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A North Korean man who smuggled "Squid Game" into the country is to be executed by firing squad, while a highschooler student who bought a USB drive with the show will be jailed for life, report says

Six other highschoolers who watched the show have been sentenced to hard labor. Their teachers have been fired and may be sent to work in remote mines. North Korean defector Kang Sae-byeok (Player 067) in Squid Game.Youngkyu Park A North Korean high school student watched "Squid Game" with his best friend who shared it with others. They were caught by censors after a tip-off, according to a report from Radio Free Asia. One of them got off the hook thanks to rich parents who paid a $3,000 bribe, the outlet reported North Korea is coming down hard on those who distribute or watch Netflix's hit show "Squid Game."The reclusive country has sentenced a man who smuggled and sold the dystopian drama to death by firing squad, while a high-schooler who bought a drive containing the show received a life sentence, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA,) citing sources within the country.Another six high-schoolers who watch the series have also been sentenced to five years of hard labor, reported the RFA. Their supervisors have also been punished, with teachers and school administrators fired. They may be banished to work in remote mines, the media outlet added.The South Korean series tells the story of 456 debt-laden people competing for 45.6 billion won ($38.3 million) of prize money in brutal survival games."This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class," a law enforcement source in North Hamgyong province told RFA's Korean service. "The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them."The students were caught by government censors after a tip-off, the source told RFA. It's the first time the North Korean government is punishing minors under a law that penalizes the distribution, watching, or keeping of media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US, the RFA added."The government is taking this incident very seriously, saying that the students' education was being neglected," RFA's source said.One of the students got off the hook thanks to rich parents who paid a $3,000 bribe, the outlet reported. Last month, a state-run North Korean propaganda website said the Netflix drama highlighted how South Korea is where "corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace." The show also featured a North Korean defector whose story highlighted her arduous escape from the north. Despite the threat of retribution, smuggled, illegal copies of "Squid Game" have been making their way into North Korea.A previous article from Radio Free Asia noted that North Koreans found the financial struggles of the show's characters "relatable."The massive hit is Netflix's most-watched show ever.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

A North Korean man who smuggled "Squid Game" into the country is to be executed by firing squad, and a highschool student who bought a USB drive with the show will be jailed for life, report says

Six other highschoolers who watched Squid Game were sentenced to hard labor and their teachers may be sent to remote mines, Radio Free Asia reported. North Korean defector Kang Sae-byeok (Player 067) in Squid Game.Youngkyu Park North Korea appears to have come down hard on people who distribute or watch "Squid Game." Citing unnamed sources, Radio Free Asia said a North Korean man was sentenced to death for smuggling the show. Seven high school students received harsh sentences for watching the show, RFA reported. North Korea appears to have come down hard on people who distribute or watch Netflix's hit show "Squid Game."According to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA) citing unnamed sources inside North Korea, a man who smuggled and sold the dystopian drama has been sentenced to death by firing squad, while a highschooler who bought a USB drive containing the show was sentenced to life in jail.Another six high-schoolers who watched the show were sentenced to five years of hard labor, RFA reported. Their supervisors were also punished, with teachers and school administrators fired, possibly to be banished to work in remote mines, RFA said.RFA is a US government-funded non-profit news service that serves audiences in Asia. It says its aim is to "provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press."The South Korean television series Squid Game tells the story of 456 debt-laden people competing for 45.6 billion won ($38.3 million) of prize money in brutal survival games.A law enforcement source in North Hamgyong province told RFA's Korean service: "This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama Squid Game and watched it with one of his best friends in class. The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them." The students were caught by government censors after a tip-off, the source told RFA.It's the first time the North Korean government has punished minors under a law that penalizes the distribution, watching, or keeping of media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US, RFA said."The government is taking this incident very seriously, saying that the students' education was being neglected," RFA's source said.One of the students got off the hook because they had rich parents who paid a $3,000 bribe, the outlet reported. Last month, a state-run North Korean propaganda website said the Netflix drama highlighted how South Korea is where "corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace." The show also featured a North Korean defector whose story highlighted her arduous escape from the country. Despite the threat of retribution, smuggled, illegal copies of "Squid Game" have been making their way into North Korea.A previous article from Radio Free Asia noted that North Koreans found the financial struggles of the show's characters "relatable."The massive hit is Netflix's most-watched show ever.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

A North Korean man who smuggled "Squid Game" into the country is to be executed by firing squad and a high-school student who bought a USB drive with the show will be jailed for life, report says

Six other students who watched "Squid Game" were sentenced to hard labor and their teachers may be sent to remote mines, Radio Free Asia reported. The character Kang Sae-byeok, a North Korean defector, in "Squid Game."Youngkyu Park North Korea appears to have come down hard on people who distribute or watch "Squid Game." Citing unnamed sources, Radio Free Asia said a man there was sentenced to death for smuggling it. Seven high-school students received harsh sentences for watching the show, RFA reported. North Korea appears to have come down hard on people who distribute or watch Netflix's hit show "Squid Game."A report by Radio Free Asia cited unnamed sources inside North Korea as saying a man who smuggled and sold the dystopian drama had been sentenced to death by firing squad and a high schooler who bought a USB drive containing the show was sentenced to life in prison.Another six high schoolers who watched the show were said to be sentenced to five years of hard labor, RFA reported. Their supervisors were also said to be punished, with teachers and school administrators fired, possibly to be banished to work in remote mines, RFA said.RFA is a US government-funded nonprofit news service that serves audiences in Asia. It says its aim is to "provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press."The South Korean television series "Squid Game" tells the story of 456 debt-laden people competing for 45.6 billion won, or $38.3 million, of prize money in brutal survival games.A law-enforcement source in North Korea's North Hamgyong province told RFA's Korean service: "This all started last week when a high-school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama 'Squid Game' and watched it with one of his best friends in class. The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them." The students were caught by government censors after a tip-off, the source told RFA.It's the first time the North Korean government has punished minors under a law that penalizes the distribution, watching, or keeping of media from capitalist countries like South Korea and the US, RFA said."The government is taking this incident very seriously, saying that the students' education was being neglected," RFA's source said.A source told the outlet that one of the students got off the hook because they had rich parents who paid a $3,000 bribe.Last month, a state-run North Korean propaganda website said the Netflix drama highlighted how South Korea was a place where "corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace." One of the show's characters was a North Korean defector whose story highlighted her arduous escape from the country.Despite the threat of retribution, smuggled, illegal copies of "Squid Game" have been making their way into North Korea.A previous article from Radio Free Asia noted that North Koreans found the financial struggles of the show's characters "relatable."Netflix has said the massive hit had the highest first-month viewership of any of its originals.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

"Squid Game" Smuggler To Die By Firing Squad In North Korea: Report

'Squid Game' Smuggler To Die By Firing Squad In North Korea: Report Authored by Isabel von Brugen via The Epoch Times, A North Korean man has reportedly been sentenced to death by authorities after he was caught distributing copies of the Netflix series “Squid Game,” which Pyongyang says reflects South Korea’s “beastly” society. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the individual smuggled in copies of the Korean-language Netflix hit via USB flash drives and sold them in North Korea. He was sentenced to death by firing squad after authorities found seven high school students watching the nine-part thriller series in class. A North Korean propaganda website last month said that the show exposes the reality of South Korean capitalist culture where “corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace” and an “unequal society where moneyless people are treated like chess pieces for the rich.” “It is said that it makes people realize the sad reality of the beastly South Korean society in which human beings are driven into extreme competition and their humanity is being wiped out,” North Korea’s Arirang Meari site said. A student who purchased a USB flash drive containing the series was handed a life sentence, while six other students have been issued a sentence of five years hard labor, RFA reported, citing sources in North Korea. “This all started last week when a high school student secretly bought a USB flash drive containing the South Korean drama ‘Squid Game’ and watched it with one of his best friends in class,” an unnamed law enforcement source in North Korea’s North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service on Monday. “The friend told several other students, who became interested, and they shared the flash drive with them. They were caught by the censors in 109 Sangmu, who had received a tipoff,” the source added. RFA reported that North Korea has a government strike force, named Surveillance Bureau Group 109, which targets individuals watching videos that are prohibited in the country. North Korea has been imposing stiff fines or prison for anyone caught enjoying South Korean entertainment or copying the way South Koreans speak as leader Kim Jong Un steps up a war on outside influences and calls for better homegrown entertainment. A sweeping new “anti-reactionary thought” law was imposed late last year, and carries a maximum penalty of death for watching, obtaining, or distributing media from counties including South Korea and the United States. Yeonmi Park, a North Korean defector, described Netflix’s most-watched show as presenting a “very accurate portrayal of North Koreans’ plight in South Korea, and the journey they go through to become free.” However, she expressed concern over the show’s apparent demonization of inequality. “Inequality is a sign of opportunity,” she said in a video on her YouTube channel in October. “When I was in North Korea, everybody was dirt poor. When I came to South Korea and America, I heard that there are trillionaires, billionaires, and these are people who founded companies such as Tesla, SpaceX, and invented new things.” “In North Korea everyone is poor because nobody is allowed to invent, and there’s so much demonization and animosity toward wealth. I keep saying to people, inequality doesn’t mean poverty, poverty is something that we need to fight against,” Park continued. “In the United States there is opportunity, you earn honest money, feed your children, and get an education, while in North Korea, you cannot do that,” she added. “That’s why I now have concern with the media focusing on inequality, portraying the main [‘Squid Game’] character who isn’t disciplined, is a bad father … as a hero.” The director of “Squid Game” has said the popular show is likely to return for a second season. “We are in the talks for Season Two,” writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk said in an interview on Nov. 8. “It’s all in my head. I have the basic storyline, the broad plan, so we’re in the brainstorming stages. “I’m going to go ahead and say there will be a second season, but as for when, I cannot tell you now,” Hwang added. Tyler Durden Thu, 11/25/2021 - 19:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 25th, 2021

Transcript: Hubert Joly

       The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   BARRY RITHOLTZ,… Read More The post Transcript: Hubert Joly appeared first on The Big Picture.        The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Hubert Joly is the man who helped turn around Best Buy when they were floundering about a decade ago. The stock has since returned 10X from when he joined as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He is the author of a fascinating new book, “The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism.” He’s really a fascinating guy, has an amazing background, both as a consultant for McKinsey and being on a number of different boards and running a number of different companies. Everybody who’s looked at his work always put him amongst the best CEOs, top 100 this, top 30 that, really just a tremendous, tremendous track record. And I had a fascinating time speaking with him. I think if you’re at all interested in anything involving leadership or the next era of capitalism or why the old-school Neutron Jack approach to just firing everybody and cutting costs away to restore profitability no longer works, you’re going to find this to be a fascinating conversation. So, with no further ado, my interview with Hubert Joly. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: This week, my special guest is Hubert Joly. He is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Best Buy. He is currently the Senior Lecturer on Business at Harvard Business School. He is on the boards of directors at Johnson & Johnson and Ralph Lauren and has been named one of the top 100 CEOs by Harvard Business Review, one of the top 30 CEOs by Barron’s and one of the top 10 CEOs to work for in the U.S. by Glassdoor. Hubert Joly, welcome to Bloomberg. HUBERT JOLY, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School: Well, thank you, Barry, very much looking forward to our conversation. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s start with a little bit of your background, you’ve been the CEO of three major companies. Tell us about how that came about. Take us to the beginning or early days of your career. JOLY: Yes, Barry. I started my career with McKinsey & Company in France and then also in the U.S. Essentially, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, that, I thought, it’d be a great training ground and I ending up staying a dozen years at the firm, done a great deal and had wonderful opportunities to lead great companies. At first, I left McKinsey to lead a client that was EDS, Electronic Data Systems in France and I ended up doing a number of turnaround and transformations of companies in industry sectors that were challenged by technology. So, in videogames, in travel, and then, of course, ended up with Best Buy. And I’ve ended up working a variety of industry sectors and those specializations there and every move was a move that was based on — it was – there was somebody with whom I had developed relationship that played a critical role. And so, for example, when I left Vivendi Universal to become the CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the CEO of (inaudible), which was one of the two shareholders, had been a client of mine and where we have stayed friends. So, Barry, one of the key lessons is that try to minimize the number of people you annoy or irritate along the way and try to focus on doing a great job when you are and then I hope that God provides in the end, which is, I think, the lesson for me of my career. RITHOLTZ: So, I want to spend more time talking about your career. But I have to ask, how did you find yourself moving from France to the United States, what led to that and what was that transition like? Because every time I’m in Paris, I always end up saying to myself, God, I could live here. JOLY: Yes. Thank you for that, Barry. So, the first time I moved to the U.S. in 1985, I was with McKinsey & Company. I’d gone to school in France and there had been discussion of should I do an MBA in the U.S. and after a while, McKinsey said no, you really don’t need to do that. But if you want to spend time in the U.S., we’ll send you to one of our offices. So, I ended up in the San Francisco office, quite the years where the minors were at the top of their game, right? So, that — it’s quite fascinating. And then the last time I moved to the U.S. was in ’08, 2008, when I became the CEO of Carlson Companies. So, I moved there from Paris, France to Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I love France. I think it’s a great country. I love the U.S. What I love about the U.S. is that since Jefferson, we’ve been optimistic. It’s been the dream of a better life and it’s this optimism. Let me tell you, in France, you talk about a problem that has never been solved. People will say, well, who are you to talk about it. Nobody has been able to solve it, right. But in the U.S., if a problem has never been solved, immediately, your friends is like, this is interesting, let’s see whether we can solve it. I love this optimism in this great country and I’m now a dual citizen, Barry. RITHOLTZ: Very — really, really interesting. So, let’s talk a little bit about how one becomes a good CEO. Is it effectively on-the-job training or is it a function of your experience and ability that makes you a great leader? JOLY: Yes. There’s the myth that you’re born a leader. I think that every leader was born, of course, but none of us were born leaders and I think it’s a learning journey. And for me, it’s been — yes, I’m learning by doing, learning on the job, learning from great mentors. One thing I learned the most about — with McKinsey was watching my client’s lead and I learned so much from a number of them. Learning from colleagues, at Best Buy, I learned so much from the frontliners and some of our great executives and then our coach. So, let’s slow down here. Can we agree, Barry, that exactly 100% of the top 100 tennis players in the world have a coach. RITHOLTZ: Sure. JOLY: I think the same is true for all of the NFL teams, all of the Champions League teams. What about us executives, right? And so, it’s interesting that now, for CEOs and senior executives have coaches much more popular. But 10 or 15 years ago, not so much. And I’ve benefited enormously, my first coach was the inimitable Marshall Goldsmith. I’ve learned a ton from him. He helped me deal with feedback and focus on getting better and asking for advice. And without Marshall, I would not be – it is infomercial before and after picture, it’s most improved. RITHOLTZ: Marshall Goldsmith was where? Was that at McKinsey or? JOLY: It was — the first time I worked with Marshall was in 2009. I had just became the CEO of Carlson Companies and my head of HR, Elizabeth Bastoni, told me, would you like to work with a coach and my first reaction was, am I doing anything wrong, is everything wrong with this? He said, no, no. I know Marshall, he helps in a great deal get better. His clients are – were, at that time, Alan Mullally of Ford and Jim Kim of the World Bank. I said, that’s cool, I want to be a member of that club. And Marshall was so helpful because when I was getting feedback, you do a 360 and you hear the goods and then you hear the other parts and my reaction initially was, what’s wrong with them, right? What are they talking about? And Marshall helped me — and the way he helped was — so, I did the 360. He gave me first all of the good things that people have said and says, spend the time to swallow this, digest this. And then the next day, he gave me the other stuff and he said, here’s the scoop, you don’t need to do anything with it, right? There’s no god that says that you need to get better at any of these things but you can — but you get to decide what you want to work on and get better at, right? And think about, so, here’s a question that we could ask, right, think about things that you’d like to get better at, right, and if you cannot think about anything, try humility, right, as a potential area. And then what Marshall made me do is talk to my team and said, thank you very much for all of the feedback you’ve given me and then based on what you said, I’m going to start to work on three things, number one, number two, number three, and I’m going to follow up with each of you to ask you for advice on how I can get better at these three things and then a few months from now, I’ll follow up to see how I’m doing. Now, believe me, Barry, first time I did this, this was excruciating pain having to admit to my team that I was not perfect. They knew it. They knew I was not perfect but having to say it out loud and then I wanted to get better at something. But this getting better at something makes it very positive. And then — so, later on, when I joined Best Buy, I repeated that signaling to every one of the executives that it was OK to want to get better at something. And so, later on, everybody at Best Buy had a coach and we were all helping out each other on getting better at our job, which is what I think you need to do. So, coaching — executive coaching plays a key role in my life. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. And I recall seeing Marshall Goldsmith’s name on a book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and a quick Google search shows me that like you, he also is a professor. He teaches at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and has quite an impressive CV. But I want to stick with the concept of coaching and mentors, what did you learn at McKinsey who helped you when you were there sort of develop into the CEO that you are today? JOLY: Yes. So, there was — for me, there were two phases, Barry, at McKinsey that we serve, before the partnership and then the partnership. So, in my first say six years as an associate and then a manager, I learned a lot about problem-solving, communications, serving functional matters and so forth. So, I could say I learned a bunch of technical skills. But when I became a partner, the opportunity I got was sit down next to the CEO of the clients, watch them do their thing and listen and learn from them and that makes me — I got a great deal, right, because they were paying us and I was learning from them, right? Couldn’t get a better deal than that. And so, I will always remember, there was a client in, Jean-Marie Descarpentries was the CEO of a computer company Honeywell Bull and this is the guy who told me that the purpose of the company is not to make money, right? It’s an outcome, right? In business, you have three imperatives. You have the people imperative, which are the right teams. We have the business imperatives, which are the customers or clients and then great products and services. And then there’s a financial imperative and, of course, you have to understand that excellence on the financial imperative is the result of excellence on the business imperative, which itself is the result of excellence on the people imperative. So, it’s people, business, finance and finance is an outcome. And by the way, it’s not the ultimate goal because if you think about a company as a human organization, a bunch of people working together, they’re probably in there to create something in the world, right, and we can dig into this but that was — and believe me that was 30 years before the BRT statement of 2019 that we said we need (ph) in August the second anniversary. And so then, it was — the practical implications around this is that when you do your monthly review with your team, start with people and organization. Don’t start with financial results. If you should start with financial result, you’re going to spend your entire time on financials and you want to understand what’s driving these results whereas if you start with people and organization, you have a chance to spend time on that, then business, customers, products and then the CFO will make sure that you’ll spend enough time on the financial results. So, for me, that was a game changer and I applied this throughout my career and you could say whether it was in videogames or in travel or hospitality or in Best Buy, this focus on people first and treating profit as an outcome was a big driver performance. And this has not smoked anything illegal when I say this, Barry. As you know, the share price of Best Buy went from beyond low, it was $11. Recently, it’s been between 110 and 120. So, time spent in nine years, that’s not bad. Maybe you could have done better, Barry, but it’s OK, I think. RITHOLTZ: No. I don’t think I could have done better than 10X and PES no longer illegal in New York. So, you could smoke whatever you like. We’re going to — by the way, those three steps that you just mentioned are right from the book and we’re going to talk a little more about the book in a few minutes. But before we get to that, I have one last question to ask you which has to do with the fact that Best Buy, you mentioned it’s up 10X, it’s a publicly-traded company. Before you were at Best Buy, you are also at a giant company but it was privately held. Tell us a little bit about what that transition was like having to answer to shareholders and Wall Street. How did you manage that? Very different experience from everybody I’ve spoken with over the years. JOLY: Yes. Barry, so, I’ve worked in a public company, Best Buy. I’ve worked in a family-owned company, this was Carlson Companies. I’ve worked in a partially private equity-owned company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, one equity partner of JPMorgan with 45 different shareholders and frankly, I think it’s pretty much all the same. You have shareholders whether they are large entities like Fidelity or Wellington or it’s a private equity player or it’s a family, they have expectations and needs and, by the way, all of them are human beings, right, by the way and that’s focused on the high-intensity trading that all the longs and all the shorts, they are human beings, and I’ve had – even though I say profit is an outcome and is not the ultimate goal, shareholders, even in stakeholder capitalism, are very important stakeholders. They’re taking care of our retirement. So, we love them for that. And so, when I was a CEO of Best Buy, I so enjoyed spending time with our shareholders sharing with them what we’re doing, answering their questions, they’re smart. It was always taking things away and the key was pay attention, listen and then pay attention to the say/do ratio. Best Buy had lost its credibility because they were saying a lot but not doing much, right? So, with my wonderful CFO sharing the column with me, we’re going to say less and do more and that’s how we’re going to build our credibility and we would be very transparent, share our situation, the opportunities we saw, what we’re going to do, and then we update them in our progress. And so, I really enjoy the competition. But in many ways, Barry, I think public, private equity or a family is largely the same. It’s people, we have to respect them and take care of their needs. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Hubert Joly. He is the former Chairman and Chief Executive at Best Buy, a company that he helped turn around over the course of his tenure there. Let’s talk a little bit about that. If you would have asked me a decade ago what the future look like for Best Buy, I would have said they were toast that Amazon was going to eat their lunch and they were heading to the garbage pile. Tell us what the key was to turning the company around so successfully. JOLY: You’re, right. Everybody thought we’re going to die. There was zero buy recommendation on the start in 2012 and what I found as I was examining the opportunity to become the CEO because my first reaction when I was approached was this is crazy, right? This is the same reaction as you described. But what I found is that there was nothing wrong with the markets or the business outside. All of the problems were self-inflicted. In fact, the customers needed Best Buy because we needed a place where to see and touch and feel the products and ask questions. And the vendors ultimately needed Best Buy. They needed a place where to showcase their products, the fruit of their billions of dollars of R&D investments. The problems were self-inflicted. Prices were not competitive. The online shopping experience was terrible. Speed of shipping was bad. The customer experiences in the stores have deteriorated. The cost structure was bloated and, and, and. That’s great news because if a problem is self-inflicted, you can fix it. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: And so the first phase was all about fixing what was broken and the advice I had been getting, Barry, was cut, cut, cut. We’re going to have to close stores, cut headcounts. We did the opposite. All of the stores were profitable. So, frankly, there was no point of closing stores in a significant fashion. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: It was very — the first phase was a very people centric approach, listening to the frontliners. My first week on the job, I spent it in the store in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I think in France, we would say St. Cloud but over there it’s St. Cloud so there you go. And really listening to the frontliners, they had all of the answers about what needed to be done. And so, my job was pretty easy, it was do what they have to — what they said we needed to do like fix the website, make sure the prices were competitive and so forth. The second on the people centric approach, build the right team at the top and then instead of focusing on headcount reduction, focus on growing the top line by meeting the customer needs and fixing what was broken in the customer experience and treating headcount reduction really as a last resort. And then focus on mobilizing the team on what we need to do for the customers. That sounds soft but that was our opportunity and that’s what we need to do in the first two or three or four years. And then once we have saved the company, it was about how do we — where do we go from here, how — what kind of company do we want to build for the future. And that’s why we focused on designing our purpose as a company. We said we’re actually not a consumer electronics retailer. We are a company in the business of enriching life through technology by addressing key human needs, which we’ll talk more about this. But this was transported because it’s expanded our addressable market and have to mobilize everybody. And as a company, we have to work on making this come to life in all of our activities and really creating an environment where – I think the summary at that time was we unleashed human magic. We had a hundred thousand people plus, I think spring in their step, connecting would drive them in life with their job and doing magical things for customers. And frankly, Barry, I learned so much along the way and, again, all of this sound soft but go back to — we went from $11 to 110 or 120. That was the key. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. So, let’s talk a little bit about what you guys had done in the physical stores. The big threat to Best Buy was people showrooming, meaning showing up to look it up products and then buying it for a little cheaper at Amazon. How did you — and this is the line from the book, quote, “How did you kill showrooming and turned it into showcasing?” unquote. JOLY: Yes. So, everybody was talking about showrooming at that time. The frequenct was not that high actually but of course, it was incredibly frustrating for the blue shirt associates in our store to spend time with you, Barry, we love you but we spent 30 minutes with you answering all of your questions about the TV and then you buy it online. So, after 30 days at the company, we actually decided that we were going to take price off the table by lining up places with Amazon and giving the blue shirts the authority on the spot to match Amazon prices. And so, I took price off the table … RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: … and the customers, once they were in our stores, they were ours to lose. RITHOLTZ: Right. When you want to drive home with the TV in the back of the car instead of waiting a couple of days from it to come from Amazon, immediate gratification has to be a huge benefit you guys have as the physical store. JOLY: Exactly. And then, yes, of course, the (inaudible) but you’re still going to die because your cost structure is too high, it’s higher than Amazon or Walmart. So, we did take $2 billion of cost out. RITHOLTZ: Wow. JOLY: But the way we won in the end was we just had aha moment of, as I said, showcasing. If you are a Samsung or HP or Amazon and Google products, you need a place where to showcase your products, right, because you spend billions of dollars on R&D and if it’s just I’d say vignette on a website or box on a shelf, you’re not going to excite the customers. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: You need a place where to showcase your products. And so, we did deals. The first one was with Samsung where we had a meeting in December of 2012, Barry. J.K. Shin, the then CEO of Samsung Electronics came to visit us in Minneapolis in December of 2012 and over dinner, we did a deal where in a matter of months, you would have 1,000 Samsung stores within our stores where you could showcase these products. It was just across the aisle from — we already had an Apple store within the store and it was good for the customers because they could see the products, they could compare with Apple. It was good for Samsung, right, because the alternative for them first was to build 1,000 stores in the U.S., it takes time, it’s difficult, and. of course, we have this great location and great traffic. And good for us because it was part of our OPM strategy, other people’s money strategy, right, because there were some good economics for us. And so, that allowed us to offset the cost advantage in Walmart or Amazon we have and then over time, we did deal with all of the world’s foremost almost tech companies, including Amazon for crying out loud, and that was the game changer. And we look — if you look at our stores today, they are shiny because — we have all of these shiny objects and you can see and experience all of these products. So, that was really a game changer. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about both Samsung and Amazon. First, I’m always surprised that people don’t realize what a giant product company Samsung is. It’s not just phones but it’s phones, its TVs, it’s washers, dryers. I mean, Samsung basically anything in your house is a product that Samsung makes and not just entry-level washer, dryers or refrigerators. I think was it last year or two years ago, they bought Dacor, which is like a subzero, high-end manufacturer of kitchen appliances. So, when you set up the store within a store with Samsung, tell us about what that did and how did that impact Samsung’s sales at Best Buys? JOLY: Sure. Yes. I mean, you’re right to highlight this great company. The first deal we did with them was focused on phones and tablets and cameras. So, in a matter of months, they had these stores within our stores and it really put them on the map. It is I think — if you go back to the ’90s, Samsung was not the same company. They were really low end and the chairman at that time, so, the father of the current — of J.Y. Lee now, came to the U.S. and said, at some point, I want Best Buy to carry us and it would be the ultimate goal. And now, they’re one of our top five vendors, probably better than top five. And so, it really gives them the physical presence and to prove that it’s worth for them was then we did the same in the TV department and then in the appliance department. So, it’s been a series of wins for them. And once we have announced the deal with Samsung, other — we had similar conversation with Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, we had a conversation at CES and then two months later, we did the Microsoft stores within Best Buy and then it went on and on. And Tim Cook at Apple told me that he didn’t really like what we were doing, he understood it but he didn’t really like it and Apple has been a very important vendor to Best Buy. So, what we decided to do with them is do more. And so, it was stronger partnership. So, Best Buy is not simply carrying products and partners with the world’s foremost tech companies and with some of these companies and partners on product development, new product introduction and because there’s so much innovation that drives the business, it’s a critical role we play. We also partner in service, Best Buy sells AppleCare, an authorized Apple service provider. So, these partnerships really changed the game. And in the U.S., I think it’s not arrogant to say that Best Buy is the only player which these large companies can do these meaningful deals. So, it really changed the trajectory. RITHOLTZ: I have to ask you about the Geek Squad. Whose idea was that and how significant is it to the company? JOLY: Sure. Robert Stephens was a student at the University of Minnesota, was the — is the founder of Geek Squad in 1994. Very creative guy. The name itself is good — is cool, the logo and so forth, and then Best Buy acquired the company in 2002 when it was quite — still quite small and now, of course, it’s become really big, it’s 20,000 employees. And it’s the key elements of Best Buy’s differentiation because Best Buy is not just in the business of selling you something. We’re — our target customer — people who are excited about technology need technology but also need help with it. And so, with the Geek Squad and the blue shirts, we’re able to advise you when you’re looking at what to do but also help you implement in your home, helps you figure out if something is not working across, right? Of course, let’s take an example. If Netflix is not working tonight at your house, Barry, is it because of Netflix, is it piping to the home, is it the router, is it the streaming device, is it the TV, honey, what is it, right? And we’re honey, right, and we’re going to be able to help you across all of these vendors. And so, that’s a big differentiator for the company. So, really genius. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Hubert Joly. His new book is called, “The Heart of Business.” Let’s talk a little bit about writing a book which is quite an endeavor. What motivated you to sit down and say, sure, I’ll write a book? JOLY: Well, this is not a traditional field book. So, this is not a memoir. This is not about the story of the Best Buy turnaround per se. It was reflection, Barry, and it’s really been something I’ve been thinking about for the last 30 years that so much of what I’ve learned at business school, what McKinsey or the early years of my career is wrong, dated or incomplete. And when sit back today or in the last couple of years, even though I’m the eternal (ph) optimist, I have to say it out loud, the world as we know it is not working, right? We’re in this multifaceted crisis, you have, of course, the health crisis and economic crisis, suicidal issues, racial issues, environmental problems, geopolitical tension, it simply is not working. And what’s the definition of madness, right? It’s doing the same thing and hoping for different outcome. And for me, on my FBI’s most wanted list, is two people. One is Milton Friedman, shareholder primacy, and two is Bob McNamara, the former Secretary of Defense and executive at Ford who’s the — almost the inventor top-down scientific management. These approaches don’t work and I think they got us in trouble and there’s a growing number of us, right, and certainly, I’m not the only one, who believe that there’s a better formula that business can be a force for good that — it’s the idea that business should pursue a noble purpose and take care of all of the stakeholders that you put people at the center. You embrace all stakeholders in some kind of declaration of future dependents. There’s no need to choose between employees and customers and shareholders. It’s by taking care of customers and employees and the community that generate great returns for shareholders. We treat profit as an outcome and this formula, people call it stakeholder capitalism or purposeful leadership, I think everybody now talks about it and embrace it, most people. There’s still a few who don’t agree. But the challenge then is how do you do this, how do you make this happen and, Barry, I felt that with my experience and the credibility of the Best Buy turnaround, I could add my voice and my energy to call this necessary foundation of business and capitalism around purpose and humanity and provide like a guide for any leader at any level frankly who is keen to move in that direction but like the rest of us, we would help. And so, that was the genesis of the book and the subtitle of the book is leadership principles, right, for the next era of capitalism and the book is full of very concrete examples and stories and illustrations. There’s questions at the end of each chapter that people can use to reflect and act at their company. So, that’s the book. RITHOLTZ: Speaking of the book, it got a terrific review from all — of all people, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. How did that come about, how did Bezos give you a review and what’s the relationship like between Best Buy and Amazon these days? JOLY: Sure. Best Buys has always sold Amazon products because we think about Amazon as the retailer, of course, as a cloud company but Amazon is also a product company, right? They have the Kindle and, of course, all of their Echo products. And Best Buy have always sold Amazon’s products in the stores. Other retailers say it otherwise but we felt these were great products and we’re here to serve customers. I got to know Jeff firstly through the business council. Both of us were members there on the executive committee and once, I was invited to discuss our turnaround and how we had approached that transformation and Jeff was in the first row and being very kind. But then we did this significant partnership where I think it was in 2018. Amazon gave Best Buy exclusive rights to Fire TV platform, which is their smart TV platform, to be embedded into smart TVs. So, any smart TV with the Fire TV embedded in it, Best Buy is going to control that. It’s only going to be sold at Best Buy or by Best Buy and Amazon. And when we did the announcement for this deal, we did it in a store in Beverly, Washington, and Jeff came and we had some media there and Jeff said, TV is a considerate purchase. You got to see the TV. Best Buy is the best place in the world we you can do this. That’s why we’re doing the partnership and we built this stress-based relationship. And, of course, the media was — this was a jaw-dropping moment and Jeff is a very generous man. It’s interesting because it raises another question which is how do you think about competition. As you lead a company, do you obsess about competition or do you obsess about your customers and what you can become. And that’s one of the things that Jeff and and I share which is you obsess about your customers and becoming the best version of yourself you can be. Of course, at Best Buy, we look at Amazon. We wanted to — actually, in the sense, we neutralize them, right, because same prices, same great shopping experience and we ship as fast as they do. So, let’s call it a draw on the online business and then we have unique asset. And so, you’re not obsessed about your competition. In fact, in some cases, you partner with them and I think the world — other than the COVID pandemic, there’s another pandemic in the world which is the fear or the obsession about zero-sum games. The only way that Amazon could win is if Best Buy loses or vice versa. The only way this podcast can be successful, Barry, is if you win and I lose. That’s crazy, right? You get to collaborate and create great outcomes and I think in this world as leaders, we have to think about how we can create when win, win, win outcomes for our customers, our employees, our vendors, the community and ultimately, their shareholders. RITHOLTZ: And to put some flesh on those bones, some numbers on it, in 2007, before the financial crisis, Best Buy had done about $35 billion in revenue. In 2020, they were somewhere in the neighborhood of 47 billion and this year, I think the company is looking for an excess of 50 billion. So, clearly, that’s been heading in the right direction. Let’s talk a little bit about your experience on other boards. You’re in the board of directors of Johnson & Johnson and you’re on the board of directors at Ralph Lauren. What have you learned from those firms that were applicable to Best Buy and what do you bring to the table for those companies? JOLY: Yes. So, I joined — the first board I joined was Ralph Lauren in 2009 and I was the CEO of Carlson Companies, which was Carlson Wagonlit Travel, TGI Fridays and then a bunch of hotels, Regent and Radisson. The reason why I was interested in joining another board was to try to become a better CEO in the relationship with my board and sitting on somebody else’s board, you can see the needs of the board and then you can see how the CEO and their team are dealing with you. So, that was a great experience because when you become CEO and you deal with the board, you have zero experience, right, dealing with the board. So, that’s one of the things you learn on the job. So, that was a great way for me to learn. And these two companies, J&J and Ralph Lauren, they’re two amazing companies. J&J, I joined recently. I joined about 18 months ago. And so, watching Alex Gorsky and his team navigate the pandemic, their Credo-based approach. I mean, they’re the inventor of stakeholder capitalism before (inaudible), right, with their Credo that they created in 1943 that’s focused on all of the stakeholders. They’re one of the most innovative companies. So, they show the value of doing meaningful innovation for the benefit of, in their case, their patients. This is a wonderful entrepreneur. The company was founded in ’67 and it’s a great company, one of the most iconic brands on the planet. So, how do drive this and how do you balance left brain and right brain and, of course, enjoying cooperating with Patrice Louvet, the CEO, who is a terrific guy. And so, learning — I’m like a sponge, I love learning (ph) from others. What I bring, I would frame it along the lines of what I was looking for my board to do when I was CEO and I was not looking for the board to give me all of the answers and do my job, right? But I use the board — I wanted — I build a board that would give me complementary skills. So, I wanted to have the best people on the board that would have skills that would be additive to our management team and use the board as a sounding board to — I would get 80 percent of the value of the board meeting in preparation to the board meeting. And then getting reaction at the sounding board. When you are in the weed, sometimes, you’re missing something and then being able to access unique expertise from my board. So, what I try to bring on these boards is I try to be a resource for the management team, a sounding board, and helping them with their most important issues. I really enjoyed that. I’m in the state now where I started a new chapter as you highlighted, I’m no longer a CEO but it’s a matter of giving back and helping the next generation of leaders be the — become the best version of themselves they can be. So, I do that through boards and through executive education at Harvard Business School, also coach and mentor of a number of CEOs and executives. So, it’s — I just love doing that. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing now. Tell us about the class you’re teaching at Harvard. JOLY: So, on Monday, August 30th, that is the first day of school for the incoming MBA class. So, I’m one of the professors in the first year. I teach marketing, which is about — it’s focused really on how do you grow a company focusing on the customers. So, that’s one of the things I do. I’m also part of the faculty that’s — as a program for new CEOs. So, twice per year with a small bunch of new CEOs, I did this when I became CEO, that come here for three days and we try to help them out. I’m also part of the faculty that’s doing a program called Leading Global Businesses and last but not the least, I’m really passionate about this, we’re designing and we’re going to pilot program for companies and then also in the MBA program called Putting Purpose to Work and Unleashing Human Magic. So, many companies on this purpose journey today. And so, there’s going to be a series of workshops for the top 30 people, custom programs, one company at a time, and we’re going to try to support them in their journey. We’re doing our first pilot this fall and to look forward to learning from that experience. And I think we’re just in the early innings of that new era of capitalism. So, so much to learn. I’m super excited to be part of that journey with a number of companies. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. I have to ask you the obvious question, is your book a book you assigned to your students? What do you have them read? JOLY: So, HBS is a school where there’s really not, for the most part, mandatory reading of any books. So, I know that last year, before the book was established, my wonderful Section E from the MBA program, they all got a copy of the manuscript and they had great conversations, too. Sometimes, the book gets distributed to the participants of the executive education programs. But in the MBA, there’s little mandatory reading. It’s all about, as you know, the case study methodology, which is a wonderful way to learn because it’s hard to learn just from reading. Reading, I mean, I encourage people to read the books for sure but it’s by practicing that you really learned, right? So, that’s the HBS way. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. And one of the things that Bezos specifically mentioned was that he thought your turnarounds at Best Buy was going on eventually become a Harvard Business School case study. What are your thoughts on that? JOLY: Well, we’re actually working on that with Professor Gupta and it’s going to be taught for the first time. This is going to be fun, right? It’s going to be the last case of the marketing class in December. And so, of course, in my section, it’s going to be ironic. I’m going to be Professor Joly and I’m going to be one of the protagonists. There’s been other cases on Best Buy but this one is going to be much on the turnaround and transformation. So, that’s going to be fun. I’ve also taught it — we’ve also taught it in some of the executive education programs. So, Jeff – I know Jeff is right, there’s a Best Buy case now at Harvard Business School. RITHOLTZ: Really, really quite interesting. So, you mentioned purposeful leadership. Let’s delve into that a little bit. How does one become a purposeful leader who’s focused on creating the sort of environment where others can flourish and perform at their best? JOLY: Yes. This is, for me, such an important information and I grew up believing that as the leader, what was important was to be smart, right, where I went to school and to — some of the best schools and in the early years of my career, this is the left brain would highlight being the smartest person in the room. I’ve learned over the years that this is not what drives great outcome over time. I had an entire reflection and we slowed down. One of the things that is important to do is reflect on why do we work. Is work markedly a mixed reputation, right? We work — is work a punishment because some dude send in paradise, right, or is work something we do so that we can do something else that’s more fun or is work part of our fulfillment as a human being, part of our quest for meaning, right, to talk about Victor Frankl. And one of the things that I really invite myself to do and every leader to do is reflect on this. What’s going to be the meaning of my life professionally? How do I want to be remembered? One of the things we ask the CEOs to do in the CEO program in Harvard is write your retirement speech or with my wife when I — when we coach or mentor CEOs, we ask them to write their eulogy. What would you like other people to say on that day when you’re not here to listen? And I think this is so meaningful because people talk about the purpose of the corporation. I think it starts with our individual purpose, right, because motivation is intrinsic, right? And so, how can you lead others if you cannot lead your life and yourself? For me, that’s the beginning. And very practical, one of the turning points in our journey at Best buy, Barry, was every quarter, we would get together as an executive team for an offsite and one day, I asked every one of the executive team members to come to the offsite with a picture of themselves when they were little, maybe two or three years old. We got some really cute pictures, Barry, I can tell you that and over dinner, we spent the evening sharing with each other our life story and what drives us in life, what’s the meaning of our life. And what came out of that discussion, several things, one is we realized that all of us were human beings, not just a CFO or CMO or CHO, and that, with a couple of exceptions, all of us had the same kind of goals in life, which is it is the golden rule, do something good to other people. And that was transformational because we said, well, we’re the executive team of Best Buy. At that time, Best Buy — we had saved Best Buy and it was — where do we go from here? Why don’t we use Best Buy as a platform to do something good in the world and become a company that customers are going to love, employees are going to love, community is going to love and, of course, shareholders are going to continue to love. And so, there’s a similar idea in my mind which is connecting what drives us as individuals with the purpose of the company and the thing for companies that are embarked on the purpose journey, they write down their purpose but if they just try to cascade it down and communicate it to everybody and say, why don’t you — why aren’t you excited about this new purpose, right, it doesn’t work. We really have to start with what drives every individual and the company and then you realize that, yes, what is your role. So, in the book, I talked about the five Bs of purposeful leadership. The first B is be clear about your — what we are talking about, be clear about your own purpose, be clear about the purpose of people around you and how it connects with what you’re doing at the company. The second one is be clear about your role as a leader. It’s not to be the smartest person in the room but to create the environment in which others can be the best version of themselves. And, of course, if you’re leading a significant company and Best buy has more than 100,000 people, the only thing that happens is the thing that you decide that you come up with, you know it’s going to go far, right? So, it’s all about creating this environment which is significant mind shift. It’s also about — yes, Barry? RITHOLTZ: I was going to say, I’m struck by your comments and this comes through the book about showing vulnerability, inspiring people, embracing your humanity. I think back to the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, whose nickname was Neutron Jack for how frequently he would lay off people and close divisions and fire other executives. When you were putting your philosophy to work at Best Buy, were you aware that this is a radical break from what had come before you? JOLY: Yes. And to quote — so, to go back to France in 1789, at the moment of the Storming of Bastille, there is Louis XVI asked La Rochefoucauld, is this a revolt, and La Rochefoucauld’s response says, no, sire, this is a revolution. And I think that’s what it is and it’s really shifting things. People are not the problem. They’re the source and they’re also the ultimate goal. And I think that most people agree with this, Barry, the challenge is not agreeing with this now, I think it’s really doing it and it’s — I can speak from experience. If you were to look at my face, you would see all of these scars on my face. Learning from experience and trying to get better at this is a lifelong journey of learning to be vulnerable. I was raised — being taught that I — you couldn’t say I don’t know and now, in the world we live, did you have a manual for the COVID pandemic, did you have a manual for back-to-the-office, Barry? No. So, it’s clear that we don’t know. So, we have to be able to say my name is Hubert and I need help and we’re going to work together to figure it out. So, there’s a C change in leadership, meaning from a place of purpose and with humanity and a great deal of humility. RITHOLTZ: So, I want to talk about the pandemic in a moment. I want to stick with this revolution that you mentioned. There’s a quote from the book that I really like, quote, “The Milton Friedman version of capitalism got us here. But now, this model is failing.” Explain to us how it got us here, why it’s failing now and what comes next. JOLY: I used this to highlight the idea which mainly has been Milton Friedman’s, only I get was the context when he spoke. But the obsession with profits being the only thing that matters is proven to be poisonous and excessive focus on profit is poisonous and there’s several reasons for this. One is when we look at the reported profit of the company — by the way, if anybody believes that U.S. GAAP really tries to equate economic performance, study your accounting again, it’s not even trying, it’s a set of principles. There’s many things that GAAP profit does not capture, including your negative impact on the environment or how well your sales force is trained. The other thing is that it focuses on an outcome. So, in medicine, the (inaudible) analogous is my MD was focused on my temperature, right, and I don’t want a doctor that’s purely focused on my temperature because maybe he’s going to put the thermometer in the fridge or in the oven, right, depending. I want somebody who’s going to be interested in what’s driving my health and try to help me get healthy. And so, we got confused by this obsession and that was (inaudible) and, of course, there’s extreme cases. Enron is one of them but — where we lost track of why we’re on this planet and responsibility with doing the right thing. So, this new model, the reinvention of business probably going back to some of our roots, right, with the idea that business is here to purse enabled (ph) purpose. And this is not about socialism, this is about doing something good in the world that could be responding to needs of customers in a way that’s responsible. It’s about putting people at the center embracing all of the stakeholders in a harmonious fashion, refusing zero-sum games and treating profit as an outcome. I think that’s the formula that’s employed by some of the best companies on the planet. And as leaders, we need to go back to that and to learn new things because we’re so influenced by some of the techniques we learned last century, including this top-down management approach and using it extensively. So, that’s something you’re going to learn over time. There’s research by the MIT that shows that financial incentive deteriorates performance, which is the opposite of what we’ve learned, right? But if you feed somebody with carrots and sticks, beware because you’re going to get a donkey, right? RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: And in a world where you need creativity and people to be their best, motivation is going to be intrinsic. So, that’s what you need to be able to touch and get to the environment where people want to be their best and make a meaningful contribution in their work. So, I think this is a very exciting phase. This is an urgent phase because I’m concerned probably like you and many others that we have a few ticking timebombs and I have three wonderful granddaughters. I want to do my best to try to, quote-unquote, “make the planet” be a better world, right, than the current trajectory. RITHOLTZ: And this is very consistent, I have a fuller understanding of your philosophy that profit should be an outcome and not just the goal in and of itself. You’ve really put some meat on those bones. JOLY: Yes. Thank you, Barry, and there’s practical implications of that again and starting your monthly business meetings or even your board meetings with people and organization and then customers and business and then basically (ph) with with financial results. You should take care of the first two, the profits will follow. So, it’s a significant practical and philosophical transformation. Talking about quotes here, we quoted Milton Friedman, but I love this quote from the Lebanese prophet, Kahlil Gibran, who said that work is love made visible. RITHOLTZ: That’s a wonderful quote. And let’s talk a little bit about visibility of some of the changes you did. By the time you stepped down from the board of directors in June of last year, Best Buy’s board of 13 directors had, for the first time ever, a majority of women and three African-American directors. Tell us how you brought about this increase of diversity. What about diversity throughout the rest of the company and what was the impact of so much inclusion and a shift away from the older homogenous types of boards? JOLY: I think, Barry, it’s clear for every one of us today that having diversity is going to get to a better business outcome and I do believe that has there been Lehman brothers and sisters instead of Lehman brothers, we would have had a different outcome. But if you also take it a very practical fashion, in one of our stores in Chicago that’s in the Polish neighborhood, if the blue shirts don’t speak Polish, they’re not going to sell much. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: Or when we had Brazilian tourists in Orlando, the blue shirts didn’t speak Portuguese, they were not going to sell much. So, having diversity of every dimension, talent, skills, profiles, gender, race, the country’s color is changing very rapidly, it’s becoming black and brown, we have to represent — it’s very simple, we have to represent the diversity of the customers we serve. If we don’t, bad things happen. And so, there’s a business imperative, there’s also a moral imperative when we see the state of the country. So, from a gender standpoint, as I said, I have three granddaughters, I want them to have the best opportunities, and why would it make sense to only recruit from a quarter of the population, right? RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: The board’s — I’ll say the board’s composition was a great place to focus now. It’s not the only one. When we rebuilt the board study in 2013, we want to have the best skills. We were determined to be diverse. So, we had an early focus on gender diversity and when I started to focus more on ethnic diversity, probably starting in 2016, 2017, I met — I had a great meeting with Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments and … RITHOLTZ: Sure. JOLY: … she’s now the Chair of Starbucks, everyone knows Mellody, she’s amazing, one of the things she told me is that people cannot be who they cannot see. And so, starting at the top and having a board that would signal the direction was important. So, what’s really — and changing the composition of the board is not that hard with only 10 or 12 or 13 people, how hard can it be? So, we told the headhunter don’t bother giving us resumes of non-black directors, right, and if you believe that you are unable to find great black candidates, well, say that’s OK, we won’t have a problem with that. We’ll just work with another firm. It’s not a problem. And so, we recruited three amazing directors and we got them on the board that they’ve concluded (ph) in this direction and I think it makes a huge difference. And, of course, Best Buy is headquartered in Minneapolis and following the killing — the murder of George Floyd, it’s pretty simple, if you — if the city is on fire, right, if the community is on fire, you just can’t open stores, right? You can’t run a business. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: So, in this country, we have this big racial issue that has been going on for centuries. I think generation has the opportunity to end systemic racism and that’s something we, I think, business can play a big role in this. So, that was determined and that’s what we did. RITHOLTZ: Let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all our guest starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days, give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime, what’s keeping you entertained during the pandemic? JOLY: I have so much electronic equipment in our place that I’m doing a lot of streaming. I love — I always listen to music. I’m a movie buff. I have a collection of probably 800 movies on my (inaudible) setup. Our favorite I would say recently has been “Good Doctor.” I think that’s Season 5, it’s starting at the end of September. We’re very excited about this. And then from a podcast standpoint, I like listening to HBR’s Idea Cast. That’s a weekly – a great weekly podcast. Whitney Johnson has a great leadership podcast called “Disrupt Yourself.” And then I have to mention, there’s a young teenager, well, teenager would be young anyway, right, but let’s call him a teenager, Logan Lin has got a FinanZe podcast that focused on the Z generation. My God, the guy is so cool. So, everybody joins and downloads FinanZe spelled F-I-N-A-N-Z-E and that’s Logan Lin. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. We hinted at some of your mentors but let’s jump into that in more depth. Tell us some of the people who helped to shape your career. JOLY: There’s so many, Barry. Jean-Marie Descarpentries, a client of mine, had this big influence on me teaching me so much about how to put people first and treating profits as an outcome. There were two great friends, yes, who happened to be monks in a religious congregation in the early ’90s. That was a turning point. They asked me to write a couple of articles with them on the theology and philosophy of work which is where I got a lot of my roots in terms of work as part of our search for meaning as individuals, as human beings. It changed my perspective on work. Another turning point, too, in my early 40s, you could say throughout the book, it was at the top of my first mountain, right, had been a partner at McKinsey & Company. I was on the executive team of Vivendi Universal, by many measures., I’ve been successful, right, except I think the top of that first mountain was very dry which was not fulfilling. There was no real meaning. So, I call it my midlife crisis, right? So, instead of going on to an island, I did — I stepped back and I did the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. So, you could say the founder of the Jesuits, of course. You could say he was one of my mentors that was really helpful to help me discern my calling in life, which today or since then has been to try to make a positive difference on people around me and use the platform I have to make a positive difference in the world which is what I’m doing now teaching and mentoring and so forth. And then we mentioned Marshall Goldsmith, my first coach and a good friend. Later on, I also worked with Eric Pliner at YSC. When the board — so, Marshall was doing my annual — having that board with my annual evaluation and the board realized that Marshall and I were such good friends and said, we need somebody more objective now. And we got Eric Pliner, who is now the CEO of YSC, worked with me but also his firm works with every one of our executives and helps us with executive team’s effectiveness and that was quite transformative. You should have spent more time earlier on not just on building the right team but enhancing our team effectiveness and I learned a lot working with Eric in that journey. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about everybody’s favorite question, tell us about some of your favorite books and what are you reading right now. JOLY: I read three books this summer. The first one is by Rakesh Khurana who’s now the President of Harvard College and it’s called “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands” which is the history — exactly for me, the history of business education in the U.S. over the last 120 years and how the business school curriculum were saved and how — and why he believes and I do believe as well that we need to evolve it not just learning techniques but also with — it’s not just about learning something or learning to do something, it’s also learning to be, which is I think an entire journey. I also read “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson and a book by my colleague, Tsedal Neeley, “Remote Work Revolution” which is, of course, a very timely book. Best book ever read, I have to mention Marcel Proust being French, “In Search of Lost Time.” It’s only 3,000 pages. So, if you have a minute or two, I encourage you to get to it. Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” is another favorite. And you mentioned the Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” And finally, I have to mention my wife’s book called “Aligned: Becoming the Leader You’re Meant To Be” and her name is Hortense Le Gentil. It’s one of the best leadership books that I’ve ever read and, of course, a little bias maybe. RITHOLTZ: Maybe you’re a little bit bias. So, you work with grad students and college students, what sort of advice would you give to a recent college graduate who is interested in a career either as an executive or leadership or even in retail? JOLY: I think the advice is the same as we give the new CEOs is write your retirement speech or even better, write your eulogy. And I know my good friend John Donahoe, who’s now the CEO of Nike, did this when he graduated and he’s always kept it. And I understand he goes back to it every year and it’s hard. (Inaudible) between the ages of 26 and 34, early in your adult life, you don’t necessarily know everything but try to write it and see what journey you want to be on and how you want to be remembered. That would be one plot. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And our final question, what do you know about the world’s of leadership and executive management today that you wish you knew a couple of decades ago when you were first getting started? JOLY: Well, there’s so much over the years. I think it has to do with profits being an outcome not the goal. It’s about importance of looking at drivers of performance. It’s about my role as a leader is not to be the smartest person in the room but to create the right environment. Not about being perfect. Nobody’s perfect. And I think the quest for — maybe I’ll finish with this, the quest for perfection can be very dangerous, can be evil, right, because if you’re trying to be perfect, guess what, you’re not going to be successful. You’re going to be incredibly demanding and harsh with people around you because you expect them to be perfect. And so, you have to be laxed and be kind with yourself and others around you and be able to open up and share what you are struggling with, understand what they’re struggling with and help each other out. That’s the — I think to me, that’s — it’s such an important consideration. The quest of perfection can be very dangerous. Be kind to yourself. During the pandemic, we learned so much, right? We used to fly around Barry, long time ago on planes, right, and we were told by the steward or the stewardess, if the oxygen mask comes down, put it on yourself first before you help others. So, as we continue to go through challenging time, taking care of yourself as a leader, making sure you meditate, you reflect, you exercise, you ask for help either from your personal board of directors, your best friends, that’s the key thing, that’s going to be the way that we can then help others. So, take care of yourself first. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. We have been speaking with Hubert Joly, former Chairman and CEO at Best Buy and currently a lecturer at Harvard Business School. Thank you, Hubert, for being so generous with your time. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out any of our previous 376 former discussions that we’ve had. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, Acast, wherever you feed your podcast fix. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads, you can find those at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter @Ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps put these conversations together each week, Charlie Vollmer is my audio engineer extraordinaire, Atika Valbrun is my project manager, Paris Wald is my producer, Michael Batnick is my researcher. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio   ~~~   The post Transcript: Hubert Joly appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureSep 27th, 2021

