Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin asked for the "most unhinged" criticisms of him on Twitter — highlighting the darker side of crypto

Even Buterin's father jumped in to share the wackier things he'd seen, including that the crypto pioneer is really a secret KGB agent for Putin. Vitalik Buterin, founder of ethereum.John Phillips/Getty Images for TechCrunch Vitalik Buterin shared crazy online criticism about him, and asked Twitter for more examples Thursday. The ethereum co-founder got thousands of answers, on topics from his supposed secret cabal to Ripple. The 27-year-old is no stranger to trolling, despite spearheading forward-thinking crypto projects. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin shared some of the nuttiest personal attacks, bordering on conspiracy theories, that he's ever received — and asked his Twitter followers for more."What are the craziest and most unhinged criticisms of me you've seen on Twitter or elsewhere?" he asked in a tweet Thursday."Here are a few good ones, I wonder what else people have seen that I haven't!"Buterin himself posted screenshots of comments describing him as an "alien crackhead" and a "Bond villain."The young crypto pioneer's own father jumped with some of the wackier things he'd seen online — such as that his son was a KGB operative working for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Buterin was born in Russia, and his family emigrated to Canada when he was a child.He has received over 2,400 responses in the last 20 hours, which touched on topics from his supposed secret ethereum cabal to rumours of his immortality. Another took issue with a purported comment on Ripple. Some Twitter users took the opportunity to share more lighthearted responses, with many using memes to poke fun at missed deadlines for the eth 2.0 network updates, and similar teasing.Joanie Lemercier's positive tweet.Twitter/@JoanieLemercierEven though Buterin has spearheaded some of the most forward-thinking crypto projects in recent years, the 27-year-old is no stranger to criticism. Some people have taken ethereum development delays and network issues as reasons to go on the attack. This isn't the first time that Buterin has shared some of the harsher commentary he receives, In 2017, he tweeted: "Achievement unlocked: have been compared to Hitler by 2 different Reddit trolls!"John Lilic, product investment advisor at Polygon, is one of those who have pointed out the trolling endured by Buterin is a serious problem in the crypto world. Fervent supporters in one digital clan will turn on others — ethereum's creator has come in for abuse from bitcoin fans, for instance — and conspiracy theories can run wild.In defense of Buterin, Lilic said the crypto creator has "been working to make the space better since almost day zero."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Bitcoin: A Second Chance For The Muslim World?

Bitcoin: A Second Chance For The Muslim World? Authored by Asif Shiraz via, Bitcoin is the sound money that the Muslim world needs to accelerate into the future... The Ottoman suppression of the printing press is a poster child case of intellectual stagnation in the Muslim world. Although there was no outright ban, there is no denying of a massively missed opportunity here: A civilization’s failure to adopt a groundbreaking technological change happening right next door. In its golden age, this same civilization that gave the world universities and hospitals, optics and algebra, even a precursor to the printing press itself, got so left behind in the later acceptance of technology, that its very own holy book, the Quran, waited for its first mass publication almost 300 years after Johannes Gutenberg chugged out the printed Bible. THE DECLINE But Islam’s Genesis Block was entirely different in character: A spirited but sundry assemblage of women and men whose most remarkable trait was their openness to new ideas. The idea of one God in a multitude of divine contenders. The idea of one bitcoin in a multitude of shitcoins … oops... sorry... mixing up my chronology! So anyway, this fraternity of early Islam, along with its keen aspiration of ushering in a just social and economic order, is also remarkable in a novel way for its time: It represents a death cross of reason’s moving average overtaking that of intuition in religious history. Bringing intellectual inquiry at par with mystical experience, it paved the way for its scions to delve into scientific skepticism, empiricism and experimental inquiry, with Robert Briffault going so far as to say that “Roger Bacon was no more than one of the apostles of Muslim science and method.” But eventually, the music stopped, and the market corrected! There are many explanations for the downfall, most of them partially true, spanning decades and centuries, but if we want to point fingers, as human nature dictates, at some symbolic event, then it must be the Mongol destruction of the House of Wisdom, #SackOfBaghdad. In the age of manuscripts, so many books from Baghdad’s libraries were flung into the Tigris that a horse could walk across on them and the river ran black with scholars’ ink and red with the blood of martyrs. As the Muslim Ummah lost so many intellectuals and intellectual capital in this tumultuous period, its reaction has been, (understandably), like that of an intern finding herself in control of mission critical servers, where all the senior sys admins suddenly stepped down, died or disappeared. Your best reaction is this: I’m not touching this system, and the only commands I’ll ever execute are those handed down by the four illustrious system admins — founders of the established schools of jurisprudence. And so Islamic scholarship for hundreds of years has been in a maintenance mode. In Pakistan alone, over 12,000 Madrasa routinely teach the rules and regulations of exchanging gold and silver, centuries after its daily use has been replaced by fiat. SURVIVAL OF CORE TENETS But herein lies a wonderful irony. This code-freeze on innovation, which we otherwise disapprove of, did work to an extent as it was intended: It protected the core principles from being callously compromised or deliberately diluted in the hands of opportunists. Just like the extra caution and consensus in changing the U.S. constitution protected the principles of freedom and equality enshrined in it: Islamic law, too, enshrined core financial principles, that have been a thorn on the side of would-be reformers attempting to legalize fiat and modern banking in the name of Islamic Finance. The 12,000 semi-literate Madrasa students, parroting the provisions of the fair exchange of gold and silver from a 17th century syllabus citing a 9th century scholar, unwittingly become more correct than a Harvard doctorate in finance indoctrinated in the misguided larceny of fiat money! All because Muhammad ﷺ mandated sound money, just like Mises and Hayek after him, a tenet immutably crystallized in Fiqh — Islamic Jurisprudence. A business man himself, the Prophet of Islam possessed a sharp acumen for economics and finance. In modern parlance, he quickly rose the corporate ladder to become one of the youngest CEOs of his time tasked with turning around the failing business empire of the urbane female entrepreneur, Khadija. Impressed with the Prophet’s personality, Khadija quickly proposed to him, creating a power couple that changed the course of history. Just like Jesus turned out the money-lenders from the Second Temple, the Prophet of Islam, too, had a disdain for usury and outlawed most of the accompanying capitalist machinations, that contribute to the gross wealth disparities like 10% owning 76% of the assets. So he created some fundamental rules that constitute the bedrock of Islamic financial principles: Forbade usury (Riba), including interest. Still respecting the time value of money, the prohibition’s intent is to create a financial regime where profit and risk is shared between the entrepreneur and the investor. From a sound money perspective, it prohibits the core operation of issuing interest bearing bonds and T-Bills against which the central bank can inflate the money supply. Forbade uncertainty (Gharar), embodied in his famous quote, “Do not sell a fish which is still in the water.” Eliminates the possibility of fractional reserve, since outstanding debt cannot be monetized and traded further with, unless it’s paid. It also closes the tap on a myriad of derivative instruments that further inflate the money supply. Forbade speculation (Maisir), which includes outright gambling. Some scholars consider speculative market activity, like the Dogecoin phenomena, under the ambit of this ruling. Mandated sound money. The rules of obligatory charity tax in Islam are denominated in sound money. Muslim governments take the market price of gold, convert them to fiat prices, and announce the converted value to the public to pay the religious obligation of Zakat. But from a legal standpoint, it permanently establishes gold and silver (as well as a whole class of other products) as perpetual, religiously recognized money in Islam. These prohibitions are strong enough in Islamic theology that anyone who violates them is technically, “at war with Allah and his Prophet.” Which is why the Madrasa’s syllabus clings to “nature’s money” (Thaman-e-Khalqi): gold and silver. But of course, big governments, Muslim or otherwise, are a chip off the same block: Self-interest reigns supreme over ethical principles. In Pakistan alone, the religious case against fiat banking has been delayed and obstructed for over 40 years in the courts. The politics of deficit financing are so attractive that no one wants to surrender this magical money making wand. Voldemorts, all of them! In spite of these prohibitions, and in countries where religion dominates social values, Muslims still grew comfortable with paper money because it initially disguised itself as “warehouse receipts for gold” which duped the scholars into permitting it, but the jurisprudence failed to catch up with the subsequent thinning of this asset backing into its current meaningless extent. REFORM ATTEMPTS As the domino roll of national independences took place, four different threads of activity around banking spread in Muslim countries. First, the mainstream implementation of modern banking took root in every Muslim State, implemented in toto like its Western counterparts. Second, Islamic banking attempted to reshape things a little. Scholars familiar with both economics and Shariah attempted to “Islamize” banking via the new academic discipline of “Islamic finance.” But instead of faithfully creating platforms for risk-sharing and equity-based financing, it just followed the Medieval Triple Contract–like approach to practically clone existing financial products, accompanied by a plethora of research papers to justify it. Like a comedic quote from the cold war era, “Communism is the longest and most painful road from capitalism to capitalism,” contemporary Islamic finance, too, turned out to become the most painful and circuitous route from traditional banking to traditional banking, decorated with Arabic names! How the professional bankers duped these scholars and hijacked this effort is excellently explained by Harris Irfan in a podcast with our own Saifedean Ammous. Third, a large but silent majority of toothless Islamic scholars continues to exist who view all forms of banking with suspicion, but the growing chasm of knowledge gap between their education and the complexities of modern finance makes them unable to take back the narrative. Lastly, a much smaller band of Islamic scholars exist, like followers of the Sufi order of a British convert and his Basque disciple, as well as a scholar from Trinidad, who successfully identified the fundamental problem with modern banking from a Shariah perspective: its monetary foundation. You cannot “Islamize” a bank if you do not fix the money it operates on! Hence, their attempt to resuscitate the traditional Islamic gold dinar as a sound money alternative to fiat. GOLD DINAR: THE REAL ISLAMIC ALTERNATIVE Fiat money and its permissibility can be viewed through an important concept in Islamic theology, the Maqasid-e-Shariah: the goals or purpose of Shariah law. To illustrate this with a controversial example, consider a Shariah law which says you cannot punish a man or woman for adultery, unless you bring four eye witnesses to the sexual act (which is normally impossible). While Islam abhors adultery, the Maqasid is an attempt by scholars to understand why, instead of having a law that easily and swiftly punishes it, there exists one that makes it practically impossible to prosecute. They rationalized that it must be to shield people’s privacy and one-off slipups from society's nosy interference and appetite for punishment. According to Muhammad Asad, “… to make proof of adultery dependent on a voluntary, faith-inspired confession of the guilty parties themselves.” So the Maqasid points to some socially valuable goal that the law intends to achieve. The rationale of the financial laws of Shariah are similarly explained in terms of their goals: a just distribution of wealth, a money free from devaluation, a business contract free from usurious exploitation, and a regulatory regime that increases people’s wealth and well-being. Through a very elementary intuition, it is obvious that fiat currencies violate this principle of honesty and justice in the society: Money issuers steal the purchasing power of the people and devalue their money. To put a formal Quranic stamp to this reasoning, we can take verse 3:75, “There are some among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who, if entrusted with a stack of gold, will readily return it.” The modern Islamic bank, if entrusted with money equivalent to a stack of gold, returns you only 90% of its worth in purchasing power, owing to inflationary erosion, thus it’s part of a system that clearly violates the Maqasid. Islamic banks have thus thoroughly failed to espouse the core principle of risk sharing and eliminating interest (since interest exists in the very issuance process of the money they are built on). The only real Islamic alternative ever proposed was the Gold Dinar Movement. Starting in parallel (and in many respects earlier) than Islamic banking, (with the first modern Dinar minted in 1992), it was incisively accurate in its assessment and proposed remedy to the money problem: “The Return to the Gold Dinar.” This was an earlier time, when the golden tool in the fight against fiat was literally gold, which was then popularized by Austrian economics, advocated by upright leaders like Ron Paul, and adopted by grassroots activists like Bernard von NotHaus. The Muslim world saw its own spate of activism for sound money, led by its most vocal proponent, Umar Vadillo, and associated initiatives like Wakala Nusantara, Dinar First and my own Dinar Wakala. The Kelantan State government’s launch of Gold Dinar was our own El Zonte moment, full of euphoria and promise that made waves globally. The passion and courage of this vibrant lot of Warrior Sufis represented the best of modern-day Muslims: Profoundly knowledgeable people, engaged in grassroots activism, to fix the most pressing challenges of the contemporary world. However, the primary strength of gold, its physical indestructibility, came in the way of its adoption: Logistic and regulatory hindrances prevented free flow of physical gold coins across national boundaries. In the words of its founder, Shaykh Abdalqadir, “The defense mechanisms of today’s late capitalism and its crisis management surrounding the buying, moving and minting of gold have surrounded it with prohibitive pricing and taxation.” It continues to serve as a galvanizing symbol of the fight against Riba, but making it a practical inflationary hedge, or a broader Ummah-level movement for sound money, proved an elusive goal. Without the Gold Dinar, the horizon seemed all but bleak, except that a glimmer of hope came from the most unexpected of places: Where scholars, economists and revolutionaries had failed, nerds succeeded! Enter Emir Satoshi! ADVENT OF BITCOIN For us in the Gold Dinar Movement, Bitcoiners are our brothers in arms: fighting the same enemy, securing the same goal. This is what I have always advocated to my fellow activists in the dinar movement, from as far back as 2012. Our Prophetﷺ, as well as the Rashidun Caliphs, never debased money, nor profited from seigniorage, but gave us the right to choose our own mediums of exchange. This is fundamentally antithetical to the monstrosity of legal tender laws, which Islamic scholars have been duped into legitimizing under various pretexts (highlighting the need for increased financial literacy in this lot). This freedom to choose a currency constitutes the common ground that both us and the Bitcoiners can rally around together. “The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust,” writes Satoshi. He recognized the problem with fiat and set out to fix it with Bitcoin, a miraculous epiphany that has let loose this growing, global band of fervid, somewhat bumptious Maximalists, as similar in essence and ethos to us, as they look different in appearance. I see Bitcoiners, not only in their pluck and guile, but also in the sly ingenuity of their weapon of choice, as nothing less than a modern-day David taking on the Goliath of traditional banking! From a Muslim perspective, the operating verse of the Quran in critique of the Bitcoin movement becomes 49:13, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Aware.” In the realm of monetary matters, the most righteous and noble are those who support sound money. It is appropriate that Allah stresses his own divine attributes in the verse, as a warning that our religiously colored conception of righteousness may not necessarily be the same as that of the knowing, the aware. (The literal term Taqwa, means something that protects you from the wrath of God.) And to the best of my belief, protecting and uplifting the poor, the downtrodden from the entrapments of a prejudiced financial system is surely a winner with the God of Abraham! A SECOND CHANCE We Muslims had set out to establish a just and fair society, and for some time, to quote David Graeber, succeeded: “Once freed from its ancient scourges of debt and slavery, the local bazaar had become, for most, not a place of moral danger, but the very opposite: the highest expression of the human freedom and communal solidarity, and thus to be protected assiduously from state intrusion.” But gradually, as our political and intellectual leadership in the world waned, we now find ourselves economically bankrupt, submerged in a rigged financial system, and enslaved to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A major reason for this impoverishment was the widening gap of modern knowledge. The following vicious cycle of three circularly dependent factors is another way of modeling our current reality: Low capital allocation for education. A generally weak economy leaves little allocation for investment in education of both scientific and humanities disciplines, which is required for a productive human capital. Low human capital. The first factor results in low quality of education in the populace then manifests politically in bad national decisions, engagement in conflicts, economic mismanagement, acquisition of debt and failure to curb corruption. Economically, this unskilled workforce has low productivity, scarce entrepreneurship and ineffective technology adoption. Religiously, it permits violence and extremism to breed along sectarian fault lines. Low economic output. The second factor results in continued economic tribulations, since the whole society is now in KTLO mode, instead of “adding new features.” Which leads us again to item one. It is the standard cycle of poverty played out at a macro scale, which many competing power bases believe they can break. The military, the Mullahs, and the Liberals, far away, even the CIA has prescriptions on how to solve our problems. But such temporary political and economic interventions bear no lasting results, since nations are built by worthy men and women, over a span of many years, who, given a free and peaceful environment, fall back on their innate drive for excellence to create a better world. It is the job of the revolutionary and his meteoric jolt, or at a smaller scale, your social entrepreneur giving a small push, that breaks a segment of society free from this vicious cycle: A closed ecosystem of wealth circulation, comprising of learned individuals, equipped with better technology and empowered with more capital, shielded from outside influence, and stabilized by a fair social contract, to launch the virtuous symbiosis of economic prosperity and human development which prop each other to newer heights. This break can start in many ways: a national independence, some strong leadership, or in case of Islam, the founding of a new religion. Islam’s own trajectory gives us a generalized three-stage pattern on which any revolution can be modeled, an excellent blueprint for our bitcoin adoption. Education: A new world view is conceived, and people are educated toward it for voluntarily placing their faith on it — Iman. Separation: The model is physically deployed, separated from existing systems, so it can grow and thrive without any negative external influences — Hijra. Protection: When the model grows strong enough to threaten the status quo, but still weak enough to be fully destructible, it needs protection, usually requiring armed conflict — Jihad. We in the Gold Dinar Movement believed that the break in this vicious cycle will come from financial empowerment: When Muslim people and governments adopt sound money, free from the shackles of the IMF, it will allow our bankrupt economies to manage enough disposable income that can be invested in other avenues in society, putting us on a path to progress and human development. Gold would bring back the Golden Age, producing men and women who are worth their weight in gold! But it could not. Let me explain why, and how bitcoin makes it possible. BITCOIN: A TOOL FOR REVOLUTION Following our three-stage model of a revolution, let’s review how bitcoin resolves the challenges of each step. 1. Education The common man, humble about his knowledge of finance, expects, like John Galbraith remarked, a “deeper mystery to the process of money creation.” But which really is so simple, he goes on, that “the mind is repelled.” But the chasm in traditional and modern education keeps our scholars from being able to religiously evaluate the fiat system, for which they need three vital credentials: a traditional Mufti qualification, specialized research in the Fiqh of Muamalat, and a study of modern economics. Only a handful achieve this, like the globally revered Usmani, who become thought leaders in Islamic finance: The rest take the easy way out and follow what they posit. I once asked a certified Shariah advisor on LinkedIn, if he knew what fractional reserve banking meant. I expected some abstruse, rule-bending justification for it but was taken aback by his honest admission that he simply didn’t know what it was! So the first challenge was to educate both the people and the scholars about the fiat system. Then to enlist serious academic and industry practitioners to devise a working alternative based on gold and silver. Then to have its demand trickle down into the masses to eventually morph into enough political pressure for the government to adopt it, much to its own detriment. Highly unlikely. Except that with bitcoin, educating the people now becomes much more focused and result oriented. The wider goal of educating people about finance and economics remains indispensable in both gold and Bitcoin-based sound money solutions. But with bitcoin, we don’t have to wait for a third-world academia and archaic-minded scholars to sell the solution to an unwilling government: We take the narrative, and the prerogative of action, back from them. We go tactical, orange pill the masses with an Urdu translation of the bitcoin standard, and focus on what is minimally essential to achieve within our means: Teaching Muggles... sorry…. No-coiners, the very basics of money mechanics, the role of bitcoin in our strategic response, and the know-how to stack satoshis in a cold wallet! The rest will follow! Coming to think of it, my initial printing press analogy is poignantly relevant. The press encapsulated years of knowledge in a simple package easily disseminated to thousands, which could have overcome our knowledge gap had we adopted it earlier. Bitcoin, too, encapsulates the quintessential wisdom of centuries of humanity’s experience in what constitutes good money and allows it to be spread easily across the world. It is both knowledge, and a tool crafted out of that knowledge. If we miss the boat on it, we will not only lose to “usury capitalism,” but the Bitcoin movement, too, will be deprived of huge potential support from a quarter of the world population. We must join the rest of humanity in a last ditch attempt at wealth equality. 2. Separation After educating people about money mechanics and bitcoin, the second step is the Hejira, our separation from the existing system. An Islamic scholar, Abdassamad Clarke defined “usury capital,” as “the use of capital that is both generated by usury and operated according to usurious principles, which permits a tiny clique of individuals, by the principle of fiat money amplified by leverage, to wield extraordinary power and accumulate unheard of wealth in such a manner as to subject the rest of humanity as menial servants in their project of self-enrichment, whether in the tyrannies of the East or the so-called free-market capitalism of the West.” The fundamental philosophical difference between Islamic and Western economics is how we view interest. Islam holds firm to the classical Judeo-Christian prohibition, believing that the time value of money is more fairly accounted for in equity finance style risk sharing of the invested capital, instead of a guaranteed return favoring the capitalist. Among other things, its side effect is prohibiting both the monetizing of our “future income” to issue fiat, and prohibiting the money-multiplier effect of fractional reserve, through the rulings of Riba, Bai-al-Dain and Bai-al-Madum. Bitcoiners and libertarians rely on an entirely different philosophical foundation to reach partially the same conclusion in regards to fiat, that it’s perverse, unjust and socially destructive. The end goal for both is the same: To separate ourselves from the fiat system and carve out an entirely new, independent financial system: The original idea of decentralized finance (DeFi)! Unfortunately, the bubble effect we so dislike in TradFi — traditional finance — is now itself widespread in the non-Bitcoin crypto world, what Ellen Farrington cites as the immense amount of “rehypothecation, leverage, and securitization,” which if misused can cause systemic risks that affect everyone. The practical reality of contemporary DeFi in the non-Bitcoin world is quite far from its theoretical goal. Looking at this aspect of “crypto,” some Islamic scholars took the liberty of invoking the gambling prohibition clause, something whose motivation we can sympathize with, even though we disagree with the conclusion. A lack of regulation at the administrative level cannot be countered by religious pronunciation of Haram status. It’s kind of like declaring cars as Islamically forbidden, merely because some people are driving them too fast and killing others. But presently, we are far less interested in how scholars view “crypto” than we are regarding bitcoin. The DeFi world’s shiny new investments offering unsustainable returns, its shady ICOs and the casino-like frenzy and get-rich-quick dreams of novice retail investors are far removed from what we advocate, from what we are daring to call a second chance for the Muslim world: A Bitcoin-based sound money adoption as a medium of exchange and store of value! But what is nevertheless commendable in the crypto world (led, of course, by Bitcoin) is the attempt to create this entirely new, independent miniverse of alternative, decentralized finance, isolated from the existing system. Building and expanding this decentralization, based on Bitcoin, is the essence of the second step of our revolutionary blueprint: the Hejira. Migrating from the old to the new. As Iqbal would have said, “Blow away this transitory world, and build a new one from its ashes” — khakastar se aap apna jahan paida karay. The only serious prior attempt for sound money among Muslims was the Dinar movement. But it only works in a physical jurisdiction: Where to mint, where to store, how to transport, how to coordinate electronic payments, how to deal with banking regulations, taxes and government interference? Theoretically, it was possible to instantiate an entirely independent ecosystem of issuance, storage, transport and trade using gold, but real progress on it was very slow. At the same time, the Bitcoin ecosystem has matured so much to be classifiable as an independent and isolated system, free from all interference from legacy finance. The Core Bitcoin Timechain, Lightning and Layer 2 smart contract solutions, and the globally distributed miner, node operator and supporter community, all combine to form a platform on which we can build and experiment with truly Islamic financial contracts of the form that are not possible with TradFi. In this ecosystem, we can resuscitate Islamic social and financial institutions like the Bait-ul-Maal, the Suq, the Waqf, the Guilds, the Hawala, the Wahdiya, the Qirad and the Musharaka, free from the restrictions of any government, securities commission or central bank. 3. Protection And once this isolated system is deployed, we need to protect it. A story is told in Islamic lore, that when Abu Dharr Ghifari came looking to meet the Prophet, Ali told him to walk a few paces behind him, and if he senses anyone suspicious he will stoop down to tie his shoelaces and Abu Dharr should continue walking ahead. Kind of like a coinjoin to obfuscate where he was actually going. When you are small, you must remain in stealth mode and operate under the radar. Later on, when the small state of early Islam was established in a nearby city, it needed a number of armed conflicts to defend itself from being nipped in the bud! Deploying a sound money system, too, may need a precarious window in which the sapling would need fierce protection before it grows into a tree. The hellacious powers issuing the yuans and dollars of the world are way too formidable for any third-world nation state to get away with a head-on collision. In fact, we cannot even withstand assaults from individual speculators, let alone a concerted effort by the global financial cabal to preserve its status quo. El Salvador and the like are definitely interesting trailblazers to watch out for here, but it is too early to tell. If a sufficient number of first-world citizens band together to defy their government in adoption of sound money, the response of fiat-powered regimes would (probably) be much more restrained in handling them versus some rogue state from a third-world country attempting to defy the dominant currency. I was told by a prominent Islamic banker that when Mahatir toyed with the idea, he was sent a very stern signal to “cease and desist” by the powers that be! So, can a Muslim government adopt and get away with either the dinar or bitcoin? I believe only in the latter. Only bitcoin has the necessary technological edge in terms of its unstoppability and indestructibility that can substitute for the need of a national military power strong enough to protect a traditional sound money built on gold. THE ISLAMIC STATE VERSUS BITCOIN But many Islamic revivalists believe otherwise and their goal is usually larger in scope than financial reform alone. It is a more holistic quest to resuscitate the political, social and legal structures of precolonial Islamic governments. Encouraged by the spectacular rise of early Islam that dared challenge superior powers like Byzantine and Sassanids, they believe it possible to recreate the traditional theocracy along similar lines, one of whose side effects would be to eradicate fiat currency also. Such ambitious projects downplay the urgency of fixing our financial system: No need to separately struggle for it if it comes as a natural corollary to the larger political renaissance. Now the specter of such pan-Islamic revival has been thoroughly demonized in Western imagination, owing from our own side to violent extremism, owing from their side to a deep-rooted Islamophobia, and owing generally to ideas (or realities?) like the clash of civilizations. But my Bitcoiner friends — whose libertarian ethos is so refined to even self-censure the slightist hint of authoritarian enforcement in El Salvador’s legal tender adoption of bitcoin — will surely agree that it is entirely within the rights of the Muslim world to voluntarily experiment, on their land, with whatever form of government they fancy: caliphates, sultanates or kingdoms! But the reality of this dream in the minds of the majority of modern Muslims is quite different from what the world perceives. The moderate Muslim just wants Islamic principles to be the guiding source of their political and social order. But the strength of this desire is often encashed by opportunists, resulting in two recent distorted models of political Islam: 1.The Iranian model: Somewhat broad-based and sustainable but toothless and symbolic. They are the political twins of Islamic banks, offering no real change to the common man, except moral policing. Financially, there even exists the oxymoronic Central Bank of the Islamic Republic. Why would you have an Islamic bank if you were truly an Islamic republic? 2. Second, is the Taliban and ISIS model: Narrow-based, extremist and unsustainable, divorced from the comity of nations. ISIS did reportedly issue the Gold Dinar but to no one’s avail, except perhaps as a recruitment propaganda. News out of Kabul promises a more restrained and balanced government this time around, but is it a genuine change of heart or just political expediency? So, while the Muslim world waits for a true Islamic reformation, and the world holds its breath on how the next such attempt turns out, my issue with this ubiquitous political quest in the Muslim imagination is just NGMI — it’s not gonna make it! We can’t stall the effort of immediate financial reform on some future promise of a bigger change happening to facilitate it. As an Urdu saying goes, na nau munn tayl hoe ga, na Radha naachay gi: Neither shall the king be able to provision nine gallons of lamp oil, and nor will the stage ever be lit enough for his dancing girl, Radha, to perform! Nevertheless, assuming for a moment that a mature, viable, modern Islamic government does get established by some geopolitical miracle, faithful to Islam’s core tenets, and broad-based in popular support, the next and more pertinent question becomes: Will it have sufficient political, and if necessary, military power, to deploy a gold-based sound monetary system in their country, and then get away with the sanctions and isolation that follow? And this is where bitcoin, once again, outshines other alternatives. The one trait that sets it apart from all “crypto”, and indeed, all monies in human history: true, sovereign-grade censorship resistance, from both your own government and foreign powers. Without needing any battalions or bombs, bitcoin enables us to fight the good fight ourselves and win. And if the broader Islamic reformation materializes, bitcoin can support it, too, for bypassing potential sanctions and increasing national wealth! God has a knack for defeating evil by the simplest of designs — the mighty Goliath with a slingshot, the persecutors of the Prophet with a humble spider — as if to compound the humiliation of defeat by the plainness of its bearer. Who could have thought that the Kremlins, Zhongnanhais and White Houses of the world would be made helpless by the confluence of two elementary ideas: proof of work and difficulty adjustment! But this simple, easily overlooked and less understood killer combination of traits makes bitcoin an undefeatable tool in the hands of us, the 99%. We do not need to wait for anyone. We can do it ourselves with bitcoin. THE WAY FORWARD While the wallet addresses, exchange accounts, market cap, and of course, the hype around crypto is constantly rising in Muslim countries, much of this activity is from the perspective of a shiny new investment vehicle, a get-rich-quick bandwagon to which everyone wants to hitch! This has engendered the animated debate of investor protection, scam avoidance and the whole academic deliberation of whether they are at all Halal owing to a perceived lack of intrinsic value and being free from government control. While all of these objections on bitcoin from the Shariah perspective have been thoroughly refuted by various scholars and are easily searchable on the internet, the continuance of this superfluous debate is dangerously distracting: In the process, we are losing sight of the higher frequencies of this amazing once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Aye ahle-e-nazar zauq-e-nazar khoob hai laikinJoe shay ki haqeeqat koe na dekhay woe nazar kiya We need bitcoin, not because it’s a great investment (which incidentally it is), but because it’s a great store of value and a medium of exchange: A free medium of exchange, which can uplift us collectively if we just adopt it, en masse, as our money. To my fellow Muslims, here is a parting thought. We love and honor our Prophet to such an extent that even the minutest of his actions, Sunnahs, is recorded, revered and repeated, even if it be as simple as the table manners of cutting some fruit. But here is another Sunnah of bigger import: success. The change that he set out to achieve in the world, he did achieve it. As he breathed his last in the arms of Ayesha, he had already delivered on the promise he had made to his companions in the lowest ebb of their persecution: “... a traveler from Sana to Hadrarmaut will fear none but Allah.” Although bordering a little on logical fallacy, I would point out that he didn’t cite something more symbolic like the establishment of the Caliphate, or the conquests, or the subsequent power. He chose to cite, as evidence of success to what they were suffering for, the establishment of a certain social order: One in which an anonymous citizen would not fear physical or financial insecurity. I say anonymous, not a private citizen, because the choice of the word “traveler” is very telling. While you are known in your city, protected by your identity, and potential clout from a corporation or clan, it is suddenly removed when you are in a strange land. They do not even know your name, unless you tell them: You are just a wallet address. But this traveler is not afraid of loss of wealth, or being robbed, or not having the right passport, or the right vaccine passport! He can move himself, and he can move his money. We Dinarists and Bitcoiners always equate inflation with theft. Whether you snatch 50 rupees from a poor man, or the free fall of your currency leaves him with 50 rupees less of a purchasing power, it is the same. While every ill is not caused by our monetary system, there is the obvious administrative incompetence and a dismal economic performance to account for — but inflation is definitely a huge factor. And all our high talk, slogans, research papers, reform movements, activism and militarism have deviated from this one Sunnah: The success of delivering safety to this traveler again. Bitcoin can help us succeed. Like now! Not 20 years later. Not when some promised leader will part the seas for us again. But now, when the poor illiterate, helpless man on the street looks at us educated and privileged elites and asks: What did you do to level the playing field for me? The Islamic banker may say, “Oh, I developed this intricate Shariah compliant profit and loss sharing contract for you, approved by the council of scholars, and backed by the gold dinar, just wait for it to be deployed.” I will say, “Dude, here, let me help you buy a few satoshis and get you a Lightning wallet so you don’t have to revert back to the rupee when paying for your next meal!” I think you should do the same. Bitcoin deserves a fresh look from us Muslims. Let’s think about it. Let’s use it correctly. Let’s spread it. Let’s understand it. Let’s use Bitcoin. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/30/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 30th, 2021

