Monthly Archives: September 2016

Income Investors Just Got A Gift From The SEC

By Garth Friesen Cheap bonds are hard to find in a world dominated by negative short-term interest rates. Record-low yields on long-dated government bonds, corporate bonds priced to perfection and high volatility emerging market debt do not provide much potential return relative to risk. Municipal floating rate bonds are the proverbial diamond in the rough. The cheapening of the municipal floaters market is a gift from the Securities and Exchange Commission via the implementation of the structural reforms in the money market. …read more

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Notable Thursday Option Activity: VLO, PFE, AGN

By Dividend Channel Looking at options trading activity among components of the S&P 500 index, there is noteworthy activity today in Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO), where a total volume of 25,706 contracts has been traded thus far today, a contract volume which is representative of approximately 2.6 million underlying shares (given that every 1 contract represents 100 underlying shares). That number works out to 47.1% of VLO’s average daily trading volume over the past month, of 5.5 million shares. Especially high volume was seen for the $54.50 strike put option expiring October 21, 2016, with 5,961 contracts trading so far today, representing approximately 596,100 underlying shares of VLO. Below is a chart showing VLO’s trailing twelve month trading history, with the $54.50 strike highlighted in orange: …read more

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Lawmakers to Wells Fargo CEO: “Why shouldn’t you be in jail?”

By Renae Merle

John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee on Thursday (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

For the second time in two weeks, John G. Stumpf, the long-time chief executive of Wells Fargo, entered into the halls of Congress to take a bipartisan beating from lawmakers over the bank’s role in a scandal involving the creation of hundreds of thousands of sham accounts to meet aggressive sales goals.

“Fraud is fraud and theft and is theft. What happened at Wells Fargo over the course of many years cannot be described any other way,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) called the case “some of the egregious fraud we have seen since the financial crisis.” Wells Fargo has turned into a “school for scoundrels,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Stumpf has repeatedly apologized for those misdeeds and agreed earlier this week to forfeit $41 million in his own personal unvested stock and go without a 2016 bonus. “I am fully accountable for all unethical sales practices in our retail banking business, and I am fully committed to fixing this issue, strengthening our culture, and taking the necessary actions to restore our customers’ trust,” he told the House Financial Services Committee.

[Critics say Wells Fargo CEO should forfeit more than $41 million after sales scandal]

But the hearing quickly turned hostile as some lawmakers called for Stumpf to resign and questioned whether he should be criminally prosecuted.

“Why shouldn’t you be in jail?” Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) asked. “When prosecutors get hold of you, you are going to have a lot of fun.”

“Do you think …read more

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Meet the senators and congressmen who support marijuana legalization

By Christopher Ingraham

In this April 20, 2016, file photo, Shane Kinoshita from San Francisco smokes marijuana in Golden Gate Park in the area unofficially known as “Hippy Hill” in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) this week released its 2016 congressional scorecard on marijuana policy. Twenty U.S. representatives and two senators received an ‘A’ grade, indicating that “this member has publicly declared his/her support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults,” according to NORML (see the full list at the bottom of this article).

But as the organization notes, Congress lags far behind the public when it comes to support for marijuana reform. Four states plus D.C. have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and this fall voters in five more will decide whether to follow suit. Polls taken this year have pegged support for marijuana legalization nationally at between 54 and 61 percent.marijuana_scorecard

“It is apparent that voters’ views regarding marijuana policy have evolved significantly over the past decades,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, in an email. “Yet, the positions of their federally elected officials have not progressed in a similar manner.”

Looking beyond legalization, the scorecard does find significant congressional support for a number of other marijuana-related policy changes. In addition to the members supporting legalization, 254 congressmen and senators support policies related to the decriminalization of marijuana, or to allowing marijuana for medical use. An additional 32 representatives and 22 senators have publicly declared support for states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference.

At the other end of the spectrum, 16 representatives and 16 senators received an ‘F’ grade from NORML, indicating “significant and vocal opposition to marijuana law reform.”

But overall, the scorecard shows strong …read more

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