The curious afterlife of the Lord of the Skies

Conspiracy theories about the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Lord of the Skies, have lingered for years, most recently among fans of Narcos: Mexico. The casket with Amado Carrillo Fuentes' remains at his mother's ranch in northwestern Mexico on July 11, 1997. Reuters When Mexico's most powerful drug lord died an unbelievable death, a team of federal agents raced against the clock to identify his body. Conspiracy theories about his demise have lingered for years, even getting a wink in Netflix's Narcos: Mexico. Speaking publicly for the first time, DEA agents who helped confirm his death give the full story behind one of the strangest chapters in the annals of Mexico's drug war. The departed smiled up at the ceiling, his lips pulled back to reveal a row of bright white teeth.The skin on the man's hideously distended hands shone a sickening gray-green color of rot, and his long, puffy face was heavily bruised, with deep, dark circles ringing his eyes and nostrils. Mottled patches of discoloration spread up his high forehead and across his cheeks.Under the harsh glare and buzz of fluorescent lights, the body of one of Mexico's most powerful men lay in state, nestled within the plush white confines of a metal casket. The body was clad in a dark suit and a blue-and-red polka dot tie, his deformed hands deliberately forced together at his waist to mimic a state of repose, a hideous parody of an open-casket funeral.In the place of mourners, photojournalists pressed up to the edge of the casket, inches away from a man who just days before could have, with a wave of his hand, ordered unspeakable violence against anyone insane enough to have treated him with such disrespect.Along one wall, a row of men, some in white lab coats, others in drab, police-issue suits, stood with grim discomfort written across their faces as shutters clicked.This ghastly wake in a government building in Mexico City on July 8, 1997 was the first glimpse of a man whose name much of the country knew but few dared to utter. Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the Lord of the Skies, the boss of Ciudad Juárez, and arguably the most powerful criminal kingpin in the nation's history was dead and his rotting corpse was displayed for all to see. Amado's body was displayed on July 8, 1997, at the Judicial Police morgue in Mexico City. A group of police pathologists look on. Reuters It was perhaps one of the most macabre press scrums in history, and a bitterly ironic fate for a man who had so carefully seen to it that so few photos of his likeness existed.News of Amado's death had begun to filter out days before. According to the Mexican Attorney General's office - known by its Spanish acronym as the PGR - Amado had died on the operating table while undergoing plastic surgery, to alter his appearance, and liposuction.Amado's family soon confirmed the story, lipo and all, telling reporters that he'd suffered a heart attack while under anesthesia. But for many Mexicans, the story was almost too bizarre to believe. The PGR had invited reporters to see the body in hopes of dispelling any rumors or suspicion about Amado's fate. It didn't work. The idea of Amado faking his death and vanishing into retirement flourished in Mexico's bustling rumor mills. One doubter, a barber cutting the hair of a Los Angeles Times reporter, insisted that the key to the coverup lay in the corpse's decaying limbs."Those aren't his hands," the barber said. "Those are the hands of a classical pianist.""Some poor unfortunate person"In the nearly quarter-century that has elapsed, a host of rumors and conspiracy theories have, unlike Amado, stubbornly refused to die - even in the archives of the wire service Agence Press Press, which listed a photo of Amado's "alleged" body.In 2015, the idea found new life thanks to an article published on the English-language site of the Venezuelan state-sponsored news network Telesur. According to the report, which relied mostly on the extremely dubious word of a supposed cousin of Amado, Sergio Carrillo, the drug lord was doing just fine."He is alive," Carrillo said, according to Telesur. "He had surgery and also had surgery practiced on some poor unfortunate person to make everybody believe it was him, including the authorities."This claim would be easily dismissed were it not for the larger constellation of conspiracies surrounding Amado's death. Instead, it's taken on a life of its own in a string of tabloid stories that have repeated Sergio Carrillo's claim.(Attempts by Insider to verify Carrillo's existence or reach him for comment were unsuccessful.)The persistence of such stories has also been helped along thanks to the popularity of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico, which stars a heavily fictionalized - and rather sympathetic - version of Amado. In the third and final season, which became available on Friday, Amado takes center stage as the show follows a greatest-hits summary of his empire building and eventual fall from grace. Eduardo Gonzalez Matta, a general director of the Mexican Attorney General's office, points to evidence charts at a July 10, 1997 press conference aimed at convincing the public of Amado's death. OMAR TORRES/AFP via Getty Images In one of the final scenes, a moody Amado is shown prowling around the empty operating room prior to his surgery, and the narrator says outright that Amado has died. But then the show slyly drops an easter egg to superfans in the form of a final post-credits scene: As Amado's girlfriend wanders about in a seaside mansion, the camera cuts to a shot of a toy airplane that her lover had given her.The myth has resonated for a reason in Mexico, where a toxic mix of authoritarian governance, pervasive corruption, a powerful criminal underground protected by the state and shrouded in lies and half truths has fueled a highly justified skepticism of any official narrative.Here, for the first time, is the most complete account of one of the strangest chapters in the annals of Mexico's drug war. Speaking publicly about the episode in detail for the first time, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration who helped identify the body and confirm his death have laid out the full story behind one of the strangest incidents in the annals of the war on drugs.Lord of the SkiesLike virtually every major drug trafficker of his generation - Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, Benjamín and Ramón Arellano-Félix, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García - Amado was a native of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, that long, thin state in Mexico's northwest whose western borders greet the waves of the Gulf of Cortez and whose eastern borders end in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental.It's a rugged, hardscrabble region populated by ranchers with weather-beaten faces and farmers who for the better part of a century represented the bottom rung of the marijuana and opium trade in the Western Hemisphere. Amado and his 10 siblings grew up in a tiny settlement in the scrubland just north of Navalato, a tough little bread-basket town surrounded by fields of sugarcane, maize, and wheat.Also like many of his fellow future kingpins, Amado's family had been involved in the drug business in one way or another since who-knows-when. It was a more humble business back then, small-time farmers selling opium and weed to small-time traffickers who brought the stuff north to the border. But thanks to the booming demand for marijuana in the late 1960s, and the shutdown in 1972 of the main pipeline for Turkish heroin from Europe to New York, Sinaloa's illicit economy became turbocharged. An undated photo of Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Reuters So it helped that Amado's uncle was one of those traffickers. A murderous brute of a man, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, better known as Don Neto, was by the 1980s a key partner in the trafficking network often referred to as the Guadalajara Cartel.It was the advent of the cocaine boom, when Mexican traffickers began to branch out from weed and dope and made use of their existing smuggling routes to move Colombian cocaine, and the cash flowing back south twisted and perverted every facet of society.Amado was an innovator in his own right, and is often credited as a pioneer of moving drugs by airplane, overseeing ever larger fleets of ever larger planes groaning under the weight of ever larger shipments of Colombian coke. This vocation earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," or the Lord of the Skies, and made him fantastically wealthy, with money to buy as many cops, judges, generals, and politicians as he needed to stay on the right side of things.As the criminal landscape in Mexico shifted in the late 1980s following the breakup of the old guard in Guadalajara, Amado had relocated to Ciudad Juárez, a sprawling desert city just across the Río Grande from El Paso, Texas.With its bustling border crossing that sees billions of dollars in cargo cross each way every year - an economic engine that leapt into overdrive with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement - Juárez was the crown jewel in the constellation of smuggling routes into the United States.The local capos who controlled the Juárez smuggling route, or "plaza," soon began to display a curious habit of dying, one after another. Amado, for his part, showed a talent for stepping out from the wings to claim their turf. Vehicles crossing from Ciudad Juarez towards El Paso, Texas. Ivan Pierre Aguirre/AP Photo Amado was a skilled smuggler. He was also a brilliant manager with a head for politics, and he built a vast network of street enforcers, informants in every agency of Mexican law enforcement and military, and connections to powerful friends capable of easily quashing the political will to arrest him.While other traffickers fought bloody turf battles and moved coke, weed, and heroin across remote border crossings in the desert, Amado was consolidating power and largely keeping the peace in Juárez, where he proved a reliable colleague to corrupt officials turned off by the ostentatious violence of his competitors. In a few short years, he had become the most influential drug trafficker in Mexico.But even for a guy with the political savvy that Amado had in spades, remaining atop the tangled web of shifting alliances and competing priorities that dictate the status quo in Mexico was a deadly game, and any number of brand-name narcos who came before him had enjoyed that sweet spot for a time before they attracted too much attention and with it their own expiration date.By the mid-1990s, Amado had become the most powerful drug lord in the country."A guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity"Early in 1997, the balance that Amado had so skillfully maintained was thrown into a tailspin with the arrest of General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's top drug warrior. He had worked closely with agents of the DEA to pursue trafficking networks and had the endorsement of many in Washington.President Ernesto Zedillo had appointed the general to lead the fight against drugs as part of an effort to cut out the notoriously corrupt alphabet soup of police agencies in favor of the military, which despite its own legacy of corruption and human-rights abuses enjoyed a level of trust and respect that most other branches of the government had long ago squandered. Washington had enthusiastically supported the appointment, and General Barry McCaffrey, President Bill Clinton's drug czar, had praised the general as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity" as recently as in December of 1996.So the DEA and their higher ups in D.C. were shocked when, on Feb. 17, 1997, the general was suddenly dismissed, and even more so a day later when Mexican officials announced that Gutierrez Rebollo had been arrested for receiving payoffs from one Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Amado (L) is seen at a party in an undated photo. Reuters As winter turned into spring, Guttierez Rebollo was sitting in irons, and Washington was sporting a deeply embarrassing black eye. At a hearing in March, DEA chief Thomas A. Constantine mused that major traffickers in Mexico "seem to be operating with impunity," and a congressional subcommittee convened soon thereafter to discuss slamming shut the faucet of foreign aid to Mexico.The Mexican government has never reacted well to its frenemies in the drug trade catching the undivided attention of the U.S. government, as a long line of Amado's former compatriots found out the hard way.And now the high-beams were focused on Amado. As one of the key public faces of drug trafficking in Mexico - and as the man whose bribes were the stated reason for the general's arrest - Amado found himself suddenly, dangerously exposed, and desperate to disappear, according to Ralph Villaruel, a retired DEA agent who was stationed in Guadalajara at the time."We were hearing he was in Russia, that he was in Chile," Villaruel told me in an interview. "We heard that he wanted to pay [the government] to be left alone, that he didn't want nothing to do with drug trafficking no more."Amado was a wreck. Overweight and reportedly strung out on his own personal stash carved off the tens of thousands of kilos his men continued to smuggle north, he seems to have opted for a radical solution: he would alter his appearance with plastic surgery.So on July 3, 1997, he used a false name to check into a hospital in a ritzy neighborhood of Mexico, and, in a heavily guarded operating room, the lord of the skies succumbed to a lethal dose of anesthesia and sedatives."We think Amado Carrillo Fuentes is dead"Mauricio Fernandez wasn't getting much sleep in those days.Fernandez, newly married, had been working at the Mexico City office of the DEA for about a year. He'd joined the agency in 1991 after serving in the Marines, and threw himself into his new vocation with a zeal inspired in part by the ravages of drug addiction he'd witnessed back home growing up in the Bronx.A dedicated posting to the resident office in Mexico City should have brought a bit of stability to his life after having spent the past few years working in an elite unit with special-forces training, bushwhacking coca fields in the high Andes of Bolivia, raiding drug labs in the lush mountain valleys of Peru, and chasing down a Colombian rival of Pablo Escobar whose brilliance earned him the nickname "the Chessmaster." A gun that once belonged to Amado Carrillo Fuentes is displayed in the Drugs Museum at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense in Mexico City. Henry Romero/Reuters But when he arrived in Mexico City, he was soon stunned by the level to which drug traffickers were entangled with the state at every level, from local cops on up to judges, military officers, and members of the political and business elite. It was hard to know who to trust. He was getting death threats."The deception was more sophisticated in Mexico," he told me in an interview. "The level of deception was so embedded that even for people you thought were vetted, even them you could not trust. There was no such thing as safe partnership."Cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on anti-drug policy was then and is now deeply fraught, riven with well-earned mutual distrust. But Fernandez and his fellow DEA agents had worked hard to build relationships with a few key members of Mexican anti-drug units, and it was starting to pay dividends. Through a contact in the Attorney General's office, or PGR, Fernandez and his partner had extensive access to sensitive information, and did their best to share intel with their counterparts. Fernandez and his partner were the lead case agents on investigations into some of Mexico's most notorious drug traffickers, and they routinely pulled 80-hour weeks, living and breathing their work, sleeping at the office. They were investigating a handful of different drug-trafficking networks, but one man stood above the rest: Amado Carrillo Fuentes. A photograph that includes this caption: "Mexico City, Mexico. Hospital Santa Monica, where ''drug lord'' Amado Carrillo Fuentes died whilst having plastic surgery to change his identity to help him evade police." Getty Images Most roads led to Amado in some way or another, or they led as close as the DEA could get anyway. Any time they thought they might be getting close, witnesses had a way of turning up dead, warning had a way of finding itself to their query, and Amado cruised along as always.As he played the delicate game of political maneuvering necessary to survive in the underworld of Mexican organized crime, Amado was building a business empire of global proportions.Even now, decades later, Fernandez still speaks of Amado with the grudging respect of a guy who knows the folly of underestimating one's enemies."It was a slap in the face to say that Amado was simply a drug trafficker," Fernandez told me. "His span was incredible. He touched Asia, he touched Europe, all parts of the world, and that's when you start to understand the vastness of his enterprise."With a query like that, no, Fernandez wasn't sleeping much.So when July 4, 1997 rolled around, Fernandez was looking forward to a bit of R&R, a chance to spend some time with his wife and shoot the shit with his colleagues and their families at the annual Independence Day bash at the ambassador's residence in Lomas de Chapultepec, a lavish neighborhood of rolling hills and the gated mansions of the Mexican elite.But work found him anyway, as it often did, in the form of a call from a high-ranking Mexican law-enforcement official. It was one of the men with whom he'd spent the past year building up a cautious but increasingly strong rapport. The ramifications of the news that came through the phone are still playing out today."We think Amado Carrillo Fuentes is dead," the official told him."All kinds of rumors are going to spring up"The details were sketchy, no one knew for sure what to believe, but Fernandez' source told him what he could: the Lord of the Skies had the day before slunk into a private clinic in Mexico City for some kind of operation, maybe liposuction, maybe plastic surgery, and had died on the operating table. Whether it was negligence or homicidal intent was unclear. ut word was, Amado was dead.Those words hit Fernandez like a thunderclap. After hanging up, he sidled over to his boss and his boss's boss, who were standing about chatting and soaking up the unique glory of a Mexico City summer day. Fernandez pulled the two more senior agents aside and told him what he had just heard.Before long, the news rippled out through the crowd and the DEA agents in attendance huddled up to figure out what do do next.In the middle of that scrum was Larry Villalobos, a DEA intelligence analyst who'd arrived in Mexico the year prior after a stint in El Paso building dossiers on the major drug traffickers operating in Mexico. He knew everybody. To this day, Villalobos has the uncanny ability to summon up the names of men long dead and recall the bit-part roles they played in the larger action. Mexican special forces police guard the morgue in Mexico City where the remains of Amado Carrillo Fuentes were held after his death. Reuters At the ambassador's residence the party continued. But for Fernandez, Villalobos, and the rest of the DEA crew in attendance that day, there was work to do. They had a window in which they could confirm that Amado was dead and that window was already closing rapidly, Villalobos recalled."We knew from working in Mexico that if you wait any goddamn longer than that all kinds of rumors are going to spring up," Villalobos told me.A fingerprint matchAs they hustled away from the ambassador's residence, Fernandez, Villalobos, and the other DEA agents knew that the first thing they had to do was find the body.According to the law-enforcement source Fernandez, by the time the DEA agents hightailed it away from their aborted Fourth of July party, the body was already on a plane en route to Sinaloa. But by the time it landed, a team of agents with the Attorney General's office were waiting.They seized the casket and immediately put it on a plane back to Mexico City. According to an Associated Press report a few days later, the agents had to forcibly part Amado's mother from the casket that she clearly believed held the remains of her son. Amado's mother, Aurora Fuentes (L), arrived at the morgue to collect the body of her son on July 10, 1997. Reuters Some of the field agents began to press all their sources for information. But for Villalobos, who had worked as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, it all came down to the body. And suddenly, he recalled an astonishing fact: the U.S. was in possession of Amado's fingerprints, taken by Border Patrol agents in Presidio, Texas way back in 1985 and later unearthed from the files of the Immigration and Naturalization service.He got on the phone with his old intelligence office in El Paso, and had them overnight a set of the prints to Mexico City while a Mexican technician did his best to harvest a set from the corpse, which had long since gone stiff with rigor mortis. As the body decomposes after death, the quality of the available prints start to degrade, but after comparing the prints on file with those taken from the corpse, Villalobos was certain.His boss wanted to know how certain he was that this was, in fact, Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Ever precise, Villalobos clarified the issue."I didn't say that it was Amado. What I said was that the fingerprints that were taken from a young man who resembles the Amado that we all know, and was fingerprinted as an illegal alien 20 years ago, is the same person as this corpse," Villalobos recalled telling the senior DEA attache in Mexico City. Amado's sister, Alicia Carrillo Fuentes (L), and other family members mourn Amado's death at the home of his mother. Huge wreaths were delivered, including some by other alleged drug barons. Reuters "Whether it's Amado or not, that's a different matter, but it would have had to been some type of conspiracy over 20 years that some guy was gonna die and they were gonna substitute the body of the guy who was in Presidio, Texas 20 years ago."In other words, it was Amado.The positive ID on the fingerprints that Villalobos made came no more than 72 hours after Amado died in surgery, but already speculation was buzzing about the possible death of the kingpin of Juárez.While Villalobos had been doing his thing, other agents like Mauricio Fernandez had been working their sources and keeping in constant contact with trusted Mexican officials doing the same, and they were starting to get indications from the underworld that the big guy really was gone.Meanwhile, in Mexico City, a forensics expert from Mexico's Attorney General's office held a press conference where he presented the fingerprint evidence."It would have made for a wonderful story"After the confirmation from DEA, after the confirmation from the Mexican government, after the body was returned to Amado's family and buried in his hometown of Guamuchilito, Sinaloa, the myth of Amado's survival began to grow, and it has never really gone away. Even now, Fernandez said he understands why the myth of Amado has clung on for so long."There was a lot of folklore around Amado and who he was, and I think for a lot of people, they wanted to keep that thought alive," Fernandez said. "It would have made for a wonderful story, but the fact is that that wasn't the case. It just was not the case." Chilean authorities identified this home as one of the eleven houses that Amado Carrillo Fuentes bought in Santiago several months before his death. Reuters Regardless of where one stands on the fact that Amado Carrillo Fuentes died in July 1997, no one disputes the fact that his death was a turning point, one of the periodic tectonic shifts throughout the history of the war on drugs in Mexico. Amado's younger brother Vicente took the reins, but he didn't have it in him, and people didn't respect him the way they had Amado. The alliances that Amado held together soon started to fray, and that breakdown helped contribute to the staggering wave of violence that washed over Mexico a decade later and has yet to truly recede.This dynamic within Amado's network may have played a part in the myths that sprung up so soon after his death. With a weak leader like Vicente running the ship and its increasingly mutinous crew aground, the idea of a vengeful Amado out there, maybe coming back some day, might have been useful for keeping people in line, according to Jesús Esquivel, a veteran Mexican journalist who was one of the first reporters to break the news of Amado's death. Amado Carrillo Fuentes's home in the Alvaro Obregon municipality of Mexico City. It was raffled off by Mexico's National Lottery in September 2021. XAVIER MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images "Vicente was weak, and the local criminals knew, and they said 'this is our time,'" Esquivel told me. "So they were playing with Amado's shadow."Larry Villalobos, for his part, still hears the old conspiracy theories from time to time, occasionally from unlikely sources."I had an FBI agent come up to me less than 10 years ago and he says to me 'what if I told you Amado was still alive?'" Villalobos told Insider. "I was like 'get the fuck outta here, I don't wanna hear that shit. I saw the fingerprints, I made the identification, what are you talking about?"According to Villalobos, the FBI agent was insistent, telling him that a trusted source had recently claimed to have spotted Amado in his old stomping grounds of Ojinga, just over the border from Texas. Even better, the source claimed to know where exactly they could find him.Villalobos was not moved."I hope the FBI didn't pay too much for that tip," Villalobos said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 6th, 2021

