8 amazing life hacks to start your day

For many of us, mornings begin in a rushed panic. We allow our alarm clocks to buzz at least a dozen times before we decide we have to get out of bed. We then rush around our homes half-awake trying to get ready for our day. In a hurry, we stub our toe on the bedpost, forget to put on deodorant, and don’t pack a lunch because we simply do not have time.

It’s no wonder that so many folks despise the thought of being awake before 9 am!

So it may not surprise you to know that happy individuals tend to actually enjoy their mornings. They appear to thrive on waking up with the sun and look forward to a new day or possibilities. These happy people have humble morning rituals that increase their own sense of well-being and give their day purpose.

Happy people tend to share many of the following morning habits:

1. They wake up with a sense of gratitude.

Practicing gratitude is associated with a sense of overall gladness. They start the day with love. This means that they’re truly appreciative of their life and all of its little treasures. They practice small acts of gratitude in the morning by expressing thankfulness to their partner each morning before they rise from bed. They may also write about their gratefulness for five minutes each morning in a journal that they keep bedside.

2. They begin anew each and every morning.

They know that it’s a brand-new day to start over and do something different. Yesterday may have been a complete failure for them, but today is a new day for success and adventure. Individuals who aren’t ruined by one bad day are resilient creatures. Resiliency is a telltale sign of having purpose and happiness.

3. They take part in prayer, affirmation, or meditation.

Many of the happiest folks alive are spiritual. Prayer is a way of connecting and giving thanks for our creator. Meditation helps keep our mind focused, calms our nerves and supports inner peace.

Happy people even use affirmations to declare how their day will go. Steve Jobs‘ morning routine used to start by looking in the mirror and asking himself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And Benjamin Franklin asked himself each morning, “What good shall I do today?”

4. They read.

Some happy people read a bit of scripture each morning, while others read inspiring stories to get their day started. Either way, they make it a ritual to read self-improvement literature tostretch and grow their insight and knowledge. It’s starts their day off on a positive note with new ideas to guide their day’s journey.

5. They keep things simple and don’t rush out the door.

Complex morning routines are difficult to stick to and set us up for failure. Happy individuals’ routines are simple for them because they prepared the night before. They picked out their work attire, prepared their lunch, set their coffee to brew — all the night before. A simple routine limits any multitasking that most people do in the morning to ensure that they make it to work on time. Multitasking may create stress and anxiety and steal your peace during your first waking hours.

6. They exercise.

Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Exercise is a big enough priority that happy folks tend to do it first thing in the morning so that they don’t have to try to make time later in the day for it. They recognize that willpower is strongest in the morning.

Morning exercise gets the blood flowing and gives them more energy throughout the day.One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology discovered that working out improved how people felt about their physical bodies — even if they didn’t lose weight or gain any noticeable improvements in their physique.

7. They get some fresh air.

Morning walks are beneficial for all creatures. Walking is also proven to stimulate creativity in the brain, which isn’t a bad way to start the day either.

If they have a dog, they walk it. Walking the doga mile or two in the morning is a form of much needed exercise for humans and dogs alike. When happy individuals walk their dog outside, they breath in the crisp morning air, whichpromotes a sense of vitality.

8. They savor the beauty of their surroundings and practice being present in the moment.

Whether they go on a morning walk with their dog or sit in their favorite chair by the window,taking the time to appreciate their environmentcan be invigorating and gets folks excited about their day. Being present connects and grounds them to what is really important in the moment. There is a certain kind of wisdom that comes with being a witness to your own life.

How many of these habits do you perform each morning? Are there some that you would like to see on the list?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in Investments


5 Tips on How to Be Successful From Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh

Ryan Kavanaugh

Photo Credit: Alex Berliner

Ryan Kavanaugh is a man who is well versed in the art of success. The Relativity CEO and founder has completely revolutionized the way films earn money by creating a “Monte Carlo” system designed to predict the odds of a film’s success. Through Relativity, he has financed more than 200 films that collectively earned over $17 billion in revenue and 60 Oscar nominations. Under his careful watch, Relativity isn’t known for simply financing, but for its content production and distribution, including movies, television, fashion, sports, digital and music. Even more shockingly, he has built a company known for its fearless innovation in just over ten years—and at the very young age of 39, no less. Kavanaugh is an inspiration, and when we had the opportunity, we simply had to ask his advice on how to be successful.