Meet the millennial and Gen Z founders growing their startups, raising millions in funding, and using social media to turn their side hustles into seven-figure empires

With so much change, it's hard to track the new innovators redefining the world around them. That's why Insider started profiling them in a series called Star, Rising. "Star, Rising" is a series highlighting early entrepreneurs and businesses.Samantha Lee/Insider Insider's series Star, Rising highlights early-stage entrepreneurs who are gaining popularity. Insider has profiled founders all over the world who are innovating their respective industries.  Here are the 21 burgeoning business owners in Insider's Star, Rising series.  The pandemic spurred a new wave of entrepreneurship, prompting people to start their own companies, and that doesn't seem to be slowing down. The US saw 3.4 million new business applications in 2021, according to the US Census Bureau. That's in addition to the rise in hustle culture, as the gig economy grows and social media paves way for more virtual shops and accessible marketplaces. In particular, many millennials and Gen Zers are disrupting the industries they work in as they find their place in the protean landscape of entrepreneurship.With so much change, it can often be hard to track the new innovators seeking to redefine the world around them. That's why Insider has started profiling them in its series Star, Rising, which explores how these entrepreneurs built their businesses, who they call mentors, and what advice they would give others looking to follow in their footsteps.So far, the series has introduced Oladosu Teyibo, who is sourcing African talent for his software company to increase representation in tech, and Sharmadean Reid, who launched a female-centric financial news publication to educate the rising crop of entrepreneurs. Here are the 19 other burgeoning founders in Insider's Star, Rising series. Sharmadean Reid's new business aims to empower entrepreneurial women.Sharmadean ReidSharmadean ReidReid is the founder of The Stack World, a female-centric financial publication that aims to be the stepping stone between Cosmopolitan and The Financial Times. Based in London, the outlet is on track to hit 10,000 subscribers by this year and has more than 420,000 followers on Instagram.In 2019, Reid raised nearly £4 million ($5.5 million) in a funding round led by Index Ventures for BeautyStack and has since rebranded and expanded the platform into The Stack World's marketplace. That milestone made her one of 10 Black female entrepreneurs in the UK who's raised venture capital between 2009 and 2019. Two Gen Zers turned a $2,000 investment into an art gallery that sells $600K pieces. They want to usher in a new generation of art collectors.Alexis de Bernede (R) and Marius Jacob (L))Darmo ArtBased in France, Alexis de Bernede and Marius Jacob are the founders of Darmo Art gallery. This summer, their two shows netted six figures each, and they are now planning future exhibitions in Paris, the French Riviera, and at the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, an exclusive report in Germany. The millennial founder of a software company on track to net seven figures is fostering Africa's rising tech stars.Oladosu TeyiboOladosu TeyiboOladosu Teyibo is the founder of Analog Teams, a software development company focused on hiring talent from underrepresented communities. The company is on track to net seven figures in revenue last year and has already expanded into six African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.The 27-year-old founder of a Gen-Z focused media platform is on track to make more than $1 million in revenue this yearPavel DlerPavel DlerPavel Dler, 27, launched Culted as an arts and culture-focused news platform designed with Gen Z consumers in mind. Based in London, his company is on track to make $1 million this year and hopes to expand further into content creation. Meet the Gen Z founders who created a music app to help combat pandemic-induced anxiety and depression(L) Travis Chen and (R) Brian FemminellaSoundMindTravis Chen and Brain Femminella built a therapy app to help people deal with their anxiety and depression, especially during the pandemic, they told Insider. To date, their company has raised six figures in pre-seed funding.Hogoè Kpessou worked as an Uber Eats driver before she launched her handbag brand last year. Now she's on track to net seven figures.Hogoè KpessouHogoè KpessouLuxury designer Hogoè Kpessou is best known for her backpacks emblazoned with a gold bumblebee. Before starting her eponymous company, she held weekend shifts at a local restaurant and delivered food for Uber Eats. Now she expects to hit seven figures in revenue by the beginning of this year.The 24-year-old cofounder of an NFT art gallery raised $7.6 million in funds on his quest to create the 'Instagram for NFTs'.Alex MasmejAlex MasmejAlex Masmej made headlines last year after turning himself into a token on crypto-platform Ethereum. Now, he's working on his next venture, called Showtime, which is an art gallery that focuses on highlighting non-fungible tokens. In April, he raised $7.6 million in venture capital and hopes to make Showtime one of the biggest NFT art galleries in the world.Nisha Persaud's side hustle is creating at-home manicure boxes that are beloved by celebs and have been featured in luxury campaignsDanisha "Nisha" PersaudDanisha "Nisha" PersaudWhen the pandemic made it difficult for Nisha Persaud to get her nails done, she created at-home manicure kits to get the job done. Since then, she's netted more than $100,000 in revenue and her work has been reposted on social media by Cardi B, received a shoutout by Megan Thee Stallion in a video, and gifted to the model Teyana Taylor for her baby shower. The Gen Zer who launched a website for artists to buy and sell high-end bongs believes people will soon collect them like fine chinaRiley McDonnellGlassPassRiley McDonnell wants to build the Sotheby's of glass bongs and pipes. Last year alone, his company has launched an app that has amassed 20,000 users and has done more than $500,000 in transactions.  In just a year, designer Kingsley Gbadegesin launched a six-figure, genderless fashion line seen on TV shows, magazine covers, and Lil Nas XKingsley GbadegesinKingsley GbadegesinKingsley Gbadegesin took his unemployment check, mixed it with his savings, and launched his eponymous fashion line during the pandemic. Already, it has been spotted on Issa Rae's character in her hit HBO show "Insecure," pop star Lil Nas X, and seen on beauty influencer Bretman Rock.  Three millennial cofounders created a job platform that looks like TikTok and works with Panda Express, H&M, and Everlane.(L-R) Tristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf and Cyriac LefortCourtesy of HeroesTristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf, and Cyriac Lefort are the cofounders of the job platform Heroes, which allows individuals to submit video job applications and lets employers share day-in-the-life videos of workers. The platform seeks to help Gen Z workers get jobs at retailers such as Panda Express and H&M. What's more, last year it closed a $6 million seed round, led by Greg McAdoo of venture capital firm Bolt. Entrepreneur Anne Onyeneho turned a cookbook into a meal-prepping business and soon a restaurant.Anne OnyenehoAnne OnyenehoLast November, Anne Onyeneho authored a cookbook full of plant-based recipes called PlantBaed to help people prepare their own healthy dishes at home. Four months later, she launched a meal prepping service, named after the cookbook, so customers could buy healthy dishes directly from her. She was on track to net six figures in revenue by the end of last year and looking to open a restaurant. Millennial fashion designer Alexandra O'Neill is seeing cocktail dress sales skyrocket as customers prepare for the new Roaring 20sCourtesy of Alexandra O'NeillAlexandra O'Neill is the founder of luxury brand Markarian and made headlines last year after First Lady Jill Biden wore a custom Markarian piece for Inauguration. Since then, the company has seen sales skyrocket. What's more, O'Neill held her first New York Fashion Week presentation in September, showing off a collection inspired by Lauren Bacall in the movie "How to Marry a Millionaire." 3 Gen Zers created a competition to connect young creatives with cash and careers amid the pandemic. (L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam FlanaganProspect 100Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan launched the competition Prospect 100 last year to help young creatives showcase their work as the pandemic shuttered the arts industry. Since last May, it's held six competitions with more than 15,000 participants from 82 countries. Additionally, past judges include Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Yeezy design director Steven Smith.Brittni Popp's 6-figure side hustle is making custom cakes for celebrities like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian.Brittni PoppBrittni Popp likes to help people commemorate their important life moments, whether that's a bridal party, divorce, or even an expunged DUI. Her business, Betchin Cakes, sells customized baked goods that come adorned with decorations like Barbie dolls or empty nips. In the two years since she launched her side hustle, she's landed high-profile customers like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian, and was on track to make six figures in revenue last year. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 3rd, 2022

Vitalik Buterin created a "fellowship of the ring" to build ethereum. But the founders have a history of feuds and are now competing for crypto dominance.

Vitalik Buterin has said one of his biggest regrets was "nondiscriminately" choosing seven other founders to help him build ethereum. Vitalik Buterin brought together seven other people to help him build ethereum."775040520SB00199_TechCrunch" by TechCrunch is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Vitalik Buterin has likened the eight ethereum cofounders to the "fellowship of the ring." Yet, they have a history of feuds and in some cases are directly competing against each other. Insider takes a look at who the eight ethereum founders are and what they're up to now. See more stories on Insider's business page. Vitalik ButerinVitalik Buterin dreamed up ethereum in 2013.Getty Images/John PhillipsVitalik Buterin compared the eight founders of the ethereum blockchain to JRR Tolkien's close-knit "fellowship of the ring", according to the Financial Times.Yet, the story of the group is one marked by feuds and competition, with two members splintering off to create ethereum rivals cardano and polkadot. Buterin recently said choosing seven other founders "nondiscriminately" to build the network was his biggest regret.The 27-year-old is one of the most famous figures in crypto, having come up with the idea for ethereum – a cryptocurrency network on which decentralized applications can be built – in 2013. He was just 19 at the time and 21 when ethereum launched in 2015.Before that, Buterin had become a fan of bitcoin and crypto technology after being introduced to it by his dad, and went on to cofound Bitcoin Magazine. Buterin still works on the network, driving research and providing new ideas.Charles HoskinsonEthereum cofounder and Cardano creator, Charles HoskinsonCharles Hoskinson/YouTubeMaths whizz Charles Hoskinson quickly became an influential member of the ethereum startup that emerged in 2013. Yet, his time on the project came to an end within months, in part because of his prickly relationship with other founders. Hoskinson wanted ethereum to be a for-profit company, but Buterin wanted it to be a nonprofit platform.Accounts vary about what happened: Hoskinson says he left, others say Buterin fired him. Either way, the two are known to not particularly like each other and occasionally still take digs at the other's methods.After leaving ethereum, Hoskinson founded the cardano blockchain platform whose ada cryptocurrency soared in 2021. Cardano is known as an "ETH killer" as it also lets users build their own projects and is a competitor with ethereum.Gavin WoodGavin Wood went on to found polkadot.ParityEnglish computer scientist Gavin Wood became an important ethereum coder after joining the group in 2014. In fact, he created the first ethereum test network and made a number of other key programming contributions.Wood left ethereum in 2016, and went on to found polkadot, another ETH killer crypto network focused on trying to link together different blockchains. Polkadot's dot cryptocurrency also rose sharply in 2021.The polkadot founder has been known to take swipes at ethereum. For example, in 2020 he contrasted its "slow" transaction times with polkadot's quicker speeds.Joe LubinJoe Lubin went on to found ConsenSys.Riccardo Savi/Getty ImagesAlthough many of the ethereum cofounders were in their 20s, Lubin was older and more experienced when he came on board in 2013. The Princeton-educated computer scientist worked for Goldman Sachs before becoming disillusioned with traditional finance during the 2008 crisis.Lubin founded the for-profit ethereum development company ConsenSys, which has launched a number of different projects on the network. One example is the widely used "wallet" MetaMask. ConsenSys raised money from JPMorgan, UBS and others this year.Anthony Di IorioAnthony Di Iorio recently said he's quitting the crypto world.Ethan Lou/ReutersAnthony Di Iorio was an entrepreneur and bitcoin enthusiast before Buterin asked him to come on board to launch ethereum. Yet, he was reportedly also not so keen on ethereum non-profit direction and took a backseat. He went on to found Decentral, which launched the Jaxx crypto wallet.Di Iorio hit the headlines earlier this year when he said he was quitting the crypto world and selling his company, partly because of concerns about his personal safety. He said another key reason was to focus on philanthropy.Mihai AlisieMihai Alisie is now working on a crypto project called Akasha.@MihaiAlisie/TwitterMihai Alisie has known Buterin since 2011 when they founded Bitcoin Magazine, one of the first publications solely dedicated to crypto. Alisie was important in setting up the Swiss company that gave ethereum a legal and financial base in its early days.He was vice president of the Ethereum Foundation – the non-profit organization which supports the network – until 2015. He stepped back to found Akasha, a crypto project looking to harness the technology for social purposes.Jeffrey WilckeJeffrey Wilcke is now a video-game designer.@etehreum/TwitterComputer programmer Jeffrey Wilcke was a key player in the early days of ethereum, writing a version of the platform in the Google Go language. That turned into Go Ethereum, or Geth.He has since left to form a games company called Grid Games with his brother. Wilcke has said he felt his energy was better spent elsewhere, "away from the drama" of ethereum.Amir ChetritAmir Chetrit is the most mysterious and publicity shy of the group, but was working on a crypto startup called Colored Coins – which Buterin also worked on – when he joined ethereum.Yet, according to journalist Matthew Leising, who wrote a book about ethereum called "Out of the Ether," other members thought Chetrit wasn't pulling his weight. Leising wrote that this led to Buterin kicking him out of the project with Hoskinson.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 26th, 2021

The Unraveling

The Unraveling Authored by Sven Henrich via, Investors are ignoring two big elephants in the room. While we see yet again a positive reaction to the latest Fed meeting with new all time highs in the $ES futures contract things are far from well, indeed things have already been unraveling beneath the surface for a while. A potential Santa rally notwithstanding storm clouds are not only gathering but they are already all around us. I suggest paying close attention, despite the expected upcoming holiday lull. First off and most importantly: The Fed was NOT hawkish yesterday despite what you hear in the media. Context: For months on end they insisted that inflation was transitory, then as inflation kept surprising them to the upside they finally retired it and yesterday Powell said that now risk is that inflation is becoming persistent. The policy response to 6.7% CPI and 9.6% PPI? Absolutely nothing in the here and now. In December they are continuing asset purchases and it’s not until January that they will accelerate taper which means they will continue to expand the balance sheet. In addition they will continue to run full negative real rates even with 3 supposed rate hikes next year, for anyway you look at it this is where we are: Under which economic theory or construct do you fight inflation with real negative rates? I know of none and I suspect neither does the Fed. So the Fed is overtly risking that inflation is becoming entrenched with a weak response and that can be a big problem. I know so because Powell has said so himself in 2018: “recent research highlights two particularly important cases in which doing too little comes with higher costs than doing too much. The first case is when attempting to avoid severely adverse events such as a financial crisis or an extended period with interest rates at the effective lower bound.21 In such situations, the famous words “We will do whatever it takes” will likely be more effective than “We will take cautious steps toward doing whatever it takes.” The second case is when inflation expectations threaten to become unanchored. If expectations were to begin to drift, the reality or expectation of a weak initial response could exacerbate the problem.” So why the weak response that sparked the market rally yesterday? Because of 4 distinct 'puts' the Fed and Powell issued yesterday. First, the most important: Powell admitting yesterday that he is putting market reaction ahead of anything else. When asked why they are not ending asset purchase immediately his response speaks volumes: “Markets can be sensitive to it.” That is a direct admission that they don’t want to upset markets and that they are putting market consideration ahead of what might be the right economic policy, ie. fight inflation. It’s also a big admission that they know the balance sheet impacts asset prices which is of course exactly what the ECB’s  Schnabel said the other day: And we know this because I’ve been highlighting it for months. The S&P 500 is in essence a Fed balance sheet tracker and today we again see new highs on what surely will be a new record high on the Fed’s balance sheet. 13 months in a row, tit for tat and equity pullbacks tend to occur when the Fed’s balance sheet temporarily pulls back only to end as soon as the balance sheet cranks right back up, an exercise I advertised in advance during the early December pullback: Come and see, come and see: As I suggested last week (see tweet above) the Fed's balance sheet rose again between last Thursday and this Wednesday and took $SPX right back up with it. I rest my case. — Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) December 9, 2021 In this sense the S&P 500 has been nothing but a Fed balance sheet tracker. Yet in process the bubble has gotten so large even Powell had to acknowledge the obvious: Powell: Asset valuations, I'm going very superficial here, but asset valuations are elevated. YOU THINK? — Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) December 15, 2021 I repeat: The asset bubble is so large it is now the biggest threat to the economy should it blow up, hence they can’t afford a major sell off although ironically it would be the quickest way to stop inflation in its track. The second put was in the Fed statement itself: “The Committee judges that similar reductions in the pace of net asset purchases will likely be appropriate each month, but it is prepared to adjust the pace of purchases if warranted by changes in the economic outlook. The Federal Reserve’s ongoing purchases and holdings of securities will continue to foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses.” Translated: As soon as there is any trouble, i.e. markets selling off, we will immediately stop the taper. This is the Powell pivot advertised in advance and markets know this. They know all this talk means nothing as Powell is ready to flip on a dime, like he did in 2018. In other words: We will intervene as soon as there is a market correction. See a 10%-20% correction and all rate hike talk dies and QE continues or gets expanded again. And of course if Omicron poses a problem that will serve as an excuse as well. Markets know this and hence they don’t take Powell all that serious when it comes to tapering, raising rates or anything else. They bet on Powell caving as soon as there is any real market trouble. After all the 2018 Powell pivot still in fresh memory. The third put was Powell’s insistence to point out that even if they end QE the Fed will remain highly accommodative which is proving the earlier point: They are not serious in fighting inflation. To fight inflation you have to be non accommodative, i.e. tightening and they’re not doing that for at least months on end  and only if market don’t drop. Rather Powell and team appear to intrinsically believe inflation will soon peak. And while that may be the case consumers will still be left holding the bag for the damage is already apparent and will in many case not reverse at all: We’re sorry your rent has gone up 20% this year but we won’t raise it by more than 3 % next year, so you see, inflation was just transitory. — Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) December 15, 2021 The 4th put is the simple fact that now in front of Santa seasonality they are still going pedal to the metal and therefore none of the mechanics have changed and this gives everyone the excuse to go balls in deep to chase year end performance. Take these 4 puts together and voila, vertical panic rally to the upside and new all time highs in overnight today: Which brings me to other big elephant in the room: Bear market in stocks bull market in indices. — Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) December 3, 2021 Be absolutely clear: While main indices are making new all time highs & give the appearance of a raging bull market underneath there already is a raging bear market in individual stocks ( via Carter Worth): We see it in the almighty Nasdaq where 65% components are trading below the 200 daily moving average: If the fab 5 were trading below their 200 day moving average people would already be talking about a bear market and be begging for more intervention. No, the big cap tech stocks are masking all the damage beneath and this market is dependent on these stocks not correcting. And this divergence is also very notable in the S&P as new highs show ever fewer stoke exhibiting strength. 45% of components are below their 50 day moving average: 30% are below their 200 day moving average the weakest reading this year yet reflecting a trend that began early in the year. Indeed it was in February when the Spac and ARKK craze peaked. Many IPos this year such as $HOOD are trading disaster zones seeing early buyers getting absolutely crushed. New highs/new lows perhaps best reflect the bleeding beneath: And small caps also reflect how poor 2021 has actually traded for most stocks: A massive fake break out in November, now a bunch of trapped supply above. It is no wonder then that Fund performance is exactly far from impressive: GOLDMAN: “.. just 32% of large cap mutual funds have beat their respective style benchmarks YTD .. long/short hedge funds have fared no better, with the typical fund posting a flat YTD return according to Goldman Sachs Prime Brokerage compared with +23% for the S&P 500.” — Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) December 6, 2021 So I submit the notion of a raging bull market is a myth. Indices propelled to constant new highs by still flowing central bank liquidity increasingly held together by a few stocks. Yes, mark it up all you want, but accelerated taper is coming in January, profit motive will see people locking in gains on the winners and the end of QE will bring about a larger asset correction as it always does: And that’s when Powell will cave as he always does and then markets can rally again. But keep a close eye on this chart. Not only do prices remain far outside the historical resistance of the upper quarterly Bollinger band, $SPX also remains far above its quarterly 5 EMA. A chart that demands its eventual technical reconnect, a process many of its components have already undertaken. My view here: Powell made a mistake with transitory, he made a mistake with printing too much for too long, and now he’s making a mistake with being too beholden to markets vis a vis what the needed policy response is. As he said himself: “If expectations were to begin to drift, the reality or expectation of a weak initial response could exacerbate the problem.” And that’s it right there. The Fed is exacerbating the problem and that will force their hand in 2022 and Powell will come to regret continuing to suck up to the market. 2022 will again become a giant gaming exercise to anticipate what the Fed may or may not do and when the Fed will again cave to market pressure. But be clear: A market that has been proven to be entirely dependent on Fed’s balance sheet expanding will have to contend with the Fed balance sheet suddenly no longer expanding. A market that now sees $11 trillion in market cap tied up in just 6 stocks is walking an extremely narrow path that can lead to a much larger unraveling then what the broader market has already begun to do. Lagging funds may want to performance chase into the end of year, but the game is changing, the valuations are still astronomical, and dare I say: Given the absolute disastrous performance in the majority of individual stocks bears were absolutely correct to warn of chasing into unrealistic valuations. Unfortunately many individual investors are now not only paying the price of inflation run hot by a stubborn Fed, they now also pay the price with major drawdowns in stocks. Bull market in indices, bear market in stocks and liquidity injections coming to an end. 2022 will be interesting. *  *  * On a final note: If you want to stay updated with what’s happening in markets I’m discussing ongoing technical developments in markets and crypto on a regular basis in the NorthCast and you are welcome to follow there (it’s free). For the latest public analysis please visit NorthmanTrader and the NorthCast. To subscribe to our directional market analysis please visit Services. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 15:21.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 16th, 2021

