Monday, April 18, 2011

Try For Free Our Galaxy Combined Portfolio Systems +23.36% In 2011

Nella sottostante tabella sono raffigurate le equity line mensili dei trading systems che compongono il nostro portfolio systems Galaxy ed il riassunto MTM dell’operativit√† dal Novembre 2009. Galaxy chiude con un ottimo risultato anche il mese di Marzo, dopo un equivalente risultato nel mese di Gennaio e Febbraio, portando a 23.36 % la performance del 2011. Inoltre, nel mese di Aprile sta guadagnando il 6.00 % c.a. Quello appena chiuso √® il sesto risultato utile consecutivo a livello mensile dopo la breve pausa alla fine dell’estate dello scorso anno. L’equity continua a svilupparsi in maniera armonica mantenendo un’inclinazione positiva e costante grazie all’elevata diversificazione all’interno del portfolio. I risultati storici di Galaxy Portfolio System sono disponibili ai seguenti link:, I risultati dei singoli trading systems sono a disposizione al seguente link:

Richiedi la demo gratuita di 30 giorni di Galaxy Combined Portfolio Systems

In the table below you can see the monthly equity line of the trading systems that make our Galaxy portfolio systems and the MTM performance summary since November 2009. Galaxy ends with a good result also the month of March, after a similar result in the month of January and February, bringing the performance to 23.36 % in 2011. Moreover, in the month of April is gaining 6.00 % c.a.. One just closed is the sixth consecutive positive months after the brief pause at the end of the summer last year. The equity continues to grow in harmony while maintaining an upward slope and steady thanks to high diversification within the portfolio. Historical results of Galaxy Combined Portfolio System are available at the following links:, Historical results of single trading systems are available at the following link:

Request a free demo of 30 days of Galaxy Combined Porolio Systems


Equity Line Trades, Giornaliera e Mensile di Galaxy / Trades, Daily and Monthly Galazy Equity Line

Galaxy-Trades_thumb Galaxy-Time_thumb Galaxy-Mensile_thumb Logo Demo_thumb[2]

Performance MTM Mensile di Galaxy Portfolio System con un capitale iniziale di $ 200.000
Monthly MTM Performance of Galaxy Combined Portfolio System with $ 200K initial capital


1.19 %
2.90 %
(4.28 %)
24.49 %
2.99 %
1.76 %
15.62 %
4.35 %
10.60 %
(0.41 %)
(4.73 %)
1.75 %
12.80 %
1.50 %
7.54 %
7.75 %
8.06 %

Material in this post does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation and do not constitute solicitation to public savings. Operate with any financial instrument is safe, even higher if working on derivatives. Be sure to operate only with capital that you can lose. Past performance of the methods described on this blog do not constitute any guarantee for future earnings. The reader should be held responsible for the risks of their investments and for making use of the information contained in the pages of this blog. Trading Weeks should not be considered in any way responsible for any financial losses suffered by the user of the information contained on this blog.

China may be poised for 'aggressive' sugar buying


"Aggressive" buying by China, in the face of a domestic supply squeeze, could come to the aid of sugar futures, which looked set to extend their losses on Monday after hefty losses against an expiring contract.
Futures in the sweetener lost more than 1% on both sides of the Atlantic, paring early gains, after the London futures exchange confirmed deliveries of 375,150 tonnes against the expiring May white sugar contract.
The figure, equivalent to 7,500 lots, compares with, for instance, the 126,500 delivered against the December contract.
The decline was also attributed to a reduction by Standard & Poor's, to negative from stable, on its outlook for America's credit rating, signalling a downgrade may be in the offing, and against a continuing backdrop of optimism over production from Thailand, the second-ranked sugar exporter.
Thai production was on Monday estimated at a record 9.0m tonnes, leaving sufficient capacity for exports at an all-time high of some 6.2m tonnes.
"The Thai crush continues to go from strength-to-strength," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.
'Pent-up demand'
However, the fall in sugar prices on futures markets, and in the cash market in Brazil, the top exporting country, has not been echoed in China, the second-ranked consuming country, which has suffered successive seasons of disappointing output.
Prices in some provinces have now topped 50 cents a pound, despite efforts by authorities to cool the market by releasing supplies from state reserves, most recently in February, when more than 150,000 tonnes were sold, at an average price of 7,423 yuan a tonne, equivalent to about 51 cents a pound.
"Market conditions look to be evolving where China is likely to buy sugar aggressively from major importers over the next six months," Australia & New Zealand Bank said, terming China's sugar supply "clearly an issue".
"With China in strong need to replenish domestic supplies and ease the risk of further inflationary pressure from higher domestic sugar prices, China's pent-up demand for sugar imports is strong."
Critical gap
The extent of the buying "could be as high as 1.8m tonnes over three-to-four months, providing some support to global sugar prices through this period", ANZ added.
The comments follow a forecast from Societe Generale that China's sugar imports, which rose to 1.5m tonnes in 2009-10, could "soon increase dramatically", reaching 3m tonnes a year.
The bank noted that a discount of 20 cents a pound of New York futures prices compared with Chinese futures prices triggered buying in the second half of 2010.
'Risk premium'
Separately, Rabobank lowered to 26.0 cents a pound, from 29.0 cents a pound, its forecast for New York sugar prices in the April-to-June quarter.
While highlighting improved hopes for crops in Brazil and Thailand, the bank said that price falls would be "tempered" by weather worries for the northern hemisphere beet harvest.
"A risk premium is likely to remain in the market at least until the beet harvest this fall, as the sugar market still remains just one major weather stock away from a significant deficit," Rabobank said.
Sugar for May stood 2.1% lower at 24.07 cents a pound in New York at 15:00 GMT, with London's August white sugar contract, fresh in the spot position, stood down 1.7% at $622.00 a tonne, the weakest for a near-term lot for six months.