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic The Friday after thanksgiving is called black Friday because that's when retailers finally turn profitable for the year. Not so much for market, however, because this morning it's red as far as the eye can see. The culprit: the same one we discussed late last night - the emergence of a new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa, known as B.1.1.529, which reportedly carries an "extremely high number" of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses according to South African scientists, and soon, Anthony Fauci. British authorities think it is the most significant variant to date and have hurried to impose travel restrictions on southern Africa, as did Japan, the Czech Republic and Italy on Friday. The European Union also said it aimed to halt air travel from the region. "Markets have been quite complacent about the pandemic for a while, partly because economies have been able to withstand the impact of selective lockdown measures. But we can see from the new emergency brakes on air travel that there will be ramifications for the price of oil," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa. As a result, what was initially just a 1% drop in US index futures, has since escalated to a plunge of as much as 2% with eminis dropping the most since September, at one point dropping below 4,600 after closing on Wednesday above 4,700 as a post-Thanksgiving selloff spread across global markets amid mounting concerns the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant - which today will be officially called by the Greek lettter Nu - could derail the global economic recovery.  Russell 2000 contracts sank as much as 5.4%. Technology shares may be caught in the net too as Nasdaq 100 futures slid. The VIX increased as much as 9.4 vols to 28, it's biggest jump since January. It was last seen up 7.4 points, or the biggest increase since February. Adding to the pain, there is nothing on today's macro calendar and the US market closes early which will reduce already dismal liquidity even more, exacerbating some of the moves throughout the session. Headlines are likely to center on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically, as well as which countries "find" the Nu variant. Amid the panicked flight to safety, 10Y TSY yields tumbled as traders slashed bets on monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve (just hours after Goldman predicted that the Fed would double the pace of its taper and hike 3 times in 2022, oops) ... ... as did oil amid fears new covid lockdowns will lead to a collapse in crude demand (they will also certainly force OPEC+ to put on pause their plans to keep hiking output by 400K every month). Paradoxically, even cryptos are tumbling, which is surprising since even the dumbest algos should realize by now that a new covid outbreak means more dovish central banks, no tightening, and if nothing else, more QE and more liquidity which is precisely what cryptos need to break out to new all time highs. Cruise ship operator Carnival slumped 9.1% in premarket trading and Boeing slid 5.8% as travel companies tumbled worldwide. Stay-at-home stocks such as Zoom Video rallied.  Didi Global shares fell after Chinese regulators reportedly asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Here are some of the other big premarket movers: Airlines and other travel stocks slumped in premarket trading on growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant identified in southern Africa. The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from several countries in the area and the U.K. will temporarily ban flights from the region. United Airlines (UAL US) fell 8.9%, Delta Air (DAL US) -7.9%, American Airlines (AAL US) -6.7%; cruiseline-operator Carnival (CCL US) -12%; hotelier Marriott (MAR US) -6.1%; lodging company Airbnb (ABNB US) -6.9%. Stay-at-home stocks that benefit from higher demand in lockdowns rose in premarket, with Zoom Video (ZM US) gaining 8.5% and fitness equipment group Peloton (PTON US) +4.7%. Vaccine stocks surged in premarket, while Pfizer and BioNTech got an added boost after their coronavirus shot won European Union backing for expanded use in children. Moderna (MRNA US) rose 8.8%, Novavax (NVAX US) +6.2%, Pfizer (PFE US) +5.1%, BioNTech (BNTX US) +6.4%. Small biotech stocks gained in premarket as investors sought havens. Ocugen (OCGN US) added 22%, Vir Biotechnology (VIR US) +7.8%, Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE US) +5%. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks fell as Bitcoin dropped as investors dumped risk assets. Marathon Digital (MARA US) declined 9%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -8.8%, Coinbase (COIN US) -4.6%. Didi Global (DIDI US) declined 6% in premarket after Chinese regulators were said to have asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Selecta Biosciences (SELB US) dropped 13% in Wednesday’s postmarket ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving closure, after saying the U.S. FDA placed a clinical hold on a trial. Quotient Technology (QUOT US) gained 3.9% in Wednesday’s postmarket on news that a board member bought $150,000 of shares. What happens next will matter and so, all eyes are on the opening bell for the U.S. markets, set to return from the holiday for a shortened trading session. Tumbling futures and a soaring VIX signaled that the rout in Asia and Europe won’t spare New York equities, while lack of liquidity will only make the pain worse. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar languishing. “Every trader in New York will be rushing to the office now,” said Salm-Salm & Partner portfolio manager Frederik Hildner, adding that news of the new variant could mean the end of the inflation and tapering debate. The worsening pandemic poses a dilemma for central banks that are preparing to tighten monetary policy to curb elevated price pressures, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “It’s terrible news,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, said in emailed comments. “The new Covid variant could hit the economic recovery, but this time, the central banks won’t have enough margin to act. They can’t fight inflation and boost growth at the same time. They have to choose.” “We now have a new Covid variant that’s ‘very’ different from the ones we knew so far, a rising inflation, and a market bubble,” she said.  “The only encouraging news is the easing oil prices, which could tame the inflationary pressures and give more time to the central banks before pulling back support.” In the meantime, the World Health Organization and scientists in South Africa were said to be working “at lightning speed” to ascertain how quickly the B.1.1.529 variant can spread and whether it’s resistant to vaccines. The new threat adds to the wall of worry investors are already contending with in the form of elevated inflation, monetary tightening and slowing growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index headed for the biggest drop in 13 months plunging 2.7%; travel and banking industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down as much as 3.7%, the biggest intraday drop since June 2020. Airbus slumped 8.6% in Paris and British Airways owner IAG tumbled 12% in London, while food-delivery stocks gained.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stay-at-home stocks and Covid testing firms such as TeamViewer and DiaSorin are among the biggest gainers as worries over a new Covid variant send the Stoxx 600 tumbling on lockdown fears TeamViewer and DiaSorin rise as much as 6% and 7%, respectively On the down side, travel and leisure stocks plunge, with the likes of IAG, Lufthansa and Carnival posting double- digit falls IAG drops as much as 21% Software AG shares rise as much as 9.5% after Bloomberg reported that the firm is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, with Morgan Stanley saying the company’s biggest headwinds are behind it. Evolution gains as much as 4.6%, recouping part of Thursday’s 16% plunge, with Bank of America saying the share price’s “crazy time” amounts to a good buying opportunity. Skistar rises as much as 3.7%, bucking steep declines for travel and leisure stocks, after Handelsbanken upgraded the stock, saying bookings for the Scandinavian ski resort operator are “set to surge.” Telecom Italia climbs as much as 2.8% following a Bloomberg report that private equity firms KKR and CVC are considering teaming up on a bid for the company. ING Groep falls as much as 11% after Goldman Sachs analyst Jean-Francois Neuez cut his recommendation to neutral from buy. Getlink drops as much as 6% as French fishermen start protests aimed at stepping up pressure on the U.K. in a post-Brexit fishing dispute. Earlier in the session, MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan fell 2.2%, its sharpest drop since August. Casino and beverage shares were hammered in Hong Kong, while travel stocks dropped in Sydney and Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei skidded 2.5% and S&P 500 futures were last down 1.8%. Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, a brokerage, said the closure of the U.S. market for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday had exacerbated moves. "We need to see how transmissible this variant is, is it able to evade the vaccines - this is crucial," Coghlan said. "I expect this story to drag on for a few days until scientists have a better understanding of it." Indian stocks plunged as the detection of a new coronavirus strain rattled investor sentiment globally, raising concerns over a likely setback to the nascent economic recovery.  The S&P BSE Sensex lost 2.9%, the most since mid-April, to 57,107.15 in Mumbai, taking its loss this week to 4.2%, the biggest weekly drop since January. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar magnitude on Friday. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on both measures and declined 3.2%.  “There is fear of this new variant spreading to other countries which might again derail the global economy,” said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.   Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 26 fell and 4 gained. All but one of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. retreated, led by a index of realty companies. The S&P BSE Healthcare index was the only sub-index to gain, surging 1.2%. While researchers are yet to determine whether the new virus variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities around the world have been quick to act. The European Union, U.K., Israel, and Singapore placed emergency curbs on passengers from South Africa and the surrounding region. Travel stocks were among the hardest hit. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. fell 8.9%, Spicejet Ltd. slipped 6.7% and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. plunged 11.2%, the most since March 2020.  “Nervousness on the new variant of coronavirus and expectations of the U.S. Fed increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness,” Amit Gupta, fund manager for portfolio management services at ICICI Securities Ltd. said. “This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely.” Crude oil to emerging markets completed this picture of mayhem. In rates, fixed income was firmly bid as Treasuries extended their advance led by the belly of the curve, outperforming bunds, while money markets pared rate-hike bets amid fears that a new coronavirus strain may spread globally, slowing economic growth. Cash Treasuries outperformed, richening 12-14bps across the short end, with Thursday’s closure exacerbating the optics. As shown above, 10Y Treasury yields shed as much as 10 basis points while the Japanese yen jumped the most since investors’ March 2020 rush for safety. Yields across the curve are lower by more than 8bp at long end, 13bp-15bp out to the 7-year point, moves that if sustained would be the largest since at least March 2020 and in some cases since 2009. Short-term interest rate futures downgraded the odds of Fed rate increases. Gilts richened 10-11bps across the curve, outperforming bunds by 4-5bps. Peripheral and semi-core spreads widen. In FX, JPY and CHF top the G-10 scoreboard with havens typically bid. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after earlier touching a fresh cycle high, and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as the yen and the Swiss franc led gains while the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone were the worst performers as commodity prices plunged. Traders pushed back the timing of a 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June, with only one further hike expected for the remainder of 2022. It’s a similar story in the U.K. where the Bank of England is now expected to tighten policy in February instead of next month. Wagers that the ECB will raise its deposit rate by the end of next year have also been slashed, with only a six basis-point increase priced in, half of that seen earlier this week. The European Union is proposing to follow the U.K. in halting air travel from southern Africa after the new Covid-19 variant was identified there. The yen is at the epicenter of skyrocketing currency volatility as the new virus variant shakes markets. The cost of hedging against swings in the Japanese currency over the next week, which captures the release of the next U.S. payrolls report, is the most expensive in more than a year. In commodities, crude futures are hit hard. WTI drops over 7% before finding support near $73, Brent drops over 5% before recovering near $78. Spot gold grinds higher, adding $21 to trade near $1,809/oz. Base metals are sharply offered with much of the complex off as much as 3%. Looking at the otherwise quiet day ahead, data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.9% to 4,607.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.8% to 468.04 MXAP down 1.8% to 193.33 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 628.97 Nikkei down 2.5% to 28,751.62 Topix down 2.0% to 1,984.98 Hang Seng Index down 2.7% to 24,080.52 Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,564.09 Sensex down 2.7% to 57,234.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 7,279.35 Kospi down 1.5% to 2,936.44 Brent Futures down 5.8% to $77.46/bbl Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,805.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 96.46 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1259 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from southern Africa over growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant that’s spreading there, as the U.K. said it will also temporarily ban flights from the region Those close to the Kremlin say the Russian president doesn’t want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he’s ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia Bitcoin tumbled 20% from record highs notched earlier this month as a new variant of the coronavirus spurred traders to dump risk assets across the globe Germany’s Greens tapped their two co- leaders to run the foreign ministry and take charge of an influential portfolio overseeing economy and climate protection in the country’s next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets declined and US equity futures were also on the backfoot on reopen from the prior day’s Thanksgiving lull with markets spooked by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa that was first detected in Botswana. The new variant showed a high number of mutations and was said to be the most evolved strain ever which spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and is prompting both the UK and Israel to halt flights from several African nations. ASX 200 (-1.7%) was negative with heavy losses in energy and broad underperformance in cyclicals leading the downturn across all sectors, while the much better than expected Australian Retail Sales data was largely ignored. Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) underperformed and gave up the 29k status as selling was exacerbated by detrimental currency inflows and with SoftBank shares among the worst hit on reports that China is said to have asked Didi to delist from US exchanges on security fears, which doesn't bode well for SoftBank given that its Vision Fund is the top shareholder in the Chinese ride hailing group with a stake of more than 20%. Hang Seng (-2.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.7%) conformed to the risk aversion with the mood not helped by ongoing geopolitical concerns after a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson noted they are ready to crush Taiwan independence bid "at any time”, while China also said it opposes US sanctions on its companies and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese companies. Beijing interference further contributed to the headwinds amid the request by China for Didi to delist from US which reports stated regulators could backtrack on and with Tencent subdued after some Chinese state-run companies restricted the use of Tencent's messaging app. Top Asian News Stocks in Asia Set for Worst Day Since March on Virus Woes Mizuho CEO Steps Down After Regulator Hit on System Issues Meituan 3Q Revenue Meets Estimates Japan’s Kishida Delivers $316 billion Extra Budget for Recovery European equities are trading markedly lower (Stoxx 600 -2.9%) with losses in the Stoxx 600 extending to 3.8% WTD. Sentiment throughout the week has been hampered by various lockdown measures imposed across the region with the latest leg lower accelerated by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa. The new variant has shown a high number of mutations and is said to be the most evolved strain so far. This has spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and has prompted multiple nations to halt flights from several African nations.The handover from the overnight session was an equally downbeat one with the Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) dealt a hammer blow by the risk environment and unfavourable currency flows. Stateside, futures are lower across the board with the RTY the clear laggard with losses of 4.2% compared to the ES -1.8%, whilst the tech-heavy NQ is faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1.6%. Note, early closures in the US and subsequent liquidity conditions could exacerbate some of the moves throughout the session. With the macro calendar light, focus for the session is likely to centre on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically. Any further clarity on the spread of the variant and its potential to evade vaccines will be of great interest to the market and likely be the main driving force of price action today. Sectors in Europe are lower across the board with the Stoxx 600 Banking (-5.1%) sector bottom of the pile amid the declines seen in global bond yields as markets scale back expectations of central bank tightening (e.g. pricing now assigns a 63% chance of a 15bps hike by the BoE next month vs. 93% a week ago). Oil & Gas names (-4.8%) are suffering on account of the declines in the crude space with WTI crude in freefall with losses of 6.7% given the potential impact of travel restrictions on demand. Travel restrictions on South Africa (from UK, Israel, EU et al) and the potential for further announcements has crushed the Travel & Leisure sector (-5.7%) with airline names dealt a hammer blow; IAG (-13.5%), easyJet (-11%), Deutsche Lufthansa (-12%), Air France (-9.5%). Elsewhere, there are a whole raft of other laggards which are very much in-fitting with the March 2020 playbook but there are simply too many to list for the purpose of this report. Defensives and Tech are faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, for anyone wanting some positivity from today’s session, the potential for further lockdowns has proved to be beneficial for the likes of HelloFresh (+3.2%), Ocado (+2.1%) and Delivery Hero (+1.9%). Top European News Airlines Skid on South Africa Travel Bans Tied to Variant German Coalition Proposes a Combustion-Car Ban Without Saying So Putin Pushes Confrontation With NATO as Hardliners Prevail Siemens Is Said to Kick Off Sale of Postal Logistics Business In FX, the index has been under pressure in the risk-averse environment amid a slump in yields and gains in its basket components – namely the JPY, CHF, EUR (see below) – and with liquidity also thinned by Thanksgiving. From a technical perspective, the index has declined from its 96.787 overnight high, through the 96.500 mark, to a low of 96.332 – with the weekly trough at 96.035. Ahead, the US calendar is once again light, with the US also poised for an early Thanksgiving closure; thus, impulses will likely be derived from the macro environment. JPY, CHF, EUR - Haven FX JPY and CHF are the clear outperformers as a function of risk-related inflows. USD/JPY has retreated from a 115.37 peak and fell through its 21 DMA (114.15) to a base around 113.66 - with the current weekly low around 113.64. USD/CHF retreated from 0.9360 to 0.9260 – with the 50 and 100 DMAs seen at 0.9234 and 0.9219, respectively, ahead of 0.9200. EUR/USD meanwhile gains on what is seemingly an unwind of the carry trade amid a spike in volatility. EUR/USD found support near 1.1200 before rebounding to a current 1.1288 peak. AUD, NZD, CAD, GBP - The non-US Dollar risk currencies bear the brunt of the latest market downturn, with losses across industrial commodities not helping. The Loonie has taken the spot as the biggest G10 loser as hefty COVID-induced losses in the oil complex keep the currency suppressed. USD/CAD trades towards the top of a current 1.2647-2774 range. AUD is also weighed on by softer base metal prices – AUD/USD fell from a 0.7200 overnight high to a current low at 0.7110. On that note, Westpac sees AUD/USD pushed down to 0.7000 by Jun 2022 (prev. 0.7700) amid rate differentials with the US; Westpac made significant changes to its FOMC policy forecast and now expect consecutive increases in the fed funds rate in Jun, Sept, and Dec 2022. NZD/USD is slightly more cushioned amid smaller exposure to commodities, and as the AUD/NZD cross takes aim at 1.0450 to the downside. GBP, meanwhile, was initially among the losers amid its high-beta status but thereafter nursed losses in a move that coincided with EUR/GBP rejecting an upside breach of its 21 DMA at 0.8475. EM - The ZAR is the standout laggard given the new South African COVID variant - B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant (expected to be named Nu) – which is said to be the most evolved strain so far and thus prompted several countries to halt travel to the country of origin. USD/ZAR currently trades within a 15.9375-16.3630 intraday band. Meanwhile, the downturn oil sees USD/RUB north of 75.00 and closer to 76.00 from a 74.2690 base. The Lira also feels some contagion despite the lower oil prices (Turkey being a large net oil importer) – USD/TRY is back on a 12.00 handle and within 11.92-1226 parameters at the time of writing. In commodities, the crude complex has been hit by compounding COVID fears which in turn triggered various travel restrictions and subsequently took its toll on global crude demand prospects. The new and more evolved South African variant prompted the UK, Singapore, and Israel to expand their travel red lists to include some African nations (Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.529). Japan also imposed tighter border restrictions. China’s Shanghai city see flights impacted by its own outbreak. Europe also tackles its surge in daily cases - German Green Party's Baerbock (incoming Foreign Minister) does not rule out a German lockdown, according to Spiegel. EU Commission President von der Leyen is also to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant. Losses in oil have exacerbated - with WTI Jan and Brent Feb now under USD 74/bbl (vs high 78.65/bbl) and USD 77/bbl (vs high 80.42/bbl), -6.0% and -5.0% respectively. This comes ahead of the OPEC+ confab next week, whereby OPEC watchers have suggested that oil prices will be a large contributor to the final decision. It is difficult to see how OPEC+ will increase output to the levels the US et al. will be content with, with the latest COVID downturn building the case for a pause in planned output hikes. Elsewhere, haven demand sees spot gold extend on gains above USD 1,800/oz after topping the 100 DMA (1,792.95/oz), 200 DMA (1,791.38/oz), 50 DMA (1,790.13/oz) overnight. Base metals are softer across the board amid the risk aversion. LME copper posts losses of around 3% at the time of writing, as prices threaten a more convincing downside breach of USD 9,500/t. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Things have escalated on the covid front quite rapidly over the last 12 hours. Yesterday new covid variant B.1.1.529 was slowly starting to gather increasing attention but overnight it has begun to dominate markets and has caused a notable flight to quality with 10 year USTs -8bps lower. It was originally identified in Botswana and is starting to spread rapidly in Africa. The South African Health Minister has said it is "of serious concern". Almost 100 cases have already been identified in South Africa and the UK moved to put the country back (along with 5 other African nations) on a reinstated red travel list last night with others following this morning. The variant is said to be the most heavily mutated version yet and the WHO will meet today to decide if it is a variant of interest or a variant of concern. So a lot of eyes will be on how severe it is and whether it completely evades vaccines. At this stage very little is known. Mutations are often less severe so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions but there is clearly a lot of concern about this one. Also South Africa is one of the world leaders in sequencing so we are more likely to see this sort of news originate from there than many countries. Suffice to say at this stage no one in markets will have any idea which way this will go. Overnight in Asia all benchmarks are trading lower on the news with the Shanghai Composite (-0.50%), CSI (-0.64%), KOSPI (-1.27%), Hang Seng (-2.13%) and the Nikkei (-2.90%) all lower. Airlines and other travel stocks have obviously fallen heavily. Hong Kong has detected two confirmed cases of the new variant just as Hong Kong and China were considering quarantine-free travel. S&P 500 (-0.93%) and DAX (-1.82%) futures are also much weaker. Elsewhere, in Japan, CPI rose +0.5% year-on-year (+0.4% consensus and +0.1% previously), on the back of 16-month high fuel prices. With the US out on holiday for Thanksgiving, there wasn’t much going on yesterday after a very quiet day in markets. The variant news was only slowly creeping into the news flow so it hardly impacted trading. But in keeping with the theme of recent days, both inflation and the latest covid wave in Europe remained very much in the picture as jitters continue to increase that we could see further lockdowns as we move towards Christmas. Starting with the headline moves, European equities did actually show signs of stabilising yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.42% thanks to a broad-based advance across the continent. In fact that’s actually the index’s best daily performance in over three weeks, although that’s not reflecting any particular strength, but instead the fact the index inched steadily but persistently towards a record high before selling off again a week ago. Other indices moved higher across the continent too, with the FTSE 100 (+0.33%), the CAC 40 (+0.48%) and the DAX (+0.25%) all posting similar advances. These will all likely reverse this morning. One piece of news we did get came from the ECB, who released the account of their monetary policy meeting for October. Something the minutes stressed was the importance that the Governing Council maintain optionality in their policy settings, with one part acknowledging the growing upside risks to inflation, but also saying “it was deemed important for the Governing Council to avoid an overreaction as well as unwarranted inaction, and to keep sufficient optionality in calibrating its monetary policy measures to address all inflation scenarios that might unfold.” Against this backdrop, 10yr bond yields moved lower across multiple countries, with those on bunds (-2.3ps), OATs (-2.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) all declining. There was also a flattening in all 3 yield curves as well, with the 2s10s slope in Germany (-3.0bps), France (-3.7bps) and Italy (-2.8bps) shifting lower. And the moves also coincided with a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with both the Spanish and the Greek spreads over 10yr bund yields widening to their biggest levels in over a year. Of course, one of the biggest concerns in Europe right now remains the pandemic, and yesterday saw a number of fresh measures announced as policymakers seek to get a grip on the latest wave. In France, health minister Veran announced various measures, including the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults, and a reduction in the length of time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot to 5 months from 6. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency and approved tighter social distancing measures, including the closure of restaurants and bars at 10pm. And in Finland, the government have said that bars and restaurants not using Covid certificates will not be able to serve alcohol after 5pm. All this came as the European Medicines Agency recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children aged 5-11, which follows the decision to approve the vaccine in the US. Their recommendation will now go to the European Commission for a final decision. There wasn’t much in the way of data at all yesterday, though German GDP growth in Q3 was revised down to show a +1.7% expansion (vs. +1.8% previous estimate). Looking at the details, private consumption was the only driver of growth (+6.2%), with government consumption (-2.2%), machinery and equipment (-3.7%) and construction (-2.3%) all declining over the quarter. To the day ahead now, and data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021

Transcript: Edwin Conway

   The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS:… Read More The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, man, I have an extra special guest. Edwin Conway runs all of alternatives for BlackRocks. His title is Global Head of Alternative Investors and he covers everything from structured credit to real estate hedge funds to you name it. The group runs over $300 billion and he has been a driving force into making this a substantial portion of Blackrock’s $9 trillion in total assets. The opportunity set that exists for alternatives even for a firm like Blackrock that specializes in public markets is potentially huge and Blackrock wants a big piece of it. I found this conversation to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also. So with no further ado, my conversation with Blackrock’s Head of Alternatives, Edwin Conway. MALE VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Edwin Conway. He is the Global Head of Blackrock’s Alternative Investors which runs about $300 billion in assets. He is a team of over 1,100 professionals to help him manage those assets. Blackrock’s Global alternatives include businesses that cover real estate infrastructure, hedge funds private equity, and credit. He is a senior managing director for BlackRock. Edwin Conway, welcome to Bloomberg. EDWIN CONWAY, GLOBAL HEAD OF ALTERNATIVE INVESTORS, BLACKROCK: Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, you’ve been in the financial services industry for a long time. You were at Credit Suisse and Blackstone and now you’re at BlackRock. Tell us what the process was like breaking into the industry? CONWAY: It’s an interesting on, Barry. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of Ireland. And the breakthrough to the industry was one of more coincident as opposed to purpose. I enjoyed the game of rugby for many years and through an introduction while at the University, in University College Dublin in Ireland, had a chance to play rugby at a quite a – quite a decent level and get to know people that were across the industry. It was really through and internship and the suggestion, I’ve given my focus on business and financing things that the financial services sector may be a great place to traverse and get to know. And literally through rugby connections, been part of a good school, I had an opportunity to really understand what the service sector, in many respects, could provide to clients and became absolutely intrigued with it. And what – was it my primary ambition in life to be in the financial services sector? I can definitively say no, but through the circumstance of a game that I love to play and be part of, I was introduced to, through an internship, and actually fell in love with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And alternative investments at Blackrock almost seems like a contradiction in terms. Most of us tend to think of Blackrock as the giant $9 trillion public markets firm best known for ETFs and indices. Alternatives seems to be one of the fastest-growing groups within the firm. This was $50 billion just a few years ago, it’s now over 300 billion. How has this become such a fast-growing part of BlackRock? CONWAY: When you look at the various facets which you introduced at the start, Barry, we’ve actually been an alternatives – will be of 30 years now. Now, the scale, as you know, which you can operate on the beta side of business, far surpasses that on the alpha side. For us, throughout the years, this was very much about how can we deliver investment excellence to our clients and performance? Therefore, going an opportunity somewhere else to explore an alpha opportunity in alternatives. And I think being so connected to our clients understanding, that this pivots was absolutely taking place at only 30 years ago but in a very pronounced way today, you know, we continue to invest in this business to support those ambitions. They’re clearly seeing this as the world of going through a tremendous amount of transformation and with some of the challenges, quite frankly, in the traditional asset classes, being able to leverage at BlackRock, the Blackrock muscle to really explore these alpha opportunities across the various alternative asset classes that in our mind wasn’t imperative. And the imperative, really, is from the firm’s perspective and if you look at our purpose, it’s to serve the client. So the need was coming from them. The necessity to have alternatives and their whole portfolio was very – was very much growing in prominence. And it’s taken us 30 years to build this journey and I think, Barry, quite frankly, we’re far from being done. As you look at the industry, the demand is going to continue to grow. So, I think you could expect to see from us a continued investment in the space because we don’t believe you can live without alternatives in today’s world. RITHOLTZ: That’s really – that’s really interesting. So let’s dive a little deeper into the product strategy for alternatives which you are responsible for at BlackRock. Our audiences is filled with potential investors. Tell them a little bit about what that strategy is. CONWAY: So we’re – I think as you mentioned, we’re in excess of 300 billion today and when we started this business, it was less about building a moat around private equity or real estate. I think Larry Fink’s and Rob Kapito’s vision was how do we build a platform to allow us to be relevant to our clients across the various alternative asset classes but also within the – within the confines of what they are permitted to do on a year-by-year basis. So, to always be relevant irrespective of where they are in their journey from respect of liabilities, demand for liquidity, demand for returns, so we took a different approach. I think, Barry, to most, it was around how do we scale into the business across, like you said, real estate equity and debt, infrastructure equity and debt. I mean, we think of that as the real assets platform of our business. Then you take our private equity capabilities both in primary investing, secondary et cetera, and then you have private credits and a very significant hedge fund platforms. So we think all of these have a real role and depending on clients liquidities and risk appetite, our goal was, to over the years, really build in to this to allow ourselves for this challenging needs that our clients have. I think as an industry, right, and over the many years alternatives have been in existence, this is been about return enhancement initially. I think, fundamentally, the changes around the receptivity to the role of alternatives in a client’s portfolio has really changed. So, we’ve watched it, Barry, from this is we’re in the pursuit of a very total return or absolute return type of an objective to now resilience in our portfolio, yield an income. And so things that probably weren’t perceived as valuable in the past because the traditional asset classes were playing a more profound role, alternatives have stepped up in – in many respects in the need to provide more than just total return. So, we’re taking the approach of how do you have a more holistic approach to this? How do we really build a global multi-alternatives capability and try to partner and I think that’s the important work for us. Try to partner with our clients in a way that we can deliver that outperformance but delivered in a way that probably our clients haven’t been used to in this industry before. Because unfortunately, as we know, it has had its challenges with regard to secrecy, transparency, and so many other aspects. We need to help the industry mature. And really that was our ambition. Put our client’s needs first, build around that and really be relevant in all aspects of what we’re doing or trying to accomplish on behalf of the people that they support and represent. RITHOLTZ: So, we’ll talk a little bit about transparency and secrecy and those sorts of things later. But right now, I have to ask what I guess is kind of an obvious question. This growth that you’ve achieved within Blackrock for nonpublic asset allocation within a portfolio, what is this coming at expense of? Are these dollars that are being moved from public assets into private assets or you just competing with other private investors? CONWAY: It’s really both. What – what you are seeing from our clients – if I take a step back, today, the institutional client community and you think about the – the retirement conundrum we’re all facing around the world. It’s such an awful challenge when you think how ill-prepared people are for that eventual stepping back from the workplace and then you know longevity is your friend, but can also be a very, very difficult thing to obviously live with if you’re not prepared for retirement. The typical pension plan today are allocating about 25 percent to 28 percent in alternatives. Predominantly private market. What they’re telling us is that’s increasing quite substantially going forward. But you know, the funding for that alpha pursue for that diversification and that yield is coming from fixed-income assets. It’s coming from equity assets. So there’s a real rebalancing that’s been taking place over the past number of years. And quite frankly, the evolution, and I think the innovation that’s taken place particularly in the past 10 years, alternatives has been really profound. So the days where you just invest in any global funds still exist. But now you can concentrate your efforts on sector exposure, industry exposures, geographic exposures, and I think the – the menu of things our clients can now have access to has just been so greatly enhanced at and the benefit is that but I think in some – in some respects, Barry, the next question is with all of those choices, how do you build the right portfolio for our client’s needs knowing that each one of our client’s needs are different? So, I would say it absolutely coming from the public side. We’re very thankful. Those that had a multiyear journey with us in the public side are now allocating capital to is now the private side to because I do think the – the industry given that change, given that it evolution and given the complexity of these private assets, our clients are looking to, quite frankly, do more with fewer managers because of the complexion of the industry and complexity that comes with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): And attention RIA’s. 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I think what we’ve all realized is that at times when volatility introduces itself which is frequent even independent of what’s been done from a fiscal and monetary standpoint, that these Alpha speaking strategies on the traditional side still make a lot of sense. And so, as we think about what – what’s happening here, the transition of assets from both passive and active strategies to alternative, it – it’s really to create better balance. It’s not that there’s – there’s a lack of relevance anymore in the public side. It’s just quite frankly the growth of the private asset base has grown so substantially. I moved, Barry, to the U.S. in 1998. And it’s interesting, when you look back at 1998 to today, you start to recognize the equity markets and what was available to invest in. The number of investable opportunities has shrunk by 40 plus percent which that compression is extraordinarily high. But yet you’ve seen, obviously, the equity markets grow in stature and significance and prominence but you’re having more concentration risk with some of the big public entities. The converse is true, though on the – on the private side. There’s this explosion of enterprise and innovation, employment creation, and then I believe opportunities has been real. So, I look at the public side, the investable universe is measured in the thousands and the private side is measured in the millions. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And I think part of the – part of the part of the thing our clients are not struggling with but what we’re really recognizing with – with enterprises staying private for longer, if not forever, and with his growth of the opportunities that open debt and equity in the private market side, you really can’t forgo this opportunity. It has to be part of your going forward concerns and asset allocation. And I think this is why we’re seeing that transformation. And it’s not because equities on fixed income just aren’t relevant anymore. They’re very relevant but they’re relevant now in a total portfolio or a whole portfolio context beside alternatives. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s discuss this opportunity set of alternatives where you guys at Blackrock scene demand what sectors and from what sorts of clients? Is this demand increasing? CONWAY: We’re very fortunate, Barry. Today, there isn’t a single piece of our business within – within Blackrock alternatives that isn’t growing. And quite frankly too, it’s really up to us to deliver on the investment objectives that are set forth for those clients. I think in the back of strong absolute and relative performance, thankfully, our clients look to us to – to help them as – as they think about what they’re doing and as they’re exploring more in the alternatives areas. So, as you know, certainly, the private equity and real estate allocations are quite mature in many of our client’s portfolios but they’ve been around for many decades. I think that the areas where we’re seeing – that’s called an outside demand and opportunity set, just but virtue of the small allocations on a relative basis that exist today is really around infrastructure, Barry, and its around private credits. So, to caveat that, I think all of the areas are certainly growing, and thankfully, for us that’s true. We’re looking at clients who we believe are underinvested, we believe they’re underinvested in those asset classes infrastructure both debt and equity and in private credit. And as you think about why that is, the attributes that they bring to our client is really important and in a world where your correlation and understanding those correlations is important that these are definitely diversifying assets. In a world where you’re seeing trillions of dollars, quite frankly, you’re providing little to no or even there’s negative yield. Those short falls are real and people need yield than need income. These assets tend to provide that. So the diversification, it comes from these assets. The yield can come from these assets and because of the immaturity of the asset classes, independence of the capital is flowing in, we still consider them relatively white space. You’re not crowded out. There’s much room for development in the market and with our client’s portfolios. And to us, that’s exciting because it presents opportunities. So, at the highest level, they’re the areas where I believe are most underdeveloped in our clients. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about both of those areas. We’ll talk about structured credit in a few minutes. I think everybody kind of understands what – what that is. What – when you see infrastructure as a sector, how does that show up as an investment are – and obviously, I have infrastructure on the brink because we’re recording this not too long after the giant infrastructure bill has been passed, tell us a little bit about what alternative investments in infrastructure looks like? CONWAY: Yes. It’s really in its infancy and what the underlying investments look like. I think traditionally, you would consider it as – and part of the bill that has just been announced, roads, bridges, airports. Some of these hard assets, some of the core infrastructure investments that have been around for actually some time. The interesting thing is the industry has evolved so much and put the need for infrastructure. It’s so great across both developed and emerging economies. It’s become something that if done the right way, the attributes we just spoke of can really have a very strong effect on our client’s portfolios. So, beyond the core that we just mentioned, well, we’ve seen a tremendous demand as a result of this energy transition. You’re really seeing a spike in activity and the necessity transition industry to cleaner technologies, a movement, not away completely from fossil fuel but integrating new types of clean energy. And as a result, you’ve seen a lot of demand on a global basis for wind and solar. And quite frankly, that’s why even us at BlackRock, albeit, 10-12 years ago, we really established a capability there to help with that transition to think about how do we use these technologies, solar panels, wind farms, to generate clean forms of energy for utilities where in some cases they’re mandated to procure this type of this type of – this type of power. And when you think about pre-contracting with utilities for long duration, that to me spells, Barry, good risk mitigation and management and ability to get access to clean forms of energy that throw off yield that can be very complementary to your traditional asset classes but for very long periods of time. And so, the benefits for us of these – these assets is that they are long in duration, they are yield enhancing, they’re definitely diversifying. And so, for us, where – we’ve got about, let’s call this 280 assets around the world that we’re managing that literally generate this – this clean electricity. I think to give the relevance of how much, I believe today, it’s enough to power the country of Spain. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And that’s really that’s really changing. So you’re seeing governments – so from a policy standpoint, you’re seeing governments really embracing new forms of energy, transitioning out of bunker fuels, for example, you know, burning diesels which really spew omissions into the – into the into the environment. But it’s really around modernizing for the future. So, developed and emerging economies alike, want to retain capital. They want to attract new capital and by having the proper infrastructure to support industry, it’s a really, really important thing. Now, on the back of that too, one things we’ve learned from COVID is that the necessity to really bring e-commerce into how you conduct your business is so important and I think from the theme of digitalization within infrastructure to is a huge part. So, it’s not just the energy transition that you’re seeing, it’s not just roads and bridges, but by allowing businesses to connect to a global consumer, allowing children be educated from home, allowing experiences that expand geographies and boundaries in a digital form is so important not just for commerce but in so many other aspects. And so, you think about cable, fiber optics, if you think about all the other things even outside of power, that enable us to conduct commerce to educate, there are many examples where, Barry, you can build resilience into your portfolio because that need is not measured in years. Actually, the shortfall of capital is measured in the trillions so which means this is – this is a multi-decade opportunity set from our vantage point and one of which our clients should really avail of. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And I mentioned in passing, structured credit, tell us a little bit about what that opportunity looks like. I think of this as a space that is too big for local banks but too small for Wall Street to finance. Is that an oversimplification? What is going on in that space. CONWAY: I probably couldn’t have set it better, Barry. It’s – if we go back to just the even the investable universe, in the tens of thousands of companies, just if we take North America that are private, that have great leadership that really have strategic vision under – at the – in some cases, at the start of their growth lifecycles are even if they maintain, they have a very credible and viable business for the future they still need capital. And you’re absolutely right. With the retreat of the banks from the space to various regulations that have come after the global financial crisis, you’re seeing the asset managers in many respects working behalf of our clients both wealth and institutional becoming the new lenders of choice. And – and when we – when we think about that opportunity set, that is really understanding the client’s desire for risk or something maybe in a lower risk side from middle-market lending or midmarket enterprises where you can support that organization through its growth cycle all the way to some higher-yielding, obviously, with more risk assets on the opportunistic or even the special situations side. But it – it expands many things. And going back of the commentary around the evolution of the space, private credit today and what you can do has changed so profoundly, it expands the liquidity spectrum, it expands the risk spectrum. And the great news is, with the number of companies both here and abroad, the opportunities that is – it’s being enriched every single day. And were certainly seeing, particularly going back to the question are some of these assets coming from the traditional side, the public side. When we think of private credit, you are seeing private credit now been incorporated in fixed-income allocations. This is a – it’s a yelling asset. This is – these are debt instruments, these are structures that we’re creating. We’re trying to flexible and dynamic with these clients. But it really is an area where we think – it really is still at its – at its infancy relevant to where it can potentially be. RITHOLTZ: That’s really quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): It’s Rob Riggle. I’m hosting Season 2 of the iHeart radio podcast, Veterans You Should Know. You may know me as the comedic actor from my work in the Hangover, Stepbrothers or 21 Jump Street. But before Hollywood, I was a United States Marine Corps officer for 23 years. For this Veterans Day, I’ll be sitting down with those who proudly served in the Armed Forces to hear about the lessons they’ve learned, the obstacles they’ve overcome, and the life-changing impact of their service. Through this four-part series, we’ll hear the inspiring journeys of these veterans and how they took those values during their time of service and apply them to transition out of the military and into civilian life. Listen to Veterans You Should Know on the iHeart radio app, Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcast. RITHOLTZ: Let’s stick with that concept of money rotating away from fixed income. I have to imagine clients are starved for yields. So what are the popular substitutes for this? Is it primarily structured credit? Is it real estate? How do you respond to an institution that says, hey, I’m not getting any sort of realistic coupon on my bonds, I need a substitute? CONWAY: Yes. It’s all of those in many respects. And I think to the role, even around now a time where people have questions around inflation, how do substitute this yield efficiency or certainly make up for that shortfall, how do you think about a world where increasingly seeing inflation, not of the transitory thing it feels certainly quasi-permanent. These are a lot of questions we’re getting. And certainly, real estate is an is important part of how they think about inflation protection, how client think about yield, but quite frankly too, we’ve – we’ve gone through something none of us really had thought about a global pandemic. And as I think about real estate, just how you allocate to the sector, what was very heavily influenced with retail assets, high street, our shopping behaviors and habits have changed. We all occupied offices for obviously many, many years pre the pandemic. The shape of how we operate and how we do that has changed. So, I think some of the underlying investment – investments have changed where you’ve seen heavily weighted towards office space to leisure, travel in the past. Actually, now using a rotation in some respects out of those, just given some of the uncertainties around what the future holds as we come – come through a really difficult time. But the great thing about this sector is between senior living, between student housing, between logistics and so many other parts, there are ways in real estate to capture where there’s – where there’s demand. So still a robust opportunity set and it – and we do think it can absolutely be yield enhancing. We mentioned infrastructure. Even if you think about – and we mention OECD and non-OECD, emerging and developed, when I think about Asia, in particular, just as a subset of the world in which we’re living in, that is a $2.6 trillion alternative market today growing at a 15 percent CAGR. And quite frankly, the old-growth is driven by the large economic growth in the region. So, even from a regional perspective, if we pivot, it houses 57 percent of the world’s population and yet delivers 47 percent of the world’s economic growth. So, think of that and then with regard to infrastructure and goes back to that, this is truly a global phenomenon. So if we just even take that sector, Barry, you’ll realize that the way to maintain that type of growth, to attract capital, to keep capital, it really requires an investment of significant amount of money to be able to sustain that. And when you have 42 million people in a APAC migrating to cities in the year going back to digitalization, that’s an important thing. So, when I say we’re so much at the infancy in infrastructure, I really mean it. It can be water, it can be sewer systems, it can be digital, it can be roads, there’s so much to this. And then even down to the regional perspective, it’s a – it’s a need that doesn’t just exist in the U.S. So, for these assets, this tend to be long in duration. There’s both equity and debt. And on the debt side, quite frankly, very few outside of our insurance clients and their general account are taking advantage of the debt opportunity. And – and as we both know, to finance these projects that are becoming more plentiful every single day, across the world, including like, I said, in APAC in scale, there’s an opportunity in both sides. And I think that’s where the acid mix change happen. It’s recognizing that the attributes of these assets can have a role, the attributes of these assets can potentially replace some of these traditional assets and I think you’re going to see it grow. So, infrastructure to us, it’s really equity and debt. And then on the credit side, like I mentioned, again, too, it’s a very, very big and growing market. And certainly, the biggest area today from our vantage point is middle-market lending from a scale opportunity standpoint. So, we think much more to come in all of those spaces. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And let’s just stay with the concept of public versus private. That line is kind of getting blurred and the secondary markets is liquidity coming to, for lack of a better phrase, pre-public equities, tells little bit about that space. Is that an area that is ripe for growth for BlackRock? CONWAY: Yes. We absolutely think it is and you’re absolutely correct. The secondary market is – has grown quite substantial. If you even look at just the private equity secondary market and what will transact this year, I think it will be potentially in excess of 100 billion. And that’s what were clear, not to mention what will be visible and what will be analyzed. And that speaks to me what’s really happening and the innovation that we mentioned earlier. It’s no longer about just primary exposure. It’s secondary exposure. When we see all sort of interest and co-investment opportunities as well, I think the available sources of alpha and the flexibility you can now have, albeit if directed and advised, I believe the right way, Barry, can be very helpful and in the portfolio. So, your pre-IPO, it is a big part of actually what we do and we think about growth equity. There is – it’s a significant amount of capital following that space. Now, from our vantage point, as one of the largest investors in the public equity market and now obviously one of the largest investors and they in the private side, the bridge between – between private to public – there’s a real need. IPOs are not going away. And I think smart, informed capital to help with this journey, this journey is really – is really a necessity and a need. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about this recent restructuring. You are first named Global Head of Blackrock Alternative Investors in April 2019, the entire alternatives business was restructured, tell us a little bit about how that restructuring is going? CONWAY: Continues to go really well, Barry. When you look at the flow of acid from our clients, I think, hopefully, that’s speaks to the performance we’ve been generating. I joined the firm, as you know, albeit, 11 years ago and being very close to the alternative franchise as a critical thing for me and running the institutional platform. To me, when you watched this migration of asset towards alternatives, it was obviously very evident for decades now that this is a critical leg of the stool as our clients are thinking about their portfolios. We’re continuing to innovate. We’re continuing to invest, and thankfully, we’re continuing to deliver strong performance. We’re growing at about high double digits on an annual basis but we’re trying to purposeful too around where that growth is coming from. I think the reality is when you look at the competitive universe, I think the last number I saw, it was about 38,000 alternative asset managers out there today, obviously, coming from hedge funds all the way to private credits and private equity. So, competition is real and I do think the outcomes for our clients are starting to really grow. Unfortunately, some – in some cases, obviously, very good, and in some cases, actually not great. So our focus, Barry, is really much on how can we deliver performance, how can we be a partner? And I think we been rewarded with a trust and the faith our clients have in us because they’re seeing something different, I think, from us. Now, the scale of the business that you mentioned earlier really gives us tentacles into the market that I believe allows us to access what I think is the new alpha which is in many respects, given the heft of competition sourcing and originating new investments is certainly harder but for us, sitting in or having alternative team, sitting in 50 offices around the world, really investing in the markets because that – the market they grew up with and have relationships within, I think this network value that we have is something that’s quite special. And I think in the world that’s becoming increasingly competitive, we’re going to continue to use and harness that network value to pursue opportunities. And thankfully, as a result of the partnership we’ve been pursuing with her clients, like, we’ve – we’re certainly looking for opportunities and investments in our funds. But because of the brand, I think because of the successes, opportunities seeks us as much as we seek opportunity and that has been something that we look at an ongoing basis and feel very privileged to actually have that inbound flow as well. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. There was a quote of yours I found while doing some prep for this conversation that I have to have you expand on. Quote, “The relationship between Blackrock’s alternative capabilities and wealth firms marked a large opportunity for growth in the coming years.” This was back in 2019. So, the first part of the question is, was your expectations correct? Did you – did you see the sort of growth you were hoping for? And more broadly, how large of an opportunity is alternatives, not just for BlackRock but for the entire investment industry? CONWAY: Yes. It’s been very much an institutional opportunity set up until now. And there’s so much to be done, still, to really democratize alternatives and we certainly joke around making alternatives less alternative. Actually, even the nomenclature we use and how we describe it doesn’t kind of make sense anymore. It’s such a core – an important allocation to our clients, Barry, that just calling it alternative seems wrong. Just about the institutional clients. It ranges, I think, as I mentioned on our – some of our more conservative clients which would be pension plans which really have liquidity needs on a monthly basis because of the liabilities they have to think about. At about 25 plus percent in private markets, to endowments, foundations, family offices, going to 50 percent plus. So, it’s a really important part and has been for now many years the institutional client ph communities outcomes. I think the thing that we, as an industry, have to change is alternatives has to be for the many, not for the few. And quite frankly, it’s been for the few. And as we talked about some of the attributes and the important attributes of these asset classes to think that those who have been less fortunate in their careers can’t access, things they can enrich their future retirement outcomes, to me, is a failing. And we have to address that. That comes from regulation changes, it comes from structuring of new products, it comes from education and it comes from this knowledge transmission where clients in the wealth segment can understand the role of alternatives and the context of what can do as they invest in equities and fixed income too. And we think that’s a big shortfall. So, the journey today, just to give you a sense, as we look at her clients in Europe on the wealth side, on average, as you look from what we would call the credited investors all the way through to more ultra-high-net worth individuals, their allocation to alternatives, we believe, stands at around two to three percent of their total portfolio. In the U.S., we believe it stands at three to five. So, most of those intermediaries, we speak to our partners who were more supporting and serving the wealth channel. They have certainly an ambition to help their clients grow that to 20 percent and potentially beyond that. So, when I look at that gap of let’s call it two to three to 20 percent in a market that just given the explosion in wealth around the world, I think the last numbers I saw, this is a $65 trillion market. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: That speaks to the shortfall relative to the ambition. And how’s it been going? We have a number of things and capabilities we’ve set up to allow for this market to experience, hopefully, private equity, hedge funds, credit, and an infrastructure in ways they haven’t in the past. We’ve done this in the U.S., we’re doing it now in Europe, but I will say, Barry, this is still very much at the start of the journey. Wealth is a really important part of our future given our business, quite, frankly is 90 plus percent institutional today, but we’re looking to change that by, hopefully, democratizing these asset classes and making it so much more accessible in that of the past. RITHOLTZ: So, we hinted at this before but I’m going to ask the question outright, how significant is interest rates to client’s risk appetites, how much of the current low rate environment are driving people to move chunks of their assets from fixed income to alternatives? CONWAY: It’s really significant, Barry. I think the transition of these portfolios is quite profound, So you – and I think the unfortunate thing in some respects as this transition happens that you’re introducing new variables and new risks. The reason I say it’s unfortunate and that I think as an industry, this goes back to the education around the assets you own, understanding the role, understanding the various outcomes. I think it’s so incredibly important and that this the time where complete transparency is needed. And quite frankly, we’re investing capital that’s not ours. As an industry, we’re investing our client’s assets and they need to know exactly the underlying investments. And in good and bad times, how would those assets behave? So certainly, interest rates are driving a flow of capital away from these traditional assets, fixed-income, and absolutely in towards real estate, infrastructure, private creditors, et cetera, in the pursuit of this – this yield. But I do – I do think one of the things that’s critically important for the institutional channel, not just the wealth which are newer entrants is this transmission of education, of data because that’s how I think you build a better balanced portfolio and that’s a – that’s a real conundrum, I think, that the industry is facing and certainly your clients too. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about the differences between investing in the private side versus the public markets, the most obvious one has to be the illiquidity. When you buy stocks or bonds, you get a print every microsecond, every tick, but most of these investments are only marked quarterly or annually, what does this illiquidity do when you’re interacting with clients? How do you – how do you discuss this with them in and how do perceive some of the challenges of illiquid investments? CONWAY: Over the – over the past number of decades, I think our clients have largely held too much liquidity in their portfolios. Like, so what we are finding is the ability to take on illiquidity risk. And obviously, in pursuit of that premium above, the traditional markets, I mean, I think the sentiment they are is it an absolute right one. That transition towards private market exposure, we think is an important one just given the return objectives, the majority of our clients’ need but then also again, most importantly now, with geo policy, with uncertainty, with interest rate uncertainty, inflation uncertainty, I mean, the – going back to the resilience point, the characteristics now by introducing these assets into the mix is important. And I think that’s – that point is maybe what I’ll expand on. As were talking to clients, using the Aladdin systems, and as you know, we bought eFront technologies, albeit a couple of years ago, by allowing, I think, great data and technology to help our clients understand these assets and the context of how they should own them relative to other liquidity needs, their risk tolerances, and the return expectations are really trying to use tech and data to provide a better understanding and comprehension of the outcomes. And as we continue to introduce these concepts and these approaches, by the way, that there is, as you know, so used to in the traditional side, it – it gives them more comfort around what they should and can expect. And that, to me, is a really important part of what we’re doing. So, we’ve released recently new technology to the wealth sector because, quite frankly, we mentioned it before, the 60-40 portfolio is a thing of the past. And that introduction of about 20 percent into alternatives, we applaud our partners who are – who are suggesting that to their clients. We think it’s something they have to do. What we’re doing to support that is really bringing thought leadership, education, but also portfolio construction techniques and data to bear in that conversation. And this goes back to – it’s no longer an alternative, right? This is a core allocation so the comprehension of what it is you own, the behavior of the asset in good and bad times is so necessary. And that’s become a very big thing with regard to our activities, Barry, because your clients are looking to understand better when you’re talking about assets that are very complex in their nature. RITHOLTZ: So, 60-40 is now 50-30-20, something along those lines? CONWAY: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. So, what are clients really looking for these days? We talked about yield. Are they also looking for downside protection on the equity side or inflation hedges you hinted at? How broad are the demands of clients in the alternative space? CONWAY: Yes. It ranges the gamut. And even – we didn’t speak to even hedge funds, we’ve had differing levels of interest in the hedge fund world for years and I, quite frankly, think some degree of disappointment too, Barry, with regard to the alpha, the returns that were produced relevant to the cost. RITHOLTZ: It’s a tough space to say the very least exactly. CONWAY: Exactly right. But when you start to see volatility introducing itself, you can really see where skill plays a critical factor. So, we are absolutely seeing, in the hedge fund, a resurgence of interest and demand by virtue of those who really have honed in on their scale, who have demonstrated an up-and-down markets and ability to protect and preserve capital, but importantly, in a low uncorrelated way build attractive risk-adjusted returns. We’re starting to see more activity there again too. I think with an alternatives, you’ve really seen a predominant demand coming from privates. These private markets, like a set of growths so extraordinarily fast and the opportunities that is rich, the reality too on the public side which is where our hedge funds operate, they continue to, in large part, do a really good job. The issue with our industry now with these 38,000 managers is how do you distill all the information? How do you think about your needs as a client and pick a manager who can deliver the outcomes? And just to give you a sense, the difference now between a top-performing private equity manager, a top quartile versus the bottom quartile, the difference can be measured in tens of percent. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: Whereas if you look at the public equity side, for example, a large cap manager, top quartile versus bottom quartile is measured in hundreds of basis points. So, there is definitely a world that has started where the outcomes our clients will experience can be great as they pursue yield, as they pursue diversification, inflation protection, et cetera. I think the caveat that I would say is outcomes can vary greatly. So manager underwriting and the importance of it now, I think, really is this something to pay attention to because if you do have that bottom performing at the bottom quartile manager, it will affect your outcomes, obviously. And that’s what we collectively have to face. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about real estate. There are a couple of different areas of investment on the private side. Rent to own was a very large one and we’ve seen some lesser by the flip algo-driven approaches. Tell us what Blackrock is doing in the real estate space and how many different approaches are you bringing to bear on this? CONWAY: Yes, we think it’s both equity and debt. Again, no different to the infrastructure side, these projects need to be financed. But on the – as you think about the sectors in which you can avail of the opportunity, you’ve no doubt heard a lot and I mentioned earlier this demand for logistics facilities. The explosion of shopping online and having, until we obviously have the supply chain disruption, an ability to have nearly immediate satisfaction because the delivery of the good to your home has become so readily available. It’s a very different consumer experience. So the explosion and the need for logistics facilities to support this type of behavior of the consumer is really an area that will continue to be of great interest too. And then you think about the transformation of business and you think about the aging world. Unfortunately, you can look at various economies where our populations are decreasing. And quite frankly, we’re getting older. And so, were you’re thinking of the context of that senior living facilities, it becomes a really important part, not just as part of the healthcare solution that come with it, but also from living as well. So, single-family, multifamily, opportunities continue to be something that the world looks at because there is really the shortfall of available properties for people to live in. And as the communities evolve to support the growing age of the population, tremendous opportunity there too. But we won’t give up on office space. It really isn’t going away. Now, if you even think about our younger generation here in BlackRock, they love being in New York, they love being in London, they love being in Hong Kong. So, the shape and the footprint may change slightly. But the necessity to be in the major financial centers, it still exists. But how we weighed the risks has definitely changed, certainly, for the – for the short-term and medium-term future. But real estate continues to be, Barry, a critical part of how we express our thought around the investment opportunity set. But clients largely do this themselves too. The direct investing from the clients is quite significant because they too see this as still as a rich investment ground, albeit, one that has changed quite a bit as a result of COVID. RITHOLTZ: Well, I’m fascinated by the real estate issue especially having seen some massive construction take place in cities pre-pandemic, look over in Manhattan at Hudson Yards and look at what’s taking place in London, not just the center of London but all – but all around it and I’m forced to admit the future is going to look somewhat different than the past with some hybrid combination of collaborative work in the office and remote work from home when it’s convenient, that sort of suggests that we now have an excess of capacity in office space. Do you see it that way or is this just something that we’re going to grow into and just the nature of working in offices is changing but offices are not going away? CONWAY: Yes. I do think there’s – it’s a very valid point and that in certain cities, you will see access, in others we just don’t, Barry. And quite frankly, as a firm, too, as you know, we have adopted flexibility with our teams that were very fortunate. The technologies in which we created at BlackRock has just become such an amazing enabler, not just to help us as we mention manage the portfolios, help us a better portfolio construction, understand risks, but also to communicate with our clients. I think we’ve all witnessed and experienced a way to have connectivity that allows them to believe that commerce can exist beyond the boundaries of one building. However, I do look at our property portfolios and even the things that we’re doing. Rent collections still being extraordinarily high, occupancy now getting back up to pre-pandemic levels, not in all cities, but in many of the major ones that have reopened. And certainly, the demand for people to just socialize, that the demand for human connectivity is really high. It’s palpable, right? We see it here too. The smiles on people’s faces, they’re back in the office, conversing together, innovating together. When people were feeling unsafe, unquestionably, I think the question marks around the role of office space was really brought to bear. But as were coming through this, as you’ve seen vaccine rates change, as you’ve seen the infection rates fall, as you’ve seen confidence grow, the return to work is really happening and return to work to office work is really happening, albeit, now with degrees of flexibility. So, going back to the – I do believe in certain areas. You’re seeing a surplus. But in many areas you’re absolutely seeing a deficit and the reason I say that, Barry, is we are seeing occupancy in certain building at such a high level. And frankly, the demand for more space being so high, it’s uneven and this goes back to then where do you invest our client’s capital, making sense of those trends, predicting where you will see resilience versus stress and building that into the portfolio of consequences as you – as you better risk manage and mitigate. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. And so, we are seeing this transition across a lot of different segments of investing, are you seeing any products that were or – or investing styles that was once thought of as primarily institutional that are sort of working their way towards the retail side of things? Meaning going from institutional to accredited to mom-and-pop investors? CONWAY: Well, certainly, in the past, private equity was really an asset class for institutional investors. And I think that’s – that has changed in a very profound way. I mentioned earlier are the regulation has become a more adaptive, but we also have heard, in many respects, in providing this access. And I think the perception of owning and be part of this illiquid investment opportunity set was hard to stomach because many didn’t understand the attributes and what it could bring and I think we’ve been trying to solve for that and what you’re seeing now with – with regulators, understanding that the difference between if we take it quite simply as DD versus DC, the differences between the options you as a participant in a retirement plan are so vastly different that – and I think there’s a broad recognition now that there needs to be more equity with regard to what happens there. And private equity been a really established part of the alternatives marketplace was once, I think, really believed to be an institutional asset class, but albeit now has become much more accessible to wealth. We’ve seen it by structuring activities in Europe working with the regulators. Now, we’re able to provide private equity exposure to clients across the continent and really getting access to what was historically very much an institutional asset class. And I do think the receptivity is extraordinarily high just throughout people’s careers, they have seen wealth been created as a result of engineering a great outcome with great management teams integrate business. And I do believe the receptivity towards private equity is high as an example. In the U.S., too, working with the various intermediaries and being able to wrap now private equity in a ’40 Act fund, for example, is possible. And by being able to deliver that to the many as opposed to the few, we think has been a very good success story. And I think, obviously, appreciated by our clients as well. So, I would look at that were seeing across private equity as well as private credit and quite frankly infrastructure accuracy. You’re seeing now regulation that’s becoming more appreciative of these asset classes, you’re seeing a more – a greater level of openness and willingness to allow for these assets to be part of many people’s experiences across their investment portfolio. And now, with innovation around structures, as an industry, were able to wrap these investments in a way that our clients can really access them. So, think across the board, it probably speaks the innovation that’s happening but I do think that accessibility has changed in a very significant way. But you’ve really seen it happen in private equity first and now that’s expanding across these various other asset classes. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. I know I only have you for a relatively limited period of time, so let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests. Starting with tell us what you’ve been streaming these days. Give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime shows. CONWAY: That is an interesting question, Barry. I don’t a hell of a lot of TV, I got to tell you. I am – I keep busy with three wonderful children and a beautiful wife and between the sports activities. When I do watch TV, I have to tell you I’m addicted to sports and having – I may have mentioned earlier, growing up playing rugby which is not the most common sport in the U.S., I stream nonstop the Six Nations that happens in Europe where Ireland is one of those six nations that compete against each other on an annual basis. Right now, they’re playing a lot of sites that are touring for the southern hemisphere. And to me, the free times I have is either enjoying golf or really enjoying rugby because I think it’s an extraordinary sport. Obviously, very physical, but very enjoyable to watch. And that, that truly is my passion outside of family. RITHOLTZ: Interesting stuff. Tell us a bit about your mentors, who helped to shape your early career? CONWAY: Well, it even goes back to some of the aspects of sports. Playing on a team and being on a field where you’re working together, there’s a strategy involved with that. Now, I used to really appreciate how we approach playing in the All-Ireland League. How we thought about our opponents, how we thought about the structure, how we thought about each individual with on the rugby field and the team having a role. They’re all different but your role. And actually, even starting from an early age, Barry, thinking about, I don’t know, it’s sports but how to build a great team with those various skills, perspective, that can be a really, really powerful combination when done well. And certainly, from an early age, that allowed me to appreciate that – actually, in the work environment, it’s not too different. You surround yourself with just really great people that have high integrity that are empathetic and have a degree of humility that when working together, good things can happen. And I will say, it really started at sports. But I think of today and even in BlackRock, how Larry Fink thinks about the world and I think Larry, truly, is a visionary. And then Rob Kapito who really helps lead the charge across our various businesses. Speaking and conversing with them on a daily basis, getting their perspectives, trying to get inside your head and thinking about the world from their vantage point. To me, it’s a huge thing about my ongoing personal career and development and I really enjoy those moments because I think what you recognize is independent of how much you think you know, there’s so much more to know. And this journey is an ever evolving one where you have to appreciate that you’ll never know everything and you need to be a student every single day. So, I’d probably cite those, Barry, as certainly the two most important mentors in my life today, professionally and personally quite frankly. RITHOLTZ: Really. Very interesting. Let’s talk about what you’re reading these days. Tell us about some of your favorite books and what you’re reading currently? CONWAY: Barry, what I love to read, I love to read history, believe it or not. From a very small country that seems to have exported many, many people, love to understand the history of Ireland. So, there’s so many books. And having three children that have been born in the U.S. and my wife is a New Yorker, trying to help them understand some of their history and what made them what they are. I love delving into Irish history and how the country had moments of greatness and moments of tremendous struggle. Outside of that, I really don’t enjoy science fiction or any of these books. I love reading, you name any paper and any magazine on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I wake at about 4:30, 5 o’clock every day. I spent my first two hours of the day just consuming as much information as possible. I enjoy it. But it’s all – it’s really investment-related magazines, not books. It’s every paper that you could possibly imagine, Barry, and I just – I have a great appreciation for certainly trying to be a student of the world because that’s what we’re operating in an I find it just a very interesting avenue to get an appreciation to for the, not just the opportunities, but the challenges we’re collectively facing as a society but also as a business. RITHOLTZ: I’m with you on that mass consumption of investing-related news. It sounds like you and I have the same a morning routine. Let’s talk about of what sort of advice you would give to a recent college graduate who was interested in a career of alternative investments? CONWAY: Well, the industry has – it’s just gone through such extraordinary growth and the difference, when I’ve started versus today, the career opportunity set has changed so much. And I think I try to remind anyone of our analysts who come into each one of our annual classes, right, as we bring in the new recruits. I think about how talented they are for us, Barry, and how privileged we all are to be in this industry and work for the clients that we do. It’s just such an honor to do that. But I kind of – I try to remind them of that. At the end of the day, whether you’re supporting an institution, that institution is the face of many people in the background and alternatives has really now become such an important part of their experience and we talked about earlier just this challenge of retirement, if we do a good job, these institutions that support the many, they can have, hopefully, a retirement that involves dignity and they can have an ability to do things they so wanted to do as they work so hard over their lives. Getting that that personal connection and allowing for those newbies to understand that that’s the effect that you can have, an alternatives whether it’s private equity, real estate, infrastructure, private credit, hedge funds, all of these now, with the scale at which they’re operating at can allow for a great career. But my advice to them is always don’t forget your career is supporting other people. And that comes directly to how we intersect with wealth channel, it comes indirectly as a result of the institutions. And it’s such a privilege to do that. I didn’t envision when I grew up, as I mentioned, my first job, milking cows and back in a small town in the middle of Ireland that I would be one day leading an alternatives business within BlackRock. I see that as a great privilege. So, for those who are joining afresh, hopefully, try to remind them that it is for all of us and show up with empathy, dignity, compassion, and do the best you can, and hopefully, these people be sure will serve them well. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what you know about the world of alternative investing today you wish you knew 25 years or so ago when you were first getting started? CONWAY: I think if we had invested much more heavily as an industry in technology, we would not be in the position we are today. And I say that, Barry, from a number of aspects. I mentioned in this shortfall of information our clients are dealing with today. They’re making choices to divest from one asset class to invest in another. To do that and do that effectively, they need great transparency, they needed real-time in many respects, it can’t be just a quarterly line basis. And if we had been better prepared as an industry to provide the technology and the data to help our clients really appreciate what it is they own, how we’re managing the assets on their behalf, I think they would be so much better served. I think we’re very fortunate at this firm to have built a business on the back of technology for albeit 30 plus years and were investing over $1 billion a year in technology as I’m sure you know. But we need to see more of that in the industry. So, the client experience is so important, stop, let’s demystify alternatives. It’s not that alternative. Let’s provide education and data and it’s become so large relative to other asset classes, the need to support, to educate, and transmit information, not data, information, so our client understand it, is at a paramount now. And I think it certainly as an industry, things have to change there. If I knew how big the growth would have been and how prominent these asset classes were becoming, I would oppose so much harder on that front 30 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Thank you, Edwin, for being so generous with your time. We’ve been speaking with Edwin Conway. He is the head of Blackrock Investor Alternatives Group. If you enjoy this conversation, please check out all of our prior discussions. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcast at. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at MIB podcast@Bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Check out my weekly column at Bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter, @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Mohammed ph is my audio engineer. Paris Wald is my producer, Michael Batnick is my head of research, Atika Valbrun is our project manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 22nd, 2021