  1. Never give up.
  2. Never give up.
  3. Don’t get stuck on a business plan just because it was your business plan. One of the things that allows us to be as successful is that we may sit there thinking, ‘We’re going left, we’re going left, we’re going left and this is the way we should go…and then an opportunity presents itself. No matter how many times you’ve sat there and said, ‘This is our model and we’re going left,’ if you see an opportunity—because this business, particularly entertainment, moves so fast and nobody really knows where it’s going—if there’s an opportunity and it’s to go right, the mistake a lot of people make is that they think, ‘Well, I’ve been saying let’s go left for so long, I’m not going to break that.’ You have to be willing to break it. Nobody has a crystal ball, and part of evolving a business plan is to say, ‘I might have said we’re going left, but I see the opportunity and we’re going right.’
  4. Be flexible.
  5. Never make too good of a deal. It sounds a little counterintuitive, but the deals that are too good of a deal for you in the long run will end up hurting you. A lot of people in our business don’t realize that. They think their job is to go in a room and negotiate the highest price.
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Investments


China admits 40% of magnetic rare earths supply is illegal

China admits 40% of magnetic rare earths supply is illegal

World’s dominant supplier of rare earth elements reveals a huge portion of supply used in magnets is illegally mined; much larger than initially anticipated

21 October 2014

For free breaking news from Benchmark go to:

China – the world’s leading producer of rare earth elements – has revealed that 40% of its supply used in high strength magnets is from illegally mined sources in the country.

The figure was revealed by rare earths expert Prof. Dudley Kingsnorth of Industrial Minerals Company of Australia (IMCOA) at a high level conference in Milan, the European Rare Earths Competency Network (ERECON).

Prof. Kingsnorth, who is the leading source of data in the rare earths market, was citing experts within China who are not only involved in the mining of the elements but also the government-led rare earths association.

China continues to dominate rare earth supply despite two new mines opening in the US (Molycorp) and Australia (Lynas) since the well documented crisis of 2010. Although the country’s share of global rare earths has waned from 95% in 2013 to 90% in 2014, future supply security for the West is far from being solved.

High strength magnets are the leading market both for today’s volume demand and growth projections over the next five years, which is why the revelation about China’s sourcing is significant.

Rare earths such as neodymium (Nd), dysprosium (Dy), terbium (Tr) and praseodymium (Pr) are used as the key magnetic components in electric motors that drive some of the world’s most important technologies including wind turbines and some electric vehicles.

China is not only the leading supplier of these elements but also of the magnets used by some of the world’s largest corporations including Siemens and General Electric.

A situation that cannot last

Prof. Kingsnorth explained that in 2020 the magnet market will consume about 30% of total rare earth elements produced in the world. The magnet market is forecasted to rely on China for 70% of its elements.

The question is whether the country can make up the shortfall from illegal sources if it decides to crack down on these activities.

China’s tolerance for illegal mining is quickly diminishing. While the country is not likely to damage its own prospects by cutting a vital source of rare earths to a key industry, the longevity of this illegal source is in serious doubt.

The Chinese government, naturally, dislikes any unlicensed mining activity which occurs in many mineral and metal industries in the country. It is a wasteful process, environmentally damaging and gives the country bad press. It also undermines the larger, licensed miners that the government has hand-picked to become the next generation of more efficient, international suppliers.

And rare earths are about as high profile as it gets for China since the 2010 fishing vessel incident that threw the critical mineral and the country onto the front pages of the international press.

If China has its way as it invariably does, the reliance on illegal sources of rare earths is likely to come to end or significantly diminish sooner than many may expect.

This leaves the industry with a key question to answer: With an alarming lack of investment in new global sources, where will buyers turn to if China’s black market supply is eliminated?

