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Gave: The End Of The Unipolar Era

Gave: The End Of The Unipolar Era Authored by Louis-Vincent Gave via Gavekal Research, Investors today must deal with the effects of not one, but two wars, as my Gavekal-IS colleague Didier Darcet pointed out in April (see Tick,Tock Tick,Tock). The first is the one we can see playing out each day on our television screens, with all the tanks, deaths and human suffering. The second is a financial war, with the unprecedented weaponization of the Western banking system and Western currencies aimed at bringing Russia to its financial knees (see CYA As A Guiding Principle (2022)). To the surprise of most people in the West, resistance against both of these war efforts has proved far stronger than expected. Almost 11 weeks into the war on the ground in Ukraine, Russian troops still seem to be taking heavy losses for relatively small territorial gains. And a little over six weeks after US president Joe Biden boasted that the ruble had been “reduced to rubble” by Western sanctions, the Russian currency is close to a two-year high against the US dollar and near a post-Covid high against the euro. At this point, both the euro and the yen appear to be bigger casualties of the Ukraine war than the ruble. The US boast that the ruble had been “reduced to rubble” is looking premature  In this paper, I shall review the implications of this stronger-than-expected resistance - both on the battlefield and in the financial markets - and attempt to draw some salient conclusions for investors. The evolution of warfare In October 1893, some 6,000 highly-disciplined warriors of King Lobengula’s Ndebele army launched a night-time attack on a camp occupied by 700 British South Africa Company police near the Shangani river in what is now Zimbabwe. It was a massacre. The BSAC “police” killed more than 1,500 Ndebele for the loss of just four of their own men. A week later, they did it again, killing some 3,000 Ndebele warriors for just one policeman dead. These one-sided victories were not won by courage or superior discipline, but because the British were armed with five machine guns and the Ndebele had none. As Hillaire Belloc wrote in The Modern Traveller: “Whatever happens, we have got / The Maxim gun, and they have not”. The technological superiority of the machine gun allowed Britain, and France, Germany and Belgium, to subjugate almost all of Africa, even though outnumbered by the Zulu, Dervish, Herero, Masai and even Boer forces they opposed. All were rendered helpless by the machine gun’s firepower. I revisit this ancient history to illustrate how military technology is a lynchpin of the geopolitical balance. Dominance of military technology is also a key factor underpinning the strength and resilience of a reserve currency. Today, one of the main reasons why Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others keep so much of their reserves in US dollars is that the US is widely regarded as being a generation (if not more) ahead of the competition in the design and production of smart bombs, anti-missile systems, fighter jets and naval frigates. In short, the superiority of US weaponry has been one of the principal factors underpinning the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. However, recent events raise important questions about whether the US can retain this superiority. In September 2019, drones allegedly deployed by Yemeni Houthi forces took out the Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq. Between late September and early November 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The conflict ended in near-total victory for the Azeris. This result stunned the military world. Observers had assumed that Armenia, with a bigger army, larger air force, more up-to-date anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, and a history of Russian support, would easily triumph. But all Armenia’s expensively-acquired military “advantages” were quickly taken out in the early days of the fighting by Azerbaijan using Turkish-made drones costing no more than US$1mn each. On successive occasions between March 2021 and March 2022, Houthi drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil facilities, notably the giant terminal at Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf. In December 2021, Turkish-made drones allowed the Ethiopian government to tip the balance in a civil war that until then had been going badly for government forces. In January 2022, Houthi drones hit oil facilities in the UAE.  Now, imagine being Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Over the years you have spent tens, if not hundreds, of billions of US dollars purchasing anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems from the US. Now, you see relatively cheap drones penetrating these defense systems like a hot knife through butter. This has to be frustrating. What is the point of spending up to US$340mn on an F-35c (and US$2mn on pilot training), or US$200mn on an anti-aircraft system, if these can be taken out by drones at a fraction of the cost? This evolution in warfare may help to explain the impressive resilience of the Ukrainian army in the face of Russia’s onslaught. When the Russian troops marched into Ukraine, consensus opinion was that the Ukrainian forces would crumble before the Russian military juggernaut. It is always hard to know what is happening on the ground amid the fog of war. But judging by the number of tanks destroyed, warships sunk and the apparent failure of the Russian air force to establish control over Ukraine’s skies, it seems the invasion of Ukraine is proving far more costly in terms of blood and treasure than Russian president Vladimir Putin had imagined. Could this be because Putin failed to factor the impact of drones into his military outlook? It may be premature to jump to that conclusion. But judging from afar, it appears inexpensive Turkish drones have helped level the battlefield in the Ukrainian-Russian David versus Goliath confrontation— the biggest and bloodiest on European soil since World War II. This helps to explain why the US military assistance package for Ukraine Biden announced this month included 700 Switchblade drones. These are surprisingly cheap—the Switchblade 300 reportedly carries a price tag as low as US$6,000—yet highly effective. In essence, they are single-use kamikaze drones. Apparently, they fly faster than the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones that the Ukrainians, like the Azeris before them, have used to such devastating effect. This suggests the Switchblades should be able to evade the air defenses that Russia has attempted to maintain over its troops. The US military deployed Switchblades sparingly in Afghanistan, so it is hard to know whether these will perform as billed in combat conditions. But before this shipment to Ukraine, only the UK was permitted to purchase Switchblades. This implies that the Pentagon considers the Switchblade a valuable and potent weapon. David Petraeus, the former Central Intelligence Agency director who, as a four star general, commanded the US campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, singled out the weapon in a recent interview with historian Niall Ferguson: “I’ll mention one item in particular: the Switchblade drone. It’s a loitering munition that takes a one-way trip. The light version can loiter for 15 to 20 minutes. Heavy version, 30 to 40 minutes with a range of at least 40 km. The operator selects a target, it locks on and it follows. Then it strikes when the operator gives that order. This is extraordinarily effective because you can’t hear it on the ground. The first time the enemy knows it’s there is when it blows up. If we can get enough of those into Ukraine, they could be a true game-changer.” However, I digress. Returning to the discussion about why drones might matter for financial markets: 1) If ever-cheaper and more readily available drones are going to revolutionize war, much as the Maxim gun did 140 years ago, then it is questionable whether it still makes sense to invest in tanks, airplanes, anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems. If it does not, what does this mean for the value of the large, listed death-merchants? Cheap drones are bad news for the stocks of defense giants Historically, buying the merchants of death after a big rally in oil made sense, if only because so much of the world’s high-end weapon consumption occurs in the Middle East. But in the world of tomorrow, will Middle Eastern oil kingdoms still line up to buy multibillion US dollar systems from Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed and the like, if those systems are vulnerable to attacks from relatively cheap drones? 2) Talking of Middle Eastern regimes, the deal prevailing in the Middle East for the past five decades has been that oil would be priced in US dollars, and that the oil-exporting regimes in Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Kuwait would use these US dollars to buy US-made weapons (and US treasuries). With this bargain, the US implicitly guaranteed the survival of the Gulf Arab regimes. Fast forward to 2022, and following the invasion of Ukraine, countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have failed to condemn Russia. What’s more, Saudi Arabia let it be known that it might start to accept payment for its oil in renminbi. Perhaps this makes sense if Saudi Arabia feels it no longer needs US$340mn F-35s, but instead more US$1mn Turkish-made drones? 3) If, as the Azeri-Armenian and the Ukrainian-Russian wars suggest, drones have radically leveled the battlefield in war, this profound development has a multitude of implications. Does it undermine the long-held superiority of vastly expensive armament systems, tilting the balance in favor of much cheaper and much more widely-available weapons? If so, does this mean another pillar supporting the US dollar’s reserve currency status is crumbling in front of our eyes? In a world where military might is no longer the monopoly of a single superpower, or the duopoly of two, does the world become, de facto, multipolar? In such a world, would there still be a compelling reason for trade between Indonesia and Malaysia to be settled in US dollars, rather than in their own currencies? Wouldn’t trade between China and South Korea now be settled in renminbi and won? Drone tactics are a radically different form of warfare, and they are evolving fast. So, it would be premature to offer any definitive conclusions about the extent to which drones will dominate warfare in the future. However, their recent use in Ukraine (and Yemen, Azerbaijan and Ethiopia) means that investors have to be open to the idea that drones will change the battlefield of the future. Because if they are going to change the battlefield of the future, then they will also change the economic and financial realities of today. In this sense, drones might well be the modern-day equivalent of aircraft carriers. In World War II, aircraft carriers made big-gun battleships and other traditional naval warships obsolete, or at least highly vulnerable. Two early Pacific battles proved the point. The Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, generally considered by historians to have been a draw, was the first naval engagement ever fought in which the opposing fleets never made visual contact with each other. Carrier-based aircraft drove the action. A month later, the far more consequential Battle of Midway established the new reality beyond all doubt. The Imperial Japanese Navy was ambushed northwest of Hawaii and lost the bulk of its carrier force in a single action. It would be on the defensive for the rest of the war. With hindsight, Midway marked the start of US dominance over the world’s oceans. In short order, this translated into US dominance over global trade. But with the nature of warfare again changing, is this dominance of the oceans and of other battlefields guaranteed to last? Investors need to consider the uncomfortable possibility that it might not. The dramatic shift in the global financial landscape We are all the offspring of our own experiences. One important formative event in my own modest career was the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Witnessing how quickly things could unravel left a deep mark. I highlight this because I am not alone in having lived through the shock of 1997-98. Pretty much every emerging market policymaker aged 50-75 (which is most of them) went through a similar trauma. Seeing your country’s entire middle class wiped out in the space of a few weeks—which is what happened in Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Argentina and others in the period from 1997 to 2000—is bound to leave a few scars. Among emerging market policymakers these scars took the form of a deepseated conviction of “never again” (see Our Brave New World). To ensure their countries’ middle classes were never again wiped out, they adopted a straightforward set of policy prescriptions that in the early 2000s Gavekal dubbed the The Circle Of Manipulation. It went something like this: 1) To avoid a future crisis, your central bank needs to maintain a healthy safety cushion of hard currency bonds, mostly US treasuries and bunds.   2) The more you become integrated with the global economy, the larger this cushion should be. 3) To build up this safety cushion, you need to run consistent and large current account surpluses. 4) To run consistent large current account surpluses, you need to maintain an undervalued currency. Among the results of these policy prescriptions were charts looking like this: By all previous standards, this was an odd state of affairs: an economic arrangement under which poorer countries with high savings rates and vast infrastructure investment needs ended up subsidizing consumption in rich countries with low savings rates and ever-accelerating twin deficits. To cut a long story short, for the last 25 years, we have lived in a world in which undervalued currencies in emerging markets allowed Western consumers to buy attractively priced goods and services imported from developing countries. Meanwhile, the individuals, companies and governments in the emerging markets which earned capital from these sales largely recycled their earned capital into Western assets—because Western assets were perceived to be “safe.” But this perception of safety may now be changing in front of our eyes. Consider the following changes: 1) Developed economy government bonds have proved anything but safe. As stresses of increasing severity have affected the world economy over the last 12 months, investors in local currency Indonesian and Brazilian government bonds and in gold have generated positive returns of between 3% and 4% in US dollar terms. Chinese government bonds are up by just over 1.5%. Meanwhile, Indian and South African government bonds have lost -4%. These performances contrast with US treasuries, which have lost -9%, and the train wrecks suffered by investors in eurozone bonds and Japanese government bonds, which are down anywhere between -17% and -23%. Of these, which can be considered the safest? 2) The confiscation of Russia’s reserves. I will not repeat here arguments I have made at length elsewhere (see What Freezing Russia’s Reserves Means). But in a nutshell, the decision to freeze Russia’s central bank reserves has been the most important financial development since US president Richard Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. From now on, any country that is not an outright US ally—China, Malaysia, South Africa and others—and even some historical friends—Saudi Arabia? The UAE? India?—will think twice before reflexively accumulating US treasuries from fear they may get canceled. Over the course of a weekend, with no discussion in the US Congress, and no discussion with the Federal Reserve, the US administration unilaterally turned the US treasury market on its head. From that moment on, the whole nature of a US treasury security would depend entirely on who owned it. 3) Running roughshod over property rights. It is hard to pin down what the West’s single most important comparative advantage might be. Having the world’s strongest military? Being the seat of almost all the world’s greatest universities? Issuance of the world’s reserve currencies? The list goes on. But surely somewhere near the top of the list should be the sanctity of property rights, guaranteed by rock-solid “rule of law.” The main reason Chinese tycoons for years purchased Vancouver real estate, the Emirati central bank bought US treasuries and Saudi princes parked their wealth in Zurich was the knowledge that, whatever happened, and wherever you came from, you were guaranteed property rights, and a fair trial to ascertain those rights, in any courtroom in New York, London, Zurich or Paris. Better still, since the implementation over the last 850 years in the West of habeas corpus and various bills of rights, you have been able to have confidence that you would be judged as an individual. One of the fundamental tenets of Western democracies’ legal systems is that there is no such thing as a collective crime—or collective punishment. You can only be held responsible and punished for what you have done as an individual. Unless - all of a sudden - you are a Russian oligarch. This is a dramatic development, if only because every Chinese tycoon, Saudi prince, or emerging market billionaire will now wonder whether he will be next to get canceled. If the wealth of Russian oligarchs can be confiscated so abruptly, then why not the assets of Saudi princes? Stretching this a little further, maybe it shouldn’t just be Saudi princes or Chinese billionaires who should be worried. If wealth can be seized without any trial, but simply because of guilt by association, maybe in the not-too distant future Western governments could confiscate the wealth of anyone who mined coal or pumped oil out of the ground. Don’t they have blood on their hands for causing tomorrow’s climate crisis? And while we are about it, perhaps we should also confiscate the wealth of social media barons for failing to prevent a mental health crisis among our youth? 4) Russia’s counter-attacks. Older readers may remember how in the days that preceded the Lehman bust, US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson walked around proclaiming that he had “a big bazooka,” and that if the market pushed too hard, he would fire this bazooka and blow shortsellers out of the water. Unfortunately, with Lehman it became obvious to all and sundry that Paulson’s bazooka was firing blanks. Today’s situation is similar. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US decided to go for full weaponization of the US dollar, proclaiming the ruble had been turned to rubble. Last week, the ruble hit two-year highs against both the US dollar and euro. Biden’s financial bazooka seems to have been no more potent than Paulson’s. Why? Because Russia decided to fight back, requiring buyers from “unfriendly” countries to pay for their purchases of Russian commodities in rubles. And in effect, the only way unfriendly customers can acquire rubles is by offering gold to the Russian central bank (see The Clash Of Empires Intensifies). This has created a sudden and profound shift in the global trading and financial architecture. For decades, global trade was simple. If Russia produced commodities that China needed, then China first had to earn US dollars by selling goods and services to the US consumer. Only in this way could it acquire the US dollars it needed to purchase commodities from Russia. But what happens now that China or India can purchase their commodities from Russia or Iran for renminbi or Indian rupees? Obviously, their need to earn and save US dollars is no longer so acute. Conclusion Warfare is changing and the financial system has been weaponized like never before. However, the weaponization of the financial system has so far failed to deliver the intended results. At this point, investors can adopt one of two stances. The first might be described as “nothing to see here; move along.” The second is to accept that the world is changing rapidly, and that these changes will have deep and lasting impacts on financial markets. Different war, different world, different consequences For now, there are some clear takeaways. 1) The Ukraine war may be telling us that modern history’s unipolar age is now well and truly over. As big as the Russian army is, and as powerful as the US Treasury might be, the current crisis has demonstrated that neither is powerful enough to impose its will on its perceived enemies. This includes even relatively weak enemies; Ukraine’s army was hardly thought of as formidable, while Russia was supposed to be a financial pygmy. 2) This is a very important message. In an age of drones and parallel financial arrangements, there is no longer such a thing as absolute power—nor even the perception of absolute power. The pot has been called, each player has had to show his cards, and all are sitting with busted flushes! The fact that military and financial dominance may be harder to assert in the future opens the door to a much more multipolar world. 3) For 25 years, emerging market workers have subsidized consumption in developed markets, as emerging market policymakers kept their currencies undervalued and recycled their current account surpluses into “hard” currencies. If this arrangement now comes to an end, then the developed market consumer will struggle while the emerging market consumer will thrive. 4) Much consumption in emerging markets tends to occur at the “low end” of the product chain. This plays into a theme I have been harping on about for the last year: that investors should focus on companies that deliver products that consumers “need to have” rather than products that are “nice to have.” 5) Over the last two years, US treasuries and German bunds have failed in their job of providing the antifragile element in portfolios. There are few reasons to think that this failure is about to reverse any time soon. Today, investors need to look elsewhere for antifragile attributes. Precious metals, emerging market government bonds, high-yield energy assets and foodstuffs are all leading candidates. 6) High-end residential real estate in Western economies will lose the emerging market money-recycling bid and will struggle. 7) New safe destinations for emerging markets’ excess capital will emerge. Obvious candidates include Dubai, Singapore, Mauritius, and perhaps even Hong Kong (should China eventually decide to follow the rest of the world and to live with Covid). It is hard to be too bullish on these destinations. They are so small that even a marginal, influx of financial and human capital will have a disproportionate impact. The world’s unipolar era is over. Few portfolios reflect this reality - and definitely not the indexed portfolios that are today massively overweight an overvalued US and a desperately ill-omened Europe. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 23:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge11 min. ago Related News

