owner of a deposit account in that country (or in those countries) will withdraw his deposits from banks in countries deemed at risk - even a small risk - of exit.

Any non-captive depositor who fears a non-zero risk of the future introduction of a New Escudo, a New Punt, a New Peseta or a New Lira (to name but the most obvious candidates) would withdraw his deposits from the countries involved at the drop of a hat and deposit them in the handful of countries likely to remain in the Euro area no matter what - Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

The 'broad periphery' and 'soft core' countries deemed at any risk of exit could of course start issuing deposits under English or New York law in an attempt to stop a deposit run, but even that might not be sufficient. Who wants to have their deposit tied up in litigation for months or years?


The Greek banking system will be destroyed immediately upon Greece's exit from the Euro, but the banking system there is already all but dead anyway. Best just to sweep the floor clean and start over. The idea is easy enough to understand; if your bank is about to go under, it is best to get your money out before that happens.

The only mystery to me is why so many people have left their money in the Greek banks this long. I suppose they were waiting for a clearer signal? Well, it would seem that the signal has now been sent and received:

Greek Depositors Withdrew $898 Million From Banks Monday

Greek depositors withdrew €700 million ($898 million) from the country's banks on Monday, fueling fears of a bank run amid the growing political disarray.

With deposits falling, Greek banks become even more dependent on the European Central Bank to meet their funding needs, exposing the central bank to potentially huge losses if Greece leaves the Euro area.

Monday's deposit withdrawal far outpaced Greek banks' steady decline in deposits since the start of the country's debt crisis in 2009, as depositors withdraw cash and transfer funds overseas. In the past two years, deposit outflows have generally averaged between €2 billion and €3 billion a month, though in January they topped €5 billion.

The latest data from the Greece's central bank show that total deposits held by domestic residents and companies stood at €165.36 billion in March.


Again, the real mystery to me is who still has 165 billion Euros in Greek banks at this stage of the game? Also a mystery is why Greece has not yet imposed a withdrawal moratorium and capital controls? It is only a matter of time, perhaps days, before they do. 

Of course, it is the contagion effect that most worries the market, because the same dynamic of utter insolvency leading to the intractable nature of Greece's dilemma applies to Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

Indeed, the market is already adjusting to this possibility, as evidenced by the spikes in the yields of those country's bonds:

Contagion Fears Hit Markets

LONDON - Investors battered European stocks, dumped the bonds of Spain and Italy, and bid the Euro down against the Dollar Monday after the collapse of weekend coalition talks in Greece edged that country closer to an exit from the Euro zone.

The sweeping market action dealt a blow to hopes that the damage of a Greek exit, should it occur, could be comfortably contained.

In the market carnage, Greek stocks fell to two-decade lows, and Spanish bond yields leapt to levels not seen since the panic of last November. Shares of a big Spanish lender dropped 8.9% on the Madrid bourse, pulling the benchmark index down 2.7%. The Italian market also fell 2.7%, and the Euro slid to $1.2845 late Monday in London, its lowest level in four months.


The worry and the carnage are both running deep. And they should. Everything is now interlinked to such a degree that there is no possible way for a run on Greek banks or continued declines in the value of sovereign debt to be anything other than exceptionally destructive.

Everybody owes everybody, and there's not enough productive economy to mask the insolvency of the system any longer.

We saw this as Spain's sovereign yields vaulted, Spanish bank shares plunged, a not-so-happy linkage courtesy of the LTRO funding which enabled (and encouraged) Spanish banks to load up on Spanish debt. A virtuous circle morphed into a vicious spiral, each element weakening the other all the way down.

That the US stock market is only down less than 5% from recent highs is a testament to the power of the liquidity that the Fed and US banking system have directed at keeping things elevated. However, this cannot last, at least not without another big quantitative-easing (QE) injection from the Fed. Without such an infusion, I am calling for another 2008-2009-style market rout of at least -30% but possibly as much as -50%.

The reason we need another QE injection is that the same dynamic of debt destruction is again stalking the markets. As expected, the Fed has been waiting for a clear signal that it is time for more thin-air money, and again they are going to wait too long to prevent more damage from occurring.