Simon Moores
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

All data and comments in this article are freely available to use and quote by citing author (or attribution in article) and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Investments


Forget George Clooney’s Como, Penny Smith is intoxicated by lovely Lake Orta

Forget George Clooney’s Como, Penny Smith is intoxicated by lovely Lake Orta

You know where you are with Italy: spag bol; olive overcoats and tan brogues; nuns.
But it still has surprises in store, and one of them is Lake Orta, a secret part of this boot-shaped country, right near the top of the zip. It’s got everything: there’s culture, sculpture, highland, island, mountains and fountains. It may not be the best-known body of water in the Italian lake district – that accolade probably goes to Lake Como, where film stars such as George Clooney and other hunks in trunks hang out – but it is gorgeous.

It appears, long and skinny, as you head down a hill in the north of the country where it brushes the southern end of Switzerland.A delectable island called Isola di San Giulio sits in the middle of the lake like a little green full stop. It’s named after the 4th Century patron saint of the region, St Julius, and is dominated by the beautiful old buildings of a working monastery.
To get to the hidden gem that is Lake Orta, you arrive at Milan airport and head towards snow-capped peaks until you almost literally fall into it. The recently refurbished Hotel L’Approdo has stunning views over the lake and the foothills of the Alps, and seriously helpful staff. One of them gave us a lift up the road to a restaurant, because we couldn’t get a taxi in time for our dinner reservation one evening. Now THAT is helpful.
To go and have a closer look at the island, my easy-on-the-eye companion and I hopped on to a boat captained by a man of a certain age wearing navy shorts and a peaked cap, thus inspiring a degree of confidence. Mind you, everyone dresses up in this country, so he might have been the man who bleeds the radiators. We whipped over the water and stopped with a bump at a wooden pontoon before stepping into a quieter age. Old, terracotta-coloured walls rose into the sky, dotted with small windows and swathed in ivy. Tiny silver fish darted in the clear water. Then the blazing sunlight was left behind as we headed into the basilica.

Lost world: Historic Isola di San Giulio in the middle of Lake Orta

Lost world: Historic Isola di San Giulio in the middle of Lake Orta

Now, I can take or leave the average church, but this one is something else. While much of the interior is like a blousy hydrangea, in pinks and blues, there is a gorgeous 12th Century section. A medieval pulpit, made of grey-green serpentine stone from the lakeside village of Oira on the west bank, features a centaur with a bow and arrow attacking a deer, and a griffon posing victoriously by a vanquished crocodile/dragon. There is an enormous sword hanging down one side, which apparently belonged to Abbot William of Volpiano, born on the island in 962 while it was being besieged by the Emperor Otto I. Outside the basilica, worn flagstones make up a path round the island named The Way of Silence. (I managed a couple of minutes.) It winds its way along the outer walls of the monastery, past a small shop where you can buy pottery nick-nacks and ice cream, and also past a handy hostelry where you can sit and silently contemplate.

Or drink beer and noisily eat crisps. As the moon scooted up, hovered over the mountains and shimmered on the lake, we dined under a canopy of vine leaves at Il Giardinetto. You know the food is going to be good when there are big tables of Italians eating there. In true Meg Ryan style, I merely pointed and said: ‘I’ll have what they’re having.’
Lights twinkled round the lake, the wine bottle magically drained itself… and it was back to the most comfortable bed in the world. The Piedmont area is big on rice and wine. Arborio rice, the choice of risotto connoisseurs, comes from the Padana plains nearby, while Barolo and Asti Spumante are both made in the region. There’s apparently a saying: ‘Rice is born in water and dies in wine’ – a reference to the wine used at the beginning of the cooking process.
A two-hour drive from Lago d’Orta is Locanda del Pilone, where you can sample the results of the Langhe vineyards and then stay in delectable rooms.