Everything You Want To Know About Monkeypox, But Were Afraid To Ask

Everything You Want To Know About Monkeypox, But Were Afraid To Ask With the COVID-19 pandemic still fresh in the minds of the people around the world, it comes as no surprise that recent outbreaks of another virus are grabbing headlines. Monkeypox outbreaks have now been reported in multiple countries, and it has scientists paying close attention. For everyone else, numerous questions come to the surface: How serious is this virus? How contagious is it? Could Monkeypox develop into a new pandemic? Below, Visual Capitalist's Nick Routely and Mark Belan answer these questions and more. What is Monkeypox? Monkeypox is a virus in the Orthopoxvirus genus which also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox) and cowpox virus. The primary symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a distinctive bumpy rash. There are two major strains of the virus that pose very different risks: Congo Basin strain: 1 in 10 people infected with this strain have died West African strain: Approximately 1 in 100 people infected with this strain died At the moment, health authorities in the UK have indicated they’re seeing the milder strain in patients there. Where did Monkeypox Originate From? The virus was originally discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in monkeys kept for research purposes (hence the name). Eventually, the virus made the jump to humans more than a decade after its discovery in 1958. It is widely assumed that vaccination against another similar virus, smallpox, helped keep monkeypox outbreaks from occurring in human populations. Ironically, the successful eradication of smallpox, and eventual winding down of that vaccine program, has opened the door to a new viral threat. There is now a growing population of people who no longer have immunity against the virus. Now that travel restrictions are lifting in many parts of the world, viruses are now able to hop between nations again. As of the publishing of this article, a handful of cases have now been reported in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and a number of European countries. On the upside, contact tracing has helped authorities piece together the transmission of the virus. While cases are rare in Europe and North America, it is considered endemic in parts of West Africa. For example, the World Health Organization reports that Nigeria has experienced over 550 reported monkeypox cases from 2017 to today. The current UK outbreak originated from an individual who returned from a trip to Nigeria. Could Monkeypox become a new pandemic? Monkeypox, which primary spreads through animal-to-human interaction, is not known to spread easily between humans. Most individuals infected with monkeypox pass the virus to between zero and one person, so outbreaks typically fizzle out. For this reason, the fact that outbreaks are occurring in several countries simultaneously is concerning for health authorities and organizations that monitor viral transmission. Experts are entertaining the possibility that the virus’ rate of transmission has increased. Images of people covered in monkeypox legions are shocking, and people are understandably concerned by this virus, but the good news is that members of the general public have little to fear at this stage. I think the risk to the general public at this point, from the information we have, is very, very low. –TOM INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY Finally, as Infectious Disease expert Muge Cevik notes in a detailed Twitter thread, as the monkeypox virus (MPX) outbreak continues, a lot of data emerging in real-time & being rapidly disseminated (as well as misinformation). Confirmed and suspected cases of #MonkeyPox now reached 200 among 14 countries with 20 confirmed cases in the UK. Source: BNO The main concern is that there are non-travel associated cases in Europe, meaning there is likely unnoticed community transmission. This is the biggest outbreak outside of Africa, and there will be more cases to come. The concern is not necessarily a global pandemic like what we’ve seen w/ coronaviruses or influenza. But a growing & large MPX epidemic is a concern especially if PH measures are delayed. So, the most important thing is to inform our communities & healthcare workers about the clinical presentation, incubation period, so that people can be diagnosed at an earlier possibility, isolated and contacts are protected. This is the range of skin lesions. In conclusion, monkeypox is not really a rare disease & is a public health concern. According to prelim evidence there is no indication that current outbreak is due to a new MPX variant & epidemiological data suggest that it’s been introduced to male-to-male sexual networks, likely sometime in late-April. We have observed MXP outbreaks in many countries mainly in Africa, this is the first time that we are observing wide transmission in Europe. MPX remains an under-recognized and underreported emerging disease. Good clinical management can limit disease severity or death. We are in an unknown territory as individuals who have prior smallpox vaccination do have some degree of protection against monkeypox, but we don’t really know the degree of protection it provides to individuals who had vaccination 50, 60 years prior. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 22:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge1 hr. 42 min. ago Related News