This time I am expecting a coordinated central bank action that will involve most or all of the major central banks of the OECD: Japan, UK, US, and Europe.

One day, we will wake up to find some global message about the need for a coordinated response to a major crisis, and each of the central banks will be issuing some massive new amount of thin-air money. Of course the programs will be called something fancy that will require shortening to an acronym and will involve buying some form of debt (sovereign debt, but maybe also bank debt), and we'll track this via central-bank balance-sheet expansion.

Perhaps we'll see this line go up a little steeper, or perhaps the same trajectory will be maintained a little longer:


Regardless, more printing is on the way, because the alternative is the utter collapse of the entire Western banking system. And quite probably a few governments, too.

To me, that is an unthinkable outcome, and one that I have every faith will be avoided at any every cost. It is the main reason that I am quite content to hold onto all of my gold at this juncture. Anybody selling physical gold here is either broke (and needs the money) or is just not paying attention.

To drive the point home, consider this picture posted on Zerohedge taken from German television purportedly showing the Ministry of Finance in Athens. A picture is worth a thousand words:



By the time the Ministry of Finance is storing records in garbage bags and shopping carts, perhaps, just maybe, one might become a little concerned about loaning money to the Greek government. One hopes.

Greece, of course, is tiny compared to Spain or Italy. The situation in Spain – which is big enough to matter – is truly dire, very large, and getting worse.

Spain has been playing fast and loose with the numbers, and that fact has now been revealed to the world. It's not a pretty picture.

Spain Underplaying Bank Losses Faces Ireland Fate

May 10, 2012

Spain is underestimating potential losses by its banks, ignoring the cost of souring residential mortgages, as it seeks to avoid an international rescue like the one Ireland needed to shore up its financial system.

The government has asked lenders to increase provisions for bad debt by 54 billion Euros ($70 billion) to 166 billion Euros. That's enough to cover losses of about 50 percent on loans to property developers and construction firms, according to the Bank of Spain. There wouldn't be anything left for defaults on more than 1.4 trillion Euros of home loans and corporate debt.

Taking those into account, banks would need to increase provisions by as much as five times what the government says, or 270 billion Euros, according to estimates by the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based research group. Plugging that hole would increase Spain's public debt by almost 50 percent or force it to seek a bailout, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

"How can you only talk about one type of real estate lending when more and more loans are going bad everywhere in the economy?" said Patrick Lee, a London-based analyst covering Spanish banks for Royal Bank of Canada. "Ireland managed to turn its situation around after recognizing losses much more aggressively and thus needed a bailout. I don't see how Spain can do it without outside support."


And this is just the losses that Spanish banks face on their real-estate portfolios. They are also now facing losses on all the Spanish sovereign debt that they bought with their LTRO funding as well. Very simply, Spain now needs a massive rescue, and soon.

Meanwhile German citizens are all done with helping their southern neighbors. Merkel has used up all of her political capital on the rescues performed to date, and it is far from clear that any more help is politically doable here. The only way that I can see such help coming is under some terms other than drawing upon the savings of Germany's citizens. Printing, perhaps, but even that is a dicey political proposition here.

If Spain drops here, then you can just set an egg timer for when Italy will go. And then France. The dominoes will rapidly fall from there.

In describing JPMorgan's recent $2 billion (or is it $20 billion...or more?) trading losses and Jamie Dimon's (the CEO of JPM) awkward explanation of how certain hedging operations went wrong, the author of this next piece asks the obvious question:

Does Jamie Dimon Even Know What Hedging Risk Is?

But wait a minute? If you're hedging risk then the bets you make will be cancelled against your existing balance sheet. In other words, if your hedges turn out to be worthless then your initial portfolio should have gained, and if your initial portfolio falls, then your hedges will activate, limiting your losses. That is how hedging risk works. If the loss on your hedges is not being cancelled-out by gains in your initial portfolio then by definition you are not hedging risk. You are speculating.


We still don't know the exact dimensions of JPM's losses here (my expectation is that more bad news will follow soon enough), but we can be sure that the big banks have not learned from the mistakes of the past and are still engaged in risky practices involving derivatives.

Whatever JPM was up to (and I am still not entirely clear on what that was), it was not classic hedging, which serves to minimize losses, but something far more speculative.