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Crops more popular than energy among investors


Agricultural commodities have proved significantly more popular than energy among buyers of exchange-traded products, despite the high-profile threats to oil supplies and Japan's nuclear reactor crisis.
Exchange-traded commodities and funds saw inflows of more than $600m in March, the fifth successive monthly increase, analysis by Societe Generale showed.
However, investors pared exposure to exchange-traded energy products by more than $500m, despite the month bringing continued tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, which bought New York oil prices to a two-year high during the month.
March also witnessed the Japanese earthquake and tsunami which, in leaving the Fukushima nuclear plant leaking radiation, provoked expectations of an improvement in demand for gas as a power source, lifting natural gas futures too.
Rebalancing act
On agricultural commodity futures markets, meanwhile, many investors reduced exposure last month, with grains saved from notable losses by a March 31 report which revealed US stocks significantly lower than investors had expected.
New York sugar prices fell more than 15% over the month.
Societe Generale attributed the "surprise" switch away from energy prices to "profit-taking or portfolio rebalancing... either to lock in some profits after a quarter of excellent performance and/or bring energy closer to target allocation".
Despite the sell-down, investors in exchange-traded products, which aim to offer an inexpensive, easy and liquid way of investing in assets such as commodities, held $12.5bn in energy, more than their $9.4bn exposure to crops.
Kansas wheat shunned
On futures markets, a gain in investor interest in agricultural commodities after the March 31 US inventories reversed in the week to April 12, regulatory data released late on Friday showed.
Managed funds, a proxy for speculators, cut their net long exposure – that is long positions over above short holdings – in the main US-traded agricultural commodities by 21,932 lots below 950,000 lots over the week, Rabobank calculated.
Net long interest in Kansas wheat suffered a notable decline, down by 1,500 lots to less than 50,000 contracts, as rain forecasts lifted hopes for the rain-deprived US hard red winter wheat crop.
Soybean interest dropped to its second lowest point since June, thanks to "weak Chinese demand [for the oilseed] coupled with stabilising crop conditions in South America", Rabobank said.
Corn beats the trend
However, managed funds lifted net-long exposure to Chicago corn, helping the grain to a record price over the week.
"It was the case of another week, another 30,000 contracts added to speculative net length," Australia & New Zealand Bank said.
"Since [late March], speculative net long positioning in corn has rebounded from 226,000 contracts to 297,000 contracts."

Sector Performance In Response to S&P Outlook Downgrade

by Bespoke Investment Group

Given the history of the ratings agencies, it's pretty sad that the market is still forced to react to anything they say. At any rate, below we highlight the impact that today's US outlook downgrade by S&P is having on sectors at an hour into the trading day. As shown, the Energy sector is getting hit the hardest with a decline of 2.40%, followed by Industrials (-1.96%), Materials (-1.96%), Technology (-1.84%), and Consumer Discretionary (-1.64%). The defensives are unsurprisingly holding up the best. The Utilities sector is only down 0.48%, while Consumer Staples is down 0.70%. The S&P 500 as a whole is down 1.58% on the day at the moment. Let's hope this looks better by the end of the day given the reason for the decline.

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S&P cuts U.S. ratings outlook to negative

Standard & Poor's cut its ratings outlook on the U.S. to negative from stable while keeping its Triple-A rating on the world's largest economy. "More than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, U.S. policymakers have still not agreed on how to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Nikola G. Swann. U.S. stock futures plunged on the news, with Dow industrial futures falling 167 points.

What Slow Economic Growth and High Inflation Means for Stocks

By: Money_Morning

Jon D. Markman writes: With slow economic growth and high inflation looming on the economic horizon, investors turn to earnings reports for a clue as to whether their favorite companies can handle what's ahead. 

First-quarter earnings season started with a bang this week with reports from major technology, basic materials and financial companies that mostly underwhelmed the crowd. The major averages closed the week right about where they started after rallying from a sizeable dip in the middle.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) kicked off the festivities by beating earnings estimates for the fourth straight quarter. Investors didn't care for its underwhelming sales growth, and kicked a dent in the side of the aluminum giant. 

Then JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) topped estimates, but traded down as bank investors worried about an increase in regulation that will trim revenue growth in coming quarters, and financials traded 2% lower for the week.

Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) was blasted after posting earnings in line with consensus, but then telling investors it planned to go on a hiring spree, and didn't care about the costs. The company's new chief executive officer Larry Page ticked off investors by muttering just a couple of sentences on the conference call and then hanging up. Shares fell 8.2% for the week, taking the tech sector down 1.1%. 

All in all, the 33 Standard & Poor's 500 companies that reported so far have posted 38% year-over-year earnings gains on 7.3% year-over-year revenue gains. That means most of the income has come from cutting expenses and financial engineering, which worries people because it is unsustainable.

Energy stocks fell the most, down 3.1%, as crude oil prices sank the same amount to a still highly elevated $109.45 a barrel. The group is still the best of the year, with a 13.1% gain.

And on the economic front, the most important news was that core inflation remains very subdued, wages are declining, and initial jobless claims were up 27,000 to 412,000, almost 30,000 over consensus.

So what was going on behind the scenes? Financial news people will tell you that there was a reason for the big decline in the middle of the week. They'll point to renewed fears of a sovereign debt crisis in Europe, higher crude oil prices, and fears that chastened bulls would have to send out a search party to find any executives atGoogle who really care about hitting profit targets.

Yet the reality is that markets during options expiration week often seem to act according to rules set by in-patients at a manic-depressive clinic. There is so much money at stake in certain index and stock options, that you will see a lot of very strange behavior as the investment banks try to weasel out of paying off on wrong-way positions and hedge fund jockeys try to nudge winning trades deeper into the black with blatant, last-minute nudges.

Never believe anything you see in options expiration week, and particularly the last two days. It is a very artificial period. Buying interest looks a little more intense under the hood than it appears on the surface. Yet for the most part bulls and bears are locked in a stalemate. Current shareholders are mildly optimistic and not willing to part with their stocks. Yet bulls are not highly motivated to add new positions.

So what will come along next is some sort of negative surprise that will make holders more anxious to sell their stocks to lock in profits, or a positive surprise that will make bystanders decide they need to get in on this action. The statistical history of the market suggests that in similar situations -- when six or seven straight days of selling conclude with a flat spot just ahead of the earnings season -- the resolution has tended to be to the upside.

Dollar Daze
The big story of the past two weeks has been the renewed crash of the U.S. dollar and the rise of commodities, as gold and silver jumped more than 12%. The buck hit a new three-year low against a basket of currencies.

Most of the torpor in equities stemmed from the fact that they had jumped 7% in late March and early April not long after bears cynically thought they finally got the break they needed, with an earthquake and tsunami in Japan to top off turmoil in the Middle East and a worsening debt crisis in Europe.

As we head into the second quarter, it's clear that global growth is decelerating from a relatively high level, led by China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the periphery of Europe.