2022 Has Been The Worst Year Ever For Hedge Funds, Who Are Now Massively Shorting To Chase Stocks Lower

2022 Has Been The Worst Year Ever For Hedge Funds, Who Are Now Massively Shorting To Chase Stocks Lower Some were stunned to see stocks surge in the last hour of trading on Friday in the illiquid vacuum that saw the S&P earlier tumble into a bear market, sliding more than 21% from its January all time high (a level that equates with 3,855 in the e-mini) briefly before bouncing back above 3900, and rejecting the third attempt to enter a bear market in the past week. We were not, and the reason why is that as has been the case every time a short base builds up, there was a sharp short squeeze. And how did we know that enough of a short pile up had been built up to be toppled by even the smallest spike higher? Why the latest Goldman Prime Brokerage data (full report available to zh pro subscribers). Here are the highlights: US equities on the GS Prime book were net sold for the first time in 4 days driven by short sales and to a lesser extent long sales (2.5 to 1). Wednesday's net selling on the Prime book, driven by short sales, was relatively modest (1-Year Z score -1.4) compared to the sharp market losses (SPX -4%, largest drop in nearly 2 years), suggesting that hedge funds collectively were not the main driver of the price declines; and also suggesting that they had been already substantially short heading into the -4% abyss. At the same time, quantitative measures tracked by Goldman Research indicates retail investors have become sellers in the past few months, reversing ~26% of the cumulative positions net bought in SPX stocks since Jan ’19 (link ). Looking at the composition of trades, Goldman Prime finds that both single stocks and macro products (Index and ETF combined) were net sold and made up 67% and 33% of the $ net selling, driven by short sales. Furthermore, single stocks saw the largest $ net selling in the past month (1-Year Z score -1.4). 9 of 11 sectors were net sold led in $ terms by Info Tech, Comm Svcs, Industrials, Health Care, and Materials. Which is not to say that hedge funds refuse to take profits: indeed, Consumer Discretionary and Consumer Staples - the worst performing sectors on Wednesday  - were both modestly net bought on the Prime book, driven by long buys and short covers, respectively. On the other hand, long-suffering Info Tech stocks were net sold for a second straight day – following 5 straight days of net buying from 5/10 to 5/16 – and saw the largest $ net selling in the past month (1-Yearr Z score -1.2), driven by short sales and to a lesser extent long sales (3.2 to 1) But the easiest way to visualize the growing bearish sentiment is by looking at the red line in the top left chart (US equities trading flows) , which is now at the lowest level (most shorts) in 2022: Ok, so we now that hedge funds have been piling up shorts (not to mention puts), which also explains the lack of a violent VIX surge or a capitulation lower in stocks. What may be just as notable is that despite the rise in short positions, both gross and net hedge funds exposures have collapsed. Indeed, the latest Goldman PB data reflects some of the largest reduction of leverage on record (more in the full latest Goldman prime broker weekly note available to pro subscribers).  According to Goldman's Tony Pasquariello, the huge underperformance of implied volatility traces back to this point (which, he calls an "immense oddity" - over the past 15 years, there have been 36 daily selloffs of 4% or more, and the VIX was never as low as it was on Wednesday). Finally, here are the five top highlights from the latest quarterly Hegde Fund Tracker report from Goldman (also available to professional zero hedge subs in the usual place): PERFORMANCE: Both alpha and beta have posed large headwinds to hedge fund returns so far in 2022. The worst start to a year for the S&P 500 since 1932 has created a challenging beta environment. In terms of alpha, Goldman's Hedge Fund VIP basket of the most popular long positions (GSTHHVIP) has lagged the S&P 500 by 28 pp since early 2021, its worst stretch on record. Funds have fared better with shorts; the most concentrated short positions are down 31% YTD, lagging both the S&P 500 and VIPs. Nonetheless, the median S&P 500 stock still carries short interest equivalent to just 1.5% of market cap, a 25-year low. LEVERAGE AND FLOWS: As noted above, the decline in hedge fund net leverage that began in 2021 has accelerated in recent months. Exposure data calculated by Goldman Sachs Prime Services show net leverage in the 30th percentile vs. the past 5 years compared with record highs in spring 2021. Despite recent selling pressures, equity allocations across a number of investor groups - most notably households - still appear elevated, suggesting the potential for more selling pressure if the macro outlook does not become more friendly for equities. HEDGE FUND VIPS: Despite the sell-off in technology stocks, FAAMG remains atop Goldman's list of the most popular hedge fund long positions. MSFT maintains its position as #1. The VIP list contains the 50 stocks that appear most often among the top 10 holdings of fundamental hedge funds. Four new Energy stocks entered the basket (CHK, VAL, OXY, and LNG) and the sector now has a 10% weight. The basket has outperformed the S&P 500 in 58% of quarters since 2001 with an average quarterly excess return of 40 bp. 16 new constituents: ANTM, APO, ATVI, CHK, CHNG, CRWD, EQT, FIVN, GPN, HUM, MRVL, OXY, PLAN, T, VAL, Z. GROWTH STOCKS: Hedge funds continued to reduce exposures to Growth sector and stocks. Rising real interest rates and  declining leverage have weighed in particular on the valuations of long-duration stocks with extremely high multiples. SECTORS: Hedge funds added to Industrials and Materials while cutting exposures to former favorite Growth sectors. Fund tilts to Information Technology and Consumer Discretionary are now at the lowest levels in at least a decade. “Big Tech” drove much of the reduction in positions across Tech and Discretionary, with funds incrementally rotating away from AAPL, AMZN, and TSLA. Putting it all together, Goldman's Ben Snider summarizes that "a plummeting equity market and the even worse performance of the most popular long positions have led to the worst start of a year  on record for hedge fund returns. HFR data show the average equity hedge has returned -9% YTD and GS Prime Services estimates an asset-weighted decline of -17%. As a result of these struggles, in recent months hedge funds have accelerated the reduction in leverage and rotation away from Growth stocks they began several quarters ago" while at the same time piling up shorts.  However, as Goldman notes, this adjustment has not been quick enough and despite four Energy stocks entering Goldman's Hedge Fund VIP list of the most popular long positions (CHK, VAL, OXY, and LNG), Tech still represents over a third of the basket’s 50 constituents. The five FAAMG companies remain at the top of the list. The basket has declined by -27% YTD vs. -18% for the S&P 500 after underperforming the S&P 500 by 17 pp in 2021. During this period, hedge fund VIPs have effectively given back all the excess return they had generated since 2014. Concluding, Goldman writes that the sharp recent reduction in hedge fund length and rotation in long portfolios reflects a broader asset reallocation taking place across the market. In recent years, low interest rates have supported the investment philosophy that There Is No Alternative to equities (“TINA”). Long-duration Growth stocks have benefited most as both institutional and household investors lifted their equity exposures. Today, in contrast, positive real interest rates, growing recession fears, and declining equity prices have signaled to investors that There Are Reasonable Alternatives to stocks (“TARA”). Investors have been reallocating accordingly. This ongoing adjustment is reflected in household and institutional flows away from equities broadly and from Growth stocks in particular. For hedge funds, this has exacerbated the vicious cycle of falling share prices, declining leverage, and poor liquidity that has created such a challenging market environment this year. All reports mentioned above are available to zero hedge professional subs. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 20:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge2 hr. 40 min. ago Related News

Bullwhip Effect Ends With A Bang: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff

Bullwhip Effect Ends With A Bang: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff It was exactly a year ago, when Deutsche Bank strategist Luke Templeman said that amid the panicked scramble by US wholesalers to stock up on scarce inventory as a result of snarled supply chains, it was only a matter of time before the US economy was roiled by a "bullwhip" (or whiplash) effect. Some details for those unfamiliar with this concept: the bullwhip effect occurs when a drop in customer demand causes retailers to under stock. In turn, wholesalers respond to a lack of retail orders by understocking themselves. That then causes manufacturers to slow production. Eventually the reverse occurs. As customer demand comes back, retailers quickly order more goods, often too much, and wholesalers and factories are caught short. Shortages occur, prices increase. Eventually production ramps up at levels that are far beyond equilibrium levels and this cascades down the chain. These violent swings in availability of goods then continue back and forth until an equilibrium is eventually established. Last May, the beginning of the bullwhip effect was seen in the way retailers and wholesalers managed their inventory levels since the outbreak of covid. Specifically, retailers kept a supply of inventory at a relatively constant level, above that of wholesalers. As covid hit, supply chains from Asia were cut which caused a fright amongst retailers in the West who immediately began to put in orders for more inventory. A whole lot more of it. Subsequent lockdowns saw demand plummet and inventories along with it. In both cases, the actions of wholesalers followed those of retailers by a month or so. In the context of a starting bullwhip effect, Templeman's conclusion was accurate: "As inventory levels have fallen to multi-decade lows at retailers, there are likely many businesses that will not have enough inventory to satisfy customers as economies recover and pent-up demand is unleashed. This is particularly the case as retailers are far more reliant on just-in-time supply chains than they were in decades past." Among other things, this is also why last May is when a historic bout of inflation was unleashed (one which not a single career economist or Fed official predicted correctly) as collapsing inventories and lack of restocking by jammed up supply chains meant that prices for goods would keep rising and rising and rising. And they did. Of course, for much of the past year, the big story was the congestion at west coast ports due to both external (China covid breakouts, port closures, changing legislation) and internal factors (lack of port workers, downstream supply jams including trucking and trains, etc) but that has now changed and as the latest Supply Chain Congestion Monitor report from JPMorgan (available to pro subscribers in the usual place) shows, the number of ships at anchor and on approach to L.A. and Long Beach has collapsed since the January high mark, and is back to levels first seen at the start of the covid pandemic. Why does this matter? Well, for a simple but critical reason: if one year ago we saw the hyperinflationary start of the bullwhip effect, we have entered the terminal phase of the "bullwhip effect", where plunging inventory-to-sales ratios reverse violently higher, where supply chains unclog suddenly and rapidly amid a sudden chill in the economy, and where prices for so-called "core" goods collapse almost overnight, even as non-core prices (food and energy) explode even higher. This is how Freight Waves discussed this effect on Friday when commenting on the recent dire earnings (and outlook) from the largest US retailers such as Walmart and Target, which saw their prices crater as management warned that inflation is now crippling demand and snuffing profit margins: "furniture, home furnishings and appliances, building materials and garden equipment, and a category known as “other general merchandise,” which includes Walmart and Target, among others, reported higher inventory-to-sales ratios, according to government data analyzed by Michigan State." How much higher? A quick look at the latest data reveals the following stunning chart of the Inventory to Sales ratio at the Walmarts of the world at the highest level since just before the deflationary flashbang that was the Global Financial Crisis: Think: widespread inventory liquidations. As Freight Waves continues, "the change has happened fast, according to Jason Miller, logistics professor at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business. As of November, inventory-to-sales ratios were at pre-COVID levels, Miller said. They have since exploded upward. Miller said he expects a “cooldown” in retailer order volumes, even if inflation-adjusted sales stay constant, as retailers look to reduce their existing stock." And here is the punchline: Miller "also expects retailers to launch major discounting programs to expedite the inventory burn." In short: we are about to see the mother of all liquidations as retailers scramble to unload inventory in a time off rampant demand destruction. The immediate result is the freight recession that was first (correctly) forecast by FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller at the end of March and which is now coming true as the crashing stock price of countless trucker and other freight stocks has demonstrated. Some more on this: high inventory levels are an expected occurrence and should be welcomed. In a Tuesday note, Amit Mehrotra, transport analyst at Deutsche Bank, said rising buffer stock is part of retailers’ desire to have goods available when consumers scan the shelves. Mehrotra added, however, that the data points translate into a likely slowdown in freight flows in the coming months and quarters. He said that a recession is already priced into most transportation equities, noting that the shares of most trucking companies are higher over the past 30 days while the broader market is about 7% lower. The latest data also confirms what FreightWaves' Fuller said in a subsequent post when he wondered if "Deflation Was Next" as "the Bullwhip was about do the Fed's job on inflation." To be sure, not every product will see its price cut: commodities, whose bullwhip effect take much longer to manifest itself, usually lasting several years in either direction, are only just starting to see their price cycle higher. However, other products - like those carried by the Walmarts and Targets of the world - are about to see a deflationary plunge the likes of which we have not seen since the global financial crisis as retailers commence a voluntary destocking wave the likes of which have not been seen in over a decade. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 21:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge2 hr. 40 min. ago Related News