NVIDIA GTC Lessons in 2 Minutes from Professor Huang

GPU Tech Conference is always a blast, but this year it was also an AI clinic. This week held the event that AI fans wait all year for: The NVIDIA NVDA GPU Tech Conference.And CEO Jensen Huang did not disappoint them. From gaming graphics to scientific research applications, the ability to process more data, at higher speeds, seems to know no bounds for his engineering teams.Here was reaction from an excellent semiconductor analyst team led by William Stein at Truist...NVIDIA price target raised to $360 from $257 at Truist: Analyst William Stein wrote that the company's software investments are "becoming more prominent" as management introduced new AI models and software tools at its GTC event.Stein noted that while investors did not get the RTX40 series or other obvious model upside drivers, based on feedback from industry contacts, he is updating his model for higher growth in NVIDIA's Datacenter, Professional Visualization, and Gaming segments.While there weren't specific gaming platform upgrades that some were looking for, it's worth remembering that innovations in gaming graphics are what drive new research and ideas across the NVIDIA "full stack." Here's how I explained that over three years ago...NVIDIA Gaming Drives the Deep Learning-AI RevolutionListen to 5 Big Ideas in 2 MinutesIn the video that accompanies this article, I show a 2-minute clip from Jensen Huang's 90-minute keynote speech on Tuesday morning.And those 2 minutes are packed with big ideas that explain the dominance of the CUDA platform. I'll quickly list them here, but do yourself a favor and watch my video excerpt to hear the professor himself.1) CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is an ever-expanding hardware + software stack that harbors growing libraries of algorithms to mine and model data and accelerate applications.2) Software upgrades can "upgrade" older chip sets: end users experience "speed-ups" through the life of the product as application performance can increase by many x-factors on the same chip over several years.3) GPU workbench stacks for all industries and scientific pursuits: wherever there's a data, research, or automation need and for countless scientific pursuits where large data sets must be modeled and simulated in real time.The developer and engineering tools for the ISAAC Robotics platform are one of the most tangible mind-blowers you'll be experiencing in the next few years.4) SDKs are the way: Over 150 software developer kits make using CUDA tools accessible, repeatable, and amazing for researchers across gaming and design, life and earth sciences, quantum computing, AI, cybersecurity, 5G, and robotics as discussed above.It's also worth noting that the SDK approach is responsible for much of NVIDIA's success because Jensen & Co. essentially get to recruit an army of raving fans (the developers and engineers) who learn to build and research within the CUDA ecosystem and never see the need to leave.5) Design Automation and Simulation are also the way: With partners like Cadence Design Systems and Synopsis, NVIDIA is constantly building the next iterations of its chips and also helping those companies create design automation and simulation for their industrial and scientific customers.You'll have to watch the Jensen clip to visualize one application of these simulation efforts.And if you decide to watch more of the GTC keynote, you can learn about how NVIDIA's Omniverse will be building worlds for creators, scientists, and engineers that will make Metabook look like a kindergarten playroom.EVs and ADAS Are Taking OffLast week, I profiled the latest and greatest innovation in the electric vehicle space from the oldest of old-school car makers...Ford F-100 Eluminator Lights It Up: EV-Crate Motors Produce 480-HPThat video and article were fun to create because it's a completely new, back-to-the-future idea from Jim Farley & Co. where traditional gas gearheads and other custom propulsion enthusiasts are about to build some amazing EVs.Further "innovation validation" of my thesis that the F-150 Lightning might just crush the Tesla TSLA Cybertruck in a head-to-head sales battle.While we enjoy open profits of nearly 50% in Ford shares near $20, another EV rocket blasted off today. Rivian RIVN debuted on the Nasdaq at a valuation nearly twice what was expected only a week ago when we thought they'd be selling 135 million shares for around $60.This morning's official IPO pricing was for 153 million class A common shares at $78 per share, to raise $11.9 billion in gross proceeds. Well, the EV-hungry mob sent shares as high as $119 at the 1pm ET launch.And that's a valuation probably north of $100 billion. Good to know that Ford owns a chunk of Rivian too!Meanwhile in ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) news this week, my group of TAZR Traders was thrilled again to see our Luminar Technologies LAZR get a big nod from... NVIDIA!Luminar's LIDAR (light-detection and ranging) system was selected for the NVIDIA DRIVE Hyperion Autonomous Vehicle Reference Platform.You can learn more about this in Thursday's Bull of the Day article on LAZR, where I explain why NVIDIA decided to make the shift to partnering with other sensor and software makers, whereas previously they left car makers "to their own devices."In the video I also share the story of how Qualcomm QCOM is slowly entering the ADAS game too with their recent $4.8 billion purchase of the Swedish company Veoneer.Win a Call with Cooker DrawingIf you came here from the YouTube link, I have your code/instructions to enter the "Call with Cooker" drawing: #TechSuperCycleJust go to Twitter and do the following...1. Follow me @KevinBCook2. ReTweet my pinned Tweet with the NVIDIA graphic using the code #TechSuperCycleSee you on Twitter and let's see if you're the next guest on a Call with Cooker!Disclosure: I own shares of NVDA, LAZR, QCOM and Ford for the Zacks TAZR Trader portfolio. More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone! It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 77 billion devices by 2025, creating a $1.3 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 4 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don't buy now, you may kick yourself in 2022.Click here for the 4 trades >>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 QUALCOMM Incorporated (QCOM): Free Stock Analysis Report NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Tesla, Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report Luminar Technologies, Inc. (LAZR): Free Stock Analysis Report Rivian Automotive, Inc. DE (RIVN): Get Free Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 10th, 2021

Transcript: Soraya Darabi

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This… Read More The post Transcript: Soraya Darabi appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Her name is Soraya Darabi. She is a venture capital and impact investor who has an absolutely fascinating background working for, first with the New York Times Social Media Group then with a startup that eventually gets purchased by OpenTable, and then becoming a venture investor that focuses on women and people of color-led startups which is not merely a way to, quote-unquote, “do good” but it’s a broad area that is wildly underserved by the venture community and therefore is very inefficient. Meaning, there’s a lot of upside in this. You can both do well and do good by investing in these areas. I found this to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also, if you’re at all interested in entrepreneurship, social media startups, deal flow, how funds identify who they want to invest in, what it’s like to actually experience an exit as an entrepreneur, I think you’ll find this to be quite fascinating. So with no further ado, my conversation with TMV’s Soraya Darabi. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. My special guest this week is Soraya Darabi. She is the Co-Founder and General Partner of TMV, a venture capital firm that has had a number of that exits despite being relatively young, 65 percent of TMV’s startups are led by women or people of color. Previously, she was the cofounder of Foodspotting, an app named App of the Year by Apple and Wire that was eventually purchased by OpenTable. Soraya Darabi, welcome to Bloomberg. SORAYA DARABI; GENERAL PARTNER & FOUNDER; TMV: My goodness, Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: I’ve been looking forward to this conversation since our previous discussion. We were on a Zoom call with a number of people discussing blockchain and crypto when it was really quite fascinating and I thought you had such an unusual and interesting background, I thought you would make a perfect guest for the show. Let’s start with your Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media at the “New York Times” when social media was really just ramping up. Tell us about what that was like. Tell us what you did in the late aughts at The Times. DARABI: Absolutely. I was fresh faced out of a university. I had recently graduated with mostly a journalism concentration from Georgetown and did a small stint in Condé Nast right around the time they acquired Reddit for what will soon be nothing because Reddit’s expecting to IPO at around 15 billion. And that experience at Reddit really offered me a deep understanding of convergence, what was happening to digital media properties as they partnered for the first time when nascent but scaling social media platforms. And so the “New York Times” generously offered me a role that was originally called manager of buzz marketing. I think that’s what they called social media in 2006 and then that eventually evolved into manager of digital partnerships and social media which, in essence, meant that we were aiming to be the first media property in the world to partner with companies that are household names today but back in the they were fairly unbalanced to Facebook and Twitters, of course, but also platforms that really took off for a while and then plateaued potentially. The Tumblers of the world. And it was responsibility to understand how we could effectively generate an understanding of the burgeoning demographics of this platform and how we could potentially bring income into The Times for working with them, but more importantly have a journalist that could authentically represent themselves on new media. And so, that was a really wonderful role to have directly out of University and then introduce me to folks with whom I still work today. DARABI: That’s quite interesting. So when you’re looking at a lot of these companies, you mentioned Facebook and Twitter and Tumbler, how do you know if something’s going to be a Facebook or a MySpace, so Twitter or a Tumbler, what’s going to survive or not, when you’re cutting deals with these companies on behalf of The Times, are you thinking in terms of hey, who’s going to stick around, wasn’t that much earlier that the dot-com implosion took place prior to you starting with The Times? DARABI: It’s true, although I don’t remember the dot-com implosion. So, maybe that naivete helped because all I had was enthusiasm, unbridled enthusiasm for these new companies and I operated then and now still with a beta approach to business. Testing out new platforms and trying to track the data, what’s scaling, what velocity is this platform scaling and can we hitch a ride on the rochet ship if they will so allow. But a lot of our partnerships then and now, as an investor, are predicated upon relationships. And so, as most, I think terrific investors that I listen to, who I listen to in your show, at least, will talk to you about the importance of believing and the founder and the founder’s vision and that was the case back then and remains the case today. RITHOLTZ: So, when you were at The Times, your tenure there very much overlapped the great financial crisis. You’re looking at social media, how did that manifest the world of social media when it looked like the world of finance was imploding at that time? DARABI: Well, it was a very interesting time. I remember having, quite literally, 30-second meetings with Sorkin as he would run upstairs to my floor, in the eighth floor, to talk about a deal book app that we wanted to launch and then he’d ran back down to his desk to do much more important work, I think, and — between the financial crisis to the world. So, 30-second meetings aside, it was considered to be, in some ways, a great awakening for the Web 2.0 era as the economy was bottoming out, like a recession, it also offered a really interesting opportunity for entrepreneurs, many of whom had just been laid off or we’re looking at this as a sizeable moment to begin to work on a side hustle or a life pursuit. And so, there’s — it’s unsettling, of course, any recession or any great awakening, but lemonade-lemons, when the opening door closing, there was a — there was a true opportunity as well for social media founders, founders focusing on convergence in any industry, really, many of which are predicated in New York. But again, tinkering on an idea that could ultimately become quite powerful because if you’re in the earliest stage of the riskiest asset class, big venture, there’s always going to be seed funding for a great founder with a great idea. And so, I think some of the smartest people I’d ever met in my life, I met at the onset of the aftermath of that particular era in time. RITHOLTZ: So you mentioned side hustle. Let’s talk a little bit about Foodspotting which is described as a visual geolocal guide to dishes instead of restaurants which sounds appealing to me. And it was named App of the Year by both Apple and Wired. How do you go from working at a giant organization like The Times to a startup with you and a cofounder and a handful of other coders working with you? DARABI: Well, five to six nights a week after my day job at the “New York Times,” I would go to networking events with technologists and entrepreneurs after hours. I saw that a priority to be able to partner from the earliest infancy with interesting companies for that media entity. I need to at least know who these founders were in New York and Silicon Valley. And so, without a true agenda other than keen curiosity to learn what this business were all about, I would go to New York tech meetup which Scott Heiferman of meetup.com who’s now in charge LP in my fund would create. And back then, the New York Tech Meetup was fewer than 40 people. I believe it’s been the tens of thousands now. RITHOLTZ: Wow, that’s … DARABI: In New York City alone. And so, it was there that I met some really brilliant people. And in particular, a gentleman my age who’s building a cloud-computing company that was essentially arbitraging AWS to repopulate consumer-facing cloud data services for enterprises, B2B2C play. And we all thought it would be Dropbox. The company ultimately wasn’t, but I will tell you the people with whom I worked with that startup because I left the “New York Times” to join that startup, to this day remain some of the most successful people in Silicon Valley and Alley. And actually, one of those persons is a partner at our firm now, Darshan. He was the cofounder of that particular company which is called drop.io. but I stayed there very quickly. I was there for about six months. But at that startup, I observed how a young person my age could build a business, raise VC, he was the son of a VC and so he was exceptionally attuned to the changing landscape of venture and how to position the company so that it would be attractive to the RREs of the world and then the DFJs. And I … RITHOLTZ: Define those for us. RREs and BFJs. DARABI: Sorry. Still, today, very relevant and very successful venture capital firms. And in particular, they were backing a lot of the most interesting ideas in Web 2.0 era when I joined this particular startup in 2010. Well, that startup was acquired by Facebook and I often say, no, thanks to me. But the mafia that left that particular startup continues to this day to coinvest with one another and help one another’s ideas to exceed. And it was there that I began to build the confidence, I think, that I really needed to explore my own entrepreneurial ideas or to help accelerate ideas. And Foodspotting was a company that I was advising while at that particular startup, that was really taking off. This was in the early days of when Instagram was still in beta and we observed that the most commonly posted photos on Instagram were of food. And so, by following that lead, we basically built an app as well that activity that continues to take place every single day. I still see food photos on Twitter every time I open up my stream. And decided to match that with an algorithm that showed folks wherever they were in the world, say in Greece, that might want spanakopita or if I’m in Japan, Okinawa, we help people to discover not just the Michelin-rated restaurants or the most popular local hunt in New York but rather what’s the dish that they should be ordering. And then the app was extremely good was populating beautiful photos of that particular dish and then mirroring them with accredited reviews from the Zagats of the world but also popular celebrity shots like Marcus Samuelsson in New York. And that’s why we took off because it was a cult-beloved app of its time back when there were only three geolocation apps in the iTunes apparently store. It was we and Twitter and Foursquare. So, there was a first-mover advantage. Looking back in hindsight, I think we sold that company too soon. OpenTable bought the business. A year and a half later, Priceline bought OpenTable. Both were generous liquidity events for the founders that enabled us to become angel investors. But sometimes I wish that that app still existed today because I could see it being still incredibly handy in my day-to-day life. RITHOLTZ: To say the least. So did you have to raise money for Foodspotting or did you just bootstrapped it and how did that experience compare with what that exit was like? DARABI: We did. We raised from tremendous investors like Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures whom I think of as being one of the best angel investors of the world. He was on the board. But we didn’t raise that much capital before the business is ultimately sold and what I learned in some of those early conversations, I would say, that may have ultimately led to LOIs and term sheets was that so much of M&As about wining and dining and as a young person, particularly for me, you and I discussed before the show, Barry, we’re both from New York, I’m not from a business-oriented family to say the least. My mom’s an academic, my father was a cab driver in New York City. And so, there are certain elements of this game, raising venture and ultimately trying to exit your company, that you don’t learn from a business book. And I think navigating that as a young person was complicated if I had to speak economically. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. What is purposeful change? DARABI: Well, the world purpose, I suppose, especially in the VC game could come across as somewhat of a cliché. But we try to be as specific as possible when we allude to the impact that our investment could potentially make. And so, specifically, we invest in five verticals at our early stage New York City-based venture fund. We invest in what we call the care economy, just companies making all forms of care, elder care to pet care to health care, more accessible and equitable. We invest in financial inclusion. So this is a spin on fintech. These are companies enabling wealth creation, education, and most importantly literacy for all, that I think is really important to democratization of finance. We invest in the future of work which are companies creating better outcomes for workers and employees alike. We invest in the future of work which are companies creating better outcomes for workers and employers alike. We invest in purpose as it pertains to transportation. So, not immediately intuitive but companies creating transparency and efficiency around global supply chain and mobility. I’m going to talk about why we pick that category in a bit. And sustainability. So, tech-enabled sustainable solutions. These are companies optimizing for sustainability from process to product. With these five verticals combined, we have a subspecies which is that diverse founders and diverse employee bases and diverse cap table. It is not charity, it’s simply good for business. And so, in addition to being hyper specific about the impact in which we invest, we also make it a priority and a mandate at our firm to invest in the way the world truly look. And when we say that on our website, we link to census data. And so, we invest in man and women equally. We invest in diverse founders, almost all of the time. And we track this with data and precious to make sure that our investments reflect not just one zip code in California but rather America at large. RITHOLTZ: And you have described this as non-obvious founders. Tell us a little bit about that phrase. DARABI: Well, not obvious is a term you hear a lot when you go out to Silicon Valley. And I don’t know, I think it was coined by a well-known early PayPal employee turned billionaire turned investor who actually have a conference centered around non-obvious ideas. And I love the phrase. I love thinking about investment PC that are contrary because we have a contrary point of view, contrarian point of view, you often have outlier results because if you’re right, you’re taking the risk and your capturing the reward. When you’re investing in non-obvious founders, it should be that is the exact same outcome. And so, it almost sort of befuddled me as a person with a hard to pronounce name in Silicon Valley, why it was that we’re an industry that prides itself on investing in innovation and groundbreaking ideas and the next frontier of X, Y, and Z and yet all of those founders in which we were investing, collectively, tended to kind of look the same. They were coming from the same schools and the same types of families. And so, to me, there was nothing innovative at all about backing that Wharton, PSB, HBS guy who is second or third-generation finance. And what really excites me about venture is capturing a moment in time that’s young but also the energy is palpable around not only the idea in which the founder is building but the categories of which they’re tackling and that sounded big. I’ll be a little bit more speficic. And so, at TMV, we tried to see things before they’re even coming around the bend. For instance, we were early investors in a company called Cityblock Health which is offering best in class health care specifically for low income Americans. So they focus on the most vulnerable population which are underserved with health care and they’re offering them best in class health care access at affordable pricing because it’s predominantly covered through a payer relationship. And this company is so powerful to us for three reasons because it’s not simply offering health care to the elite. It’s democratizing access to care which I think is absolutely necessary in term out for success of any kind. We thought this was profoundly interesting because the population which they serve is also incredibly diverse. And so when you look at that investment over, say, a comparable company, I won’t name names, that offers for-profit health care, out-of-pocket, you can see why this is an opportunity that excites us as impact investors but we don’t see the diversity of the team it’s impact. We actually see that as their unfair advantage because they are accessing a population authentically that others might ignore. RITHOLTZ: Let me see if I understand this correctly. When you talk about non-obvious find — founders and spaces like this, what I’m hearing from you is you’re looking at areas where the market has been very inefficient with how it allocates capital … DARABI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … that these areas are just overlooked and ignored, hey, if you want to go on to silicon valley and compete with everybody else and pay up for what looks like the same old startup, maybe it will successful and maybe it won’t, that’s hypercompetitive and hyper efficient, these are areas that are just overlooked and there is — this is more than just do-goodery for lack of a better word. There are genuine economic opportunities here with lots of potential upside. DARABI: Absolutely. So, my business partner and I, she and I found each other 20 years ago as undergrads at Georgetown but we went in to business after she was successful and being one of the only women in the world to take a shipping business public with her family, and we got together and we said we have a really unique access, she and I. And the first SPV that we collaborated on back in 2016 was a young business at the time, started by two women, that was focused on medical apparel predominantly for nurses. Now it’s nurses and doctors. And they were offering a solution to make medical apparel, so scrubs, more comfortable and more fashionable for nurses. I happen to have nurses and doctors in my family so doing due diligence for this business is relatively simple. I called my aunt who’s a nurse practitioner, a nurse her life, and she said, absolutely. When you’re working in a uniform at the hospital, you want something comfortable with extra pockets that makes you look and feel good. The VCs that they spoke to at the time, and they’ve been very public about this, in the beginning, anyway, were less excited because they correlated this particular business for the fashion company. But if you look back at our original memo which I saved, it says, FIGS, now public on the New York Stock Exchange is a utility business. It’s a uniform company that can verticalize beyond just medical apparel. And so, we helped value that company at 15 million back in 2016. And this year, in 2021, they went public at a $7 billion market cap. RITHOLTZ: Wow. DARABI: And so, what is particularly exciting for us going back to that conversation on non-obvious founders is that particular business, FIGS, was the first company in history to have two female co-founders go public. And when we think of success at TMV, we don’t just think about financial success and IRR and cash on cash return for our LPs, of course we think about that. But we also think who are we cheerleading and with whom do we want to go into business. I went to the story on the other side of the fence that we want to help and we measure non-obvious not just based on gender or race because I think that’s a little too precise in some ways. Sometimes, for us non-obvious, is around geography, I would say. I’m calling you from Athens, as you know, and in Greece, yesterday, I got together with a fund manager. I’m lucky enough to be an LP in her fund and she was talking about the average size of a seed round in Silicon Valley these days, hovering around 30 million. And I was scratching my head because at our fund, TMV, we don’t see that. We’re investing in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Austin, Texas and the average price for us to invest in the seed round is closer to 5 million or 6 million. And so, we actually can capture larger ownership of the pie early on and then develop a very close-knit relationship with these founders but might not be as networked in the Valley where there’s 30 VC funds to everyone that exist in Austin, Texas. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And so, yes, I think you’re right to say that it’s about inefficiencies in market but also just around — about being persistent and looking where others are not. RITHOLTZ: That’s quite intriguing. Your team is female-led. You have a portfolio of companies that’s about 65 percent women and people of color. Tell us how you go about finding these non-obvious startups? DARABI: It’s a good question. TMV celebrates its five-year anniversary this year. So the way we go about funding companies now is a bit different than the way we began five years ago. Now, it’s systematic. We collectively, as a partnership, there are many of us take over 50 calls a month with Tier 1 venture capital firms that have known us for a while like the work that we do, believe in our value-add because the partnership comprised of four more operators. So, we really roll up our sleeves to help. And when you’ve invested at this firms, enough time, they will write to you and say I found a company that’s a little too early for us, for XYZ reason, but it resonates and I think it might be for you. So we found some of our best deals that way. But other times, we found our deal flow through building our own communities. And so, when I first started visit as an EM, an emerging manager of a VC firm. And roughly 30 percent of LP capital goes to EM each year but that’s sort of an outsized percentage because when you think about the w-fix-solve (ph) addition capital, taking 1.3 billion of that pie, then you recognize the definition of emerging manager might need to change a bit. So, when I was starting as an EM, I recognize that the landscape wasn’t necessarily leveled. If you weren’t, what’s called the spinout, somebody that has spent a few years at a traditional established blue-chip firm, then it’s harder to develop and cultivate relationships with institutional LPs who will give you a shot even though the data absolutely points to there being a real opportunity in capturing lightning in a bottle if you find a right EM with the right idea in the right market conditions which is certainly what we’re in right now. And so, I decided to start a network specifically tailored around helping women fund managers, connecting one another and it began as a WhatsApp group and a weekly Google Meet that has now blown into something that requires a lot of dedicated time. And so we’re hiring an executive director for this group. They’re called Transact Global, 250 women ex-fund managers globally, from Hong Kong, to Luxembourg, to Venezuela, Canada, Nigeria, you name it. There are women fund managers in our group and we have one of the most active deal flow channels in the world. And so two of our TMV deals over the last year, a fintech combatting student debt and helping young Americans save for retirement at the same time, as an example, came from this WhatsApp deal flow channel. So, I think creating the community, being the change, so to speak, has been incredibly effective for us a proprietary deal flow mechanism. And then last but not least, I think that having some sort of media presence really has helped. And so, I’ve hosted a podcast and I’ve worked on building up what I think to be a fairly organic Twitter following over the years and we surprise ourselves by getting some really exceptional founders cold pitching us on LinkedIn and on Twitter because we make ourselves available as next gen EMs. So, that’s a sort of long-winded answer to your question. But it’s not the traditional means by any means. RITHOLTZ: To say the least. Are you — the companies you’re investing in, are they — and I’ll try and keep this simple for people who are not all that well-versed in the world of venture, is it seed stage, is it the A round, the B round? How far into their growth process do you put money in? DARABI: So it is a predominantly seed fund. We call our investments core investments. So, these are checks that average, 1 and 1.5 million. So for about 1.25 million, on average, we’re capturing 10-15% of a cap payable. And in this area, that’s called a seed round. It will probably be called a Series A 10 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And then we follow on through the Series A and it max around, I think, our pro rata at the B. So, our goal via Series B is to have, on average, 10% by the cap. And then we give ourselves a little bit of wiggle room with our modeling. We take mars and moonshot investments with smaller checks so we call these initial interest checks. And initial interest means I’m interested but your idea is still audacious, they won’t prove itself out for three or four years or to be very honest, we weren’t the first to get into this cap or you’re picking Sequoia over us, so we understand but let’s see if we can just promise you a bit of value add to edge our way into your business. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And oftentimes, when you speak as a former founder yourself with a high level of compassion and you promise with integrity that you’re going to work very hard for that company, they will increase the size of their round and they will carve out space for you. And so, we do those types of investments rarely, 10 times, in any given portfolio. But what’s interesting in looking back at some of our outliers from found one, it came from those initial interest checks. So that’s our model in a nutshell. We’re pretty transparent about it. What we like about this model is that it doesn’t make us tigers, we’re off the board by the B, so we’re still owning enough of the cap table to be a meaningful presence in the founder’s lives and in their business and it allows us to feel like we’re not spraying and praying. RITHOLTZ: Spraying and praying is an amusing term but I’m kind of intrigued by the fact that we use to call it smart money but you’re really describing it as value-added capital when a founder takes money from TMV, they’re getting more than just a check, they’re getting the involvement from entrepreneurs who have been through the process from startup to capital raise to exit, tell us a li bit about how that works its way into the deals you end up doing, who you look at, and what the sort of deal flow you see is like. DARABI: Well, years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a world-class advertiser and I was at his incredibly fancy office down in Wall Street, his ad agency. And he described to me with pride how he basically bartered his marketing services for one percent of a unicorn. And he was sort of showing off of it about how, from very little time and effort, a few months, he walked away with a relatively large portion of a business. And I thought, yes, that’s clever. But for the founder, they gave up too much of their business too soon. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And I came up with an idea that I floated by Marina back in the day where our original for TMV Fund I began with the slide marketing as the future of venture and venture is the future of marketing. Meaning, it’s a VC fund where the position itself more like an ad agency but rather than charging for its services, it’s go-to-market services. You offer them free of charge but then you were paid in equity and you could quantify the value that you were offering to these businesses. And back then, people laughed us even though all around New York City, ad agencies were really doing incredible work and benefiting from the startups in that ecosystem. And so, we sort of changed the positioning a bit. And now, we say to our LPs and to our founders, your both clients of our firm. So, we do think of ourselves as an agency. But one set of our marketplace, you have LPs and what they want is crystal clear. The value that they derive from us is through a community and connectivity and co-investment and that’s it. It’s pretty kind of dry. Call me up once a year where you have an exceptional opportunity. Let me invest alongside you. Invite me to dinners four times a year, give me some information and a point of view that I can’t get elsewhere. Thank you for your time. And I love that. It’s a great relationship to have with incredibly smart people. It’s cut and dry but it’s so different. What founders want is something more like family. They want a VC on their board that they can turn to during critical moments. Two a.m. on a Saturday is not an uncommon time for me to get a text message from a founder saying what do I do. So what they want is more like 24/7 services for a period of time. And they want to know when that relationship should start and finish. So it’s sort of the Montessori approach to venture. We’re going to tell them what we’re going to tell them. Tell them what they’re telling them. Tell them what we told them. We say to founders with a reverse pitch deck. So we pitch them as they’re pitching us. Here’s what we promise to deliver for you for the first — each of the 24 months of your infancy and then we promise you we’ll mostly get lost. You can come back to use when your business is growing if you want to do it tender and we’ll operate an SPV for you for you or if you simply want advice, we’re never going to ignore you but our specialty, our black belt, if you will, Barry, is in those first 24 months of your business, that go-to-market. And so, we staffed up TMV to include, well, it’s punching above our weight but the cofounder of an exceptionally successful consumer marketing business, a gross marketer, a recruiter who helps one of our portfolio companies hire 40 of their earliest employees. We have a PR woman. You’ve met Viyash (ph), she’s exceptional with whom, I don’t know, how we would function sometimes because she’s constantly writing and re-editing press releases for the founders with which we work. And then Anna, our copywriter who came from IAC and Sean, our creative director, used to be the design director for Rolling Stone, and I can go on and on. So, some firms called us a platform team but we call it the go-to-market team. And then we promise a set number of hours for ever company that we invest into. RITHOLTZ: That’s … DARABI: And then the results — go ahead. RITHOLTZ: No, that’s just — I’m completely fascinated by that. But I have to ask maybe this is an obvious question or maybe it’s not, so you — you sound very much like a non-traditional venture capital firm. DARABI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Who are your limited partners, who are your clients, and what motivates them to be involved with TMV because it sounds so different than what has been a pretty standard model in the world of venture, one that’s been tremendous successful for the top-tier firms? DARABI: Our LP set is crafted with intention. And so, 50% of our investors are institutional. This concludes institutional-sized family offices and family offices in a multibillions. We work with three major banks, Fortune 500 banks. We work with a couple of corporate Fortune 500 as investors or LPs and a couple of fund to funds. So that’s really run of the mill. But 50 percent of our investors and that’s why I’m in Athens today are family offices, global family offices, that I think are reinventing with ventures like, to look like in the future because wealth has never been greater globally. There’s a trillion dollars of assets that are passing to the hands of one generation to the next and what’s super interesting to me, as a woman, is that historically, a lot of that asset transferred was from father to son, but actually, for the first time in history, over 50 percent, so 51% of those asset inheritors are actually women. And so, as my business partner could tell because she herself is a next gen, in prior generations, women were encouraged to go into the philanthropic or nonprofit side of the family business … RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And the sons were expected to take over the business or the family office and all of that is completely turned around in the last 10 years. And so, my anchor investor is actually a young woman. She’s under the age of 35. There’s a little bit of our firm that’s in the rocks because we’re not playing by the same rules that the establishment has played by. But certainly, we’re posturing ourselves to be able to grow in to a blue-chip firm which is why we want to maintain that balance, so 50 percent institutional and 50 percent, I would call it bespoke capital. And so, the LPs that are bespoke, we work at an Australian family office and Venezuelan family office and the Chilean family office and the Mexican family office and so on. For those family offices, we come to them, we invite them to events in New York City, we give them personalized introductions to our founders and we get on the phone with them. Whenever they’d like, we host Zooms. We call them the future of everything series. They can learn from us. And we get to know them as human beings and I think that there’s a reason why two thirds of our Fund I LPs converted over into Fund II because they like that level of access, it’s what the modern LP is really looking for. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the areas that you find intriguing. What sectors are really capturing your attention these days? What are you most excited about? DARABI: Well, Barry, I’m most excited about five categories for which we’ve been investing for quite some time, but they’re really being accelerated due to the 2020 pandemic and a looming recession. And so, we’re particularly fascinated by not just health care investing as has been called in the past but rather the care economy. I’m not a huge fan of the term femtech, it always sounds like fembot to me. But care as it pertains to women alone is a multitrillion dollar opportunity. And so, when we think of the care economy, we think of health care, pet care, elder care, community care, personal care as it pertains to young people, old people, men, women, children, we bifurcate and we look for interesting opportunities that don’t exist because they’ve been undercapitalized, undervalued for so long. Case in point, we were early investors Kindbody, a reproductive health care company focused on women who want to preserve their fertility because if you look at 2010 census data, you can see that the data has been there for some time that women, in particular, were delaying marriage and childbirth and there are a lot of world-famous economists who will tell you this, the global population will decline because we’re aging and we’re not necessarily having as many children as we would have in the past plus it’s expensive. And so, we saw that as investors as a really interesting opportunity and jumped on the chance to ask Gina Bartasi who’s incredible when she came to us with a way to make fertility preservation plus expenses. So she followed the B2C playbook and she started with the mobile clinic that helps women freeze their eggs extensively. That company has gone on to raise hundreds — pardon me — and that company is now valued in the hundreds of million and for us, it was as simple as following our intuition as women fund managers, we know what our peers are thinking about because we talk to them all the time and I think the fact that we’re bringing a new perspective to venture means that we’re also bringing a new perspective to what has previously been called femtech. We invest in financial inclusion. Everyone in the world that’s investing fintech, the self-directed financial mobile apps are always going to be capitalized especially in a post Robin Hood era but we’re specifically interested in the democratization of access to financial information and we’re specifically interested in student debt and alleviating student debt in America because not only is it going to be one of the greatest challenges our generation will have to overcome, but it’s also prohibiting us from living out the American dream, $1.7 trillion of student debt in America that needs to be alleviated. And then we’re interested in the future of work, and long have been, that certainly was very much accelerated during the pandemic but we’ve been investing in the 1099 and remote work for quite some time. And so, really proud to have been the first check into a company called Bravely which is an HR chatbot that helps employees inside of a company chat a anonymously with HR representatives outside of that company, that’s 1099. That issue is like DEI, an inclusion and upward mobility and culture setting and what to do when you’re all of a sudden working for home. So that’s an example of a future of work business. And then in the tech-enabled sustainable solutions category, it’s a mouthful, let’s call that sustainability, we are proud to have been early investors of a company called Ridwell, out of Seattle Washington, focused on not just private — privatized recycling but upcycling and reconnaissance. Where are our things going when we recycle them? For me, it always been a pretty big question. And so, Ridwell allows you to re and upcycle things that are hard to get rid of out of your home like children’s eyeglasses and paints and battery, single-use plastic. And it shows you where those things are going which I think is super cool and there’s good reason why it has one of the highest NPS scores, Net Promoter Scores, of any company I’ve ever worked with. People are craving this kind of modern solution. And last but not least, we invest in transportation and part because of the unfair advantage my partner, Marina, brings to TMV as she comes from a maritime family. And so, we can pile it, transportation technology, within her own ecosystem. That’s pretty great. But also, because we’re just fascinated by the fact that 90 percent of the world commodities move on ship and the biggest contributor to emissions in the world outside of corporate is coming from transportation. SO, if we can sort of figure out this industry, we can solve a lot of the problems that our generation are inheriting. Now, these categories might sound massive and we do consider ourselves a generalist firm but we stick to five-course sectors that we truly believe in and we give ourselves room to kick out a sector or to add a new one with any given new fund. For the most part, we haven’t needed to because this remain the categories that are not only most appealing to us as investors but I think paramount to our generation. RITHOLTZ: That’s really intriguing. Give us an example of moonshot or what you called earlier, a Mars shot technology or a company that can really be a gamechanger but may not pay off for quite a while. DARABI: We’ve just backed a company that is focusing on food science. Gosh, I can’t give away too much because they haven’t truly launched in the U.S. But maybe I’ll kind of allude to it. They use crushed produce, like, crush potato skins to make plastic but biodegrades. And so, it’s a Mars shot because it’s a materials business and it’s a food science business rolled off into both the CPG business and an enterprise business. This particular material can wrap itself around industrial pellets. Even though it’s audacious, it’s not really a Mars shot when you think about the way the world is headed. Everybody wants to figure out how do we consume less plastic and recycle plastic better. And so, if there are new materials out there that will not only disintegrate but also, in some ways, feed the environment, it will be a no-brainer and then if you add to the equation the fact that it could be maybe not less expensive but of comparable pricing to the alternative, I can’t think of a company in the world that wouldn’t switch to this solution. RITHOLTZ: Right. So this is plastic that you don’t throw away. You just toss in the garden and it becomes compost? DARABI: Yes, exactly. Exactly. It should help your garden grow. So, yes, so that’s what I would call a Mars shot in some ways. But in other ways, it’s just common sense, right? RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about your investment vehicles. You guys run, I want to make sure I get this right, two funds and three vehicles, is that right? DARABI: We have two funds. They’re both considered micro funds because they’re both under 100 million and then we operate in parallel for SPVs that are relatively evergreen and they serve as opportunistic investments to continue to double down on our winners. RITHOLTZ: SPV is special purpose investment … DARABI: Vehicles. Yes. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And the PE world, they’re called sidecars. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. So how do these gets structured? Does everything look very similar when you have a fund? How quickly do you deploy the capital and typically how long you locked for or investors locked up for? DARABI: Well investors are usually in private equity are VC funds locked up for 10 years. That’s not usual. We have shown liquidity faster, certainly, for Fund I. It’s well in the black and it’s only five years old less, four and a half years old. So, how do we make money? We charge standard fees, 2 on 20 is the rubric of it, we operate by. And then lesser fees for sidecars or direct investments. So that’s kind of how we stay on business. When you think about an emerging manager starting their first fund, management fees are certainly not so we can live a lavish rock and roll life on a $10 million fund with a two percent management fee, we’re talking about 200K for the entire business to operate. RITHOLTZ: Wow. DARABI: So Marina and I, not only anchored our first fund with their own capital but we didn’t pay ourselves for four years. It’s not glamorous. I mean, there’s some friends of mine that thing the venture capital life is glam and it is if you’re on Sand Hill Road. But if you’re an EM, it’s a lot more like a startup where you’re burning the midnight oil, you are bartering favors with your friends, and you are begging the smartest people you know to take a chance on you to invite you on to their cap table. But it somehow works out because we do put in that extra effort, I think, the metrics, certainly for Fund I have shown us that we’re in this for the long haul now. RITHOLTZ: So your fund 1 and Fund 2, are there any plans of launching Fund III? DARABI: Yes. I think that given the proof points between Fund I and Fund II and a conversation that my partner and I recently had, five years out, are we in this? Do we love this? We do. OK. This is our life’s work. So you can see larger and more demonstrable sized funds but not in an outsized way, not just because we can raise more capital now but because we want to build out a partnership and the kind of culture that we always dreamed of working for back when we were employees, so we have a very diverse set of colleagues with whom we couldn’t operate and we’ll be adding to the partnership in the next two or three years which is really exciting to say. So, yes, the TMV will be around for a while. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. I want to ask you the question I ask any venture capitalist that I interview. Tell us about your best and worst investments and what did you pass on that perhaps you wish you didn’t? DARABI: Gosh. The FOMO list is so long and so embarrassing. Let me start with what I passed on that I regret. Well, I don’t know she really would have invited me to invest, but certainly, I had a wonderful conversation a peer from high school, Katrina Lake, when she was in beta mode for Stitch Fix. I think she was still at HBS at the time or had just recently graduated from Harvard. When Katrina and I had coffee in Minneapolis were we went to high school and she was telling me about the Netflix for clothing that she was building and certainly I regret not really picking up on the clues that she was offering in that conversation. Stitch Fix had an incredible IPO and I’m a proud shareholder today. And similarly, when my friend for starting Cloudflare which luckily they did bring me in to pre-IPO and I’m grateful for that, but when they were starting Cloudflare, I really should have jumped on that moment or when my buddy Ryan Graves whom I still chat with pretty frequently was starting out Uber in beta with Travis and Garrett, that’s another opportunity that I definitely missed. I was in Ireland when the Series A term sheet assigned. So there’s such a long laundry list of namedropped, namedropped, missed, missed, missed. But in terms of what I’m proud of, I’d say far more. I don’t like Sophie’s Choice. I don’t like to cherry pick the certain investments to just brag about them. But we’ve talked about someone to call today, I’d rather kind of shine a light — look at my track record, right? There’s a large realized IRR that I’m very proud of. But more on the opportunity of the companies that we more recently backed that prevent damages (ph) of CRM for oncology patient that help them navigate through the most strenuous time of their life. And by doing so, get better access to health care. And we get to wrote that check a couple of months ago. But already, it’s becoming a company that I couldn’t be more excited about because if they execute the way I think Shirley and Victor will, that has the power to help so many people in a profound way, not just in the Silicon Valley cliché way of this could change the world but this could actually help people receive better care. So, yes, I’m proud of having been an early investor in the Caspers of the world. Certainly, we’re all getting better sleep. There’s no shame there. But I’m really excited now today at investing in financial inclusion in the care economy and so on. RITHOLTZ: And let’s talk a little bit about impactful companies. Is there any different when you’re making a seed stage investment in a potentially impactful company versus traditional startup investing? DARABI: Well, pre-seed and seed investing isn’t a science and it’s certainly not a science that anyone has perfected. There are people who are incredibly good at it because they have a combination of luck and access. But if you’re a disciplined investor in any asset class and I talk to my friends who run hedge funds and work for hedge funds about 10 bets that they take a day and I think that’s a lot trickier than what I do because our do due diligence process, on average, takes an entire quarter of the year. We’re not making that many investments each year. So even though it sounds sort of fruity, when you look at a Y Combinator Demo Day, Y Comb is the biggest accelerator in Silicon Valley and they produce over 300 companies, three or four times a year. When you look at the outsized valuations coming out of Y Comb, it’s easy to think that starting company is as simple as sort of downloading a company in a Box Excel and running with it. But from where we sit, we’re scorching the earth for really compelling ideas in areas that have yet to converge and we’re looking for businesses that may have never pitched the VC before. Maybe they’re not even seeking capital. Maybe it’s a company that isn’t so interested in raising a penny eventually because they don’t need to. They’re profitable from day one. Those are the companies that we find most exciting because as former operators, we know how to appeal to them and then we also know how to work with them. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. Before I get to my favorite question, let me just throw you’re a curveball, tell me a little bit about Business Schooled, the podcast you hosted for quite a while. DARABI: So, Synchrony, Sync, came to me a few years ago with a very compelling and exciting opportunity to host a podcast with them that allowed me a fortunate opportunity to travel the country and I went to just under a dozen cities to meet with founders who have persevered past their startup phase. And what I loved about the concept of business school is that the cities that I hosted were really focused on founders who didn’t have access to VC capital, they put money on credit card. So I took SBA loans or asked friends and family to give them starter capital and then they made their business work through trying times and when you pass the five-year mark for any business, I’m passing it right now for TMV, there’s a moment of reflection where you can say, wow, I did it. it’s incredibly difficult to be a startup founder, more than 60 percent of companies fail and probably for good reason. And so, yes, I hosted business school, Seasons 2 and 3 and potentially there will be more seasons and I’m very proud of the fact that at one point we cracked the top 20 business podcasts and people seem to be really entertained through these conversations with insightful founders who are vulnerable with me about what it was like to build their business and I like to think they were vulnerable because I have a good amount of compassion for the experience of being founder and also because I’m a New Yorker and I just like to talk. RITHOLTZ: You’re also a founder so there’s going to be some empathy that’s genuine. You went through what they’re going through. DARABI: Exactly. Exactly. And so, what you do, Barry, is quite similar. You’re — you host an exceptionally successful business podcast and you’re also an allocator. You know that it’s interesting to do both because I think that being an investor is a lot like being a journalist. In both professions, you won’t succeed unless you are constantly curious and if you are having conversations to listen more than you speak. DARABI: Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret since it’s so late in the podcast and fewer people will be hearing this, the people I invite on the show are essentially just conversations I want to have. If other people come along and listen, that’s fantastic. But honestly, it’s for an audience of one, namely me, the reason I wanted to have you on is because I’m intrigued by the world of venture and alternatives and impact. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people have been somewhat disappointed in the results of ESG investing and impact investing that for — it’s captured a lot more mindshare than it has captured capital although we’re seeing signs that’s starting to shift. But then the real question becomes, all right, so I’m investing less in oil companies and more in other companies that just happen to consume fossil fuels, what’s the genuine impact of my ESG investing? It feels like it’s sort of de minimis whereas what you do really feels like it has a major impact for people who are interested in having their capital make a positive difference. DARABI: Thank you for saying that. And I will return the compliment by saying that I really enjoyed getting to know you on our one key economist Zoom and I think that you’re right. I think that ESG investing, certainly in the public markets has had diminished returns historically because the definition has been so bizarre and so all over the place. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And I read incredible books from people like Antony Bugg-Levine who helps coin the term the Rockefeller Foundation, who originally coined the term you read about, mortgage, IRR and IRS plus measurement and it’s so hard to have just standardization of what it means to be an impact investor and so it can be bothered but we bother. Rather, we kind of come up with our own subjective point of view of the world and we say what does impact mean to us? Certainly, it means not investing in sin stocks but then those sin stocks have to begin somewhere, has to begin with an idea that somebody had once upon a time. And so, whether we are investing in the way the world should look from our perspective. And with that in mind, it doesn’t have to be impact by your grandpa’s VC, it can be impact from modern generation but simply things that behave differently. Some folks with their dollars. People often say, well, my ESG portfolio is underperforming. But then if you dig in to the specifics, are you investing in Tesla? It’s not a pretty good year. Did you back Beyond Meat? Had a great year. And so, when you kind of redefine the public market not by a sleeve and a bank’s version of a portfolio, but rather by company that you think are making demonstrable change in the world, then you can walk away, realizing had I only invested in these companies that are purpose driven, I would have had outsized returns and that’s what we’re trying to deliver on at TMV. That’s the promise. RITHOLTZ: Really, really very, very intriguing. I know I only have you for a few minutes so let’s jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of our guests starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days. Give us your favorite, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any podcast that are keeping you entertained during the pandemic. DARABI: Well, my family has been binging on 100 Foot Wave on HBO Max which is the story of big wave surfer Garrett McNamara who is constantly surfing the world’s largest waves and I’m fascinated by people who have a mission that’s sort of bigger than success or fame but they’re driven by something and part of that something is curiosity and part of it is insanity. And so not only is it visually stunning to kind of watch these big wave surfers in Portugal, but it’s also a mind trip. What motivates them to get out of bed every day and potentially risk their lives doing something so dangerous and so bananas but also at the same time so brave and heroic. So, highly recommend. I am listening to too many podcasts. I listen to, I don’t know, a stream of things. I’m a Kara Swisher fan, Ezra Klein fan, so they’re both part of the “New York Times” these days. And of course, your podcast, Barry. RITHOLTZ: Well, thank you so much. Well, thank you so much. Let’s talk a little bit about who your early mentors were and who helped shape you career? DARABI: It’s going to sound ungrateful but I don’t think, in like a post lean in definition of the word, I ever truly had a mentor or a sponsor. Now, having said that, I’ve had people who really looked at for me and been incredibly gracious with their time and capital. And so, I would absolutely like to acknowledge that first and foremost. I think about how generous Adam Grant has been with his time and his investments for TMV in Fund I and Fund II and he’s a best-selling author and worked on highest-rated business school professor. So shout out to Adam, if he’s listening or Beth Comstock, the former Vice Chair of GE who has been instrumental in my career for about a decade and a half now. And she is also really leaning in to the TMV portfolio and has become a patient of Parsley Health, an early investment of ours and also an official adviser to the business. So, people like Adam and Beth certainly come to mind. But I don’t know, I just — I’m not sure mentors really exist outside of corporate America anymore and part of the reason why we started Transact Global is to kind of foster the concept of the peer mentor, people who are going through the same thing as you at the same time and allowing that hive mentality with an abundance mentality to catalyze people to kind of go further and faster. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about some of your favorite books and what you might reading right now. DARABI: OK, so in the biz book world, because I know your listeners as craving, I’m a big fan of “Negotiation Genius.” I took a crash course with one of the authors, Max Bazerman at the Kennedy School and it was illuminating. I mean, he’s one of the most captivating professors I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing lecture and this book has really helped me understand the concept of the ZOPA, the Zone of Possible Agreement, and how to really negotiate well. And then for Adam whom I just referenced, of all of his incredible books, my favorite is Give and Take because I try to operate with that approach of business. Give more than you take and maybe in the short term, you’ll feel depleted but in the long term, karma pays off. But mostly, Barry, I read fiction. I think the most interesting people in the world or at least the most entertaining at dinner parties are all avoid readers of fiction and history. So I recently reread, for instance, all of my favorite short stories from college, from Dostoyevsky’s “A Gentle Creature” to “Drown” Junot Diaz. “Passing” by Nella Larsen, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by Fitzgerald. Those are some of my very favorite stories of all time. And my retirement dream is to write a book of short stories. RITHOLTZ: Really, really quite intriguing. Are they all available in a single collection or these just, going back to your favorites and just plowing through them for fun? DARABI: Those are just going back to my favorites. I try to re-read “Passing” every few years which is somehow seems to be more and more relevant as I get older and Junot Diaz has become so incredibly famous when I first read “Drown” about 20 years ago which is an original collection of short stories that broadened my perspective of why it’s important to think about a broader definition of America, I guess. And, yes, no, that’s just — that was just sort of off the top of my head as the offering of a few stories that I really love, no collection. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good collection. And we’re down to our final two questions. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was interested in a career in either venture capital or entrepreneurship? DARABI: Venture capital or entrepreneurship. Well, I would say, learn as early as possible how to trust your gut. So, this could mean a myriad of things. As an entrepreneur, it could mean under the halo effect of an institution, university or high school or maybe having a comfortable day job, tinker with ideas, get feedback on that idea, don’t be afraid of looking or sounding dumb and build that peer network that I described. People who are rooting you on and are also insatiably curious about wonky things. And I would say that for venture capital, similar play on the same theme, but whether it’s putting small amounts of money into new concept, blockchain investing, or whether it’s meeting with entrepreneurs and saying maybe I only have $3,000 save up but I believe in you enough to bet amongst friends in Brooklyn on your concept if you’ll have me as an investor. So, play with your own money because what it’s really teaching you in return is how to follow instincts and to base pattern recognition off your own judgement. And if you do that early on, overtime, these all become datapoints that you can point to and these are lessons that you can glean while not taking the risk of portfolio management. So, I guess the real advice to your listeners is more action, please. RITHOLTZ: Really very, very intriguing. And our final question, what do you know about the world of venture investing today that you wish you knew 15 or 20 years ago when you first getting started? DARABI: Twenty years ago, I was a bit of a Pollyanna and I thought every wonderful idea that simply is built by smart people and has timed the market correctly will work out. And I will say that I’m slightly more jaded today because of the capital structure that is systematically allowing the biggest firms in the world to kind of eat up a generous portion of, let’s call it the LP pie, which leaves less capital available to the young upstart VC firms, and of course I’m biased because I run one, that are taking outsized risks on those non-obvious ideas that we referenced. And so, what I wish for the future is that institutional capital kind of reprioritizes what it’s looking for. And in addition to having a bottom line of reliable and demonstrable return on any given investment, there are new standards put into play saying we want to make sure that a portion of our portfolio goes to diverse managers. Because in turn, we recognize that they are three times more likely to invest in diverse founders or we believe in impact investing can be broader than the ESG definitely of a decade ago, so we’re coming up with our own way to measure on sustainability or what impact means to us. And if they go through those exercises which I know is hard because, certainly, I’m not trying to add work to anyone’s plate, I do think that the results will more than make up for it. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. Thank you, Soraya, for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Soraya Darabi who is the Co-Founder and General Partner at TMV Investments. If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the prior 376 conversations we’ve had before. You can find those at iTunes or Spotify, wherever you buy your favorite podcast. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at MIB podcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Check out my weekly column at bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps me put these conversations together each week. Tim Harrow is my audio engineer. Paris Walt (ph) is my producer. Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Michael Batnick is my head of research. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~     The post Transcript: Soraya Darabi appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 20th, 2021