The reason this gives me such cause for concern is that it once again exposes a small portion of the derivative monster that will certainly be awakened when the European situation goes into full meltdown over the Greek, then Spanish, the Portuguese, then Italian situations.

While derivatives are, in theory, a zero-sum game, and therefore could, in theory, be forgiven and forgotten in a pinch, the reality is that they've been used to pretend that risk did not exist and therefore losses don't exist.

The ugly truth here is that we are at the tail end of a most unfortunate credit bubble – four decades of global excess by the OECD countries – and there are massive losses to account for. Just as the offsetting counterparties involved in the subprime CDO and CDS mortgage crisis did not zero out because the losses they were allegedly papering over were all too real, the same will prove true of the derivative paper allegedly covering sovereign and corporate debts.

Remember, the biggest holder of derivatives is the company that just demonstrated that it doesn't really understand the concept of hedging.


Overall derivatives, especially interest-rate-linked derivatives, have increased by over $100 trillion since the crisis began. As JPM just evidenced, and as hinted at by the interminable hand-wringing over allowing Greece's paltry $78 billion in credit-default swaps to be triggered, real dangers lurk here.

I wish I could analyze the situation better than the rest of the crowd that either screams catastrophe looms or coos that everything is safe, but I cannot. The situation is too opaque, too convoluted, and too complex to tease apart. I simply don't know what the true nature of the risk really is – and the truth is, nobody really does. You might as well ask these analysts to tell you the exact size and shape of the first ten waves that will hit Laguna Beach exactly one year from now beginning at 12:05 p.m.

Instead, what I can offer to you is the idea that instead of reducing (let alone eliminating) risk, all that derivatives have done is mask risk. This means that whatever losses are resident in a system with four decades of debt-fueled malinvestment and overconsumption are still there just waiting to be realized.

It is this certainty that the losses remain, the risk is masked, and the bets have only grown larger that makes me very nervous these days as I contemplate the possible implications and repercussions of a Greek exit from the Euro.

Given this environment of massive, rapidly-accelerating, and obfuscated risks, the prudent among us are undoubtedly wondering, How the heck is this going to play out? And how do I prepare for it?

I expect central banks will once again attempt to ride to the rescue with gargantuan liquidity measures. But this next time won't work as it did in 2008, in my estimation. I see central banks being near the end of their ability to influence developments at this point. More liquidity will affect different asset classes differently, and for the first time raise real (and valid) concerns about the widescale debasement we are witnessing across the world's major fiat currencies.

Putting your capital into those resources best positioned to appreciate most as the result of money printing and hold or increase their purchasing power in such an environment should be a top priority for every concerned investor.

Get the safest gold at the lowest prices – with access to 24/7 live gold and silver trading – on BullionVault...

Chris Martenson18 May '12


Stocks & Equities

Short Term Very Oversold - Sharp Rally Due

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Posted by Stephen Todd via The Todd Market Forecast

on Thursday, 17 May 2012 08:30

DOW                                                      - 33 on 1000 net declines
NASDAQ COMP                            - 20 on 650 net declines
SHORT TERM TREND                       Bearish
Today was a surprise. I felt that we would get a bounce today and we did for a while, but it couldn't hold on.
The usual suspects were again present. Concerns about Greece and concerns about its affect on the world economy. Regarding Greece, a lot of people are starting to discount its exit from the euro-zone, but 80% of the Greek people want to stay in. Also, after all of the effort already expended, it's unlikely that they will simply give up.
The short term is oversold almost to the breaking point so a very sharp rally should be close by, but the intermediate term is another story. We've circled the big declines since 2010 and compared to the previous two, this one is still a baby.
TORONTO EXCHANGE:  Toronto had a decent day by recent standards, "only" dropping 17 points.
GOLD: Gold had yet another solid down session.
BONDS: Bonds surged to still another multi decade high.
THE REST: The dollar was up again and this helped push down gold, silver, copper and crude oil.
   Our intermediate term systems are on a sell signal.
   System 2 traders We sold the E-mini at 1322.50 for a loss of 12.25. We sold the SSO at 51.78 for a loss of .92.
     We bought another E-mini S&P 500 at 1334.00 and the SSO at 52.64. Sell at the close on Thursday.
   System 7 traders are in cash. Stay there on Thursday.
     Housing starts were 717,000, more than the expected 690,000. Industrial production rose 1.1%, better than the anticipated 0.5%. Oil inventories rose 2.1 million barrels. Last week they rose 3.7 million. On Thursday we get initial claims, leading indicators and the Philadelphia Fed survey.
We're on a buy for bonds as of April 19.
We're on a buy for the dollar and a sell for the euro as of May 11.                
We're on a sell for gold as of April 4.              
We're on a sell for silver as of April 4.        
We're on a sell for crude oil as of May 4.        
We're on a sell for copper as of May 14.    
We're on a sell for the Toronto Stock Exchange TSX as of March 22.
We are long term bullish for all major world markets, including those of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Germany, France and Japan.
Ed Note: To register for this Daily Letter go to