U.S. Automakers Forced To Hike Prices Due To Rising Raw Material Costs

U.S. Automakers Forced To Hike Prices Due To Rising Raw Material Costs It looks like price hikes as a result of rising costs in the auto industry are starting to become widespread. Companies like Tesla, Cadillac and Rivian are now amongst the automakers who are raising prices due to "changing market conditions and rising commodity costs", according to CNBC. While many EV makers have benefitted from battery costs declining over the last few years, it is now being projected that a sharp increase in demand for battery minerals, coupled with global supply chain shortages, could wind up pushing up costs more than 20%. Tesla has had to raise prices "several times over the last year", including two hikes in March, as a result of "significant recent inflation pressure" related to raw materials and transportation costs. Rivian worked to offset rising costs on its R1T pickup and R1S SUV by introducing two lower cost versions of both models. Prices were raised by 18% and 21% on the two models, respectively. Rivian even tried to retroactively apply the price hikes to orders placed before it made the announcement, but received massive pushback from its customers and was forced to apologize. CEO RJ Scaringe issued a mea culpa that stated: “In speaking with many of you over the last two days, I fully realize and acknowledge how upset many of you felt. Since originally setting our pricing structure, and most especially in recent months, a lot has changed. Everything from semiconductors to sheet metal to seats has become more expensive.” EV company Lucid is also hiking prices on its luxury sedans by about 10% to 12% for U.S. customers. “The world has changed dramatically from the time we first announced Lucid Air back in September 2020,” the company's CEO said. GM is also instituting price hikes on some models. Cadillac's Lyriq crossover EV saw a $3,000 price hike to $62,990. Cadillac President Rory Harvey said: “I don’t think it was one thing in isolation. I think it was a number of factors taken into account.” Ford, which is keeping its price on its new F-150 Lightning at $39,974, said it now expects $4 billion in raw material headwinds when it had previously just expected $1.5 billion to $2 billion. “We’re going to still keep it for everybody, but we’ll have to react on commodities, I’m sure,” Ford's VP of Global EV Programs said.  Recall, last month, we published an article on how China was seeking to control the global EV supply chain. That came weeks after we wrote about how Chinese EV manufacturers were grappling with rising raw material costs. We noted that many EV manufacturers were doing the only thing they could to help alleviate the pressure - and that meant rising prices. This may be why the idea of extending the subsidy has caught back on in recent weeks. We noted in April that the pricing problems China faced were more unique to the country, because it was also trying to engineer a "soft landing" from EV subsidies, which Beijing had planned to roll back. "What makes China unique is its commitment to simultaneously rolling back EV subsidies, setting up a delicate balance between growth and profit in the world’s biggest market for clean cars," Bloomberg wrote back in April.  Companies like Tesla, BYD, Xpeng and Li Auto all hiked prices in March, we noted. Among the manufacturers raising prices was also Contemporary Amperex Technology, the world’s biggest EV battery maker. They said they were making “dynamic adjustments to the prices of some of our battery products”. Remember, we wrote days prior that Japanese automakers were also grappling with the skyrocketing cost of raw materials and a shortage of semiconductors.  Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 16:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt6 hr. 41 min. ago Related News

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel says she"s never heard of "Dark MAGA," says it "sounds like a Star Wars thing"

Dark MAGA is a recent online movement pushing for former President Donald Trump to return to power and take revenge against his enemies. Ronna McDaniel, the GOP chairwoman, speaks during the Republican National Committee winter meeting Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Salt Lake City.AP Photo/Rick Bowmer After losing his primary, Rep. Madison Cawthorn referenced an ominous "Dark MAGA." On Sunday, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said she had no idea what that was.  "It's time for the rise of the new right, it's time for Dark MAGA to truly take command," Cawthorn said.  Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, said she had no idea what "Dark MAGA" is."I don't know what "Dark MAGA" is," McDaniel said on Fox News Sunday. "It sounds like the Star Wars thing, like the dark side of the force. I don't know. I don't know what that is."So-called Dark MAGA is a recent online movement pushing for former President Donald Trump to return to power and take revenge against his enemies, Insider's Alia Shoaib reported. Experts say this movement, which often features white nationalist and neo-Nazi imagery, appears to be the most recent iteration of far-right online extremism.McDaniels was responding to a question about remarks made by GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn after he lost his North Carolina primary. In a statement on social media, Cawthorn referred to the need for a new political movement dubbed "Dark MAGA" to take command.  A post shared by Madison Cawthorn (@madisoncawthorn)  "It's time for the rise of the new right, it's time for Dark MAGA to truly take command," Cawthorn said in an Instagram post. "We have an enemy to defeat, but we will never be able to defeat them until we defeat the cowardly and weak members of our own party. Their days are numbered. We are coming."Cawthorn lost to state Sen. Chuck Edwards. The freshman congressmen faced a number of controversies and scandals since taking office.Cawthorn was accused of sexual harassment by former college classmates last year, charged with driving with a revoked license. He's defended rioters who stormed the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection and called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyya a "thug" and said the Ukrainian government was "evil."McDaniel said the North Carolina primary was a "well-fought" race and said Cawthorn did the right thing by conceding. "Madison had some issues that came out. He was a rising star in our party, and we need to make sure we retain that seat with Edwards, who defeated him," she said.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider6 hr. 53 min. ago Related News

Goldman Trader: After A Brutal Week, Here Is The "Cat And Mouse" Question That Needs To Be Answered