Futures Slide As Soaring Oil Nears $85

Futures Slide As Soaring Oil Nears $85 While cash bonds may be closed today for Columbus Day, which may or may not be a holiday - it's difficult to know anymore with SJW snowflakes opinions changing by the day - US equity futures are open and they are sliding as soaring oil prices add to worries over growing stagflation (Goldman and Morgan Stanley both slashed their GDP estimates over the weekend even as they both see rising inflation), fueling concern that a spreading energy crisis could hamper economic recovery (as a reminder, yesterday we had one, two, three posts on stagflation, showing just how freaked out Wall Street suddenly is). Rising raw material costs, labor shortages and other supply chain bottlenecks have raised concerns of elevated prices hammering corporate profits while rising rates are suggesting that a tidal wave of inflation is coming. And while cash bonds may be closed, one can easily extrapolate where they would be trading based on TSY futures which are currently trading at a 1.65% equivalent. But while cash bonds may be closed, the big mover on Monday was oil, with WTI surging nearly 3% and touched a seven-year high as an energy crisis gripping the major economies showed no sign of easing. Meanwhile, Brent rose just shy of $85, rising to the highest since late 2018 when the Fed abruptly reversed tightening course. Over in China, coal futures reached a record as flooding shuttered mines. The surge in oil lifted shares of Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and APA Corp between 1.2% and 3% in premarket trading. At the same time, rising rates hit FAAMGs, with Apple, Microsoft and Amazon all falling between 0.6% and 0.8%. The surge above 1.6% for 10-year Treasury yields is intensifying debate among strategists over how to position investor portfolios amid anxiety over whether transitory inflation is transitioning into stagflation. Lucid Group rose 2.2% and Occidental Petroleum climbed 3.1%, leading gains in the U.S. premarket session. Here are some of the biggest movers and stocks to watch today: U.S.-listed Chinese tech stocks soar 2% to 5% in premarket trading, extending their recent rebound. Rally supported by Beijing slapping a smaller-than-expected fine on food delivery giant Meituan and last week’s news that U.S. President Joe Biden was planning to meet with Xi Jinping before the end of the year. Alibaba (BABA US +5%) leads gains, while JD.com (JD US) and Baidu (BIDU US) rise 2% apiece Watch U.S. energy stocks as oil surges past $80 a barrel as the global power crunch rattled a market in which OPEC+ has only been restoring output at a modest pace. Exxon Mobil (XOM US +1.1%), Chevron (CVX US +1%) and Occidental (OXY US +3.1%) among top risers in premarket trading. Robinhood (HOOD US) dropped 2%; the company was under pressure in U.S. premarket trading as a looming share sale by early investors and a toughening regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies are adding to the headwinds in the stock market for the darling of the U.S. retail trading mania. ChemoCentryx (CCXI US) up 2% in U.S. premarket trading, adding to Friday’s massive gains after the drug developer won U.S. approval for Tavneos as a treatment for a rare autoimmune disorder Cloudflare (NET US) slides 1.8% in U.S. premarket trading after Piper Sandler downgraded stock to neutral Akerna Corp. (KERN US) gained in Friday postmarket trading after Matthew Ryan Kane, a board member, bought $346,032 of shares, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. “We see rising risks to global growth and evidence of more persistent inflation, which makes us more cautious on the outlook for global markets overall,” Salman Ahmed, global head of macro and strategic asset allocation at Fidelity International, wrote in a note to clients. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index fell 0.2%, led by declines in travel and property firms. Miners and energy stocks were the two strongest-performing sectors in Europe on Monday on rising prices for iron ore and oil. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources Index climbed as much as 2.4%, while the Energy Index gains as much as 1.5% to the highest since Feb. 24, 2020. European banking stocks also advanced on Monday, following four weeks of gains, and traded about 1.3% below pre-pandemic high. The sector has gained 36% ytd, is the best performer among 20 European sectors in 2021. Up 0.7% today, outperforming a slightly weaker broader Stoxx 600 Index and as investors tilt toward cyclical sectors. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks jumped, buoyed by Hong Kong-listed technology shares including Meituan, which was consigned a lower-than-expected regulatory fine. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.9%, driven by the consumer-discretionary and communication sectors. Alibaba and Meituan were the top contributors to the gauge, each surging about 8% in the first trading in Hong Kong after the food-delivery giant was handed a $533 million fine for violating anti-monopolistic practices.  The result of the investigation into Meituan is “a relief and likely to provide closure to the share price overhang,” Citigroup analysts wrote in a note Friday, when the penalty was announced.  Hong Kong’s stock gauge was among the top performing in the region. Japan’s benchmarks also climbed as the yen weakened to an almost three-year low against the dollar and new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he’s not considering changes to the country’s capital-gains tax at present. Improved sentiment in China is providing much-needed support to Asian equities, which declined for four straight weeks amid uncertainty circling global markets. Power shortages in China and India, supply-chain woes, inflation risks and rising bond yields are all on the radar as the earnings season kicks off. “We are still in a market that is very, very concerned about the growth outlook,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets. These sort of rallies that appear almost inexplicable are “symptomatic of the market still trying to piece together all pieces of the puzzle,” he added. Australia The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% to close at 7,299.80, with most subgauges taking a hit. Miners advanced, posting gains for a third session, offsetting losses in healthcare and consumer discretionary stocks.  Star Entertainment was the worst performer after a report saying the company had enabled suspected money laundering, organized crime and fraud at its Australian casinos for years. Fortescue surged after the company said it plans to build a green energy factory to rival China.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.5% to 13,019.37. In FX, the pound crept higher to touch an almost 2-week high versus the dollar and the Gilt curve shifted higher, led by the front-end, after the Bank of England’s Michael Saunders, one of the most hawkish members of the Monetary Policy Committee, suggested in remarks published Saturday that investors were right to bring forward bets on rate hikes. Hours earlier, Governor Andrew Bailey warned of a potentially “very damaging” period of inflation unless policy makers take action. Australia’s dollar led gains among G-10 currencies on the back of increases in oil, natural gas and iron ore prices and as Sydney emerges from a 15- week lockdown on Monday. Iron ore futures extended gains as improved rebar margins at Chinese steel mills buoyed demand prospects. The yen dropped against the dollar, with analysts forecasting more weakness ahead as the nation’s yield differentials widen. As noted above, treasury futures slumped in U.S. trading Monday, with the cash market closed for Columbus Day; they implied a yield of 1.65% on the 10Y. 10-year note futures price is down 8+/32, a price change equivalent to a yield increase of about 3bp. Benchmark 10-year yield ended Friday at 1.615%, its highest closing level since June, as investors focused on the inflationary aspects in mixed September employment data. China's10-year government bond futures declined to a three-month low while the yuan advanced as the central bank’s latest liquidity draining weakened expectations of fresh monetary policy easing. Futures contracts on 10-year notes fall 0.4% to 99.14, the lowest level since July 12. It dropped 0.4% on Friday. 10-year sovereign bond yields rose 5bps, the biggest gains in two months, to 2.96%. Looking ahead, upcoming reports on third-quarter company profits which start this week are seen as the next potential pressure point in a market already under siege from slowing global growth, sticky inflation and tighter monetary policies. Global earnings revisions are sliding - an omen for U.S. stocks that have taken their cue from rising earnings estimates all year. “The coming earnings’ season in the U.S. will be heavily scrutinized for pricing power, margins and clues on the shortage situation, as well as wage pressures,” according to Geraldine Sundstrom, a portfolio manager at  Pacific Investment Management Co. in London. “Already a number of large multinationals have issued warnings about production cuts and downgraded their Q3 outlook due to supply chain and labor shortages.” Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 4,371.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 456.41 German 10Y yield up 1.5 bps to -0.135% Euro little changed at $1.1568 MXAP up 0.8% to 196.45 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 642.13 Nikkei up 1.6% to 28,498.20 Topix up 1.8% to 1,996.58 Hang Seng Index up 2.0% to 25,325.09 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,591.71 Sensex up 0.5% to 60,358.30 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,299.79 Kospi down 0.1% to 2,956.30 Brent Futures up 1.9% to $83.98/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,755.02 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.11% to 94.17 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The U.S. labor market will see “ups and downs” as the pandemic lingers, but it’s premature to judge that the recovery is in peril, said San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she expects Congress to take action soon to bring the U.S. into line with a global minimum tax agreed on last week by 136 countries Chinese builders are looking to payment extensions or debt exchanges to avoid default on imminent bond obligations as liquidity conditions tighten for the real estate sector Austria will get a new chancellor, though the career diplomat stepping into Sebastian Kurz’s shoes is a close ally of the departing conservative leader who resigned over a corruption scandal Just because pandemic inflation is transitory doesn’t mean it’s going away anytime soon. That’s the awkward conclusion that policy makers and investors are arriving at, as prices accelerate all over the world. European natural gas has climbed 25% in two weeks, and oil topped $80 for the first time since 2014. Fertilizers hit a record on Friday, which means food prices -- already at a 10- year peak -- will likely rise even higher A more detailed summary of overnight news from Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive but ended the day somewhat mixed after having shrugged off the early weakness stemming from last Friday’s lacklustre performance stateside and disappointing NFP jobs data. Note, markets in Taiwan and South Korea were closed. ASX 200 (-0.3%) was the laggard with underperformance in tech, consumer stocks and defensives overshadowing the gains in commodities and with Star Entertainment the worst hit with losses of more than 20% after media outlets alleged that it enabled suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference which the Co. said were misleading reports. However, downside for the index was limited as New South Wales businesses reopened from the lockdown that lasted for over three months. Nikkei 225 (+1.6%) reversed opening losses as exporters cheered a weaker currency and with the government mulling over JPY 100bln financial support for chip factory construction. Hang Seng (+2.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) were both positive following talks between China's Vice Premier Liu He and USTR Tai on Saturday in which China was said to be negotiating for a cancellation of tariffs and sanctions. The advances in Hong Kong were led by tech stocks including Meituan despite the Co. being fined CNY 3.4bln by China’s market regulator for monopolistic behaviour, as the amount was seen to be a slap on the wrist, while the gains in the mainland were only mild as participants also reflected on the substantial liquidity drains by the PBoC totalling a net CNY 510bln since Saturday. Finally, 10yr JGBs were pressured amid the gains in Japanese stocks and lack of BoJ purchases in the market, while price action was also not helped by the continued weakness in T-note futures amid the semi-holiday conditions in US for Columbus Day in which the NYSE and the Nasdaq will open but bonds trading will remain shut. Top Asian News Australian IPOs Heading for Biggest Haul Since 2014: ECM Watch Syngenta’s Shanghai IPO Proposal Suspended For Earnings Update China Junk-Rated Dollar Bond Rout Deepens Amid Builder Worries China’s 10-Year Bond Yield Jumps By The Most Since August Bourses in Europe are mostly but modestly lower (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.1%, Stoxx 600 -0.2%) whilst the FTSE 100 (+0.2%) bucks the trend, owing to firm performances in its heavyweight sectors. US equity futures meanwhile trade within tight ranges with broad-based losses of some 0.3-0.4%. Fresh fundamental catalysts have remained light, although inflation and stagflation remain on traders' minds heading into this week's US and Chinese inflation metrics and against the backdrop of rising energy prices. Thus, the sector configuration sees Basic Resources, Oil & Gas and Banks at the top of the bunch, whilst the downside sees Travel & Leisure, Real Estate and Retail, with no overarching theme to be derived. Basic Resources is the marked outperformer as base metals are bolstered in what seems to be a function of the coal shortage in Asia, with iron ore contracts also surging overnight and copper following suit, in turn boosting the likes of Rio Tino (+3.2%), Antofagasta (+3.1%), Glencore (+3.1%), BHP (+2.8%). The top of the Stoxx 600 is dominated by metal names. In terms of individual movers, Carrefour (-2.2%) is softer after sources stated that exploratory talks over a Carrefour-Auchan tie-up ended due to the complexity of the deal. Evotec (+0.7%) holds onto gains as it seeks a Nasdaq listing. Roche (+0.6%) and Morphosys (+3.7%) underpin the health sector after the Cos received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the US FDA for gantenerumab for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Top European News BOE Officials Double Down on Signals of Imminent Rate Hike Brexit Clash on Northern Ireland Means Headaches for Johnson Asos CEO Beighton Steps Down as Sales Growth Slows Adler Shares Flounder After Asset Disposal Plan, Past M&A Report In FX, the Aussie has secured a considerably firmer grip of the 0.7300 handle vs its US rival as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed in NSW and base metals tread water after a mostly positive APAC equity session overnight. However, Aud/Usd is also firmer on the back of ongoing Greenback weakness and long liquidation from what some are calling ‘stretched’ levels of IMM positioning going in to Friday’s NFP release, while the Aud/Nzd cross has rebounded further above 1.0550 in wake of a rise in NZ virus cases that has prompted the PM to keep Auckland on level 3 alert for another week pending review. Hence, Nzd/Usd is capped around 0.6950 and continues to lag on the unwinding of Kiwi longs built up in advance of last week’s universally anticipated 25 bp RBNZ hike. Back to the Buck, but looking at the index in relation to where it was before and after the latest BLS report, 94.000 is providing some underlying support on Columbus Day that is not a full US market holiday, but will see cash Treasuries remain closed. Moreover, the DXY is gleaning momentum within a narrow 94.028-214 range via marked Yen underperformance amidst the latest rout in bonds and more pronounced technical impulses as Usd/Jpy extends beyond 112.50 and sets yet another 2021 peak around 112.95. GBP - Sterling is taking up post-payrolls Dollar slack as well, but firmer in its own right too as comments from BoE Governor Bailey and MPC member Saunders add to the growing expectation that rate hikes may be delivered sooner than had been expected before the former revealed that policy-setters were evenly divided at 4-4 in August on the subject of minimum criteria being achieved for tightening. Cable is hovering under 1.3650 and Eur/Gbp is sub-0.8500 in response, with the latter not really fazed by the UK-EU rift on NI protocol. CAD/NOK - The Loonie remains firm against its US peer after the stellar Canadian jobs data and Usd/Cad continues to probe support/bids at 1.2450 against the backdrop of strength in oil prices that is also keeping the Norwegian Krona afloat and Eur/Nok eyeing deeper sub-10.0000 lows irrespective of marginally mixed vs consensus inflation metrics. CHF/EUR/SEK - All rather rangy, aimless and looking for inspiration or clearer direction as the Franc straddles 0.9275 vs the Greenback, but remains firmer against the Euro above 1.0750 following only a faint rise in Swiss domestic bank sight deposits. Meanwhile, the Euro is pivoting 1.1575 vs the Buck and looks hemmed in by decent option expiry interest just outside the range given.1 bn rolling off between 1.1540-50 and 1.6 bn from 1.1590-1.1600 at the NY cut. Elsewhere, the Swedish Crown is slipping on risk-off grounds towards 10.1250 having tested resistance circa 10.1000. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures continue the upward trajectory seen during the APAC session, with the complex underpinned heading into the winter period and against the backdrop of higher gas prices. The gains have been more pronounced in the US counterpart vs the global benchmark with no clear catalysts behind the outperformance, although this may be a continuation of the unwind seen after reports suggested a release of the US SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) is unlikely. For context, reports of such a release last week took the WTI-Brent arb to almost USD 4.2/bbl vs USD 2.7/bbl at the time of writing. Furthermore, there have also been reports of lower US production under President Biden's "build back better" initiative, which puts more weight on renewable energy, with some energy analysts also suggesting that OPEC+ sees less of a threat from a "shale boom" as a result. Back to price action, WTI has been in the limelight after topping the USD 80/bbl overnight and extending gains to levels north of USD 81.50/bbl (vs low 79.55/bbl), whilst the Brent Dec contract topped USD 84.00/bbl (vs low USD 82.50/bbl). In terms of other news flow, sources suggested the fire at Lebanon's Zahrani fuel tank has been put out after the energy minister suggested the fire was contained – the cause of the fire is not yet known. Gas prices also remain elevated with UK nat gas futures relatively flat on the day but still north of GBP 2/Thm vs GBP 1/Thm mid-August and vs GBP 4/Thm last week, whilst the Qatari Energy Minister said he is unhappy about gas prices being high amid negative follow-through to customers. Over to metals, spot gold and silver are somewhat lacklustre, but with magnitudes of price action contained, with the former meandering just north of USD 1,750/oz and the latter above USD 22.50/oz heading into this week's key risk events. Overnight, iron ore futures were bolstered some 10% in Dalian and Singapore Exchanges amid fears of coking coal supply shortages - coking coal is an essential input to produce iron and steel. Traders should also be cognizant of the Chinese metrics released this week as another elevated PPI metric could see the release of more state reserves, as had been the case over the recent months. Using the Caixin PMIs as a proxy for the release, the PMI suggested sharp increases in both input costs and output prices – largely owed to supply chain delays, with the "rate of inflation was the quickest seen for four months, amid reports of greater energy and raw material costs. This, in turn, led to a solid increase in prices charged". The measure for output prices its highest in three months, whilst "the pressure of rising costs was partly transmitted downstream to consumers, as the demand was not weak." US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that it’s Columbus Day today where US bond markets are closed. Equity markets are open but expect it to be quiet. Ahead of this, this morning we have published our latest monthly survey results covering over 600 global market participants. See here for more. For the first time since June, the biggest perceived risk to markets is now higher yields and inflation, whilst direct Covid-19 risks are out of the top 3 for the first time. A further equity correction before YE remains the consensus now. 71% expect at least another 5% off equities at some point before YE (68% correctly suggested that last month). A very overwhelming 84% thought the next 25bps move in 10yr US Treasury yields would be up. Of some additional interest is that the definition of stagflation is varied but that the majority think it’s a high or very high risk for the next 12 months. The extreme of this view surprised me. While I’ve long thought the market has underestimated the inflation risks I would still say there is enough of a growth cushion for 2022. However it’s clear the risks have built. Anyway, lots more in the survey. Thanks for filling it in and see the results for details. The week ahead will centre around the US CPI release on Wednesday but it might be a touch backward looking given that energy has spiked more recently and that used car prices are again on the march after a late summer fall that will likely be captured in this week’s release. Elsewhere, we’ve got a potentially more challenging US earnings season than that seen over the last year will commence with the big financials from Wednesday. In addition minutes from the last FOMC will give clues to the latest taper thinking on Wednesday as well. The IMF/World Bank meetings will generate plenty of headlines this week with their latest world outlook update tomorrow the highlight. The best of the rest data wise consists of JOLTS (Tuesday),which we think is a better labour market indicator than payrolls albeit a month behind, US PPI (Thursday) which will give a scale of building pipeline price pressures, US retail sales and UoM consumer sentiment (Friday), and China’s CPI and PPI (Thursday). With all that to look forward to, markets have started the week on a strong note, with equity indices including the Hang Seng (+2.02%), Nikkei (+1.57%), CSI (+0.32%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.32%) all moving higher, whilst the Kospi (-0.11%) has seen a slight decline. Japanese stocks have been buoyed by comments from new PM Kishida over the weekend that he isn’t currently considering changes to the country’s capital-gains tax. That comes with just 20 days remaining until the country’s general election. Separately in China, the country’s energy woes continue with 60 of 682 coal mines closed in the Shanxi province due to heavy floods, with Chinese coal futures up +8.00% this morning. And the property market issues are continuing to persist, with a new Chinese developer Modern Land seeking a 3 month extension to a $250 million dollar bond due to mature on October 25. By the end of last week, a Bloomberg index of Chinese junk-rated dollar bonds had seen yields climb to a decade-high above 17%, so clearly one to still look out for. Unlike in Asia, equity futures are pointing lower in the US and Europe this morning, with those on the S&P 500 down -0.21%. In terms of the main highlight it’s clearly US CPI mid-week. Given my views that inflation risks have been massively understated this year I’ve been saying for months that these reports have potentially been the most important monthly data we have seen for years. But since they mostly come and go with a “meh… mostly transitory” and a relative whimper, I’ve clearly been wrong to over hype them. So ignore me when I say that this month’s report might not be that interesting. With energy soaring over the last month and signs of inflation pressures continuing to build elsewhere then I’m not sure we can read too much into this month’s figures. Take used cars. Given the 2-3 month lag between actual prices and their CPI impact, this month will more than likely reflect a softening of prices in the summer. However September saw prices rise +5.4% so this will probably show up towards the end of the year along with the recent rise in energy costs. Our economists expect a +0.41% headline (vs. +0.27% previously) and +0.27% core (vs. +0.10%) mom rate. This is a bit above consensus and would take the yoy rate to 5.4% (up a tenth) and 4.1% (unch) respectively. Speaking of inflationary pressures, this morning has seen energy prices take a further leg higher, with WTI oil (+1.90%) moving back above $80/bbl for the first time since late 2014, whilst Brent crude (+1.42%) has moved above $83/bbl. European natural gas prices will continue to be an important one to follow amidst the astonishing price surge there, but the declines at the end of last week mean prices finished the week down by more than -45% since their intraday peak on Wednesday, before the comments from Russian President Putin that brought down prices. The rest of the day-by-day calendar is at the end as usual but although it’s a second tier release normally, tomorrow’s JOLTS will be interesting in as far as it might confirm that the main labour problems in August were a lack of supply rather than demand. The report’s full value is reduced by it being a number of weeks out of date but there’s a reasonable argument for saying that this is a better gauge of the state of the labour market than the payroll release. We go through Friday’s mixed report at the end when looking back at last week. Outside of data, it’s that time again as earnings season gets going, with a number of US financials kicking things off from mid-week. In terms of the highlights, we’ll hear from JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock and Delta Air Lines on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, we’ll get UnitedHealth, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, US Bancorp and Walgreens Boots Alliance. Finally on Friday, we’ll hear from Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. For more info on the upcoming earnings season, you can read DB’s equity strategists Q3 S&P 500 preview here. Back to markets, it was interesting over the weekend that the BoE’s Saunders chose to endorse market expectation of an earlier start to the hiking cycle in the UK rather than push back against it. He is on the more hawkish end of the spectrum but it was an important statement. Earlier, Governor Bailey suggested that there could potentially be a very damaging period of higher inflation ahead if policy makers didn’t react. Interestingly our survey showed that the market thinks the BoE is likely to make a policy error by being too hawkish so a battle seems likely to commence over policy here in the UK over the coming weeks and months. The November meeting appears live. Those comments have helped to support the pound this morning, which is up by +0.16% against the US Dollar. Looking back to last week now, risk sentiment was supported in the first full week of Q4 by easing European energy prices and a cease fire on the debt ceiling that avoided disaster and bought Washington lawmakers 8 weeks to find a more permanent solution. Global equity indices thus gained on the week: the S&P 500 picked up +0.79%, with a slight -0.19% pullback on Friday, and European equities kept pace with the STOXX 600 rallying +0.97% (-0.28% on Friday). Cyclical stocks led the way on both sides of the Atlantic; energy stocks were among the best performers whist financials benefitted from higher yields and a steeper curve. Speaking of which, US 10yr Treasury yields gained a punchy +14.1bps to close the week at 1.603%, their highest levels since early June. The benchmark gradually increased 3.0bps after Friday’s employment data. Inflation compensation continued to drive rate increases, as US 10yr breakevens gained +13.5 bps to finish the week at 2.515%. We need to go back to May to find higher levels. The sovereign yield increases were global in nature, with German bunds gaining +7.3bps and UK gilts +15.6bps higher. German 10yr breakevens gained +3.9bps while UK breakevens were +12.0bps higher. US nonfarm payrolls increased +194k in September, well below consensus expectations of a +500k gain, though private payrolls increased +317k and net two month revisions were up +169k. The unemployment rate ticked down to a post-pandemic low of 4.8% on the back of a declining labour force participation rate. Average hourly earnings were robust, increasing +0.6% mom (+0.4% expected). Taken in concert, the print likely cleared the (admittedly low) bar to enable the FOMC to announce tapering at the November meeting, whilst also feeding the creeping stagflation narrative (see survey results). Elsewhere, building on a preliminary July deal, the OECD said 136 nations have signed up to implement a 15% minimum global tax rate to address adequate taxation of multinational tech firms. As part of the deal, countries agreed not to impose any additional digital services taxes.       Tyler Durden Mon, 10/11/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 11th, 2021