Stocks & Equities

Grandich Market Update:Stocks, Bonds, US Dollar, Oil, Gold & Silver

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Posted by Peter Grandich via

on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 08:24

This shall be rather short but directly to the point.

U.S. Stock Market – I’m neither a major bull nor bear but believe by this time next year, I would want to be virtually out of all non-metals related U.S. equities. The secular bear market that began in late 2007 and was correctly perceived to be interrupted by the single greatest bear market rally of all-time, is anticipated to resume no matter who wins in November. Only a Romney win can delay by only a matter of months the inevitable Greece-like scenario to unfold here in America (Read may 9th commentary).

U.S. Bonds – My patience to await a 10-yr T-Bond yield under 1.75% to short into may finally be rewarded. Stay tuned.

U.S. Dollar – I’ve spoken about shorting the U.S. Dollar Index if it can get to 83-84 and despite most seemingly thinking a major dollar rally is upon us, I’m not certain it can even get to that level barring a total collapse in Europe. But if and when it does, I shall again remind you of the scenario I painted in my May 9th commentary and the rest shall be up to you.

Oil and Natural Gas – If we should get so fortunate to see oil pull back to the mid $80s, I would think that’s a gift for getting long. Natural gas remains an avoid.



Gold and Silver – As you can see from the charts, both gold and silver have entered not only key support areas, but are recording some of the most oversold readings in quite some time. This is without a doubt the most bearish overall mood I felt since gold bottomed at the start of the millennium. While there shall be no quick fix and the pain can linger awhile longer, the “mother’ of all bull markets is far from over. I think my views have been cleared in all my recent interviews and commentaries. The boat of real and no-hedge gold bulls has only a few passengers left (and I’m glad to see Captain Jim Sinclair still at the helm) while the gold bear boat is filled up and sailing under the S.S. Titanic 2012 model.

Mining and Exploration Shares – Having loss more money on paper then I ever imagined I could have possessed in my lifetime, I stood in front of the mirror last night and asked myself was I committing two of the worse investment strategies I’ve told people for years not to:

1-     The ultimate crime in investing is not being wrong but staying wrong.

2-     Hope is a wonderful spiritual strategy but the worse investment strategy one can employ.

The response I got back (besides you could lose 30lbs) was to remain strong in my convictions and to know for the most part, my holdings should withstand this incredible onslaught of towels being thrown in everywhere.

For those who choose like I have for myself, we must also realize at best, we shall get an “L” shape recovery in the juniors for many months if and when we actually bottom. Numerous companies won’t survive in their present form but that shall also make the ones thrown out with the bathwater that much more attractive when people actually grab buy tickets again in our lifetime (Yesterday, the TSX looked very much like it was in a final capitulation frame of mind).

I’ve upgraded many companies on my “Tracking list” and also for the first time in years, suggested more ownership now going forward of mining and exploration shares versus the metals themselves.

I remind the few, the proud, the metals and mining bulls of our theme song and to rememberthis battle when it seems the odds are overwhelming against us and the perma bears chant throughout the media the bull market os over and they’re going in for the kill..


Stocks & Equities

The Hot Market

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Posted by Tyler Bollhorn StockScores

on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 07:21

perspectives commentary

The easiest way to make money is to trade the hot market. This rule applies to stocks, commodities, currencies, real estate, collectibles - anything that is traded between people. To put your odds for success at their highest, you have to trade where the action is.