Goldman Trader: After A Brutal Week, Here Is The "Cat And Mouse" Question That Needs To Be Answered From Tony Pasquariello, Goldman head of hedge fund coverage Cat and Mouse A brutal week in the markets, with no shortage of blame to go around: the persistence of global central bank hawkishness, gathering recession concerns, ongoing retail liquidation (and, an element of reflexivity). Here’s the central question that I’m trying to work out: if the interest rate market is correct, and terminal Fed Funds rate is going to be somewhere around 3%, at what point is that fully priced into the broader markets? On one hand, there’s already been a very significant tightening of US financial conditions, so you could argue that we’re getting close.   Said another way: you know that financial markets live in the future ... so, when the day comes where everyone can clearly see the end of the tightening cycle, the trading community will be ahead of it and assets will already be on the move. On the other hand, the target rate is still south of 1% and core PCE is still north of 5%, so you could also argue that we’re still much closer to the start of this tightening cycle than to the end of it [for a more detailed discussion, see "The Fed Has Crossed The "Hard Landing" Rubicon So How High Will It Hike? One Bank Crunches The Numbers"]. Said yet another way: as long as inflation is running hot and the labor market is too tight ... again, the inconvenient truth is the Fed has more wood to chop and the markets have more risk to sort out. In a related vein: at what point does the FOMC view an easing of financial conditions and decide that they DON’T need to beat it back? In that spirit, cue Bill Dudley (link): “the Fed has to be happy with the fact that financial conditions have tightened ... they’re getting traction ... they still have to do what they said they’re going to do.” With apologies for thinking out loud here, it’s these type of cat-and-mouse questions that illustrate the difficulty of assessing the current interplay between the Fed and the asset markets.   To be sure, the task of culling jobs is hugely unenviable, but the Fed is still so far off the inflation mark; at the very least, they need to demonstrate the trajectory of core inflation is clearly headed lower, even if they ultimately lose their nerve before reaching 2.0% [maybe the Fed is not so far off: see "Fed Mission Accomplished: Real-Time Indicators Show The Labor Market Just Cratered"]. On that last point, as Joe Briggs in GIR pointed out to me, the FOMC actually sent a similar signal with their March SEP dots, which showed 3½ hikes in 2023 and 0 hikes in 2024 ... despite median inflation forecasts of 2.6% in 2023 and 2.3% in 2024. Here’s where I’m going with all of this: even though financial conditions have tightened considerably ... and, even though this Fed will likely back off once the jobs losses begin to mount (they’re the same folks who ran the AIT play, after all) ... the fact is there’s still a lot of ground to cover before they can declare victory over inflation ... which should keep some pressure on risk assets a bit longer. To add another layer of complexity: as Dominic Wilson in GIR pointed out to me, the stock market usually bottoms when the Fed flinches (see early ’16, early ’19) ... or, if there’s a real growth problem, when the second derivative of economic activity turns (see Mar ’09, Apr ’20).    In that context, again my instinct is we’re just not there yet -- not only does the Fed put feel both smaller and farther out of the money than we’ve been accustomed to for a long time (arguably since the post-1994 era began), but the longer the tightening cycle rolls along, and the higher the unemployment rate goes, the more the markets will rightly worry about a recession (even if you believe, as I do, that the US economy is durable with plenty of nominal GDP still sloshing around). I’ll conclude this narrative with a chart, to followed by quick points and more charts ... I can find no better illustration of what’s currently challenging the stock market than this (link): 1-a. on the positioning front, the glaring wedge between hedge funds and households persists: i. GS Prime Brokerage data reflects some of the largest reduction of leverage on record (link).  n/b: I suspect the huge underperformance of implied volatility traces back to this point (which, for those watching, has been an immense oddity -- over the past 15 years, there have been 36 daily selloffs of 4% or more, and the VIX was never as low as it was on Wednesday). ii. that said, I continue to worry about the impact of US households de-risking.   here’s one way to frame it: total fund inflows from November of 2020 through March of 2022 were $1.34tr ... since the tide turned seven weeks ago, we’ve only unwound $47bn.   iii. given immense ownership differentials -- see chart 11 below for an illustration of how huge households are -- to my eye this nets out in favor of the bears.   now, if there’s a group who can help diffuse the supply/demand problem, it’s US corporates (yes, buyback activity through our franchise has picked up meaningfully over recent weeks).  1-b. A related point: as detailed by the WSJ (link) and our own team (link), the retail investor is quickly exiting the call option party.  to make the point: in the pre-COVID era, average daily notional in call options on US single stocks was around $100bn. At the peak in November of 2021 -- which is when a number of high velocity stocks put in their highs -- it was around $500bn. Fast forward to today, and we’re back down to $185bn/day. 2. The recent period has been a textbook illustration of the stark difference between volume and liquidity: volume in cash equities has never been higher (e.g. an average of 12.7bn shares per day in 2021, which is nearly 2x the run rate of 2019) ... yet, top-of-book liquidity in S&P futures registers in just the 3rd percentile of the past six years.   3. despite the ongoing selloff, the past few weeks have also brought moments that illustrate the difficulty of trading stocks from the short side, even if this is a bear market.  see chart 12 below, or witness daily price action in a custom basket of popular shorts, ticker GSCBMSAL. For the most short-term macro traders amongst you, if you want to play S&P from the short side, my sincere advice is to go home flat each night and reassess tomorrow morning -- this is a market to be traded, aggressively, but with extreme discipline. An alternative to this ultra-tactical approach is to utilize put spreads or 1-day gamma (ideas available). 4. I’m no expert in crude oil, but I’ve probably spent 10,000 hours with those who are, so here’s a bullish take: despite a record SPR release, a very strong dollar, shutdowns in the second largest economy on the planet and a break lower in most all risky assets, crude oil has largely stood its ground ... you can probably see where I’m going with this.  For the take of an expert, this note is worth a glance, the (surprising) punch line as I read it: “own commodities as financial conditions tighten.  in the past, spot and roll returns performed well when real rates rose, and particularly when financial conditions additionally tightened” (link). 5. US consumption: again, I worry a lot about building pressures on the low end consumer. While parts of this week’s data set were encouraging -- namely HD and government retail sales data -- what we heard from WMT and TGT was brutally clear: in addition to shipping and inventory issues, the cost of food and fuel is impinging on the US consumer.  This, as much as anything, was THE story of the week. On the other end of the spectrum, high end consumption is still off the charts (witness recent news stories on Manhattan real estate, art or fine wines).  I continue to think the medium-term reckoning of this wedge takes the form of ... higher taxes. 6. on US housing, I admit that a profoundly positive story has gotten a lot more complicated. On one hand, supply/demand favors ongoing strength. On the other hand, affordability seems to be a serious issue, and the move in mortgage rates is very significant.  Where do we come out? As Jan Hatzius in GIR put it to me, informally, there’s not necessarily a clear conclusion: “We cut our forecasts on homebuilding activity and house prices modestly, but the shortage of houses and overall tightness of the market should substantially dampen pressure on the sector.” If you’re interested, we have some interesting charts on this topic.  7. China: the data is so bad, it’s simply eye-popping (witness the worst IP print on record). In fact, GIR has cut our expectation of 2022 Chinese GDP growth to just 4%, which ex-2020 would be the slowest growth rate since ... 1990 (link).  for the sake of balance, Shanghai is set to reopen on June 1st and I suspect foreign trading length is approaching rock bottom.  For a balanced and comprehensive assessment of the regional economic outlook, this is worth a glance: link.   8. This is, if nothing else, some interesting brain food.  I asked Daniel Chavez in GIR to mark the moves in the COVID era in some popular assets. There are a lot of ways to approach this choose-your-own-adventure; the way we cut it was total returns from the lows of March 2020 to the highs (in NDX) of November of 2021 ... then from the November highs to today ... and then from the pre-COVID highs to today. A few things stick out to me, here’s one: point-to-point across the full COVID era, US energy stocks have far outperformed the stay-at-home stocks: 9. In a related spirit, and with credit to sales & trading colleague Brian Friedman, if you look the overlay of NDX P/E (white) with inverted 30-year US real yields (yellow), equities are doing what the move in real rates would suggest they should be doing: 10. With credit to David Kostin in GIR, here’s a bigger picture on tech.  For all of the recent troubles, you still have to marvel at the sustained growth of US mega cap names.  now I suppose the mega question is ... would you be willing to fade the broad pattern of this chart: 11. Another level set from GIR ... which, again, illustrates the size of households vs hedge funds (** 2% **) in the domestic equity market:  12. with credit to a client, an analog from the aftermath of the immediate aftermath in the LEH period, which again illustrates the difficulty of being short in the middle or late stages of a bear market: 13. Finally, and to continue the recent thread, this is a powerful chart of de-globalization ... If this were a chart of a security, I’d be inclined to sell it (link) Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 13:50.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt8 hr. 41 min. ago Related News

Biden Says Monkeypox Could Be "Consequential," Something "Everybody Should Be Concerned About"

As a growing number of monkeypox cases are being reported in the U.S. and Europe, President Joe Biden on Sunday said that the outbreak should concern "everybody." read more.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt9 hr. 26 min. ago Related News

Georgia"s Record-Breaking Early Voting Turnout Defies "Voter Suppression" Accusations

Georgia's Record-Breaking Early Voting Turnout Defies "Voter Suppression" Accusations Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times, Early voting in Georgia broke records this week despite last year’s adoption of election integrity measures that critics derided as “voter suppression” and President Joe Biden called a “blatant attack” on the Constitution and compared to a Jim Crow-era relic. More than 710,000 people had voted early in Georgia’s primary election as of May 19, according to the secretary of state’s office, which is 149 percent higher than at the same point in 2020, when elections officials encouraged vote-by-mail and early voting to reduce crowding at polling stations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “The record early voting turnout is a testament to the security of the voting system and the hard work of our county election officials,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement. “As Secretary of State, I promised to strike a strong balance between access and security in our elections, and these numbers demonstrate that I kept that promise and that voters have confidence in Georgia’s elections,” he added. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks at a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 6, 2020. (Dustin Chambers/Reuters) Allegations of voter fraud and other irregularities in the 2020 election prompted Republicans in a number of states to advance measures they argued were meant to shore up election integrity and public confidence in the electoral system. Among these was Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021 (pdf), or SB 202. The reforms ushered in by the bill include requiring photo or state-approved identification to vote absentee by mail. They also mandate that secure drop boxes be placed inside early voting locations, with constant surveillance, while expanding early voting across the state. When it was signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in March 2021, SB 202 drew praise from backers of elections security initiatives and criticism from those who claimed the bill amounted to voter suppression. President Joe Biden criticized SB 202 as “a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience.” President Joe Biden speaks to reporters as he holds his first formal news conference in the East Room of the White House on March 25, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters) “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters,” Biden said during his first solo press conference on March 26, 2021. Calling the Georgia voter law “sick” and “un-American,” Biden labeled it as “Jim Crow in the 21st century,” referring to Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the South. “It must end. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to act,” Biden said at the time, prompting Kemp to reject the president’s characterization of the law. “It is obvious that neither President Biden nor his handlers have actually read SB 202, which I signed into law yesterday,” Kemp said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. “This bill expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during the celebration honoring the Georgia Bulldogs’ national championship victory in Athens, Ga., on Jan. 15, 2022. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) A number of voting rights groups filed several lawsuits over Georgia’s election law, with one complaint calling it “the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and Governor.” Raffensperger, who was named as a defendant in one of the lawsuits, said in a statement in March 2021 that he implemented a version of the identification requirement ahead of the 2020 election and that it didn’t lead to a falloff in turnout. “The left said that photo ID for in-person voting would suppress votes. It didn’t. Registration and turnout soared, hitting new records with each election cycle,” Raffensperger said at the time. “Their cataclysmic predictions about the effects of this law are simply baseless. The next election will prove that, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for the left and the media to admit they were wrong,” Raffensperger added. The record-breaking early voter turnout numbers in the 2022 primaries that Raffensperger’s office announced on Friday provide a datapoint in support of his forecast. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 11:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt12 hr. 10 min. ago Related News

Early voting turnout in Georgia soars in wake of restrictive election law

Of the roughly 710,000 people who voted early, over 655,000 individuals cast ballots in-person, while nearly 55,000 people submitted absentee ballots. The seal of the state of Georgia.Getty Images Georgia boasted record early voting turnout in the lead-up to its May 24 primary date. Roughly 710,000 people voted early through last Thursday, a 180% increase from the 2018 primaries. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the numbers are "a testament to the security of the voting system." A record number of Georgia citizens have cast ballots during early voting for a set of hotly-contested primary elections that will take place on Tuesday.On Friday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that more than 700,000 people had voted early, which his office said represented a 180-percent increase in early votes from the 2018 primaries and a 149-percent increase in early votes from the 2020 primary contests."The record early voting turnout is a testament to the security of the voting system and the hard work of our county election officials," he said in a statement.Of the roughly 710,000 people who voted early through last Thursday, over 655,000 individuals cast ballots in-person, while nearly 55,000 people submitted absentee ballots.About 406,000 voters cast Republican ballots, while nearly 300,000 citizens cast early ballots for Democrats.Early voting for the May 24 primary elections ended on Friday.Former President Donald Trump, who continues to baselessly allege voter fraud as the source of his 2020 loss to now-President Joe Biden in Georgia, has sought to use his political endorsements to mold the GOP to his liking. The state features a slate of deeply consequential races, notably the Republican gubernatorial primary between incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue; the GOP Senate primary where former NFL player Herschel Walker is set to glide to the nomination and face first-term Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock; the Georgia secretary of state race which features Raffensperger and Trump-endorsed Rep. Jody Hice; and the Democratic gubernatorial primary, where former state House minority leader Stacey Abrams is running unopposed in her second bid for the Governor's Mansion.Despite Trump's heavy push to oust Kemp from office — even claiming that Walker would be hurt by the incumbent Republican's presence on the GOP ticket — the governor has polled well ahead of Perdue in recent weeks, and could possibly avoid a runoff if he exceeds the 50 percent-threshold among the GOP primary electorate.Biden, Abrams, and other leading Democrats have sharply criticized the restrictive election law that the GOP-controlled Georgia legislature passed last year, contending that it would hurt the state's Black voters.The law, known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021 or SB 202, tightened election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, and banning water and food from being distributed by volunteers to voters waiting in line, among other measures.The fallout over the bill led to the MLB moving the 2021 All-Star Game from Georgia to Colorado.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider12 hr. 41 min. ago Related News