Commodity inflation and the continuing depression in U.S. real estate has led most credible economists to shave down their U.S. growth prospects, too. Inventory restocking, which was a huge boost to growth coming out of the last recession, is over. Estimate revisions across Asia have declined into a neutral zone, and the earnings estimate momentum of the United States is also tipping lower.

One of the most important factors on the world stage over the next year will be Japanese rebuilding. That will be inflationary due to the extreme levels of quantitative easing exercised by the Bank of Japan, which devalues the yen and then kicks off a chain reaction among other currencies to devalue as well. This is one reason why the dollar has been so weak.

Commodity inflation -- higher corn, cotton, crude oil, and precious metals prices -- has become structural rather than cyclical, which means that it is likely to be "sticky" even as economic growth slows. Yet as global growth slows it is likely to have a dampening effect on commodity prices as well, preventing investors in "stuff" to be disappointed if they have really grandiose plans.

If growth slows and cyclical violence and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa wane, crude oil prices will most likely stabilize at a high level after creating "demand destruction" in the United States and Europe. In plainer English, oil prices can rise only to the extent that people are willing to pay $4 per gallon or more at the gas pump in the United States; we saw in 2008 that ultimately they begin to use less, conserve more, and demand falters.

In this environment, the bullish tone of the stock market can continue, but traditional high-beta stocks -- techs and consumer discretionary -- will peak. We are already seeing that in former tech momentum names like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), (Nasdaq: AMZN),F5 NetworksInc. (Nasdaq: FFIV),Google, NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) andBroadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), as well asNike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) andUrban Outfitters Inc. (Nasdaq: URBN). Some high-beta stocks do remain -- names likeLululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq: LULU) andChipotle MexicanGrill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) -- but they may have just been left to turn out the lights.

Now the momentum is shifting to more sedate groups such as utilities likeCalpine Corp. (NYSE: CPN) and Companhia de Saneamento Basico(NYSE ADR: SBS); high-yield energy producers likeBaytex Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTE) andMarkWest Energy Partners LP (NYSE: MWE); and niche companies with proven plans likeBalchem Corp. (Nasdaq: BCPC) andViacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA).

One way to think about the phase that is likely to come next is that "price makers" will triumph over "price takers," as commodity inflation either erodes margins or makes it more difficult to increase margins. Some examples of price makers are reinsurers (which were bombed in a knee-jerk reaction to the tsunami, but have recovered because they can name their own prices), and healthcare services (because of the erosion of Obamacare drag on health-care profits).

Another group that can perform well in an environment like this is growth stocks that have the least sensitivity to inflation. Remember that value tends to outperform in the initial recovery from a recession (2009), but growth then takes the baton for most of the economic cycle thereafter.

The next two weeks will set the tone for the rest of the first half, and perhaps the rest of the year. My RiskTaker, YieldSeeker and StrataGem XR lists should continue to represent the best positions available, and the monthly StrataGem portfolio will just do its thing -- determining the sectors and stocks with the most growth potential on a month-by-month basis.

Bottom line: Expect decelerating global growth as the United States pulls back on quantitative easing and fiscal spending; more inflation; improvements in commodities; and along the growth/value axis, a focus on above-average growers that can set prices.

Mid-Cap Madness
So what stocks are making new highs in this environment? I have been recommending one of them for more than a year: over-the-counter medicine makerPerrigo Co. (Nasdaq: PRGO), which shot up another 5%. You know you're still in a bull market when a mid-cap growth stock like PRGO can fly. In a truly bearish phase, such as last June, nothing escapes the gravity of selling.

More evidence of stabilization can be seen in theiShares S&P MidCap 400 Growth (NYSE: IJK) fund, the largest holding in my newsletter's RiskTaker portfolio. Throughout the eight-month uptrend since the summer, IJK has slipped to its 30-day average numerous times for a rest stop. That's where it found solid ground on Wednesday, as shown above. The only time when it fell a little more was in the few days around the Japanese earthquake/tsunami catastrophe in mid-March, and even then it recovered quickly. It could go there again in any further mid-April weakness; the level is $106.70.

Remember that the neat thing about focusing on mid-cap growth is that you don't have to make a bet on a sector, since there are all sectors included. And you don't have to make a big bet on small companies vs. large companies, which is the traditional axis that divides the investment universe. All you need to do is bet that you are in an environment when credit is available, growth opportunities are plentiful, and neither consumers nor businesses are completely strapped.

These are the environments in which the smartest executives gravitate toward chances to run mid-sized companies that are nimble enough to dodge bullets but large enough to enjoy economies of scale. That is scenario for a company like Perrigo, which makes remedies that look and act like Sudafed or Advil but are sold under the name of a drug store, such as CVS, at half the price of the famous brand. 

Other strong IJK fund leaders are affinity card service providerAlliance Data Systems Corp. (NYSE: ADS); warehouse ownerAMB Property Corp. (NYSE: AMB), Brown & Brown Inc. (NYSE: BRO),Clean Harbors Inc. (NYSE: CLH),Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) and Deckers Outdoor Corp. (Nasdaq: DECK). Check out those charts, and you'll see why the index is so strong. Stick with IJK as a major holding, and add on.

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Overvalued Metals now rely on Chinese demand

By Shyamal Mehta

Base metals fell during last week on profit booking as fund houses had liquidated their long positions. However, metal prices are getting support at lower levels and speculators are coming in the market in metal complex to buy at lower levels.

Base meals are also getting support on lower levels on expected reconstruction demand from Japan, the third world’s largest economy.

However, base metals are overvalued at present levels and investors are buying on the hope of expected demand from China in second and third quarter.

LME 3 Month Copper last traded at USD 9427 a tonne. While 3 Months Lead and Nickel on LME last traded at USD 2664 per tonne and USD 26350 per tonne respectively. At LME, 3 Month Aluminium last traded at 2698 USD a tonne. Zinc 3 Month LME contract last traded at 2397 USD per tonne.

Negative news for the metals is that presently USD is trading strong against basket of currencies which may trigger further sell off in base metals.

Chinese economy is overheating and rising inflation fears in China increases the fear that the country may go for further monetary tightening measures which is a concern for base metals.

While Crude prices cooling off in last few trading sessions trading lower by approximately one percent in Asian session which can be seen as a positive sign for industrial metals. However, Crude prices are still at higher levels which may bring higher inflation in the world and consequently may trigger sell off in base metals. Crude in international markets last traded near $ 108.55 per barrel.

Metals may find its direction from global equity markets and currency movements in the short term. Presently almost all the European indices are trading in red which look bearish for metals. Among Asian indices, Nikkei has lost 0.36 percent today and settled at 9556.65 down by 34.87 points.

