Ringing the Bell

Bell Tower Associates' Thoughts on Global Economics and Markets

Building Blocks and Cancer: Using Nanotech to Diagnose Pancreatic Cancer

How does one detect a disease with few signs, a disease whose symptoms may not manifest for months, years—even a decade? If a collection of researchers from a number of universities (including Indiana, Purdue, and the Indiana Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center) is correct in their latest findings, the answer may be found in a fundamental building block of human life. Using nanotechnology, these researchers have designed a microRNA sensor to diagnose pancreatic cancer before it spreads to other organs, which limits the options available to treat it.

Looking for the Whale: Global Economy and the FED

Loomings “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses… I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can” – Herman Melville, from Moby-Dick The most interesting thing about the opening chapter of Herman Melville’s classic masterpiece, Moby-Dick, is that we, as readers, know from the beginning that something is horribly wrong when our narrator is a man who decides to go whaling with a maniac because he would otherwise be a suicidal sociopath who likes funerals and other people’s top hats. We question how reliable he is, just like economic data. Economic numbers are always such a tiny portion of the greater feast. It would be like judging a meal by tasting the lemon the chef squeezed on one of the dishes at the last moment. We have to keep digging to attain a clearer picture of what is going on. “Hurrahs!” have been thrown around quite recently. Praises for the economy have been sung, with expectations of FED hikes coming on the heels of the new employment numbers. Yet globally, while the China Shanghai Composite Index (data from Yahoo! Finance) has stabilized somewhat since its crash earlier this summer, there are still looming issues for the FED to consider. For one thing, as The Economist and others report, South Korean exports “shrank by the largest annual amount in six years, down 14.7% last month from a year earlier to under $40 billion, according to the ministry of trade, industries and energy.” South Korea...

Investing on the Merits, not the Memes

It’s a common occurrence in the biotech sector; a company is doing fantastically, their stock rising, due to great news about their product, and then all of a sudden someone you’ve never heard of, someone who is “short the stock” (we’ll talk about what that means in a second) comes out and says the stock is worthless and, in the blink of an eye, the stock price tumbles. What should you do? Jump out with the crowd? Assume that the short seller is right? Or hold on tight?

‘Brain Training’ for Older Adults

It’s a common reality for too many to find a missing pair of keys perhaps in the pantry, or in the fridge, with an elderly family member in the house. But can something as a simple as a game make a difference?

Wages or Real Wages? What’s the difference?

One of the biggest economic concerns in recent years has been the stagnation of wages, but many times, simply looking at those numbers on a paycheck—the nominal wage—is not enough to tell if wages have really gone up or down. Sometimes, it is necessary to look at real wages.

What do the NASDAQ Biotech Index and Biotech Stocks have in common?

The News can Hurt Sometimes Biotechnology firms have been suffering recently due to a barrage of negative news. Martin Shkreli, former hedge-fund manager, now CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, attempted to spike the price of the drug Daraprim to $750 per pill. Some claim that this is not unusual for pharmaceutical companies producing rarely-used drugs, and that Shkreli was simply to brazen about the news. Regardless, the news of the price hike attracted the attention of presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, who called the price hike “outrageous” and decided to announce that if elected, she would propose government intervention in the price of pharmaceutical drugs. That’s when it hit. Biotech stocks have dropped, and are still dropping, as a result of Clinton’s comments and the public backlash, but all is not lost! Remember, research is our best friend and it is good to remind ourselves to keep it in mind! For instance, Bell Tower Associates’ Correlation Study showed how individual biotech stocks are not correlated to the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index. What does that mean exactly? It means that not all biotech stocks are going to plummet simply because the NASDAQ is going down. For example, let’s look at Anavex Life Sciences (AVXL) again: If you notice, Anavex has not even been hit by the recent turn of events. It has stayed calm and collected; trading around the same 1.3 it has been for about a month. The NASDAQ, on the other hand, has fallen precipitously. It does not take a portfolio analyst to realize that these two are hardly correlated at all! This is just a reminder that, as stated...

Navigating the Biotechnology Sector

Buying a stock in general is a difficult decision. Will it go up? Down? Flat-line? Squiggle around in a chart on that one website I saw? The list of questions goes on. Some people can be paralyzed by the prospect of looking at a stock, much less buying one. All those different graphs and opinions! Doesn’t have to be that difficult. Having useful information and research behind you can push you in the right direction.

Did the FED Change the Rules in the Middle of the Game?

Imagine you are a football player, and you just sacked the opposing team’s quarterback for a ten-yard loss. You are pumped, doing your little sack-dance, when suddenly you see the yellow flag flying and the referees come sailing in. Turns out, the NFL just changed the rules. You’re not allowed to hit the quarterback unless you’re one of the defensive linemen, and you’re just a linebacker.

You now have an idea what it may be like to be in the markets following the Federal Reserve (FED)’s decision not to raise interest rates in yesterday afternoon’s press conference. FED Chair Janet Yellen made a number of remarks that raise the question: has the FED changed the rules in the middle of the game?

A Sailin’ We Go

The Ancients were not known to be entirely investor-savvy people. The great Aristotle believed it was unnatural for money to breed money and thus condemned investing. There are always exceptions, however.

A Midsummer Night’s GDP?

GDP numbers released seem to indicate positive growth in the US economy. Whew! After seeing the Stock markets here and abroad taking severe nose-dives and discussions of the Fed possibly changing its mind about raising interest rates, the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ newest news release sent waves of cool air down the sweaty neck of the financial world.

Now, unlike Shakespeare’s play, the probability that there is a secret fairy king who is increasing Personal Consumption Expenditures for the benefit of the GDP is extremely low. Nevertheless, it would be fruitful to pull back the curtain to see behind the GDP stage before jumping to any conclusions.

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