Transcript: John Doerr

   The transcript from this week’s, MiB: John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins, 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: John Doerr appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins, 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, yes, an extra special guest, John Doerr of the famed venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is here to discuss all things venture capital and climate related. He has a new book out that’s really quite interesting. We talk about everything from crypto to Tesla to beyond me, to all of the opportunities that exist in order to help moderate and reduce carbon in the atmosphere and the potential climate crisis that awaits us if we don’t change our ways. So, Doerr is a venture capitalist. He invests money in order to generate a return. These aren’t just finger-wagging-be-green-for-green sake. He describes their venture fund which they put nearly a billion dollars into it 10 years ago and now, it’s worth over three billion. That’s how successful the returns have been. He describes the climate crisis as a multitrillion dollar opportunity. Yes, we need to do something in order to make sure we leave our children and grandchildren a habitable Earth. At the same time, there is a massive opportunity in everything from food to electrical grid, to transportation, on and on and on. It really is quite fascinating somebody like him sees the world from both perspectives, from the, hey, we want to make sure we have a habitable place to live but he can’t take off his VC hat and he sees just massive opportunities to do well by doing good. Really, a fascinating conversation. With no further ado, my interview with Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr. ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is John Doerr. He is the famed venture capitalists known for his work at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The venture capital firm operates 32 funds. They’ve made more than 675 investments, including such early-stage funding for companies like Google, Twitter, Amazon and too many others to list. Doerr still holds a substantial stake in his initial investment in Google. His most recent book is “Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now.” John Doerr, welcome to Bloomberg. JOHN DOERR, CHAIRMAN, KLEINER PERKINS: It’s thrilled to be here with you, Barry. Thank you. RITHOLTZ: And I’m thrilled to talk to you. Let’s go back to the early parts of your career before we start to get current. You originally joined Intel because you couldn’t land a gig as a venture capitalist. Tell us a little bit about that. DOERR: I came to Silicon Valley with no job, no place to live and incidentally, no girlfriend. The lady I’ve been dating decided I was too persistent and dumped me. So, I — my real goal was to win my way back into her heart and to join with some friends to start a company. I wanted to start a company and I heard that venture capital had something to do with that. So, I cold called all the venture capitalists and some of them returned my call in the mid-70s and they looked at my experience and uniformly included that I should go get a real job. That was their advice. I remember Dick Gramley (ph) said, we just backed a small new chip company called Intel, why don’t you interview for a job there, and I did. And lo and behold, unbeknownst to me, my former girlfriend, Ann Howland, now Ann Howland Doerr, has gotten a job at Intel. I got a job there and when I arrived that first summer day, I was surprised to see her there and she was not happy to see me. So, it took the rest of the summer to put our relationship back together again. But I love Intel, it was a dynamic place. They just invented the microprocessor and I’ve seriously considered abandoning my graduate education in business as it turns out to just stay at Intel. But I returned there after graduating and worked for, I guess, four or five years helping democratize computing as to get microprocessors used in everything from traffic lights to defibrillators, to nuclear resonance magnetic imaging systems, and it was all because I wanted to be part of new rapidly growing companies. RITHOLTZ: How did you work your way from Intel to venture investing? How did you find your way to Kleiner Perkins? DOERR: I got a phone call one day from a friend who said, hey, John, I just finished interviewing for job at a venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. It sounded to me like a law firm. I really didn’t know them. But he said, you should go interview there because what they want to add to their team is someone younger professional with a strong technical background, a good network in Silicon Valley, and a passion for startups. I think you and they would make a great fit. So, I didn’t — they ran an ad actually in the “Wall Street Journal” for this position which I didn’t see. But I called up, I interviewed and got a job there as an entry level professional, a gofer, I did everything. I carried people’s bags. I read business plans. But there was one important condition that I had and that is I made them promise that they would back me with my friends in starting a company. I went to work there because, honestly, I wasn’t interested in venture capital. I wanted to be an early ’80s entrepreneur. And they had — they agreed to that and pointed out that they had backed other young partners at Kleiner in writing business plans. Bob Swanson had written a business plan for Genentech that led to the whole biotech industry and Jimmy Treybig had done the same thing with Tandem Computers. My current partner, Brook Byers as the young partner at Kleiner wrote the business plan for hybrid tech. So, Eugene Kleiner and Tom Perkins were unusual and I’d even say mythic or epic figures in that they had technical backgrounds. They started their own companies and they felt that was part of what their venture capital firm ought to do. RITHOLTZ: So, here’s the key question, how come you never left Kleiner Perkins? Why didn’t you launch your own startup? DOERR: Well, I did. They backed me in doing it. The first was one called Silicon Compilers. I became the full-time CEO and founder of that with a Cal Tech professor, Carver Mead. RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: Then as I worked with companies like Compaq, Sun Microsystems, they were growing really rapidly, I realized I was not at all qualified to advise these entrepreneurs. So, I took another 18-month leave of absence from Kleiner to run the desktop division of Sun and almost left Kleiner permanently to do that. But Ann and I wanted to start a family and she said, you know, you’re doing this Sun thing and keeping involved in Kleiner, it’s just not going to work, we have to make some choices here. And so, I left my operating role at Sun. But never gave up an interest in starting new companies and did that again at a later time with a company called @Home. You may remember that they … RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: … standardized and commercialized the cable modem to access the Internet. Before the @Home venture, access to the Internet was really very slow and cable modem swept the United States and our company was key in making that happen. RITHOLTZ: So, I like this quote from you, “If you can’t invent the future, the next best thing is to fund it.” And so, I guess that helps to explain your move from Sun over back to Kleiner Perkins. DOERR: Exactly. It was Alan Kay, the Chief Scientist at Apple, who said the best way to predict the future is to invent it and while I’ve made some inventions, they’re modest, my better fortune has been to find amazing entrepreneurs, identify them and then help fund and accelerate their success. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. Amazon, Netscape, Applied Materials, Citrix, Intuit, Genentech, EA Sports, Compaq, Slack, Uber, Square, Spotify, Robinhood, that is just an amazing, amazing list of startups that you guys were fairly early investors in. Any of them stand out as uniquely memorable to you? DOERR: Well, two of the standouts got to be Amazon and Google, now, Alphabet, because, what are they, they’re two of the four or five most valuable companies in the world and I think both of them have profoundly changed the way that we live, communicate, educate, inform, conduct commerce, see the world. They both — what they both have in common is exceptional founders and really strong management teams who have a sense of urgency and a focus on either large new markets or large existing markets that deserved and have benefited from disruption. So, I remember when I was first offered a position at Kleiner Perkins, I told them that I thought it was kind of unfair that they would pay me to do the job. I would pay them for the privilege of working with these amazing entrepreneurs and founders. RITHOLTZ: So, when you’re thinking about putting money into the Amazon in the mid ’90s or Google in the late ’90s, at any point in that process, are you thinking, sure, these can become $2 trillion companies soon? DOERR: Well, I had no really good idea how big they could be. So, I put the question to Jeff Bezos and his response was, well, John, I don’t know but we’re going to get big fast. At that time, I kicked up something of a firestorm by proclaiming that the Internet had been under hyped and it might be the largest legal creation of wealth in our lifetimes. But I was more clear and explicit with Larry Page when I met with him and Sergey and I asked Larry, how big Google would get. I’ll never forget this, Barry. He responded to me without missing a beat, 10 billion, and I said, just to test myself, I said, surely, you mean market capitalization, don’t you, and he said, no, John, I mean revenues. We’re just beginning in the field of search and you cannot imagine how much better it’s going to get over time. And sure enough, he was, he was more than right. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. So, let’s talk a bit about Google. You are known for introducing to both Larry and Sergey your concept of, OKRs, objectives and key results. What was the impact of that on Google? How did they respond to your suggestion on come up with objectives and come up with ways to measure your progress? DOERR: So, for everyone in your audience, objectives and key results or OKRs is a goalsetting system that Andy Grove invented at Intel and that’s because in the semiconductor industry, I’m a refugee from the semiconductor industry, you got to get tens of thousands of people to get lines that are a millionth of a meter, one micron wide, exactly right or nothing works, the chips fail. So, you need exceptional discipline, attention to detail, focus and execution. And so, Andy came up with the system. I was so enamored of it. When I left Intel, I took it everywhere I went from nonprofits to startups to large companies. The Gates Foundation in the nearly days, for example, how — they were — I mean, they were a very large nonprofit startup and an important one for the planet. So, I took Andy Grove’s system to Larry and Sergey, the founders of Google, in the very early days and I went through it with them and at the end of it asked them, so, guys, what you think, would you use this in growing Google, and Larry was — had no comment whatsoever. But Sergey, he was more like brilliant. I’d like to tell you, Barry, that he said, we love this, we’re going to adopt it wholeheartedly. Well, the truth of the matter is what he said was, we don’t have any better way to manage this Google company. So, we’ll give it a try, which I took as a ringing endorsement because what’s happened since then to this day, every Googler, every quarter, writes down her objectives and key results and publishes them for the entire company to see and interestingly, they never leaked. So, there’s 140,000 Googlers who are doing this four times a year. They’re graded. But at the end of each quarter, they’re swept aside because they’re not used for bonuses or promotions. They serve a higher purpose and that’s a collective social contract to get everybody focused and aligned and committed in tracking their progress to stretch for almost impossible to achieve goals. And I’m telling you this story because the same system that Andy Grove invented has now spread pretty broadly through the technology and other sectors of the economy and it’s at the heart of this plan that we have called speed and scale to deal with climate crisis. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. I want to stick with some of the early investments that you made and ask a really broad general question, how likely is it that a company you made in early stage investment in ends up looking like the company you thought you were investing in, meaning, how often do companies iterate or pivot into something totally different from what you thought you were getting involved with? DOERR: Well, I was going to say not often if it’s totally different. But if it’s meaningfully different, that happens all the time. And that’s why in the venture capital work that we do, it’s so important to back — to find fund and build a relationship with the right people because the people and the quality of the team is going to affect how they pivot, how they adapt their business plan to changing markets, changing technologies, changing opportunities. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. So, you mentioned Amazon and Google as just uniquely memorable startups. What about some memorable ones that you thought would work out that didn’t or I know VCs love to talk about look how silly we are, we had an opportunity to invest in X and we passed and now X is fabulously successful, what stands out in that space? DOERR: Well, the standout in that space is the bad decision we made to invest in Fisker instead of in Tesla and at that time, they had similar strategies, which was to enter the electric vehicle market with high-end luxury, pretty expensive car and then to drive the cost of that vehicle down over time. Both companies were struggling to raise money. One of them had experienced executive from the automobile industry, fundamentally a designer by the name of Henrik Fisker as its founder and CEO. The other had Elon Musk who had no automobile industry experience but was determined to reinvent every part of the automotive car doing it more as a machine to run software than a collection of subsystems procured from the automobile industry. We made the wrong call and the rest is history. RITHOLTZ: That Fisker, that first Fisker car was just a gorgeous design and at that time, Tesla was taking old Lotus convertibles and filling them with laptop batteries. Between the two, it’s pretty easy to see how the Fisker opportunity really looked more intriguing than Tesla did way back when. How typical is that for the world of venture? DOERR: It happens all the time. RITHOLTZ: All the time. DOERR: That’s what makes the job of finding funding and accelerating the success of entrepreneurs hard. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. So, there was just a new report that came out. It said, renewable energy in the U.S. has quadrupled over the past decade. So, we’re all good, right? There’s nothing else to worry about with the climate? DOERR: I wish that was true. I came to this project, this passion back in 2006 when Al Gore’s movie, you remember “An Inconvenient Truth” appeared. RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: And I took my family and friends to see it and we came back for a dinner conversation and went around the table to see what people thought. When it came turn for my 16-year-old daughter Mary Doerr, she said, I’m scared and I’m angry. She said, dad, your generation created this problem, you better fix it. And, Barry, I was speechless, I had no idea what to say. So, I set out with partners at Kleiner Perkins to understand the extent of the climate crisis, even hired Al Gore as a partner and over time, over three funds, invested a third up to a half of the funds, total about $1 billion in some 70 climate ventures, most of which failed and, in fact, it’s hard, it’s very hard to grow a climate tech or green tech venture. It’s pretty lonely in the early days of doing that. And we almost lost all of our investments but we stood by these entrepreneurs and they produced companies like Beyond Meat or Enphase or the NEST smart thermostats and today are worth some $3 billion. But that was then, this is now. I think what’s important about now is we need way greater ambition and speed to avert catastrophic, irreversible climate crisis. I mean, the evidence is all around us. We’ve got devastating hurricanes and floods and wildfires and 10 million climate refugees. The IPCC says that if we don’t reduce our carbon emissions by 2030 by 55 percent, we will see global warming overshoot by more than 2°C, nearly 4°F. And the Paris accords, which were agreed to in 2015, if we were achieving them, it would still cause us to land at around 2°C. The bad news is we’re not close to achieving any of those goals. So, the latest report from the UN said this is a code red problem and I also see all problems as opportunities. Barry, I think this is going to be the greatest opportunity, human opportunity, social opportunity, economic opportunity for the 21st century. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about that opportunity. You talked in the book about cutting emissions in half by 2030 and net zero by 2050 and you referenced six main areas of attack, transportation, the electrical grid, food, protecting nature, cleaning up industry, and then removing carbon from the atmosphere. Let’s talk a little bit about each of those because they’re all quite fascinating. We were talking about Tesla, how quickly do we think that we’re going to be past internal combustion engines with a fully electrified transportation network? DOERR: Well, that’s a great question and we can — I want to put this in context. Every year, we dump 59 gigatons of carbon, greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere as if it’s some kind of free and open sewer. And so, the book and the research behind it has built a plan in electrifying transportation and the other five for which each of the objectives has three to five key results. These are Andy Grove Intel style, very measurable specific steps in transportation. It says that electric vehicles will achieve parity, price performance parity with combustion engines in the U.S. by 2024. It says one of two new personal vehicles purchased worldwide are electric vehicles by 2030. So, what I’m trying to say is this is a global plan. RITHOLTZ: Right. DOERR: We’ve seen some nations of the world, some states like California say they’re going to ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles. And there’s also key results for buses, for trucks, for miles driven, for airplanes and maritime and this whole plan is available for free. You can download it at the website So, it’s pragmatic, it’s ambitious, it’s almost unachievable. It’s a total of 55 key results for the world, numeric time bound, and we’ve got to get after them all at once. We can’t take turns. We’re not going to achieve all of these, Barry. It’s — but if we fall short on one, we can make ground faster in others. Now, I don’t want to intimidate people by how big — how tall an order this is. The book also includes 35 stories from entrepreneurs and policymakers and leaders and innovators, leaders of indigenous tribes that describe in their own words their struggle, their successes, their journey to change the world. One of my favorites is of a cross-country team who got together to petition their school district to go to cleaner busses. They were sick and tired of running behind diesel buses with polluted air and it shows that something that I deeply believe and that is we’re fast running out of time. And so, yes, we need individuals to take individual action to eat less meat, use photovoltaic solar and buy an electric vehicle if you can afford it. But I’ve really written this book for the leader inside of everyone, their inner leader, and that’s their ability to influence others to act as a group like this cross-country team of runners in Maryland who got their school district to adopt electric buses. What the book shows is that we can get this job done but, as I said, we’re fast running out of time. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about — by the way, the bus discussions in the book are quite fascinating not just because China leapt out to a big lead and have been very aggressively replacing diesel buses with electric buses but you helped fund an entrepreneur in the U.S. that’s gone around and has done a great job getting cities to purchase electric buses. The transportation grid is clearly an issue but as you point out, that’s only six gigatons. A bigger issue is the grid, the electric grid, which produces 21 gigatons of emissions. Tell us about what we need to do to decarbonize the electrical grid. DOERR: 100%, you’re right. If we move to electric vehicles but we still use coal to generate electricity, we won’t have reduced emissions. And the biggest opportunity is to decarbonize the grid and that’s to take today’s 24 gigatons of emissions mostly from goal, also natural gas to generate electricity. Take that 24 down to three gigatons. So, the first key result, the biggest of them, is to get 50 percent of our electricity from zero emission sources globally by 2025 and get it down to 38 percent — get a 90 percent by 2035. That would save us 16.5 gigatons. Simply put, we need to move to renewable sources like wind and solar and invest in longer-term durable storage so that we have reliable energy when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about that battery technology a little bit. We’ve seen a series of incremental improvements over time but nothing has been like an order of magnitude improvement. Will we be able to get there soon enough? Do we need a Manhattan project for batteries or are all those incremental improvements compounding and we’ll get there eventually? DOERR: Much of the improvement that is needed in all of these technologies is lowering their costs. And so, batteries today are still too expensive for electric vehicles in India and in China. They’re barely affordable in the U.S. marketplace. RITHOLTZ: Right. DOERR: And so, the book tells the story of QuantumScape, I’ll disclose, a public company that I’ve invested in and served on the board of, an entrepreneur by the name of Jagdeep Singh and he is going for a quantum improvement in batteries to more than double their energy density. The energy density of a battery is how much energy you’ll get out of it for a pound of weight of a battery and it’s especially important in electric vehicles because the most expensive part of the vehicle is the battery and it’s the heaviest part and you got use energy to move the weight around. So, if you double the energy density of a battery, you can get a three or four times systems improvement in the vehicle itself. I’m not expecting, I don’t think anyone is forecasting an order of magnitude improvement. We’ve seen considerable lowering costs of batteries over time. But the QuantumScape innovation, which is an all solid-state battery, would be a genuine breakthrough. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about food, another key source of emissions. How can we become more efficient in growing the food affecting the menu of what we eat and reducing enough food waste to make a difference? DOERR: There’s three big things t to do about food. The first is to reduce the meat and dairies in our diet and I’m not saying cut them out entirely but to replace some of that with delicious, healthy plant-based proteins. And the book tells a story of Beyond Meat and the crusade of its founder. He struggled and mortgaged his house to lead the revolution in plant-based protein. It turns out that there’s a billion cows on the planet. The book tells you their story as well. If they were a nation, it would be the third largest country in terms of the emissions. The second big thing to do about food is to reduce food waste. Globally, 30 percent of the food that we produce is wasted and taking some straightforward measures we think that can be reduced. Our goal is to reduce it to 10 percent of the food that we produce, particularly when you consider the population will grow to 10 billion by the end of the century. Finally, we got to get more efficient with how we grow food and we can, for example, apply fertilizer much more precisely with new technologies. All in all, the food sector is a way for us to reduce nine gigatons of emissions to two gigatons by 2050 or a net gain of seven out of the 59 gigatons that we got to drive to zero. RITHOLTZ: So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about beef and agriculture generally. But let’s talk about commercial fishing, what’s the impact of our fishing practices on the health of the oceans and its ability to absorb carbon and reflect heat? DOERR: Well, over fishing together with over drilling and over development have released huge amounts of carbon from the ocean floor and life and if we prevented the destruction of mangroves and other ocean life, we could prevent a gigaton of emissions from entering the atmosphere every year. Our plan calls to eliminate deep sea bottom trawling, which is an especially destructive practice. Bottom trawling releases one and a half gigatons of CO2 equivalent emissions. It also calls for increasing the protection of oceans to 30 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. I want to call out, this is an area of climate ambition that Walmart is staking out an important and powerful leadership position. Not only that they said they’re going to have their supply chain be carbon neutral by 2040 but they are going to preserve, protect millions of acres of land and ocean water in the effort to become the first scale regenerative company. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. So, very often, the average person listening to a conversation like this thinks, well, what can I do, I’m just one person. What’s the balance of responsibility between individuals on one side and government and institutions on the other? DOERR: We need all the forces in our economy, in our society to come together and work on this. We need innovators. We need entrepreneurs. We need policymakers. We need investors. We need to hear more from impassioned youth. In 2018, Greta Thunberg was a single high school student skipping school on Fridays. A year later, in 2019, in December, she organized a million-person march in a hundred cities around the world and specifically, she made the climate crisis atop two voting issue in the nations in Europe. Barry, it is not a top voting issue in the U.S. It is not a top issue in China or even in India. So, we have work to do and that’s one of our accelerants, the ways we get all this done faster and that’s to turn movements into specific actions. We really need individuals to lead others in powerful ways. That’s, for example, employees, pushing your employers to make net-zero commitment or shareholders and investors demanding changes in the board rooms. It turns out that changing the lightbulbs and eating less meat is important but we’ve got to go further. We’ve got to change our laws or even our lawmakers in order to avert this climate crisis. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. I want to talk about some of the things you’ve said in the book that apply everywhere but are especially applicable to the climate crisis. Let’s start with, quote, “It seems every dozen years we witness magical ever-exponentially larger waves of innovation.” So, let’s start first with climate, how and where are those waves of innovation coming that’ll help ameliorate the climate crisis? DOERR: Well, the innovations are happening on many fronts, the material sciences, electrochemistry, biology. The opportunity that the climate transition to a clean energy the economy represents is the largest of our lifetime. It’s a bigger mobilization than even the effort of the allies to defeat the Nazi Axis in World War II. You’ll remember then, we shut down for four years all manufacturing of automobiles and appliances and instead, created 268,000 fighter aircrafts, 20,000 battleships. It was a monumental effort dealing with an existential threat. And that same level of innovation and ambition is required to win in this climate campaign. Other areas of breakthroughs or innovations, I’m even becoming a believer that we’ll see nuclear fusion. That’s the kind of clean energy that comes from the sun, practical within a decade. Concrete and steel that’s carbon free, long duration storage, the opportunities to reimagine and reinvent how we create, share, transmit and use energy in every facet of our lives is as big an opportunity as we’ll see in our lifetime. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay focused on that opportunity for a minute. This isn’t a charity or a foundation that’s doing this for free. When we look around, there are actual venture investments that you’ve been making successfully. So, you past on Tesla but somebody put money into Tesla. Wind turbines, solar, Beyond Meat is now public company. You are an early investor into that. You’re looking at this as more than just, hey, we have to do this in order to make sure that we don’t have a runaway greenhouse effect and Earth turns into Venus and becomes uninhabitable. But there are also very legitimate economic opportunities here also. Expound on those a little bit. DOERR: Well, there’s no better example than Tesla which had gone from a struggling company reliant on loans, thank you, United States taxpayers, to the sought most valuable company in the world. And by some measures, Elon Musk is the most — is the richest individual in the world. He took on huge risks and he delivered for his customers and shareholders, his country and his planet. And the best of the work that Elon has done is inspire, perhaps, through fear but certainly by example the rest of the automobile industry to accelerate their shift to clean and electric vehicles. So, this is, how I like to say, the mother of all markets. It’s a monster market. Batteries alone, the batteries to move from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles, are estimated to be $400 billion per year, Barry, for 20 years. We are going to — we must recreate all the infrastructure that we use to power out planet. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about something we haven’t gotten to when we were talking about those larger waves of innovation. Lots of folks are excited about blockchain and crypto and Web 3.0. But when we look at things like Bitcoin, it’s a big energy hog, how do we reconcile all the wealth that’s being created there with its massive electricity consumption? DOERR: Its electricity consumption is sustainable and so, we’re going to have to move to clean Bitcoin, green Bitcoin and we’ll get there by regulation, if not, by other market forces I would predict. Today, I believe that Bitcoin uses as much energy as the entire nation of Sweden. So, Bitcoin, I believe, is here to stay but it — we can’t fuel it through dirty electricity. RITHOLTZ: You mentioned concrete earlier and I also read in the book that you want to end single-use plastics. What does the world of material science promised us for replacing things in those spaces? How do you replace concrete? How do you replace single-use plastic? DOERR: Concrete is probably the hardest problem of all because in the production of the concrete, you almost must create carbon emissions. We can reduce the energy use to make concrete. There are some concrete innovations that absorb the CO2 into the material. But that’s an area where we need more innovation. What was your second area? RITHOLTZ: Single-use plastics. DOERR: Single-use plastics. The plan calls for the banning and really the replacement of single-use plastics. The banning of single-use plastics and in general to replace plastics with compostable materials that can be recycled and I am confident that with investment and entrepreneurial work, we can get that done. RITHOLTZ: So, we haven’t really talked about pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. I get the sense from some people that they’re expecting some technological magic bullet that’s going to solve climate change. Tell us about how we can remove carbon from the atmosphere and is there a magic bullet coming. DOERR: The speed and scale plan calls for us to remove 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. I emphasize remove. This will be gigatons of CO2 emissions that we were not able to eliminate, we were not able to cut, we were not able to slash. They’ll be some uses of aviation fuel as an example or other stubborn carbon. Two approaches to this, one of which is to innovate around nature-based ways of removing CO2. For example, growing greater kelp forest in the oceans. But the other that has captured a lot of attention is called direct air capture or that’s engineered removal of carbon. Think of them as kind of mechanical trees and this technology works today but only at small scale. It sucks the CO2 out of the air. It requires a lot of electricity in order to do that. And so, it’s very expensive today, some $600 per ton. If we’ve got to remove five gigatons per year at $600 per ton, that’s $3 trillion a year and it’s hard to see how that’s affordable. So, entrepreneurs are hard at work to lower those costs and I hope they do. RITHOLTZ: So, there’s a quote I like from another venture capitalist who said venture capital properly deployed can solve the biggest problems, filling the void left by shrinking scientific ambitions of governments, foundations and international organizations. What are your thoughts on that approach? How crucial is venture capital to our future and can it replace these other entities? DOERR: Venture capital is crucial and it’s stepping up to the challenge. There will be an estimated $30 billion invested venture capital in climate technologies this year. Our plan calls for 50 billion this year. But venture capital is not going to get this job done on its own. We need government-funded research and development to grow in the U.S. alone to 40 billion a year. Other countries have got to triple their funding. We need project financing. We need philanthropic investing. Jeff Bezos’ commitment of $10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund is the largest philanthropic commitment to climate crisis that we’ve ever witnessed or enjoyed. There’s really four accelerators that will get this job done. One of them is investing. Another is innovation, the work of entrepreneurs. But I think the hardest are going to be to turn our movements into actions so we get the politics and the policy correct because it’s going to take a massive, collective, coordinated effort to achieve our ultimate OKR and that’s to take 59 gigatons of emissions to net zero by 2050. RITHOLTZ: That’s an ambitious target and if we miss that target, what are the ramifications? DOERR: We’ll leave our kids and our grandkids an uninhabitable planet. We’ll see the Arctic sea ice surely melts away. We’ll have — estimates are up to a billion climate refugees. There’s 10 million of them already. Hundreds of millions of people will starve. It’s unthinkable. And so, we must get this done. RITHOLTZ: So, let me turn this back to what’s going on in the world of venture now. When the early decades of you work at Kleiner Perkins was into a very friendly IPO market, how much does timing matter broadly, meaning, hey, if there’s an exit available, if there’s a big IPO market that makes it more likely people are going to invest in these companies and have a successful exit. Tell us a little bit about timing. DOERR: Well, investors, myself included, will stop at nothing to copy success. So, the timing of today’s markets for climate technologies whether it’s Tesla or Rivian or better batteries or Beyond Meat, it’s good and I would say in the long run, it’s going to continue to be good because the size of the markets and the need, the economic need, the opportunity, and the planetary pressures. RITHOLTZ: So, if a younger venture capitalist or a newfound venture fund came to you and ask for advice, what would you tell them about this opportunity? DOERR: There’s so many different venture firms and strategies. I would say to them that this is the greatest opportunity with 21st century that they should be strategic about their contribution. Is it to work with early-stage entrepreneurs and removing technical risks or at the other extreme, is it to be smart and sharp about project financing? But the overall costs of the transition from a dirty fossil economy to a clean new energy economy is $4 trillion per year, per year. That sounds like a big number until you compare it with the cost of dirty energy, the social cost, the disruption, the premature deaths. One in five deaths are premature due to carbon pollution. Those come in at about $10 billion per year. So, it’s literally cheaper to save the Earth than it is to ruin it. RITHOLTZ: And there’s just seems to be endless amounts of cash pouring into the venture capital sector. Arguably, it’s never been higher. What are your thoughts on this? Does it worry you? What’s the driver of all this money sloshing around? DOERR: Some people say that we’re experiencing a bubble, a bubble in fintech or Bitcoin or climate technologies. I see it very differently. I think it’s a boom and historically, whether it was the advent of transcontinental railroads or the automobiles, we saw booms which led to full employment, overinvestment, rapid innovation. And, no, not all those car companies survive. But I think the same will be true of the other fields of innovation. I think one of the things that gives me great hope is the power of human ingenuity. We got ourselves into these specs and, Barry, I’m betting, we’re going to figure our way out. RITHOLTZ: So, what do you say to people who sort of posture Silicon Valley’s best days are behind it? Do you have a response to any of those folks? DOERR: I think they’re wrong. I think provided we deal with this existential threat, the climate crisis, and that is not guaranteed, but provided we do that and we get a 50% reduction in the next decade, I think we’re on track for a wonderful, prosperous, healthy planet. RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you and I should have mentioned this earlier but I read a ton of books for the show and I found the book really quite fascinating and it’s pretty obvious to me that an engineer was behind this. There’s just a lot of great slides and charts and graphs and it’s not just all texts. Parts of it are narrative and parts of it are historical and it reminds me of a well-made slide deck. So, nice job on the book. DOERR: Well, thanks for sharing that. I want to send you a bound version of the book if you’ll email me your physical mailing address. There’s one other thing — other story I might tell you about the book. RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: I was talking the other day with a reader, a mom who told me that every night, she takes two or three pages of the book and she reads them together with her daughter and then they talk about together what that means for the world her daughter is going to inherit, and I thought, wow, that’s the use of the book I never imagined and one that I’m honestly proud of. RITHOLTZ: How — it looks like this was the work of a lot of different people. How did you end up researching and writing this? DOERR: We talked to hundred different leaders in the field, policymakers, researchers, modelers, activists and from those, selected some 35 stories. We ended up with a thousand different data points that we needed to verify and collected those into 500 end notes, which are in the book. And I did it with an amazing small team of three or four on research and writing stuf. I’m an engineer as you know and so I’m not so good with words and I had the benefit of a writing team that helped make this much more readable. RITHOLTZ: Well, it shows, you can see the book is a fast read. I sat down with a bunch of stickies and highlighter and found myself just plowing through chapter after chapter. It was a relatively quick read and very easy to put down and then pick back up again. Each chapter is very distinct and you’ve really laid out a plan to prevent climate catastrophe from taking place. So, thank you for that. DOERR: One thing I want to make sure your audience know is this, they can get a free infographic, it’s a single poster-sized piece of paper that has on both sides of it all the objectives, all the key results, all the measures. And it’s reassuring for people who are fearful that there is a plan and that if we do these things, we can find a way to a habitable planet. That’s what we’ve got to do. RITHOLTZ: So, I know I only have you for a limited amount of time. Let me jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of my guests starting with tell us what you’ve been streaming these days, give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime or whatever podcast you’re listening to. DOERR: So, I haven’t had time for streaming on Netflix. I’ve been doing research, reading books and papers on the climate crisis itself. But getting this word out, I’ve listened to a — I’ve started listening to a couple of new podcast, John Heilemann’s Hell & High Water … RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: … and Tim Ferriss Show, both of which, I think, have a distinctive imprint from their hosts (ph). RITHOLTZ: Tell us about your mentors who helped to shape your career. DOERR: So, the biggest influence on my life was my dad Lou Doerr, an engineer, entrepreneur and hero and I’ve been blessed by a number of mentors, perhaps most notable of them, Andy Grove, and what I learned from him at Intel prompted me to write a first book called “Measure What Matters” and that tells stories of a dozen different organizations using OKRs, which is what then I applied to the climate crisis. I would tell you Al Gore is a hero of mine. He’s wonderfully resolute man who’s impassioned, effective and funny. He and I talked regularly about the climate crisis. RITHOLTZ: Tell us about some of your favorite books, what are your all-time favorites and what are you reading right now. DOERR: So, my current reading, no surprise, is largely around the climate crisis. I love Elizabeth Colbert’s “Under a White Sky” which described climate futures. And two other books are “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates, very accessible book, and a profile — a new profile of Winston Churchill called “The splendid and the Vile.” RITHOLTZ: Two good recommendations. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who wanted to pursue a career in venture investing? DOERR: I would say to her gain experience as an entrepreneur. I’d repeat the advice that I was given early in my career which was go get a real job in a real growing tech company and sharpen your skills in the real hard world of business economics and then take that experience to help other entrepreneurs succeed. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of venture investing today that you wish you knew 40 years ago? DOERR: I wish I knew 40 years ago how important the team is, the leadership of the team, the recruiting of the team, the growing of the team because in the end, it’s more than large market, it’s more than compelling technologies. It’s teams who know how to execute well. RITHOLTZ: Really, really fascinating stuff. Thanks, John, for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with John Doerr. He is a partner at famed venture firm Kleiner Perkins and the author of the new book, “Speed and Scale: An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now.” If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out all of our previous discussions. You can find those wherever you find your favorite podcast, iTunes, Spotify, Acast, wherever. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at Sign up for my daily reads Follow me on Twitter, @Ritholtz. I would be remiss if I do not thank our crack staff that helps with these conversations together each week, Michael Batnick is my head of research, Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Paris Wald is our producer, I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: John Doerr appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureDec 6th, 2021