Traders and investors are eying on US Housing and Unemployment claims Data due this week.

Citigroup profit falls 32 percent on weak revenue

by Reuters

Citigroup Inc's first-quarter profit fell 32 percent, slightly beating expectations, as the bank lost less money on bad loans but struggled to grow its business.

The third-largest U.S. bank said on Monday it earned $3.0 billion, or 10 cents per share, down from $4.4 billion, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected 9 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Citigroup shares rose about half a percent in premarket trading. They closed down 0.23 percent at $4.42 on Friday.

It is the fifth consecutive quarterly profit for Citigroup, which is slowly recovering after taking $45 billion in U.S. bailouts during the financial crisis.

By the end of 2010, the government had shed its common shares in Citigroup, and the bank reported its first annual profit since 2007.

See the original article >>

Cattle Outlook

by TheCattleSite News Desk

Beef trade continues to be very favorable. Beef exports during February were 25.4 per cent higher than 12 months earlier and beef imports were 16.5 per cent lower.

The big growth markets for beef exports were South Korea, Japan and Canada. Canada, Australia and Brazil account for the drop in beef imports. During the first two months of 2011, the US exported 9.4 per cent of US beef production while imports equaled 6.9 per cent of production. Exports have exceeded imports during each of the last six months. A stronger world economy and a weakening dollar are two main causes of the trade gains. The trade-weighted value of the dollar was down 4.6 per cent in February compared to a year earlier.

The year-over-year inflation rate for March was 2.7 per cent, the highest since December 2009. Rising inflation poses a threat to economic growth.

The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday of this week on a live weight basis was $119.23/cwt, down $3.97 from last week’s record. Steers sold on a dressed weight basis this week averaged $190.15/cwt, $6.37 lower than the week before. This week last year, slaughter steer prices averaged $99.53/cwt live and $159.26/cwt dressed.

On Friday morning the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $187.09/cwt, down $3.89 from last week’s record. The select carcass cutout was down $3.46 from the previous Friday to $184.24 per hundred pounds of carcass weight.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 640,000 head, up 1.4 per cent from the week before, but down 0.5 per cent compared to the same week last year. Steer carcass weights averaged 821 pounds during the week ending April 2. That was down 6 pounds from the week before, but 8 pounds heavier than a year ago. Steers weights have been above year-ago for the last 17 weeks.

Cash bids for feeder cattle around the country this week were mostly steady to $4 lower with a few reports as much as $10 lower. Oklahoma City prices were $2 to $4 lower on stocker cattle and $2 to $5 lower on feeder cattle than the previous week with price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $174-$179.50, 450-500# $163, 500-550# $151-$159, 550-600# $142.25-$151, 600-650# $140-$149, 650-700# $135.25-$139.50, 700-750# $132.50-$138, 750-800# $128-$137.25, 800-900# $122.50-$130.75 and 900-1000# $119-$123/cwt.

The April fed cattle futures contract ended the week at $117.40/cwt, down $1.42 from a week ago. The June contracted closed out the week at $115.30/cwt. The August contract settled at $117.25 and October contract ended the week at $121.825/cwt.

May corn futures settled at $7.42 on Friday, down 26 cents from 7 days earlier. September corn ended the week at $7.014/bushel.
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Is the commodity bull run on its last legs?

Goldman Sachs certainly thinks it is time to sell. So should investors bank some of the stupendous profits they have made. 

The commodity bull has shown little sign of running out of steam – until now. Prices began to stumble as soon as a note from Goldman Sachs, the American banking giant, whizzed around trading desks across the globe last week.
The broker advised clients to close its profitable "CCCP" play, which involved investing in a basket of crude oil, copper, cotton, platinum and soybeans. The commodities team, led by Jeffrey Currie, argued that after gaining 25pc since December, the risks to the trade had changed.
"Although we believe that on a 12-month horizon the CCCP basket still has upside potential, in the near term risk-reward no longer favours holding these assets and we are recommending closing the position," Goldman said.
Commodities traders read this as the investment bank calling time on commodities for the time being. Goldman said that even though it was closing copper and platinum trades, "the structural supply-side story remains intact, and we would look for new entry points" – or, in other words, buy again if the price falls.
Tens of thousands of investors have piled into commodities in recent years, spurred on by stupendous returns – funds such as JPMorgan Natural Resources and BlackRock Gold & General have proved popular. However, the move by Goldman Sachs raises the question: is now the time to take profits?

See the original article >>


by Cullen Roche

My mother tells my I predicted the housing bust. My father tells me I predicted the market crash in 2008. Readers believe I predicted the flash crash last year. None of this is true. I don’t predict anything. I can’t predict anything. No one can. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take highly calculated risks. The intelligent investor does not need to be able to predict the future. He/she merely needs to know when to fold ‘em and know when to hold ‘em. In the investment world, nothing is more important than knowing when to fold ‘em.

When I review the housing bubble I was far from predicting what ensued. I didn’t ever imagine the crisis that would unfold. All I knew was that there was a trend in US housing prices that was unprecedented, inconsistent with underlying fundamentals and unsustainable. I recognized a disequilibrium in the market. But my conclusion was not of the magnitude of “genius” like John Paulson, Kyle Bass or Michael Burry. No, my conclusion was far simpler. I just stayed away.

You see, playing with bubbles is a dangerous game. The difference between being John Paulson (who shorted sub-prime) and Julian Robertson (who shorted the Nasdaq bubble too soon) is a matter of months in the life of a bubble. Without a doubt both men are market geniuses. The difference, however, is that one had lucky timing and the other didn’t. I would argue that the truly intelligent investor simply pulls his chips back and steps away from the table for awhile in the midst of such irrationality. Warren Buffett is probably the best case of “don’t mess with what you don’t understand”. And in the case of bubbles, I would argue that no one understands the market’s behavior.

As I have previously discussed, market bubbles are the most severe cases of disequilibrium. It is the point in the market cycle where the system becomes highly unstable to the point of losing all linearity and entering an entirely chaotic orbit. This makes for a market environment that can be highly rewarding, but astronomically risky. But market don’t have to be in bubbles to be extraordinarily risky. What appears like a perfectly stable system can very quickly devolve into a nightmare.