At one of the last abortion clinics in South Texas, people are learning they"re pregnant when it"s already too late to get an abortion

In Texas' Rio Grande Valley - one of the poorest regions in the country - getting an abortion was already difficult. Now, it's nearly impossible. Protesters hold signs supporting abortion clinic access on March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images In the Rio Grande Valley, one of the poorest regions in the US, getting an abortion was already hard. After Texas passed a law banning abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, it's nearly impossible. The 19th visited the only abortion provider south of San Antonio to see what it's like for people. See more stories on Insider's business page. McAllen, TX - Karla S. knew she was pregnant almost right away. She could tell by the smells: "Everything was rancid," Karla said.She texted her boyfriend, who bought her a test that she took that same night. When the result was positive, she didn't know what to do. "It made me very nervous," said Karla, whose full name has been withheld for privacy. "But it also made me very determined. I was not in any type of way prepared to have a child. I had to be very sure of what I was going to do." Karla, 23, was on birth control - she hadn't been trying to conceive. For two weeks, she sat with the decision of whether or not to have the baby, trying to picture herself with a child. It didn't click. She wants to have children someday, but she wants to finish college first. So she made an appointment at Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, Texas, the only abortion clinic serving the Rio Grande Valley, which spans about 4,250 square miles and includes a large portion of the state's border with Mexico. It was a little over two weeks after Senate Bill 8, Texas' new law banning abortion after six weeks, went into effect.Even before SB 8, Texans were already facing an uphill battle when it came to access. The burden is especially acute in the Valley, a remote part of the state which is one of the poorest areas not just in the state of Texas, but in the entire country.The McAllen clinic is Texas' only abortion provider south of San Antonio, close to 250 miles away. It draws people from all over the region - which is home to almost 1.4 million people, predominantly Latinx - many traveling close to 200 miles each way for an appointment. Every doctor who performs abortions here travels from somewhere else - Austin or Houston or California - and the clinic's appointment schedule depends in large part on when they are able to practice.While clinics in Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico are all reporting surges in Texas-based patients, it's particularly difficult to make the journey from the Valley. The closest out-of-state option from McAllen is in Mexico City, at least two hours on a plane, or close to 600 miles driving. It's a journey that simply isn't feasible for many people who come to Whole Woman's Health. Now that getting an abortion is nearly impossible under the best of circumstances, what happens if something goes wrong? That's what Karla, a lifelong resident of the Valley, had to figure out.Karla lives a city over from McAllen, in Mission. She went to Whole Woman's Health for the first time on September 17, and was still under that gestational limit. Texas requires anyone seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours after their initial consult, so the next day, on Friday, September 18, she went back and was given the set of pills that would induce an abortion: One to take in the clinic, and the other at home.After 24 hours, nothing had happened. Karla didn't bleed or experience cramps or any of the symptoms indicating the abortion had worked. The following Monday, the soonest she could get an appointment, she went to the McAllen clinic and took more pills. Still, nothing happened. Tuesday, she came in one more time, hoping to get a surgical abortion instead. She knew she was running out of time."I'm hoping this will work," she told The 19th that day through tears. "I was already at five weeks. I don't want to get closer to six, or even seven." At Whole Woman's Health, the network of abortion clinics, the procedure and necessary appointments cost at least $800 - far more than what it costs in many other states - and abortions in Texas are rarely covered by health insurance. There are financial resources available that, in theory, would be even better equipped now to offer support. The Frontera Fund, which helps people in the Valley pay for abortions and associated travel, was overwhelmed with donations after the Texas law took effect. But requests for aid have fallen sharply, said Zaena Zamora, the fund's executive director. Before SB 8 went into effect, three to five people would call each day to request help paying for an abortion, she said. Now they get one call a day if they're lucky. Zamora believes that's a byproduct of people being unable to book appointments in the state. And for many, she said, leaving to get an abortion elsewhere isn't possible. They don't have time off from work. They can't risk forgoing the wages. Most of the callers Frontera Fund does get are parents, so going out of state means bringing their kids with them or finding child care. Abortion remains stigmatized, and it's harder to explain where someone is going, and why they might have to leave the state for a few days. And anyone traveling north of McAllen will face immigration checkpoints - a deterrent in particular for people who are undocumented. About 136,000 undocumented people live in the Valley's two largest counties, per the Migration Policy Institute. That means that, for many, there is no point in asking for help to pay for out-of-state travel - they can't go anywhere.I can be broke now, or I can be broke the next 18 years of my life. Karla S."I can't make up for lost wages. I can't find a nanny or someone to take care of your children for you. I can't call your boss and ask for your time off," Zamora said. "And people from the Valley - some of us never leave the Valley. We're a very close, tight-knit community, and some people never leave here."In that way, Karla is one of the lucky ones. Traveling to get an abortion would pose a substantial hardship, to be sure. It would drain her savings, but it would be doable. Right now, she works as a cashier at a grocery store. But she had been feeling sick recently, and that, combined with the time off she sought to recover from her first attempt at an abortion, meant she hadn't worked in more than a week. She wasn't sure she would be put back on the schedule until October - until, the day after her abortion, she received a lucky, unexpected call asking her to come back. If she had had to travel, her boyfriend would accompany her, helping drive to Mexico, or to a clinic in New Mexico. That would require him missing days of work - foregoing income - to say nothing of the money needed for traveling, for housing and for the abortion itself. Though a fund like Frontera could have helped, nobody had told Karla such organizations existed, or helped her get in touch with one. "We would definitely struggle. We would have to play catch up for a while," she said. But compared to the alternative? There's no question, she said. "I can be broke now, or I can be broke the next 18 years of my life."When Karla went in for her appointment, she found she was able to expel the embryo, even without any visible bleeding. The abortion had worked after all.People coming in to the clinic to find out if they're pregnant are learning they're too far along to get an abortion Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, seen here in 2016, is the only abortion clinic serving the Rio Grande Valley, which spans about 4,250 square miles and includes a large portion of Texas's border with Mexico. Ilana Panich-Linsman for the Washington Post via Getty Images In the days before SB 8 took effect, calls to the McAllen's Whole Woman's Health clinic surged - one day, there were close to 50 back-to-back, a clinic staffer recalled.The clinic is open Monday through Saturday, with procedures typically performed on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other days open for follow-ups, counseling and visits from patients seeking medications like the morning-after pill. Before SB 8, between 40 to 50 patients would come in on any given service day for a consultation and then, after the 24-hour waiting period, an abortion. Now, that number has fallen by close to half, said Veronica Hernandez, the clinic director. Maybe 20 to 30 people will come for a consultation. Of those patients, typically half will be able to get an abortion under SB 8."It's heartbreaking," she said. "There are patients you want to help, but you can't. And they're emotional, or they start crying, and you want to help, but your hands are tied." The decline was visible the week of Monday, September 20, when The 19th visited the clinic. That Monday, Hernandez estimated eight patients came for ultrasounds to see how far along in their pregnancy they were. Only two of them were under the six-week mark, and could, if they wanted to, schedule an abortion for the next day. That same day, another 23 patients, who believed they were earlier than six weeks, came in for an initial consultation with the doctor, planning to get an abortion the next day, Hernandez said. Of the 23, only about half qualified. The rest were later in their pregnancy than they realized. More from The 19th Abortion providers ask Supreme Court to quickly intervene in challenge to Texas law The 19th wants to know how the Texas abortion law has impacted you and your community 'We're seeing shock.' Texas abortion clinics are now operating as trauma centers Most of the remaining patients came back the next day for an abortion. Those who couldn't, Hernandez said, either couldn't find child care or get away from work for the appointment.The window of eligibility to get an abortion in Texas is infinitesimal. Functionally, pregnant people have about a one-week window in which an abortion is feasible - even smaller than the two-week period experts initially forecast as a best-care scenario.It has to be late enough in pregnancy that something can show up on an ultrasound, but early enough that the abortion can be done before the six-week deadline. Patients, skittish about the new law, are calling and coming in too early in their pregnancy, undergoing a sonogram that will not show anything, and having to reschedule to return a week later. Laura M. was one of the people able to make it back to the clinic. A 32-year-old teacher and parent to a 5-year-old son, Laura took two days off work, and her boyfriend drove her more than an hour both days to make it to the clinic. When Laura first suspected she was pregnant, her home test came back negative. A week later, on September 8, she went to her doctor, who did a transvaginal ultrasound. Nothing appeared on the screen. But the nagging feeling wouldn't disappear. So on Friday, September 17, she took one more test. This time, it was positive. The previous test and ultrasound had just been too early in the pregnancy to detect anything. She made an appointment for a week later - September 24. But she was worried. It felt like she was waiting too long. So she came earlier. On September 20, she had her initial consultation and ultrasound at Whole Woman's Health, where she learned she was 5.3 weeks pregnant. She just made it. "I had only a few days to work with," she said on September 21, from the clinic's waiting room. "And I know I got really, really lucky."Experts worry more people will buy abortion pills from flea markets or Mexico because they can't legally access care in TexasLaura's journey was one of the easier ones. She had the $800 because she had been saving up for a house, but had she not been, she isn't sure whether the procedure would have been affordable. And in the Valley, an hour-long drive isn't necessarily so far.But for other patients, the distances are far greater. Dr. Blair Cushing, a California-based OB/GYN and one of the main abortion providers at the clinic, saw another patient that Tuesday morning who had traveled more than 100 miles to come to the clinic. Because she lived far away, the patient was eligible to do her initial appointment over the phone the day prior. But she still had to get an ultrasound when she came in. No embryo appeared on the screen. She was still too early in her pregnancy, and had made the two-hour drive - each way - for nothing. Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol against SB 8, which prohibits abortions in Texas after a fetal heartbeat is detected on an ultrasound, on September 11, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images "Now, she's got to do it all over again with another doctor later this week," Cushing said. "If she doesn't come back until next week when I'm here, that's 10 days from now? Eight days from now? That leaves her open to the possibility she could be too far."Cushing worries that the law has decimated a system that, for many patients in the Valley, was already inaccessible. Even before SB 8, coming to the McAllen clinic meant a particularly long journey and an expensive procedure. "We were already patients' not even their Plan B, their Plan C," Cushing said. "My patients are like, 'I tried emergency contraception and that failed.' And then, 'I went to Mexico and took pills, and that failed. And now I'm here.'"Self-managed abortions are particularly common in the area, in large part because it's a far cheaper option. Medication abortion pills from the nearby flea markets, or from a pharmacy across the border, might cost $40. A 2018 study found that about a third of McAllen-based respondents knew of somewhere other than a medical establishment where they might find abortion pills. Self-managed abortion can be done safely. But patients buying the pills elsewhere frequently get wrong information about how to take the pills - which can in turn result in complications, often in the form of excessive bleeding that results in them having to seek emergency care. And often, pills taken incorrectly won't work to actually end a pregnancy. It's too early to tell if SB 8 is driving more people in the Valley to those self-managed abortions. But evidence suggests it's a strong possibility, said Kari White, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the lead researcher for its Texas Policy Evaluation Project.In the spring of 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily barred abortion providers from practicing in the state, citing the emerging COVID-19 crisis and the need to preserve medical supplies. The order only lasted a month, but in that time, the number of Texans who got abortions fell dramatically, compared to previous years. She anticipates a similar pattern the longer SB 8 stays in effect. "It's possible, because of what we have observed in some of our prior studies, that people may be able to get medications in Mexico or try to access medications online," she said. Through her research, she has interviewed many Texans who buy those pills outside of medical settings. Often, she said, they aren't properly instructed on how to take the medication - putting them at risk of complications, or the abortion simply not working."They may not know how many pills to take or in what time period," she said. "They may get very concerned about how much bleeding they're having or maybe they didn't take as many as they needed to, so it's not effective."The greatest stress test has yet to emerge, Hernandez said. September is usually a slower month. But if the Texas law stays in effect throughout the year - if it's still being enforced come December or January, the busiest time of year for the clinic - she is worried about the implications. The federal Department of Justice has stepped in, suing the state of Texas over the law, which does not appear to comply with the precedent established by the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The DOJ is seeking a temporary injunction to block the law. But the case won't be heard until October 1, and a ruling won't come until after that.Even if the law is blocked, the state of Texas is likely to appeal to the next court, the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The uncertainty means that Whole Woman's Health hasn't yet decided if it would start offering abortions after six weeks, even with a favorable ruling.Hernandez can't let herself process that reality. It's too hard to think past tomorrow, and maybe the day after."I never expected this to happen," she said. "It's just like everything - everything is crumbling down." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 27th, 2021

4 days after I moved into my new house, floods gutted it. Without climate action, this will only get worse.

Was buying a home worth it? Yes. But it comes with a sobering realization that there will be more losses — for myself and many vulnerable communities. Getty Images Earlier this year, my family moved from a New York City apartment into a New Jersey house.  Four days later, we got a flash-flood warning from Hurricane Ida. Then our basement was underwater. The flood was a stark message for me: Unless we take climate action, this will only happen more. We moved into our new house on a sweet suburban block in New Jersey on the last Sunday in August. The little boy next door came over mid-move, introduced himself to my 4-year-old son, and the two of them took off into the backyard, fast friends. That night, we ordered a pizza and ate it on the floor because we still had no dining-room furniture. We'd moved out of a 750-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, where we'd spent the pandemic on top of each other. Now we had about three times as much room, spread out over three levels. There were many satisfied smiles that night. Four days later, on September 1, our phones blared with a tornado-watch alert as the remains of Hurricane Ida moved north. What happened next made me realize that unless we do something to reel in climate change, the damage to my house — and to many other communities — will only get worse.When we received the tornado alert, my parents, who had been through a couple of devastating tornadoes in recent years at their home in Tennessee, urged us to go to our basement and wait for a while. The rain became torrential, the flash-flood warnings came, and I cleared a drain in our backyard that the sellers of our house had warned us about. It fills with leaves, they said, and you have to keep it clear in a storm or it will back up. Several inches of water had already built up around it, and it felt like my efforts were in vain. I headed back inside for a respite. A few minutes later, I heard my partner yell for help. Water was now pouring in underneath and around the sides of the door leading into our laundry room from the backyard. A solid inch of water had accumulated in our storage room and laundry room, and it was now heading through the door toward the finished family room. I sent my parents upstairs with our son. My partner and I spent most of that night doing damage control. We cleared the outdoor drains of flotsam that accumulated on top, wearing rubber boots into the muck swirling over them because of the lightning flashing constantly overhead. We tried to direct most of the stream toward our garage with brooms so that it wouldn't all spill sideways into the family room. We watched our sump pump gurgle miserably, working hard but completely overwhelmed. The next day, we had a high-water mark three feet high against our back door. We considered ourselves lucky that the pressure of the water didn't break the door, which happened at our town library. We put a dehydrator and all our fans in the basement — first in the unfinished space, and then in the finished family room. But the vinyl flooring in the family room looked puckered and felt spongy, even after it had dried on the surface and we had cleaned it thoroughly. We pulled up the vinyl to discover a soaked subfloor throughout the family room. We filed an insurance claim. An assessor came; we did receive some money after he aimed a humidity meter at the spot on the subfloor that kept soaking through. It came up at 100%. Contractors came and pulled up the subfloor and opened a space in the interior wall to determine how the water was getting in. The good news: The foundation was not cracked, nor was the cement beneath the subfloor. We had caught our problem before it compromised the house's structural integrity. The bad news: We needed a whole new floor. The wall, too, was damaged; we pulled out soaked, crumbled sheetrock from its newly exposed innards. The solution was deemed a metal plate installed at the base of the wall and sealed in concrete that would effectively waterproof our family room. When you buy a house, especially coming from a largely full-service New York City rental building, you understand that no one's going to put your recycling on the curb for you. No one is calling in electricians or plumbers or exterminators on your behalf. You're in charge now, for better or for worse. But little prepared us for the reality of the "worse": a tropical storm dropping record-setting rains over New Jersey four days after we moved in. We're luckier than many. At least 50 people in the northeast died; 25 were in New Jersey, one in our town. When we drove around after the storm, the piles of furniture, toys, carpet, and debris we saw outside homes made our pile of drenched moving boxes from our basement — our only real casualty — pale in comparison. Whole lives were put out on curbs, while our life here was just getting started. The total economic impact of Hurricane Ida in the United States is estimated at $95 billion, or one-half of 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Infrastructure damage in the northeastern states alone was about $25 billion. It's a dizzying feeling to realize that my house that I have owned for barely two months is part of that total. And it's not going to end here. I can make repairs, and I'm lucky to have gotten insurance money that will help to that end. But my Geico is not going to cover climate change. President Biden on November 15 signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that acknowledges climate change is here to stay and allots billions to shore up vulnerable communities and to bolster the electric grid.According to Flood Factor, a website created by the First Street Foundation to catalog rising flood threats nationwide and to show that the federal government has understated those threats, my county and state are at ever-increasing risk of flooding. We're going to have to do more than install metal plates in our walls and redo our floors. Consume less, walk more, drive hybrids, invest in green spaces and clean technology. Was my home purchase worth it? Yes. I'm gaining more with my move than I lost this time. I'm making changes to minimize future losses.But it comes with the sobering realization that there will be future losses, and we're all going to have to do something about it. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider18 hr. 9 min. ago

How Migrant Surge At The Border Fuels Massive American OD"s From Tiny Grains of This Killer Drug

How Migrant Surge At The Border Fuels Massive American OD's From Tiny Grains of This Killer Drug By Vince Bielski, published originally in RealClearInvestigations.com On a September afternoon, Allyssia Solorio wondered why her energetic young brother hadn’t emerged from his bedroom in their Sacramento, Calif., home. When she opened his door, she saw 23-year-old Mikael leaning back on his bed with his legs dangling over the side. She rushed to her brother and shook him, but to no avail. He was dead. A counterfeit pharmaceutical pill laced with illicit fentanyl had killed him. Mikael Tirado was one of an estimated 93,331 overdose fatalities in the United States last year – an all-time high. Nearly five times the murder rate, the deadly overdose toll was primarily caused by fentanyl, a highly lethal synthetic opioid. It’s manufactured mostly by Mexican cartels with ingredients imported from China, and then smuggled over the southwestern U.S. border. Fentanyl has been arriving in larger quantities each year since at least 2016. The cartels are taking advantage of law enforcement weaknesses and policy failures to smuggle record amounts of the lethal drug into the United States, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former drug and immigration agents. While a lack of screening technology to find contraband at ports of entry and an inept U.S-Mexico campaign to cripple the cartels are longstanding issues, there’s also a new one: the flood of migrants across the border that the Biden administration has done little to stop. Former law enforcement officials say the cartels are orchestrating the surge, overwhelming the capacity of agents to pursue drug smugglers. They can freely enter Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California carrying fentanyl while agents are diverted to the time-consuming duty of apprehending and processing migrants. Frustrated border agents and their union have been calling on Congress to send reinforcements. But help is not on the way. The administration’s upcoming budget request doesn’t include funding for more Customs and Border Protection agents. In September, tensions boiled over after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris lashed out at agents on horseback in response to videos showing them blocking Haitians crossing the border. Harris compared the incident to the mistreatment of slaves, an inflammatory accusation that the union strongly denied, saying no migrants were hit or hurt. The administration is pivoting away from law enforcement and embracing a public health approach to the fentanyl crisis. It has proposed spending $11.2 billion – a huge increase over last year – to expand substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services. Fewer addicts would mean fewer deaths from fentanyl. But curbing opioid addiction is very challenging. The vast majority of substance abusers avoid treatment, according to researchers, and only about one-third of those receiving long-term medical care fully recover. These success stories, however, will be offset if the supply of fentanyl continues to boom and fuel more addiction. “Drug treatment is very important, but you can’t treat someone in the morgue who just died from fentanyl poisoning. It’s too late,” says Derek Maltz, the former director of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special operations division, which primarily targets cartels. “We have to vigorously attack the production labs in Mexico and increase border security on our side.” Cartels have turned to fentanyl because the super-potent powder is cheap to produce, making it more profitable than heroin, says Eric Triana, an assistant special agent in charge at the DEA division in New York. Two of Mexico’s most powerful crime groups – the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels – manufacture the synthetic drug in rustic clandestine labs. In the U.S., the powder is mixed with heroin to stretch supplies. To boost sales, cartels have more recently increased production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. They are made with fentanyl but labeled to look exactly like legitimate medications such as Percocet, Vicodin and Xanax. Cartels are increasing production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Above, a seized pill press. Flickr/DEA The fake pills, which are promoted and sold on social media platforms as real pharmaceuticals, are priced to sell at a discounted rate of about $20 each. They have brought the dangers of fentanyl to mainstream America, with victims belonging to every age, class and racial group. Nationwide, DEA agents seized an unprecedented 9.5 million fake pills -- some portion of that total in every U.S. state in the first nine months of 2021, or more than the last two years combined. That prompted the agency to issue a rare public safety alert in September. Fentanyl’s potency – at 50 times the strength of heroin – is what makes it so deadly. Two milligrams, which can fit on the tip of a pencil, can kill. But cartels don’t take precautions to make sure the pills aren’t lethal. DEA analysis found that 40% of the seized pills had a potentially deadly dose. “I saw the devastation that heroin brought to Baltimore as a young police officer,” Triana says. “But fentanyl is a more potent deadly threat. It’s frightening.” Crime groups have gained complete control of the Mexican side of the 1,950-mile border, directing the flow of both migrants and drugs. The Gulf Cartel runs the region around Brownsville, Texas, and moving west to California, the Cartel of the Northeast, Juarez Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel have staked out turf, says Victor Avila, a former supervisory special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement who specialized in human and narcotics trafficking. Diversion Game at the Border They operate openly as if they were the Mexican military. Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which has recently expanded operations, even slaps a “CJNG” logo in big letters on its military-style trucks and uniforms as part of a show of force. The Jalisco cartel increasingly operates like a military force. (Above, a purported convoy.)  Twitter/@jaeson_jones The surge of migrants that began in 2019 and accelerated after Biden took office has been a boon to these violent enterprises. The migrants are coming from Eastern Europe and Africa as well as Central and South America, lured partly by the administration’s policy that allows unaccompanied children and families to stay in the states while they apply for asylum, according to border agents who have interviewed them. In addition to paying cartels between about $2,000 and $9,000 each to cross, migrants are also used as decoys in drug smuggling operations. Equipped with encrypted communications and satellite technologies, crime organizations are precisely orchestrating the timing and location of the border crossings of large migrant groups as part of a diversion tactic, several officers say. Dozens of agents are forced to leave their posts guarding many miles of the border and at checkpoints on roads to assist with apprehensions of the groups. The cartels work with spotters in the Halcon network to identify these wide security gaps along the border and send drug smugglers on foot through them undetected. A Call for More Agents “The illegal alien flows are so big that the Border Patrol has to leave hundreds of miles of border unprotected,” says Avila. “This absolutely means more fentanyl has been entering the country in the last few years.” The smugglers make their way across tough terrain to one of hundreds of stash houses located near roads in the border region. The drugs are then placed in cars and driven through often unguarded checkpoints and across the country. Rather than pursue these smugglers, many Border Patrol agents are handling the crush of migrants entering the U.S. They apprehended more than 1.7 million this fiscal year, or six times the 2017 number. (That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands who got away, according to Border Patrol estimates.) Agents deport most of the single adults. But they have to assist in transporting, processing, housing and feeding the unaccompanied children and families who are placed in border patrol facilities for weeks before they are released into the U.S. to pursue asylum claims. In the busiest border areas, such as Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio, as many as 30% of agents are pulled from the frontlines to deal with the migrant overflow, says Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. Texas is trying to fill the security void by deploying hundreds of state troopers and the National Guard in Operation Lonestar, a $1.8 billion effort. They have seized 127 pounds of fentanyl this year through early September. The Trump administration was able to tamp down the number of migrants crossing the border by forcing them to remain in Mexico while they applied for asylum. Biden ended that program, calling it inhumane, and the administration is now fighting a court order to reinstate it. Judd says as long as Biden’s asylum policy is in place, the Border Patrol, which has about 14,000 field agents covering both coasts and both land borders, needs thousands more to help secure the Southwest flank. Pleas to congressional leaders for help, made by Judd’s union and former Border Patrol chiefs, have gone unheeded.   “If you are not going to change the policy, then give me more manpower to stop the drugs,” Judd says. “But Democrats control Congress, and while some of them are fairly good on border security, it isn’t a priority for a majority of them.” So far this year, CBP has redeployed 400 agents from the northern and coastal areas to the southern border – not nearly enough to fill the gaps, Judd says. In a statement to RealClearInvestigations, a CBP spokesperson said the agency continues to evaluate the need for more agents and pointed to drug busts as evidence of strong enforcement. Border and customs agents seized 10,000 pounds of fentanyl this fiscal year, according to agency data. That’s five times the catch in 2018. But agents say more seizures actually indicates that more of the deadly drug is entering the country since they have only been capturing an estimated 10% to 15% of the total. Most of the fentanyl is pouring over the Southwest border at the U.S. ports of entry, particularly in California, a favorite route for smugglers. The challenge for customs agents at the controlled inspection ports in four states is very different than the cat-and-mouse pursuits of the Border Patrol: How to find illegal contraband in vehicles without slowing trade with Mexico worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The San Ysidro port in California between San Diego and Tijuana is the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. The 70,000 vehicle passengers headed north every day through the port have to wait in long lines of traffic for an hour, on average. Nearby, the thousands of commercial trucks that go through the Otay Mesa port daily have even longer waits. Legal trade and travel occupy patrols at ports of entry like San Ysidro (above), which smugglers exploit. AP Photo/Gregory Bull Customs agents are in a fix. They are under pressure to efficiently clear trucks from Mexico carrying fruits, vegetables, electronics and other goods for entry into the U.S. But that priority to avoid costly commercial delays is in constant conflict with the need to stop and search the vehicles for illicit goods. More often than not, smugglers get waved through without a search. “Transnational criminal organizations take advantage of the chaos and clutter at the ports of entry that are dealing with so much legitimate trade and travel,” says Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol supervisor and now a security expert at the University of Texas at El Paso. Cartels have the confidence to go big at the border. In August, a Mexican tractor-trailer driver attempted to cross at Otay Mesa with 2.8 tons of methamphetamine and fentanyl hidden among plastic household goods. Agents scanned the cargo using an X-ray-like machine and saw what they described as “anomalies” inside the trailer. Then a canine team sniffed out narcotics worth $13 million. It was the largest ever meth bust along the border. Customs agents would arrest more smugglers if they were equipped with basic scanning technology used in the huge Otay Mesa seizure. It helps them quickly make better decisions about which vehicles to inspect manually, a process that can take hours. CBP says it has been deploying more large-scale scanners at ports of entry in the last two years. Remarkably, only 15% of trucks were scanned at Southwest ports of entry in 2019, according to a CBP report. And less than half of them received any formal inspection because customs agents have to move too rapidly through the snarl of waiting traffic, says Manjarrez. Many of the 328 U.S. ports also need to be expanded and modernized to reduce wait times to allow for more inspections. The Biden administration is asking Congress for $660 million for upgrades, or enough to improve only a handful of the old ports. Otay Mesa’s $144 million expansion plan alone would absorb almost a quarter of this new funding. “It’s really only a down payment for what is needed,” Manjarrez says. ‘Hugs, Not Bullets’ in Mexico More agents and technology would “absolutely make a bigger dent” in the flow of fentanyl over the border, Manjarrez says, but not stop it. Agents say Mexico also has to begin targeting the hundreds of cartel production labs to further cut the supply. “Destroying the labs has to be a top priority because, without them, the cartels can’t continue to kill our kids,” says Maltz, the former DEA organized crime specialist. But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ended Mexico’s military campaign against cartel leaders two years ago. Soldiers captured and killed many kingpins, but the crackdown also unleashed a reign of violence that Lopez Obrador pledged to blunt. The populist president is pushing his “hugs, not bullets” agenda to reduce poverty in the hope that it will eventually curb the appeal of drug smuggling. Meanwhile, the cartels, facing little government resistance, have continued to expand their hold on territory and corrupt lawmakers, according to Vanda Felbab-Brown, a scholar focusing on nonstate armed actors at the Brookings Institution. The clout of the cartels was made clear in 2020 when U.S. agents arrested a former Mexican defense secretary for taking bribes to protect the ultraviolent H-2 Cartel. Outraged officials pressured the U.S. to return Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda to Mexico where prosecutors promptly exonerated him. The more lasting damage to drug enforcement came when Mexico passed a law in response to Cienfuegos’ arrest. Maltz says it froze DEA’s operations in Mexico by requiring agents to pass sensitive intelligence through a central foreign affairs office that they believe is corrupt.   “The cartels control Mexico. All of it,” says Avila, the former ICE agent who survived gunshot wounds in an ambush with a cartel. “They are running a parallel government.” The U.S. Plays Nice With the U.S. drug enforcement imperiled, Felbab-Brown has called on the Biden administration to “get tough” with Mexico. In January she urged the administration to use financial support as leverage to compel Mexico to target mid-level cartel operatives and their corrupt government protectors to avoid the bloodshed that comes with taking down bosses. But the State Department is taking a conciliatory position, essentially backing Lopez Obrador’s economic development strategy in an agreement between the two countries announced in early October. The Biden administration has been conciliatory toward Mexico, but not its own mounted agents. AP Photo/Felix Marquez At a joint press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the countries had relied too much on security forces to try to weaken the cartels. Over the past decade the U.S. has spent $3 billion to arm and train the Mexican military and police as part of the Merida Initiative. During that time, drug trafficking into the U.S. increased. A new agreement will replace Merida, making job creation in poor communities and drug treatment and prevention top priorities, Blinken said. The countries did agree to pursue the cartels, particularly by curtailing the illegal supply of U.S. arms into Mexico and money laundering activities. But the prosecution of cartel members isn’t the priority. Mexico Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the success of the agreement won’t be measured by how many drug lords go to jail.   The administration’s strategy has plenty of backers in the criminal justice and public health professions. “I'm sympathetic to the argument that Mexico is on the border with the largest consumer of fentanyl and cocaine in the world,” says Bryce Pardo, a drug policy specialist at Rand Corp. “We could do more to reduce our insatiable appetite for drugs.” In the meantime, more fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. means more deaths. Triana, the DEA special agent, estimates that the number of overdose fatalities this year will either be on par with or exceed 2020’s. Allyssia Solorio, the sister of the Sacramento man who died from fentanyl, has become an activist to raise awareness of the dangers of the illicit drug. The former postal worker says law enforcement must play a larger role. “President Biden can do a lot more to shut down the smuggling of fentanyl over the Mexican border,” she says. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 23:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