After Sparks Fly At Bridgewater, Dalio "Clarifies" His China Comments

After Sparks Fly At Bridgewater, Dalio 'Clarifies' His China Comments Update (1440ET): Amid the shitstorm (both external in the world and internal to Bridgewater) ignited by Ray Dalio's comments on the equivalence of Communist China's human rights abuses and America, the founder of the world's largest hedge fund decided to put pen to digital paper to explain himself... well to explain that it's all our faults for misunderstanding him... Clarifying My Recent China Comments Now that things have calmed down I want to clarify what I meant when I sloppily answered a question about China from Andrew Ross Sorkin that created a misunderstanding of my views. I assure you that I didn’t mean to convey that human rights aren’t important because I certainly believe they are and I didn’t mean to convey that the US and China deal with these issues similarly because they certainly don’t. I am an American who has lived my whole life in the US, experiencing the American Dream, and I believe in our system. At the same time, I have spent more than half my life in contact with China which has helped me understand their system as well. In trying to answer Andrew's questions, I was attempting to explain what a Chinese leader told me about how they think about governing – about how Confucianism is based on the family and that extends into their governance, which is a more autocratic approach that is like a strict parent. I was not expressing my own opinion or endorsing that approach. My overriding objective is to help understanding. Understanding and agreeing are two different things, and that’s what was lost in the interview. I'm sorry my answer lacked that nuance and caused confusion. I also want to clarify how I weigh the pros and cons of investing in China in light of the human rights issue. This is not a challenge that Bridgewater alone faces. There are more than 40,000 investors and an untold numbers of banks and companies from the US and other countries facing the same issue. While commercial considerations are part of the equation, they are not paramount. It is a reality that many Americans and Chinese are intertwined, and that separating them would be terrible for just about everyone. Besides the direct functional synergies of producing things together that benefit Americans, Chinese, and the rest of the world, these connections produce mutual understandings and mutual influences that promote peace and progress globally. So, we have responsibilities to different constituencies that we have to balance, creating complex nuances for a broad number of stakeholders. In Bridgewater's case, we invest in about 40 countries, and our clients rely on us to invest in the best possible ways in all the countries that make sense from an investment standpoint. For Bridgewater, and for all of those who deal with China and many other countries, there are many other geopolitical and regulatory issues that are constantly changing and are beyond our capacity to weigh against the responsibilities we have to our clients. We want to get these things right, not just based on what we think, but, much more importantly, based on what the regulators think is right. These considerations lead us to rely most heavily on the guidance of both the US government and the governments of the countries we are in.   Having said all this, what I think and what Bridgewater does are of minuscule importance relative to the rapidly growing risk of US war with China due to misunderstandings and inclinations to fight, so I hope that thoughtful attention will be paid to that issue and that mutual understandings will increase and inclinations to fight will diminish. I have comprehensively expressed my concerns about what is happening now and the historical precedents for it in my book, so these thoughts are available to you if you care to read them. I should point out that they are not just my own – I know that speaking out publicly on these issues can be uncomfortable, and there are many like-minded thought leaders who share these views, even if they don't speak about them as openly as I do. So that's it then - we're all just too dumb to understand the nuance in his statement that clearly laid out the fact that Dalio doesn't care what China does, he has money to make. *  *  * As we detailed earlier, American attitudes towards China remain extremely mixed (and apparently stratified by 'wealth'). As we first noted some time ago, Negative views of China have increased substantially since 2018: "Today, 67% of Americans have “cold” feelings toward China on a “feeling thermometer,” rating the country less than 50 on a 0 to 100 scale. This is up from just 46% who said the same in 2018." The picture is very different on the corporate side of America with most recent examples including Jamie Dimon flip-flopping and bending the knee to Beijing about a 'joke', NBA and LeBron James ignoring Enes Kanter Freedom's warnings about Uyghur genocide, and Ray Dalio - founder of the world's largest hedge fund - who this week drew an odd equivalence between China and US when asked about investing in the communist nation amid human-rights' abuses: “I look at the United States, and I say, well, what’s going on in the United States and should I not invest in the United States” because of “our own human-rights issues, or other things?” "What they have is an autocratic system and one of the leaders described it that the U.S. is a country of individuals and China it is an extension of the family," says @RayDalio. "As a top down country what they are doing is--they behave like a strict parent." — Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) November 30, 2021 This remark triggered both silence and outrage among the two pro/anti-China camps, and prompted Bridgewater CEO David McCormick, who also happens to be considering a US Senate run as a Republican candidate, to make it clear that he disagrees with Dalio's views. During a company-wide call, McCormick addressed the controversial remarks that Dalio had made this week on television. As Bloomberg reports citing people with knowledge of the matter, McCormick told staff he's had lots of arguments about China over the years with Dalio and that he disagrees with the billionaire's views (not that it has stopped him from investing in China, that is). The fact of the matter is that Dalio is not an idealist, but a pragmatic capitalist (who unlike so many of his Wall Street peers does not preach and moralize on the topic of China while doing precisely the opposite) and wants simply to put his capital to work in the place where it will garner the best return adjusted for risk. To him, it appears China is among those opportunities for growth - never mind the genocide, 'disappearances', totalitarianism, and increasingly weak property right. In other words, he is merely looking after his own and his investors interests. Of course,  this 'Wall Street' perspective is verboten in a world of political correctness and SWJness, which makes Dalio's public expression of 'greed uber alles' all the more notable in a world seemingly tearing itself apart over wealth inequality, income inequality, outcome inequality... and willing to virtue-signal left, right, and center in order to achieve sainthood even as the money into China keeps flowing to a record degree! As The Wall Street Journal writes, this is the sort of comment that sours Americans on Wall Street and opens executives to accusations of being “citizens of the world” before they are Americans. Mr. Dalio wants freedom to invest where he pleases, but if Wall Street titans convey contempt for America’s system of government, then voters will curtail their prerogatives through the political process. Finally, do not forget that in November, Bridgewater raised 8 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) for a new private fund in China. That brought the firm’s total onshore assets under management to more than 10 billion yuan. Meanwhile, most Wall Street firms are similarly investing aggressively in China, while turning a blind eye to China's epic human rights violations even as they continue to preach and lecture the world on what not to do in the US. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/05/2021 - 14:42.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 5th, 2021

Transcript: Steve Fradkin

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Steve Fradkin Northern Trust, 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. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast… Read More The post Transcript: Steve Fradkin appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Steve Fradkin Northern Trust, 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. ~~~ RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast I have a special guest. His name is Steve Fradkin, and he runs one of the larger pools of assets that you probably had no idea about. He is the President of Northern Trust Wealth Management. They run over $350 billion in client assets. They serve some of the wealthiest families in America. One in five wealthy families actually has assets with Northern Trust. They have something like 20 percent of the Forbes 400, just a very interesting perspective on how to manage through periods of uncertainty, changing tax laws, rising inflation. Also, it’s really interesting perspectives. It’s less about predicting the future, Steve tells us, then thinking in terms of planning and probabilities. And I think that was really interesting advice. He — he is about as knowledgeable as anybody is going to get in the – both wealth management business and ultra-high net worth management business. I found the conversation really intriguing, and I think you will also. So, with no further ado, my interview of Steve Fradkin of Northern Trust. VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My special guest this week is Steve Fradkin. He is the President of Northern Trust Wealth Management. Running about $355 billion in assets, they serve about one in five of the wealthiest families in America. Previously, Steve ran the Corporate and Institutional Services. He was Head of International Business for Northern Trust, as well as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer. Steve Fradkin, welcome to Bloomberg. FIRRMA Thank you, Barry. Great to be here. RITHOLTZ: So, you spent your entire career at Northern Trust having joined in — in 1985. How do you make the leap from really CFO to President which, to me, I think of President I think of someone who’s running like a CEO, running a — a division? What were the challenges of that transition? FRADKIN: Well, it’s a great question and, you know, careers are mysterious experiences. The — the bigger mystery really, Barry, was the move to CFO. So I joined Northern Trust as a youngster, didn’t know what I wanted to do, worked my way through a variety of entry-level jobs, ultimately culminating at that point in running our growing international business, and loving it, traveling the world to clients in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, you know, really fun and interesting stuff, and was asked, at that point, to serve as CFO, which was the unnatural job. Was not a controller, was not a treasurer, and so serving as CFO of a large public company was — shall we say traumatic when they asked. But did that for six years, including through the global financial crisis. And it was, at that point, I went back to doing what I normally do, which is running businesses. I ran our Corporate and Institutional Services business, and then after that Wealth Management. So — so it wasn’t so much going from CFO to wealth management as it was ending up as CFO, if you will, by accident from my point of view. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. So — so you guys had a pretty good year in 2020. How did that carry over to this year? Is it just more of the same? What were the big success stories relative to all those challenges we soar last year? Well, you know, it’s — it’s really an interesting phenomenon, and it shows you the – in some ways, the unpredictability of what can happen. You know, if you think about COVID-19 and its impact in 2020, and if I said to you, you know, look here’s what’s going to happen, we’re — we’re going to go as a society not just Northern Trust from, you know, we all come in and we work and so forth and so on. And one day, on about the same day worldwide, everyone’s going to start working from home facetiously. What — what do you think is going to happen to the markets? I think most people have said, well, first of all, it could never happen that way. It’s not going to be true that people in Sydney, and London, and New York, and Sao Paulo are all going to be, you know, as much as one can working from home. That’s just impossible. And second of all is that where to happen on a sustained basis. Well, gee, you know, the economy is going to crater because no baseball games, no concerts, no – you know, less use of restaurants, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t think people would have said, you know, the markets would do as well as they’ve done. So look, it’s been an incredible journey. Northern Trust has navigated exceptionally well through it last year and continues to perform well today. And there are a variety of factors in that. But each and every day has been a navigation because we’re still not out of the pandemic and we’re still operating in a hybrid mode. And, you know, balancing safety of our partners, our — our employees, and the needs of our clients is a — a daily — a juggling act that we’re still working through and I suspect will be working through for a while longer here. RITHOLTZ: We’re going to talk a little more about how you guys manage doing the pandemic in a bit, but I want to stay with the success of Northern Trust. You’re one of the biggest ultra-high net worth investment managers. But relative to your size, you guys kind of fly under the radar. Why is that? FRADKIN: Well, you know, it’s — it’s an interesting question, Barry. The – so in terms of size, we’re in the top 20 banks in the country as measured by our balance sheet. But really the — the better marker of our size is the assets that we manage and the assets that we administer for clients. And we’re a very quiet company. We don’t do lots of big acquisitions. We do the same thing today that we’ve been doing since 1889, serving the same clientele, and so we’re a very focused institution. A little over half our profits come from the provision of services to wealthy families in America and around the world. And the other half come from essentially providing the same services, but to large global institutional investors, serving wealth funds, pension funds and the like. And so, we’re a quiet company that has been extraordinarily successful and consistently so for many, many years. So, we’re proud of what we’ve got, but we — we — we — we fly under the radar scream — screen intentionally to just keep a low profile and stay focused on our clients. RITHOLTZ: And — and that would make sense given the nature of your clients who are less Instagram stars and more quiet wealth. Is that a — is that a fair way to describe it? FRADKIN: Yeah. Today, we serve little over 30 percent of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans and, obviously, many other affluent families. And interestingly, Barry, you know, sometimes people think of Northern Trust in its wealth management business as focusing on — or serving multigenerational well-healed, you know, families. And that’s true, we certainly serve many of those. But there are many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, in New York, in Miami, in Dallas, in — all over the country and all over the world. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in being here is that wealth is created in a lot of mysterious ways. And so, your — your reference to Instagram and so forth, I would say our clients are definitely low profile, but where they create their wealth emanates from every segment of the economy. It’s really a — a fascinating part of the privilege of being in this — this kind of role. RITHOLTZ: Let’s stay with that because I was just involved in a conversation recently about the amount of wealth that has been created over the past couple of decades. Wherever you look, especially in the United States, it seems that people are coming up with new ideas, new technologies, new just even business processes that if you go back to the 90’s, I don’t think people could have imagined the sort of things that are generating the massive amounts of wealth that we’ve seen. And — and I’m not even talking about NFTs or things like that, I mean, businesses with clients that are just doing tens of millions of dollars of — of revenue a year. FRADKIN: Well, I think the — the fascinating thing that I think we see is that wealth can be created in a lot of different ways. And I — and I think you’re right that as the world has sped up, the wealth creation has sped up, too. You know, to caricature it, it used to be you would start a business in your garage in Louisiana and, overtime, you would, you know, build a vacuum cleaner, whatever it happened to be. And you would start selling it from a store and, you know, it would — you know, you — you’d have a second store. And — and the next thing you know, you have a — a — a big business that you never envisioned having, and you could sell that company and — and create tremendous amount of wealth. Today, that phenomenon still absolutely happens, but it also happens with the power of the Internet that the pace at which companies in some industries can grow and accelerate has — has really multiplied. So, wealth creation, in some instances, is still a slow laborious step-by-step process. But in others, I don’t want to say it’s overnight, but it happens a lot faster with digitalization in the — the pace at which the world moves today. So, we — we see both phenomena, and that’s part of the fun and excitement of the American economy. And this certainly happens elsewhere in the world as well. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So, let’s talk about how you guys had to operate during the lockdown. You mentioned this earlier. What were you doing when, you know, it became clear the country was shutting down in March of 2020? FRADKIN: It’s a great question, Barry. Well, we started like many other institutions with the safety of our clients and the safety of our employees. And it all happened relatively quickly in terms of shutting down offices to the bare minimum, getting people home, and making sure that they could function effectively from home. And if you go back to — and — and, by the way, we have 20,000 employees worldwide, so we were doing the same thing in Manila, in the Philippines as we were doing in London, as we were doing in Dublin, as we were doing in Houston, as we were doing in Las Vegas. And so I want you to think about the operational, and logistical, and infrastructural needs of pretty much all at the same time trying to get people out of the office, enable them to function effectively from home, still be able to serve our clients, and all the family and other issues that people were wrestling with. So, I would say the beginning of the pandemic was stressful. You know, we were working 24/7 trying to make sure that technology worked and people could still get cash and all those things. It has gotten to a much better, you know, I’ll call it normalcy in a strange sort of way. But the early days of the pandemic were — were challenging. We navigated through well, but it’s certainly not something that anyone had anticipated. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. So, I’m assuming you guys have your offices, more or less, reopened. What are you going to do going forward? Is it going to be a hybrid model or is everyone back in the office or people working from home? FRADKIN: Our offices are open and — and really to different extents in different geographies, you know, which makes sense. The — the infection rates, hospitalization rates, all the metrics that we track are very different in different cities and countries around the globe. You know, in terms of where it goes in the future, I think the future of work and how people work is forever changed. You know, we always had a pretty flexible workforce and the ability to work from home and, you know, people’s — people’s lives and — personal lives and business lives had crossed over long ago that, as an employer, we had to be flexible. I think that’s going to be even more so coming out of the pandemic. People have gotten used to it. The technology has gotten better. Client expectations are different. And so, I think we will be in a — you know, what we — what we think of today as a hybrid model will be a normal model tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean everyone will work from home, but it certainly means a lot more flexibility for employees to inevitably juggle the — the conflicting needs of family and work life. And we’re well prepared for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So as investors, COVID was pretty much an exogenous shock. It — it came out the left field. How did the whole COVID crash and recovery compare to past crises, whether it’s 9/11 or dot-com implosion or the great financial crisis? How do you — how do you wrap your head around this one compared to ones from — from recent past? FRADKIN: You know, it’s — it’s a great question. And I think, Barry, my perspective would be that we often call events like the COVID-19 pandemic tail events or once in a lifetime events. And in some ways, they are and, in some ways, they aren’t. If — if I think about it through the prism of my career experience, we had the crash of October 1987. We’ve seen the collapses of things like Enron and WorldCom. We’ve seen September 11th. We’ve seen Bear Stearns go down. We had the global financial crisis of 2008 and, of course, the pandemic. And each time we call it a tail event, but at some point, we have to admit that there are a lot of tails. So, I want to take you back just to compare and contrast COVID-19 with 2008. I’ll give you this example. I want you to imagine it’s the end of 2007, and you’re presenting the 2008 plan for Northern Trust to our board. And you go to the board and you say, “Look, we expect our revenues to do this and our expenses to do that, and so forth and so on.” And one of the board members raises his or her hand and he says — he or she says, “Barry, that’s — that’s terrific. Sounds like a great plan for 2008.” But I — I — I just want to get your perspective. What happens if Bear Stearns collapses, Freddie, Fannie, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, you know, et cetera, et cetera, Lehman? You know, the whole thing collapses in 2008. How will we perform? I think you’d — you know, I — I think if you had been CFO at that time, you would have said, “Well, you know, that’s just — that’s never going to happen,” but it did. And Northern Trust navigated through that exceptionally well. Not unscarred, but exceptionally well. If you take — if you fast forward from that paradigm to COVID-19, it’s very similar. You know, if — if we had been talking to our board the year before and put forward our plan, I think our board would have said, “Well, okay, you know, that sounds like a great plan. What happens if there’s a global pandemic in every office from which we operate is going to be shut down or substantially shut down? Everyone’s got to work from home on the same day globally.” And, by the way, it’s going to be for a year and a half or more. I’m quite confident you or we would have said, well, that — you know, that’s just not — you know, I don’t know what we’ll do. That’s not going to happen, but it did. And so, I think the — the lesson from these crises is that while they’re different every time, they happen a lot. And so, we have to think about our approach to business, our approach to research, our approach to preparing for the unanticipatable. And as I say, each — each of your examples, September 11th, and COVID, and 2008 are different, but they were all — they all featured substantial disruption, substantial unanticipatable disruption. And at Northern Trust and every other company around the world, you have to be prepared to be agile and adapt quickly. And — and that’s what we’ve been able to do pretty consistently over our 130 plus years of experience. RITHOLTZ: So, given that history and the fact that a big chunk of your clients are ultra-high net worth, how do you think about managing assets compared to what — I don’t know, let’s use the phrase “mass affluent,” that typical approach. Is this more about preserving wealth and it is striking at rich. These folks are, after all, already fairly wealthy. How does this specific demographic change and challenge the way you manage assets for them? FRADKIN: Well, I think, look, wherever one sits on the spectrum of wealth, they generally want to optimize their returns over time. And people have different risk preferences as you would expect. So to caricature it, if you come from nothing and you’ve done exceptionally well financially, you may — not always, but you may have a predisposition to have a stronger defensive component to your portfolio because you don’t want to end up back where you were. You know what it’s like not to have money, you have it, and you want to be defensive. On the other hand, there are people who whether they came from nothing or not, they’ve had tremendous success. They’ve seen the power of capitalism, and they want to not only do as well as they can, but keep going. So, we see things through the eyes of our clients across the continuum. What I would say is people in the ultra net — ultra-high net worth space, at least from my point of view, it’s not so much about they’re more defensive or more offensive. They have more flexibility for choice. They can be defensive because they’ve, you know, so to speak, got more than enough or they can lean in and be more aggressive because they have a bigger cushion than the rest of us. And our clientele is all ends of that spectrum. There’s no — the — the — the notion that some people have, well, once someone’s made a certain amount of money they’re — they’re just trying to preserve it. There are certainly clients that — that exhibit that behavior, but there are an equal number who want to optimize it and aren’t in a completely defensive mindset. So, it depends on the personality type. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. One of the clichés of the industry is three generations from, you know, short tales to short tales, referring that generational wealth very often gets — I don’t want to say wasted, but frittered away irresponsibly or recklessly. Some people take too much risk. How do you manage around that? Do you — do you ever have families coming to you and say, “Hey, we want to leave money to the next generation, but we want to make sure they get it and that it’s not just, you know, Ferraris and — and weekends in Vegas.” FRADKIN: Yes, all the time. Again, every family is different. Every client is different but, you know, one thing to — one thing that I think is a little bit unfair in — in — not by you, but in the characterization that you refer to is this notion, well, you know, by the third generation it is, you know, frittered away. I think you — you have to remember a couple things. First, when — when we say it’s frittered away, the comparison point is often to someone who did the extraordinary. So if I started from nothing and created $1 billion — $1 billion of wealth, it’s a little unfair to say my kids or my grandkids, you know, they’re not as smart as I am because, you know, they didn’t do it, too. You know, People who have created extraordinary wealth have done so, by definition, it’s — it’s extraordinary, and it’s not reasonable. Even if you have bright, talented, you know, high-functioning kids, it’s not reasonable to assume that each generation is just going to — you know, mom made $1 billion. Mom’s kid made $2 billion and — and mom’s grandkid made — made $4 billion. You know, it’s — mathematically, that’s not a reasonable probability. That’s sad. There is definitely an art to optimizing wealth through the generations. And, of course, it starts in the home and how you raise kids and values and, you know, what you demand of them or not. But a lot of our clients do a great job of trying to steward their wealth, trying to educate their kids, trying to make use of family governance to — to help everyone understand how things work for the family. And so, each client is different, but as with most things, the more you put into it, the more you’re likely to get out of it. And for those who believe it’s an important responsibility to steward that wealth, pass it to future generations, educate those generations, make them or trying to help them be important members of society, they tend to get better outcomes than the rest of us. It’s a — it’s a very — it’s, you know, raising kids and money are two challenging vectors, but we see some great examples of people stewarding wealth through multiple generations not just the — the founder, so to speak. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about what you call Goals Driven Wealth Management. Start out with what — what exactly is that. FRADKIN: Sure. Goals Driven Wealth Management at Northern Trust is the framework that — that we’ve devised to build personalized wealth plans for clients and it focuses on helping them achieve their individual goals with confidence. It provides a big picture of their wealth and transparent steps on how to manage and optimize wealth over time. So, Barry, one way to think about it is — and I’m being a little bit facetious, but just to make the point, it used to be in this industry that the starting point for how money might be managed was a function of your outlook on the market. You think equities are going to go up, et cetera, so you allocate more to equities. Goals Driven Wealth Management comes at investing through a different lens. The starting point is not so much our call on the markets though that will be important at some point. Our starting point in Goals Driven is what are you and your family trying to accomplish. Once we understand what you’re trying to accomplish and the assets you need to accomplish it, we can, in effect, back in to how to deploy those assets — in stocks, bonds, other asset classes — to give you the best probability of achieving your life goals over time. So, it’s really just a different starting point for how to think about creating an asset allocation that is most effective for you and your family. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about that framework. And again, the question comes back, how different is it for the ultra-high net worth than for the merely wealthy or — or is there a lot of overlapping between the two different types of planning? FRADKIN: The process is really the same no matter where you are on the wealth spectrum. You and your family have goals, and whether you have $1 million, $100 million, $1 billion, $10 billion or whatever the number is, you have something you want to achieve over time. You plan to live to age 90 or 100. This is what you need to live in the style to which you want to be accustomed, and we do a variety of work to figure out, first of all, are you asset-sufficient, meaning under reasonable scenarios, do I have enough if I steward it effectively to live my life the way I want to live it over time? And that happens whether you have, you know — again, whatever the number is, $500,000 or $10 million. The difference, Barry, comes in with the flexibility and options that you have as you create more wealth. So, the starting point is the same: understand your goals, understand your needs, and let’s figure out an asset allocation to give you the best chance to get there. What becomes different for people in the ultra-high net worth space relative to the rest of us is that they can take advantage of more planning techniques. They can take advantage of more techniques to optimize philanthropy. They can take advantage of gifting to future generations and so forth, and so the process is the same. But as you accumulate more money, in general, you have more flexibility on some other things you can do. The ultra-high net worth also have more investment optionality. They have the ability to invest in asset classes like private equity hedge fund and so forth where they may have to trade off some liquidity for a period of time. Those of us who are lower on the spectrum may not be able to endure that in a down market. Those who have more wealth can — can oftentimes weather that storm more. So, the process is the same, but you get more flexibility as your wealth grows. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: We’re going to talk more of about alternative investments in a little bit. I want to stick with a couple of interesting things I read in some Northern Trust research. One of the things that I kind of knew, but I didn’t realize it was this intense was the number of clients you see relocating to new states. It’s been a record volume. Some of that is pandemic related, some of it predates the pandemic. How does that challenge the planning process? How different is it from state-to-state when it comes to things like tax planning? You mentioned trust. You mentioned philanthropic issues. What happens when somebody picks up from one state and relocates to another state? FRADKIN: Yeah, it’s an interesting question. Look, clients relocating has always been with us. If you look at Northern Trust history, we are headquartered in Chicago in the middle of the United States. It’s cold here in the winter, lovely city, but it does get rather cold at wintertime. And often times, as people age and, you know, their kids finish school and so forth, they opt for better environments in the wintertime, so they may want to be in Florida or Arizona or Texas or California. So, one phenomenon we’ve always seen is migration from state-to-state. That phenomenon is also impacted by state tax rates, by state tax considerations. And so, both, because of the pandemic and for tax reasons and lifestyle reasons, were continuing to see movement across state lines. And so, you know, I think the — the message to urban planners is taxes do matter to people. It’s not necessarily the only factor, but even affluent people will think through where do they want to be, where do they want to live, what environment to they want to be in, and what’s the tax impact for their clients. And that phenomenon is — is alive and well. It’s always been there, but it — it does seem to be important as different states consider different policies, if you will. People — residents make their choices, and so it’s — it’s — it’s a phenomenon that’s very much at the front of mind for many of our clients. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. You mentioned taxes. There was a new administration came to town this year, and the expectations are there will be some sort of change in tax policy, potentially including increases in capital gains and increases in estate taxes and, in some cases, fairly substantial increases. How do you plan around that? And since nothing is known for certain in advance what an administration is — is going to do, how do you make decisions in — in the face of that uncertainty? FRADKIN: Yeah, I think our starting point on behalf of our clients is to prepare rather than predict. So, let me give you an example that — that you referred to. The newly proposed tax law change would change the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption amount from $11.7 million down to $5 million. And what this means for people that built up substantial wealth is that if the proposal goes forward as — as offered, you have until the end of this year if you want to make a gift to your heirs of — if you can afford to and if you want to, make a gift of $11.7 million. And again, I can’t tell you whether this will happen. But if we just think about the financial impact here, if you have enough capacity to do that and you choose to do it, you can take $11.7 million out of your estate today, get it to your kids, grandkids, whoever it happens to be tax-free as opposed to, on January 1st, if the law goes forward only as — as offered, you can only do $5 million. And what that means is the difference between — sorry to get, you know, numbers all over — but the difference between 11.7 and five, which is $6.7 million will be taxed, you know, when you die at a — at a high rate. And so we have literally thousands of clients all across the country and each one we’re working with individually to evaluate what’s their financial circumstance, what do they want to do, do they want to make the gift. And by the way, this — this — this tax law change may or may not happen, so people have to make a choice without knowing for sure whether it’s going to happen. I think the bottom line though is people are looking at this carefully. They’re studying it and they’re trying to prepare and make judgments about what might happen and what’s best for their individual circumstance. But tax law changes matter and — and we are in the business of helping our clients figure out what’s the best choice for them with the information that we have. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite interesting. So, we talked a little bit about alternatives earlier. Let’s address that a bit. There seems to be a growing appetite for all manner of — of alternative investments given that stocks and bonds are all a little bit pricey. Let’s start with private equity. What — what sort of demand is there from your clients for private equity. And — and how do you guys respond to the question of potentially better returns in exchange for far less liquidity? FRADKIN: Sure. Look, investment has become much more granular over the decades and again, just to be facetious, you know, large-cap stocks versus high quality bonds, you know, 40 years ago. Today, clients think in terms of small-cap, mid-cap, large-cap, value, international, emerging markets, private equity, and thousands of flavors of private equity; hedge fund the same thing. So, in the quest for optimizing returns, clients and their professional money managers, Northern Trust included, have searched for different asset classes to combine together to give people the best chance to — to achieve their objectives. Private equity clearly has been in the aggregate — there are winners and losers in private equity, but has been a asset class that has done well for many. There are tradeoffs with private equity, particularly in terms of liquidity. But I would say amongst our clientele, the appetite for private equity and private equity, as a more normalized asset class, continues to grow. It’s not the right asset class for every client, but for clients who have the capacity, the risk tolerance and so forth, it — it definitely can play an important role in a client’s portfolio. And increasingly, we’re seeing more use of private equity today than we did say 10 years ago. RITHOLTZ: What about venture capital or hedge funds, two totally different entities from both each other in private equity, what’s the demand like for those products? FRADKIN: Demand exists for venture capital and for hedge funds as well. Again, the devil is in the detail, not all hedge funds are created equally. The — the — the fees that they charge, the performance that they’ve delivered can differ substantially, but there is again this same notion of I want to diversify my portfolio. I want a — a range of options and so-called alternative investments. Whether you call it private equity, venture capital, hedge funds seem to continue to be growing in appeal to our clientele. RITHOLTZ: What about crypto and things like blockchain and Ethereum? There seems to be a lot of real interest in the space. Are — are you finding your client bases crypto-curious? FRADKIN: I would say the demand for crypto is more muted amongst our clientele than some of what you read in the public press. And that doesn’t mean we have examples of clients who have invested in crypto and done exceptionally well in a right time. But I would say, in general, if I had to caricature it, I would say that crypto is still an evolving asset class that is misunderstood by many. And I think most are treating it carefully. And the ones that are making crypto investments are viewing it more as a — more as a roll of the dice than a rational analytical view of what crypto is trading at today and what it’s going to trade it tomorrow. They view it as a bit of a roll the dice. They may jump in a little bit, but they understand that what goes up can also go down. So, I would say amongst our clientele overall, crypto is still not widely in use. RITHOLTZ: So, we mentioned briefly the market is certainly pricier than it was five or 10 years ago. How do you manage around stocks and bonds neither of which are inexpensive? FRADKIN: Yeah, look, I think for many of our clients, the market does go up, the market got does go down. And one of the great features of our — the goals-driven methodology that we use for clients is that we build a portfolio such that after a lot of analytical work to evaluate their goals and so forth that enables them to endure and not have to sell in a down market. We — we create something that’s called a portfolio reserve. I would liken it to the moat around your castle. Some people like a wide deep moat, some people need a narrower and less deep mode, but think of that as a high-quality fixed income. If the stock market goes down, your — your bonds are still fine. You can still pay your mortgage. Life is good. You can wait until the market goes up or — or returns to normal. So, the one thing we know on behalf of our clients is markets go up and down, and so you have to plan and prepare for that. And so, it’s very difficult to know. You know, again using the COVID-19 example, I think they’re a lot of people who might have argued the markets are going to crash, you know, everyone’s working from home and we can’t get the essentials, and people don’t want to go to the grocery store, and yet the market went up dramatically. So, we try and take a long-stewarded view and help our clients plan and prepare themselves so that when the market does go down, they can get through and — and not have to take adverse steps and sell in dire circumstance. And that’s been very helpful for our clients. RITHOLTZ: So, in terms of forward return expectations, does that — and historically low-bond yields, high equity prices tend to suggest low returns going forward, does that work its way into the planning process or is that really more of an academic theory? FRADKIN: No, it absolutely works its way into the planning process because our starting point is what needs does a client have over the near-term for financial resources. We — we got to make sure they can buy their groceries, and pay their mortgage, and we have to deploy assets against those goals. But once, in working with a client, we figured out the right mix of assets to — to enable them to — to afford those goals over a reasonable period of time, we then have to deploy the rest of the portfolio toward so-called risk assets, equities, private equity, hedge funds, venture — whatever the asset class. And in so doing, we have to bring our judgment about risk and return expectations for each of those asset classes. So, our view of asset classes and what they’re likely to bring over the relatively short-term is still an important part of the process. RITHOLTZ: So, what do you tell investors who say, “You know, I’m really not happy with my muni bond portfolio. It’s barely thrown off two or 2.5 percent.” Investors are always seen to be looking for more yield. How do you respond to that group of clients? FRADKIN: Yeah, I think it — my — our response is really you have to remember what you’re trying to do with that muni bond portfolio. No one is saying it’s a great high returning asset class, but that’s not its role. Its role is to be — I’m making this up, Barry, but generally, the role of that muni bond portfolio is to provide you with certainty, security, confidence, and not have to worry about the other part of your portfolio, let’s just call that equities gyrating up and down. So, of course, people want their muni bonds or their high-quality fixed income to return as much as it can, and it’s our job to try and help people achieve that. But I think you always have to come back to what role is this trying to play. And for most clients, it’s trying to play a role of stability, and reliability, and consistency, and that’s the paramount feature. And in providing that consistency and — and stability and predictability, they give up a little bit of return on that asset class, but they’re trying to get that elsewhere with their equities, private equity, and so forth. So, you had — you had discussed previously, hey, you know, it’s up to us to make the most of a low rate environment. What does that mean? Get — how does one make the most of a low rate environment? FRADKIN: Well, I think, you know, low — low rates create — low interest rates create challenges and opportunities. Maybe two simple ways to think about it are, one, on the challenge side, if you’re living on a fixed income as assets reprice to — and you’re reliant on bonds — your bonds to provide income, the lower rates make the yield on those bonds lower, and so that’s bad from, you know, how much cash flow I have to — to fill my needs. The flipside to that is that when rates are very low, if you want to, if it’s appropriate, if it’s thoughtfully done, you can use credit rather than liquidating stocks to — you know, if you want to buy a new toy, so to speak, a boat, whatever it happens to be, one way to do that is to sell stocks in your portfolio and buy the — you know, whatever it is you want to buy. Another way is to let those stocks keep working on your behalf and, because rates are so low, take advantage of credit. Take a loan, buy that boat and — or whatever it happens to be and pay it back over time. So low interest rates, you know, how can have different conflicting phenomenon, opportunities on the credit side and headwinds on the bond investment site. RITHOLTZ: So — so how do you incorporate all this inflation chatter to — to your planning? We’ve started to see rates tick up the 10-year as — as recording this just about 1.5 percent. And I know there’s an irony in saying that rates are all the way up to 1.5 percent, which historically is incredibly low. How do you figure inflation into your modeling and — and thinking about the future? FRADKIN: Yeah, well, we use multi-scenario modeling. The — the reality is no one knows and so you have to, you know, the — the prognosticators will — will have a view. Some — some believe inflation is here and is going to continue. Others argue it’s so-called transitory. And the truth is we don’t know. We’ll — we’ll find that out tomorrow, so to speak. And so as we work through planning with our clients, we generally are running multiple scenarios, low inflation, medium inflation, high inflation. And we’re trying — as we — as we help clients make decisions, we’re trying to make the best judgment we can at a given point in time. But that’s why you — you really have to — be you have to plan for multiple scenarios and bring agility to your process because we don’t know whether the stock market is going up or down. We don’t know whether inflation will be higher or lower. We have a view. We can have probabilities. But as we’ve seen, whether it was with 2008 or COVID, we — everyone can be wrong. And so, you have to plan and adapt and leave yourself a buffer for when you are wrong, and hopefully it’s not — not catastrophic. RITHOLTZ: So, I know I only have you for a little bit of time. Let me jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of my guests, starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days, what’s keeping you entertained at home, either on Netflix or Amazon Prime or — or wherever. FRADKIN: Well, I’ve — I’ve been working hard so I — I can’t say I’ve — I’ve made great use of Netflix. But what I have just started and this will show you, Barry, how far behind I am is I’ve just started Ted Lasso. So I’m behind the rest of the world, but that’s what I’m on right now. RITHOLTZ: All right. Well, well, you’ll — I could tell you this much, you will enjoy it and — and enjoy catching up with us. What about mentors? Who helped to shape your career? FRADKIN: You know, I’ve had a lot of mentors at Northern Trust over the years, people who were senior to me and people who weren’t, but I learned from everyone. I think when I think about mentors, for me, it’s less about people with whom I work and maybe it’s my interest in history. But I try and learn from people who have overcome insurmountable odds, the Mahatma Gandhis, the Martin Luther Kings, the Winston Churchills, the Vaclav Havels, the Abraham Lincoln. And there’s so much wisdom that I see in people like that because they really faced incredible circumstances and worked through them generally to good outcomes. And so there — those great thinkers are probably the people I’ve learned the most from as I wouldn’t call them mentors to me, but I’ve certainly read about all of them and — and learned a lot from each of them. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are you reading right now and what — what are some of your favorites? FRADKIN: You know, I think in keeping with that theme of mentors over periods of time that interest me, I’ve really enjoyed “The Splendid and the Vile” by Eric Larson, which is about Churchill and the blitz of World War II. And — and again, it — it helps you — it helps me to see just how dire the circumstances were and what he and others had to navigate through. The other book that I’ve dusted off recently, I read some time ago, but I think in view of the pandemic, it seemed interesting to me was “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston, which has nothing to do with the pandemic, but there are parallels to what we’re dealing with, and it was sort of a gripping — a gripping book if you have time for a good read. RITHOLTZ: Sounds interesting. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who is interested in a career in either investment management or finance? FRADKIN: Yeah, I think, Barry, I’d offer a — a — a couple of themes on this. And I — I don’t know that I narrowed these themes to an interest in investments or finance, although I think they do overlap. But I’d start by saying, it probably be easiest place to get my view there would be to go to YouTube and I — I gave a commencement address at the University of Illinois Chicago and tried to formulate those themes for — for young people. But a — but a few that come to mind at least through my lens are comfort is the enemy of accomplishment. If you want to be the best you can be, you can never be satisfied with where you are. You’ve got to push, push, push and make yourself better each and every day in everything you touch. I think a couple of the other themes that would come to me would be in — in the same vein, we see this in Northern Trust all the time. Excellence is not a part-time job. For people who want to be excellent, who want to do the best job for our clients and our shareholders, you can’t be excellent only when it’s convenient, only when you want to do it or only when you feel like it. You’ve — you’ve got to — excellence is an all-in phenomenon. And then probably the — the — the last thing that comes to my mind is persevere beyond your accomplishments. It’s not what you did yesterday, it’s — you can be proud of what you’ve accomplished. But again, you want to be better going forward. And so be proud of who you are, be proud of your grades, and your — your school, and your degrees, and all that sort of stuff, but those are what you did, you know, two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago whatever it happens to be, keep pushing forward to be the best you can be. So, persevere beyond your accomplishments. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of investing today you wish you knew 35 years ago when you were first starting with Northern Trust? FRADKIN: That is a long list, Barry, but I think what I would say is you don’t have to be right on everything and sometimes being right is more about luck and timing than it is about specific analytical acumen. Uninspiring choices in a bull market can turn out just fine, and well-reasoned ideas in a down market can turn out to be not so good. So, get the direction right more often than not and you’ll be just fine. RITHOLTZ: Really good advice. Thank you, Steve, for being so generous with your time. We’ve been speaking with Steve Fradkin. He is the President of Northern Trust Wealth Management. If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the other 388 prior discussions we’ve had over the past seven years. You can find those wherever you normally find your favorite podcast, iTunes, Spotify, wherever. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at You can sign up for my daily suggested reading list at Check out my regular column at Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack that helps put these conversations together each week. 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: Steve Fradkin appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 29th, 2021