‘This is my kind of hotel,’ said my carrier of the corkscrew, refusing to move from a table laden with bottles.
Manager Saverio Taliano told us: ‘This used to be a farmhouse like everywhere else, where people just used to make wine for themselves – essentially, it was a farm with a little winery attached. ‘Now we have 120,000 bottles a year from the estate.’
The closest town is Alba, from where large quantities of Ferrero Rocher chocolates are exported to ambassadors around the world so they can spoil their guests.
And it’s where Nutella was created because of the vast number of hazelnuts hanging about. The boss at Ferrero decided,in a happy lightbulb moment, to combine them both.

‘It is also the capital city of white truffles,’ said Saverio. ‘Right,’ said the grape-botherer, waving a breadstick in the air. ‘I ain’t leaving.’ Eventually, back at the hotel, he was delighted by the menu and we had mushroom tagliatelle, packed full of mottarone mushrooms picked a stone’s throw away. The service here is superlative, but it does mean you end up eating far more than you Orta. Sorry. Couldn’t resist it.
The next day, a 45-minute drive into the mountains over a wide river full of glacial moraine, brings us to Varallo, which proclaims itself The City of Artists. There’s a theatre, a huge church (it’s Italy, of course there’s a huge church), an art museum with marvellously gory biblical scenes, and a cable car in which, for about £2, you can pop up the mountain and meander around a spectacular collection of chapels containing tableaux with life-sized sculptures made of wood and plaster, telling the story of Christ. And this is the killer… many of them have REAL HAIR.

I particularly liked the smiley horses, grinning no matter that their master is being disembowelled. In fact, they looked as if they had trotted in from a Disney production.
The Sacro Monte of Varallo, as it’s called, was founded in the 15th Century, and it couldn’t have been built in a better spot, with glorious views over snow-capped peaks.
‘Many people round here have huts in these mountains,’ our guide Francesca told us. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know,’ she said thoughtfully.

The Villa Crespi on Lake Orta
Our last supper was at the nearby Villa Crespi, a fairytale gingerbread mansion – all fancy curlicues and flourishes. Birds swooped and frolicked in the setting sun and a flock of smartly clad staff flitted about, as you might expect in a twostarred Michelin gaff. People ship in from miles around to dine here, and it was no surprise when my wine-wielder declared: ‘Utterly orgasmic. I’m dying right here, right now.’ Tiny squid with linguine is what did it to him. ‘Goodness is not in the heart alone,’ the chef is quoted as saying. No, it isn’t. It’s also in this sentence: goodness, this place is fantastic.

Arrivederci Lago d’Orta, I’ll be back…

Travel Facts

The Hotel Ristorante L’Approdo ( offers standard doubles from £72. The Locanda del Pilone ( has doubles from £120.
You can find standard double rooms at the Hotel Ristorante Il Giardinetto ( from £68, while the Villa Crespi ( offers classic rooms from £200. British Airways (0844 493 0758, offers a seven-night fly-drive to Milan from £209 per person in January 2013. The price includes return flights from Heathrow and Avis car rental. Penny used the boats to reach San Giulio Island.


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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Villa Boomerang


The most important bank account you’ll ever need

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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Investments


Terrific Weekly Research Briefing from Blaine Rollins at 361 Capital

Timely perspectives from the 361 Capital research & portfolio management team
Written by Blaine Rollins, CFA

Timely perspectives from the 361 Capital research & portfolio management team
Written by Blaine Rollins, CFA

The stage was set and you knew it was coming…

The ominous music began playing months ago when Small Cap Stocks and Junk Bonds continued to underperform. Then the stage darkened when the U.S. Dollar surged, crushing Commodities and the Foreign Markets. While many spent their time looking at the Fed as the laser carrying alien monster, the crowd took its eye off of the little girl carrying a stack of books labeled: ‘Ebola’, ‘Microchip EPS’, ‘German Economy’, ‘How Iraq was Lost’ and of course, “Quantum Physics’.
So now, key damage is being done in the markets and the psychology will shift from ‘Buy the Dip’ to something else. If you want to be a Hero, you can bet on the U.S. Dollar rolling over, the European Economies finding any growth spurt or Q3 Earnings saving the day. But you know what? It has been a ripping good 3 years for risk taking and I bet there will be quite a few investors sitting out this next dip. Look at the internals of the U.S. market; it wants to be Large Cap and Defensive. If you don’t want to make a big call on the market, just keep your chips in safety until it is time to buy risk again.