Futures Rebound Fizzles On Slowing iPhone Demand, Omicron Fears

Futures Rebound Fizzles On Slowing iPhone Demand, Omicron Fears U.S. index futures regained some ground alongside Asian markets while European stocks slumped to session lows in a delayed response to yesterday's late Omicron-driven US selloff, as markets remained volatile following the biggest two-day plunge in more than a year, spurred by concern about the omicron coronavirus variant and Federal Reserve tightening. Investors await data for unemployment claims, as well as earnings from companies including Dollar General and Kroger. Tech is the weakest sector, dropping in sympathy after Apple warned its suppliers of slowing iPhone demand. Nasdaq futures pared earlier gains of up to 0.8% to trade down 0.1% while S&P futures are only 0.2% higher after rising as much as 0.9%. While the knee-jerk reaction of stock investors may “continue to be to take profits before the end of the year,” there is “plenty of liquidity available to drive stock prices higher as dip-buyers enter the market,” Ed Yardeni wrote in a note. The U.S. economy grew at a modest to moderate pace through mid-November, while price hikes were widespread amid supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book survey Tuesday. Cruise-ship operator Carnival jumped 3.8% in premarket trading, while Pfizer and Moderna fell as the World Health Organization said that existing vaccines will likely protect against severe cases of the variant. Boeing contracts gained 3.4% after a report that the flagship 737 Max aircraft has regained airworthiness approval in China. With lots of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and Fed policy, the size of potential market swings is still considerable.  Here are some other notable premarket movers today: Apple (AAPL US) shares fell 1.8% in premarket trading after the iPhone maker was said to tell suppliers that demand for its flagship product has slowed. Wall Street analysts, however, remained bullish. U.S. stocks tied to former President Donald Trump rise in premarket trading following a report his media group is in talks to raise new financing. Digital World Acquisition (DWAC US) +24%, Phunware (PHUN US) +38%. Katapult (KPLT US) shares sink 14% in premarket after the financial technology firm said its gross originations over a two-month period were lower than 2020 levels. Vir (VIR US) shares jump 8.1% in premarket trading after its Covid-19 antibody treatment, co-developed with Glaxo, looked to be effective against the new omicron variant in early testing. Snowflake (SNOW US) is up 17% premarket following quarterly results that impressed analysts, though some raise questions over the data software company’s valuation. CrowdStrike (CRWD US) shares jumped 5.1% in premarket after it boosted its revenue forecast for the full year. Square’s (SQ US) shares are 0.4% higher premarket. Corporate name change to Block Inc. indicates “a symbolic rebirth,” according to Barclays as it shows a broader set of possibilities than those of a pure payments company. Okta’s (OKTA US) shares advanced in postmarket trading. 3Q results show the cybersecurity company is well- positioned to deliver growth, even if some analysts say its guidance looks conservative and that its growth was not as strong as in prior quarters. The Omicron variant also hurt risk appetite, making the safe-haven bonds more attractive to investors, pushing yields down - although yields picked up again in early European trading. Volatility in equity markets as measured by the Vix hit its highest since February on Wednesday, before easing on Thursday, but remained well above this year’s average and almost twice as high as a month ago. Investors are braced for volatility to continue through December, stirred by tightening central-bank policies to fight inflation just as the omicron variant complicates the outlook for the pandemic recovery. The recent market turmoil may offer investors a chance to position for a trend reversal in reopening and commodity trades, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. "Investors will need to maintain their calm during a period of uncertainty until the scientific data give a clearer picture of which scenario we face," said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management in Zurich. “This, in turn, will help shape the reaction of central bankers." Also weighing on stock markets, and flattening the U.S. yield curve, were remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said that he would consider a faster end to the Fed's bond-buying programme, which could open the door to earlier interest rate hikes. In his second day of testimony in Congress on Wednesday, Powell reiterated that the U.S. central bank needs to be ready to respond to the possibility that inflation does not recede in the second half of next year. read more "In this past what we’ve seen is central banks using COVID as an excuse to remain dovish, and what we're seeing is central banks turn hawkish despite rising concerns around COVID, so it is a bit of a shift in communication," said Mohammed Kazmi, portfolio manager at UBP.  That said, the market is now so oversold, this is where we usually see aggressive dip-buying. In Europe, tech companies were the worst performers after Apple warned its component suppliers of slowing demand for its iPhone 13, the news dragged index heavyweight ASML Holding NV more than 4%. Meanwhile, travel shares were among the worst performers as the omicron variant continued to pop upin countries around the world, including the U.S., Norway, Ireland and South Korea. The Euro Stoxx 50 dropped as much as 1.7% while the Stoxx 600 Index fell 1.5%, extending declines to trade at a session low, with all sectors in the red and led lower by technology and travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 Technology Index slumped as much as 3.9%, the most in two months. Vifor Pharma surged by a record 18% following a report that Australia’s CSL is in advanced talks to acquire Swiss drugmaker. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Vifor Pharma shares rise as much as 18% on a report that Australia’s CSL is in advanced talks to acquire the Swiss-based drug maker and developer while working with BofA on a A$4 billion funding package. Argenx jumps as much as 9.5% after Kepler Cheuvreux upgrades the stock to buy, saying the biotech company is on the brink of launching its first commercial product. Duerr gains as much as 7.2%, most since Aug. 10, after Deutsche Bank upgrades to buy and sets aa Street-high PT of EU60 for the German engineering company, citing the digitalization of the industry. Daily Mail & General Trust rises as much as 3.9% after Rothermere Continuation raised its bid for all DMGT’s Class A shares by 5.9% to 270p a share in cash. Klarabo surges as much as 54% as shares start trading on Nasdaq Stockholm after the Swedish property company raised SEK750m in an IPO. Eurofins Scientific declines for a fourth session, falling as much as 3.2%, as Goldman Sachs downgrades the company to neutral from buy “following strong outperformance YTD.” Deliveroo drops as much as 6.4% after an offering of 17.6m shares by CEO Will Shu and CFO Adam Miller at a price of 278p a share, representing a 4.2% discount to the last close. M&S falls as much as 3.4% after UBS cut its rating to neutral from buy, citing limited upside to its new price target as well as “little room for meaningful upgrades.” Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased an earlier loss to trade slightly up, as traders continued to assess the potential impact of the omicron virus strain and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep inflation in check.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2% after falling 0.4% in the morning. South Korea led regional gains, helped by large-cap chipmakers, while Japan was among the worst performers after the government dropped a plan for a blanket halt to all new incoming flight reservations. Asia’s equity benchmark is still down about 4% so far this year after rebounding in the past two sessions from a one-year low reached earlier this week. Despite the region’s underperformance against the U.S. and Europe, cheap valuations and foreign-investor positioning have prompted brokerages including Credit Suisse Group AG and Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. to turn bullish on Asia’s prospects next year. “Equity markets continue to play omicron tennis and traders looking for short-term direction should just wait for the next virus headline and then act accordingly,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. “Volatility, and not market direction, will be the winner this week.” Chinese technology shares including Alibaba Group Holding slid after Beijing was said to be planning to close a loophole used by the sector to go public abroad, fueling concern over existing overseas listings. Japanese equities declined, following U.S. peers lower after the first American case of the omicron coronavirus variant was confirmed. Electronics makers and telecoms were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 0.5%. SoftBank Group and TDK were the largest contributors to a 0.7% loss in the Nikkei 225.  The S&P 500 posted its worst two-day selloff since October 2020 after the first U.S. case of the new strain was reported. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that officials should consider a quicker reduction of monetary stimulus amid elevated inflation. “Truth is, there’s probably a lot of people who are wanting to buy stocks at some point,” said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management. “But, with omicron still an unknown, people are responding sensitively to news development, and that’s keeping them from buying.” India’s benchmark equity index climbed for a second day, led by software exporters, on an improving economic outlook and as investors grabbed some beaten-down stocks after recent declines. The S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 1.4% to close at 58,461.29 in Mumbai, the biggest advance since Nov. 1. Its two-day gains increased to 2.5%, the most since Aug. 31. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also surged by a similar magnitude. All of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. were up, led by a gauge of utilities companies. “India underperformed the global markets in recent weeks. Investors are now going for value buying in stocks at lower levels,” said A. K. Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Market Services. The Sensex gained in three of the past four sessions after plunging 2.9% on Friday, the biggest drop since April. The rally, however, is in contrast to most global peers which are witnessing volatility on worries over the spread of the omicron variant. High frequency indicators in India, such as tax collection and manufacturing activities, have shown robust growth in recent months, while the country’s economy expanded 8.4% in the quarter ended in September, according to an official data release on Tuesday. Mortgage lender HDFC contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 3.9%. Out of 30 shares in the index, 27 rose and three fell. In rates, trading has been relatively quiet as bunds and gilts bull steepen a touch with risk offered, while cash TSYs bear flatten, cheapening ~5bps across the curve.Treasuries retraced part of yesterday’s rally that sent the benchmark 30-year rate to the lowest since early January. A large buyer of 5-year U.S. Treasury options targets the yield dropping around 17bps. 5s10s, 5s30s spreads flattened by ~1bp and ~2bp to multimonth lows; 10-year yields around 1.43%, cheaper by more than 3bp on the day while bunds and gilt yields are richer by ~1bp. Front-end and belly of the curve underperform vs long-end, while bunds and gilts outperform Treasuries. With little economic data slated, speeches by several Fed officials are main focal points. Peripheral spreads tighten with 10y Spain outperforming after well received auctions, albeit with a small size on offer. U.S. economic data slate includes November Challenger job cuts (7:30am) and initial jobless claims (8:30am) In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell to a day low in the European session and the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as most crosses consolidated in recent ranges. Two-week implied volatility in the major currencies trades in the green Thursday as it now captures the next policy decisions by the world’s major central banks. Euro- dollar on the tenor rises by as much as 138 basis points to touch 8.22%, highest in a year; the relative premium, however, remains below parity as realized has risen to levels unseen since August 2020. The pound rose along with some other risk- sensitive currencies following the British currency’s three-day slump against the dollar. Long-end gilts underperformed, leading to some steepening of the curve. The yen fell for the first day in three while the Swiss franc fell a second day. The Hungarian forint rose to almost a three-week high after the central bank in Budapest raised the one-week deposit rate by 20 basis points to 3.10%. Economists in a Bloomberg survey were evenly split in predicting a 10 or 20 basis point increase. The Turkish lira resumed its slump after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly replaced his finance minister amid deepening rifts in the administration over aggressive interest-rate cuts that have undermined the currency and fueled inflation. Poland’s central bank Governor Adam Glapinski sent the zloty to a three-week high against the euro on Thursday with his changed rhetoric on inflation, which he no longer sees as transitory after prices surged at the fastest pace in more than two decades. Currency market volatility also rose, with euro-dollar one-month volatility gauges below Monday's one-year peak but still at elevate levels . "Liquidity in some areas of the market is still quite poor as people grapple with this news and as we head towards year-end, a lot of it is really liquidity driven, which is leading to some volatility," said UBP's Kazmi. "Even in the most liquid market of the U.S. treasury market we've seen some fairly large moves on very little newsflow at times." In commodities, crude futures extend Asia’s gains. WTI adds 2.2% near $67, Brent near $70.50 ahead of today’s OPEC+ meeting. Spot gold finds support near Tuesday’s, recovering somewhat to trade near $1,774/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME aluminum drops as much as 1.1%, nickel, zinc and tin hold in the green Looking at the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include the Fed’s Quarles, Bostic, Daly and Barkin, as well as the ECB’s Panetta. Data releases include the Euro Area unemployment rate and PPI inflation for October, while there’s also the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, the OPEC+ group will be meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 4,540.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.0% to 466.37 MXAP up 0.2% to 192.07 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 629.36 Nikkei down 0.7% to 27,753.37 Topix down 0.5% to 1,926.37 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 23,788.93 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,573.84 Sensex up 1.3% to 58,436.52 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.1% to 7,225.18 Kospi up 1.6% to 2,945.27 Brent Futures up 2.4% to $70.53/bbl Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,771.73 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.03 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.35% Euro little changed at $1.1320 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said she’s “very open” to scaling back the Fed’s asset purchases at a faster pace so it can raise interest rates a couple of times next year if needed A United Nations gauge of global food prices rose 1.2% last month, threatening to make it more expensive for households to put a meal on the table. It’s more evidence of inflation soaring in the world’s largest economies and may make it even harder for the poorest nations to import food, worsening a hunger crisis Germany is poised to clamp down on people who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 and drastically curtail social contacts to ease pressure on increasingly stretched hospitals Some investors buffeted by concerns about tighter monetary policy are turning their sights to China’s battered junk bonds, given they offer some of the biggest yield buffers anywhere in global credit markets Pfizer Inc. says data on how well its Covid-19 vaccine protects against the omicron variant should be available within two to three weeks, an executive said GlaxoSmithKline Plc said its Covid-19 antibody treatment looks to be effective against the new omicron variant in early testing A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded tentatively following the declines on Wall St where all major indices extended on losses and selling was exacerbated on confirmation of the first Omicron case in the US, while the Asia-Pac region also contended with its own pandemic concerns. ASX 200 (-0.2%) was subdued amid heavy losses in the tech sector and with a surge of infections in Victoria state, although downside in the index was cushioned amid inline Retail Sales and Trade Balance, as well as M&A optimism after Woolworths made a non-binding indicative proposal for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries. Nikkei 225 (-0.7%) weakened after the government instructed airlines to halt inbound flight bookings for a month due to fears of the new variant and with auto names also pressured by declines in monthly sales amid the chip supply crunch. KOSPI (+1.6%) showed resilience amid expectations for lawmakers to pass a record budget today and recouped opening losses despite the record increase in daily infections and confirmation of its first Omicron cases, while the index also shrugged off the highest CPI reading in a decade which effectively supports the case for further rate increases by the BoK. Hang Seng (+0.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.1%) were choppy following another liquidity drain by the PBoC and with tech pressured in Hong Kong as Alibaba shares extended on declines after recently slipping to a 4-year low in its US listing. Beijing regulatory tightening also provided a headwind as initial reports suggested China is to crack down on loopholes used by tech firms for foreign IPOs, although this was later refuted by China, and the CBIRC is planning stricter regulations on major shareholders of banks and insurance companies, as well as confirmed it will better regulate connected transactions of banks. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher as prices tracked gains in global counterparts and amid the risk aversion in Japan, although prices are off intraday highs after hitting resistance during a brief incursion to the 152.00 level and despite the marginally improved metrics from 10yr JGB auction. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Swing as Investors Weigh Omicron Impact, Fed Views Apple Tells Suppliers IPhone Demand Slowing as Holidays Near Moody’s Cuts China Property Sales View on Financing Difficulties Faith in Singapore Leaders Hit by Record Covid Wave, Poll Shows Bourses across Europe have held onto losses seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.4%; Stoxx -1.2%), as the region plays catchup to the downside seen on Wall Street – seemingly sparked by a concoction of hawkish Fed rhetoric and the discovery of the Omicron variant in the US. Nonetheless, US equity futures are firmer across the board but to varying degrees – with the cyclical RTY (+1.1%) and the NQ (+0.3%) the current laggard. European futures ahead of the cash open saw some mild fleeting impetus on reports GlaxoSmithKline's (-0.3%) COVID treatment Sotrovimab retains its activity against Omicron variant, and the UK MHRA simultaneously approved the use of Sotrovimab – but caveated that it is too early to know whether Omicron has any impact on effectiveness. Conversely, brief risk-off crept into the market following commentary from a South African Scientist who warned the country is seeing an exponential rise in new COVID cases with a predominance of Omicron variant across the country – with the variant causing the fastest ever community transmission - but expects fewer active cases and hospitalisations this wave. Back to Europe, Euro indices see broad-based losses whilst the downside in the FTSE 100 (-0.7%) is less severe amid support from its heavyweight Oil & Gas sector – the outperforming sector in the region. Delving deeper, sectors see no overarching theme nor bias – Food & Beverages, Autos and Banks are towards the top of the bunch, whilst Tech, Telecoms, and Travel &Leisure. Tech is predominantly weighed on by reports that Apple (-2% pre-market) reportedly told iPhone component suppliers that demand slowed down. As such ASML (-5.0%), STMicroelectronics (-4.4%) and Infineon (-3.6%) reside among the biggest losers in the Stoxx 600. Deliveroo (-5.3%) is softer following an offering of almost 18mln at a discount to yesterday's close. In terms of market commentary, Morgan Stanley believes that inflation will remain high over the next few months, in turn supporting commodities, financials and some cyclical sectors. The bank identifies beneficiaries including EDF (-1.5%), Engie (-1.2%), SSE (-0.2%), Legrand (-1.3%), Tesco (-0.5%), BT (-0.8%), Michelin (-1.6%) and Sika (-0.9%). Top European News Shell Kicks Off First Wave of Buybacks From Permian Sale Omicron Threatens to Prolong Pain in Bid to Vaccinate the World Apple, Suppliers Drop Premarket After Report Demand Slowed Valeo, Gestamp Gain After Barclays Raises to Overweight In FX, currency markets are still in a state of flux, or limbo bar a few exceptions, and the Greenback is gyrating against major peers awaiting the next major event that could provide clearer direction and a more decisive range break. Thursday’s agenda offers some scope on that front via US initial jobless claims and a host of Fed speakers, but in truth NFP tomorrow is probably more likely to be influential even though chair Powell has effectively given the green light to fast-track tapering from December. In the interim, the index continues to keep a relatively short leash around 96.000, and is holding within 96.138-95.895 confines so far today. JPY/CHF - Although risk considerations look supportive for the Yen, on paper, UST-JGB/Fed-BoJ differentials coupled with technical impulses are keeping Usd/Jpy buoyant on the 113.00 handle, with additional demand said to have come from Japanese exporters overnight. However, the headline pair may run into offers/resistance circa 113.50 and any breach could be capped by decent option expiry interest spanning 113.60-75 (1.5 bn). Similarly, the Franc has slipped back below 0.9200 on yield and Swiss/US Central Bank policy stances plus near term outlooks, and hardly helped by a slowdown in retail sales. GBP/CAD/NZD - All firmer vs their US counterpart, though again well within recent admittedly wide ranges, and the Pound perhaps more attuned to Eur/Gbp fluctuations as the cross retreats to retest 0.8500 and Cable rebounds to have another look at 1.3300 where a fairly big option expiry resides (850 mn). Indeed, Sterling has largely shrugged off the latest BoE Monthly Decision Maker Panel release that in truth did not deliver any clues on what is set to be another knife-edge MPC gathering in December. Elsewhere, the Loonie is straddling 1.2800 with eyes on WTI crude ahead of Canadian jobs data on Friday and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 after weaker NZ Q3 terms of trade were offset to some extent by favourable Aud/Nzd headwinds. AUD/EUR - Both narrowly mixed against US Dollar, with the Aussie pivoting 0.7100 in wake of roughly in line trade and retail sales data overnight, but wary about the latest virus outbreak in the state of Victoria, while the Euro is sitting somewhat uncomfortably on the 1.1300 handle amidst softer EGB yields and heightened uncertainty about what the ECB might or might not do in December on the QE guidance front. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are firmer intraday as traders gear up for the JMMC and OPEC+ confabs at 12:00GMT and 13:00GMT, respectively. The jury is still split on what the final decision could be, but the case for OPEC+ to pause the planned monthly relaxation of output curbs by 400k BPD has been strengthening against the backdrop of Omicron coupled with the coordinated SPR releases (an updating Rolling Headline is available on the Newsquawk headline feed). As expected, OPEC sources have been testing the waters in the run-up, whilst yesterday's JTC/OPEC meetings largely surrounded the successor to the Secretary-General position. Oil market price action will likely be centred around OPEC+ today in the absence of any macro shocks. WTI Jan resides around USD 66.50/bbl (vs low USD 65.41/bbl) whilst Brent Feb briefly topped USD 70/bbl (vs low USD 68.73/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold has eased further from the USD 1,800/oz after failing to sustain a break above the 50, 100 and 200 DMAs which have all converged to USD 1,791/oz today. LME copper is on the backfoot amid the cautious risk sentiment, with the red metal back under USD 9,500/t but off overnight lows. US Event Calendar 7:30am: Nov. Challenger Job Cuts -77.0% YoY, prior -71.7% 8:30am: Nov. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 240,000, prior 199,000; 8:30am: Nov. Continuing Claims, est. 2m, prior 2.05m 9:45am: Nov. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 52.2 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap With investors remaining on tenterhooks to find out some definitive information on the Omicron variant, yesterday saw markets continue to see-saw for a 4th day running. Following one of the biggest sell-offs of the year on Friday, we then had a partial bounceback on Monday, another bout of fears on Tuesday (not helped by the prospect of faster tapering), and yesterday saw another rally back before risk sentiment turned sharply later in the day as an initial case of the Omicron variant was discovered in the US. You can get some idea of this by the fact that Europe’s STOXX 600 (+1.71%) posted its best daily performance since May, whereas the S&P 500 moved from an intraday high where it had been up +1.88%, before shedding all those gains and more to close -1.18% lower. In fact, that decline means the S&P has now lost over -3% in the last two sessions, marking its worst 2-day performance in over a year, and this heightened volatility saw the VIX index close back above 30 for the first time since early February. In terms of developments about Omicron, we’re still in a waiting game for some concrete stats, but there was positive news early on from the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, who said that they think vaccines “will still protect against severe disease as they have against the other variants”. On the other hand, there was further negative news out of South Africa, as the country reported 8,561 infections over the previous day, with a positivity rate of 16.5%. That’s up from 4,373 cases the day before, and 2,273 the day before that, so all eyes will be on whether this trend continues, and also on what that means for hospitalisation and death rates over the days ahead. Against this backdrop, calls for fresh restrictions mounted across a range of countries, particularly on the travel side. In the US, it’s been reported already by the Washington Post that President Biden could today announce stricter testing requirements for arriving travellers. Meanwhile, France is moving to require non-EU arrivals to show a negative test before arrival, irrespective of their vaccination status. The EU Commission further said that member states should conduct daily reviews of essential travel restrictions, and Commission President von der Leyen also said that the EU should discuss the topic of mandatory vaccinations. There was also a Bloomberg report that German Chancellor Merkel would recommend mandatory vaccinations from February 2022, according to a Chancellery paper that they’d obtained. That came as Slovakia sought to incentivise vaccination uptake among older citizens, with the cabinet backing a €500 hospitality voucher for residents over 60 who’ve been vaccinated. As on Tuesday, the other main headlines yesterday were provided by Fed Chair Powell, who re-emphasised his more hawkish rhetoric around inflation before the House Financial Services Committee. Notably he said that “We’ve seen inflation be more persistent. We’ve seen the factors that are causing higher inflation to be more persistent”, though yields on 2yr Treasuries (-1.4bps) already had the shift in stance priced in. New York Fed President Williams echoed that view in an interview, noting it would be germane to discuss and decide whether it was appropriate to accelerate the pace of tapering at the December FOMC. 10yr yields (-4.1bps) continued their decline, predominantly driven by the turn in sentiment following the negative Omicron headlines. That latest round of curve flattening left the 2s10s slope at its flattest level since early January around the time of the Georgia Senate race that ushered in the prospect of much larger fiscal stimulus. In terms of markets elsewhere, strong data releases helped to support risk appetite earlier in yesterday’s session, with investors also looking forward to tomorrow’s US jobs report for November that will be an important one ahead of the Fed’s decision in less than a couple of weeks’ time. The ISM manufacturing release for November saw the headline number come in roughly as expected at 61.1 (vs. 61.2 expected), and also included a rise in both the new orders (61.5) and the employment (53.3) components relative to last month. Separately, the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November likewise came in around expectations, with a +534k gain (vs. +526k expected). Staying on the US, one thing to keep an eye out over the next 24 hours will be any news on a government shutdown, with funding currently set to run out by the weekend as it stands. The headlines yesterday weren’t promising for those hoping for an uneventful, tidy resolution, as Politico indicated that some Congressional Republicans would not agree to an expedited process to fund the government should certain vaccine mandates remain in place. An expedited process is necessary to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week, so one to watch. After the incredibly divergent equity performances in the US and Europe, we’ve seen a much more mixed performance in Asia overnight, with the KOSPI (+1.09%), Hang Seng (+0.23%), and CSI (+0.23%) all advancing, whereas the Shanghai Composite (-0.05%) and the Nikkei (-0.60%) are trading lower. In terms of the latest on Omicron, authorities in South Korea confirmed five cases, which came as the country also reported that CPI in November rose to its fastest since December 2011, at +3.7% (vs +3.1% expected). Separately in China, 53 local Covid-19 cases were reported in Inner Mongolia, whilst Harbin province reported 3 local cases. Looking forward, futures are indicating a positive start in the US with those on the S&P 500 (+0.64%) pointing higher. Back in Europe, sovereign bonds lost ground yesterday, and yields on 10yr bunds (+0.5bps), OATs (+1.1bps) and BTPs (+4.2bps) continued to move higher. Interestingly, there was a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with the gap between both Italian and Spanish 10yr yields over bunds reaching their biggest level in over a year, at 135bps and 77bps, respectively. Another factor to keep an eye on in Europe is another round of increases in natural gas prices, with futures up +3.42% to their highest level since mid-October yesterday. Lastly on the data front, the main other story was the release of the manufacturing PMIs from around the world. We’d already had the flash readings from a number of the key economies, so they weren’t too surprising, but the Euro Area came in at 58.4 (vs. flash 58.6), Germany came in at 57.4 (vs. flash 57.6), and the UK came in at 58.1 (vs. flash 58.2). One country that saw a decent upward revision was France, with the final number at 55.9 (vs. flash 54.6), which marks an end to 5 successive monthly declines in the French manufacturing PMI. One other release were German retail sales for October, which unexpectedly fell -0.3% (vs. +0.9% expected). To the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include the Fed’s Quarles, Bostic, Daly and Barkin, as well as the ECB’s Panetta. Data releases include the Euro Area unemployment rate and PPI inflation for October, while there’s also the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, the OPEC+ group will be meeting. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 07:57.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

The wild life of billionaire Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who eats one meal a day, evangelizes about bitcoin, and had to defend his company in front of Congress

Jack Dorsey is expected to announce he is stepping down as CEO of Twitter, unnamed sources told CNBC. Jack Dorsey onstage at a bitcoin convention on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Jack Dorsey cofounded Twitter in 2006, and the company has made him a billionaire. He is famous for his unusual life of luxury, including a daily fasting routine and regular ice baths. CNBC reported on Monday that Dorsey is expected to step down as CEO of Twitter, citing unnamed sources. Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories. From fighting armies of bots to quashing rumors about sending his beard hair to rapper Azealia Banks, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey leads an unusual life of luxury.Dorsey has had a turbulent career in Silicon Valley. After cofounding Twitter on March 21 2006, he was booted as the company's CEO two years later, but returned in 2015 having set up his second company, Square.Since then, he has led the company through the techlash that has engulfed social media companies, testifying before Congress multiple times.CNBC reported Monday that Dorsey is expected to announce he's stepping down as CEO, citing unnamed sources.Dorsey has provoked his fair share of controversy and criticism, extolling fasting and ice baths as part of his daily routine. His existence is not entirely spartan, however. Like some other billionaires, he owns a stunning house, dates models, and drives fast cars.Scroll on to read more about the fabulous life of Jack Dorsey.Rebecca Borison and Madeline Stone contributed reporting to an earlier version of this story.Dorsey began programming while attending Bishop DuBourg High School in St. Louis.VineAt age 15, Dorsey wrote dispatch software that is still used by some taxi companies.Source: Bio. When he wasn't checking out specialty electronics stores or running a fantasy football league for his friends, Dorsey frequently attended punk-rock concerts. @jackThese days Dorsey doesn't favour the spiky hairdo.Source: The Wall Street JournalLike many of his fellow tech billionaires, Dorsey never graduated college.edyson / FlickrHe briefly attended the Missouri University of Science and Technology and transferred to New York University before calling it quits.Source: Bio.In 2000, Dorsey built a simple prototype that let him update his friends on his life via BlackBerry and email messaging.joi / FlickrNobody else really seemed interested, so he put away the idea for a bit.Source: The Unofficial Stanford BlogFun fact: Jack Dorsey is also a licensed masseur.Getty Images/Bill PuglianoHe got his license in about 2002, before exploding onto the tech scene.Sources: The Wall Street JournalHe got a job at a podcasting company called Odeo, where he met his future Twitter cofounders.Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams took home the prize in the blogging category at SXSW in 2007.Flickr via Scott Beale/LaughingSquidOdeo went out of business in 2006, so Dorsey returned to his messaging idea, and Twitter was born.On March 21, 2006, Dorsey posted the first tweet.Jack Dorsey's first tweet.Twitter/@jackDorsey kept his Twitter handle simple, "@jack."Dorsey and his cofounders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, bought the Twitter domain name for roughly $7,000.Khalid Mohammed / AP ImagesDorsey took out his nose ring to look the part of a CEO. He was 30 years old.A year later, Dorsey was already less hands-on at Twitter. Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey.Wikimedia CommonsBy 2008, Williams had taken over as CEO, and Dorsey transitioned to chairman of Twitter's board. Dorsey immediately got started on new projects. He invested in Foursquare and launched a payments startup called Square that lets small-business owners accept credit card payments through a smartphone attachment.Sources: Twitter and Bio.In 2011, Dorsey got the chance to interview US President Barack Obama in the first Twitter Town Hall.President Obama talks to the audience next to Jack Dorsey during his first ever Twitter Town Hall.ReutersDorsey had to remind Obama to keep his replies under 140 characters, Twitter's limit at the time.Source: TwitterTwitter went public in November 2013, and within hours Dorsey was a billionaire.APIn 2014 Forbes pegged Dorsey's net worth at $2.2 billion. On the day it was reported he was expected to resign, Bloomberg's Billionaires Index calculated his net worth at $12.3 billion.Source: Bio. and ForbesIt was revealed in a 2019 filing that Dorsey earned just $1.40 for his job as Twitter CEO the previous year.Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who doesn't earn anything from his primary day job.David Becker / GettyThe $1.40 salary actually represented a pay rise for Dorsey, who in previous years had refused any payment at all.He's far from the only Silicon Valley mogul to take a measly salary - Mark Zuckerberg makes $1 a year as CEO of Facebook.Source: Business Insider He might have been worth more had he not given back 10% of his stock to Square.Jack Dorsey with Hollywood producer Brian Grazer, Veronica Smiley, and Kate Greer at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort in 2013.ReutersThis helped Square employees, giving them more equity and stock options. It was also helpful in acquiring online food-delivery startup Caviar.Sources: Business Insider and CaviarWith his newfound wealth, he bought a BMW 3 Series, but reportedly didn't drive it often.Alex Davies / Business Insider"Now he's able to say, like, 'The BMW is the only car I drive, because it's the best automotive engineering on the planet,' or whatever," Twitter cofounder Biz Stone told The New Yorker in 2013.Source: The New YorkerHe also reportedly paid $9.9 million for this seaside house on El Camino Del Mar in the exclusive Seacliff neighborhood of San Francisco.The Real Estalker via Sotheby'sThe house has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which Dorsey views as a marvel of design.Source: Business InsiderBefore the pandemic, Dorsey said he worked from home one day a week.Jack Dorsey's home setup.Twitter/@jackIn an interview with journalist Kara Swisher conducted over Twitter, Dorsey said he worked every Tuesday out of his kitchen.He also told Kara Swisher that Elon Musk is his favorite Twitter user.Elon Musk is a prolific tweeter.PewDiePie/YouTubeDorsey said Musk's tweets are, "focused on solving existential problems and sharing his thinking openly."He added that he enjoys all the "ups and downs" that come with Musk's sometimes unpredictable use of the site. Musk himself replied, tweeting his thanks and "Twitter rocks!" followed by a string of random emojis.Source: Business InsiderFacebook CEO and rival Mark Zuckerberg once served Jack Dorsey a goat he killed himself.Gene KimDorsey told Rolling Stone about the meal, which took place in 2011. Dorsey said the goat was served cold, and that he personally stuck to salad.Source: Rolling StoneHis eating habits have raised eyebrows.Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25Appearing on a podcast run by a health guru who previously said that vaccines caused autism, Dorsey said he eats one meal a day and fasts all weekend. He said the first time he tried fasting it made him feel like he was hallucinating."It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down," he said.The comments drew fierce criticism from many who said Dorsey was normalizing eating disorders.In a later interview with Wired, Dorsey said he eats seven meals a week, "just dinner."Sources: Business Insider, The New StatesmanIn the early days of Twitter, Dorsey aspired to be a fashion designer.Cindy Ord / Getty Images, Franck MichelDorsey would regularly don leather jackets and slim suits by Prada and Hermès, as well as Dior Homme reverse-collar dress shirts, a sort of stylish take on the popped collar.More recently he favors edgier outfits, including the classic black turtleneck favored by Silicon Valley luminaries like Steve Jobs.Sources: CBS News and The Wall Street JournalHe also re-introduced the nose-ring and grew a beard.GettyDorsey seems to care less about looking the part of a traditional CEO these days.Singer Azealia Banks claimed to have been sent clippings of Dorsey's beard hair to fashion into a protective amulet, although Dorsey denied this happened.Azealia Banks.GettyIn 2016, Banks posted on her now-deleted Twitter account that Dorsey sent her his hair, "in an envelope." Dorsey later told the HuffPo that the beard-posting incident never happened.Sources: Business Insider and HuffPoDorsey frequently travels the world and shares his photos with his 6 million Twitter followers.Jack Dorsey meeting Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe.Twitter/@JPN_PMOOn his travels, Dorsey meets heads of state, including Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.Source: TwitterTweets about his vacation in Myanmar also provoked an outcry.Bagan, Myanmar.Shutterstock/Martin M303Dorsey tweeted glowingly about a vacation he took to Myanmar for his birthday in December 2018. "If you're willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar," he said.This came at the height of the Rohingya crisis, and Dorsey was attacked for his blithe promotion of the country — especially since social media platforms were accused of having been complicit in fuelling hatred towards the Rohingya.Source: Business InsiderHowever, Dorsey says he doesn't care about "looking bad."FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump welcomes South Korea’s President Moon to the White House in WashingtonReutersIn a bizarre Huffington Post interview in 2019, Dorsey was asked whether Donald Trump — an avid tweeter — could be removed from the platform if he called on his followers to murder a journalist. Dorsey gave a vague answer which drew sharp criticism.Following the interview's publication, Dorsey said he doesn't care about "looking bad.""I care about being open about how we're thinking and about what we see," he added.In September 2018, Jack Dorsey was grilled by lawmakers alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey are sworn-in for a Senate Intelligence Committee.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesDorsey and Sandberg were asked about election interference on Twitter and Facebook as well as alleged anti-conservative bias in social media companies.Source: Business InsiderDuring the hearing, Dorsey shared a snapshot of his spiking heart rate on Twitter.AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaDorsey was in the hot seat for several hours. His heart rate peaked at 109 beats per minute.Source: Business InsiderDorsey testified before Congress once again on October 28, 2020.Jack Dorsey tuning into the hearing with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation/Handout via REUTERSDorsey appeared via videoconference at the Senate hearing on Section 230, a part of US law that protects internet companies from legal liability for user-generated content, as well as giving them broad authority to decide how to moderate their own platforms.In prepared testimony ahead of the hearing, Dorsey said stripping back Section 230 would "collapse how we communicate on the Internet," and suggested ways for tech companies to make their moderation processes more transparent. During the hearing, Dorsey once again faced accusations of anti-conservative biasJack Dorsey appearing virtually at the hearing.Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty ImagesThe accusations from Republican lawmakers focused on the way Twitter enforces its policies, particularly the way it has labelled tweets from President Trump compared to other world leaders.Dorsey took the brunt of questions from lawmakers, even though he appeared alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.Source: ProtocolDuring the hearing, the length of Dorsey's beard drew fascination from pundits.Dorsey had to address accusations of censorship.Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERSSome users referred to Dorsey's facial hair as his "quarantine beard," while others said it made him look like a wizard.—rat king (@MikeIsaac) October 28, 2020—Taylor Hatmaker (@tayhatmaker) October 28, 2020"Jack Dorsey's beard is literally breaking Twitter's own face detection," posted cybersecurity blogging account @Swiftonsecurity.—SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) October 28, 2020 Dorsey also addressed the way Twitter dealt with a dubiously sourced New York Post story about Hunter Biden.Jack Dorsey appearing on-screen at the hearing.Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYWhen the New York Post published a report about Hunter Biden on October 14 that threw up red flags about sourcing, Twitter blocked users from sharing URLs citing its "hacked materials" policy.Dorsey subsequently apologized publicly, saying it was wrong of Twitter to block URLs.—jack (@jack) October 16, 2020During the Senate hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz accused Twitter of taking the "unilateral decision to censor" the Post.Dorsey said the Post's Twitter account would remain locked until it deleted its original tweet, but that updated policies meant it could tweet the same story again without getting blocked.Source: Business InsiderDorsey had to appear before another hearing on November 17 2020 — this time about how Twitter handled content moderation around the 2020 presidential election.U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee via REUTERS/File PhotoDorsey was summoned alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Republicans who were displeased with how the platforms had dealt with then-President Donald Trump's social media accounts. Both CEOs defended their companies, saying they are politically neutral.When he's not in Washington, Dorsey regularly hops in and out of ice baths and saunas.This is not Dorsey's sauna.ShutterstockDorsey said in the "Tales of the Crypt" podcast that he started using ice baths and saunas in the evenings around 2016.He will alternately sit in his barrel sauna for 15 minutes and then switch to an ice bath for three. He repeats this routine three times, before finishing it off with a one-minute ice bath.He also likes to take an icy dip in the mornings to wake him up.Source: CNBCDorsey's dating life has sparked intrigue. In 2018, he was reported to be dating Sports Illustrated model Raven Lyn Corneil.Sports Illustrated Swimsuit / YouTube / GettyPage Six reported in September 2018 that the pair were spotted together at the Harper's Bazaar Icons party during New York Fashion Week. Page Six also reported that Dorsey's exes included actress Lily Cole and ballet dancer Sofiane Sylve.Source: Page SixHe's a big believer in cryptocurrency, frequently tweeting about its virtues.Teresa Kroeger/Getty ImagesIn particular, Dorsey is a fan of Bitcoin, which he described in early 2019 as "resilient" and "principled." He told the "Tales of the Crypt" podcast in March that year that he was maxing out the $10,000 weekly spending limit on Square's Cash App buying up Bitcoin.In October 2020 he slammed Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong for forbidding employee activism at the company, saying cryptocurrency is itself a form of activism.—jack (@jack) September 30, 2020 Source: Business Insider, Business Insider and CNBC Dorsey said Square is launching a new bitcoin business.Square CEO Jack Dorsey speaks at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference held on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesDorsey announced the new venture in a tweet on July 15, 2021 and said its name was "TBD." It wasn't clear whether that was its actual name, or Dorsey hasn't decided on a name yet.—jack (@jack) July 15, 2021 Dorsey said he hopes bitcoin can help bring about "world peace."Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on stage at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference in Miami.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesDorsey appeared alongside Elon Musk and Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood during a panel called "The B Word" on July 2021. He said he loves the bitcoin community because it's "weird as hell.""It's the only reason that I have a career — because I learned so much from people like who are building bitcoin today," Dorsey said.At the end of 2019 Dorsey said he would move to Africa for at least three months in 2020.AP Photo/Francois MoriDorsey's announcement followed a tour of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. "Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I'll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020," he tweeted. Dorsey then came under threat of being ousted as Twitter CEO by activist investor Elliott Management.Paul Singer, founder and president of Elliott Management.REUTERS/Mike Blake/File PhotoBoth Bloomberg and CNBC reported in late February 2020 that major Twitter investor Elliott Management — led by Paul Singer — was seeking to replace Dorsey. Reasons given included the fact that Dorsey splits his time between two firms by acting as CEO to both Twitter and financial tech firm Square, as well as his planned move to Africa.Source: Business InsiderTesla CEO and frequent Twitter user Elon Musk weighed in on the news, throwing his support behind Dorsey.Tesla CEO Elon Musk.REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke"Just want to say that I support @jack as Twitter CEO," Musk tweeted, adding that Dorsey has a good heart, using the heart emoji.Source: Business InsiderDorsey managed to strike a truce with Elliott Management.AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaTwitter announced on March 9, 2020 that it had reached a deal with Elliott Management which would leave Jack Dorsey in place as CEO.The deal included a $1 billion investment from private equity firm Silver Lake, and partners from both Elliott Management and Silver Lake joined Twitter's board.Patrick Pichette, lead independent director of Twitter's board, said he was "confident we are on the right path with Jack's leadership," but added that a new temporary committee would be formed to instruct the board's evaluation of Twitter's leadership.In April 2020, Dorsey announced that he was forming a new charity fund that would help in global relief efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.Dorsey.Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty ImagesDorsey said he would pour $1 billion of his own Square equity into the fund, or roughly 28% of his total wealth at the time. The fund, dubbed Start Small LLC, would first focus on helping in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, he said.The CEO said he would be making all transactions on behalf of the fund public in a spreadsheet.In July 2020, hackers compromised 130 Twitter accounts in a bitcoin scam.TwitterThe accounts of high-profile verified accounts belonging to Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian West, and others were hacked, with attackers tweeting out posts asking users to send payment in bitcoin to fraudulent cryptocurrency addresses.As a solution, Twitter temporarily blocked all verified accounts — those with blue check marks on their profiles — but the damage was done.  Elon Musk said he personally contacted Dorsey following the hack.Elon Musk (left) and Dorsey.Susan Walsh/AP; Getty ImagesDuring a July 2020 interview with The New York Times, Musk said he had immediately called Dorsey after he learned about the hack."Within a few minutes of the post coming up, I immediately got texts from a bunch of people I know, then I immediately called Jack so probably within less than five minutes my account was locked," said Musk.Source: The New York TimesIn March 2021 Dorsey put his first-ever tweet up for auction.Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, off camera, testify during a Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Dirksen Building where they testified on the influence of foreign operations on social media on September 5, 2018Tom Williams/CQ Roll CallAs the craze for Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) gathered momentum, Dorsey announced he was auctioning his first tweet for charity. It was bought for $2.9 million by Hakan Estavi, chief executive at at Bridge Oracle. Dorsey said proceeds from the auction would go to Give Directly's Africa response.CNBC reported on November 29 that Dorsey is expected to step down as CEO of Twitter.Jack Dorsey co-founder and chairman of Twitter and co-founder and CEO of Square.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesAn undisclosed number of sources told CNBC's David Faber Dorsey is expected to announce he will step down as CEO, CNBC reported Monday.Twitter did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 29th, 2021