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson says he was "blindsided" by eToro"s decision to delist ada for US customers

"We were so blindsided by it," Charles Hoskison, Cardano founder, said in a Twitter broadcast earlier this week. Ethereum cofounder and Cardano creator, Charles HoskinsonCharles Hoskinson/YouTube Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson said he'd been "blindsided" by eToro's delisting of ada for US users.  Hoskinson said there were no regulatory events or subpoenas, threats or lawsuits that they were aware of.  eToro said it planned to delist ada for US customers by the year end because of regulatory concerns. Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell. Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson told followers this week on Twitter that eToro's decision to delist the ada token for US customers had come as a complete surprise to him.  eToro, an online trading platform based in Israel, said on Tuesday it would delist ada, along with the TRON Foundation's trx token for customers in the United States by December 26. eToro first added ada to its crypto offering in 2018. The exchange told Insider the rapidly shifting regulatory landscape was behind its decision to limit the ability of US customers to open new positions in the two digital currencies.Many critics have argued that the regulatory landscape in the US for crypto is not clear yet but officials do believe that regulation is necessary and more policies are set to be put in place by 2022. Hoskinson, who founded cardano in 2015, said that he still needed further clarification on the trading platform's decision to delist ada for US customers. "There's currently nothing we've received, no regulatory event, no subpoena, nothing from any regulatory agency, no threats of lawsuits, none of these things, that's why we're so blindsided by it, because actually, the trend has been over the last six months a significant increase of liquidity on cardano," Hoskinson said. "On our side, we had no indication of this from eToro and it's rather unfortunate that nothing was sent our way," he said. The decision knocked almost 4.8% off the value of the ada token and sent it to three-month lows, while trx fell 5% to a one-month low on Wednesday, But ada has still been one of the top-performing cryptocurrencies of 2021. It's gained around 850% so far this year, which has made it the world's sixth largest digital token by market value, according to Coinmarketcap. It's fallen short of the 14,000% gain in rival solana's sol token this year, but has roundly beaten bitcoin's 102% rally. It's a smaller competitor to the ethereum network, thanks to its capability of hosting smart contracts and other applications that are key to decentralized finance. Cardano's ada has been listed by some of the biggest exchanges. It was listed on Coinbase on March 19 this year and on Binance in 2017, and Kraken listed it in 2018. Bitstamp decided to list ada last Thursday. The altcoin is not listed on Gemini yet. "We at least could have better understood the reasons and we'll of course reach out on our side to better understand reasons but it's primarily the foundation's responsibility," Hoskinson said, referring to the Cardano Foundation, a non-profit organization in Switzerland that is the custodian of the Cardano brand.While eToro's decision came as a surprise, Hoskinson was ultimately sanguine. It doesn't surprise me from the perspective of these things happen. Everybody has a different compliance desk. Everybody has a different regulatory tolerance. Everybody has a different customer base," he said. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2021

Biden Drops Details On SPR Release, Then Flees From Media Questions

Biden Drops Details On SPR Release, Then Flees From Media Questions As we noted earlier, Biden's "exchange-based" release from the global SPR has been a dud, as oil prices surged on Tuesday after the administration confirmed plans for a record-setting 50M barrel release which is contingent on America's ability to convince Japan, the UK and several other allies to engage in "global" swaps from the strategic reserves, for a total of 100 million barrels. The decision was aimed at helping alleviate some of the pain Americans have been feeling at the pump this fall. Of course, we don't have to explain why Biden shouldn't bother with that SPR release: his administration did that himself last month - insisting that a jolt from the SPR wouldn't  make a difference in long-term crude prices. A closer look at the decision might explain the timing; Biden's SPR announcement comes amid a long-delayed Wednesday sale of oil-exploration leases in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision which has enraged environmentalists, and is 'unlikely to help tame rising oil and gasoline prices', according to Bloomberg. 1. Draining ‘strategic’ global #oil reserves when oil is sub-$80 2. Raising cost of capital for O&G until capex is starved 3. Doing *nothing* to alter fossil fuel Demand Tomorrow begins a new era: $200+ Brent in ~two years is not a tail risk, but a likely outcome #OOTT #OPEC — Peter Sutherland (@econ_713) November 23, 2021 And so, during a Tuesday speech, Biden promised Americans that the drawdown from the reserves would be global in scope, claiming that he had spoken with China about joining it in releasing more from the reserves, while his press secretary importantly said the White House wouldn't rule out even more cuts. Biden said that the coordinated action would "span the globe in its reach and ultimately reach your corner gas station - God willing," adding "I will do what needs to be done to reduce the price you pay at the pump." In other words, if gas prices don't drop, blame God. Biden also 'reassured' Americans that they could "rest easy" knowing that stores would be well-stocked this season, something that they probably appreciated after months of near record-setting inflation (and certainly the highest in 30 years) not just in the US, but across the world. Reminder: this is the guy with his finger on the button. NEW - Biden reads from the teleprompter incl. an "end of quote" — (@disclosetv) November 23, 2021 His energy secretary isn't doing much better. REPORTER: "How many barrels of oil does the U.S. consume per day?" ENERGY SECRETARY: "I don't have that number in front of me" — X Strategies LLC (@XStrategiesLLC) November 23, 2021 And all of this is reportedly going to save motorists a whole 10 cents / gallon. The drop in crude oil prices over the past three weeks, partly because of the Biden administration’s signaling of Tuesday’s decision, should cause retail gasoline prices to drop by 10 cents or more per gallon through mid-December, said Bob McNally, president of consultant Rapidan Energy Group. ... Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at, said pump prices in the U.S. should decline 5 cents to 15 cents in the next two weeks. “It’s a little bit disappointing,” he added. “Motorists will get some decline in prices but it will be on the smaller side.” Bloomberg reports that with Biden's latest economic speech comes amid "policy whiplash" revealing the tension between Biden’s long-term climate goals and short-term political realities. Some promoters of green energy even insisted that Biden can't really afford higher energy prices rise so high that voters turn against him. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers made the threat to the economy even more explicit last week when he said inflation threatened to usher in a return to power for former President Donald Trump, who called global warming a hoax. Others acknowledged that Biden was already struggling with the decision. "That’s a challenging tightrope to walk,” said Dan Pickering, founder and chief investment officer at Houston-based Pickering Energy Partners. With no major breakthrough at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, and no cohesive strategy for lowering gasoline prices, Pickering added, “you look not great at either, which seems like the worst place in the world for a politician to be." The news comes after President Biden made his speech, which he made earlier Tuesday: But in one of the most memorable moments from Biden's administration, the president seemed to almost run away from the press and flee as reporters asked whether the president take questions from reporters. REPORTER: "When will you answer our questions, Sir?" BIDEN: *turns around and runs away* — Danny De Urbina (@dannydeurbina) November 23, 2021 Tyler Durden Tue, 11/23/2021 - 16:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 23rd, 2021