Probably a good month to revisit ‘Reminiscences of a Stock Operator’…

The silver bullet for Semiconductor stocks and Technology indexes was fired Thursday night by leading semi indicator, Microchip…

“Microchip often sees the turn of the industry ahead of others in the semiconductor industry. First, in contrast to many others in the industry, we report sales from distribution on a sell-through basis worldwide. We built a significant amount of inventory in the distribution channel in the September quarter. If, like many others in the industry, we recognized sales on a sell-in basis to our distributors, our sales would have been significantly higher for the September quarter. Second, Microchip does business with over 80,000 customers worldwide, most of whom are small and nimble and are able to adjust their demand in real time. We believe that another industry correction has begun and that this correction will be seen more broadly across the industry in the near future.”

“The month of September is usually a strong month for our revenue after the summer holiday period. This time, the September sales did not materialize to our expectations. The revenue miss was led by China where the September quarter is traditionally the strongest.”

During the week, we had several data points out of Europe which told us that things were getting worse, and quickly…

And now it looks like Iraq is slipping away quickly into the hands of ISIS unless there is a major intervention by Global forces…

In Iraq however conditions appear to be worsening – the U.S. air strike strategy continues to be criticized as ineffective while reports suggest Anbar is at risk of “collapsing” and that ISIS is poised to strike at Baghdad (Iraq’s government apparently is making “urgent” pleas to the U.S. for ground troop deployments and on Sunday Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the JCOS, said the US may need to play a bigger role “advising and assisting” Iraq’s military).

If we thought that Q3 earnings could save us this month, let’s hope that Fastenal is not the guinea pig…

Fastenal is mostly flat in early trading following Q3 earnings this morning. EPS rose 13% year-over-year to $0.45 per share while revenue rose 14% year-over-year to $980.8 mln. Both results were roughly in-line with expectations as was the case in Q2.

So now to look at the Damage…

Equally disturbing is the ramp in Selling Volumes as this decline picks up speed…

The uncertainties in the market have helped the Volatility Index pop its head above 20 again… Is it just a temporary visit?

Looking at the early Tea Leaves and Smoke Signals, Small Caps are accelerating their underperformance versus Large Caps…

And so are Junk Bonds’ underperformance versus Treasuries…

One Tea Leaf on the verge of changing trend is Short Term Risk Free Yields; we like to see yields slowly move higher as a sign of strength in the U.S. Economy. A flip to a lower trend could be very damaging to U.S. risk taking…

If you needed any sign of the Defense taking over the market, Staples and Utilities are now top performing…

Looking at the Sectors that are now in a Bear market (down 20%)…

…and for those Sectors that are now in a Correction (down 10-20%)…

Last week was an unpleasant one unless you were hiding in (or wearing) Diapers and Electricity…

More broadly, the week was a mess in the U.S. and Overseas. Complete RISKOFF across the board…

Many will look for a data point or news item that captured the top of the Stock Market. I will just point this out…

I saw an article over the weekend implying that Hedge Fund underperformance specifically hurts the rich…

Last time I looked, it was my policeman, fireman & school teacher who were 1.5-2.0x levered to Hedge Fund Returns based on the investment allocation of their underfunded pension plans. This chart only confirms that public pensioners are the most leveraged to Hedge Funds.


It is disturbing to see one firm own so much of a single issuer when the Wall Street trading desk inventory is so lean…


…and the highlighted firm is being redeemed at a 5% quarterly rate…

Pacific Investment Management Co., whose co-founder Bill Gross stunningly departed on Sept. 26, said late Friday that the Newport Beach, Calif.-firm had assets under management of $1.876 trillion as of Sept. 30, a 5 percent drop in the third quarter. Pimco had total assets under management of $1.973 trillion as of June 30, 2014 and total assets under management of $1.92 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2013.

