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Introduction to the Soft Markets

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The soft markets are made of cocoa, coffee, cotton, frozen concentrated orange juice and sugar, some of the oldest commodities still around today. You trace their roots as commerce back over 3000 years.

It is important to note that trading in this market involves substantial risks and is not suitable for everyone, and only risk capital should be used. Any investor could potentially lose more than originally invested.

What are soft futures contracts?

An soft futures contract is a legally binding agreement for delivery of cocoa, coffee, cotton, frozen concentrated orange juice and sugar in the future at an agreed upon price. The contracts are standardized by NYBOT as to quantity, quality, time and place of delivery. Only the price is variable.

Most futures contract are offset prior to delivery, meaning that most contracts are speculators trying to profit off of price movements.

Advantages of Futures Contracts

Unlike equities, futures contracts can shorted on a down tick, which gives market participants greater flexibility. This flexibility provides hedgers with an ability to protect their physical position and for speculators to take a position based on market expectations.

Since the soft commodity markets are traded at an exchange, the clearing services ensure no default risk. This means that the exchange acts a buyer to every seller should a market participant have to default on their responsibilities.

Market Personality

These markets are usually a bit lower in volume than you will find elsewhere, as in the energies or indices. With this decrease in volume, one of two things can happen: either the market will be flat or a little volume can push a market very quickly. This tends to happen with more frequency in this complex. I would encourage any investor looking at trading these markets to be fully educated before getting in. I have seen more than one trader lose his shirt in coffee.

With the merger of the NYBOT and ICE, these markets will soon be going electronic. And if history has been any indication, a pick up in the volume should be coming.

Contract Specifications

Although there are other sugar and coffee contracts trade around the world, this piece deals only with those traded at NYBOT.

Cocoa

Discovered by the natives of Central America over 3000 years ago, cocoa was originally a luxury for very rich. Today, most of the world’s cocoa is grown in a handful of countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Ecuador and Nigeria.

Cocoa is traded in dollars per metric ton and one contract is for 10 metric tons. For example, when cocoa is trading at $1500/M ton, the contract has a total value of $15,000. If a trader is long at $15000/M ton, and the markets move to $1555/bl, that is a move of $550 ($1500 – $1555 = $55, 55 x 10 M ton. = $550).

The minimum price movement or tick size is a dollar. Although the market frequently will trade in sizes greater than a dollar, one-dollar smallest amount it can move.

The contracts month for delivery of sugar are March, May, July, September and December. Delivery points include licensed warehouses in the Port of New York District, Delaware River Port District, Port of Hampton Roads, Port of Albany or Port of Baltimore.

Coffee

Coffee was originally discovered in Ethiopia over 2000 years ago. From Africa, coffee found its way to the Middle East and into coffee houses. It was these coffee houses that gave coffee its exposure to many travelers and outside the Arabian borders.

Coffee is trade in cents per pound. One contract of coffee controls 37,500 pounds of coffee.. When the price of coffee is trading at $1.00/lb, the cash value of that contract will be $37,500 ($1.00 x 37,500 = $37,500).

The tick size is $0.005 per pound, which equates to $18.75 per tick. For example, if one were to go long at $1.10 and the markets moved to $1.1550, one would have a profit of $2062.50 ($1.1550 – $1.10 = $0.0550, $0.0550 x 37,500 = $2062.50).

Since it one of the larger contracts in dollar terms, little movements have a big impact on price. Coffee has one of larger daily ranges of all the softs therefore making it very volatile.

Coffee is deliverable in March, May, July, September and December. Delivery points are worldwide in ports around the globe like New Orleans, New York, Houston, Miami, Hamburg, Antwerp and Barcelona.

Cotton

Since cotton has universal appeal and can used in many different products, cotton has been one of more influential commodities. Discovered over 5000 years ago, cotton has played a vital role in the rise and fall of many countries. And was one of America’s first cash crops.

Cotton is traded in 50,000-pound contracts. It is also traded in cents per pound, so if the market is trading at $0.53/lb, the contract will have a value of $26,500 ($0.53 x 50,000 lbs. = $26,500).

The minimum tick size is $0.0001 or $5.00. So any 2-cent move in cotton will equate to either a gain or a loss of $1000. When the price of cotton exceeds $0.95/lb (which hasn’t happened in over ten years), the minimum tick movement will expand to $0.0005 to accommodate to the larger daily ranges.

March, May, July, October and December are the contract months for cotton. Delivery points are in Galveston, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, and Greenville/Spartanburg,, which isn’t too surprising considering that is where most of it is grown.

Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice

Orange Juice is relative newcomer to the commodity markets. For centuries, OJ was consumed as fresh fruit since it had a relatively short shelf life and was susceptible to price shocks due to supply disruptions. Freezing OJ was invented in the 1940s and quickly become the industry standard.

One contract of FCOJ equals 15,000 pounds. If the current market price is $0.90 cents per pound, the contract has a value of $13,500 ($0.90 x 15,000 pounds = $13,500).

The minimum tick is $0.005, or $7.50 per tick per contract. For example, let’s say you buy a contract of FCOJ when the market is at $0.95, and then sells it $1.00. In this transaction, you would have made $750 on the $0.05 move in FCOJ.

Oranges of origins from Brazil and Florida are deliverable in exchange licensed warehouses in Florida, New Jersey and Delaware only. FCOJ is most actively traded in January, March, May, July, September and December.

Sugar

It is widely believed that humans first used sugar well over 2000 years ago. Originally only reserved for the very rich, sugar has become one of the more common staples on the dinner table. Because of its mass appeal, sugar is usually one of the most heavily trade commodities in the world in terms of total volume.

Sugar trades in contracts of 112,000 pounds as well as in cents per pound. If the futures price is $0.1045, the contract has a value of $11704 ($0.1045/lb x 112, 000 lbs. = $11,704). If the market moves from $0.1000 to $0.1240, that is equivalent to a dollar move of $2688.

The minimum price movement for sugar is $0.0001 or $11.20.

Sugar is only deliverable in March, May, July and October. There are delivery points are in each nation where the sugar is produced, which is Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Fiji Islands, French Antilles, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, South Africa, Swaziland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad, United States and Zimbabwe.

Conclusion

There are many different opportunities in the soft commodity market. Any person looking to invest should carefully consider the risk involved and be aware of the contract specifications before investing.

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Source by Hank King

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Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?

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Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program

Direct Sales Agents

Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.

Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.

Colleges and Universities

Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.

Freelancers

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.

Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.

Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions

There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.

Advertise!

The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.

Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.

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Source by Lina Stakauskaite

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Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them

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The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.

The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?

Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.

Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.

Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon

First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.

Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:

  • 2006 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
  • 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
  • 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
  • 2020 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2020 to? – Prices Decline

*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.

The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.

Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound

Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.

Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.

Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.

To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.

Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care

If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.

However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.

Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.

This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”

Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price

This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”

However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.

Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.

Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.

Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price

Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.

Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.

Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.

During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.

The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.

Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission

Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction

Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.

For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.

In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.

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Source by Robert W. Dudek

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Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer

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Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:

1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers

If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.

2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer

It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.

3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part

Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?

4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer

It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.

5) Brand is important

Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider

If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.

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Source by Damien Oh

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