If Roe v. Wade is tossed it would mark the first time the Supreme Court overturned precedent "to limit civil rights, not expand them," expert says

"Instead of using the Constitution to expand rights" overturning Roe v. Wade would limit the rights of Americans, an expert told Insider. Pro-choice signs hang on a police barricade at the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC, on May 3, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images A leaked draft opinion showed the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer. A former federal prosecutor said it's rare for the court to overturn precedent to limit civil rights. Experts worry the court's reasoning in the draft opinion could be used to overturn other rights. According to a leaked draft opinion, the Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and make history in a number of ways — including by overturning itself to limit the rights of Americans."Overturning Roe v. Wade would be such a significant decision because it would be the first time in the history of the Constitution that precedent would be overturned to limit civil rights, not expand them," according to Neama Rahmani, the president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor.The draft opinion indicates the court seems poised to overturn the 1973 landmark decision that enshrined the right to an abortion. Written by Justice Samuel Alito, the draft was unflinching in its condemnation of the reasoning behind Roe, prompting concerns it could help set the stage for additional rights to be overturned.For instance, Rahmani said in an email to Insider that the Supreme Court's reasoning to overturn Roe could be extended to erode Miranda rights, which require law enforcement to inform a criminal suspect of their right to remain silent."There is no requirement in the Constitution that law enforcement must inform you of your rights, which is essentially what the 1966 Miranda decision provided," Rahmani said. "Miranda is something the court read into the Constitution."Miranda v. Arizona was an example of the court overturning precedent to expand civil rights. The 1966 position dismissed two prior court rulings and held that law enforcement violated Ernesto Miranda's rights by not informing him of his right to remain silent and request an attorney.Other prominent cases of the Supreme Court overturning itself have resulted in an expansion of civil rights.In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education overturned the infamous 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed "separate but equal" segregation laws. By overturning the precedent set by Plessy, Brown granted additional rights to Black Americans, namely the right to attend schools that previously were limited to white students.More recently, Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 guaranteed the right for couples to marry regardless of their sex, overturning the 1972 decision in Baker v. Nelson and extending the constitutional right to marry to same-sex couples."Instead of using the Constitution to expand rights to the citizens of this country, now the conservative right is starting to limit the rights of people in this country," Doron Kalir, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, told Insider.The Supreme Court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority, with three justices nominated by former President Donald Trump, who campaigned on selecting judges that would overturn Roe.Kalir said landmark decisions like Roe and Obergefell extended rights to those who wanted them, adding Roe never forced anyone to get or perform an abortion, and Obergefell never forced someone to marry someone of the same sex or perform a same-sex marriage.The language in the draft opinion that would overturn Roe was harsh and sweeping, with Alito calling the decision "egregiously wrong from the start." Kalir said it indicates the court may be open to limiting a whole host of rights that pertain to the right to privacy and the sanctity of the home."Can you imagine a police agent knocking on your door and asking if you used contraception?" Kalir said, adding that in a post-Roe world, investigating criminalized abortion could involve police searching homes or internet data for evidence that a person performed or assisted in an abortion."This may really be the harbinger of horrible things to come," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider13 hr. 26 min. ago Related News

Elon Musk suggests slashing Twitter offer based on number of bots

Elon Musk suggested his deal to buy Twitter should be cut proportionate to the number of bots on the platform......»»

Category: topSource: foxnews14 hr. 10 min. ago Related News

Russia"s war dead abandoned by the Kremlin are piling up in Ukraine"s refrigerated train trucks, video shows

Ukrainian Railways CEO shared a video showing how it preserves soldiers' corpses. Russia is reportedly refusing to repatriate thousands of bodies. Ukrainian workers load dead bodies of Russian soldiers onto cold-storage train trucks.Ukrainian rail network Ukraine's wartime railway chief said Ukraine treats "dead Russians better than they treat live Ukrainians." The CEO of Ukrainian Railways shared a video detailing how the rail network preserves Russian corpses. The video references reports of Russia's unwillingness to repatriate its dead soldiers. Ukraine's wartime railway chief has claimed that the country treats "dead Russians better than they treat live Ukrainians" in the caption for a video shared on Friday.Alexander Kamyshin, the CEO of the state-owned Ukrainian Railways, posted a video on Twitter on Friday which describes how Ukraine preserves the bodies of Russian military fatalities. "According to humanitarian law, Ukraine preserves bodies to release them to mothers and wives," the video says.Ukrainian Railways preserves the bodies by storing hundreds of them in refrigerated trucks, according to the video.The railway network, it says in the video, is prepared to deliver "cargo 200" back to Russia."Cargo 200" is a Soviet military code word for the transportation of military fatalities. "Your 'cargo of 200' is waiting on demand," says text at the end of the clip.Ukraine Railways workers handle corpse of Russian solider.Ukraine RailThroughout the video, references are made to reports of Russia's unwillingness to repatriate the corpses of their dead soldiers."Russian commanders do not seek to return bodies," it is alleged in the video."Russia hides real losses from families to avoid panic and to avoid payment of compensations," says text featured in the clip.Ukrainian rail workers show Russian military identification card.Ukraine railwaysUkraine's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk told The Guardian that Russia was refusing to take in body bags because it wanted to deny the scale of its military losses.To disguise the true number of casualties, Russia has secretly transported its dead and wounded soldiers to Belarus, reports say, per Insider.Last month, Insider reported that Ukraine claimed it was storing more than 7,000 unclaimed Russian corpses in its morgues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Russia's refusal to repatriate its dead soldiers, per The Guardian, having accused the Kremlin, in March, of affording less respect to those killed than is usually given to dead pets.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 42 min. ago Related News

A Tesla driver who had his car on Autopilot in a fatal crash faces manslaughter charges, report says

Sensors appeared to show that the driver had a hand on the steering wheel but did not apply the brakes before the collision, Fox Business reports. Tesla says its Autopilot features need "active driver supervision".Tesla A Tesla driver is facing trial on two counts of vehicular manslaughter, Fox Business reported. The driver had a hand on the steering wheel in the crash in which two people died in 2019. The Tesla driver was using its Autopilot features when the crash occurred in Los Angeles. A Tesla driver who had his car on Autopilot in a crash that killed two people will stand trial on two counts of manslaughter in Los Angeles, Fox Business reported. The fatal accident in 2019 occurred when Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, was driving a Tesla Model S at 74 mph in Gardena, Los Angeles. The Tesla driver, who previously pleaded not guilty, will go on trial for vehicular manslaughter. The case may be the first time a driver is facing a court trial for using semi-automated technology in a fatal crash. Riad's car went through a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic in a collision that killed Gilberto Alcazar Lopez, 40, and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, 39, the report said. Prosecutors said the Tesla's Autopilot features including autosteer and traffic aware cruise control were being used when the driver crashed into the Honda.Six minutes before the collision, no brakes were used, crash data showed. But sensors appeared to show that the driver being tried for manslaughter had a hand on the steering wheel, according to a Tesla engineer who testified. The driver will now be tried on two counts of vehicular manslaughter, according to a Fox 11 LA report.  Riad and a female passenger in the Tesla were treated for injuries in hospital. A number of car crashes have been recorded while drivers used Tesla Autopilot functions, and the first self-driving-related death was recorded in 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is examining a dozen crashes that involved Tesla drivers using Autopilot features amid scrutiny over its advanced driver-assistance functions. Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features need "active driver supervision", does not make the car autonomous, and is intended for "fully attentive" drivers, the company says on its website.  Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider16 hr. 10 min. ago Related News

Amazon"s first warehouse union marked the true turning point towards "real change" for workers, says a labor-history professor

Christian Smalls went from getting fired by Amazon to kickstarting the labor movement. It's a tipping point after years of declining union membership. Union organizer Christian Smalls speaks following the April 1, 2022, vote for the unionization of the Amazon Staten Island warehouse in New York.Andrea Renault/AFP via Getty Images The past year saw Striketober, a Great Resignation, and dozens of Starbucks unionized. Plus, President Joe Biden has called himself the "most pro-union president" ever. But a professor says it's Amazon Labor Union's win that could be the tipping point for organized workers. It's been a big year for the American labor movement. Thousands of workers hit the picket line for Striketober, union organizers made it to the White House, and Starbucks unions are spreading across the country.All of that came with a rising number of workers quitting their jobs, reaching a new high in April 2021 that has continued to climb. Ileen DeVault, a professor of labor history in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, told Insider she's had a lot of reporters calling to ask if these events are changing the trajectory of the decades-long decline in union-membership rates. Her answer was simple: "No.""It's a drop in the bucket," she said, noting that unionizing a single Starbucks location would add, at most, a few dozen workers to total union membership rates. Even with the momentum and media attention, unionization rates are still at historic lows — and there's a long way to go before unions even approach the strength seen during the unionization highs of the 1950s."I've said over and over again that the real change would come when the first Amazon warehouse unionized," DeVault said. "I think that's a major change."In April, that happened.The upstart Amazon Labor Union pulled off a surprise victory at the JFK8 Staten Island warehouse — marking a first for the tech-retail behemoth that employs at least 950,000 workers nationwide. Amazon fired ALU's founder, Christian Smalls, in 2020. Now, Time Magazine asks if he's "the future of labor." Smalls recently traveled to the White House, where President Joe Biden commended him."Obviously, the Amazon workers in Staten Island, the Starbucks all across the country, other organizing drives going on, there is something afoot here," Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said at the White House during the meeting. In a blog post after the union win, Amazon said that it was "disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees."A burst of activity after decades of decline in union membershipThe Congressional Research Service found that the worker-unionization rate hit a postwar high of 34.8%  in 1954. Since then, unionization membership has mostly been in decline.In 1983, the first year with comparable data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership was at 20.1%, nearly twice what it is today.The Economic Policy Institute attributes falling union rates to labor laws — such as allowing companies to make anti-union meetings mandatory — that are "tilted" toward employers. Jennifer Abruzzo, the general counsel for the National Relations Board, wants to end this precedent.The labor movement, the Biden administration, and progressives have also rallied around the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would provide new protections for organizing workers. The bill has passed the House, but it's stalled in the Senate and unlikely to move."Let's hope it stays that way," Sean Redmond, the vice president for labor policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, wrote in a blog post. "Maybe then union leaders will think of ways to improve their product that will convince more people to buy it willingly."But even if the law stays as it is, that might not curb the upswell of organizing. The National Labor Relations Board has already reported a 57% increase in union-election petitions in the first half of fiscal year 2022."The law being broken is probably the biggest challenge, but workers aren't waiting, as we've seen," Liz Shuler, the president of the AFL-CIO, the country's largest labor federation, told Insider. "We're not waiting around for labor-law reform. People are out organizing despite the roadblocks. I think the public support has given a huge boost to working people."Businesses are taking note; UBS said in an April note that it's a labor "environment that has not been seen for decades." While UBS said it's too early to call pro-unionization a trend, it noted that Starbucks has "momentum" — and predicted that JFK8 won't be the only Amazon warehouse to unionize."I think we're gonna see more and more organizing happening in this country," Walsh said. "I've spoken to a lot of people, I've spoken to a lot of unions, I've spoken to a lot of companies. And I think a lot of companies are cognizant of this."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider16 hr. 10 min. ago Related News