Inside Frances Haugen’s Decision to Take on Facebook

Blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company is no small feat Frances Haugen is in the back of a Paris taxi, waving a piece of sushi in the air. The cab is on the way to a Hilton hotel, where this November afternoon she is due to meet with the French digital economy minister. The Eiffel Tower appears briefly through the window, piercing a late-fall haze. Haugen is wolfing down lunch on the go, while recalling an episode from her childhood. The teacher of her gifted and talented class used to play a game where she would read to the other children the first letter of a word from the dictionary and its definition. Haugen and her classmates would compete, in teams, to guess the word. “At some point, my classmates convinced the teacher that it was unfair to put me on either team, because whichever team had me was going to win and so I should have to compete against the whole class,” she says. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Did she win? “I did win,” she says with a level of satisfaction that quickly fades to indignation. “And so imagine! That makes kids hate you!” She pops an edamame into her mouth with a flourish. “I look back and I’m like, That was a bad idea.” She tells the story not to draw attention to her precociousness—although it does do that—but to share the lesson it taught her. “This shows you how badly some educators understand psychology,” she says. While some have described the Facebook whistle-blower as an activist, Haugen says she sees herself as an educator. To her mind, an important part of her mission is driving home a message in a way that resonates with people, a skill she has spent years honing. Photograph by Christopher Anderson—Magnum Photos for TIME It is the penultimate day of a grueling three-week tour of Europe, during which Haugen has cast herself in the role of educator in front of the U.K. and E.U. Parliaments, regulators and one tech conference crowd. Haugen says she wanted to cross the Atlantic to offer her advice to lawmakers putting the final touches on new regulations that take aim at the outsize influence of large social media companies. The new U.K. and E.U. laws have the potential to force Facebook and its competitors to open up their algorithms to public scrutiny, and face large fines if they fail to address problematic impacts of their platforms. European lawmakers and regulators “have been on this journey a little longer” than their U.S. counterparts, Haugen says diplomatically. “My goal was to support lawmakers as they think through these issues.” Beginning in late summer, Haugen, 37, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents were the basis of a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal that sparked a reckoning in September over what the company knew about how it contributed to harms ranging from its impact on teens’ mental health and the extent of misinformation on its platforms, to human traffickers’ open use of its services. The documents paint a picture of a company that is often aware of the harms to which it contributes—but is either unwilling or unable to act against them. Haugen’s disclosures set Facebook stock on a downward trajectory, formed the basis for eight new whistle-blower complaints to the SEC and have prompted lawmakers around the world to intensify their calls for regulation of the company. Facundo Arrizabalaga—EPA/EFE/ShutterstockHaugen leaves the Houses of Parliament in London on Oct. 25 after giving evidence to U.K. lawmakers. Facebook has rejected Haugen’s claims that it puts profits before safety, and says it spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on our apps,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Although many insiders have blown the whistle on Facebook before, nobody has left the company with the breadth of material that Haugen shared. And among legions of critics in politics, academia and media, no single person has been as effective as Haugen in bringing public attention to Facebook’s negative impacts. When Haugen decided to blow the whistle against Facebook late last year, the company employed more than 58,000 people. Many had access to the documents that she would eventually pass to authorities. Why did it take so long for somebody to do what she did? Read More: How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits One answer is that blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company requires a particular combination of skills, personality traits and circumstances. In Haugen’s case, it took one near-death experience, a lost friend, several crushed hopes, a cryptocurrency bet that came good and months in counsel with a priest who also happens to be her mother. Haugen’s atypical personality, glittering academic background, strong moral convictions, robust support networks and self-confidence also helped. Hers is the story of how all these factors came together—some by chance, some by design—to create a watershed moment in corporate responsibility, human communication and democracy. When debate coach Scott Wunn first met a 16-year-old Haugen at Iowa City West High School, she had already been on the team for two years, after finishing junior high a year early. He was an English teacher who had been headhunted to be the debate team’s new coach. The school took this kind of extracurricular activity seriously, and so did the young girl with the blond hair. In their first exchange, Wunn remembers Haugen grilling him about whether he would take coaching as seriously as his other duties. “I could tell from that moment she was very serious about debate,” says Wunn, who is now the executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “When we ran tournaments, she was the student who stayed the latest, who made sure that all of the students on the team were organized. Everything that you can imagine, Frances would do.” Haugen specialized in a form of debate that specifically asked students to weigh the morality of every issue, and by her senior year, she had become one of the top 25 debaters in the country in her field. “Frances was a math whiz, and she loved political science,” Wunn says. In competitive debate, you don’t get to decide which side of the issue you argue for. But Haugen had a strong moral compass, and when she was put in a position where she had to argue for something she disagreed with, she didn’t lean back on “flash in the pan” theatrics, her former coach remembers. Instead, she would dig deeper to find evidence for an argument she could make that wouldn’t compromise her values. “Her moral convictions were strong enough, even at that age, that she wouldn’t try to manipulate the evidence such that it would go against her morality,” Wunn says. When Haugen got to college, she realized she needed to master another form of communication. “Because my parents were both professors, I was used to having dinner-table conversations where, like, someone would have read an interesting article that day, and would basically do a five-minute presentation,” she says. “And so I got to college, and I had no idea how to make small talk.” Today, Haugen is talkative and relaxed. She’s in a good mood because she got to “sleep in” until 8:30 a.m.—later than most other days on her European tour, she says. At one point, she asks if I’ve seen the TV series Archer and momentarily breaks into a song from the animated sitcom. After graduating from Olin College of Engineering—where, beyond the art of conversation, she studied the science of computer engineering—Haugen moved to Silicon Valley. During a stint at Google, she helped write the code for Secret Agent Cupid, the precursor to popular dating app Hinge. She took time off to undertake an M.B.A. at Harvard, a rarity for software engineers in Silicon Valley and something she would later credit with helping her diagnose some of the organizational flaws within Facebook. But in 2014, while back at Google, Haugen’s trajectory was knocked off course. Haugen has celiac disease, a condition that means her immune system attacks her own tissues if she eats gluten. (Hence the sushi.) She “did not take it seriously enough” in her 20s, she says. After repeated trips to the hospital, doctors eventually realized she had a blood clot in her leg that had been there for anywhere between 18 months and two years. Her leg turned purple, and she ended up in the hospital for over a month. There she had an allergic reaction to a drug and nearly bled to death. She suffered nerve damage in her hands and feet, a condition known as neuropathy, from which she still suffers today. “I think it really changes your priorities when you’ve almost died,” Haugen says. “Everything that I had defined myself [by] before, I basically lost.” She was used to being the wunderkind who could achieve anything. Now, she needed help cooking her meals. “My recovery made me feel much more powerful, because I rebuilt my body,” she says. “I think the part that informed my journey was: You have to accept when you whistle-blow like this that you could lose everything. You could lose your money, you could lose your freedom, you could alienate everyone who cares about you. There’s all these things that could happen to you. Once you overcome your fear of death, anything is possible. I think it gave me the freedom to say: Do I want to follow my conscience?” Once Haugen was out of the hospital, she moved back into her apartment but struggled with daily tasks. She hired a friend to assist her part time. “I became really close friends with him because he was so committed to my getting better,” she says. But over the course of six months, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she says, “I just lost him” to online misinformation. He seemed to believe conspiracy theories, like the idea that George Soros runs the world economy. “At some point, I realized I couldn’t reach him,” she says. Soon Haugen was physically recovering, and she began to consider re-entering the workforce. She spent stints at Yelp and Pinterest as a successful product manager working on algorithms. Then, in 2018, a Facebook recruiter contacted her. She told him that she would take the job only if she could work on tackling misinformation in Facebook’s “integrity” operation, the arm of the company focused on keeping the platform and its users safe. “I took that job because losing my friend was just incredibly painful, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that pain,” she says. Her optimism that she could make a change from inside lasted about two months. Haugen’s first assignment involved helping manage a project to tackle misinformation in places where the company didn’t have any third-party fact-checkers. Everybody on her team was a new hire, and she didn’t have the data scientists she needed. “I went to the engineering manager, and I said, ‘This is the inappropriate team to work on this,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘You shouldn’t be so negative.’” The pattern repeated itself, she says. “I raised a lot of concerns in the first three months, and my concerns were always discounted by my manager and other people who had been at the company for longer.” Before long, her entire team was shifted away from working on international misinformation in some of Facebook’s most vulnerable markets to working on the 2020 U.S. election, she says. The documents Haugen would later disclose to authorities showed that in 2020, Facebook spent 3.2 million hours tackling misinformation, although just 13% of that time was spent on content from outside the U.S., the Journal reported. Facebook’s spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “dedicated teams with expertise in human rights, hate speech and misinformation” working in at-risk countries. “We dedicate resources to these countries, including those without fact-checking programs, and have been since before, during and after the 2020 U.S. elections, and this work continues today.” Read More: Why Some People See More Disturbing Content on Facebook Than Others, According to Leaked Documents Haugen said that her time working on misinformation in foreign countries made her deeply concerned about the impact of Facebook abroad. “I became concerned with India even in the first two weeks I was in the company,” she says. Many people who were accessing the Internet for the first time in places like India, Haugen realized after reading research on the topic, did not even consider the possibility that something they had read online might be false or misleading. “From that moment on, I was like, Oh, there is a huge sleeping dragon at Facebook,” she says. “We are advancing the Internet to other countries far faster than it happened in, say, the U.S.,” she says, noting that people in the U.S. have had time to build up a “cultural muscle” of skepticism toward online content. “And I worry about the gap [until] that information immune system forms.” In February 2020, Haugen sent a text message to her parents asking if she could come and live with them in Iowa when the pandemic hit. Her mother Alice Haugen recalls wondering what pandemic she was talking about, but agreed. “She had made a spreadsheet with a simple exponential growth model that tried to guess when San Francisco would be shut down,” Alice says. A little later, Frances asked if she could send some food ahead of her. Soon, large Costco boxes started arriving at the house. “She was trying to bring in six months of food for five people, because she was afraid that the supply lines might break down,” Alice says. “Our living room became a small grocery store.” After quarantining for 10 days upon arrival, the younger Haugen settled into lockdown life with her parents, continuing her work for Facebook remotely. “We shared meals, and every day we would have conversations,” Alice says. She recalled her daughter voicing specific concerns about Facebook’s impact in Ethiopia, where ethnic violence was playing out on—and in some cases being amplified by—Facebook’s platforms. On Nov. 9, Facebook said it had been investing in safety measures in Ethiopia for more than two years, including activating algorithms to down-rank potentially inflammatory content in several languages in response to escalating violence there. Haugen acknowledges the work, saying she wants to give “credit where credit is due,” but claims the social network was too late to intervene with safety measures in Ethiopia and other parts of the world. “The idea that they don’t even turn those knobs on until people are getting shot is completely unacceptable,” she says. “The reality right now is that Facebook is not willing to invest the level of resources that would allow it to intervene sooner.” A Facebook spokesperson defended the prioritization system in its statement, saying that the company has long-term strategies to “mitigate the impacts of harmful offline events in the countries we deem most at risk … while still protecting freedom of expression and other human rights principles.” What Haugen saw was happening in nations like Ethiopia and India would clarify her opinions about “engagement-based ranking”—the system within Facebook more commonly known as “the algorithm”—that chooses which posts, out of thousands of options, to rank at the top of users’ feeds. Haugen’s central argument is that human nature means this system is doomed to amplify the worst in us. “One of the things that has been well documented in psychology research is that the more times a human is exposed to something, the more they like it, and the more they believe it’s true,” she says. “One of the most dangerous things about engagement-based ranking is that it is much easier to inspire someone to hate than it is to compassion or empathy. Given that you have a system that hyperamplifies the most extreme content, you’re going to see people who get exposed over and over again to the idea that [for example] it’s O.K. to be violent to Muslims. And that destabilizes societies.” In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, according to media reports, some initiatives proposed by Facebook’s integrity teams to tackle misinformation and other problems were killed or watered down by executives on the policy side of the company, who are responsible both for setting the platform’s rules and lobbying governments on Facebook’s behalf. Facebook spokespeople have said in response that the interventions were part of the company’s commitment to nuanced policymaking that balanced freedom of speech with safety. Haugen’s time at business school taught her to view the problem differently: Facebook was a company that prioritized growth over the safety of its users. “Organizational structure is a wonky topic, but it matters,” Haugen says. Inside the company, she says, she observed the effect of these repeated interventions on the integrity team. “People make decisions on what projects to work on, or advance, or give more resources to, based on what they believe is the chance for success,” she says. “I think there were many projects that could be content-neutral—that didn’t involve us choosing what are good or bad ideas, but instead are about making the platform safe—that never got greenlit, because if you’ve seen other things like that fail, you don’t even try them.” Being with her parents, particularly her mother, who left a career as a professor to become an Episcopal priest, helped Haugen become comfortable with the idea she might one day have to go public. “I was learning all these horrific things about Facebook, and it was really tearing me up inside,” she says. “The thing that really hurts most whistle-blowers is: whistle-blowers live with secrets that impact the lives of other people. And they feel like they have no way of resolving them. And so instead of being destroyed by learning these things, I got to talk to my mother … If you’re having a crisis of conscience, where you’re trying to figure out a path that you can live with, having someone you can agonize to, over and over again, is the ultimate amenity.” Haugen didn’t decide to blow the whistle until December 2020, by which point she was back in San Francisco. The final straw came when Facebook dissolved Haugen’s former team, civic integrity, whose leader had asked employees to take an oath to put the public good before Facebook’s private interest. (Facebook denies that it dissolved the team, saying instead that members were spread out across the company to amplify its influence.) Haugen and many of her former colleagues felt betrayed. But her mother’s counsel had mentally prepared her. “It meant that when that moment happened, I was actually in a pretty good place,” Haugen says. “I wasn’t in a place of crisis like many whistle-blowers are.” Read More: Why Facebook Employees ‘Deprioritized’ a Misinformation Fix In March, Haugen moved to Puerto Rico, in part for the warm weather, which she says helps with her neuropathy pain. Another factor was the island’s cryptocurrency community, which has burgeoned because of the U.S. territory’s lack of capital gains taxes. In October, she told the New York Times that she had bought into crypto “at the right time,” implying that she had a financial buffer that allowed her to whistle-blow comfortably. Haugen’s detractors have pointed to the irony of her calling for tech companies to do their social duty, while living in a U.S. territory with a high rate of poverty that is increasingly being used as a tax haven. Some have also pointed out that Haugen is not entirely independent: she has received support from Luminate, a philanthropic organization pushing for progressive Big Tech reform in Europe and the U.S., and which is backed by the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar. Luminate paid Haugen’s expenses on her trip to Europe and helped organize meetings with senior officials. Omidyar has also donated to Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit legal organization that is now representing Haugen pro bono. Luminate says it entered into a relationship with Haugen only after she went public with her disclosures. Haugen resigned from Facebook in May this year, after being told by the human-resources team that she could not work remotely from a U.S. territory. The news accelerated the secret project that she had decided to begin after seeing her old team disbanded. To collect the documents she would later disclose, Haugen trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum, Workplace. She traced the careers of integrity colleagues she admired—many of whom had left the company in frustration—gathering slide decks, research briefs and policy proposals they had worked on, as well as other documents she came across. Read more: Facebook Will Not Fix Itself While collecting the documents, she had flashbacks to her teenage years preparing folders of evidence for debates. “I was like, Wow, this is just like debate camp!” she recalls. “When I was 16 and doing that, I had no idea that it would be useful in this way in the future.” Jabin Botsford—Getty ImagesHaugen testifies on Oct. 5 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In her Senate testimony in early October, Haugen suggested a federal agency should be set up to oversee social media algorithms so that “someone like me could do a tour of duty” after working at a company like Facebook. But moving to Washington, D.C., to serve at such an agency has no appeal, she says. “I am happy to be one of the people consulted by that agency,” she says. “But I have a life I really like in Puerto Rico.” Now that her tour of Europe is over, Haugen has had a chance to think about what comes next. Over an encrypted phone call from Puerto Rico a few days after we met in Paris, she says she would like to help build a grassroots movement to help young people push back against the harms caused by social media companies. In this new task, as seems to be the case with everything in Haugen’s life, she wants to try to leverage the power of education. “I am fully aware that a 19-year-old talking to a 16-year-old will be more effective than me talking to that 16-year-old,” she tells me. “There is a real opportunity for young people to flex their political muscles and demand accountability.” I ask if she has a message to send to young people reading this. “Hmm,” she says, followed by a long pause. “In every era, humans invent technologies that run away from themselves,” she says. “It’s very easy to look at some of these tech platforms and feel like they are too big, too abstract and too amorphous to influence in any way. But the reality is there are lots of things we can do. And the reason they haven’t done them is because it makes the companies less profitable. Not unprofitable, just less profitable. And no company has the right to subsidize their profits with your health. Ironically, Haugen gives partial credit to one of her managers at Facebook for inspiring her thought process around blowing the whistle. After struggling with a problem for a week without asking for help, she missed a deadline. When she explained why, the manager told her he was disappointed that she had hidden that she was having difficulty, she says. “He said, ‘We solve problems together; we don’t solve them alone,’” she says. Never one to miss a teaching opportunity, she continues, “Part of why I came forward is I believe Facebook has been struggling alone. They’ve been hiding how much they’re struggling. And the reality is, we solve problems together, we don’t solve them alone.” ShutterstockFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the company was rebranding as Meta. It’s a philosophy that Haugen sees as the basis for how social media platforms should deal with societal issues going forward. In late October, Facebook Inc. (which owns Facebook, Whats App and Instagram) changed its name to Meta, a nod to its ambition to build the next generation of online experiences. In a late-October speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the “Metaverse”—its new proposal to build a virtual universe—would fundamentally reshape how humans interact with technology. Haugen says she is concerned the Metaverse will isolate people rather than bring them together: “I believe any tech with that much influence deserves public oversight.” But hers is also a belief system that allows for a path toward redemption. That friend she lost to misinformation? His story has a happy ending. “I learned later that he met a nice girl and he had gone back to church,” Haugen says, adding that he no longer believes in conspiracy theories. “It gives me a lot of hope that we can recover as individuals and as a society. But it involves us connecting with people.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 22nd, 2021

Instagram star Alexis Ren says the dollar-based economy is "collapsing" so she"s going into crypto

"They keep printing more of it, so that it has no value. [The dollar] used to be backed by gold and it's not anymore.," she says. Alexis Ren says she has lost faith in the value of the US dollar.Alexis Ren/We Are Warriors Model Alexis Ren believes "the way that we are utilizing the US dollar is really scary". Ren, who founded YourStage, a tech platform for learning, believes that the economy "is collapsing." She believes crypto offers a viable alternative and encouraged people to invest regularly. Most people know model Alexis Ren from her appearance in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition or as a contestant on the US edition of Dancing With the Stars. Maybe you have seen her on Instagram, where she has more than 15 million followers.But Ren is hoping that eventually you might know her best as the founder of — a tech platform that lets people host videos, meetings, and classes for mentor-driven learning — and as a force in the crypto-based non-fungible token (NFT) world.Currently, the main brand on YourStage is We Are Warriors, Ren's online school for women interested in fitness, health, and personal finance.After an introduction at Web Summit in Lisbon, our conversation was supposed to be focused on her new business but it quickly took an unusual turn into economics and cryptocurrency, which ended up becoming the predominant part of the interview.'The way that we are utilizing the US dollar is really scary'It turns out that Ren's interest in crypto is driven by her doubts about the direction of travel of the dollar-based economy.In a video she published in April (see the 11.33 mark), she said: "I think the economic structure we have been living on is a lie and it's delusional and it's just an agreement and so we need to find something better, and I think bitcoin and cryptocurrency is that."Ren went on to say that the economic "agreement" that had been in place for a "very long time" needed to be changed for something new and acknowledged that was "scary"."I'm in fear but the way that we are utilizing the US dollar is really scary and it's going to hurt a lot of people," she said. "Our economy is going to fail."Insider asked her about it on our video call: Is the economy really going to fail? Ren believes that crypto could be "an economy that's sustainable and that can move with us."WarriorsInflationary devaluation of the US dollar is a real problem, she said as her golden doodle barked in the background."They keep printing more of it, so that it has no value," Ren told Insider."It used to be backed by gold and it's not anymore. And so we don't have any value except their belief and faith in it and that's even scarier. Because now they're just utilizing our faith in the dollar. And then there's no set amount. And so there needs to be a new thing."Ren went on to say that the economy was "collapsing" and that the dollar was getting less valuable. (This isn't quite true. In fact, since May, the dollar has gained nearly 6% against the British pound and nearly 7% against the euro in the same period.)And surely the American economy is growing right now, not collapsing? US GDP growth was 2% in Q3 2021 after all."I know that but we're in debt, so we're trying, we're printing more money to pay back debt and then we just keep accumulating more debt. It's a black hole," she says. She is right about the growth of debt. US debt is currently above 120% of GDP, an historic high, according to the St. Louis Fed's statistical database.US debt has recently grown to above 120% of GDP.FRED"It doesn't necessarily end badly but it's not sustainable and I think that's what we're looking for, right? An economy that's sustainable and that can move with us," she says.Using NFTs as tickets and diplomasShe is putting her money where her mouth is. YourStage — which she has built without venture capital backing — will switch from a cash subscription model to an NFT access model, she hopes.Warriors currently hosts fifteen or more courses with each course comprising a dozen or more videos. One of them is a 30-day fitness routine based on ballet, in which Ren is the tutor. You have to subscribe — using US dollars — to access it.Although Ren is the most famous person on the site she is hoping that users stick around for the other mentors who, in addition to fitness, offer courses on health, skincare, beauty, personal finance, and more esoteric stuff like how to "dream plan your life." If Warriors takes off, Ren hopes that other companies will use the platform to host their own classes and courses.In the short term, Ren wants access to Warriors to be based on NFTs."We Are Warriors community is switching over to being NFTs," she said."So instead of it being a monthly subscription, it's an NFT community. So you have to have a ticket, an NFT virtual ticket, to be in the community as opposed to a monthly fee, which I find it way better because then the girls own a part of it because that's where NFT's are going," Ren says.The YourStage cofounder likened her NFT community to that of Soho House, a private club in Los Angeles where membership is needed to enter. NFTs can also be used as certificates to show that you have passed a course, Ren says. Ren believes you should invest a little in cryptocurrencies every monthAnd yes, Ren invests in crypto. She's on a mission to demystify it for other women."It's a very masculine-driven area" right now, she says. Her advice is to put "a little" money into coins every month as a recurring payment, and then forget about it.Alexis RenAlexis Ren / We Are Warriors"You're gonna put $10 into ethereum a month and $10 into Bitcoin a month and you're never gonna look at it," she said."And it's gonna be a recurring payment and you're never gonna see it, and 10 years from now you're gonna be very grateful you did that, you know what I mean?" Ren also said that she didn't want people to gamble but rather invest over time, smartly.Cryptocurrencies can be risky and volatile: The price of bitcoin has bounced wildly between $29,000 and $67,000 this year alone. "Whatever you think you can afford monthly, put that into bitcoin. Put that into ethereum. But don't stress about it."She's also realistic about the fact that crypto is a notional currency rather than something backed by the assets of the US Federal Reserve. "They go up and down because it really is all not real."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 20th, 2021

"The Big Short" investor Michael Burry says Elon Musk is selling Tesla stock to profit from its surge — and predicts this is the biggest bubble of his career

Burry said he'd never shorted crypto, suggested that assets are more overvalued than during the dot-com and housing bubbles, and teased a bearish bet. Michael Burry.Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Michael Burry said Elon Musk was selling Tesla stock to profit from its surge, not to raise cash. The "Big Short" investor noted that Musk had raked in cash and cut his tax bill in recent months. Burry disclosed that he'd never shorted crypto and said this is the biggest bubble of his career. Elon Musk isn't selling Tesla stock because he's short of cash; he just wants to capitalize on the automaker's eye-watering valuation, Michael Burry tweeted on Sunday."Let's face it. @elonmusk borrowed against 88.3 million shares, sold all his mansions, moved to Texas, and is asking @BernieSanders whether he should sell more stock. He doesn't need cash. He just wants to sell $TSLA," Burry said."Burry is a broken clock," Musk responded to the assertion on Twitter.The investor of "The Big Short" fame said last week that Musk had taken out personal loans against his stock; he suggested the Tesla CEO might be selling shares to service those debts. Musk recently committed to selling 10% of his Tesla stock based on the results of a Twitter poll and cashed in nearly $7 billion worth of shares last week.Burry's tweet highlighted that Musk had cut his tax bill by moving from California to Texas last year, sold most of his $100 million real-estate portfolio, and told Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday that he would sell more stock at the lawmaker's request. The investor's view is that Musk doesn't need cash but wants to profit from Tesla's stock price's rising nearly twelvefold since the start of last year.Tesla and Scion Asset Management, which Burry runs, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.In a follow-up tweet on Sunday, Burry pointed to Tesla's stock chart and Musk's tweet that the stock price was "too high" when the electric-vehicle company's valuation was less than one-fifth of its current level. "Just think about it," Burry said.It's worth noting both that Burry declared last December that he was short Tesla and that Scion held bearish put options on the stock as recently as June 30. The investor told CNBC last month that he was no longer betting against Musk's company, but that may have changed, especially as the 15% slump in Tesla's stock price last week was partly blamed on an Insider report highlighting Burry's theory about Musk's stock sales.Burry has repeatedly described Tesla as emblematic of a massive asset bubble. He called its stock price "ridiculous" in December 2020, predicted at the start of this year that the shares would collapse like the mid-2000s housing market, and suggested the stock could plummet 90% like Amazon and other high-flying tech stocks did when the dot-com bubble burst.Crypto, bubbles, and bondsBurry said in a now deleted tweet on Sunday that he knew better than to bet against the cryptocurrency boom, suggested that assets are more overvalued today than they were during the dot-com or housing bubbles, and hinted that he's betting against long-dated government bonds."FWIW, I've never shorted any cryptocurrency," he said. "This is my third bubble, and the biggest. I've learned a thing or two. 30 year Treasuries on the other hand..."Burry jokingly asked in a tweet in October how to short crypto, and he later told CNBC that the asset class was in a bubble — but he added that he saw value in blockchain and nonfungible tokens and had even dabbled in crypto by purchasing a few tokens.The Scion chief's tweet suggested he might have taken a short position against 30-year Treasuries, likely because he expects soaring inflation to force the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates, driving down bond prices.Read more: The founder of a Michael Burry subreddit explains 'The Big Short' investor's unique appeal — and reveals the stocks hidden in his tweetsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

"The Big Short" investor Michael Burry says Elon Musk is selling Tesla stock to profit from its surge - and predicts this is the biggest bubble of his career

Burry said he'd never shorted crypto, suggested that assets are more overvalued than during the dot-com and housing bubbles, and teased a bearish bet. Michael Burry. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Michael Burry said Elon Musk was selling Tesla stock to profit from its surge, not to raise cash. The "Big Short" investor noted that Musk had raked in cash and cut his tax bill in recent months. Burry disclosed that he'd never shorted crypto and said this is the biggest bubble of his career. Elon Musk isn't selling Tesla stock because he's short of cash; he just wants to capitalize on the automaker's eye-watering valuation, Michael Burry tweeted on Sunday."Let's face it. @elonmusk borrowed against 88.3 million shares, sold all his mansions, moved to Texas, and is asking @BernieSanders whether he should sell more stock. He doesn't need cash. He just wants to sell $TSLA," Burry said.The investor of "The Big Short" fame said last week that Musk had taken out personal loans against his stock; he suggested the Tesla CEO might be selling shares to service those debts. Musk recently committed to selling 10% of his Tesla stock based on the results of a Twitter poll and cashed in nearly $7 billion worth of shares last week.Burry's tweet highlighted that Musk had cut his tax bill by moving from California to Texas last year, sold most of his $100 million real-estate portfolio, and told Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday that he would sell more stock at the lawmaker's request. The investor's view is that Musk doesn't need cash but wants to profit from Tesla's stock price's rising nearly twelvefold since the start of last year.Tesla and Scion Asset Management, which Burry runs, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.In a follow-up tweet on Sunday, Burry pointed to Tesla's stock chart and Musk's tweet that the stock price was "too high" when the electric-vehicle company's valuation was less than one-fifth of its current level. "Just think about it," Burry said.It's worth noting both that Burry declared last December that he was short Tesla and that Scion held bearish put options on the stock as recently as June 30. The investor told CNBC last month that he was no longer betting against Musk's company, but that may have changed, especially as the 15% slump in Tesla's stock price last week was partly blamed on an Insider report highlighting Burry's theory about Musk's stock sales.Burry has repeatedly described Tesla as emblematic of a massive asset bubble. He called its stock price "ridiculous" in December 2020, predicted at the start of this year that the shares would collapse like the mid-2000s housing market, and suggested the stock could plummet 90% like Amazon and other high-flying tech stocks did when the dot-com bubble burst.Crypto, bubbles, and bondsBurry said in a now deleted tweet on Sunday that he knew better than to bet against the cryptocurrency boom, suggested that assets are more overvalued today than they were during the dot-com or housing bubbles, and hinted that he's betting against long-dated government bonds."FWIW, I've never shorted any cryptocurrency," he said. "This is my third bubble, and the biggest. I've learned a thing or two. 30 year Treasuries on the other hand..."Burry jokingly asked in a tweet in October how to short crypto, and he later told CNBC that the asset class was in a bubble - but he added that he saw value in blockchain and nonfungible tokens and had even dabbled in crypto by purchasing a few tokens.The Scion chief's tweet suggested he might have taken a short position against 30-year Treasuries, likely because he expects soaring inflation to force the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates, driving down bond prices.Read more: The founder of a Michael Burry subreddit explains 'The Big Short' investor's unique appeal - and reveals the stocks hidden in his tweetsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

"The Big Short" investor Michael Burry says Elon Musk is selling Tesla stock to profit from its surge - and warns this is the biggest bubble of his career

Burry said he's never shorted crypto, warned assets are more overvalued than during the dot-com and housing bubbles, and teased a bearish bet. Michael Burry. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Michael Burry said Elon Musk is selling Tesla stock to profit from its surge, not to raise cash. "The Big Short" investor noted that Musk has raked in cash and cut his tax bill in recent months. Burry disclosed that he's never shorted crypto, and warned this is the biggest bubble of his career. Elon Musk isn't selling Tesla stock because he's short of cash; he just wants to capitalize on the automaker's eye-watering valuation, Michael Burry tweeted on Sunday."Let's face it. @elonmusk borrowed against 88.3 million shares, sold all his mansions, moved to Texas, and is asking @BernieSanders whether he should sell more stock. He doesn't need cash. He just wants to sell $TSLA," Burry said.The investor of "The Big Short" fame noted last week that Musk has taken out personal loans against his stock, and suggested the Tesla CEO might be selling shares to service those debts. Musk recently committed to selling 10% of his Tesla stock based on the results of a Twitter poll, and promptly cashed in nearly $7 billion worth of shares last week.Burry's tweet highlights that Musk cut his tax bill by moving from California to Texas last year, sold most of his $100 million real estate portfolio, and told Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday that he would sell more stock at the lawmaker's request. The investor's view is that Musk doesn't need cash, but wants to profit from Tesla's stock price rising nearly 12-fold since the start of last year.Tesla and Scion didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.In a follow-up tweet on Sunday, the Scion Asset Management boss pointed to Tesla's stock chart, and the fact that Musk tweeted the stock price was "too high" when the electric-vehicle company's valuation was less than one-fifth of its current level. "Just think about it," he said.It's worth noting that Burry declared he was short Tesla in December 2020, and Scion held bearish put options on the stock as recently as June 30 this year. The investor told CNBC last month that he was no longer betting against Musk's company, but that may have changed now, especially as the 15% slump in Tesla's stock price last week was partly blamed on an Insider report highlighting Burry's theory about Musk's stock sales.Burry has repeatedly singled out Tesla as emblematic of a massive asset bubble. He called its stock price "ridiculous" in December 2020, predicted at the start of this year that the shares would collapse like the mid-2000s housing market, and suggested the stock could plummet 90% like Amazon and other high-flying tech stocks did when the dot-com bubble burst.Crypto, bubbles, and bondsBurry said he knows better than to bet against the cryptocurrency boom, warned that assets are more overvalued today than during the dot-com or housing bubbles, and hinted he's betting against long-dated government bonds in a now-deleted tweet on Sunday."FWIW I've never shorted any cryptocurrency," he said. "This is my third bubble, and the biggest. I've learned a thing or two. 30 year Treasuries on the other hand..."Burry jokingly asked how to short crypto in a tweet in October, and later told CNBC that the asset class is in a bubble. However, he added that he sees value in blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and has even dabbled in crypto by purchasing a few tokens.The Scion chief's tweet suggests he may have taken a short position against 30-year Treasuries, likely because he expects soaring inflation to force the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates, driving down bond prices.Read more: The founder of a Michael Burry subreddit explains 'The Big Short' investor's unique appeal - and reveals the stocks hidden in his tweetsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

Ken Griffin thinks bitcoin will be replaced by ethereum and says the Reddit-fueled conspiracy theories about his involvement in the GameStop saga are like a bad SNL joke