Think back to when you had your best success. Perhaps you made great profits trading Silver stocks a few years ago. Maybe you made a fortune flipping houses 7 years ago. It is possible that many of you banked cash by shorting stocks or buying volatility last summer. No matter when or where it happened, your best and most memorable success likely came when there was a boom in the market you were trading. You rode a strong trend.

If you revisit any of those trades, trying to re-live the feeling of easy money, you have probably felt frustrated. Formerly hot markets are not much fun when they have gone cold. How does it feel to trade Silver stocks now or to own a number of homes that you cannot sell? Lousy!

Assets are worth owning when their price is going up. This seems obvious but it is amazing how many investors I meet who own stocks because they were going up in the past, not because they are going up now. There are a lot of investors living in the past.

We have to live in the now but how do we know where the next hot trend will be? How can we find the hot market today?

I often talk about how I never know anything about the companies that I trade, that I only trade symbols, but that is a little bit of hyperbole. I do have an awareness of the types of companies that I trade; I want to know enough to be able to see trends in capital flows.

Each day, I do a Market Scan on Stockscores to see which stocks have moved up more than expected. This tool has a filter for Abnormal Price Gain, an important distinction from just looking for %gain. One stock could make a 3% gain but, if the stock is quite volatile, that gain could not be abnormal. A 3% gain for Microsoft is very different than a 3% gain for a penny stock.

To be able to compare gain on a level playing field, we have to consider the gain in consideration of the stock's historical volatility. That is why we use the concept of statistically significant price gain. We want to find the stocks that are gaining more than we expect given how the stock normally trades.

When we scan the market for stocks that are making statistically significant gains, we will find stocks that are up more than expected but there is a greater message there. Some stocks will be up because they are part of a hot market. I pay attention to the company names and look for themes. If I see a number of stocks from the same sector moving up, I know that there is something going on in that market.

The market has been generally quiet in the past couple of months but there have been areas of the market that have done well. Shipping stocks had a run, Chinese companies did well for a few weeks and US retail stocks have done well for some time. Playing good charts in these strong sectors has paid off.

As you follow the stock market, maintain an awareness for the areas of the market that are showing a disproportionate amount of strength. If you hear a number of times about a sector of the market doing well, take notice. Follow the action and play the hot market. Doing so will have a significant effect on your performance.

perspectives strategy

The current market is somewhat trendless making it necessary to play stocks that are trading on their own story. In search of the Alpha factor, we look for stocks trading abnormally and breaking from good chart patterns.

I did a Market Scan for stocks making an abnormal day up with abnormal volume and trading at least 1000 times a day. This found 22 stocks, I inspected the charts and found the following had a good chart:

perspectives stocksthatmeet

1. XNPT: A good turnaround chart as this stock breaks from an ascending triangle chart pattern after recently breaking a downward trend line. With a stop at $4.25 you have a higher probability that the trade will work but a lower reward for risk ration. Raising the stop to $4.65 improves the reward for risk profile but at the expense of the probability of success. As long as you can handle the lower chance for success, I think the tighter stop is smarter.

Picture 3


  • Get the Stockscore on any of over 20,000 North American stocks.
  • Background on the theories used by Stockscores.
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    This is not an investment advisory, and should not be used to make investment decisions. Information in Stockscores Perspectives is often opinionated and should be considered for information purposes only. No stock exchange anywhere has approved or disapproved of the information contained herein. There is no express or implied solicitation to buy or sell securities. The writers and editors of Perspectives may have positions in the stocks discussed above and may trade in the stocks mentioned. Don't consider buying or selling any stock without conducting your own due diligence.




Stocks & Equities

Major Stock Indexes Flash Sell Signals

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Posted by John Nyaradi via Investor Insight

on Monday, 14 May 2012 08:33

May’s volatile stock market action has generated point and figure “sell” signals in all major U.S. indexes with the exception of the Nasdaq.

spx051212 more HERE


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The Right Time to Sell

 A common question I am asked is, “When do you sell the stock you own?” There are several circumstances that need to be considered...

- posted by Tyler Bollhorn

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