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases As expected over the weekend, and as we first noted shortly after electronic markets reopened for trading on Sunday, S&P futures have maintained their overnight gains and have rebounded 0.7% while Nasdaq contracts jumped as much as 1.3% after risk sentiment stabilized following Friday’s carnage and as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks. Japan led declines in the Asian equity session (which was catching down to Friday's US losses) after the government shut borders to visitors. The region’s reopening stocks such as restaurants, department stores, train operators and travel shares also suffered some losses.  Oil prices bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday's rout, while the safe haven yen, Swiss franc and 10Y Treasury took a breather after its run higher. Moderna shares jumped as much as 12% in pre-market trading after Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said he suspects the new omicron coronavirus variant may elude current vaccines, and if so, a reformulated shot could be available early in the new year. Which he would obviously say as his company makes money from making vaccines, even if they are not very efficient. Here are some of the other notable premarket movers today: BioNTech (BNTX US) advanced 5% after it said it’s starting with the first steps of developing a new adapted vaccine, according to statement sent by text. Merck & Co. (MRK US) declined 1.6% after it was downgraded to neutral from buy at Citi, which also opens a negative catalyst watch, with “high probability” the drugmaker will abandon development of its HIV treatment. A selection of small biotechs rise again in U.S. premarket trading amid discussion of the companies in StockTwits and after these names outperformed during Friday’s market rout. Palatin Tech (PTN US) +37%, Biofrontera (BFRI US) +22%, 180 Life Sciences (ATNF US) +19%. Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures were down 11 ticks. Like other safe havens, the market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks. Needless to say, Omicron is all anyone can talk about: on one hand, authorities have already orchestrated a lot of global panic: Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, even though the South African doctor who discovered the strain and treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild. The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries such as Japan imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off. Summarizing the fearmongering dynamic observed, overnight South African health experts - including those who discovered the Omicron variant, said it appears to cause mild symptoms, while the Chinese lapdog organization, WHO, said the variant’s risk is “extremely high”. Investors are trying to work out if the omicron flareup will a relatively brief scare that markets rebound from, or a bigger blow to the global economic recovery. Much remains unanswered about the new strain: South African scientists suggested it’s presenting with mild symptoms so far, though it appears to be more transmissible, but the World Health Organization warned it could fuel future surges of Covid-19 with severe consequences. "There is a lot we don't know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more," said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB. "Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery." "Despite the irresistible pull of buying-the-dip on tenuous early information on omicron, we are just one negative omicron headline away from going back to where we started,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “Expect plenty of headline-driven whipsaw price action this week.” The emergence of the omicron strain is also complicating monetary policy. Traders have already pushed back the expected timing of a first 25-basis-point rate hike by the Federal Reserve to July from June. Fed Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic played down economic risks from a new variant, saying he’s open to a quicker paring of asset purchases to curb inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. “We know that central banks can quickly switch to dovish if they need to,” Mahjabeen Zaman, Citigroup senior investment specialist, said on Bloomberg Television. “The liquidity playbook that we have in play right now will continue to support the market.” European stocks rallied their worst drop in more than a year on Friday, with travel and energy stocks leading the advance. The Stoxx 600 rose 0.9% while FTSE 100 futures gain more than 1%, aided by a report that Reliance may bid for BT Group which jumped as much as 9.5% following a report that India’s Reliance Industries may offer to buy U.K. phone company, though it pared the gain after Reliance denied it’s considering a bid. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant Japanese shares lead Asian indexes lower after Premier Kishida announces entry ban of all new foreign visitors. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index closed down 0.9% at the lowest level since October 2020, led by Galaxy Entertainment and Meituan. The index followed regional peers lower amid worries about the new Covid variant Omicron. Amid the big movers, Galaxy Entertainment was down 5.4% after police arrested Macau’s junket king, while Meituan falls 7.1% after reporting earnings. In FX, currency markets are stabilizing as the week kicks off yet investors are betting on the possibility of further volatility. The South African rand climbed against the greenback though most emerging-market peers declined along with developing-nation stocks. Turkey’s lira slumped more than 2% after a report at the weekend that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a probe into foreign currency trades. The Swiss franc, euro and yen retreat while loonie and Aussie top G-10 leaderboard after WTI crude futures rally more than 4%. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index hovered after Friday’s drop, and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers; commodity currencies led gains. The euro slipped back below $1.13 and Bunds sold off, yet outperformed Treasuries. The pound was steady against the dollar and rallied against the euro. Australian sovereign bonds pared an opening jump as Treasuries trimmed Friday’s spike amid continuing uncertainty over the fallout from the omicron variant. The Aussie rallied with oil and iron ore. The yen erased an earlier decline as a government announcement on planned border closures starting Tuesday spurred a drop in local equities. The rand strengthens as South African health experts call omicron variant “mild.” In rates, Treasuries were cheaper by 4bp-7bp across the curve in belly-led losses, reversing a portion of Friday’s sharp safe-haven rally as potential economic impact of omicron coronavirus strain continues to be assessed. The Treasury curve bear- steepened and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield jumped as much as 7 basis points to 1.54%; that unwound some of Friday’s 16 basis-point plunge -- the steepest since March 2020.  Focal points include month-end on Tuesday, November jobs report Friday, and Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to speak Monday afternoon. Treasuries broadly steady since yields gapped higher when Asia session began, leaving 10-year around 1.54%, cheaper by almost 7bp on the day; front-end outperformance steepens 2s10s by ~3bp. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22 In commodities, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday. "The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December," wrote analyst at ANZ in a note. "Such headwinds are the reason it's been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly." Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24. Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce . SGX iron ore rises almost 8% to recoup Friday’s losses. Bitcoin rallied after falling below $54,000 on Friday. Looking at today's calendar, we get October pending home sales, and November Dallas Fed manufacturing activity. We also get a bunch of Fed speakers including Williams, Powell making remarks at the New York Fed innovation event, Fed’s Hassan moderating a panel and Fed’s Bowman discussing central bank and indigenous economies. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 4,625.00 MXAP down 0.9% to 191.79 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 625.06 Nikkei down 1.6% to 28,283.92 Topix down 1.8% to 1,948.48 Hang Seng Index down 0.9% to 23,852.24 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,562.70 Sensex up 0.4% to 57,307.46 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% to 7,239.82 Kospi down 0.9% to 2,909.32 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 467.47 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro down 0.3% to $1.1283 Brent Futures up 3.8% to $75.49/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,797.11 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.13% to 96.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has been detected in locations from Australia to the U.K. and Canada, showing the difficulties of curtailing new strains While health experts in South Africa, where omicron was first detected, said it appeared to cause only mild symptoms, the Geneva-based WHO assessed the variant’s risk as “extremely high” and called on member states to test widely. Understanding the new strain will take several days or weeks, the agency said All travelers arriving in the U.K. starting at 4 a.m. on Nov. 30 must take a PCR coronavirus test on or before the second day of their stay and isolate until they receive a negative result. Face coverings will again be mandatory in shops and other indoor settings and on public transport. Booster shots may also be approved for more age groups within days, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid The economic effects of the successive waves of the Covid pandemic have been less and less damaging, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau says Italian bonds advance for a third day, as investors shrug off new coronavirus developments over the weekend and stock futures advance, while bunds are little changed ahead of German inflation numbers and a raft of ECB speakers including President Christine Lagarde A European Commission sentiment index fell to 117.5 in November from 118.6 the previous month, data released Monday showed Spanish inflation accelerated to the fastest in nearly three decades in November on rising food prices, underscoring the lingering consequences of supply-chain bottlenecks across Europe. Consumer prices jumped 5.6% Energy prices in Europe surged on Monday after weather forecasts showed colder temperatures for the next two weeks that will lift demand for heating ECB Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel took to the airwaves to reassure her fellow Germans that inflation will slow again, hours before data set to show the fastest pace of price increases since the early 1990s Russia’s ambassador to Washington said more than 50 diplomats and their family members will have to leave the U.S. by mid-2022, in the latest sign of tensions between the former Cold War enemies China sent the biggest sortie of warplanes toward Taiwan in more than seven weeks after a U.S. lawmaker defied a Chinese demand that she abandon a trip to the island A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously and US equity futures rebounded from Friday’s hefty selling (S&P 500 -2.3%) as all focus remained on the Omicron variant after several countries announced restrictions and their first cases of the new variant, although markets took solace from reports that all cases so far from South Africa have been mild. Furthermore, NIH Director Collins was optimistic that current vaccines are likely to protect against the Omicron variant but also noted it was too early to know the answers, while Goldman Sachs doesn’t think the new variant is a sufficient reason to adjust its portfolio citing comments from South Africa’s NICD that the mutation is unlikely to be more malicious and existing vaccines will most likely remain effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. ASX 200 (-0.5%) is subdued after Australia registered its first cases of the Omicron variant which involved two people that arrived in Sydney from southern Africa and with the government reviewing its border reopening plans. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) whipsawed whereby it initially slumped at the open due to the virus fears and currency-related headwinds but then recouped its losses and briefly returned flat as the mood gradually improved, before succumbing to a bout of late selling, and with mixed Retail Sales data adding to the indecision. Hang Seng (-1.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) weakened with Meituan the worst performer in Hong Kong after posting a quarterly loss and with casino names pressured by a crackdown in which police detained Suncity Group CEO and others after admitting to accusations including illegal cross border gambling. However, the losses in the mainland were cushioned after firm Industrial Profits data over the weekend and with local press noting expectations for China to adopt a more proactive macro policy next year. Finally, 10yr JGBs shrugged off the pullback seen in T-note and Bund futures, with price action kept afloat amid the cautious mood in stocks and the BoJ’s presence in the market for over JPY 900bln of JGBs mostly concentrated in 3yr-10yr maturities. Top Asian News Hong Kong Stocks Slide to 13-Month Low on Fresh Virus Woes Li Auto Loss Narrows as EV Maker Rides Out Supply-Chain Snarls Singapore Adds to Its Gold Pile for the First Time in Decades China Growth Stocks Look Like Havens as Markets Confront Omicron Bourses in Europe are experiencing a mild broad-based rebound (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.0%; Stoxx 600 +0.9%) following Friday's hefty COVID-induced losses. Desks over the weekend have been framing Friday's losses as somewhat overstretched in holiday-thinned liquidity, given how little is known about the Omicron variant itself. The strain will likely remain the market theme as scientists and policymakers factor in this new variant, whilst data from this point forth – including Friday's US labour market report - will likely be passed off as somewhat stale, and headline risk will likely be abundant. Thus far, symptoms from Omicron are seemingly milder than some of its predecessors, although governments and central banks will likely continue to express caution in this period of uncertainty. Back to price action, the momentum of the rebound has lost steam; US equity futures have also been drifting lower since the European cash open – with the RTY (+0.9%) was the laggard in early European trade vs the ES (+0.8%), NQ (+1.0%) and YM (+0.7%). European cash bourses have also been waning off best levels but remain in positive territory. Sectors are mostly in the green, but the breadth of the market has narrowed since the cash open. Travel & Leisure retains the top spot in what seems to be more a reversal of Friday's exaggerated underperformance as opposed to a fundamentally driven rebound – with more nations announcing travel restrictions to stem the spread of the variant. Oil & Gas has also trimmed some of Friday's losses as oil prices see a modest rebound relative to Friday's slump. On the other end of the spectrum, Healthcare sees mild losses as COVID-related names take a mild breather, although Moderna (+9.1% pre-market) gains ahead of the US open after its Chief Medical Officer suggested a new vaccine for the variant could be ready early next year. Meanwhile, Autos & Parts reside as the current laggard amid several bearish updates, including a Y/Y drop in German car exports - due to the chip shortage and supply bottlenecks – factors which the Daimler Truck CEO suggested will lead to billions of Euros in losses. Furthermore, auto supbt.aplier provider Faurecia (-5.9%) trades at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after slashing guidance – again a function of the chip shortage. In terms of Monday M&A, BT (+4.7%) shares opened higher by almost 10% following source reports in Indian press suggesting Reliance Industries is gearing up for a takeover approach of BT – reports that were subsequently rebuffed. Top European News U.K. Mortgage Approvals Fall to 67,199 in Oct. Vs. Est. 70,000 Johnson Matthey Rises on Report of Battery Talks With Tata Gazprom Reports Record Third-Quarter Profit Amid Gas Surge Omicron’s Spread Fuels Search for Answers as WHO Sounds Warning In FX, the Buck has bounced from Friday’s pullback lows on a mixture of short covering, consolidation and a somewhat more hopeful prognosis of SA’s new coronavirus strand compared to very early perceptions prompted by reports that the latest mutation would be even worse than the Delta variant. In DXY terms, a base above 96.000 is forming within a 93.366-144 band amidst a rebound in US Treasury yields and re-steepening along the curve following comments from Fed’s Bostic indicating a willingness to back faster QE tapering. Ahead, pending home sales and Dallas Fed business manufacturing along with more Fed rhetoric from Williams and chair Powell on the eve of month end. AUD/CAD/NZD - No surprise to see the high beta and risk sensitive currencies take advantage of the somewhat calmer conditions plus a recovery in crude and other commodities that were decimated by the prospect of depressed demand due to the aforementioned Omicron outbreak. The Aussie is back over 0.7150 vs its US counterpart, the Loonie has pared back losses from sub-1.2750 with assistance from WTI’s recovery to top Usd 72/brl vs a Usd 67.40 trough on November 26 and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 even though RBNZ chief economist Ha has warned that a pause in OCR tightening could occur if the fresh COVID-19 wave proves to be a ‘game-changer’. JPY/EUR - The major laggards as sentiment stabilses, with the Yen midway between 112.99-113.88 parameters and hardly helped by mixed Japanese retail sales data, while the Euro has retreated below 1.1300 where 1.7 bn option expiry interest resides and a key Fib level just under the round number irrespective of strong German state inflation reports and encouraging pan Eurozone sentiment indicators, as more nations batten down the hatches to stem the spread of SA’s virus that has shown up in parts of the bloc. GBP/CHF - Both narrowly divergent vs the Dollar, as Cable retains 1.3300+ status against the backdrop of retreating Gilt and Short Sterling futures even though UK consumer credit, mortgage lending and approvals are rather conflicting, while the Franc pivots 0.9250 and meanders from 1.0426 to 1.0453 against the Euro after the latest weekly update on Swiss bank sight deposits showing no sign of official intervention. However, Usd/Chf may veer towards 1.1 bn option expiries at the 0.9275 strike if risk appetite continues to improve ahead of KoF on Tuesday and monthly reserves data. SCANDI/EM - Although Brent has bounced to the benefit of the Nok, Sek outperformance has ensued in wake of an upgrade to final Swedish Q3 GDP, while the Cnh and Cny are deriving support via a rise in Chinese industrial profits on a y/y basis and the Zar is breathing a sigh of relief on the aforementioned ‘better’ virus updates/assessments from SA on balance. Conversely, the Try is back under pressure post-a deterioration in Turkish economic sentiment vs smaller trade deficit as investors look forward to CPI at the end of the week. Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan provides no reprieve for the Lira as he once again defending his unorthodox view that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures consolidate following an overnight rebound – with WTI Jan back on a USD 71/bbl handle and Brent Feb just under USD 75/bbl – albeit still some way off from Friday's best levels which saw the former's high above USD 78/bbl and the latter's best north of USD 81/bbl. The week is packed with risks to the oil complex, including the resumption of Iranian nuclear talks (slated at 13:00GMT/08:00EST today) and the OPEC+ monthly confab. In terms of the former, little is expected in terms of progress unless the US agrees to adhere to Tehran's demand – which at this point seems unlikely. Tehran continues to seek the removal of US sanctions alongside assurances that the US will not withdraw from the deal. "The assertion that the US must 'change its approach if it wants progress' sets a challenging tone", Citi's analysts said, and the bank also expects parties to demand full access to Iranian nuclear facilities for verification of compliance. Further, the IAEA Chief met with Iranian officials last week; although concrete progress was sparse, the overall tone of the meeting was one of progress. "We remain of the opinion that additional Iranian supplies are unlikely to reach the market before the second half of 2022 at the earliest," Citi said. Meanwhile, reports suggested the US and allies have been debating a "Plan B" if talks were to collapse. NBC News – citing European diplomats, former US officials and experts – suggested that options included: 1) a skinny nuclear deal, 2) ramp up sanctions, 3) Launching operations to sabotage Iranian nuclear advances, 4) Military strikes, 5) persuading China to halt Iranian oil imports, albeit Iran and China recently signed a 25yr deal. Over to OPEC+, a rescheduling (in light of the Omicron variant) sees the OPEC and JTC meeting now on the 1st December, followed by the JMMC and OPEC+ on the 2nd. Sources on Friday suggested that members are leaning towards a pause in the planned monthly output, although Russian Deputy PM Novak hit the wires today and suggested there is no need for urgent measures in the oil market. Markets will likely be tested, and expectations massaged with several sources heading into the meeting later this week. Elsewhere, spot gold trades sideways just under the USD 1,800/oz and above a cluster of DMAs, including the 50 (1,790.60/oz), 200 (1,791.30/oz) and 100 (1,792.80/oz) awaiting the next catalyst. Over to base metals, LME copper recoups some of Friday's lost ground, with traders also citing the underlying demand emanating from the EV revolution. US Event Calendar 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales YoY, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 0.8%, prior -2.3% 10:30am: Nov. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 17.0, prior 14.6 Central Bank speakers: 3pm: Fed’s Williams gives opening remarks at NY Innovation Center 3:05pm: Powell Makes Opening Remarks at New York Fed Innovation Event 3:15pm: Fed’s Hassan moderates panel introducing NY Innovation Center 5:05pm: Fed’s Bowman Discusses Central bank and Indigenous Economies DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Last night Henry in my team put out a Q&A looking at what we know about Omicron (link here) as many risk assets put in their worst performance of the year on Friday after it exploded into view. The main reason for the widespread concern is the incredibly high number of mutations, with 32 on the spike protein specifically, which is the part of the virus that allows it to enter human cells. That’s much more than we’ve seen for previous variants, and raises the prospect it could be a more transmissible version of the virus, although scientists are still assessing this. South Africa is clearly where it has been discovered (not necessarily originated from) and where it has been spreading most. The fact that’s it’s become the dominant strain there in just two weeks hints at its higher level of contagiousness. However the read through to elsewhere is tough as the country has only fully vaccinated 24% of its population, relative to at least 68% in most of the larger developed countries bar the US which languishes at 58%. It could still prove less deadly (as virus variants over time mostly are) but if it is more contagious that could offset this and it could still cause similar healthcare issues, especially if vaccines are less protective. On the other hand the South African doctor who first alerted authorities to the unusual symptoms that have now been found to have been caused by Omicron, was on numerous media platforms over the weekend suggesting that the patients she has seen with it were exhausted but generally had mild symptoms. However she also said her patients were from a healthy cohort so we can’t relax too much on this. However as South African cases rise we will get a lot of clues from hospitalisation data even if only 6% of the country is over 65s. My personal view is that we’ll get a lot of information quite quickly around how bad this variant is. The reports over the weekend that numerous cases of Omicron have already been discovered around the world, suggests it’s probably more widespread than people think already. So we will likely soon learn whether these patients present with more severe illness and we’ll also learn of their vaccination status before any official study is out. The only caveat would be that until elderly patients have been exposed in enough scale we won’t be able to rule out the more negative scenarios. Before all that the level of restrictions have been significantly ramped up over the weekend in many countries. Henry discusses this in his note but one very significant one is that ALL travellers coming into (or back to) the UK will have to self isolate until they get a negative PCR test. This sort of thing will dramatically reduce travel, especially short business trips. Overnight Japan have effectively banned ALL foreign visitors. I appreciate its dangerous to be positive on covid at the moment but you only have to look at the UK for signs that boosters are doing a great job. Cases in the elderly population continue to collapse as the roll out progresses well and overall deaths have dropped nearly 20% over the last week to 121 (7-day average) - a tenth of where they were at the peak even though cases have recently been 80-90% of their peak levels. If Europe are just lagging the UK on boosters rather than anything more structural, most countries should be able to control the current wave all things being equal. However Omicron could make things less equal but it would be a huge surprise if vaccines made no impact. Stocks in Asia are trading cautiously but remember that the US and Europe sold off more aggressively after Asia closed on Friday. So the lack of major damage is insightful. The Nikkei (-0.02%), Shanghai Composite (-0.14%), CSI (-0.22%), KOSPI (-0.47%) and Hang Seng (-0.68%) are only slightly lower. Treasury yields, oil, and equity futures are all rising in Asia. US treasury yields are up 4-6bps across the curve, Oil is c.+4.5% higher, while the ZAR is +1.31%. Equity futures are trading higher with the S&P 500 (+0.71%) and DAX (+0.84%) futures in the green. In terms of looking ahead, we may be heading into December this week but there’s still an incredibly eventful period ahead on the market calendar even outside of Omicron. We have payrolls on Friday which could still have a big impact on what the Fed do at their important December 15 FOMC and especially on whether they accelerate the taper. Wednesday (Manufacturing) and Friday (Services) see the latest global PMIs which will as ever be closely watched even if people will suggest that the latest virus surge and now Omicron variant may make it backward looking. Elsewhere in the Euro Area, we’ll get the flash CPI estimate for November tomorrow (France and Italy on the same day with Germany today), and we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell as he testifies (with Mrs Yellen) before congressional committees tomorrow and Wednesday. There’s lots of other Fed speakers this week (ahead of their blackout from this coming weekend) and last week there was a definite shift towards a faster taper bias, even amongst the doves on the committee with Daly being the most important potential convert. Fed speakers this week might though have to balance the emergence of the new variant with the obvious point that without it the Fed is a fair bit behind the curve. Importantly but lurking in the background, Friday is also the US funding deadline before another government shutdown. History would suggest a tense last minute deal but it’s tough to predict. Recapping last week now and the emergence of the new variant reshaped the whole week even if ahead of this, continued case growth across Europe prompted renewed lockdown measures and travel bans across the continent. Risk sentiment clearly plummeted on Friday. The S&P 500 fell -2.27%, the biggest drop since October 2020, while the Stoxx 600 fell -3.67%, the biggest one-day decline since the original Covid-induced risk off in March 2020. The S&P 500 was -2.20% lower last week, while the Stoxx 600 was down -4.53% on the week. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields declined -16.1bps, -8.7bps, and -14.5bps, undoing the inflation and policy response-driven selloff from earlier in the week. The drop in 10yr treasury and gilt yields were the biggest one-day declines since the original Covid-driven rally in March 2020, while the drop in bund yields was the largest since April 2020. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields ended the week -7.3bps lower, +0.7bps higher, and -5.4bps lower, respectively. Measures of inflation compensation declined due to the anticipated hit to global demand, with 10yr breakevens in the US and Germany -6.8bps and -8.8bps lower Friday, along with Brent and WTI futures declining -11.55% and -13.06%, respectively. Investors pushed back the anticipated timing of rate hikes. As it stands, the first full Fed hike is just about priced for July, and 2 hikes are priced for 2022. This follows a hawkish tone from even the most dovish FOMC members and the November FOMC minutes last week. The prevailing sentiment was the FOMC was preparing to accelerate their asset purchase taper at the December meeting to enable inflation-fighting rate hikes earlier in 2022. Understanding the impact of the new variant will be crucial for interpreting the Fed’s reaction function, though. The impact may not be so obvious; while a new variant would certainly hurt global demand and portend more policy accommodation, it will also likely prompt more virus-avoiding behaviour in the labour market, preventing workers from returning to pre-Covid levels. Whether the Fed decides to accommodate these sidelined workers for longer, or to re-think what constitutes full employment in a Covid world should inform your view on whether they accelerate tapering in December. It feels like a lifetime ago but last week also saw President Biden nominate Chair Powell to head the Fed for another term, and for Governor Brainard to serve as Vice Chair. The announcement led to a selloff in rates as the more dovish Brainard did not land the head job. In Germany, the center-left SPD, Greens, and liberal FDP agreed to a full coalition deal. The traffic-light coalition agreed to restore the debt break in 2023, after being suspended during the pandemic, and to raise the minimum wage to €12 per hour. The SPD’s Olaf Scholz will assume the Chancellorship. The US, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and UK announced releases of strategic petroleum reserves. Oil prices were higher following the announcement, in part because releases were smaller than anticipated but, as mentioned, prices dropped precipitously on Friday on the global demand impact of the new Covid variant. The ECB released the minutes of the October Governing Council meeting, where officials stressed the need to maintain optionality in their policy setting. They acknowledged growing upside risks to inflation but stressed the importance of not overreacting in setting policy as they see how inflation scenarios might unfold. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 08:01.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 29th, 2021

I went to "the shuttlecock of the Confederacy" to hear what people there thought about critical race theory. I heard about equity instead.

School-board meetings are now academic battlegrounds, but in Winchester, Virginia, a reporter found a town trying hard to teach about racial equity. A Confederate monument in Winchester, Virginia.Photo by Nicole Gaudiano/ Insider Protesters have fought school boards over masks, books, and "critical race theory." But equity was the dominant theme at a school-board meeting in Winchester, Virginia. And no one showed up to protest. School-board meetings across the US have grabbed headlines for turning into battlegrounds over face-mask policies, controversial books, and critical race theory. The internet is awash with photos of parents and children at meetings hoisting signs in protest, demanding an end to teachings on race and diversity in schools.But none of that happened at a school-board meeting I attended Monday in Winchester, Virginia, a city rich with Civil War history in the Shenandoah Valley.It would seem this independent city in Frederick County, about 65 miles from Washington, DC, could have the potential for flare-ups on race education. After all, the quaint historic downtown area has a statue of a Confederate soldier in the center of the restaurant and shopping area, just in front of a Civil War museum. And Winchester earned the nickname "the shuttlecock of the Confederacy" because it was the most contested town during the Civil War.By contrast, the dominant theme at the meeting at John Kerr Elementary School was equity. No one there argued that schools were "indoctrinating" children. No citizens signed up to speak during the public-comment period. School-board members spent opening remarks thanking one another and the community and wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.The meeting was so sedate, I had time to order a couple of Christmas presents on Amazon while there."I don't take a ton of phone calls," said Winchester Public Schools' superintendent, Jason Van Heukelum, who agreed to sit down with me after I assured him I wasn't pursuing a gotcha agenda. "When we had to decide on the masks...well, then we got some public comment." When the state issued its more-inclusive transgender policy, Van Heukelum said, the public comments from Winchester were both for and against it.What about critical race theory? Van Heukelum said it wasn't until the most recent election in Virginia when he heard about critical race theory, a college-level study of racial bias in US laws. Republicans have been fueling controversy over it, even though educators say it isn't taught in K-12 schools. A pledge by Virginia's Republican governor-elect, Glenn Youngkin, to "ban" critical race theory was an applause line during his campaign.Once Van Heukelum learned what it meant, he said, he "adamantly" explained to anyone who asked that it's not part of the formal curriculum or the way the district taught students.Winchester Public Schools' superintendent, Jason Van Heukelum, at a school-board meeting on Monday.Photo by Nicole Gaudiano/ InsiderA far cry from the heated culture wars elsewhereThe reaction to the topic in Winchester, which is about 140 miles north of Virginia's state capital, Richmond, was a far cry from the heated culture-war protests around the US, including in nearby Loudoun County. No parents spoke about critical race theory publicly at school-board meetings, but they called and emailed a few times, Van Heukelum said."Some are genuinely curious, like: 'I heard this in the news. What's this all about?'" Van Heukelum added. "Others seem to have bought into this belief that there's a hidden curriculum or a hidden agenda in the public schools, which there is not, and are very either upset or angry or, you know, trying to put forward a mentality of, this should not be in our public schools."In 2020, protesters gathered at the Confederate statue in Winchester after the murder of the Black man George Floyd by a white police officer during an arrest in Minneapolis. A petition to remove the statue gathered more than 5,000 signatures. Another petition had nearly 900 signatures to keep it. But the statue hasn't been an issue for the school system, Van Heukelum said."It's certainly an opportunity for our teachers to navigate the current national narrative around statues and naming, etc., as a current-events piece," Van Heukelum said.Local history is becoming increasingly important, he said, and another example of that is the remodeling and expansion of the historic Douglas School, where Black students were educated before schools were integrated, and an oral-history project with alumni.The vision is to make the stories and visits to the building part of the curriculum for fourth graders so they can learn about the history and accomplishments of Winchester's Black community. High schoolers enrolled in a new African American history class will serve as guides, Van Heukelum said. "We're trying to make it relevant and real to our community," he said.John Kerr Elementary School in Winchester, where the school board held a meeting on Monday.Photo by Nicole Gaudiano/ InsiderWinchester was hotly contested during the Civil War and changed hands more than 70 times. These days, the city is represented in Congress by a Democrat — Rep. Jennifer Wexton — but Youngkin only narrowly lost to the Democrat Terry McAuliffe there, 50.54% to 48.69%.The student body is diverse, and the school system appears to be responding to that diversity with an "equity policy" requiring annual reports on its progress.In August, Rep. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, warned about critical-race-theory "code words" like "equity" at a school-board meeting in Dorchester, Maryland, some 180 miles away from Winchester. "I don't even know what that means," Harris said.But in Winchester, the school board's policy says the word equity "refers to fostering a barrier-free environment" where all students can benefit from high standards, support, and effective learning environments and resources.I visited a local Walmart and asked Taryn Roberts, a mother from Winchester, what she wanted her three children to learn about race and equity. "I want them to be understanding that there's different people, and they're going to look different than you, so you shouldn't treat them different," she said. I wanted to hear more, but we were just inside the front doors, and a store employee told me, "We can't have you doing this on Walmart property."Fair enough.At a nearby Target, another mother who lives in West Virginia but works in Winchester said she'd heard some people were "offended," perhaps because of outreach to Hispanic students. "When it comes to our country, they should know our language, too, and not pick and choose over our children's way of, you know, doing things and how they speak," Mary Hicks said.The Winchester school system's Hispanic population is growing, and children are "on fire" learning both Spanish and English in the dual-language program, Van Heukelum said. He said he could count on one hand the phone calls from families who had said, "I don't like that, I'm out."During the school-board meeting I attended, teachers gave a presentation on the benefits of the dual-language program at the middle school. The equity and family-empowerment coordinator delivered an equity report.The data on "culturally responsive instruction" for Winchester Public Schools showed that an average of 50% of sixth-through-12th graders felt they saw representations of themselves reflected in the curriculum and instruction, but only 46% of Black students felt that way."We're putting that on the table transparently to say, 'Hey, we're not going to hide from this, we're not going to sweep it on the rug,'" Van Heukelum said. "'We're going to look at it, analyze it and ask critical questions to say, why might that be? What might we do differently as an organization to make sure that all of our kids feel included?'"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

Latest Treasury, Fed, & BIS Reports Confirm: All Twisted Paths Lead To Gold

Latest Treasury, Fed, & BIS Reports Confirm: All Twisted Paths Lead To Gold Authored by Matthew Piepenberg via GoldSwitzerland.com, The facts keep piling up, and recent BIS, Treasury and Fed reports confirm that all twisted paths lead to gold. In a recent article, I posed the rhetorical question of when will policy makers finally stop lying and allow honest facts and natural market forces to return? Lying is the New Normal Unfortunately, as we examine the two latest working papers from the Fed/Treasury Dept cabal and the Bank of International Settlements, each confirms that lies are officially the new normal. Over the years, we’ve tracked popularized delusions masquerading as policy with evidence rather than awe, addressing such topics as the open fictions of CPI inflation reporting and its “transitory” myth to the latest sample of double-speak spewing out of the Fed or White House. Frankly, these well-masked fibs happen so frequently we never run out of material, including Biden assuring us earlier—and once again last week– of an “independent Fed.” He’s trying a bit too hard to convince us, no? History (Debt) Repeating Itself History’s patterns confirm that the more a system implodes under the weight of its own self-inflicted extravagance (typically fatal debt piles driven by years of war, wealth disparity, currency debasement and political/financial corruption), the powers-that be resort to increasingly autocratic controls, distractions and automatic lying. The list of such examples, from ancient Rome, 18th century France, and 20th century Europe to 21st century America are long and diverse, and whether it be a Commodus, Romanov, Batista, Biden, Franco or Bourbon at the helm of a sinking ship, the end game for bloated leaders reigning over bloated debt always ends the same: More lies, more controls, less liberty, less truth and less free markets. Seem familiar? As promised above, however, rather than just rant about this, it’s critical to simply show you. As I learned in law school, facts, alas, are far more important than accusations. Toward that end, let’s look at the facts. The Latest Joint-Lie from the Treasury Department & Fed Earlier this month, the Fed and Treasury Department came up with a report to discuss, well, “recent disruptions” … The first thing worth noting are the various “authors” to this piece of fiction, which confirm the now open marriage between the so-called “independent” Fed and the U.S. Treasury Dept. If sticking former Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, at the helm of the Treasury Department (or former ECB head, Mario Draghi, in the Prime Minister’s seat in Italy) was not proof enough of central banks’ increasingly centralized control over national policy, this latest evidence from the Treasury and Fed ought to help quash that debate. In the report above, we are calmly told, inter alia, that the U.S. Treasury market remains “the deepest and most liquid market in the world,” despite the ignored fact that most of that liquidity comes from the Fed itself. Over 55% of the Treasury bonds issued since last February were not bought by the “open market” but, ironically, by private banks which misname themselves as a “Federal Open Market Committee” … The ironies (and omissions) do abound. But even the authors to this propaganda piece could not ignore the fact that this so-called “most liquid market in the world” saw a few hiccups in recent years (i.e., September of 2019, March of 2020) … Translated Confessions of a Fake Taper The cabal’s deliberately confusing response (and solution), however, is quite telling, and confirms exactly what we’ve been forecasting all along, namely: More QE by another name. Specifically, these foxes guarding our monetary hen house have decided to regulate “collateral markets and Money Market Funds into buying a lot more UST T-Bills” by establishing “Standing Repo Facilities for domestic and foreign investors” which are being expanded from “Primary Dealers” to now “other Depository Institutions going forward” to “finance growing US deficits” by making more loans “via these repo facilities (SRF and FIMA).” Huh? Folks, what all this gibberish boils down to is quite simple and of extreme importance. In plain speak, the Fed and Treasury Department have just confessed (in language no one was ever intended to understand) that they are completely faking a Fed taper and injecting trillions more bogus liquidity into the bond market via extreme (i.e., desperate) T-Bill support. Again, this is simply QE by another name. Period. Full stop. The Fed is cutting down on long-term debt issuance and turning its liquidity-thirsty eyes toward supporting the T-Bill/ money markets pool for more backdoor liquidity to prop up an otherwise dying Treasury market. Again, this proves that the Fed is no longer independent, but the near exclusive (and rotten) wind beneath the wings of Uncle Sam’s bloated bar tab. Or stated more simply: The “independent” Fed is subsidizing a blatantly dependent America. Biden Doubles Down on the Double-Speak Of course, as evidence of increasingly Fed-centralized control over our national economy now becomes embarrassingly obvious (yet deliberately hidden in “market speak’), it was imperative to roll out Biden from his nap-time and compel him to say the exact opposite. In other words: Cue the spin-selling. No shocker there…  Just 2 days after the foregoing and joint Fed/Treasury “report” went public, the U.S. President, talking points in extra-large font on his prompt-reader), announced that he is “committed to the independence of the Fed to monitor inflation and combat it.”    That’s rich. First, it’s now obvious that the Fed is anything but independent. They might as well share the same office space as the Treasury Dept. Second, the way the Fed “monitors” (aka: lies about) inflation has been an open joke for years. Inflation, as accurately measured by the 1980’s CPI scale, is not at the already embarrassing 6% reported today, but more honestly at 15%. Ouch. When compared against a current (and artificially suppressed) 1.6% yield on the 10-Year UST, that means the most important bond in the global economy is offering you a real yield of negative 13.4%. Think about that for a moment… Thirdly, the Fed is not about “combating” inflation, but rather encouraging more of the same to inflate away debt via negative real rates, as we’ve warned all year. And boy are they getting a nice dose of negative real rates now… In short, if Biden or other political puppets spoke plain truth as opposed to optic spin, his words would translate as follows:  “We are committed to unfettered dependence on the Fed to subsidize our debt and lie about inflation while encouraging more of the same.” Yellen—The Queen of Lies Meanwhile, Yellen chirps in during that same week promising to never allow a repeat of the 1970’s inflation level. Again, nice words; but when using the same CPI scale to measure inflation that was used in the 1970’s, the U.S. is already experiencing 1970’s like inflation. Recently, of course, Yellen openly blamed all our inflation problems on COVID rather than her own reflection. Again, the ironies do abound. Now, on to more acronyms and more, well, lies from above… Enter More BS from the IBS as to CBDC As if the spin coming out of DC was not enough to upset one’s appetite for candor, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has been busy telegraphing its own move toward more globalized central controls under the guise of a Central Bank Digital Currency, or “CBDC.” In a recent working paper, the BIS literally produced a graph whereby it foresees central banks issuing CBDC as legal tender issued directly to consumers. Read that last line again. And here’s the BIS’s own graph (or skunk in the woodpile) to prove we’re not making this crazy up: This literally confirms that despite Yellen, Biden and Powell’s recent promises to “combat” inflation (which they hitherto denied even existed), the BIS is now anchoring a new (i.e., more fiat) digital currency system which will send inflation to the moon—not to mention control and monitor the way consumers receive, use and spend “money.” Of course, this is quite convenient to the centralized power brokers. In one CBDC “swoop,” they can now create inflation while controlling consumers at the same time. Welcome to the twisted new normal. Thus, when it comes to the banking elite, it’s far safer to watch what they’re doing rather than trust what they’re saying. As we’ve warned for months, the banking/political cabal want more not less inflation. Why? Because that’s what all historically debt-soaked and failed regimes have wanted and done for centuries—inflate their way out the debt-hole they alone dug. All Twisted Roads Lead to Gold Needless to say, more liquidity, and more inflation, joined by more rate repression, truth destruction and currency debasement means gold’s recent bump north is just the beginning of the ride up and to the right for this “barbourins relic.” As we’ve said with consistent conviction and hard facts, not to mention spot-on inflation reporting, gold’s golden era has yet to even begin. As global currencies fall deeper toward the ocean floor in a sea of excess liquidity, gold, like an historically faithful cork, makes its way to the surface to get the final word. In short: It’s not that gold is getting stronger, it’s just that the currency in your wallet, bank and portfolio is getting weaker. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/24/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 24th, 2021

Millennials Collaborating to Attain the American Dream of Homeownership

The affordability issues in the housing market aren’t going away for younger buyers. The financial challenges hindering millennial homeownership have been well documented between overwhelming student loan debt and record-level home prices. However, some within the cohort are carving their own path to the American dream through teamwork. “Affordability is a key issue for young […] The post Millennials Collaborating to Attain the American Dream of Homeownership appeared first on RISMedia. The affordability issues in the housing market aren’t going away for younger buyers. The financial challenges hindering millennial homeownership have been well documented between overwhelming student loan debt and record-level home prices. However, some within the cohort are carving their own path to the American dream through teamwork. “Affordability is a key issue for young buyers or first-time homebuyers entering into the market with limited housing inventory, so pooling incomes with a roommate becomes a really good solution for many buyers to be able to enter into the housing market,” says Jessica Lautz, vice president of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Recent data from ATTOM Data Solutions, reported by the Wall Street Journal, suggests that the number of home and condo sales across the country by co-buyers has soared since millennials became the largest share of homebuyers in the U.S. in 2014. The number of co-buyers with different last names increased by 771% between 2014 and 2021, according to ATTOM. Like other market trends, the pandemic accelerated the trend, according to Lautz, who also suggests that declining marriage rates among younger generations have also contributed. Despite the generational lull in nuptials, that hasn’t kept buyers, particularly millennials, from pursuing homeownership. Based on NAR’s recently released 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, for the third consecutive year, the share of unmarried couples that purchased a home accounted for 9% of the buyer pool. According to NAR’s data, the share of first-time buyers who were unmarried couples rose slightly to 17%. Navigating the Trend While co-buying isn’t a novel concept in real estate, experts and agents told RISMedia that it’s a worthwhile trend to keep an eye on, as affordability issues and student loan debt plague millennials—the largest cohort of buyers in the market. Along with working as an agent, Nicholas Ritacco is also a co-buyer. The New York-based Corcoran agent teamed up with his roommate to buy their first home during the pandemic to escape renting. Looking at the numbers, Ritacco says low mortgage rates since 2008—and record lows during the pandemic—presented an opportunity to finally tap into homeownership while living in or near more major metro areas. “The affordability is in our favor, and it is time-sensitive, whether it’s two, three or five years down the line, no one can predict, but I can tell you every point we go up is pricing out somebody,” he says. Compared with traditional buyer scenarios, Lautz suggests that agents work with their co-buying clients to identify long-term intentions for the property they are looking to buy and how they will address any life changes. “If someone gets a job on the other side of the country, are you going to rent the room that the roommate has been living in?” Lautz asks. Discussion over income between the clients is also essential, as Lautz notes that will become an issue when it comes time to divvy up the down payment and closing costs in very similar ways, so they are earning equity in the same way. “Questions like that may get into the nitty-gritty, but I do think it’s important for keeping that relationship and the home-buying transaction on track as well about what is realistic and what may not be realistic.” Having gone through it himself, Ritacco says that he also started working with friends that want to partner up to buy a home. Part of his guidance strategy is helping his clients identify their “exit strategy” before going into a co-buying partnership. This typically involves determining how long they intend to live in the property and how they want to approach selling or renting it out when one or more parties is ready to move. “You have to understand what your options are and what your rights are,” he says, noting that he gets “granular” with his clients when working out the details so that each party is comfortable entering into the deal from the beginning. “It’s really about understanding every step of the process and what is expected of everybody,” Ritacco says. “It’s a joint venture. You’re just changing it from that typical investment-focused agreement to adopting it for a joint venture for a primary.” According to agent Kate Wright at Better Home and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers in Atlanta, Georgia, taking a deep dive into buyer goals and expectations during an opening consultation is a helpful tool to mitigate future issues. “That way, I know what they are looking for and what their goals are, and I can direct them toward the best avenue for pursuing the purchase,” Wright says, adding that her market has been popular among millennial buyers because of its affordability. Wright’s pool of millennial co-buyers have already bought their first home and have joined friends to start investing in other properties. While she admits that her pool of first-time buyers co-buying is negligible in her market, broker Shonna Peterson at the Warmack Group with Keller Willams in Seattle says that the trend is popular with the millennial investment group. Peterson notes that investor buyers’ motivation focuses more on the numbers and turning a profit rather than living in the home primarily. Despite the difference in approaches and desired outcomes, Peterson indicates that managing emotions is essential to navigating millennial investors. “While they have a great grasp on the numbers, there does still tend to be an emotional component just because it’s human nature to get somewhat competitive when you know that the competition is stiff,” Peterson says. Legal Protection While the trend of co-buying opens doors to homeownership, it’s not without its challenges, which is why agents told RISMedia that they encourage their clients in co-buying situations to speak with legal experts. Real estate attorney Edwin Farrow recommends hashing things out in writing before closing on a home when it comes to co-buying partnerships. “What they’ve done is create a partnership, and partnerships can go bad,” Farrow says. “You need to know what happens in the event the partnership is dissolved, keeping in mind the fact that the bank doesn’t care that you’re friends and agreed to whatever you agreed to.” Farrow’s co-buying clientele typically consists of unmarried couples and family members teaming up to buy homes together. He indicates that getting a better understanding of the risks and benefits of teaming up to buy a property together is vital for any buyers looking to take this route toward homeownership. Eric Smith, a real estate attorney with Timoney Knox in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, echoed similar sentiments, adding that the biggest problem that he notices among co-buyers is that many tend to bypass getting a written agreement before closing on their home. If the partnership doesn’t end amicably, Smith says a written agreement could save buyers “tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees” if their friendship or relationship dissolves and they end up selling the property. “In the end, it will be costly to prove that the person who paid the down money is entitled to get it all back or any of it back,” he says. By default, Smith says tenants in common (TIC) is the route that clients take. The option gives each property owner an “undivided interest of the whole thing in equal shares.” “It essentially means that each owns a slice of the pie,” Smith says, adding that shares can be passed on to an heir in the event of a death. A joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is another route, Smith explains, noting that each partner owns the whole property together, and the last of them to die would keep everything. “You could also imagine a circumstance where you might have a number of people who buy a piece of property as legitimate business partners,” Smith says. He thinks the best option is to buy with an entity—like a limited liability company—so parties can have an operating agreement for the property. “It just makes it easier to manage,” Smith opines. Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com. The post Millennials Collaborating to Attain the American Dream of Homeownership appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaNov 23rd, 2021

Erdogan Tells Lira To Drop Dead As Currency Collapse Threatens Financial System, Bank Runs, Hyperinflation

Erdogan Tells Lira To Drop Dead As Currency Collapse Threatens Financial System, Bank Runs, Hyperinflation In what should not be confused for a masterclass in FX trading, on Monday Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended his pursuit of lower interest rates to boost economic growth and job creation, sending the lira cratering to a new record low against the dollar and plummeting to an unprecedented 35% down on the year, surpassing such banana republic currencies as the Argentina, Colombia and Chili Peso. In his latest validation of the bizarre economic school known as "Erdoganomic" which confuses cause and effect as follows... ERDOGAN: INTEREST RATE IS THE REASON, INFLATION IS THE RESULT ... Erdogan said that Turkey has abandoned old policies based on high borrowing costs and a strong currency in the name of slowing inflation, and instead shifted to a new set-up that prioritizes greater investments, exports and strong job creation, while allowing the currency to collapse and no longer engaging in any lira defense. “We were either going to give up on investments, manufacturing, growth and jobs, or take on a historic challenge to meet our own priorities,” he said after a cabinet meeting in capital Ankara. While most central banks are talking of tightening policy as the global recovery fuels a surge in prices, Turkey’s decision to slash 4 percentage points off borrowing rates since September even as inflation has soared above 20%, has stunned markets and frustrated investors who complain its monetary policy is becoming increasingly erratic and unpredictable. Some, such as Swedbank AB strategist Hans Gustafson used the dreaded "H" word: “It is very hard to have a view on a fair value for the lira as long as economic policy is out of sync with fundamentals. The lira will continue to fall until economic policy tighten. Current path will lead to hyperinflation and a balance of payments crisis." As everyone knows, Erdogan is a proponent of the insane mantra that high borrowing costs cause inflation rather than curbing it, and he has demanded a so far receptive central bank cut rates even while price gains race along at near 20%. Erdogan’s pledge to double down on his most recent push for cheaper funding by the nation’s central bank sent the lira tumbling after Turkish markets closed. The currency dropped as much as 2.1% to 11.4767 per dollar and was trading 1.4% lower at 11.450 at last check. Below are some of the highlights from Erdogan’s bizarre, paranoid, at time schizophrenic speech, which reveals that Turkey truly is on the verge of a hyperinflationary collapse: There is a “game” being played against Turkey by those using interest rates, the currency’s exchange rate and inflation “We’re pleased to see that the central bank’s policy rate is being kept low” Turkey will crack down on “unfair, inexplicable price increases” by those using a weak lira as an excuse “We know quite well what we’re doing with the current policy, why we’re doing it, and the kind of risks it entails and what we’ll achieve at the end” The belief that inflation can only slow if the economy contracts has no basis Erdogan’s ruling AK Party has for decades based its electoral success on rapid levels of economic growth, often driven by reducing borrowing costs to encourage credit expansion. When the economy sank during the pandemic, support for Erdogan and his party also fell to all-time lows, prompting him to redouble efforts to propel growth though rising prices are hurting his traditional working class base the most. However, in recent months, perhaps having realized that trying to defend the collapsing lira is futile, Erodgan shifted his tone and questioned why business people did not take out loans and instead of investing in the economy, don't invest in risk assets (i.e., buy stonks) as rates were lowered in the last few months. "Then they get together (and) talk about high interest rates," he said last week. "What type of people are you? If you are a businessman you are on the side of investment, so here are you go: loans with low interest," Erdogan said. While it remains to be seen if Erdogan's pivot is accepted by the population, one thing is undpistable: Turkey’s currency crisis is driving up the cost of food, medicine and other essentials for average Turks, and poses a threat to the country’s banks and large companies if the lira’s slide isn’t arrested, economists quoted by the WSJ said. The steep drop in the lira - which as noted above has lost more than a third of its value to the dollar in eight months - is shaking a Turkish society that had long prided itself as an ascendant economy that rivaled its European neighbors. Ordinary people are now struggling with a decline in their living conditions, with rampant inflation putting pressure on wages and eating into savings. “My life is completely changed,” said Kemal Ince, an Istanbul shopkeeper who hails from Rize, the conservative Black Sea stronghold of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ince says that he is ashamed to have to increase the prices of coffee, olives and cheese, and that even as he charges his customers more, he still feels squeezed. “I don’t have the luxury of spending money on anything,” he said. Turkey’s current crisis is the worst the country has faced since 2018, when the lira also dropped precipitously amid a crisis in relations with the U.S. Worries over potential loan defaults and stress on banks were so high in 2018, the country’s banking regulator allowed lenders to extend loan maturities and facilitate debt restructuring. Turkey’s major banks and companies—many crippled by big foreign-currency loans—now face longer-term risks of instability if Erdogan continues down the path of cutting interest rates further, economists and businesspeople here said. “These kind of imbalances might end up with a run on banks,” said Omer Gencal, a former executive at several Turkish and international banks and now an official with an opposition party. “The current situation isn’t sustainable.” According to the Turkish central bank, nonfinancial companies had about $160 billion in foreign-exchange assets and $280 billion in liabilities as of August. The gap has narrowed since 2018, though it is still wide. Banks’ lending in foreign currency ranged from 24% to 45% of their total loans in the first half of the year, according to Fitch Ratings. While banks have kept their nonperforming loans in check, including through the pandemic, Fitch warned in a report last month that “risks remain high given exposure to the volatile Turkish operating environment, risky segments and sectors, significant foreign-currency lending and the high lira interest-rate environment.” Jason Tuvey, senior emerging-markets economist at Capital Economics, however, told the WSJ that the greatest threat for Turkish banks is their ability to rollover their external debts if investors get increasingly spooked. Short-term external debt of banks stood at $84 billion, or close to 10% of the country’s gross domestic product. Mr. Tuvey said April next year will be a key month for banks, given some of that debt will be due then. Tuvey said that back in 2018 banks were able to draw down their foreign-exchange assets held at the central bank to meet external debt repayments. “The upshot is that banks would be able to muddle through for a short period as in 2018, but they may struggle to cope if access to international capital markets were to be restricted for a considerable amount of time,” Tuvey said. Turkey’s large companies may be able to cope with the crisis for the moment because of foreign-currency reserves that he said might be even larger than official figures show, an ability to pass costs onto consumers, and government assistance including loans, according to Hakan Kara, a former chief economist at the central bank. But as with every case of soaring inflation, the crisis has fallen hardest on ordinary Turks, many of whom are swapping their earnings into foreign currency and cryptos, or looking for ways to flee the country. “I have no confidence left in the Turkish lira because we cannot see what lies ahead for us in this country anymore,” said a woman in her 60s who walked into an exchange office in Istanbul to change 50,000 lira into dollars. The woman, who owns a pharmacy, asked to have her name withheld because of fear of government reprisal. The government imposed a new rule this week requiring customers to present identification cards any time they exchange more than $100 worth of currency. Alas, as noted above, Erdogan doesn’t appear likely to change course, despite the political risks of soaring inflation. He has intensified his calls for low interest rates and the central bank this week used language that suggested it would cut rates again in December. Having ruled Turkey for nearly two decades as both prime minister and president, winning elections in part by vastly expanding the country’s economy, Erdogan’s time in power is at risk of coming to an end as the plummeting lira erodes the standard of living for millions of Turks, driving away potential voters. “Erdogan runs everything. He doesn’t allow either the finance minister, or the central bank governor, or anyone else to do their jobs,” said the owner of an exchange office in Istanbul. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/22/2021 - 14:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 22nd, 2021