The billionaire founder of Citadel also expressed bewilderment with Elon Musk's decision to ask Twitter if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stake. Ken Griffin's Citadel Securities was at the centre of the GameStop saga Michael Kovac/Getty Images Citadel's Ken Griffin said bitcoin will be replaced by a superior cryptocurrency like ethereum.Griffin told DealBook's Andrew Ross Sorkin that there's only one way to value cryptocurrencies.Griffin also dismissed his involvement in the GameStop saga and said it read like a bad SNL joke.Citadel's Ken Griffin thinks bitcoin will be disrupted by a superior cryptocurrency based on ethereum's blockchain in the future, according to a Wednesday interview with DealBook's Andrew Ross Sorkin.The comments came after Griffin said the only way one can value cryptocurrencies is by hoping that someone will buy them at a higher price in the future. Griffin remains skeptical of crypto, and to this day sees no commercial use cases for bitcoin due to its large energy footprint, low transaction speeds, and vulnerability to fraud.On the underlying blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrencies, Griffin said it's "really interesting technology, a powerful way to maintain a decentralized ledger around the world, but for most problems, it's really not the solution that we need," Griffin said. As for bitcoin, Griffin believes a next generation cryptocurrency based on the ethereum blockchain will likely displace it due to its faster transactions per second, smaller energy footprint, and lower transaction costs.But ultimately, a digital dollar could disrupt the entire cryptocurrency space, Griffin said, pointing to China's work towards a digital yuan as a potential example. "I think we are all still trying to understand if we want to hit this world of decentralized finance and want a payment system that is low cost and effective, is it going to be solved by the crypto community? Or is it going to be solved by a digital dollar?" Griffin asked, adding that developments are still in the very early innings.With regards to Citadel's payment for order flow business with Robinhood, Griffin said everyone benefits and that "most of the 20-year olds I know are really grateful for the current market structure in America." Payment for order flow enables online brokerage firms the ability to offer $0 commission trading and fractional share investing.But some retail investors have attacked Griffin as a key member of a conspiracy between Citadel, Robinhood, and meme-stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment. Much of the conspiracy often talked about on Reddit's WallStreetBets involves the idea that Citadel forced online brokerages to limit investors' ability to buy shares of GameStop and other meme-stocks amid its epic short-squeeze earlier this year.The conspiracy theory has not been substantiated, with even a recent SEC report finding no evidence to support the conspiracy.In response, Griffin called the conspiracy he's a figure of as "a bad comedy joke saga, like a 'Saturday Night Live' joke in real time."The executive also said he and fellow billionaire Elon Musk "live in a whole different world" in response to a question about the Tesla chief's poll of Twitter users asking if he should sell 10% of his stake. "I have known Elon for a long time, I never thought we would let our ownership stakes be dictated by a poll on Twitter," Griffin said. Last weekend, a poll posted by Musk determined he should sell a stake in his company worth about $20 billion. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 10th, 2021

Futures Slip From All Time High Amid Fresh China, Growth, Valuation Concerns

Futures Slip From All Time High Amid Fresh China, Growth, Valuation Concerns One day after US equity futures hit an all time high, rising to a record 4,590, risk sentiment has reversed and overnight index futures fluctuated and stocks in Europe retreated from a near-record on Wednesday after a flare up in U.S.-China tensions, signs of further regulatory crackdowns from Beijing, a decline in commodity prices, renewed concerns about economic growth and a rise in short-dated U.S. Treasury yields doused the equity market rally on Wednesday. At 7:45 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 27 points, or 0.07%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.50 points, or -0.06%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 15.5 points, or 0.09%. Bonds and the dollar gained and bitcoin stumbled. The overnight losses started earlier in Asia, where tech stocks suffered hefty falls after China’s internet watchdog said it planned stricter registration rules for younger net users, while Chinese tech shares slid on concerns about more scrutiny from Washington after the U.S. banned China Telecom’s American business. U.S. futures also turned negative as the bullish mood over Tuesday’s forecast-beating results from Google owner Alphabet and Microsoft started to wane. Shares of energy firms including Exxon and Chevron tracked lower oil prices, while major lenders such as Bank of America slipped on a flattening U.S. yield curve. Microsoft Corp rose 2.1% in premarket trading after it forecast a strong end to the calendar year, thanks to its booming cloud business. Twitter gained 1.4% after the social networking site’s quarterly revenue grew 37% and avoided the brunt of Apple Inc’s privacy changes on advertising that hobbled its rivals. Google owner Alphabet also reported record quarterly profit for the third straight quarter on a surge in ad sales. However, its shares were down 0.6% after rising nearly 59% so far this year. Here are some of the biggest movers today: Microsoft (MSFT US) shares gain 2.2% in premarket after first- quarter results that analysts said were very strong across the board, showing scale and justifying the valuation of the software giant. Alphabet (GOOGL US) rises 1.3% after 3Q earnings earned a mostly positive reception from analysts, with at least three raising their price targets on the Google parent. Twitter (TWTR US) adds 2% amid resilient third-quarter sales at the social media company as it weathers Apple’s new limits on consumer data collection. Enphase Energy (ENPH US) gains 13% after its 3Q results and 4Q forecasts beat estimates. Analysts await more clarity on supply chain constraints. Robinhood (HOOD US) slumps 12% as some analysts cut price targets after the retail brokerage reported 3Q revenue that missed estimates and flagged further weakness in 4Q. Visa (V US) falls 2.4% as analysts flag a disappointing outlook from the payments company. Texas Instruments (TXN US) declined 4% after a forecast that may disappoint some investors who are concerned about a potential slowdown in demand for electronic components. Watch peers for a readacross. Angion (ANGN US) plunges 55% after company said a kidney transplant drug failed to meet primary end points in a phase three trial. European partner Vifor (VIFN SW) slips 6%. “While some prominent earnings misses have clouded the picture, the reality is that on aggregate, the reporting season so far has been very solid,” said Max Kettner, a multi-assets strategist at HCBC Holdings Plc. “Everyone, literally everyone, in the market right now is worried about supply-chain constraints, higher input costs and the like, so headwinds from this side are now very well reflected in near-term earnings expectations.” Concern over more tension between Beijing and Washington also weighed on markets after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to revoke the authorization for China Telecom’s U.S. subsidiary to operate in the United States after nearly two decades, citing national security. “We have good U.S. data in earnings which is very reassuring but valuation is very stretched in both the value as well as the growth sector,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management. “And people are also getting a bit hesitant and are a bit worried because the amount of money that is going through will slow down with the Fed slowly starting to taper - but that is not necessarily a bad thing.” MSCI’s global equity benchmark hovered close to Monday’s seven-week high and is on track for the best month in almost a year. However, European stocks softened, led by a 1.6% drop in mining and resource firms in the Stoxx Europe 600 index as prices of raw materials including aluminum and iron ore fell along with crude oil. Germany’s DAX underperformed after Europe’s biggest economy cut its 2021 growth forecast, citing the lingering effects of the pandemic and a supply squeeze. Bund yields dropped along with those on other European bonds. Bank shares also slipped, with Deutsche Bank down more than 5% despite forecast-beating earnings. Europe's Stoxx 600 dropped about 0.3%, weighed down the most by miners and energy firms. FTSE 100 and DAX both down similar amounts. Here are some of Wednesday’s major earnings and corporate news from Europe Deutsche Bank AG dropped more than 6% after disappointing earnings, while Banco Santander SA declined despite a bullish outlook. Heineken NV fell after reporting a drop in demand for beer. BASF SE slipped after flagging dwindling returns on its core suite of chemical products as sputtering global supply catches up with demand. GlaxoSmithKline Plc rose after improving its profit outlook. Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASM International NV advanced after revenue forecasts beat analyst estimates. Puma SE gained after raising full-year profit forecasts. Temenos AG surged as much as 16% after Bloomberg reported EQT AB is exploring an acquisition of the Swiss banking software specialist. Earlier in the session, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.4% in late afternoon trading, paring an earlier drop of 0.7%, with Tencent, Alibaba and Meituan the biggest drags. Asian equities fell as risk-off sentiment fueled by renewed concerns over Evergrande’s debt woes and an escalation in China-U.S. tensions drove losses in Chinese tech giants. Benchmarks in Hong China and China led declines around the region. The Hang Seng Tech Index plunged as much as 3.9%, the most in over five weeks after Washington moved to ban U.S. business by China Telecom, following previous similar measures against Chinese tech firms including Huawei. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a greater role by Taiwan in the United Nations, raising objections from Beijing. Chinese tech stocks have been rattled this year by a crackdown amid President Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” campaign. There had been signs of a rebound recently, however, as the government signaled it would limit its restrictions. Investor confidence in beaten-down Chinese tech stocks hasn’t been fully restored “so they rush to dump those stocks at any negative news and signs of flow reversal,” said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International Hong Kong. “This round of tech rebound has peaked,” he added. Key equity gauges also fell more than 0.5% in Indonesia and South Korea, while Vietnam’s benchmark climbed more than 2%. Japanese equities fell, though they closed off intraday lows, as electronics makers and telecommunications providers drove losses. Auto and chemical makers provided support for the Topix which closed down 0.2%, paring an earlier drop of as much as 0.7%. The Nikkei 225 closed little changed, with a gain in Fast Retailing offsetting a drop in SoftBank Group. Asian stocks were broadly lower, as the U.S. moved to ban China Telecom and amid renewed concern over Evergrande’s debt woes. Meanwhile, Japan Exchange Group said Tokyo Stock Exchange will extend the trading day by 30 minutes in the second half of the fiscal year ending March 2025.  In rates, the 10Y yield is down 1.2bp at 1.595%, trailing steeper declines for U.K. and German counterparts, which outperform by ~3bp as money markets trim expectations for BOE and ECB rate hikes. Long-end Treasuries continued to outperform vs front-end ahead of 5- and 7-year auctions Wednesday and Thursday, as well as month-end rebalancing expected to favor bonds over equities. Long-end yields are lower on the day by ~2bp, front-end yields higher by similar amounts, following selloff in Australia front-end bonds after strong 3Q CPI numbers. 5s30s curve breached 82bp for first time in a year. Gilts flatten further ahead of a revised gilt remit that is expected to report a GBP33b reduction. U.K. 10-year yield falls 5bps to 1.06%, the lowest since Oct. 14, outperforming bunds by ~1bp. In FX, the Japanese yen strengthened ~0.5% against the U.S. dollar, leading G-10 majors and followed by the Swiss franc. All other G-10 peers are red against the dollar, which is up about 0.06%. The fading risk sentiment meanwhile pushed up the safe-haven Japanese yen which rose 0.4% against the U.S. dollar though the greenback in turn held just off a one-week high versus a currency basket. The euro kept gravitating toward the $1.16 handle as overnight plays in the common currency as well as the loonie took the spotlight before the monetary policy meetings by the Bank of Canada and the ECB. The three-month Euro benchmark funding rate fell to -0.556%, matching the record low set on Jan. 6, as excess liquidity hovers near an all-time high seen earlier this month. The pound slipped and the Gilt curve bull-flattened ahead of the U.K. government’s budget announcement. The U.K. is expected to trim gilt sales to GBP33b, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts at primary dealers. Commodity currencies, led by the krone, fell and the Australian dollar erased an Asia-session gain in European hours. The Aussie earlier rallied while Australian 3-year yield surged as much as 24bps to briefly top 1% after core inflation accelerated back inside RBA’s target, and taking its game of chicken with the bond market to new heights. Kiwi trailed most G-10 peers following a record trade deficit. The Offshore Chinese renminbi fell against the U.S. dollar amid heightened U.S.-China tensions. Currency and bond traders were looking to a slew of central bank meetings over the coming week for guidance. Canada is first up at 1400 GMT on Wednesday while the European Central Bank meets on Thursday, when the Bank of Japan also concludes its two-day meeting. The Fed has all but confirmed it will soon start to whittle back its asset purchases, though has said that shouldn’t signal that rate hikes are imminent. Nevertheless, Fed funds futures are priced for a lift-off in the second half of next year. “We updated our Fed call to show a hike in Q4 2022 and four hikes in 2023,” analysts at NatWest said in a note. “The inflation overshoot has been persistent,” they said. “There is (only) so much the Fed can tolerate before reacting ... it feels inevitable that that conversation will be brought up more and more as we go into next year.” Commodities are in the red. Brent crude down about 1.3% back to $85 a barrel, while WTI slips 1.7% to $83. Base metals drop. LME aluminium, copper, and nickel decline the most. Spot gold down $5 to trade around $1,787/oz.  The crypto space tumbled sharply shortly after the European close, pushing Bitcoin below $59,000 and wiping out much of the ETF launch gains. No changes are expected from Tokyo, but traders are expecting the ECB to push back on market inflation forecasts and are looking for hawkish clues from the Bank of Canada as prices put pressure on rates. Policymakers are facing a steady drip of evidence that there is no let-up from pressure on consumer prices. The latest came from Australia, where data showed core inflation hit a six-year high last quarter, raising the possibility of sooner-than-planned rate increases. The Australian dollar jumped after the data but soon pared the gains. Looking at today's busy calendar, we will get preliminary September wholesale inventories, durable goods orders and core capital goods orders from the US. In Europe, Germany November GfK consumer confidence, France October consumer confidence and Euro Area September M3 money supply are due. In central banks, monetary policy decisions from the Bank of Canada and Central Bank of Brazil will be released. On the corporate earnings front, companies reporting include Thermo Fisher Scientific, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Boeing, General Motors, Santander and Ford. Elsewhere, the UK government announces Autumn Budget and Spending Review. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,569.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.3% to 474.38 MXAP down 0.4% to 199.65 MXAPJ down 0.8% to 656.34 Nikkei little changed at 29,098.24 Topix down 0.2% to 2,013.81 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 25,628.74 Shanghai Composite down 1.0% to 3,562.31 Sensex up 0.2% to 61,468.43 Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,448.71 Kospi down 0.8% to 3,025.49 German 10Y yield fell 4 bps to -0.157% Euro little changed at $1.1593 Brent Futures down 1.1% to $85.46/bbl Gold spot down 0.5% to $1,784.14 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.98 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chinese authorities told billionaire Hui Ka Yan to use his personal wealth to alleviate China Evergrande Group’s deepening debt crisis, according to people familiar with the matter Germany cut its 2021 growth outlook to 2.6% -- compared with a prediction of 3.5% published at the end of April -- reflecting a scarcity in some raw materials and rising energy prices, particularly for gas, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Wednesday in an interview with ARD television China plans to limit the price miners sell thermal coal for as it seeks to ease a power crunch that’s prompted electricity rationing and even caused a blackout in a major city last month The SNB stressed that in light of the highly valued currency and the degree of economic slack, expansive monetary policy needs to be maintained, according to an account of President Thomas Jordan’s meeting with Swiss govt Sweden’s National Debt Office is reducing its bond borrowing in both kronor and foreign currency because central government finances are recovering faster than expected from the pandemic, according to a statement A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian markets adopted a downside bias as sentiment waned following the mild gains on Wall Street, in which the S&P 500 and DJIA eked out record closes after easing off best levels. The US close also saw earnings from behemoths Microsoft, Alphabet and AMD - the former rose 2% after blockbuster metrics, whilst the latter two dipped after-market. Meanwhile, Twitter shares rose almost 4% after hours as the Co. highlighted the lower-than-expected Q3 impact from Apple’s privacy-related iOS changes. On the flipside, Robinhood slumped over 8% after reporting a steep decline in crypto activity. It’s also worth noting that Berkshire Hathaway Class A shares - the world’s most expensive shares - are quoted +51% after-market (+USD 223,614.00/shr); reasoning currently unclear. Overnight, US equity futures resumed trade flat before a mild divergence became evident between the NQ and RTY, whilst European equity futures' losses were slightly more pronounced. Back to APAC, the ASX 200 (+0.1%) was buoyed by its tech sector amid the post-Microsoft tailwinds from the US, but the sector configuration then turned defensive, whilst Woolworths slumped some 4% after earnings and dragged the Consumer Staples sector with it. The Nikkei 225 (-0.1%) saw losses across most sectors, with Retail, Insurance and Banks towards the bottom. The KOSPI (-0.8%) conformed to the downbeat mood, whilst Hyundai shares were also pressured amid its chip-related commentary. The Hang Seng (-1.6%) and Shanghai Comp (-1.0%) declined despite another substantial CNY 200bln PBoC liquidity injection for a net CNY 100bln. The Hang Seng accelerated losses in the first half-hour of trade with Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi among the laggards. Meanwhile. PAX Technology slumped 45% after the FBI raided the Co's Florida officers amid suspicion PAX’s systems may have been involved in cyberattacks on US and EU organizations. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower amid spillover selling from T-notes and Bund futures, whilst the Aussie 3yr yield topped 1.00% for the first time since 2019 as the trimmed and weighted Australian CPI metrics moved into the RBA's target zone. Top Asian News China Agrees Plan to Cap Key Coal Price to Ease Energy Crisis China Tech Stocks Slump as Tensions With U.S. Spook Investors Top Court Orders Probe Of India’s Alleged Pegasus Use Tokyo Stock Exchange to Extend Trading Day by 30 Minutes European equities (Stoxx 600 -0.3%) are trading moderately lower in a session which has been heavy on earnings and light on macro developments. The APAC session saw more pronounced losses in Chinese bourses (Shanghai Comp -1%, Hang Seng -1.8%) compared to peers despite ongoing liquidity efforts by the PBoC with Hong Kong stocks hampered by losses in Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi. Stateside, performance across US index futures were initially firmer before following European peers lower with more recent downside coinciding with the US Senate Finance Committee Chairman unveiling a tax proposal focused on unrealised gains of assets held by billionaires and impose a 23.8% capital gains rate on tradable assets such as stocks; ES -0.1%. The US close saw earnings from behemoths Microsoft, Alphabet and AMD - the former rose 2% after blockbuster metrics, whilst the latter two dipped after-market. Meanwhile, Twitter shares rose almost 4% after hours as the Co. highlighted the lower-than-expected Q3 impact from Apple’s privacy-related iOS changes. On the flipside, Robinhood slumped over 8% after reporting a steep decline in crypto activity. In the pre-market, upcoming earnings highlights include McDonalds, Boeing, GM, Bristol Myers and FTSE 100-listed GSK. Back to Europe, sectors are mostly lower with Basic Resources and Oil & Gas names at the foot of the leaderboard amid performance in underlying commodity prices. Banking names are also trading on a softer footing following earnings from Deutsche Bank (-5.4%) which saw the Co. report a decline in trading revenues whilst managing to make a profit for the 5th consecutive quarter. Spanish heavyweight Santander (-2.5%) is also acting as a drag on the sector despite reporting a net profit above expectations for Q3 with some desks highlighting softer performance for its US operations. Elsewhere, Sodexo (+5.6%) is the best performer in the Stoxx 600 after strong FY results, whilst Puma (+3.2%) trades on a firmer footing after reporting a beat on Q3 earnings and raising guidance. To the downside, BASF (-1.0%) shares are seen lower despite exceeding expectations for earnings with the Co. cautioning that the impact from higher Nat Gas prices in the first nine months of the year amounted to EUR 600mln costs and a significant increase in costs is expected following the October price hike. Top European News Deutsche Bank Falls; Results Fail to Provide Fresh Catalyst BASF Points to Chemical Price Surge Easing as Supply Increases SNB’s Jordan Stressed Need for Loose Policy in Govt Meeting U.K.’s Sunak Set to Cut Tax on Domestic Flights: The Independent In FX, nearly, but not quite for the index in terms of turning full circle on Tuesday and matching the prior week high as it fell just shy at 94.024 vs 94.174 on October 18, while also narrowly missing 94.000 on a ‘closing’ basis with a last price of 93.956. Moreover, month end rebalancing factors are moderately bearish for the Greenback against G10 rivals, and especially vs the Yen that has a relatively large 1.6 standard deviation and appears to be playing out in the headline pair and Jpy crosses on spot October 29. Indeed, Usd/Jpy has recoiled further from yesterday’s peak circa 114.31 to sub-113.60 before taking cues from the BoJ tomorrow and Japanese retail sales in the run up, but decent option expiry interest between 113.55-50 (1.8 bn) may underpin and support the DXY by default within a narrow 94.008-819 band. More immediately for the Buck in particular and peers indirectly, US durable goods, advance trade, wholesale and retail inventories. CHF/AUD - Also firmer vs their US counterpart, as the Franc clambers back above 0.9200 irrespective of a deterioration in Swiss investor sentiment and the growing chance that the SNB could be prompted to respond to a retreat in Eur/Chf from 1.0700+ to 1.0637 or so. Elsewhere, the Aussie has pared some of its post-core inflation inspired gains, but is holding close to 0.7500 and still outpacing its Antipodean neighbour as Aud/Nzd hovers around 1.0500. NZD/CAD/GBP - A downturn in overall risk sentiment and the aforementioned cross headwinds are weighing on the Kiwi that has slipped under 0.7150 vs its US namesake, and it’s a similar tale for Sterling that failed to retain 1.3800+ status or breach 0.8400 against the Euro before the latest reports about France preparing retaliatory measures against the UK over the fishing rights dispute. On top of that, Eur/Gbp tides are turning into month end and the usual RHS flows seen into and around fixings, while the Pound may also be acknowledging a pull-back in Brent prices in advance of the Budget, like the Loonie in respect of WTI ahead of the BoC, with Usd/Cad back above 1.2400 compared to 1.2350 at one stage on Tuesday and a tad lower in the prior session. Note, the break-even via implied volatility indicates a 58 pip move on the policy meeting that comes with a new MPR and press conference from Governor Macklem. EUR - Notwithstanding several gyrations and deviations of late, the Euro seems largely anchored to the 1.1600 mark vs the Dollar and yet more option expiries at the strike (1.5 bn today) may well be a contributing factor as the clock continues to tick down Thursday’s ECB convene that is seen as a dead rubber event in passing ahead of the big one in December - check out the Research Suite for a preview and other global Central Bank confabs scheduled this week. SCANDI/EM - Hardly a surprise to see the Nok recoil alongside crude prices, but the Sek is holding up relatively well in wake of an uptick in Swedish household lending and a big swing in trade balance from deficit to surplus. Conversely, the Try’s stoic revival mission has been derailed to an extent by dip in Turkish economic confidence offsetting a narrower trade shortfall, the Rub and Mxn are also feeling the adverse effects of oil’s retracement, the Zar is tracking Gold’s reversal through 200 and 100 DMAs, and the Cny/Cnh have been ruffled by the latest US-China angst, this time on the telecoms front. Last, but not least, the Brl anticipates a minimum 100 bp SELIC rate hike from the BCB, if not 125 bp as some hawkish forecasts suggest. In commodities, a softer start to the session for WTI and Brent seemingly stemming from the cautiously downbeat tone portrayed by broader risk and continuing to take impetus from last night’s Private Inventory report. For reference, the benchmarks are currently lower in excess of USD 1/bbl and WTI Dec’21 has been within touching distance of the USD 83.00/bbl figure, though is yet to test the level. Returning to yesterday’s crude report which printed an above consensus build of 2.318M for the headline print while the gasoline and distillate components were unexpectedly bearish, posting modest builds against expected sizeable draws. Looking ahead, the EIA release is expected to post a headline build. Aside from this, crude specific newsflow has been limited ahead of next week’s OPEC+ gathering though Iran remains on the radar given the latest release of constructive commentary on nuclear discussions. Albeit, we are still awaiting details on a return to full Vienna discussions. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are softer on the session in a continuation of action seen around this time during yesterday’s session; metals pressured in wake of a choppy, but ultimately firmer, dollar. Elsewhere, China has reportedly agreed to set a price cap for thermal coal sales and comes as part of the ongoing crackdown by China on the commodity which spurred Zhengzhou thermal coal futures to hit limit-down overnight. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Sept. Durable Goods Orders, est. -1.1%, prior 1.8%; 8:30am: Durables Less Transportation, est. 0.4%, prior 0.3% Sept. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.6% Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.8% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1%; Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 1.0%, prior 1.2% 8:30am: Sept. Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. -$88.3b, prior -$87.6b, revised -$88.2b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It’s day 42 out of 42 on crutches without any weight bearing on my left leg. Over that period I’ve been hopping, crawling, sliding, and using the crutches as a pole vault amongst other various forms of self transportation. So sadly today is the last day I get waited on. When I wake up tomorrow I’ll try to walk again and fend for myself. Equities threw away their crutches a couple of weeks ago and haven’t looked back. US Earnings have helped and while they aren’t as good as the headline beats suggest, due to big unwinding of reserves for loan loss provisions at the banks, they are notably better than some of the stagflationary gloom stories that dominated in the weeks ahead of this season. A reminder that our equity guys did their state of play on earnings a couple of days back here. Big tech was always going to be the swing factor between a slightly better than normal level of beats and a more aggressive one. Last night Alphabet, Microsoft, and Twitter all reported after hour. Alphabet and Microsoft beat on both sales and earnings, while Twitter’s revenue just missed expectations but traded higher after hours. Of the 41 S&P 500 companies that reported yesterday, 33 beat estimates. For the earnings season to date, 166 S&P companies have reported, with 139 beating earnings estimates. Prior to this, markets continued to stay in their “new normal” of record or cyclical high equity prices and multi-year breakeven highs. Positive surprises for earnings on both sides of the Atlantic helped yesterday as did strong US consumer confidence numbers. Starting with the US, along with strong earnings, a number of positive surprises in an array of economic data yesterday did just enough to push the S&P 500 (+0.18%) and the DJIA (+0.04%) to new record highs, while the Nasdaq (+0.06%) fell short of beating its record set on September 30th. The FAANG Index lagged on the day, dropping -0.33%, but managed new all-time highs intraday. On the other side of the Atlantic, European equities notched solid gains as well, with most major European markets finishing well in the green territory, lifting the STOXX 600 by +0.75% - a fraction below its record high. All index sectors but energy (-0.29%) finished higher on the back of strong earnings early in the session, particularly from UBS and Novartis. Taking a closer look at the aforementioned economic data, October US consumer confidence came in at 113.8 versus 108.0 expected, while the Richmond Fed Manufacturing index rose to 12, beating expectations of 5. In housing, new home sales for September (800k) surpassed estimates (756k) by a decent margin, whereas the August FHFA House Price Index came in at +1.0% versus +1.5% expected. There were further signs of a tight US jobs market as the labour market differential in the Conference Board index improved to 45.0, the best reading since 2000. Similar to Monday, breakevens climbed as real yields fell in the US and Germany. Nominal 10-year Treasuries were -2.3bps lower, while breakevens increased +2.6bps to 2.69%, still just a hair beneath all-time highs for the series. 10-year bunds declined -0.3bps while the breakeven widened +3.0bps. Breakevens took a breather in the UK, narrowing -8.6bps, whilst 10-year gilts were -3.0 bps lower. In Asia, most major indices are down this morning. The Nikkei 225 (-0.61%), KOSPI (-0.92%), Hang Seng (-1.58%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.92%) are all trading lower. Sentiment soured after the real estate saga continued with Chinese authorities asking companies to get ready to repay offshore bonds, while also urging Evergrande’s founder to employ his own wealth to aid the struggling developer. Additionally, in geopolitics, the US Federal Communications Commission banned China Telecom (Americas) Corp. from operating in the US on the back of national security concerns. Data releases from Asia continued to support the inflationary narrative amid rising commodity prices as we saw a +16.3% YoY growth in China’s industrial profits in September, up from +10.1% a month earlier. Meanwhile, Australia’s trimmed mean CPI (+2.1%) came in above expectations (+1.8%), sending the 3y yield higher by +14.5bps. The S&P 500 mini futures (0.00%) is broadly unchanged with the 10y Treasury at 1.622 (+1.4bps). In commodities, oil futures were mostly mixed yesterday, but both WTI (+1.06%) and Brent (+0.48%) managed to rise by the European close, as Saudi Aramco said earlier in the session that oil output capacity is declining rapidly across the world. On the other hand, European weather forecasts that pointed at lower temperatures starting next week did little to propel natural gas prices, which declined both in the region (-0.33%) and in the US (-0.27%). Briefly taking a look at the virus news, The FDA’s vaccines advisory committee voted 17-0 to back jabs for kids ages 5-11. The dose for the younger cohort amounts to one third of the current one given to those over the age of 12, which means that it could be more quickly distributed if the demand is there. The agency will give its final ruling soon, which is expected to follow the panel’s recommendation, and then the shots could be distributed within weeks to schools, pediatricians, and pharmacies. Elsewhere, Singapore will allow fully vaccinated travelers from Australia and Switzerland to enter without quarantine from November 8. In terms of upcoming data releases today, we will get preliminary September wholesale inventories, durable goods orders and core capital goods orders from the US. In Europe, Germany November GfK consumer confidence, France October consumer confidence and Euro Area September M3 money supply are due. In central banks, monetary policy decisions from the Bank of Canada and Central Bank of Brazil will be released. On the corporate earnings front, companies reporting include Thermo Fisher Scientific, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Boeing, General Motors, Santander and Ford. Elsewhere, the UK government announces Autumn Budget and Spending Review. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/27/2021 - 07:53.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 27th, 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 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 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 You can sign up for my daily reads at Check out my weekly column at 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