Wall Street is facing a summer of hell, and it could be just getting started

In Insider Weekly: Wall Street's hellish summer, Airbnb host panic, and Leon Black's lawyer Danya Perry. Hi, I'm Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Weekly, a roundup of some of our top stories. On the agenda today:Airbnb hosts are panicking about a summer slowdown.Our profile of Danya Perry, the attorney defending billionaire Leon Black.Can Miami's pandemic-fueled tech boom survive an industry bust?Meet 2022's rising stars of EV, from companies like Rivian and Lucid.By the way, we have a new newsletter coming soon: 10 Things on Wall Street will cover the biggest stories in banking, private equity, hedge funds, and fintech each weekday morning. Sign up here.But first: Insider senior correspondent Linette Lopez is here with a look at the market's hectic week.Subscribe to Insider for access to all our investigations and features. New to the newsletter? Sign up here.  Download our app for news on the go – click here for iOS and here for Android.Wall Street's hellish summer is hereJenny Chang/Insider; Getty ImagesA week ago, I wrote that Wall Street is "heading into a summer from hell." Well, it looks like that hellish summer came early. Since I wrote that piece, the market has done almost nothing but fall, posting the worst trading days since the early weeks of the pandemic. And while the sell-off is ugly, it's clear this isn't over. The market is quickly retreating to where it was before the pandemic — and the stimulus-infused mega rally — started. And thanks to more than a decade of monumentally low interest rates, many investors think that even the current level is inflated.In the piece, I called out the tech industry, which has been riding the wave of a strong economy for years and is finally facing its first real setbacks and (in some cases) layoffs."The kiss of death for tech is when tech starts talking profitability — then the tide goes out and you'll figure out who's been swimming naked," Justin Simon, a portfolio manager at Jasper Capital, told me.But that's not all. Last week, bread-and-butter retailers Target and Walmart reported earnings that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. These consumer behemoths admitted that they are starting to feel the burn from inflation and other economic pressures.As I said in my story, "This summer, the market is melting, and investors big and small are going to get burned before it's over."Read Linette's full story here:Wall Street is heading into a summer from hell — and top investors say it's going to bring a near-biblical reckoning to the market.Airbnb hosts hit by summer slowdownAirbnb host Brian Morris' Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, rental, where revenue for July is projected to drop $12,000 from last year.Brian MorrisIn May 2021, when domestic travel and the short-term-rental market were booming, travelers kept Airbnb properties in high demand. Today, it's a different story. There is no shortage of theories about the slowdown. Some say overseas travel is siphoning traffic from domestic trips, while others believe that record-high gas prices have made guests less willing to hop in the car. One thing is certain: Vacation rentals are taking a big hit. While watching their bookings drop, many hosts are getting thrifty to shelter themselves from the current market climate.Read the full story here:Airbnb hosts are panicking about a summer slowdown as short-term vacation rentals take a hit. 'I'm probably going to lose money,' one host says.The former prosecutor defending Leon BlackPatrick McMullan/Karwai Tang/Keith Levit/Pool/Platt/Getty Images; Lucy Nicholson/Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderFormer prosecutor Danya Perry stood up to Andrew Cuomo and Eric Schneiderman. Now she's defending billionaire Leon Black against rape accusations.Perry's defense of Black, the former CEO of Apollo Global Management, might seem incongruous with her past. But interviews with several dozen people who know her paint a picture of a woman who has operated in Black's circles for a long time — and repeatedly made controversial choices based on what she believes is right.Read the full story here:Danya Perry spoke up in support of the #MeToo movement. Now she's defending billionaire Leon Black against rape accusations.Is Miami still the next Silicon Valley?Sylvain Sonnet/Getty ImagesDuring the pandemic, the tech industry fanned out across the US — and the geographically liberated workforce ended up in new places like beachy Miami. But now, the US tech sector is on tenterhooks. Markets are crumbling, startup valuations are cratering, and tech firms are announcing layoffs daily.The industry's uncertain future raises the question: Can Miami become the new Silicon Valley — or will it become a cautionary tale about placing all your bets on a bubble?Read the full story here:Miami's tech boom is in trouble — but if it moves quickly, the city can still become a tropical Silicon Valley35 Under 35: The future of the EV industry Vartan Badalian; Sila Nanotechnologies; Lucid; Sandhya Srinivas; Savanna Durr/InsiderThe electric-vehicle industry is a competitive space. The cars are critical, sure, but so are batteries, supply chains, fleet management, and charging infrastructures. These companies are complex operations that are dependent on razor-sharp talent to make it all run smoothly. Insider has vetted the market and identified 35 people under the age of 35 who we believe are most likely to advance in the industry. From cofounders and CEOs to engineers and scientists, the rising stars of the EV industry have a bright future ahead.Read the full story here:35 Under 35: Meet 2022's rising stars of the electric-vehicle industry, from companies like Rivian, Lucid, and Sila NanotechnologiesThis week's quote:"One million dollars may seem like a daunting number, but regardless of your wealth or income, it really is achievable if you have the right mindset. Map out a solid plan, adjust your budget as your income grows, and always prioritize savings."Tanya Taylor, founder of Grow Your Wealth, on how she saved $1 million for retirement by age 48. More of this week's top reads:SpaceX paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual-misconduct claim against Elon Musk in 2018, Insider found.Here are the top 15 cities where home-price appreciation has outpaced wages.Lady Gaga's Haus Labs makeup launch on Amazon bombed. Now it's set for a Sephora debut.Inside Amazon ProServe, an elite group in the company's cloud unit.These are the tech companies that are most at-risk as the market plunges.Are we in a housing bubble? We asked 32 experts.How a freelancer earned $1.6 million designing pitch decks for startups.Plus: Keep updated with the latest business news throughout your weekdays by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio-news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here tomorrow.Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Lisa Ryan and Hallam Bullock. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider16 hr. 10 min. ago Related News

How Much Bitcoin Does Mr. Wonderful Hold?

A special look under the hood at a recent Kevin O'Leary investment A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Wonderful, aka, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary.  Kevin gave me several interesting takes, including his view on interest rates and how to think about investing in crypto. One of his main investments in the space is in WonderFi (WONDF).  The company is very young, yet expects to have $31M - $32M in revenue in this year with nearly $4B in transactional value flowing through its platform.  WonderFi is a cryptocurrency platform that allows users to trade cryptocurrency and participate in the nascent Defi Market with includes the ideas of yield farming within crypto.Since this stock is sometime harder to find than most OTC listed stocks, you might also look on the NEO exchange for the ticker WNDR or trading on the FTX platform with WNDR as the ticker.The company boasts 600,000 users and is focusing on the retail client.  This number is still a tiny fraction of the total market that could reach as high as 300M users over the next few years.  The idea here is clearly that this is growing industry and this is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.For some perspective, Coinbase (COIN) has 89 million verified users of which about 11M are doing transactions on a monthly basis.  The users on the WonderFi platform are likely to skew to far great percentatge of active users.Risks In The SpaceOver the last several weeks we have seen a few instance of fraud in the cryptocurrency space and if you are like me you probably scratched your head over this.  I mean isn’t the blockchain supposed to be the thing that eliminates the fraud?Turns out WonderFi has a leg up on this front.  The company is really focused on regulation and it is the first licensed broker for crypto in Canada.  The company runs in platform on Ether, which is amongst the most secure crypto platforms.So while issues like “painting the tape” may be an issue for many exchanges, WonderFi is certainly a leader in being a secure platform.LeadershipWhen looking to invest in a new industry that doesn’t have a lot of history one has to look to the leadership.  Does the company have top talent to lead it to the growth.  With Wonderfi moving from 0 to 600,000 users and shortly it will move to 1M, you have to believe they have what it takes.The experienced management team that has put together a great platform, but add on top of that a solid board and a few all star investors and you have a nice recipe for success.The management group has experince from some of the biggest names in the space including Argo Blockchain (ARBK), SalesForce (CRM) among others.  Big InvestorsSpeaking of big investors, there is this one guy on board by the name of Kevin O’Leary.  We see him all the time on Shark Tank and as a market pundit on CNBC so it was interesting to get his take on the crypto space.Be sure to keep WonderFi on your aggressive growth radar screen. Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top buy-and-hold tickers for the entirety of 2022? Last year's 2021 Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolio returned gains as high as +147.7%. Now a brand-new portfolio has been handpicked from over 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these long-term buysAccess Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 today >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (ARGO): Free Stock Analysis Report Coinbase Global, Inc. (COIN): Free Stock Analysis Report Argo Blockchain PLC Sponsored ADR (ARBK): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacks16 hr. 25 min. ago Related News

How Former ‘Real Housewife’ Bethenny Frankel Turned Business Savvy into a $100 Million Disaster Relief Initiative