With that said, are there examples of this in today’s markets? Are there markets that warrant a “do not enter” sign? I believe so. And if I were an investor in the following markets I would merely pull my chips off the table, take a long deep breath and walk away from the table.
1) China
China remains one of the great “if it’s too good to be true it probably is”. This economy is growing at a rate that is incomprehensible to most westerners. But the cracks have started to show in the facade. Between their reverse mergers, supposed GDP fraud, accounting scandals, highly flawed monetary policy and insanely inflationary fiscal policy (where they just build empty cities in the middle of nowhere) I have to wonder what breaks the back of this economy at some point? My guess is that inflation will rage in China to the point of public discontent and ultimately harsh economic repercussions. The bottom line: the risks of investing in China are enormous. For the majority of us, it’s simply not worth taking the risk.

2) Municipal bonds.
I don’t think there’s a major municipal bond crisis on the horizon. I’ve been fairly vocal about that. On the other hand, I have to accept the reality that the risk of a funding crisis is very real. This would most likely arise in the form of austerity due to politics, but the odds are that it could happen. With so many other options in the bond world one has to ask him/herself why they would bother taking the risk of buying municipal bonds? The mere potential for collapse in what is supposed to be a fairly low risk asset class is too much for me to bear.

3) Silver
This is not a popular call, but investing isn’t a popularity contest. The bottom line is that silver prices are on an unsustainable course. If I had to pick one bubble in the world today it would be the silver market. As is always the case, the fundamentals are always superb in a bubble, however, the market action never quite correlates appropriately. As I’ve said before, silver prices could double from here. On the other hand, they could also crater. I am going to invest in precious metals there are lower risk ways to obtain exposure.

4) European equities (particularly periphery nations)
Few things are more confusing in the world of macroeconomics today than the crisis in Europe. There is simply no telling if the region will collapse or unite. And while I think we are likely moving closer to some form of unity I have to also acknowledge that collapse is a very real potential. In the broad world of equities there is simply no reason to bother investing in European equities. This is particularly true for the periphery nations which are now serving as high beta form of their core brethren.

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Stay Ahead of The Market This Earnings Season

by Bespoke Investment Group

At Bespoke, we offer numerous services to help investors stay on top of the market during earnings season. As just one example, last Thursday afternoon we published a report for clients regarding Google's (GOOG) upcoming earnings report and advised that, "based on Google’s past trading history on earnings, we would not be a buyer of the stock tomorrow morning regardless of how good (or bad) it might look."

As we all know now, GOOG's report didn't exactly impress Wall Street. After missing consensus forecasts by two cents, the stock opened Friday morning down over $33, but the decline was not finished there. By the end of the day Friday, GOOG traded down an additional $14.59 from from Friday's opening price for a total decline of $47.81 on the day. With such a large drop at the open, some bottom fishers may have been tempted to buy the stock for an intraday rebound, and for those that did, they quickly came to regret that decision. Bespoke Premium and Premium Plus clients, however, would have seen GOOG's prior trading history and avoided the trap altogether.

Thursday's report regarding GOOG is just one of the many types of exclusive reports related to earnings season that Bespoke Premium and Bespoke Premium Plus clients have come to expect during earnings season, and with hundred of companies on to report earnings season in the weeks ahead, traders and investors need all the help they can get to stay on top of the market during what is often a volatile period. If you are not yet a subscriber and would like additional information, click here. If you would like to subscribe to either of these services, sign up today to receive access.

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Fake Unemployment and Inflation Figures Sustain the Illusion of an Economic Recovery

How do the powerful keep the US population dumb and distracted? A key tactic has been using methodologies that produce totally misleading underestimates of key economic factors. First we learned that official unemployment figures are too low by a factor of two. Now, understand that the official rate of inflation hitting consumers is even more inaccurate. You will hear about a low inflation rate of less than 3 percent. In reality, it is closer to 10 percent, according to the highly regarded analysis by John Williams.

It is difficult for any one of us to have first hand evidence that unemployment nationally is really much higher than what the government says, even though most of us know people who are out of work or taking part time work out of sheer necessity. But when it comes to rising prices hitting our pockets, credit cards and checkbooks we have a much clearer sense of what is really happening. Gasoline prices have jumped more than 10 percent in recent weeks and for most of us is about a dollar more a gallon than a year ago or so. Some experts are predicting that $4 gas will soon hit most of the nation and, even worse, that $5 gas may hit us this summer.

Food prices are also jumping like a frog on crack cocaine. Many of them are masked by smaller weight packaging. Health care costs, especially insurance premiums and drugs, have also hit many Americans substantially and painfully. High inflation especially hits hard those people who have seen their incomes decline. Those on Social Security receiving no cost-of-living increase have every right to be angry.

The federal government is manipulating statistics to intentionally get a low number for inflation as well as unemployment in order to mask just how awful and unfair the economy really is. Political leaders in both major parties use this propaganda strategy, as if there are simply too few intelligent Americans to see through the lies. Sadly, they seem to be correct. And the mass media push the propaganda strategy by continually hyping and spreading the intentionally false data.

“We have inflation now. If you go to the shop, whether it’s groceries, or education or insurance or health care, prices are going up for everything. The government lies about it in the US ,” said Jim Rogers back in June, 2010. It has only gotten worse. 

At this time John Williams has correctly described economic reality: “Near-term circumstances generally have continued to deteriorate. Though not yet commonly recognized, there is both an intensifying double-dip recession and a rapidly escalating inflation problem.” Wow! How does that compare to all the glib recovery talk by President Obama and just about everyone else in government?

In addition to banks and financial companies too big to fail that benefit the rich, when it comes to the economy plutocrats think it is too bad to tell the truth.

Who is falling for the economic propaganda? Gallup measures optimism about the economy as a function of age, income and political party affiliation. Worst of all are Democrats and the young.

Meanwhile the Federal Reserve keeps printing money to cope with the budget deficit and national debt problems, which is a major reason for the sharp increases in gasoline prices.

None of any of this, of course, matters much to the rich and powerful Upper Class that is doing just fine and buying more luxury things. And the fat cats on Wall Street and in the financial sector are giving themselves huge bonuses and salaries. Dr. Phil of television fame is selling his $15 million mansion estate so he can buy an even bigger one for $30 million.

Over at Ford, the chief exec recently received $56.5 million in stock and last year pulled down an additional $26.5 million in annual compensation. The latter amounts to 910 times the annual pay of entry-level Ford workers.

In 2011, Americans who make over $1 million will pay just 23.1 percent of their incomes in federal income tax. In 1961, the Institute for Policy Studies notes in its newly released annual Tax Day report, Americans who made over $1 million — in our current dollars — paid 43.1 percent of their incomes to the IRS. That was when the middle class was prospering.