"The Big Short" investor Michael Burry says he"s not betting against crypto - and reveals he bought a couple of coins

Burry warned that crypto is in a speculative bubble, but he's bullish on blockchain technology and sees value in NFTs beyond the digital art world. Michael Burry. Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage Michael Burry isn't betting against cryptocurrencies, and has actually bought a few tokens. "The Big Short" investor said he tweeted about shorting crypto to underline the hype around it. Burry expressed interest in blockchain technology, and suggested NFTs could serve a purpose. Michael Burry teased a wager against cryptocurrencies in a recent tweet. However, the investor of "The Big Short" fame clarified that he isn't betting on a crypto crash, and has actually bought a few tokens, in a recent email to CNBC."I've not been shorting cryptocurrencies at all," he said. "I have not been involved in them except for a dabble - actually on the long side in a couple that I see as 'better' cryptocurrencies."The Scion Asset Management boss asked how to short crypto on Twitter because he wanted to underline his concerns about the market. "I believe that cryptocurrencies are in a bubble and that most in it do not understand it well," he told CNBC.Still, the hedge fund manager said he's intrigued by blockchain technology and expects it to be useful, and sees value in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) beyond the digital art market.Burry's latest comments suggest he recognizes crypto's potential, but he's skeptical of the immense hype and heady valuations in the space. The Scion chief has previously dismissed shiba inu coin as "pointless," ridiculed dogecoin's skyrocketing price, and warned bitcoin is a "speculative bubble" built on huge amounts of leverage and vulnerable to government crackdowns."It's breathtaking, this religion of real and fake people," he recently tweeted about the army of promoters and bots working to pump up crypto and meme-stock prices. "The speculation probably tops anything in history."Burry shot to fame for his lucrative bet against the mid-2000s housing bubble. He also inadvertently sparked the meme-stock frenzy by investing in GameStop in 2019, and has taken positions against Elon Musk's Tesla and Cathie Wood's Ark Invest this year.The investor recently noted that his Tesla wager was only a trade, and he's no longer short the clean-energy company.Read more: The founder of a Michael Burry subreddit explains 'The Big Short' investor's unique appeal - and reveals the stocks hidden in his tweetsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 19th, 2021

Futures Jump On Profit Optimism As Oil Tops $85; Bitcoin Nears $60,000

Futures Jump On Profit Optimism As Oil Tops $85; Bitcoin Nears $60,000 One day after the S&P posted its biggest one-day surge since March, index futures extended this week’s gains, helped by a stellar bank earnings, while the latest labor market data and inflation eased stagflation fears for the time being. . The 10-year Treasury yield rose and the dollar was steady. Goldman Sachs reports on Friday. At 715 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 147 points, or 0.42%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.5 points, or 0.37%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 42.75 points, or 0.28%. Oil futures topped $85/bbl, jumping to their highest in three years amid an energy crunch that’s stoking inflationary pressures and prices for raw materials. A gauge of six industrial metals hit a record high on the London Metal Exchange.  Energy firms including Chevron and Exxon gained about half a percent each, tracking Brent crude prices that scaled the 3 year high. Solid earnings in the reporting season are tempering fears that rising costs and supply-chain snarls will hit corporate balance sheets and growth. At the same time, the wider debate about whether a stagflation-like backdrop looms remains unresolved. “We don’t sign up to the stagflation narrative that is doing the rounds,” said Hugh Gimber, global strategist at the perpetually optimistic J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “The economy is being supported by robust consumer balance sheets, rebounding business investment and a healthy labor market.” “After a choppy start to the week, equity markets appear to be leaning towards a narrative that companies can continue to grow profits, despite the combined pressures of higher energy prices and supply chain disruptions,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London. Bitcoin and the crypto sector jumped after Bloomberg reported late on Thursday that the Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to allow the first U.S. Bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund to begin trading in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry. Bitcoin traded off session highs having tested $60k during Asian hours, but will likely rise to new all time highs shortly. Also overnight, Joe Biden signed a bill providing a short-term increase in the debt limit, averting the imminent threat of a financial calamity. But it only allows the Treasury Department to meets its financial obligations until roughly Dec. 3, so the can has been kicked for less than two months - brace for more bitter partisan battles in the coming weeks. This week’s move into rate-sensitive FAAMG growth names looked set to continue, with their shares inching up. Moderna rose 3.0% after a U.S. FDA panel voted to recommend booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and high-risk people. Western Digital slipped 2.5% as Goldman Sachs downgraded the storage hardware maker’s stock to “neutral” from “buy”. Here are some of the key premarket movers on Friday morning: Virgin Galactic (SPCE US) shares slump as much as 23% in U.S. premarket trading as the firm is pushing the start of commercial flights further into next year after rescheduling a test flight, disappointing investors with the unexpected delay to its space tourism business plans Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks rise in U.S. premarket trading after a report that the Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to allow the first U.S. Bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund to begin trading.  Bit Digital (BTBT US) +6.7%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) +4.6%, Marathon Digital (MARA US) +3.6% Alcoa (AA US) shares jump 5.6% in thin volumes after co. reported profits that beat the average analyst estimate and said it will be paying a dividend to its shareholders Moderna (MRNA US) extends Thursday’s gains; Piper Sandler recommendation on Moderna Inc. to overweight from neutral, a day after co.’s Covid-19 booster got FDA nod for use in older, high-risk people Duck Creek Technologies (DCT US) shares fell 12% in Thursday postmarket trading after the software company projected 2022 revenue that fell short of the average analyst estimate 23andMe Holdings (ME US) soared 14% in Thursday postmarket trading after EMJ Capital founder Eric Jackson called the genetics testing company “the next Roku” on CNBC Corsair Gaming (CRSR US) shares fell 3.7% in post-market trading after it cut its net revenue forecast for the full year Early on Friday, China's PBOC broke its silence on Evergrande, saying risks to the financial system are controllable and unlikely to spread. Authorities and local governments are resolving the situation, central bank official Zou Lan said. The bank has asked lenders to keep credit to the real estate sector stable and orderly. In Europe, gains for banks, travel companies and carmakers outweighed losses for utilities and telecommunications industries, pushing the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.3%. Telefonica fell 3.3%, the most in more than four months, after Barclays cut the Spanish company to underweight. Temenos and Pearson both slumped more than 10% after their business updates disappointed investors. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Devoteam shares rise as much as 25% after its controlling shareholder, Castillon, increased its stake in the IT consulting group to 85% and launched an offer for the remaining capital. QinetiQ rises as much as 5.4% following a plunge in the defense tech company’s stock on Thursday. Investec upgraded its recommendation to buy and Berenberg said the shares now look oversold. Hugo Boss climbs as much as 4.4% to the highest level since September 2019 after the German apparel maker reported 3Q results that exceeded expectations. Jefferies (hold) noted the FY guidance hike also was bigger than expected. Mediclinic rises as much as 7.7% to highest since May 26 after 1H results, which Morgan Stanley says showed strong underlying operating performance with “solid metrics.” Temenos sinks as much as 14% after the company delivered a “mixed bag” with its 3Q results, according to Baader (sell). Weakness in Europe raises questions about the firm’s outlook for a recovery in the region, the broker said. Pearson declines as much as 12%, with analysts flagging weaker trading in its U.S. higher education courseware business in its in-line results. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks headed for their best week in more than a month amid a list of positive factors including robust U.S. earnings, strong results at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and easing home-loan restrictions in China.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 1.3%, pushing its advance this week to more than 1.5%, the most since the period ended Sept. 3. Technology shares provided much of the boost after chip giant TSMC announced fourth-quarter guidance that beat analysts’ expectations and said it will build a fabrication facility for specialty chips in Japan. Shares in China rose as people familiar with the matter said the nation loosened restrictions on home loans at some of its largest banks.  Conditions are good for tech and growth shares now long-term U.S. yields have fallen following inflation data this week, Shogo Maekawa, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in Tokyo. “If data going forward are able to provide an impression that demand is strong too -- on top of a sense of relief from easing supply chain worries -- it’ll be a reason for share prices to take another leap higher.”  Asia’s benchmark equity gauge is still 10% below its record-high set in February, as analysts stay on the lookout for higher bond yields and the impact of supply-chain issues on profit margins.  Japanese stocks rose, with the Topix halting a three-week losing streak, after Wall Street rallied on robust corporate earnings. The Topix rose 1.9% to close at 2,023.93, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.8% to 29,068.63. Keyence Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 3.7%. Out of 2,180 shares in the index, 1,986 rose and 155 fell, while 39 were unchanged. For the week, the Topix climbed 3.2% and the Nikkei added 3.6%. Semiconductor equipment and material makers rose after TSMC said it will build a fabrication facility for specialty chips in Japan and plans to begin production there in late 2024.  U.S. index futures held gains during Asia trading hours. The contracts climbed overnight after a report showed applications for state unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest since March 2020.  “U.S. initial jobless claims fell sharply, and have returned to levels seen before the spread of the coronavirus,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a market strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo. “The fact that more people are returning to their jobs will help ease supply chain problems caused by the lack of workers.” Australian stocks also advanced, posting a second week of gains. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7% to close at 7,362.00, with most sectors ending higher.  The benchmark added 0.6% since Monday, climbing for a second week. Miners capped their best week since July 16 with a 3% advance. Hub24 jumped on Friday after Evans & Partners upgraded the stock to positive from neutral. Pendal Group tumbled after it reported net outflows for the fourth quarter of A$2.3 billion. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3% to 13,012.19 In rates, the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield rose over 3bps to 1.54%. Treasuries traded heavy across long-end of the curve into early U.S. session amid earning-driven gains for U.S. stock futures. Yields are higher by more than 3bp across long-end of the curve, 10- year by 2.8bp at about 1.54%, paring its first weekly decline since August; weekly move has been led by gilts and euro-zone bonds, also under pressure Friday, with U.K. 10-year yields higher by 3.3bp. Today's bear-steepening move pares the weekly bull-flattening trend. U.S. session features a packed economic data slate and speeches by Fed’s Bullard and Williams.   In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed even as the greenback weakened against most of its Group-of-10 peers; the euro hovered around $1.16 while European and U.S. yields rose, led by the long end. Norway’s krone led G-10 gains as oil jumped to $85 a barrel for the first time since late 2018 amid the global energy crunch; the currency rallied by as much as 0.6% to 8.4015 per dollar, the strongest level since June. New Zealand’s dollar advanced to a three-week high as bets on RBNZ’s tightening momentum build ahead of Monday’s inflation data; the currency is outperforming all G-10 peers this week. The yen dropped to a three-year low as rising equities in Asia damped demand for low-yielding haven assets. China’s offshore yuan advanced to its highest in four months while short-term borrowing costs eased after the central bank added enough medium-term funds into the financial system to maintain liquidity at existing levels. In commodities, crude futures trade off best levels. WTI slips back below $82, Brent fades after testing $85. Spot gold slips back through Thursday’s lows near $1,786/oz. Base metals extend the week’s rally with LME nickel and zinc gaining over 2%. Today's retail sales report, due at 08:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show retail sales fell in September amid continued shortages of motor vehicles and other goods. The data will come against the backdrop of climbing oil prices, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, factors that have rattled investors and have led to recent choppiness in the market. Looking at the day ahead now, and US data releases include September retail sales, the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for October, and the Empire State manufacturing survey for October. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Bullard and Williams, and earnings releases include Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,443.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 467.66 German 10Y yield up 2.4 bps to -0.166% Euro little changed at $1.1608 MXAP up 1.3% to 198.33 MXAPJ up 1.2% to 650.02 Nikkei up 1.8% to 29,068.63 Topix up 1.9% to 2,023.93 Hang Seng Index up 1.5% to 25,330.96 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,572.37 Sensex up 0.9% to 61,305.95 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.7% to 7,361.98 Kospi up 0.9% to 3,015.06 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $84.83/bbl Gold spot down 0.5% to $1,787.54 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.92 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg China’s central bank broke its silence on the crisis at China Evergrande Group, saying risks to the financial system stemming from the developer’s struggles are “controllable” and unlikely to spread The ECB has a good track record when it comes to flexibly deploying its monetary instruments and will continue that approach even after the pandemic crisis, according to policy maker Pierre Wunsch Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance says fourth issuance of BTP Futura to start on Nov. 8 until Nov. 12, according to a statement The world’s largest digital currency rose about 3% to more than $59,000 on Friday -- taking this month’s rally to over 35% -- after Bloomberg News reported the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission looks poised to allow the country’s first futures-based cryptocurrency ETF Copper inventories available on the London Metal Exchange hit the lowest level since 1974, in a dramatic escalation of a squeeze on global supplies that’s sent spreads spiking and helped drive prices back above $10,000 a ton A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded higher amid tailwinds from the upbeat mood across global peers including the best day for the S&P 500 since March after strong US bank earnings, encouraging data and a decline in yields spurred risk appetite. The ASX 200 (+0.7%) was positive as the tech and mining sectors continued to spearhead the advances in the index in which the former took impetus from Wall St where the softer yield environment was conducive to the outperformance in tech, although mining giant Rio Tinto was among the laggards following weaker quarterly production results. The Nikkei 225 (+1.8%) was buoyed as exporters benefitted from the JPY-risk dynamic but with Fast Retailing failing to join in on the spoils despite an 88% jump in full-year net as its profit guidance underwhelmed with just 3% growth seen for the year ahead, while Taiwan's TAIEX (+2.2%) surged with the spotlight on TSMC earnings which reached a record high amid the chip crunch and with the Co. to also build a factory in Japan that could receive JPY 500bln of support from the Japanese government. The Hang Seng (+1.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) were initially indecisive amid the overhang from lingering developer default concerns although found some mild support from reports that China is to relax banks' mortgage limits through the rest of 2021. Focus was also on the PBoC which announced a CNY 500bln MLF operation, although this just matched the amount maturing this month and there are mixed views regarding prospects of a looming RRR cut with ANZ Bank's senior China strategist recently suggesting the potential for a 50bps cut in RRR or targeted MLF as early as today, although a recent poll showed analysts had pushed back their calls for a RRR cut from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022. Finally, 10yr JGBs marginally pulled back from this week’s advances after hitting resistance at the 151.50 level, with demand hampered amid the firm gains in Japanese stocks and the lack of BoJ purchases in the market today. Top Asian News Hong Kong Probes Going Concern Reporting of Evergrande U.S. Futures Hold Gains as Oil Hits 3-Year High: Markets Wrap Toyota Cuts November Outlook by 15% on Parts Shortage, Covid Yango Group Wires Repayment Fund for Onshore Bond Due Oct. 22 Bourses in Europe have held onto the modest gains seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.4%; Stoxx 600 +0.3%), but the region is off its best levels with the upside momentum somewhat faded heading into the US open, and amidst a lack of fresh newsflow. US equity futures have remained in positive territory, although the latest leg lower in bonds has further capped the tech-laden NQ (+0.2%), which underperforms vs the ES (+0.3%), YM (+0.3%) and RTY (+0.7%), with traders on the lookout for another set of earnings, headlined by Goldman Sachs at 12:25BST/07:25EDT. Back to Europe, bourses see broad-based gains, whilst sectors are mostly in the green with clear underperformance experienced in defensives, with Telecoms, Utilities, Healthcare and Staples at the foot of the bunch. On the flipside, Banks reap rewards from the uptick in yields, closely followed by Travel & Leisure, Autos & Parts and Retail. Renault (+4%) drives the gains in Autos after unveiling a prototype version of the Renault Master van that will go on sale next year. Travel & Leisure is bolstered by the ongoing reopening trade with potential tailwinds heading into the Christmas period. Retail meanwhile is boosted by Hugo Boss (+1.8%) topping forecasts and upgrading its guidance. Top European News Autumn Heat May Curb European Gas Demand, Prices Next Week Bollore Looking for Buyers for Africa Logistics Ops: Le Monde U.K. Offers Foreign Butchers Visas After 6,000 Pigs Culled Europe’s Car-Sales Crash Points to Worse Year Than Poor 2020 In FX, the Greenback was already losing momentum after a relatively tame bounce on the back of Thursday’s upbeat US initial claims data, and the index failed to sustain its recovery to retest intraday highs or remain above 94.000 on a closing basis. However, the Buck did reclaim some significant and psychological levels against G10, EM currencies and Gold that was relishing the benign yield environment and the last DXY price was marginally better than the 21 DMA from an encouraging technical standpoint. Nevertheless, the Dollar remains weaker vs most majors and in need of further impetus that may come via retail sales, NY Fed manufacturing and/or preliminary Michigan Sentiment before the spotlight switches to today’s Fed speakers featuring arch hawk Bullard and the more neutral Williams. GBP/NZD/NOK - Sterling has refuelled and recharged regardless of the ongoing UK-EU rift over NI Protocol, though perhaps in part due to the fact that concessions from Brussels are believed to have been greeted with welcome surprise by some UK Ministers. Cable has reclaimed 1.3700+ status, breached the 50 DMA (at 1.3716 today) and yesterday’s best to set a marginal new w-t-d peak around 1.3739, while Eur/Gbp is edging closer to 0.8450 having clearly overcome resistance at 1.1800 in the reciprocal cross. Similarly, the Kiwi continues to derive impetus from the softer Greenback and Aud/Nzd flows as Nzd/Usd extends beyond 0.7050 and the Antipodean cross inches nearer 1.0500 from 1.0600+ highs. Elsewhere, the Norwegian Crown is aiming to add 9.7500 to its list of achievements relative to the Euro with a boost from Brent topping Usd 85/brl at one stage and a wider trade surplus. CAD - The Loonie is also profiting from oil as WTI crude rebounds through Usd 82 and pulling further away from 1.5 bn option expiry interest between 1.2415-00 in the process, with Usd/Cad towards the base of 1.2337-82 parameters. EUR/AUD/CHF/SEK - All narrowly mixed and rangy vs the Greenback, or Euro in the case of the latter, as Eur/Usd continues to straddle 1.1600, Aud/Usd churn on the 0.7400 handle, the Franc meander from 0.9219 to 0.9246 and Eur/Sek skirt 10.0000 having dipped below the round number briefly on Thursday. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures remain on a firmer footing, aided up the overall constructive risk appetite coupled with some bullish technical developments, as WTI Nov surpassed USD 82/bbl (vs 81.39/bbl low) and Brent Dec briefly topped USD 85/bbl (vs 84.16/bbl low). There has been little in terms of fresh fundamental catalysts to drive the price action, although Russia's Gazprom Neft CEO hit the wires earlier and suggested that reserve production capacity could meet the increase in oil demand, whilst a seasonal decline in oil consumption is possible and the oil market will stabilise in the nearest future. On the Iranian JCPOA front, Iran said it is finalising steps to completing its negotiating team but they are absolutely decided to go back to Vienna discussions and conclude the negotiations, WSJ's Norman. The crude complex seems to have (for now) overlooked reports that the White House is engaged in diplomacy" with OPEC+ members regarding output. UK nat gas prices were higher as European players entered the fray, but prices have since waned off best levels after Russian Deputy PM Novak suggested that gas production in Russia is running at maximum capacity. Elsewhere, spot gold has been trundling amid yield-play despite lower despite the Buck being on the softer side of today’s range. Spot gold failed to hold onto USD 1,800/oz status yesterday and has subsequently retreated below its 200 DMA (1,794/oz) and makes its way towards the 50 DMA (1,776/oz). LME copper prices are on a firmer footing with prices back above USD 10,000/t – supported by technicals and the overall risk tone, although participants are cognizant of potential Chinese state reserves releases. Conversely, Dalian iron ore futures fell for a third straight session, with Rio Tinto also cutting its 2021 iron ore shipment forecasts due to dampened Chinese demand. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. -0.2%, prior 0.7% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 1.8% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Control Group, est. 0.5%, prior 2.5% 8:30am: Sept. Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 0.3%, prior 2.0% 8:30am: Oct. Empire Manufacturing, est. 25.0, prior 34.3 8:30am: Sept. Import Price Index MoM, est. 0.6%, prior -0.3%; YoY, est. 9.4%, prior 9.0% 8:30am: Sept. Export Price Index MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.4%; YoY, prior 16.8% 10am: Aug. Business Inventories, est. 0.6%, prior 0.5% 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. 1 Yr Inflation, est. 4.7%, prior 4.6%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0% 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 73.1, prior 72.8 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. Current Conditions, est. 81.2, prior 80.1 10am: Oct. U. of Mich. Expectations, est. 69.1, prior 68.1 DB's Jim Ried concludes the overnight wrap A few people asked me what I thought of James Bond. I can’t say without spoilers so if anyone wants my two sentence review I will cut and paste it to all who care and reply! At my age I was just impressed I sat for over three hours (including trailers) without needing a comfort break. By the time you email I will have also listened to the new Adele single which dropped at midnight so happy to include that review as well for free. While we’re on the subject of music, risk assets feel a bit like the most famous Chumbawamba song at the moment. They get knocked down and they get up again. Come to think about it that’s like James Bond too. Yesterday was a strong day with the S&P 500 (+1.71%) moving back to within 2.2% of its all-time closing high from last month. If they can survive all that has been thrown at them of late then one wonders where they’d have been without any of it. The strong session came about thanks to decent corporate earnings releases, a mini-collapse in real yields, positive data on US jobless claims, as well as a further fall in global Covid-19 cases that leaves them on track for an 8th consecutive weekly decline. However, inflation remained very much on investors’ radars, with a range of key commodities taking another leg higher, even as US data on producer prices was weaker than expected. Starting with the good news, the equity strength was across the board with the S&P 500 experiencing its best daily performance since March, whilst Europe’s STOXX 600 (+1.20%) also put in solid gains. It was an incredibly broad-based move higher, with every sector group in both indices rising on the day, with a remarkable 479 gainers in the S&P 500, which is the second-highest number we’ve seen over the last 18 months. Every one of the 24 S&P 500 industry groups rose, led by cyclicals such as semiconductors (+3.12%), transportation (+2.51%) and materials (+2.43%). A positive start to the Q3 earnings season buoyed sentiment, as a number of US banks (+1.45%) reported yesterday, all of whom beat analyst estimates. In fact, of the nine S&P 500 firms to report yesterday, eight outperformed analyst expectations. Weighing in on recent macro themes, Bank of America Chief, Brian Moynihan, noted that the current bout of inflation is “clearly not temporary”, but also that he expects consumer demand to remain robust and that supply chains will have to adjust. I’m sure we’ll hear more from executives as earnings season continues today. Alongside those earnings releases, yesterday saw much better than expected data on the US labour market, which makes a change from last week’s underwhelming jobs report that showed the slowest growth in nonfarm payrolls so far this year. In terms of the details, the weekly initial jobless claims for the week through October 9, which is one of the most timely indicators we get, fell to a post-pandemic low of 293k (vs. 320k expected). That also saw the 4-week moving average hit a post-pandemic low of 334.25k, just as the continuing claims number for the week through October 2 hit a post-pandemic low of 2.593m (vs. 2.670m expected). We should get some more data on the state of the US recovery today, including September retail sales, alongside the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for October. That optimism has fed through into Asian markets overnight, with the Nikkei (+1.43%), the Hang Seng (+0.86%), the Shanghai Comp (+0.29%) and the KOSPI (+0.93%) all moving higher. That came as Bloomberg reported that China would loosen restrictions on home loans amidst the concerns about Evergrande. And we also got formal confirmation that President Biden had signed the debt-limit increase that the House had passed on Tuesday, which extends the ceiling until around December 3. Equity futures are pointing to further advances in the US and Europe later on, with those on the S&P 500 (+0.30%) and the STOXX 50 (+0.35%) both moving higher. Even with the brighter news, inflation concerns are still very much with us however, and yesterday in fact saw Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (+1.16%) advance to yet another record high, exceeding the previous peak from early last week. That was partly down to the continued rise in oil prices, with WTI (+1.08%) closing at $81.31/bbl, its highest level since 2014, just as Brent Crude (+0.99%) hit a post-2018 high of $84.00/bbl. Both have posted further gains this morning of +0.58% and +0.61% respectively. Those moves went alongside further rises in natural gas prices, which rose for a 3rd consecutive session, albeit they’re still beneath their peak from earlier in the month, as futures in Europe (+9.14%), the US (+1.74%) and the UK (+9.26%) all moved higher. And that rise in Chinese coal futures we’ve been mentioning also continued, with their rise today currently standing at +13.86%, which brings their gains over the week as a whole to +39.02% so far. As well as energy, industrial metals were another segment where the recent rally showed no sign of abating yesterday. On the London metal exchange, a number of multi-year milestones were achieved, with aluminum prices (+1.60%) up to their highest levels since 2008, just as zinc prices (+3.73%) closed at their highest level since 2018. Separately, copper prices (+2.56%) hit a 4-month high, and other winners yesterday included iron ore futures in Singapore (+1.16%), as well as nickel (+1.99%) and lead (+2.43%) prices in London. With all this momentum behind commodities, inflation expectations posted further advances yesterday. Indeed, the 10yr US Breakeven closed +1.0bps higher at 2.536%, which is just 3bps shy of its closing peak back in May that marked its highest level since 2013. And those moves came in spite of US producer price data that came in weaker than expected, with the monthly increase in September at +0.5% (vs. +0.6% expected). That was the smallest rise so far this year, though that still sent the year-on-year number up to +8.6% (vs. +8.7% expected). That rise in inflation expectations was echoed in Europe too, with the 10yr UK breakeven (+5.6bps) closing at its highest level since 2008, whilst its German counterpart also posted a modest +0.7bps rise. In spite of the rise in inflation expectations, sovereign bonds posted gains across the board as the moves were outweighed by the impact of lower real rates. By the end of yesterday’s session, yields on 10yr Treasuries were down -2.6bps to 1.527%, which came as the 10yr real yield moved back beneath -1% for the first time in almost a month. Likewise in Europe, yields pushed lower throughout the session, with those on 10yr bunds (-6.3bps), OATs (-6.2bps) and BTPs (-7.1bps) all moving aggressively lower. To the day ahead now, and US data releases include September retail sales, the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for October, and the Empire State manufacturing survey for October. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Bullard and Williams, and earnings releases include Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 07:50.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 15th, 2021