One asset geography that could surprise to the upside would be Brazil, if Presidential candidate Neves pulls off this election…

Opposition candidate Aecio Neves has a clear lead over Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, according to a survey of voter support ahead of the country’s second election round. Neves would have 52.4 percent of votes in the Oct. 26 presidential runoff, compared with 36.7 percent for Rousseff, according to a Sensus poll released yesterday on the website of IstoE magazine.

Question of the Week: Which municipality is issuing more home building permits… California or Houston?

In August, the most recent month for which figures are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, metro Houston (including Sugar Land and the Woodlands) issued more permits for construction of single-family homes than did the entire state of California, which has six times the population. And that was no fluke. Houston and California have been running neck and neck in permit issuance since 2000, with California running just about 3,000 permits ahead in that time.
That’s a remarkable statement about both demand (people really want to live in Houston) and supply (the city is happy to accommodate them). California is a different story. What UCLA’s Anderson School of Management called a “painfully plodding” economic recovery has damped the appetite for home buying, and strict land-use rules aimed at controlling sprawl make permits hard to get. “If you don’t have housing, you can’t do labor,” Chris Thornberg, principal at Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based research and consulting firm, told Bloomberg News. “If you can’t do labor, you are missing a major ingredient for economic growth.”

It was a very, very good week for Geeks…

@jowyang: Now that the Tesla will does 0-60 in three seconds — it will dust some exotic sports cars. In a sedan. Embarrassing for gear heads.

It would now be hard to enumerate all of the applications that make use of blue LEDs, principally because they are joined with their green and red brethren to make the light to which people are most accustomed: white. LED-based lighting is finding its way into more and more global markets as it becomes cheaper; already it is in the flash of cameras and smartphones. But blue light has made its own way as well. Blue diodes lie at the heart of DVD and the aptly named Blu-Ray players. By using the same approach, slightly more energetic ultraviolet light can be made—a boon for sterilising surfaces and drinking water using little energy. Communications and computing seem inexorably headed to a future that makes more use of light’s properties, and blue light’s short wavelength is best for ever-smaller technologies. As the members of the Sweden’s Royal Academy of Science put it during their press conference, this year’s award is more an “invention” prize than a “discovery” prize. But it is an invention, they said, that would have made Alfred Nobel happy.

Amazing how quickly the 3D technology has been put to work…

Surgeons at a New York hospital have credited 3D printing with helping to save the life of a 2-week-old baby who required complicated heart surgery. Using MRI scan data, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York City 3D printed a copy of the child’s heart, which was both riddled with holes and structured unusually. Surgery was going to be complicated and dangerous, but this 3D printed heart provided the surgeons the opportunity to study the organ, and develop a detailed surgery strategy.

Wow! A treatment for Type 1 Diabetes is around the corner…

Harvard stem cell researchers announced today that they have made a giant leap forward in the quest to find a truly effective treatment for type 1 diabetes, a disease that affects an estimated 3 million Americans at a cost of about $15 billion annually. With human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, the scientists were for the first time able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally functioning beta cells. Doug Melton, who led the work, said he hopes to have human transplantation trials using the cells under way within a few years. Twenty-three years ago, when his infant son Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Melton dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease. “We are now just one preclinical step away from the finish line,” said Melton, whose daughter Emma also has type 1 diabetes.

Keep this chart for that day in the future when the kids come and ask for advice on how much to spend on their wedding day…


Tweet of the Week…

Holiday Shopping Pro-Tip: If there is a LEGO gift in your December list, BUY IT THIS WEEK…

“Anything Lego Movie is going to be difficult to find. Some of the newer Star Wars sets that had an August release might also be difficult to find,” he said. The advice to shoppers: don’t expect to find any Lego on sale for the rest of this year because it’s simply too popular. “My advice to people whose kids are really into Lego is: If you see it, pick it up,” says Mileos. “Because if it’s on the Christmas list, you might not find it come December.”

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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Investments


A short course in Human Relations

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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Investments


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