Frankel rose to fame as one of the original cast members of The Real Housewives of New York City (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) From reality television icon to business mogul to podcast host, Bethenny Frankel wears many hats. But in recent months, one of Frankel’s roles has stood out among the rest: providing emergency assistance to Ukraine through her BStrong disaster relief initiative. What began as a commitment to distributing 100,000 crisis kits to Ukrainian refugees in the wake of Russia’s invasion has turned into raising over $100 million in aid and donations for those in need. In partnership with Global Empowerment Mission, BStrong is known for delivering cash cards and critical supplies directly to people who have been impacted by hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters. As seen on The Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY), Frankel herself traveled to Puerto Rico in 2017 to help communities affected by Hurricane Maria. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Frankel rose to fame as one of the original cast members of RHONY and—despite twice exiting the Bravo reality show (seemingly for good in 2019)—is widely considered one of the Housewives franchise’s most beloved stars. During RHONY‘s second season in 2009, Frankel launched her Skinnygirl brand with her first product, Skinnygirl Margarita. She went on to sell her line of low-calorie Skinnygirl Cocktails to Beam Global (now a part of liquor conglomerate Suntory) in 2011 for a reported $100 million, while retaining the rights to use the Skinnygirl name for non-alcoholic commodities. As Skinnygirl CEO, Frankel has created a global lifestyle empire, offering female-centric products that range from jeans to popcorn to salad dressing. Frankel is also a five-time bestselling author. Her latest book, Business is Personal: The Truth About What it Takes to Be Successful While Staying True to Yourself, was released on May 17. TIME spoke with Frankel about diving headfirst into philanthropy, what she learned from reality TV, and trusting her business gut. (For coverage of the future of work, visit TIME.com/charter and sign up for the free Charter newsletter.) This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Why is philanthropy work important to you? It’s something that I can touch and something I can make a massive difference in. Disaster relief, in particular, utilizes my very specific skill set. I’m very organized, I’m immediate, and I’m good in a crisis. So it’s been something that I didn’t really know I could participate in and have such a great impact. I mean, we have overshot the mark by an astronomical amount. And now that I know what this style of philanthropy entails, I’ve realized why I’m good at it. If you’re a good entrepreneur, you’re effectively just using your business skills. Most people are not operating a fiscally sound philanthropic effort because most people aren’t great business people. So I’m trying to shift the way that people think about philanthropy and the way they invest when they help. What differentiates BStrong from other disaster relief initiatives? My partner at Global Empowerment Mission, Michael [Capponi], is a very good operations logistics person. I’m a very good messenger, I’m very strategic, I’m very organized, and I’m good at being transparent. Overseeing a whole mission and understanding strategy is critical. That’s why [BStrong] is so successful. People love the ‘no frills’ of it all. They don’t want the rubber chicken dinner where only a portion of the proceeds go [to the cause]. They just want to give the money to the people. It’s basically what’s happened with business. This is not a retail strategy. It’s a direct-to-consumer strategy. It’s basically saying, we don’t have to have all these events and make all these shiny pamphlets that cost money. It’s money straight to people. What’s been the biggest logistical challenge of getting BStrong’s Ukraine relief effort off the ground? This is a horrible crisis. But it’s just required tactical organization and strategy. It’s been exhausting, but it hasn’t been challenging, if that makes sense. How do you manage your own mental health during these times of uncertainty? I’ve gotten better at it. It’s like anything else. It’s like learning how to snowboard. I’ve been snowboarding for 25 years. The first time, you fall. But then after you’ve done it for years, the bruises are less. The first time you do a relief effort, you’re immersed and it’s four o’clock in the morning and you’re listening to every single message and every person who has a trunk of clothes and you’re not controlling yourself because you don’t yet know what you would know after years of experience. The circumstances change every time, but the execution has a similar style. It becomes a well-oiled machine. Real Housewives fans know you weren’t afraid to ‘mention it all’ during your time on RHONY. What did you learn about the intersection of personal and professional from navigating reality TV fame? You need to establish some boundaries for yourself because it becomes addictive to talk about everything all the time. So you really have to have some personal, non-work time. Just because I say business is personal doesn’t mean that, you know, I’m talking about the numbers my salad dressing is doing when I’m in bed with my fiancé. Reality television is a very self-involved genre. Everyone thinks that everything that’s going on is so relevant to everyone else, but it’s just not what’s going on in the real world—ironically, because it’s reality television. You became a trailblazer in the male-dominated spirits industry when you launched Skinnygirl. What made you confident you could succeed in that space? I wasn’t confident. I didn’t know anything about anything. I just leapt. I wanted to somehow be involved in a liquor business or have my own line or even have a company do a line that would partially have my name on it. I overshot the mark. When I do something, I go all the way. So I launched and just kept going. You’ve since broken into a number of other industries—from food to fashion to podcasting. Has your approach to entering a new market evolved over the years? I always just do what I like and what I’m passionate about. Opportunities present themselves and if I like them, I go forward. If I don’t, I don’t. It’s not that deep, to be honest. I love this part of my career because I’m not overly hungry. I don’t have the voracious appetite that other celebrities and moguls have. They just want to keep going and getting it and that’s not me. I do what makes me happy and what I think is a good idea and execute on that. And it’s been nice to get to the point where I feel comfortable in what I want to do and what I don’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, that encompasses a lot of spaces. It encompasses books and podcasts and a new TV show that I’m doing and a lot of different stuff. But it it’s all very organic. You’ve said that you “don’t see gender” in business. What do you say to people who might be critical of that kind of remark since your brand is geared so strongly toward women? I just want women to be confident and to know that they’re good enough and strong enough without having to be graded on a curve. Obviously women face struggles and women of color face greater struggles. But I want everyone to walk out and be like ‘”I’m woman and I’m proud.” I’m going to go get it and I’m not going to think about the fact that I might not get it because I’m a woman because that’s not even on my mind. (For coverage of the future of work, visit TIME.com/charter and sign up for the free Charter newsletter.) Why did you want to write Business Is Personal now? I just heard too many people say, “It’s business, it’s not personal.” What the hell does that even mean? If it’s business, and it’s your business, then it’s personal. Because of the pandemic, people have really shaken it up. Everything’s changed—the way we eat, the way we shop, the way we live, the way we socialize—and non-traditional business is so on the forefront. I am a non-traditional entrepreneur and the people I interview on my podcast, Just B, are non-traditional entrepreneurs. This book is a toolkit for anyone, at any stage in their career, who wants to be a non-traditional entrepreneur. You could be a mogul and you’ll learn a lot or you could be a housewife who has a passion for something that you want to turn into a business and you’ll learn a lot. It’s just a relatable book. You’re known for your “Bethenny-isms.” If you had to summarize your ultimate business philosophy in one sentence, what would it be? Find the things that you love and are passionate about, and back them with hard work, drive, and determination. Then you can be successful at pretty much anything......»»

Category: topSource: time17 hr. 41 min. ago Related News

Biden, Harris, AOC, Zuckerberg, and Freeman permanently banned from Russia, but Trump is not on the list

Russia's updated list of sanctions is a response to US support for Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia following Putin's invasion. Russia targeted American politicians, business leaders and actors in its updated sanctions list.Getty Images Russia issues new list of sanctions targeting US citizens including a ban on entering the country. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris are among those on the list. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are also targeted by the new sanctions. Russia has drawn a new list of sanctions permanently banning 963 Americans from entering the country, including President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. On Saturday, the Russian foreign ministry released the updated list of sanctions targeting a number of individuals in response to US support for Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia following Putin's invasion.Biden administration members, Republications, tech executives, journalists, regular US citizens, actor Morgan Freeman and even lawmakers who have died are among those named on the list.In a news release, the foreign ministry said: "Russia does not seek confrontation and is open to honest, mutually respectful dialogue, separating the American people, who are always respected by us, from the US authorities, who incite Russophobia, and those who serve them," adding "it is these people who are included in the Russian 'black list'."Insider contacted the White House for comment.While the list includes many members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Donald Trump was not mentioned. However, the former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was included. The updated list of sanctioned individuals from Russia comes at the time when the Senate passed a new aid package measure of $40 billion, providing Ukraine with new military and humanitarian assistance. Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is listed as a sanctioned individual, alongside Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley. Rep. Lori Trahan, who also appears on the list, tweeted on Saturday: "If Vladimir Putin thinks permanently banning me from Russia is going to change my support for Ukraine, I've got bad news for him. It's not. The United States stands with Ukraine."Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft's president, Brad Smith, were also added to the list.Other individuals include journalists David Ignatius of The Washington Post, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, Bret Stephens of The New York Times and Bianna Golodryga of CNN. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider17 hr. 42 min. ago Related News

Elon Musk suggests cutting Twitter offer by proportion of bots and calls its lack of explanation "very suspicious"

Musk agreed that if 25% of daily active users are fake accounts, the takeover should cost 25% less, equivalent to $11 billion. Elon Musk has put his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on hold pending confirmation on the number of bots using the platform.AP Musk suggested cutting $44 billion offer for Twitter based on the number of bots on the platform. He says the share of fake accounts is about 25% of users, rather than Twitter's 5% estimate. Musk called Twitter's lack of explanation over the bot figure "very suspicious."  Elon Musk has added to uncertainty over his $44 billion offer for Twitter by saying the price should be cut by the proportion of fake accounts on the platform and calling Twitter's lack of explanation over its estimates "very suspicious."Musk agreed Saturday with conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong who tweeted: "If 25% of the users are bots then the Twitter acquisition deal should cost 25% less.""Absolutely," Musk replied. Musk put his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share "on hold" until the platform could prove that only 5% of users are bots.Speaking on the "All-In" podcast Monday, he said the figure was likely to be "four or five times" higher.A 25% reduction would reduce the value of the offer to $33 billion. That sum is far closer to Twitter's market value of just under $30 billion. Shares closed on Friday in New York at $38.29. Musk earlier questioned Twitter's lack of explanation over the 5% estimate, saying it had no incentive to tackle fake accounts. "I'm worried that Twitter has a disincentive to reduce spam, as it reduces perceived daily users," Musk said. Replying to a user who asked if Twitter had been in contact, Musk replied: "No, they still refuse to explain how they calculate that 5% of daily users are fake/spam! Very suspicious."It marks the latest escalation in rhetoric in a turbulent acquisition process, and prompted Musk to remind investors of his priorities toward his other companies Tesla and SpaceX.Musk had previously suggested taking a sample of 100 users to determine the number of bots on the platform, allegedly breaking a NDA with Twitter. He replied to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal's explanation as to why this wasn't possible with a poop emoji. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider18 hr. 26 min. ago Related News