If congressional Republicans get their way, the middle class will feel considerable pain from program-cutting tactics to curb the national debt, while the rich Upper Class gets more tax breaks and keeps sapping the wealth of the nation as Democrats lack the courage to fight hard for increasing their taxes. With rising economic inequality the US is rapidly becoming a two-class society: 20 percent rich and 80 percent poor.

Meanwhile, whenever I listen to Obama and congressional leaders it is like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live or the Daily Show. They are that absurd.

How many more millions of Americans must experience more pain and suffering, go hungry, lose their homes, lose their jobs, postpone retirement, and go without decent health care before the public snaps out of their stupor? Not that there is very much optimism among Americans. In a University of Michigan March survey just 11 percent expect inflation-adjusted income gains during the year ahead, barely above the all-time low of 8 percent in 1980, and only 21 percent expect the economy to improve over the coming year. But where is the loud political outrage? Loud enough to scare the hell out of politicians and the rich.

When will Americans rise up as those in Tunisia and Egypt did and before that in former Soviet-bloc nations and tear down their corrupt and dysfunctional government?

Unemployment at 20 percent, inflation at 10 percent, a multi-trillion dollar national debt, and nothing but lies from politicians. Have you had enough? Do you still believe that voting in different Republicans or Democrats will fix things?
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Spiralling Public Debt and Economic Stagnation in the European Union

Europe continues to struggle from one problem to another. The euro has been strong only because the dollar has been weak. The governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain continue their balancing acts on the edge of a financial precipice. All have Socialist governments, which have done terrible jobs, but the opposition is not much better. Each economy is in serious trouble and if Italy and Belgium follow it will take $4 trillion to bail them out. If the solvent EU members bail them out they’ll fail as well. Americans and Brits can look down their noses, but their problems are just as bad if not worse. They all have practiced different versions of Keynesian economics that has been disastrous. Their fiscal and monetary policies have been and continue to be out of control, as corruption abounds. The solutions are unpalatable, especially for politicians, because they all spell austerity. We have just seen the European Central Bank raise interest rates as euro zone economies slow, as they hope to arrest 2.8% official inflation. Real inflation is double that number.

We predicted $4 trillion would be needed to bail out Europe some time ago and Germany and the other solvent nations have come to the same conclusion. Even if it were possible, those six nations would live in poverty for the next 50 years. That is hardly a solution. The underlying problem lies with the central banks and the lending banks. Loans to these nations for whatever reason should have never been made in the first place. The bankers who lend money that they create out of thin air knew what they were doing and they knew full well the risks they were taking; 80% of the blame lies at their feet, thus, 80% of the bill is their responsibility, not that of the taxpayers of these countries. Months ago Germany was offered 50 cents on the dollar to settle its debt owed by Greece. The offer was rejected. In time that rejection will be viewed as a major mistake. As a result Greece’s Illuminist president is in the process of laying plans to collateralize new debt repayment commitments with Greek assets such as islands, ports, the rail system, the electric and gas companies and any asset not nailed down. That is why George Soros had top people from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs with him two weeks ago when be attended secret meetings in Athens. The underlying theme is let’s steal everything. Greek GDP will probably fall 4% this year, as wages and salaries have been slashed. Banks like JPM and GS that create money out of thin air do not care about the money, they want the assets.

Central bank bond buyers last year cut their exposure to Greece, Ireland and Portugal. These actions were prompted by concerns over sovereign default and were replaced by purchases of gold. The euro zone, England and the US have large deficits and only modest growth generated by QE and stimulus. Conditions now question debt sustainability. Debt rollover in Europe is acute, especially for Irish and German banks, with as much as half of their outstanding debt coming due over the next two years. As you know the IMF and EU have bailed out Greece and Ireland with Portugal in process. Spain is next and that is more than a $1 trillion problem. European banks are buried in euro zone sovereign debt, which makes them very vulnerable. In fact bank balance sheets are in terrible straights and need to raise significant amounts of capital to further participate in funding markets. At the present time they are in no condition to take on more paper.

In Greece the budget deficit may be only 8.1% of GDP, but the economy is stagnant as GDP declines. Overall public debt is about 150% of GDP. We have a difficult time envisioning Greece not defaulting. That is why the moneylenders want almost everything the Greek government owns as collateral. The socialist government of Illuminist George Papandreau cannot handle the job just as his Marxist father Andreas couldn’t handle it 25 years ago. Today’s Greece is still suffering from terrible decisions made during the 1980s. The bottom line is Greece probably will default and they should default. It is the only answer for them and the other five insolvent countries of the euro zone.

All these six countries are victims of one-interest rate fits all that we wrote about 12 years ago, as a disaster waiting to happen. That is why in the first quarter in Ireland the average house price fell 43% from the peak. Prices have a lot further to fall. Some say to 63%, which will probably be worse than in some sections of the US. Ireland has been sold out by its politicians and has little hope of survival without bankruptcy. Their economy is not doing that badly – it is the debt of the banks that government assumed that would take them under. The banks that caused these problems cannot help or they’ll go under, which are just deserts considering they were running a Ponzi scheme.

Portugal on June 5th will probably get a new center-right government. The economy will continue to decline with a budget deficit of 7% of GDP, as wages and the living standard declines. Like Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal should have never joined the euro. The original mistakes to prepare Europe for world government are now coming home to roost. In the late 1980s we spent a great deal of time in Portugal and we could see it wasn’t going to work. Just as an example, in preparation for acceptance, we saw prices rise 50% to bring Portugal up to the levels of other more advanced European countries. As we have seen amalgamation was a very bad idea.

Spain’s banks are carrying real estate on their books at twice their real value. Again it is the banks that are the problem. The sovereign debt is low, but in recent years the socialist government has far over spent. The phony house prices will come down to earth sooner or later and you will see a replay of the US and Ireland. For the next few years’ growth will be negative. Spain will need a bailout, but can the IMF and EU afford another $1 trillion? We don’t think so.

Like in other countries inflation is rising in Europe and it is going to get worse. Do not think for one second that a ¼% rise in official interest rates by the ECB is really going to change anything. The official EU inflation rate is 2.6%, whereas real inflation is 5.5%. In the US the official rate is 1.9% and the real rate is 8-1/2%. Realistically far higher rates are on the way for this year and next year and that means higher real interest rates. The US will see 14% real inflation this year along with England and 10% to 12% in Europe. Will the US see QE3, or an equivalent and will Europe and England do the same – probably? If they do not there will be hyperinflation. Those countries will go directly into deflationary depression. The elitists who planned all this are quite well aware of the options. If the Fed stops buying Treasury paper the US will go into default. The same is true for Europe, but on a piecemeal basis. This is why if the Fed and the ECB are going to more quantitative easing they had best do it quickly before inflation makes it impossible to do so, Remember, all the monetary expansion done by the Fed and ECB over the past 2-1/2 years is still in the pipeline. A year and one-half from now you may not be able to sell sovereign debt.

Most analysts and economists look at all these events in a logical fashion. They say many mistakes were made, but few realize these were not mistakes. What we are seeing was deliberately created. The study of monetary and financial history shows you the way and lets you better understand what these elitists are up too. We are now entering a time frame that is going to be financially explosive. If you are not prepared you are going to be very unhappy. That is why gold and silver related assets are important for your future.

Silver Continues to Outpace Gold

Once again silver is out pacing gold in the weekly performance. Is it too much of a good thing? Only time will tell. Lower gold volume versus higher silver volume seems to suggest the betting is really on silver.


The week started on the down side but ended on the up side. The long term indicators remained positive throughout. Gold remains above its positive sloping moving average line. The long term momentum indicator remains in its positive zone above its positive sloping trigger line. The volume indicator continues to move above its positive trigger line but remains below its previous high of late March. This is the one indicator still holding back. All in all the long term rating remains BULLISH.

The intermediate term is just as easy as the long term was. Gold continues above its positive moving average line. The momentum indicator continues in its positive zone above its positive trigger line. The volume indicator continues to move higher above its positive trigger line. The intermediate term rating therefore remains BULLISH. This is confirmed by the short term moving average line remaining above the intermediate term line.


I guess the global environment is still not all that great as the gold investors and speculators continue to send gold into new high ground. It will be interesting to note who has the more power behind the move, investors or speculators. We’ll probably know that on the next serious correction. A serious correction will end with gold eventually moving into even higher highs if the investors have the upper hand. If the speculators have the upper hand gold would continue declining into a bear market move. So, we’ll just have to wait until that time, which is not yet here.

The weekly action was down and up BUT on low relative volume. Gold action volume has remained below its 15 day average even as the average has been steadily declining. Over the past 15 days there were only three days where volume exceeded the 15 day average and those were on down price movement days. This is what professionals mean when they say the price is moving up higher on a wall of worry. No one seems to be too enthusiastic about the move but on the other hand no one wants to be left behind either.

Gold continues to move above its short term moving average line and the line slope remains in a positive slope. The momentum indicator remains in its positive zone and is once more above its positive trigger line. It is just about to enter its overbought zone so do not be surprised if we get some lateral or negative action over the next short period. The daily volume action has already been mentioned. The upside enthusiasm seems to be somewhat suspect. Anyway, all told the short term rating remains BULLISH. This is confirmed by the very short term moving average line remaining above the short term line.

As for the immediate direction of least resistance, that seems to be to the up side but one should be on guard for some lateral or negative motion. Gold is once more getting quite far above its short term trend line and one might expect a move back towards the trend. The Stochastic Oscillator is positive and not yet in an overbought position but that could be just a day or two of more upside action. I’ll go with the up side for another day or two but the lateral or downside does not look like it’s far away.


Silver continues to out perform gold but with the Friday boost into new highs it looks like the thrust is just about ready to take a breather. The latest action is butting up against the upper resistance trend line of a three month channel and that means either a lateral move or a reaction back to the lower support. The intermediate term momentum indicator is entering its overbought zone which further suggests a possible rest or reaction ahead. However, a decisive break above the resistance line would mean a new more aggressive up trend and much, much higher prices. 

For now everything is positive with the ratings for all three time periods being BULLISH.

Gold and silver up, stocks down. It looks like speculators have decided that the stocks have moved too high too fast and have started taking some profits. Declines were generally in the order of 3% to 4% with the Merv’s Spec-Gold Index taking the biggest hit at 7.0%. Of course, the speculative silver stocks have been the biggest beneficiaries over the past several weeks so a bigger decline during a bad week was no surprise.

I have been mentioning the potential negative divergences in the various Gold and Silver Indices. It looks like the reversals of trend may be coming due although one week does not make a reversal trend. We need a little more convincing than one week.

Inflation Versus Hyperinflation, The Crucial Difference

Is it possible we will see hyperinflation in the United States? Yes, but not by the route you might think...

"Hyperinflation." You've heard the word. You may have talked about it on the golf course or at the dinner table. (Or even in the grocery store.)

There is a difference, though, between inflation and hyperinflation. They are not the same thing. And for the most part, there is no gradual path from one to the other. To wind up with true hyperinflation, some very bad things have to happen. The government has to completely lose control... the populace has to completely lose faith in the system... or both at the same time.

Consider the era of the late 1970s, a time of severe inflation in the United States. That was a bad scene. But did it count as hyperinflation? No, not anywhere near it. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, aka "Tall Paul," came in and nipped that problem in the bud.

America had to undergo severe economic pain as a result of the Volcker interest rate hikes. But the point is that America had the ability to endure it -- to solve the problem with the right leadership. Things had not gotten so far gone that the populace lost faith, or the government lost control.


Faith in the Monetary System

Faith in the system is another very important concept. And it is very hard to kill. By faith I don't mean liking what the government is doing, or being happy about where the direction of the country is going. I mean basic things, like keeping your money in the bank.

Here are a few simple questions to determine whether you still have "faith" or not:
  • Do you still have a meaningful amount of cash in checking or savings accounts?
  • Do you rely on electronic payment systems (credit cards, bill pay etc.) for most of your transactions?
  • Are you still comfortable with your employer paying you in legal tender -- or, if you own a business, with your customers paying in same?
  • Does the percentage of your net worth tied up in physical hard assets, i.e. metal bars you can drop on your foot, count as less than 50%?
If you answered yes to the above questions, then guess what -- you are still invested in the functioning financial system as we know it. You still have "faith"... not in your heart but in your deeds.

Don't feel bad about this, by the way. I still have faith in the financial system too, as based on my day-to-day habits.

This is only rational after all. Do you know what a pain it is to REALLY go cold turkey? The only way to well and truly go "off the grid" involves physical barter and organic farming. (Not to mention guns and ammo.)


Inflation Versus Hyperinflation

High inflation, even double-digit inflation, can be handled within the confines of the system. The unofficial inflation rate in Argentina is somewhere around 25% right now, and people aren't even rioting in the streets. They aren't super-happy, obviously, but they are adjusting. (The government is pumping up wages, so that may have something to do with it.)

Hyperinflation, in contrast, means that all hell has broken loose. To get true hyperinflation, the economic engine has to break down... or there has to be a clear sense the government has lost all control.

This is why hyperinflation tends to come in the aftermath of wars, or at the tail end of badly mismanaged regimes where the economy has been going from bad to worse for a very long time.

The possibility of rapidly accelerating inflation in the United States is very real. When talking about sticker-shock effects like $7 for a gallon of gas, or a triple in the price of a gallon of milk, that is inflation run rampant.

But hyperinflation is a much darker prospect. To get to that point, cash has to be seen as not just undesirable, but worthless.

And not just worthless in an abstract "look what the currency is doing" sense either, but real-life nitty-gritty panic mode: Making an emergency trip to the grocery store as soon as the paycheck hits on Friday, knowing that prices will go up again on Saturday. Buying two months of food at a time... fighting for the last loaf of bread on the shelf... turning off the heat because the gas bill is double the rent.

(This isn't the first time I've written about inflation. Sign up for Taipan Daily to receive all of my investment commentary.)


Hyperinflation in the U.S.

Is it possible for hyperinflation to happen in the United States?
I would argue yes, but neither quickly nor easily. Americans won't just wake up one day and say "Gosh, look at that."

In fact, to get to U.S. hyperinflation, I believe something else would have to happen first -- the onset of a new Great Depression scenario, even worse than the last one.

Already the deficit hawks are yelling and screaming. In respect to high inflation risk, voices of great concern are increasingly being heard. In Washington, this is playing out as dramatic lip service to austerity. They are talking about massive budget cuts again, and the timetable for raising interest rates.

So here is the thing: If the inflation problem becomes too serious for the hawks to be ignored, eventually the Federal Reserve will be forced to cave in. Someone, somehow, will pull a "Volcker" and hit the inflation mule over the head with a sledgehammer.

This "Volcker action" could then trigger a collapse in the value of paper assets, as all the rebuilt Ponzi schemes pumped with Federal Reserve money come tumbling down again. The underpinnings of the U.S. economy were much stronger in Volcker's day. There was far less debt and leverage built into the system.

Or, in the absence of a Volcker-style austerity move from Washington, the stock market could crash on its own, as investors realize the stimulus rainbow has delivered them to the edge of a cliff. Either way, some aggressive action will be taken to stop the build-up of inflation, be it through Washington policy backlash or the organic effects of another Wall Street meltdown.

(As a side note, China and the Middle East are two other strong candidates for "meltdown catalyst." If the China miracle implodes, the global economy goes with it. If the Middle East goes up in flames, oil becomes the $200 a barrel grim reaper.)

When this happens -- some inflation-stopping event dropping the recovery in its tracks -- positive sentiment will quickly collapse. Recovery stats will then collapse along with sentiment. The dreaded "D" word, deflation, will be back on everyone's lips.

That is one of the great ironies at this juncture of financial history. The deflation monster still has not been vanquished! It is simply hiding under the bed, biding its time until the Fed-and-China-created stimulus bubble pops.

And when that bubble DOES pop, that's when things get really frightening. When the global economy endures some domino chain combination of Japan/Middle East/China/America implosion, the threat of Great Depression 2.0 comes roaring back, bigger and uglier than before (as all the extend and pretend actions taken until now have only made the problems worse).

That is the point where true panic comes in... when the attempt to stop "normal" inflation triggers an economic collapse that rivals Great Depression conditions. At that juncture, it will be apparent to all that the Federal Reserve has run out of bullets... that "more stimulus" simply cannot work... that trillions have already been thrown down the drain.

It is then, when the monetary authorities wet their pants in the face of a new deflationary panic, that the real threat of hyperinflation returns to the fore. If all hope becomes lost in a hopeless situation, we could see the Fed desperately propose something like QE2 times 10, on the order of not $600 billion but $6 trillion. That is when the real horror would begin.

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Poll: US economy improving despite global events

Economists say the U.S. economy is gaining strength despite political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

A survey from the National Association for Business Economics finds that economists are hopeful that the broader economy is substantially improving, with rising employment reported for the fifth quarter in a row. The survey found that "companies appear to be positioning themselves for a firming economic environment," said Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association, who analyzed the findings.

The outlook for employment rose slightly, reaching a 12-year high. No firms reported significant layoffs, with the only reductions coming from already planned cuts.

Sales increased for the third consecutive quarter, profit margins continued to improve and the number of economists whose firms increased spending over the previous quarter held steady. Nearly all of the 72 economists surveyed, about 94 percent, now expect the economy to grow at least 2 percent in 2011.

The quarterly survey includes the views of economists for private companies and trade groups who are NABE members. The data are reported by broad industry groupings. Many results in the survey are expressed through the Net Rising Index, or NRI — the percentage of panelists reporting better outlooks minus the percentage whose outlook is bleaker.

The survey looked at two new questions for its April survey, gauging the financial impact of anti-government unrest in the Arab world and the deadly Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Nearly 60 percent of those polled said they expected higher costs because of political turmoil in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria and about 52 percent said they expected economic growth to be weaker in 2011 because of the protests and fighting.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left nearly 28,000 people dead or missing and sparked a crisis at a nuclear plant, had less of an impact on the economic forecasts. About 31 percent said costs would be higher and 40 percent said it would weaken the broader economic recovery.

In the first quarter of this year, 63 percent of economists said sales rose from the previous quarter — the highest percentage since 1994. The NRI rating for sales rose 11 points from the previous quarter to 54, and the improvement was across all industry sectors: goods, utilities, information and communications, finance, insurance and real estate, and services.

Profit margins rose to an NRI figure of 31 — the highest rating since 1983. The number of economists reporting rising profits has almost doubled over the past year, to 45 percent from 25 percent.

Prices rose, with about one third of those surveyed saying their firms had made increases over the past three months. Two-thirds of the goods-producing industry, which includes farming, mining, construction and manufacturing, reported their firms had raised prices. Similarly, the costs paid for materials rose for the third quarter in a row and wages and salaries jumped to the highest reading since a survey in October 2007.

The survey was conducted between March 16 and 31.

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